Erbil “the Real Economic Capital of Iraq”: Top Lebanese Investor

23/01/2019 - 15:23 Published in Reports

ERBIL — Well-known Lebanese investor who has implemented several massive projects in the Kurdistan Region, believes that Erbil is the real capital of Iraq’s economy that attracts foreign investors.

Since over a decade ago, many Lebanese have moved to the Kurdistan Region to join the boosting economy in its different sectors, from finance to tourism and housing.

Among them is Mustafa Hariri, a well-known investor and head of the Lebanese Community in the Kurdistan Region. He said in a recent interview with BasNews that most of the foreign companies establish their main offices in Erbil and then consider opening a branch office in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities, believing that the stability in the Kurdistan Region could guarantee their businesses better.

Besides nine Lebanese banks in Erbil and Sulaymaniyah, the largest investment was brought to the Kurdistan Region capital by Hariri, who spent over $150 million to build a modern town named after his home country “Lebanese Village”. So far, as he told BasNews, 70% of the project is accomplished.

After 2005, a new era emerged in the Kurdistan Region that helped attract foreign investors, mainly in the sectors of energy and housing. However, the growth of the Islamic State (IS) crisis in Iraq and Syria severely affected Kurdistan’s economy in 2014. Many foreign investors suspended their project in fear of bankruptcy, but Hariri was confident to bring his projects to a successful end.

“When Daesh took control of Mosul in mid 2014, we didn’t stop… We actually spent over $150 million,” he said, using an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State.

He highlighted the security in the Kurdistan Region as the key point that gives foreigners the confidence to live and invest.
“Also, it is about the administration here. Everywhere in the world you can find corruption. But here in Kurdistan, the rate of corruption is significantly lower than what we have elsewhere, in Baghdad for example.”