The Kurdistan Region is an autonomous region in federal Iraq. It borders Syria to the west, Iran to the East and Turkey to the north. Iraq’s Constitution recognizes the democratically elected Kurdistan Regional Government, the Kurdistan Parliament and the Peshmerga guard as the legitimate regional forces.
The area of the Region is 80 000 Km2, making up 18% of the Iraq area.
With a population of currently 4.7 million and rapidly increasing, the three governorates of Duhok, Erbil and Suleimaniah cover approximately 40,000 square kilometers – four times the area of Lebanon and larger than that of the Netherlands (70% in the urban area and the rest in rural area)
Iraq’s GDP was $112 billion in 2009 (this is the figure at purchasing power parity. GDP at the official exchange rate was $71 billion). Iraq’s economy is expected to grow by an estimated 7.3% in 2010, 7.9% in 2011 and at similar rates for the next few years. This is above the average projected growth for the Middle East
Kurdistan Region has two international airports. Austrian Airlines, Lufthansa, Royal Jordanian, Gulf Air and Middle East Airlines already fly to Erbil, and more IATA members are planning to start flights
A liberal foreign investment law was ratified in 2006, with incentives for foreign investors such as the possibility of owning land, up to 10-year tax breaks and repatriation of profits.
Kurdistan has attracted more than 12 billion US dollars (8.3 billion pounds) from local and foreign investors in non-oil sectors over the last three-and-a-half years, mainly in housing, agriculture and banking.
Foreign companies have invested around $3.1 billion from August 2006 to April this year. The largest foreign investors in terms of money were from Kuwait and Lebanon.
Investment from Iraqi national companies was about $8.7 billion during the same period. Joint ventures accounted for around $664 million.
Top areas of investment since 2006 are: public and high-income housing (nearly $4.8 billion); banking ($2.29 billion); industry ($1.6 billion) and tourism ($1.3 billion).
Oil and Gas Investment
The investment figures above do not include the oil sector, where 35 oil and gas firms from 17 countries have struck production-sharing agreements. These include Austria’s OMV, the Korean National Oil Corporation, India’s Reliance, Channel Islands-based Heritage Oil, Canada’s Talisman and the US’s Hunt. Norway’s DNO and Turkey’s Genel Enerji are already producing oil from their discoveries.
The Kurdistan Region is also developing gas following the UAE consortium Dana Gas and Crescent Petroleum reappraisal of the Khor Mor gas field in 2008. The field, which is expected to produce 8.5 million cubic meters per day in later phases, now feeds two power plants that together produce 1,250 megawatts of electricity to meet Kurdistan’s growing power needs. The nearby field of Chemchemal may hold gas reserves of 6.2 billion cubic meters.