Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

Calais: a no-man's land for migrants

Read more

THE DEBATE

Macron on migration: Humanism or closed-border policy?

Read more

FOCUS

Strict controls behind Denmark's generous unemployment benefits

Read more

ENCORE!

Remembering Cranberries star Dolores O'Riordan

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Irony? Lebanon bans Steven Spielberg's film about censorship

Read more

THE DEBATE

Tunisia's revolutionary fire: Fresh protests, seven years after Arab Spring

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Case dismissed against French troops accused of child rape in Central African Republic

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Spain set to overtake US in tourism rankings

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

#MeToo and mixed messages

Read more

REPORTERS

An in-depth report by our senior reporters and team of correspondents from around the world. Every Saturday at 9.10 pm Paris time. Or you can catch it online from Friday.

Latest update : 2012-08-21

Iraqi Kurdistan: the downside to a success story

The semi-autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan is held up as an example of stability and development in the Middle East, in large part thanks to its oil revenues. But the gap is increasing between a minority that is thriving, and those who are not reaping the benefits from this economic boom...

Under a baking sun, an immaculate white luxury car is parked in front of an architect’s home. Decorated with grey marble, the 600m² building is on sale for 1.125 million euros. We are in Iraq - but in Erbil, the capital of the semi-autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan.

Rasul, an estate agent for what is known as the "Italian Village", speaks in a conspiratorial tone. “We have very rich men in Kurdistan, they have millions!”

Iraqi Kurdistan has 19 billionaires, to be precise.

The region is enjoying an economic boom unique to the Middle East, thanks to security, oil revenues and financial incentives for investors. Around 2,000 foreign companies including Total, Exxon Mobile, and have now set up bases in the region.

However Himdad, a 26-year-old philosophy student, is not so happy about this Kurdish success story. Walking around the upmarket district nicknamed Dollarawa - “dollar-owned” - Himbad is disheartened. “The prices here are so high that only officials and rich people can afford it. Poor people really don't have the means”, he explains.

Himdad earns 400 dollars a month working as a night security guard, which is the average salary for a civil servant in the region. Like them, he cannot afford the new luxury flats nor the European products sold in the French-style department stores. Himdad lives in a small hut that he has built on the roof of the room he shares with five other members of his family.

Young Kurds - who make up over half the population - are highly critical of Iraqi Kurdistan society. “The old generation do not realise that the world is changing. They are trying to keep the old habits and traditions. But we want change,” Himdad tell us.

In a region where growth was estimated at 8% last year, the majority have yet to see any real benefits. Those benefiting are reportedly a minority close to the elite. “There is money coming in from oil revenues. The political groups have it. And they distribute it according to proximity, friendship, nepotism, sibling relationships”, explains Hosham Dawood, an anthropologist based in Erbil.

Kurdish society is now seeing the two systems collide. That of the Peshmerga leaders is based on unconditional loyalty to a clan. Meanwhile, the younger generation aspires to a more equal distribution of the region’s newfound wealth.

It’s a potentially explosive mix in a region which controls one fifth of Iraq’s oil supplies.

By Claire Billet

COMMENT(S)

Archives

2018-01-11 Americas

Video: Inside the deadly US opioid crisis

Opioids kill more people than they cure. Every day in the United States, some 140 people die from taking opioids - addictive opiate-based drugs. They’ve become the leading cause...

Read more

2017-12-20 Africa

Egypt's Coptic Christians live in fear of Islamist attacks

Egypt’s Coptic Christians have been the target of unprecedented attacks since the 2011 Arab Spring uprising. The election of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2012 saw an upsurge with...

Read more

2017-12-15 Africa

Exclusive video: South Sudan, a cursed land

For the past four years South Sudan has been torn apart by civil war – and the situation in the country is desperate. Famine rages across all conflict zones and the first victims...

Read more

2017-12-08 Libya

Video: Trapped in Libya, migrants face torture and slavery

In the past few months, the number of migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean has shrunk drastically on the back of new migrant policies in Libya and Italy alike. Instead,...

Read more

2017-11-30 Americas

Video: Barbuda, an island paradise wiped out by Hurricane Irma

Three months ago, life on the Caribbean island of Barbuda, in the French West Indies, morphed into nothing short of a nightmare as Hurricane Irma swept in over its shores,...

Read more