Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

THE DEBATE

France's Topsy-Turvy Election: Uncertain outcome as insurgents blow away old guard (part 1)

Read more

THE DEBATE

France's Topsy-Turvy Election: Uncertain outcome as insurgents blow away old guard (part 2)

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Amnesty chief urges France to 'stay true to its values'

Read more

ENCORE!

Film show: 'Certain Women', 'Rock’n Roll' and 'A Wedding'

Read more

FOCUS

#BringBackOurInternet: English-speaking Cameroon hit by digital blackout

Read more

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

Preaching coexistence: Avant-garde mosque opens in Lebanon's Druze heartland

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

Prison guards turn guns on prisoners in Chile, and thousands of migrants stuck in smoky warehouses in Serbia

Read more

FACE-OFF

French presidential race: Le Pen makes groundbreaking visit to Lebanon

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

93 candles for Robert Mugabe

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. And you can watch it online as early as 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

2017-02-16 Asia-pacific

Thailand still mourning its beloved King Bhumibol

He was the world’s richest monarch – wealthier than Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II - and the longest-serving, spending 70 years on the throne. Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej,...

Read more

2017-02-09 Africa

Rose Nathike: S. Sudan athlete’s race for a better life

For Rose Nathike, running is a way of life. First the South Sudanese athlete ran to flee the war in Sudan. Then she trained at her refugee camp in northern Kenya. Finally she...

Read more

2017-02-02 jihad

Video: Jihad Sisters, French women bound for ISIS

France 24 brings you an exceptional documentary in partnership with French TV news magazine "Envoyé spécial", on the hidden women of the jihadist web, the "sisters" of the...

Read more

2017-01-26 Asia-pacific

Flight MH370: Families of missing passengers search for the truth

It’s a unique case in the history of modern aviation. Nearly three years after its disappearance, Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, a Boeing 777 with 239 people on board, has still...

Read more

2017-01-19 Burundi

Burundi: Fear and Exile

When Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza announced he was running for a controversial third mandate in April 2015, he sparked a major crisis and many demonstrations. Since...

Read more