Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

EYE ON AFRICA

Emmerson Mnangagwa to be sworn in as President on Friday

Read more

THE DEBATE

Hard bargaining: Lebanon prime minister returns and suspends resignation

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Keepers of the flame: Native American communities seeking to protect their cultural legacy

Read more

FOCUS

Tunisians disillusioned, seven years after revolution

Read more

ACCESS ASIA

Indonesia: New orangutan species found in Sumatra

Read more

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

Meet the 16-year-old behind the hijab emoji

Read more

ENCORE!

Film show: 'Battle of the Sexes', 'Jupiter’s Moon', 'Reinventing Marvin'

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Robert Mugabe resigns: 'Hip Hip Harare'

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

UN tribunal decides fate of Mladic, 'Butcher of the Balkans'

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

2017-11-17 Middle East

Exclusive: From Tehran to Najaf, a pilgrimage fraught with danger

It’s one of the most dangerous pilgrimages in the world. Every year, despite the deadly menace of the Islamic State group, millions of Shiites make a pilgrimage to southern Iraq,...

Read more

2017-11-09 Europe

Full circle: The second life of old clothes abroad

Our reporters investigated what happens to old clothes thrown out by Westerners. For several months, our team followed the trail of recycled clothes - from initial collection...

Read more

2017-11-03 Asia-pacific

Exclusive report: Burma in denial over Rohingya crisis

Burma’s northern Rakhine state is on lockdown. In recent weeks, violence has forced hundreds of thousands of minority Muslim Rohingyas to flee to Bangladesh. FRANCE 24’s regional...

Read more

2017-10-27 Middle East

Video: The story of a deadly air strike in Iraq’s Mosul

For more than three years, the US-led coalition has been using air strikes to help Iraqi troops retake territory from Islamic State group jihadists. But some are now tallying the...

Read more

2017-10-20 Asia-pacific

The Dictator's Games: A rare look inside Turkmenistan

As Turkmenistan hosted the Asian Games in the capital Ashgabat, our reporter managed to obtain a visa to cover the event. He brings us a rare look inside one of the world’s most...

Read more