Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

EYE ON AFRICA

Kasai province killings : government releases footage allegedly showing execution of UN investigators

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

France's First Round Controversies

Read more

THE CAMPAIGN BEAT

"Front National" makes it to the second round for the first time since 2002

Read more

THE DEBATE

Macron vs. Le Pen: Unprecedented Choice in French Presidential Election (part 1)

Read more

THE DEBATE

Macron vs. Le Pen: Unprecedented Choice in French Presidential Election (part 2)

Read more

ENCORE!

Khatia Buniatishvili, the 'pop star pianist'

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

French press review: Macron 'just a step away' from Elysée Palace

Read more

THE CAMPAIGN BEAT

Will the traditional alliance against France's National Front work in round two?

Read more

TALKING EUROPE

Greek Cypriot negotiator: 'We regret that Turkey is distancing itself from Europe'

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

2017-04-21 France

Battle to stop nuclear waste being buried in a French village

The village of Bure, in eastern France, has become a battleground for environmentalists. It has been chosen as a site to bury radioactive waste, 500 metres underground. An...

Read more

2017-04-14 France

How sick are French hospitals?

Doctors, nurses, nursing aides, executives and even managers… They chose to work in public hospitals to be able to treat people from all walks of life – from the homeless to...

Read more

2017-04-07 French Presidential Elections 2017

Disillusioned French voters speak out ahead of elections

Back in 2012, we went to meet French voters from all walks of life who told us of their hopes and fears. We met Fabrice, a factory worker; Ahdijah, a social worker; Lionel, a...

Read more

2017-03-31 Holocaust

Video: 'If I ever come back', a French schoolgirl's letters from the Holocaust

"If I ever come back" tells the tragic story of Louise Pikovsky, a French schoolgirl who was deported and died at Auschwitz. Using long-forgotten letters Louise wrote to her...

Read more

2017-03-23 Europe

Video: Crimean dissidents silenced by Moscow

Three years after the annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, Russia has deployed all the tools at its disposal, in the police and the justice system, to silence...

Read more