The Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) met with business and government leaders from the Kurdistan Region of Iraq earlier this month in Erbil, the region’s capital city. The authority’s visit came as part of an 150-strong delegation to Erbil representing 54 UAE government departments and major private sector businesses in conjunction with the second ‘TradeUAE Iraq’ exhibition.
Iraq is a major trade partner for the UAE and ranks 12th among countries importing from the Emirates. Trade between the two countries jumped 40 per cent in 2011, and by 2012 bilateral trade stood at over USD 13 billion (AED 48 billion). The Kurdistan region has been one of Iraq’s fastest growing economies, with GDP increasing by an estimated 8.5 percent in 2013.
Encouraged by business-friendly government policies, the Kurdistan region of Iraq has already proved to be a successful market for UAE companies with 112 companies from the Emirates operating in Erbil. Sharjah-based Dana Gas and Crescent Petroleum are estimated to be the largest investors in the region from the GCC, having already invested over US$1.1 billion (AED 4 billion) in major projects under contracts signed with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to explore and develop the Khor Mor and Chemchemal gas fields. Communications links between the UAE and the region have also seen strong growth with airlines offering 20 flight connections to Erbil per week.
The two-day ‘TradeUAE Iraq’ exhibition was organised under the auspices of the UAE Ministry of Economy and the Kurdistan Regional Government, with the backing of the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the KRG Federation Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the Erbil Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dubai Exports, the Dubai Department of Economic Development and the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development.
Erbil’s tourism sector is currently enjoying the city’s year as the Arab Tourism Capital 2014, as awarded by the Arab Council of Tourism, an honour that will pass to Sharjah next year when it becomes the Arab Tourism Capital 2015.
Source: Shurooq, news media