Jun 12, 2013

Erbil -- the next Dubai or İstanbul?

Erbil, one of the most ancient cities in the world, around 50 miles east of Musil, is the regional capital of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) of Iraq. Erbil, with its 1.5 million population, is one of the most rapidly growing cities in the Middle East in both its economy and the tourism sector with investments exceeding 14 billion dollars so far in 2013. Most of these investments come from neighboring Turkey, the KRG's biggest economic partner.   
Now, in the KRG, there are debates about which city Erbil should consider as a role model as Masoud Barzani, president of the autonomous region, more than a few times mentioned Dubai as a role model for the city. “We will make Erbil like Dubai,” Barzani stated. However, one who knows the nature of both cities can easily realize how far this dream is from being reached for various reasons. In addition, apart from the skyscrapers, there is nothing much to take from Dubai.
İstanbul, now in the global spotlight as a center of tension because of the Gezi park protests, could be a good role model for Erbil, for various reasons. Here are some: When we wake up in the morning, we will wash our face with Turkish soap, then we will eat Turkish cheeses with some Turkish breads. After that, we will change our clothes, wearing a Turkish-brand shirt and jeans. Then while going to work, along the road we will see all these new Turkish investment projects. After arriving at our office, we will sit on a Turkish chair surrounded by other Turkish furniture. Later, we will drink Turkish coffee. Then, we will do our job with Turkish-made pen and paper in hand. After some hard work, we will finish our job and go to a Turkish restaurant with our friends to have lunch; there we will be delighted by hearing some Turkish music. Then, home again after a tiring day, we will have a dip in a relaxing Turkish bath. After that, we will sit on a Turkish sofa and listen to news on a Turkish-brand television. At night, we will go to a Turkish shopping center with our family and buy some Turkish products. Later, after finishing our shopping, we will go home to a building made with Turkish tools by Turkish workers. Then, we'll feel sleepy and go to our Turkish-made bed, then have a sweet dream about going to İstanbul for a vacation.
İstanbul is a success story, mixing modernity with its rich authenticity, much ahead of Dubai in all sectors. While Erbil is already becoming the next İstanbul, why it should look to Dubai as a success story?

This article first appeared on Today's Zaman - here: