Trouble at Arbil, El Dorado of Turkish companies
Is Arbil stirring up the capital of North Iraq Regional Kurdish Administration, the place I may as well call the “El Dorado” of the Turkish business world?
The suicide attacks that happened two days ago in Arbil at the Regional Kurdish Administration’s Interior Ministry and Security Department buildings, killing 12 people and injuring 50, have upset some of our business circles here.
Yesterday I came across a famous businessman at lunch by coincidence. He was preparing for a major investment in Arbil, the city that has created economic miracles in the past few years. He was quite upset about the explosions that occurred for the first time after six years.
Our conversation was unfortunately dominated by negative clouds; he even implied he might postpone his investments for a while. He said North Iraq has been peaceful for years compared to other parts of Iraq, where almost every day bloody events occur. He believed certain people wanted to stir North Iraq.
Investing in Arbil has become the biggest trend recently. Whoever you ask either has an investment in Arbil or is preparing one.
As a matter of fact, on the day the explosion stories were in the papers, we also read that Doğuş Otomotiv was preparing to enter North Iraq in November with brands Volkswagen and Audi.
According to the CEO of Doğuş Otomotiv, Ali Bilaloğlu, North Iraq will be one of the fastest growing markets in the next 10 years. They plan to spill over and across Iraq’s entire northern region starting from Arbil.
The boss of the GenPower Company, Müjdat Uslu, the person I watched the Formula 1 races in Singapore last week, had also told me that they might start certain projects in the construction field in Arbil. His field is energy; he is performing the illumination for Formula 1 races with his own production generators, but when Arbil is in question, then he does not hesitate or fear stepping into construction with partners, a sector he knows nothing about.
Everybody is eyeing Arbil. At the time of the global economic crisis, the capital accumulation in this city was dazzling.
Our business world is operating in Arbil within a wide spectrum, ranging from the “arabesque idol” İbrahim Tatlıses to the only Turkish company on the Fortuna Global 500 list, Koç Holding.
İbrahim Tatlıses has kebab restaurants as well as wedding halls in Arbil, which are growing every day. The Koç Group opened up Divan Hotel in 2012, which is regarded as the most luxurious hotel in the city. Divan Hotel is today the meeting venue of business people who simply happen to be in Arbil.
Luxury villas built by Turkish building contractors are currently being leased from about $4000 to $5000. According to the Kurdish Administration’s Industry and Trade Minister Sinan Çelebi, 50 percent of companies operating in North Iraq are Turkish firms.
According to Çelebi, it is quite possible for the trade volume between Turkey and North Iraq, which is currently around $8 billion, to reach $20 billion in 10 years. The fact that 2,500 vehicles enter and exit daily at the Habur border point is an indication how lively the relations are between Turkey and North Iraq.
Recently, direct flights twice a week between Gaziantep and Arbil have been added. Consequently, every circumstance is present for trade relations with Arbil to develop, as long as “El Dorado” maintains its peaceful state.