Kurdistan's Erbil has changed a lot, but
it won’t be Dubai: Governor Nawzad Hadi
July 4, 2012
Nawzad Hadi, the governor of Erbil, the capital city
of Kurdistan region of Iraq. Photo: Rudaw
ERBIL-Hewlêr, Kurdistan region 'Iraq',— In an
interview with Rudaw.net, Erbil Governor Nawzad Hadi
discusses the large number of apartment units and
houses being built in the province this year, along
with plans for the city as it continues its
impressive development. Hadi describes how Erbil may
no longer be Dubai, but could be the next tourist
capital of the Arab world.
Q: What are your
plans for Erbil after the budget is passed?
Each ministry has asked for a budget. Ministries
allocate budgets to projects in each city. As for
the Erbil governorship, we only have a budget called
the provincial development budget. This is the only
budget dedicated to developing provincial areas. The
money is allocated to certain types of projects.
However, the need for projects in Erbil is far
greater than the annual budget allocated to Erbil.
We have greater ambitions. We still have many places
and neighborhoods that need service projects.
Q: A few years
ago, you said “we will turn Erbil into Dubai,” but
there are still neighborhoods in Erbil that are not
paved. Do you have any strategic plans to turn Erbil
Erbil has changed a lot. It won’t be Dubai. Dubai is
a megacity and very well-developed. However, today
Erbil has an international reputation and people
from most parts of the world visit.
It is true that there are areas and neighborhoods
that are not paved, but that can be found in Dubai
and even in America. The policy that is being
implemented in Dubai (supporting the private sector
and investment) is the same policy observed here.
When you talk about a neighborhood not being paved,
you have to know that there are hundreds of
neighborhoods that are paved, and dozens of
buildings and hotels that have been built. All the
villages have electricity and paved roads. But of
course there are some places that need service
projects; we are working on those areas too.
Q: There have
been complaints about injustice in the distribution
of projects. Smaller cities do not see as many
projects as larger cities do. Do you have any plans
to undertake important projects in smaller cities?
There is no injustice in the distribution of
projects between smaller and larger cities. Projects
are allocated based on city populations. That’s how
projects are equally distributed. There has been no
discrimination against smaller cities. The biggest
project to be carried out in Erbil is an irrigation
system paid for from the Ministry of Municipalities
lands have been used to build villas, mostly by
Well, we allocated 4,000 acres for a green project
in the Kasnazan hilltops. We have already started
that project. It will extend all the way to Tarin
Mountain. However, the villas being built on the
hills have leased their lands (agricultural
contracts) by their owners. According to the
contracts, they can build houses on the leased land.
This is not to say they are all leased and built
legally; some of them are not. We all know there are
many illegally built houses in Kurdistan. Security
forces face problems with these houses on a daily
basis. But villas on hilltops have benefited us,
really. Now when a house is built, trees and grass
are planted around the house.
president issued a decree to cut electricity from
these houses. The decree has not been implemented
Nawzad Hadi: We
have not received any such order. Presidential
decrees are carried out by the Presidential Reform
Q: The Rizgari
underpass and Jihan overpass projects are causing a
lot of traffic. The deadlines for these projects are
near. Do you think the deadlines will be met?
Those projects have been contracted out by the Erbil
municipality, but my office supervises them. We have
visited the project sites a few times to see what
problems they have and encourage them to finish on
time in order to get rid of the traffic caused by
the projects. If they fail to meet the deadline,
they will be fined,www.ekurd.net
according to the contract. We will facilitate
getting the projects finished before the deadline in
any way possible. They had water and electricity
issues; we solved those problems.
Q: In terms of
volume of trade and investment, what is the
difference between Erbil, Sulaimani and Duhok?
This is a question for the Investment Board, but as
far as I know in Erbil there is $14 billion in
investment projects conducted by the private sector.
As for the other provinces, I don’t know.
complain about prices in the market and the bad
quality of commodities sold in Kurdistan.
Nawzad Hadi: In
Erbil, there are several malls and traditional
markets. Goods from many countries are imported into
Kurdistan. Each one of these markets lists a price.
No one can monopolize a particular good or its
price. But different markets have different prices.
Malls have different prices than traditional markets
and this is how it is all over the world. Anyone is
free to sell and import any particular commodity. No
one monopolizes the market.
We have a committee from the mayor’s office that
supervises the markets and punishes violators. So
far, the committee has shut down many businesses. If
they reopen and repeat the violation, they will meet
more severe punishment.
Q: How do
expired goods and food items end up in the Kurdistan
Region? What have you done to prevent the import of
Border gates such as Ibrahim Khalil and Haji Omran
are well-controlled. No expired goods enter
Kurdistan. But expired goods sneak into Kurdistan
from Iraqi border entrances. Iraqi border entrances
are not controlled very well. That is how most
expired goods find their way into Kurdistan.
Q: The Kurdistan
Presidential Reform Committee found the largest
amount of expired medical items in Erbil. How much
does this impact Erbil’s reputation?
Nawzad Hadi: No,
the largest amount in Kurdistan was not found in
Erbil. But the Market Supervision Committee in Erbil
was more active than other cities; that is why a
large pile of expired goods were found in Erbil. The
mayor’s committee has been supervising the markets
for a long time. Only now have similar committees
been formed in other cities. Today, Erbil is the
medical center of Iraq. People from all over Iraq
visit Erbil for medical treatments. This indicates
that Erbil has a good medical reputation.
Q: There are
talks about designating Erbil as the tourist capital
of the Arab world. What has been done in this
Nawzad Hadi: The
Iraqi Ministry of Tourism has designated Erbil as
the representative of Iraq in a competition for the
Arab world tourist city. This is because Erbil is
more advanced than all other Iraqi cities. The
designation and preparation for the competition is
being done by the Iraqi Ministry of Tourism. We have
no hand in it. Each Arab country appoints a city for
the competition. The competition will be carried out
in 2014 when a city will be elected tourist capital
of the Arab world.
Q: What happened
to plans to turn the areas where the Erbil
governorate building and Ministry of Health are
located into green parks?
They are being processed. We are working on the new
Erbil governorate building. The court building has
already been completed. The Ministries of Health and
Social Affairs will move out of their current
locations. The Council of Ministers has approved the
parks project and it has now started. But I don’t
know when it will be finished. We are now working on
constructing buildings for all the above-mentioned
government agencies. Once the new buildings are
complete, we will destroy the old buildings and
build parks instead.
By Barzan Muhammad - Rudaw
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