The fifth key sector that is ripe for international investment is health. We need massive investment in health centres and clinics. Many services and specialities that are taken for granted in the West are only now taking off in Kurdistan, such as sophisticated diagnostics and oncology. British companies can play a role in public-private partnership projects. Our aim is to make the Kurdistan Region a central base for treatment and surgery from other parts of Iraq and surrounding countries. One good example of this is a British-Kurdish national who developed a new medical diagnostics centre, offering many tests that were previously very hard to obtain in Iraq, such as MRI scans.
I have already mentioned some of the important areas where I can see the UK becoming involved, both in terms of trade and investment. You can help us in banking and finance, health and engineering. WhereBritish firms may not be able to compete on price, you can provide consulting, project management and project finance services, and partner with local contractors.British companies can partner with firms from Turkey, our largest trading partner, to provide your design and engineering expertise. One good example of this is Erbil International Airport, which was designed by Scott Wilson and built by Turkey’s Mak Yol.
We in the Kurdistan Region have a great affinity with Britain, because of our historic bonds and our recognition of British quality. Ninety percent of all students on our KRG scholarship programme have chosen to study at UK universities. That’s some 800 students already, and their numbers will continue to rise. The UK’s academic and training institutions can meet our people’s huge desire for English language education at all ages and levels, and for business training and skills in many areas, particularly if they set up operations in Kurdistan.
British companies can also benefit from the growing number of Kurds who are returning to Kurdistan after years living in the UK and other countries. Expatriate Kurds provide an important bridge for you, and you can use their knowledge of both cultures and markets.
With the help of our friends such as the Middle East Association, UKTI and Invest Northern Ireland, I look forward to seeing a stronger British commercial presence in the Kurdistan Region over the coming years. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your time.