Asked about luxury developments like Downtown Erbil that have been cited by many Kurds as a major source of inflation and high living costs that make them unaffordable to the average Kurd, Alabbar said that was nothing new.
“Show me a project in Los Angeles, Singapore or New York that hasn’t done that,” he said, adding that cooperation by the Kurdistan government would ensure that the development’s overall impact remains positive.
Barzani, meanwhile, added that the percentage of people living below the poverty line in Kurdistan had dropped from 5 percent in May to 3.7 percent presently, citing research done by the United Nations and the US-based Rand Corporation.
“We need to make the country into a new Region and can achieve this with the support of all Kurds working as a team,” Barzani said, especially emphasizing the need for the youth to take their roles head on and not rely on the government to do everything.
“Some think the government should be doing everything, it’s time for you, our dear youth to work for a better Kurdistan,” he said.
The Kurdistan Region -- which is home to some five million Kurds, small numbers of Christians and Arabs from other parts of violent Iraq and more recently some 250,000 Syrian refugees -- is often dubbed the next Dubai for its incredible economic growth.
Oil companies from the United States, Russia and next-door Turkey are working on major exploration and pipeline projects to extract and export the region’s generous energy resources. Major international carriers like Dubai’s Emirates Airline report record passenger growth on flights into Erbil’s new and modern airport.
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