Following the issuing of the Investment Law in 2006, the Duhok Branch of the BOI was established in 2007. If you look at the data for that time period, you can see that investment in this governorate was limited to approximately $10 million. Now, almost $5 billion has been invested in the Duhok governorate alone.
I believe there are a number of factors responsible for this development. Duhok is the most secure and safe governorate in the Kurdistan Region; the situation here really cannot be compared with that of Erbil and Slemani, let alone the rest of Iraq. In addition, because of our close proximity to Turkey’s border, we have been able to benefit from Turkish companies, people, expertise, and technologies. The oil pipeline that runs into Turkey further strengthens this relationship. The governorate also possesses plentiful resources; we have oil and gas, but also naturally occurring waterways. The Tigris and Euphrates cross the Duhok Governorate, and provide excellent areas for potential tourist developments.
However, BOI data indicates that only approximately 25% of all licensed projects in the Kurdistan Region have been located here. The Duhok Governorate comprises roughly 21% of the total population of the Kurdistan Region and, in terms of geographic size, is about half the size of the Slemani governorate. So, on paper, this percentage seems logical. However, we are still not satisfied with this number. When you compare the investment figures for Erbil, Slemani, and Duhok, it quickly becomes clear that we are on the low end of the scale. I think one explanation for this is the fact that the BOI only decentralized two years ago. Prior to that time, it was much easier and more logical for a centralized administration to focus on developing Erbil and Slemani, whereas Duhok proved a less convenient destination. In that regard, I think a second explanation would be our lack of an airport. Both Erbil and Slemani have international airports; these facilities make it much easier for foreign investors to access those areas and investigate opportunities. For example, it may only take 3 hours to fly from Istanbul to Erbil, but it then takes 3 hours to drive from Erbil to Duhok. So, we pushed for the government to construct a highway between Erbil and Duhok to decrease this travel time. More notably, we are now in the final stages of constructing our own airport facility, which we believe will help to further promote Duhok as a strategic location for investment.