All eyes on Iraq
Fancy a spa vacation or a brisk business trip to Iraqi Kurdistan? Marketers are flocking to the mountainous terrain of Northern Iraq, to cash in on the relatively untapped market in the Arab world, even if they have to dodge danger on their way there
July 29, 2012 9:03 by Priyanka Pradhan
But before the world goes about hailing Iraq as the best thing to happen to the Arab world since grilled halloumi, it is crucial for brands not to rush in. For any economy to flourish, more so, for a nation with such a sordid past, it takes much more than fast track investments in luxury hotels and fancy airports. What Kurdistan probably needs is a massive branding exercise and an image overhaul, along with a well chalked out strategy to position itself as a market just waiting to explode- in a good way.
There is also the danger of too much interest too soon, which could smother the Kurds or fail to adapt to the Kurdish way of life due to lack of understanding and insight. This could prove to be catastrophic for brands as it could easily turn the region’s political debris into an equally devastating pile of cola cans, plastic and disappointment.
Challenges for private sector investments include disparity in the organizational and legal structures in addition to inadequate infrastructure. Apart from this, the Iraqi government and the Autonomous Kurdish region also have to look at offering stability of exchange rates, favourable tax and customs exemptions, as well as an advanced financial system.
While some brands have already pitched their tents in the rocky terrain, others are waiting to test the Kurdish waters. Whichever way the tide turns for Iraq, it is going to be spectacular to watch- somewhat like a chance to watch the birth of a star but then again, some of the most massive stars are known to have the shortest lives. All eyes are now on Iraq, waiting and watching.
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