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A Nomad discovering a wonderful world

My First Trip to Kurdistan, region of Irak

November 2013

The first time I heard anything about Kurdistan was when Danielle Mitterrand brought its case to the UN back in ’91. The only thing I knew was that they were being persecuted by the Turkish regime. I did not know that it is the largest nation without a state; it has 35-40 million people spread around Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria. I also did not know that it has a large diaspora.

I was very excited to go on this trip. Of course, I was excited to visit Iraq, a historic nation with a long-lasting history, but more importantly, now that I have been there, I feel like something about Kurdistan makes me feel like a kid again. These last four days visiting Erbil have been an extraordinary and amazing journey into the Northern part of Mesopotamia.

The first impression I had was, “Wow, these guys are quite strong and tall!” My 1.90 m and 105 kg build was almost average here. I found them very friendly, without being invasive like many from other developing countries.

If you have never travelled to such places and just rely on what you hear from the TV, let me clarify right now that the Kurdistan region of Iraq has seen economic growth of around 10% for the last 10 years, and it represents roughly 20% of the Iraqi territory. What about security? Well, it has suffered just one suicide attack since 2008!

Ready to go there? The region is safe; everywhere you go you feel like the ethnic Kurds are working very well to maintain the order. They speak Kurd, but, of course, Arabic is widely spoken. There is also Ethnic diversity with large communities of Christians, Armenians and Yazidi—a very specific ethnic group of Kurdistan.

The reason for this trip was to showcase our eBiz Guides Kurdistan,( http://bit.ly/13pruyj) which was just recently published. A section of ours just appeared in Harvard Business Review (http://bit.ly/13pcwOh and http://bit.ly/13pruyj) on the investment opportunities in Kurdistan as well.

I have met great people during this trip, and I had the chance to work closely with one of my best colleagues, Emma Goldsmith, who was responsible for producing such a great edition of eBiz Guides! Her knowledge of Arabic helped us a lot in getting us introduced with everyone everywhere.

I would just like to mention three more people that made my trip much better. Jorge Eduardo Baldi: a great personality who will always make your world a little bit better. He has amazing stories from all the places he worked with Repsol and other companies.

Khaled Salih: a person who will always enrich you through his knowledge about his country. He is doing an amazing job with the University of Erbil. Soran Haje: he organized everything to make our stay more enjoyable and was always there to help if needed—a great guy!

I am sure I will be back to Kurdistan; there is so much to discover here in this city that claims to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world—lived in for more than 6000 years.

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