Plans to build a gigantic tourist city on Lake Dukan, one of the Kurdistan Region’s most beautiful, unspoiled nature spots, made a great leap forward on Sunday when telecoms magnate Faruk Mustafa announced a $1.6 billion investment in the site.
Hundreds of thousands of tourists are expected to flock to the 3,250-hectare lakeside complex each year when it is complete.
“The project includes building hundreds of flats, houses, villas, two cable cars, one island, and many other interesting places,” Mustafa, owner of Asia Cell and chairman of the board of Faruk Holding Company, told Rudaw.
At an event in Dukan on Sunday unveiling the new investment, Qubad Talabani, the deputy prime minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government, said the tourism sector is a top priority.
“We as the government gave priority to the tourist sector. And this is because of two reasons. One is that it will create wealth and also it will create employment,” he said.
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) approved the project in 2013, but it was delayed by land disputes and the process of compensating local land owners.
The project is expected to create 26,000 jobs.
“As we could provide 30 percent of Iraq’s demand in the manufacturing sector, with this project we can become an alternative tourist destination to Iran and Turkey,” Mulla Yasin, spokesman for Kurdistan’s Union of Investors, told Rudaw.
Conservationist groups have regularly criticized government failures to enforce environmental protection laws. They are concerned unchecked tourism investment could harm Kurdistan’s untouched natural beauty.