12 Dec 2012 - Iraq (Erbil)
I am in Erbil in the Kurdistan region in the North of Iraq. I arrived here on Sunday afternoon and I am here through until the end of this week looking at the real estate market.
Development here started to take off after the 2003 Iraq War. I am working off a 2004 version of Google Earth and the city now is unrecognisable in terms of its construction. Erbil is expanding across a series of ring roads and there are now four either built or under construction. The intention is for there to be a 5th, and then a green belt.
Today I drove around the city and went to the centre where the ancient Citadel is located (see photo below). It is 6,000 years old and supposed to be the oldest continuously inhabited urban settlement in the world.
I then went to some of the peripheral areas and out of the city into the hilly areas on the road to Salahaddin (the seat of the Kurdistan Regional Government). There is a huge amount of development taking place in this direction from Erbil, and in fact all over the city.
Many of the residential developments are named after countries (for marketing reasons proncipally not because there is necessarily any other strong connection). So, there is an American Village, British Village, Italian Village and German Village.
Prices and the rate of value growth are extraordinary. Prices in the American Village, for instance, have tripled since the project started in late 2007, and a standard house is now $600,000, with one very large villa being offered at $3 million. I looked at a large villa to rent at $15,000 /month.
The Citadel in Erbil