ERBIL -- The vast Empire World real estate development -- the largest such development in Iraq -- is a centerpiece of the KRG's continued emphasis on creating a business friendly environment, including a luxury hotel, a villa residential neighborhood, and a surfeit of turnkey office space, all in one sprawling complex.
Slated for completion in 2017, the Empire World development represents a $2.3 billion investment in the future of the high-economic growth autonomous Kurdistan region in northern Iraq.
In an interview with Marcopolis, Peshraw Majid Agha, Chairman of Falcon Group, the developer of Empire World, spoke about the large-scale development and where it fits in with the overall real estate and construction sector in Kurdistan's capital, Erbil.
The quality and design of the entire complex will make it amenable to foreign companies who want to situate their offices and residential enclaves in the Empire World complex, and also provide an inviting space for the many new start-ups in the KRG.
"The outlook for real estate in Erbil is for further growth. There is more and more demand and there is cash in the market as many investors are coming to Kurdistan. Everyone is looking at the opportunities that exist in Erbil. It is now one of the most important cities in Iraq for business," Mr Agha told Marcopolis.
''Kurdistan is acting as an introduction to Iraq for investors. Investment here is growing, there is a lot of investment happening in infrastructure, power, roads etc. I think the outlook for real estate in Kurdistan therefore is also very good."
The Empire World chairman noted that each phase of the project was started in tandem with various market demands, such as large deficit in the housing market. He added that the location was an ideal one given its proximity to the international airport and a large park, all of which, combined with his vision for a mixed residential and office complex, made the location perfect for both living and working.
"There are two or three things that make Empire World the largest project in Iraq. There is an area for business, for residency, for hotels etc. all within the project. The land area is 750,000 square meters (185-acres) and the budget is $ 2.3 billion,'' said Mr Agha, elaborating that the finished complex will include 88 towers, 300 villas, a Marriott luxury hotel complex and such value-added facilities as a mosque and a medical clinic.
"We have already sold about 60 percent of the project," the chairman said, noting that Empire was a truly unique and large scale undertaking in Iraq.
Mr Agha added that the quality and design of the entire complex will make it amenable to foreign companies who want to situate their offices and residential enclaves in the Empire World complex, and also provide an inviting space for the many new start-ups in the KRG.
In recent interviews with media, the Empire World chairman said that the project is completely on track for its planned 2017 opening date. And that many companies have already ensured that they have secured a space in the development. He added that the development was already beyond 70 percent completion.
Project officials said that Empire World currently employs over 1,200 employees representing both local and foreign workers.
Mr Agha noted that key project sections such as the Royal City, a complex of 300 luxury villas, sold out even before 2010. According to the Empire World chairman the property values of the Royal City villas and apartments have more than tripled from their original selling prices, reflecting the strong market interest in the development.