‘When I walk in Erbil streets, I can tell that Erbil is the next Dubai’: UAE Consul-General
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) - The Consul-General of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to Erbil, Ahmed Aldhaheri, told Kurdistan 24 on Sunday that there are many similarities between the Kurdistan Region capital Erbil and the Emirati metropolis of Dubai, particularly regarding their economic development and effective leadership.
“When I first arrived at Erbil International Airport and saw the city of Erbil, I noticed that there are a lot of similarities between Erbil and Dubai,” Aldhaheri said. “This was my first impression about the city.”
Aldhaheri stated that Kurdistan Region and the UAE share similarities in urbanization, human development, and even customs.
“The leaderships of both the UAE and the Kurdistan Region seek economic development, openness to the world, and long-term plans for the future,” he said.
“What I like about Erbil is the beautiful mixture between the past and present,” he added. “Its ancient citadel that’s thousands of years old, the modern life of its people, and the city’s urbanization,”
“I’m also impressed by the good, wise, and inspirational leadership in Kurdistan Region.”
Aldhaheri said that the Kurdistan Region’s leadership has achieved a lot in a very short period of time, which he believes proves its desire and enthusiasm for the economic and human development of the autonomous region, which will help guarantee a better future for its people.
“And this is exactly what the UAE leadership does,” he said.
“The human values and tolerance of the Kurdistan Region leadership, including those of President Masoud Barzani, Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Masrour Barzani, and Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani, as well as those of the region’s people can be seen in the peaceful coexistence the region has,” Aldhaheri said.
He also extended his thanks to the Kurdistan Region for “hosting millions of refugees and displaced people,” which he added, “reflected the tolerance and values of the region.”
“There is a good partnership between the UAE Red Crescent and the Barzani Charity Foundation that jointly implement a lot of humanitarian projects, which benefited millions of refugees and internally displaced people in the region,” Aldaheri said.
He noted that the UAE has sent three aircrafts full of medical support to both Iraq and the Kurdistan Region to help them fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The relations between the UAE and Iraq, especially the Kurdistan Region are historic, and we have very good political as well as economic relations,” he said. “The UAE will soon announce new investments in Iraq worth $3 billion, which will become a base for further developing these economic relations.”
“The size of the non-oil trade between Iraq and UAE was more than $10 billion until 2019,” he added.
Regarding the Dubai Expo 2020 economic event presently taking place in Dubai, Aldaheri said that UAE is the first country to host such a big international event since the pandemic began with an estimated 192 organizations participating.
“The UAE’s message to the countries of the world through this event is to invest in artificial intelligence, renewable energy, and the environment,” he said. “The UAE intends to strengthen the economic relations among the countries of the world and maximize trade between them.”
Aldaheri also told Kurdistan 24 that the Mohammed Bin Rashid Smart Learning Program will include the Kurdistan Region and an agreement with the Kurdistan Region Ministry of Education will be signed in the coming days.
“The program will develop the long-distance learning capabilities of the Kurdistan Region’s educational institutions,” he said. “We will reveal more details in the coming days.”
Aldaheri also confirmed that all universities in the UAE, including the Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence, are open for Iraqi citizens, including those from the Kurdistan Region.
“The UAE hosts people from 200 different nationalities, including Iraqis who come to study in the UAE,” he said. “Our consulate in Erbil provides all the necessary facilitations for students, including student visas and residency permissions.”
“There are other types of visas available, including green visas for big investors and business owners to stay and live in the UAE,” he added.
Aldhaheri told Kurdistan 24 that he enjoys listening to Kurdish music and intends to learn the Kurdish language in the future.
“Although I do not understand the words of the Kurdish songs, I do like the deep feeling in Kurdish music,” he said. “The Japanese and Korean Consul Generals in Erbil speak Kurdish, and I want to take the challenge and learn Kurdish too.”
Aldaheri also said that he enjoys visiting the Kurdistan Region’s archeological sites, seeing its nature, and meeting with friends, public figures, artists, business owners, and university students during his free time.
He enjoys Kurdish cuisine, especially Dolma and Kebab.
“UAE cuisine is influenced by the Indian cuisine, which made our dishes mostly hot and spicy, while the Kurdish cuisine is influenced more by Turkish and Shami cuisine,” he said.
“But of course, the Kurdish dishes have their own special flavor.”
Below is the video of the interview in Arabic: