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Iraqi Kurdistan has been a peaceful region in spite of larger overall trouble, and is now going through a tourism boom.

Emaar Properties PJSC of Dubai and Kurdish company Faruk Group Holding will soon sign a contract valued at more than $2 billion to develop a resort in Iraq’s oil-rich Kurdish region in the north, a government official said.

The Dukan tourist city project will be built in Sulaymaniyah near the border with Iran, Herish Muharam Muhamad, chairman of Kurdistan Regional Government’s investment board, said in an interview in the regional capital, Erbil. The resort at the artificial lake Dukan will include hotels, restaurants and residential areas as well as cinemas and casinos, he said.

The semi-autonomous Kurdish region has become a focal point for tourists and business visitors even as much of Iraq continues to face political and ethnic violence following the war that toppled Saddam Hussein. Emaar, which has the heaviest weighting on Dubai’s benchmark stock index, last year signed an agreement with Iraq government officials to develop housing and tourism projects in the country.

Faruk Group Holding comprises 12 companies in businesses including construction, telecommunications, cement, hospitality and retail. It is Iraq’s largest private company, with 11,000 employees, according to Faruk’s website.

Emaar is bidding for a $5 billion housing project in central Iraq, Mohammed Ameen, vice chairman of Iraq’s National Investment Commission, said in an April 1 interview in Baghdad. Iraq has allocated more than $31 billion to address a residential shortage estimated at more than 670,000 homes. Emaar didn’t immediately reply to an e-mail seeking comment on the Kurdish resort project.

Emaar climbed as much as 6.4 percent today after MSCI Inc. upgraded the United Arab Emirates to emerging market status from frontier. The shares closed up 2.8 percent as of the 2 p.m. market close.

–Editors: Ross Larsen, Andrew Blackman

To contact the reporters on this story: Khalid Al-Ansary in Baghdad at [email protected]; Nayla Razzouk in Dubai at [email protected]

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Voss at [email protected]

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Tags: iraq, resorts

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