Deputy PM Qubad Talabani on improving the quality of life, protecting the environment, encouraging innovation, women’s empowerment, and ensuring the rights of minorities in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
What are the 9th cabinet’s next steps towards delivering improvements in quality of life in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) in the medium term?
It is time now for the government, political parties and investors to redirect their efforts into sustaining development – not only of the oil and gas sector- but most importantly, of health, education, agriculture and tourism. These would become pillars of our economy if well-informed policies are put in place.
Our land is fertile. It is time that we grow and strengthen our land to promote the development of our agricultural and industrial sectors. Along with tourism they can provide a viable back-up to our oil sector.
Developing the agriculture sector by introducing new policies and innovative technologies is aimed at transforming it into one of the cornerstones of our economy. This sector, if developed, would contribute to job creation all across our Region.
Protecting the environment by ratifying laws and putting in place regulations which would protect greenish lands and transform them into nature preserves is something that the government takes into consideration.Deputy PM Qubad Talabani, Kurdistan Regional Government
In the manufacturing sector, we have all the essential primary and secondary resources. We will seek to develop them so the sector can support the already established oil sector and in turn support Kurdistan’s economy.
There are plenty of touristic places in the Region that would be of help to Kurdistan’s economy. The tourism sector has the potential to support the KRI’s economy. Even now, we are able to attract hundreds of thousands of citizens from other parts of Iraq who come and enjoy Kurdistan’s beauty.
Our government is paying close attention to technology and transforming its public sector. This started with the introduction of the biometric registration program and the services program that aims at mapping transactions between government and the public. This is another step to improving the quality of life, as bureaucracy is the major impediment to national advancement, across all sectors.
We are focusing on digitizing our government.Deputy PM Qubad Talabani, Kurdistan Regional Government
How important is protecting the environment for the 9th cabinet?
Protecting the environment is a top priority. Kurdistan is a beautiful place. From Duhok to Halabja and Garmiyan, there are plenty of nice places that would be of help to Kurdistan’s economy if preserved. Protecting the environment by ratifying laws and putting in place regulations which would protect greenish lands and transform them into nature preserves is something that the government takes into consideration.
I can assure everyone, be it in my personal capacity, be it in my official capacity, I will continue to support all efforts made by the new generation of Kurdistan.Deputy PM Qubad Talabani, Kurdistan Regional Government
Where do you see examples of Kurdish young people best engaging in high-tech innovation?
There are plenty of examples. The Startup Expo-Frost Edition, iTalk and Hackasuli events this year proved once again that Kurdistan is the place for entrepreneurial initiatives which bring new perspectives to doing business and leveraging our role in the region when it comes to innovation, technology integration and entrepreneurship.
We are focusing on digitizing our government. We are right now in the middle of reengineering how one could set up a company in Kurdistan. When citizens, investors or businessmen need something to be completed in a governmental institution, they should feel that their government is there to serve and support them, and not to hinder the process. I can assure everyone, be it in my personal capacity, be it in my official capacity, I will continue to support all efforts made by the new generation of Kurdistan.
How would you define the role of women in Kurdistan?
Women of Kurdistan play a leading role nowadays on multiple levels, whether political, economic, entrepreneurial or though track-two activities aiming at ending discrimination, empowering younger generations and promoting participation. Men and women of Kurdistan, especially those in decision-making positions, must examine all mechanisms to support women and encourage them in different fields.
Women’s empowerment and participation is a contributing factor to growth and prosperity. It reminds us that women’s participation in governance, politics and legislation would empower our society and would create balance, reminding us that politics is not only restricted to men. The government is ready to work with civil society organizations, women’s organizations, and religious leaders on issues related to gender equality, combating violence against women and working towards a more balanced and modern culture of respect and tolerance.
What policies does the KRG have in place to ensure that religious minorities’ rights are upheld in the KRI?
Modern statehood invites us to think of tolerance and accommodation at home, while emphasizing cooperation based on mutual respect and international law abroad. However, none of this is possible if our domestic front is divided. Unity here is a prerequisite, and by unity I do not mean thinking alike on all socio-political matters. By unity I am referring to unity over a sense of purpose, a collective vision. It is only once we are united on what state we are aspiring to and striving for, that the promise of statehood can be fulfilled. This how the 9th government will be approaching policies which aim at upholding the rights of all minorities, by stressing the collective vision following a simple rule of thumb: Reconcile, Envision, Achieve.
What time does your day start?
It officially starts at around 7:00 am. Nothing gets me ready for a long day at the office better than a morning workout.
Do you work out daily?
I try to, whether it is some weight training, cardio, or Muay Thai, I try to focus on getting my workouts in. Workouts are not only good for the body, but also for the mind.
What does your daily routine look like?
Following my daily morning workout and a light healthy breakfast, I skim through local, regional and international news sites for half an hour before getting ready to leave my house.
What book are you reading currently?
I am currently reading Don Winslow’s The Border.
What type of movies do you watch?
I tend to watch a variety of different genres of movies.
Do you follow developments on social media daily?
Yes. I am quite active on Twitter, even if I don’t tweet often, but I follow trends, engage with tweets whenever I have time. I also check my Instagram sporadically.
Please define Kurdistan in three words.
I would rather stick to my line: My Kurdistan is a Kurdistan for All.
Please define your leadership style in three words.
Principled, determined, pragmatic.