In Iraqi Kurdistan: Gold shoes, gold
daggers and gold Kalashnikovs
the past 10 months some 96 tons of gold were
imported into Kurdistan, with more than 58 tons
Slêmanî, nearly 39 tons ending up in Erbil and
only some 1.7 tons going to markets in Duhok.
December 13, 2013
ERBIL-Hewlêr, Kurdistan region 'Iraq',— Goldsmiths
in Erbil report growing demand from women for
jewelry that can be worn on the legs or feet,
necklaces so large they have to be imported and even
gold shoes. Not to be left out, male clients want
their favorite dagger, pistol or Kalashnikov plated
The Kurdistan Region’s growing economic prosperity,
the gnawing rich-poor gap and changing tastes in
fashion are all on display at Kurdistan’s glittering
Statistics show that over the past 10 months some 96
tons of gold were imported into Kurdistan, with more
than 58 tons going to
Slêmanî [Sulaimaniyah], nearly 39 tons ending up
in Erbil and only some 1.7 tons going to markets in
A portion of the imports also goes to Iraqi markets
outside Kurdistan, jewelers say, placing the total
value of imported gold for the 10-month period at a
whopping $10 billion.
Meanwhile, economists warn that that gold is the
main source of capital flight from Kurdistan.
A recent drop in gold prices has encouraged demand
for more sophisticated jewelry among women in
Kurdistan, jewelers say.
“Now we make valuable necklaces that weigh from 30
to 60 misqal (139 to 278 grams), said Erbil jeweler
Bayar Akram. “We also make bracelets which cost
“There is a lot of demand for very wide necklaces,”
he said. “We import them from India because they are
too sophisticated to be made locally, and they cost
around $10,000. There is also demand for a special
necklace known locally as Gobarak, and gold belts
for women that cost more than $10,000 each,” he
Akram reported “a huge demand for gold shoes by
women recently,” saying a pair would set back buyers
by around $18,500.
Islamic Shariah laws discourage men from wearing
gold, but jewelers say that has not stopped male
clients from starting their own glittering trend.
“Some of the gentlemen bring their pistol, dagger or
Kalashnikov and ask for gold plating,” Akram said,
placing the cost for such work from $1,000 to
$40,000 dollars. “Most of the demand for such gold
plating is for daggers,” the jeweler explained.
Jewelers claim that, instead of helping business,
the drop in gold prices and the growing demand have
not necessarily been good. They complain that there
are now so many gold shops that businesses are often
unable to compete, and some have gone bankrupt.
Bakir Aziz, Director of Jewelry Quality Control,
told Rudaw that in the last 10 months 110 goldsmiths
have received licenses,www.Ekurd.net
60 in Erbil, 28 in
Slêmanî, and 22 in Duhok.
Gold prices have dropped significantly this year,
from 310,000 Iraqi dinars per misqal (4.6 grams) in
the beginning of this year to 220,000 dinars later
in the year.
Economist Wishiyar Marouf said that putting money
into gold means that capital that could have been
invested to generate income and jobs becomes frozen.
“This is freezing capital. Instead of putting this
money into investment we are freezing it,” he told
He claimed that the trend toward gold indicates a
lack of public trust in the local economy, and means
that capital is flowing out of Kurdistan into
markets where the gold is bought.
“If the price of gold drops we will lose a great
deal,” Marouf warned.
By Aram Kakakhan - Rudaw
Copyright ©, respective author or news agency,
does not take credit for and is not responsible for the
content of news information on this page