Kurdish businessman to build $20m White House replica in Iraq

An Iraqi businessman is building a replica of the White House in Erbil, the booming capital of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. 

The $20m project is being built by Shihab Shihab in Dream City, one of Erbil’s most wealthy districts. 

The development is taking place just miles away from towns controlled by the Islamic State. 

The 3,000 square metre project will be three storeys high and contain a 140 square metre master bedroom and five bathrooms. It will include Greek marble columns at the entrance, 21-carat gold leaf on its interior, a home movie theatre and Turkish baths.

I get to keep my bedroom for the rest of my life while Obama has to vacate it when his term ends– Shihab Shihab

Investment in the Kurdistan region has grown geometrically since Saddam Hussein was ousted from the presidency in 2003. Tania Toma, associate for strategic consulting at agent Jones Lang LaSalle, told Bloomberg: "The Kurdish people are very cash rich and they want to spend money. People want to buy something now because they think there’s a potential for growth."

Shihab is an example of this resurgence. He owns the Naza Mall in Erbil, but now plans to replace it with a 67-storey residential and commercial tower. The political problems brought by the collapse of the Iraqi army and the chaos of the three-year-long Syrian civil war "are temporary", he added. 

Azad Sadollah, director of business development at Falcon Group, which is developing the project, said: "There may be a little bit of delay with some of the project. People are more cautious about spending and investing than they would normally be." 

Shihab Shihab says he admires 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for its "beauty and simplicity". 

The project is due to be completed in 2017.

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