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THE KURDISTAN REGION IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS  
Saturday, 17 April 2010, 10:09 EDT Chinese shopping mall opens in Suleimaniya A man strolls through Kaso Mall in Suleimaniya. GLOBE PHOTO / Salam Abdulqadir By Salam Abdulqadir The Kurdish Globe A Kurdish-Chinese venture is open for business With the promise of low prices and quality goods, Kaso Mall takes Suleimaniya by storm. "Kurds are going up and up," said Tim Sun, a young Chinese man running Kaso Mall in Suleimaniya. Mr. Sun was explaining the growth of the economy in Suleimaniya, the second-largest city in Kurdistan Region. Opening earlier this month, Kaso Mall is a joint Chinese-Kurdish investment with 70 percent of Chinese shares, located in the city center opposite Mzgawti Gawra, the Great Mosque--a well-known signpost. It has four shopping floors and two floors for parking. The posh shopping center is decorated inside with stunning Chinese objects, and four flags--two Chinese flags, and between them an Iraqi-Kurdistan flag--on the barrier of the first floor facing the entrance. Kaso Mall adds fresh color to the variety of investment already on the rise in the area. "These things are for beauty and friendship," said Mr. Sun, speaking about the decorations and the blossoming Kurdish-Chinese friendship. The shops in the mall are largely run by Chinese people with the help of Kurdish interpreters. In the past, foreigners were either journalists or delegations coming for just a short period of time. But now, thanks to the developments the region is witnessing, foreigners are coming for business, work, and tourism as well. One of the major problems the country is currently facing is the quality of goods; when shopping, a consumer is usually given a choice between cheap but bad quality, and expensive but good-quality items. In the words of Mr. Sun, who has been in business for 12 years, the new shopping center offers goods of no lower than normal quality. He classified goods as low, normal, and high, and he said that everything that enters the center for sale must be either normal or high and the price should be lower than what other markets ask. "The quality is good and it is cheap," said Muhammad Karim, in his 30s, who with his family exited the mall carrying bags full of children's items. But it seems that the problem of quality is unlikely to be tackled soon by the mall. Hassan Rasheed, 48, the "first boss of the mall," as he described himself, said that they are not going to separately check the quality of goods sold in the mall. "We have asked our shop renters to offer low prices and good items to their customers. But we depend on government checks on goods when they pass the borders to the country," Rasheed said. Yassin Muhammad, 30, selling electronic items at Kaza Mall, said that when he sells something he will tell the customer about the quality of the item, as he has good and bad items with different prices. "We have not received any complaints from our customers," he said. And he praised the mall for its poshness: "It is very clean, and it has toilets and a good air-conditioning system." Although the mall is mainly Chinese, products from other countries are sometimes available. "We can bring products from other countries as well, but we have to bear in mind that they must be al least normal, not low, in terms of quality," said Muhammad about mall guidelines. "This is the only Chinese mall of this kind in Iraq. We will wait to see if we can make progress," noted Mr. Tim on this hopeful investment in the region. Source:The Kurdish Globe  
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