Meet The Other Iraq!

Marketing is a truly difficult art. And changing consumer perceptions is perhaps its trickiest aspect. When there’s a negative association with your product in the minds of the public, it can be extremely hard to dispel. Pity, then, the people trying to attract Western tourists to Iraq.

I saw in the Mess-o-potamia (and no, that pun never gets old) segment on last night Daily Show that the Kurds have set up an ingenious marketing plan to attract visitors and investors to Kurdistan, which has been a peaceful, autonomous region since 1992. It was the only meaningful progress made in the first Gulf War – well, except the decommissioning of Saddam’s WMDs, which we all now know was completely successful.

The only tiny marketing issue is that even though it’s another country in practice, Kurdistan is technically still part of Iraq. Which is not exactly the world’s favorite place for a relaxing break. So how do you convince people to come? Why, set up

Or, as they put it:

It’s spectacular.

It’s peaceful.

Welcome to Iraqi Kurdistan.
Where democracy has been practiced for over a decade. It’s not a dream.
It’s the other Iraq.

That’s right, folks – the deights of the civilised, peaceful bit of the unremitting hellhole that is Iraq are beautifully showcased for the world’s English speakers at this site. Did you know that:

  • There are less than 200 Coalition troops in Kurdistan? (i was wondering how this was reassuring, exactly – and then twigged that of course they’re the ones whose presence leads to unrest because insurgents want to blow them up.)
  • It’s a democracy. I don’t mean like how regular Iraq is, I mean it’s a place where people actually vote for their leaders without the threat of being made to explode.
  • No Westerners have been kidnapped or murdered in their territory for, oh, ages. They decline to explain whether that’s because virtually none have gone there.

I particularly enjoyed the video clips, especially the one where a little girl welcomes you to her homeland with an arty white-light-flooding effect that led TDS’ Jon Stewart to suggest that she must be the one who had those pesky WMDs all along.

There’s also lots of information on the unfortunate Kurds. Compared to being mustard-gassed by Saddam, having to attract tourists to their now-stable region is a cinch.

The establishment of a de facto independent Kurdistan is also a bitter reminder of how much more successfully the first Gulf War achieved its more modest aims, and sensibly limited Saddam’s ability to harm his neighbours, than the current campaign, which just assumed a kind of Insta-Democracy would result.

So, if you’re looking for a nice country to visit or do business, and can ignore its extreme proximity to the world’s most dangerous non-Lebanese territory, do consider The Other Iraq!

Yeah, that slogan really doesn’t work, does it. What about Or Or my favourite – for the American market –

Dominic Knight