x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

UAE companies in Kurdish region take tighter security measures

UAE companies operating in Iraq’s Kurdish autonomous region are boosting security measures after bomb explosions in Erbil on Sunday.

Rotana Hotels is now preventing vehicles from parking at its Erbil hotel. Lee Hoagland / The National
Rotana Hotels is now preventing vehicles from parking at its Erbil hotel. Lee Hoagland / The National

UAE companies operating in Iraq’s Kurdish autonomous region are boosting security measures after bomb explosions in Erbil on Sunday.

Dana Gas and Rotana Hotels are among companies on alert after suicide car bombs detonated and militants with grenades attempted to storm the Kurdish main security headquarters.

“Security has been stepped up,” said Dana Gas, a Sharjah-based oil explorer. “All our personnel and assets are safe and accounted for.”

Rotana Hotels said it was now preventing vehicles from parking at the hotel.

“We are now not allowing any cars to be parked in the hotel,” said Mohamed Ibrahim, the director at Rotana Hotel in Erbil. “The country itself is OK; we see this as a one-off incident, and we haven’t seen any early cancellations from our guests.”

According to a statement by the Kurdish directorate, six security officers were killed and a further 62 were injured, including 42 security and police officers.

“The Kurdistan region is peaceful and stable, but it sits in a troublesome region and attempts to destablise it are likely to continue,” the Kurdish directorate said. “We therefore call on our citizens to continue to help and support our efforts to keep Kurdistan secure. We call on our citizens to stay vigilant and to inform the nearest security office of anything suspicious.”

The Kurdish region is one of the world’s last oil frontier regions. Granted semi-autonomy under Iraq’s post-Saddam Hussein constitution, the Kurdish Regional Government has welcomed in international oil companies to develop its vast resources.

Smaller companies have followed the lure of the lucrative contracts offered by the Kurds, and the oil majors ExxonMobil, Total and Chevron have recently followed suit. The region’s increased oil wealth, coupled with improved stability and security, has attracted significant amounts of foreign investments across all sectors.

Sunday’s attacks were the first for the region in six years.

According to the statement, a suicide bomber attempted to drive into the Directorate of Security in Erbil. He was stopped by security officials who fired shots. The vehicle exploded. Four militants, armed with rifles and grenades, attempted to enter the building, who were killed by the security forces, the statement said.

Minutes later, a second attack took place as a disguised ambulance approached the building and exploded, the statement said.

halsayegh@thenational.ae