The ongoing transformation in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) is a noteworthy phenomenon, encompassing changes in its social and economic landscape and the active involvement of its young professionals. The shifting dynamics of political and economic fluctuations in the region demonstrate that the movement of people – including those leaving Kurdistan and those returning to it – is more than just an intriguing trend; it signifies the emergence of a new generation of leaders, innovators, and agents of progress.
Young professionals, including returnees and diaspora Kurdistanis, have contributed significantly to shaping the region’s present and future. Throughout its history, this region, which has often been characterized by turmoil and conflict, has seen its population dispersed around the world in pursuit of better opportunities and greater safety. Whether they return to their homeland or remain part of Kurdistan’s diaspora, dedicated professionals are reversing the brain drain phenomenon and actively applying their skills, knowledge, and determination to address the challenges faced by the region.
Their commitment stands as a testament to their unwavering belief in the Kurdistan Region’s untapped potential and their fervent desire to be catalysts for transformation within their own communities. This commitment is deeply rooted in their shared history and cultural heritage, as well as a powerful love for this precious land.
Most Kurdistani families can recount stories of ancestors who made extraordinary sacrifices for the land they cherish, and these stories have been passed down through generations, leaving an indelible mark on the collective consciousness of its people and fostering a profound connection to their homeland. The cultural heritage of the Kurdistan Region, moreover, is intricately woven into its stories, music, and traditions. These elements not only define its identity but also serve as a wellspring of inspiration for its people, regardless of where they reside.
Whether in the Kurdistan Region itself or in far-flung corners of the world, passionate innovators, professionals, writers, and other talented individuals from various sectors continually grapple with a fundamental question: "What can I do for my beloved Kurdistan?" This question serves as a driving force, propelling them to excel in their chosen fields and fueling their unwavering dedication to the betterment of their homeland.
These individuals represent a diverse spectrum of vocations, from tech experts wishing to drive digitalization in the region, to health care practitioners supporting breakthroughs in medicine, engineers designing sustainable infrastructure to ensure a bright future, experts influencing policy making across strategic domains, and educators imparting knowledge to the next generation to innovators using their creative talents to drive progress. Despite their varying fields, they share a common goal: to make a meaningful contribution to the prosperity of the Kurdistan Region. Even in the most challenging moments and crises, we witness how the sense of ownership serves as a source of inspiration for these groups of individuals, motivating them to come together to gather resources and volunteer their skills, energy, and dedication to alleviate the hardships.
The dedication of the diaspora and returnees often necessitates significant personal sacrifices, including leaving behind their homes and families. However, their actions are motivated by personal gain as well as their profound love for their roots, enabling them to transcend geographical boundaries, linguistic barriers, and cultural divides. In the heart of most Kurdistanis, whether they reside in the Kurdistan Region or abroad, beats a desire to witness their homeland thrive. This shared aspiration unites Kurdistanis worldwide, forging a collective dream of a prosperous and harmonious Kurdistan where the sacrifices of their ancestors are honored through progress and prosperity.
Some return to the Kurdistan Region, dedicating themselves to contributing directly to its development. Others tirelessly promote the Kurdish cause on the international stage. Some choose the written word, penning books and articles that shed light on the rich history and culture of Kurdistan, while others channel their innovative and artistic talents to inspire and connect with others. It is a purpose that propels them to build bridges, both literal and metaphorical, between the Kurdistan Region and the rest of the world.
The story of young Kurdish professionals is borne out of a deep-rooted connection to their homeland. Like any other story, there are ups and downs along the way, but there continues to be a guiding light deep inside all of our spirits. It is a narrative of individuals who, regardless of their location, remain committed to the betterment of the Kurdistan Region.
As they continue their journeys through life, they carry the voices of their ancestors, the melodies of their music, and the tales of their homeland with them. Their love for the Kurdistan Region is reflected in their daily lives, with each contributing uniquely and meaningfully, working diligently toward a brighter future. The transformative effect of these dedicated young professionals is a story that resonates not only within the borders of the Kurdistan Region but also across the international stage.
Biza Barzo is an academic and policy consultant with over a decade of experience working in strategic positions in government and international institutions.