As Iraq's government battles against terrorists, a few investors aren't entirely deterred from seeing opportunities in the war-weary country, which has yet to ascend to formal emerging market status. Some are taking a "long view" that calibrates inherent risks against potential opportunities.
Iraq is gradually emerging from a brutal two-year economic downturn, coupled with a bloody conflict with ISIS, and still percolating civil strife that has wreaked havoc on its infrastructure and institutions. Last month, one investor told CNBC a full-fledged economic revival would take at least a decade to come to fruition.
Yet a 2015 State Department report noted Iraq's "long term potential" for U.S. investors, largely based on its status as the world's fifth largest repository of oil reserves and massive reconstruction and infrastructure development needs. "U.S. companies have opportunities to invest in security, energy, environment, construction, healthcare, agriculture, and infrastructure sectors," the report said, noting Iraq's voracious import demand needs.
Meanwhile, a few experts point to the oil rich country's vast natural resources, and a youthful and growing population that provides it with the manpower to achieve stability—eventually. Along with a growth rate predicted to top 7 percent this year, Iraq's underlying fundamentals make it a golden opportunity for investors brave enough to look beyond the sound and fury. So where might crafty investors place their faith—and funds?
"Two major themes will drive Iraq's revival over the immediate and long term," Ahmed Tabaqchali, chief investment officer of the Iraq Fund at Hong Kong-based Asia Frontier Capital told CNBC recently. The firm specializes in frontier and exotic investments.
Tabaqchali explained that rebuilding with the country's booming population in mind should help drive growth.
"Wholesale infrastructure, careful rebuilding of the economy and reconstruction of ISIS-liberated areas are key," he told CNBC in an interview from London, as will consumer consumption. "Iraq's young population is hungry to catch up with the rest of the world after all the years of conflict," he added.