Loyal readers of my blog know that I like to travel to dodgy places, and I have had some amazing trips to many of the world’s most famous hot spots such as Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya, all over the Middle East and Africa.
Probably the coolest experience of my life was in 2010 when I took a taxi at night from Beirut to Damascus, Syria and had an amazing day and half adventure in the oldest city in the world.
During these travels, I have never faced any problems.
About 6 months ago, I promised a client that when we closed an investor for his company, I would come visit him to have a celebration dinner; and since it would be one of the biggest deals in naseba’s history, I happily agreed to this dinner.
I am all up for meeting important clients for dinner, especially, when there are significant success fees involved…
However, this client lives in Iraq.
To be honest, I only halfheartedly agreed and pushed this dinner to the back of my mind … even when the deal was done I didn’t think the client would remember and/or want me to come to Iraq right now for the dinner.
But on Sunday, I got a call from my client saying he was looking forward to our dinner and to be in Erbil (Iraq) on Tuesday.
I admit … this time I was a bit nervous about my trip and debated with myself on not going.
But in the end, I figured it’s a very important client and since he had proven to be honorable, I trust him and he assured me over and over that I would be safe.
It’s an easy 3 hour flight from Dubai to Erbil and the plane was nearly empty, thus comfortable and efficient; It took less than 20 minutes from landing to go through customs and to leave the airport.
Although I visited Iraq back in 012, it’s a much different Iraq today compared to then.
My client took me directly from the airport to his compound outside Erbil.
His compound is a massive walled in “fortress” as he calls it, and we had a nice tea, cigars and discussion. He told me some amazing recent war stories, and as he told me the stories he pointed in a direction and said, “the front line is over there.”
His compound is only 13 kms from the city of Mosul which is controlled by ISIS.
I never felt in danger, and he made sure he took me himself to my hotel by 16:00 or as he said,“before it gets dark.”
On the drive to the hotel, he drove me around the city, and everything appears to be churning along as normal – you don’t notice anything different to how it was in 012, except for less people, and less excitement – but all in all you don’t feel like you are in a country that is in turmoil.
I stayed in a …