Iran urges Visa-Free Regime with Iraq

Head of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHTO) Ali Asghar Mounesan said removing visa restrictions on travels between Iran and Iraq could serve the interests of both nations.

Speaking at a meeting with Iraq’s Culture and Tourism Minister Abdul Amir al-Hamdani, Mounesan, also a vice-president, praised bilateral relations between Tehran and Baghdad as “brotherly and very cordial” and said the two countries enjoy good ties in all economic, social, and political areas.

“Each year, millions of Iranian and Iraqi tourists visit the two countries and there is a readiness to promote relations in the field of tourism,” he noted.

Referring to the abolition of the visa requirements for Iranians visiting Turkey and Oman, the official urged a similar move by Iraq and said an increase in the number of tourists from the two countries would be in the interests of both nations.

“We should make efforts to speed up this process by lifting visa requirements,” said the vice president.

Annually, millions of Muslim pilgrims, mainly from Iran, travel long routes to Iraq’s Karbala, where the holy shrine of Imam Hussein (AS), the third Shiite Imam, is located.

Iran and Iraq enjoy cordial political, security and cultural ties but due to some internal and regional problems including Daesh (also known as ISIS or ISIL) terrorism in Iraq, they have not been able to increase their trade volume in the past years.

Iran’s main exports to the neighboring country include agro products, foodstuff and fruits such as watermelon, tomato and cucumber, which account for 37% of the total exports.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

Launch of MBC Iraq “sparks Controversy among Iraqis”

By Omar al-Jaffal for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Saudi media group MBC announced in early February that it will launch a new TV channel — MBC Iraq — aimed at Iraqi viewers. Soon after the announcement, a number of angry responses emerged in the Iraqi media and among political figures, which led MBC to defend its plan.

The MBC group generally produces entertainment shows and social content, which will also be aired on MBC Iraq that is scheduled to launch on the evening of Feb. 17.

MBC’s television operations are funded by Saudi businessmen, many of whom are close to the Saudi royal family.

Click here to read the full story.

Iraq Britain Business Council Launches Women’s Group

The Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) has announced that it has launched it’s ‘IBBC Women’s Group’, dedicated to empowering and advancing women’s careers and networks across all areas of business in Iraq, the Middle East and Internationally.

Under the Chairmanship of Samar Thamer of AMS Iraq and coordinated by IBBC’s Agne Abramauskaite and Ashley Goodall, the Women’s Group will be organising events, talks and networking opportunities for those who wish to participate in this progressive and exciting new venture.

Background

IBBC Women’s Group primarily wants to encourage and reinforce the role of women’s socio-economic development in the Middle East Region.

We will work with our members to share knowledge and best practice, via networking opportunities, online platforms and events to ensure that standards are raised to benefit women in the ME. We want to encourage men and women to speak up and share the best practice and showcase greater awareness of women’s prospects globally.

IBBC Women’s Group is a part of Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC), which facilitates business, trade and investment, for the benefit of the Republic of Iraq and its members, seeking to bring together Iraqi, British and international companies and public sector bodies through a joint platform identifying mutual interests and common goals.

It is a powerful network of some of the most important global corporations as well as key Iraqi and British companies and enjoys the highest-level of support from governments and Global Organisations.

Activities

  • Reinforce measures to promote women in corporate leadership through the IBBC
  • Increase women’s access to mentorship and training opportunities that could led by the companies and academic institutions that are linked with IBBC
  • Support social awareness and promote gender equality at work and communities
  • Create networking, business and mentoring events on and off line
  • Influence the Iraqi government where possible to drive progress towards women’s empowerment

If you have an interest in the IBBC’s Women’s Group and would like to participate, please join our newly created LinkedIn & Facebook groups to keep up to date on activities going forward:

https://www.facebook.com/2241576649458055/photos/2241577296124657/

https://www.linkedin.com/groups/8731839/

(Source: IBBC)

Conflict over Shiite and Sunni Endowments in Mosul

By Adnan Abu Zeed for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Conflict over Shiite and Sunni Endowments erupts in Mosul

The northern Iraqi city of Mosul is on guard about the possibility of an outbreak of sectarian strife between Sunnis and Shiites following allegations that the Shiite Waqf (religious endowment) is seeking to seize Sunni-held land in the area.

The head of the Iraqi Al-Qarar Coalition, Osama Najafi, said Jan. 30, “The Shiite endowment in Ninevah [province] is trying to register hundreds of property bonds belonging to the Sunni Waqf in its name, using its influence through official books issued by the General Real Estate Registration Directorate.”

Najafi said the Shiite endowment was also “pressuring and threatening staff in the real estate registration office in Mosul.”

Click here to read the full story.

KRG “suspends Oil Exports to Iran”

By John Lee.

The Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) has reportedly suspended oil exports to Iran.

According to Anadolu Agency, the KRG’s Ministry of Finance and Economy did not specify a reason for the move, and “it remains unclear whether the suspension is linked to U.S. sanctions on Iran.

(Source: Anadolu Agency)

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

GardaWorld Weekly Security Report

GardaWorld, a global leader in comprehensive security and risk management, has made its weekly security report available to Iraq Business News readers.

Prepared by GardaWorld’s Risk Analysis Team in Iraq, this essential report includes short- and medium-term outlooks on the security situation, reports and commentary on recent significant events, and a detailed overview of developments across the country.

Please click here to download the latest report free of charge.

For more information on how GardaWorld’s services can support your business in Iraq, please contact Daniel Matthews, Senior Director Iraq, at daniel.matthews@garda.com

IBBC completes Largest Ever Trade Mission to Baghdad

IBBC completes Trade Mission to Baghdad with largest ever delegation of UK, International & Iraqi Businesses 9-12 Feb 2019

The Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) visited numerous Iraqi government ministers and officials during a highly successful trade mission to Baghdad on 9-12 February 2019.

The delegation was the largest ever led to the Republic of Iraq by the IBBC and included meetings with the Prime Minister, H.E. Dr Adil Abdul-Mahdi and Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister H.E. Dr Fuad Hussein.

The delegation was supported by Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Iraq Jon Wilks CMG and the UK’s Department of International Trade. A reception was held for members and guests at the British Embassy in Baghdad courtesy of the Ambassador on Sunday 10 February.

Meetings were held with the following officials:

  • H.E. Dr Adil Abdul-Mahdi, Prime Minister
  • Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Dr Fuad Hussain
  • Minister of Health Dr Ala Al Alwan
  • Minister of Transport Dr Abdullah Luaibi
  • Minister of Electricity Dr Luay Al Khateeb
  • PM’s Advisory Commission
  • Chairman of National Investment Commission Dr Sami Al Araji

Christophe Michels, Managing Director of IBBC stated:

“We were delighted to be able to organise such a large delegation of some of the most prominent UK, Iraqi & International companies operating in Iraq to meet with essential political figures in the new administration.

“After a series of highly productive meetings and discussions across a range of sectors, we feel confident that compared to previous years, Iraq in 2019 will see a significant level of progress in investment and economic growth to the benefit of the country and its people.”

The IBBC Spring Conference at the Mansion House taking place on 10 April in London will build upon the success of this mission. We expect a high-level delegation of Iraqi government figures to attend, as well a UK government presence and numerous senior industry and academic experts. For more information and registration: https://www.iraqbritainbusiness.org/event/spring-conference-at-the-mansion-house

Numerous IBBC Member companies joined the delegation, representing the major companies doing business in Iraq, across the most important sectors of the economy:

Al Bilal Group

Al Burhan

Al Nukhba-OFS FZCO

Al Maseer Insurance

ARCHS

Dar Group

EY

Exxon Mobil

Field Energy Services

G4S

GE

Gulfsands Petroleum

International Islamic Bank

Khudairi Group

KPMG

Management Partners

Menzies Aviation

Ratba’a Contracting Co. LLC

Serco

Siemens

Standard Chartered Bank

Zaha Hadid Architects

(Source: IBBC)

Iraq’s Improving Economy Boosts Zain’s Results

By John Lee.

In its consolidated financial results for the full-year 2018, telecommunications group Zain reports that the improving socio-economic situation sweeping Iraq is providing the much-needed stimulus to support Zain Iraq’s turnaround efforts.

The company said in a statement:

The operation performed exceptionally well when compared to the previous year. Revenues and net profit are consistently growing on a quarter-on-quarter basis, with full-year revenues reaching USD 1.1 billion, a 3% increase Y-o-Y and EBITDA reached USD 423 million, up 11%.

“The operation reported a net profit of USD 49 million, up 70% Y-o-Y compared to a profit of USD 29 million in the previous year, with EBITDA margin standing at 37%.

“The expansion of 3.9G services across the country and restoration of sites in the West and North (97% of all sites restored to date), combined with numerous customer acquisition initiatives, especially in core regions, resulted in an impressive addition of 1.3 million customers (9% increase) to reach 16 million.

“Another contributing factor to the operation’s financial revival included cost optimization initiatives in areas such as repair and maintenance, as well as the significant growth of data revenues, robust growth in the Enterprise (B2B) segment and the revamping of Zain Iraq’s call centers, which significantly improved customer service.

(Source: Zain)

Asiacell Iraq benefits from Improved Security, Economy

By John Lee.

Asiacell Iraq has reported that it has benefitted from improvements in the security and economic situation in the country paving the way for network expansion and reconnections.

The telecommunications company said its revenue was “stable” at QAR 4.4 billion, compared to QAR 4.5 billion in 2017. EBITDA was up 6% to QAR 2.1 billion for 2018, reflecting better cost efficiencies by the management.

Customer base increased 10% to 14.2 million customers in 2018 period.

Asiacell Iraq also launched its B2B line offering a range of services to address the needs of Iraq’s business community and create a new revenue stream.

(Source: Asiacell)