Kurdistan News


Air Arabia launches fourth Iraqi Destination

Air Arabia, the Middle East and North Africa’s first and largest low-cost carrier (LCC), has announced the launch of non-stop service to the city of Sulaymaniyah in the north of Iraq.

The new service from the carrier’s primary hub in Sharjah marks Air Arabia’s fourth destination in Iraq and 152 worldwide. From November 6, 2018, Air Arabia will offer two weekly flights to Sulaimaniyah, making it convenient for passengers travelling between both cities.

Offering convenient timings, the three-hour flight will operate twice per week, on Tuesdays and Fridays.

The outbound flight on Tuesday’s will depart from Sharjah International Airport (SHJ) at 05:00 and land in Sulaimaniyah International Airport (ISU) at 06:55 local time. The return flight will leave Sulaimaniyah at 07:35 and land in Sharjah at 11:05 local time.

On Fridays, the flight will depart from Sharjah International Airport (SHJ) at 15:00 and land in Sulaimaniyah International Airport (ISU) at 16:55 local time. The return flight will leave Sulaimaniyah at 17:35 and land in Sharjah at 21:05 local time.

Adel Al Ali, Group Chief Executive Officer, Air Arabia, said:

“We are pleased to launch this new service to Sulaimaniyah, our fourth destination in Iraq, after Baghdad, Najaf and Erbil. We continuously seek ways to enhance airline connectivity with Iraq, given the growth in business ties between the two nations. The additional route is a testament to Air Arabia’s commitment to providing affordable air travel to our growing customer base.”

(Source: Air Arabia)

Tourism in Kurdistan Region hits Record High

The number of tourists visiting the Kurdistan Region this year reached a record high, according to Mr. Mawlawi Jabar, Chairman of the General Board of Tourism.

In an interview with the Kurdistan Regional Government website, Mr. Jabar noted:

In the first six months of 2018, 1.3 million tourists visited the Kurdistan Region, mostly from central and southern Iraq. During the 11-day Eid al-Adha holiday, there were 349,000 tourists, spending 140 billion dinars in the Region.

“In the first four months of 2018 there was a good influx of Iranian tourists visiting the Region. After the Iranian authorities imposed taxes on its citizens for traveling abroad, however, the number significantly decreased. Though smaller in numbers, tourists from other countries are also preferring to visit the Region.

While neighboring countries offer lower costs to Iraqi tourists, the ratio of Iraqi tourists visiting the Kurdistan Region continues to rise.

Mr. Jabar added:

A comprehensive tourism development strategy has been in place since 2014, but the ISIS war and financial crises restricted implementation of strategic plans. Since 2016, however, implementation has been gradually reactivated. For example, loans have been extended to small and medium tourism projects.

“The Board of Tourism has a special department for invigorating protection of the environment. To raise awareness, we are working to protect the environment through the media, publications and other awareness tools.

Regarding private sector’s role in developing tourism, he said, “Part of the strategic plan is to support the essential role of the private sector. He said Kurdistan’s tourism companies have good relations with companies abroad and play an important role in attracting tourists.

He said, “Tourism investment has rapidly grown in the Kurdistan Region and its effectiveness is illustrated by the rising number of visitors and revenue.

(Source: KRG)

Outgoing Abadi signs blow to Turkish Imports

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

While Turkey was eagerly anticipating a new government in Baghdad to sort out many problems with Iraq, a last minute decision by the outgoing prime minister has added a fresh item to the list of ongoing disagreements between the two countries.

Haider al-Abadi unexpectedly signed a decree to set up three new checkpoints in government-controlled areas in northern Iraq that will effectively slash Turkey’s trade with it.

The trucks that enter the country normally pass through the sole border crossing that is controlled by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and will now also have to pass at least one of these additional checkpoints.

Click here to read the full story.

Outgoing Abadi signs blow to Turkish Imports

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

While Turkey was eagerly anticipating a new government in Baghdad to sort out many problems with Iraq, a last minute decision by the outgoing prime minister has added a fresh item to the list of ongoing disagreements between the two countries.

Haider al-Abadi unexpectedly signed a decree to set up three new checkpoints in government-controlled areas in northern Iraq that will effectively slash Turkey’s trade with it.

The trucks that enter the country normally pass through the sole border crossing that is controlled by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and will now also have to pass at least one of these additional checkpoints.

Click here to read the full story.

Peshkabir Production Pushes 50,000 bpd

DNO ASA, the Norwegian oil and gas operator, today announced production at the Peshkabir field in the Kurdistan region of Iraq has ramped up to 50,000 barrels of oil per day (bopd), meeting the end-2018 target ahead of schedule and below budget.

One of two recently completed wells, Peshkabir-7, is producing over 10,000 bopd from nine Cretaceous zones through temporary test facilities and exported. The other, Peshkabir-6, drilled as a production well, but with the additional objective of appraising deeper formations, has established a deeper Cretaceous oil/water contact level than previously estimated. Further testing is underway, including test production of multiple producing zones.

The Peshkabir-8 well, spud in late August, is drilling ahead at 2,325 meters. Once completed, the rig will move to spud Peshkabir-9 in November.

Four other wells at Peshkabir now produce at a combined rate of close to 40,000 bopd following a workover at Peshkabir-3 which boosted production from that well to 11,000 bopd from 8,000 bopd.

Peshkabir production is processed through temporary test facilities until commissioning of a central processing facility with a capacity of up to 50,000 bopd by end-2018. The Company is also installing a 10-inch pipeline from Peshkabir to Fish Khabur with a capacity of 60,000 bopd. Field production is currently transported to Fish Khabur by tanker truck and a 6-inch pipeline.

At the Company’s flagship Tawke field, the Tawke-50 shallow Jeribe well drilled to a depth of 320 meters will be brought on production within several days. The Tawke-49 Cretaceous well is drilling ahead at 2,245 meters and will be completed later this month. Two additional Tawke wells, one each in the Jeribe and the Cretaceous, will be drilled by the end of the year. Workovers are also underway at two wells. Tawke production currently stands at just over 80,000 bopd.

Elsewhere in Kurdistan, the Company is about to spud its first well at the Baeshiqa license. Baeshiqa contains two undrilled structures with multiple target reservoirs in the Cretaceous, Jurassic and Triassic. The first well will target the Cretaceous and will be followed by a back-to-back well to test the deeper Jurassic and Triassic on the same structure. A third well to test the Jurassic and Triassic on a separate structure will be drilled in 2019.

“We are all in on our Kurdistan operations and delivering,” said DNO’s Executive Chairman Bijan Mossavar-Rahmani (pictured). “Peshkabir continues to exceed expectations and we are eager to probe the promising potential at Baeshiqa,” he added.

In Norway, the Company will participate in two exploration wells to be spud in 2018. DNO currently holds 21 licenses in the country and plans an additional five exploration wells next year. The Company’s growing Norway portfolio is complemented by a 28.22 percent shareholding in UK-listed Faroe Petroleum plc.

“With USD 1 billion in financial assets, including more than USD 600 million in cash and the balance in marketable securities and treasury shares, we are well-positioned to grow our footprint in Kurdistan and Norway with the drill bit and the acquisition of producing assets,” said Mr. Mossavar-Rahmani.

(Source: DNO)

New Helpline for GBV Survivors

Survivors of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) can now dial “119” to receive support, counselling, and referrals to community-based services and resources in the region.

On 26 September, UNFPA and the General Directorate for Combatting Violence Against Women (GDCVAW) in KRI launched the first helpline for gender-based violence survivors.

The Helpline is a 24-hour call centre established to provide confidential support and guidance to survivors of GBV. Callers will be connected with trained social workers as well as legal and psycho-social support counsellors, both female and male.

UNFPA also organised two trainings for GDCVAW social workers and phone operators on the helpline procedures and guidelines for answering, probing, supporting, and following up on calls received at the call centre.

“The Helpline initiative will enable GDCVAW trained operators to provide counselling, advice, and support to GBV survivors and vulnerable individuals in the Kurdistan region of Iraq”, said Mr Kareem Sinjari, Minister of Interior in KRI.

Mr Ramanathan Balakrishnan, UNFPA Representative to Iraq, emphasized the importance of this project:

“While remedial services require strengthening to ensure the best possible care for GBV survivors, the helpline is definitely a positive step forward in that direction. We are confident that the helpline 119 is a solid tool that will help the Government in its efforts to combat gender-based violence and support survivors.”

The project, supported by the Regional Development and Protection Programme (RDPP), is expected to reach more than 3,600 survivors in the first year of its operations.

(Source: UN)

Ground-breaking Ceremony for Erbil Ring Road

Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani attended the ground-breaking ceremony of the 150-meter ring road project of the city of Erbil.

In a speech during the ceremony, Prime Minister Barzani said:

“The 150-metre road project is one of many projects which were prepared for implementation by the Kurdistan Regional Government. If it had not been for hardships faced since 2014, the KRG would have completed many similar projects in all major communities of the Kurdistan Region.”

Below is the text of Prime Minister Barzani’s speech:

Good morning,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

As we participate in this ground-breaking ceremony to open the Erbil City 150-meter ring road, I am delighted to meet with you again. This project is good not only for Erbil, it will facilitate road transport throughout the Kurdistan Region by reducing congestion on routes within and through the Erbil City area.

As the capital city in the center of the Kurdistan Region, Erbil is situated on many routes that connect international border entry points with the rest of Iraq, and also connects neighbouring countries with each other. Important trade routes pass between Syria, Turkey, and Iran through the Kurdistan Region.

This project will generate more fast-flowing traffic and exceed the success of the Erbil 120-metre road. As a tangible solution, the Erbil City 120-metre road has been very effective in reducing traffic congestion.

The first stage of the implementation of this 150-meter road project, includes the part which will run from Koya road to Bahirka road, 14 kilometres long and estimated to cost 131 million US dollars.

The Hemin Group will finance and implement this project with deferred payment. It will be a high-speed road with a service road alongside it. There will be three bridges and three underpasses with related high-standard equipment.

The Hemin Group will also be implementing a dual carriageway14 kilometres long between Erbil City and Gopal.
Yesterday also we participated in the ground-breaking ceremony of a project that connects Erbil and Duhok with a dual-carriageway.

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

The 150-metre road project is one of many projects which were prepared for implementation by the Kurdistan Regional Government. If it had not been for hardships faced since 2014, the KRG would have completed many similar projects in all major communities of the Kurdistan Region.

Adversaries of the Kurdistan Region were unable to accept the progress being enjoyed by the people of the Region, did not, and do not, want to see a well-built and lively region filled with peace and security. They did their best to obstruct the Kurdistan Region’s wheel of success.

Cutting the Kurdistan Region’s budget and ISIS threatening the Region with terrorism did not randomly occur. They were considered and planned. The war against ISIS brought nearly two million displaced persons. But the most damaging factor that adversely affected the people of the Kurdistan Region was the fall in global oil prices.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

If it were not for the perseverance and courage of the Peshmerga, security personnel, understanding and support of the people of our Region, including our government employees, no government anywhere in the world would have withstood such crises during the past five years! What government has withstood war in the midst of such severe political and financial challenges, and all the domestic issues that have been crippling the Kurdistan Region and its government?

Now, strengthened by the support of the Kurdistan people and by the determination, loyalty, and selflessness of the Peshmerga, and the sacrifice and endurance of all the hardships the government employees have gone through during past few years, the bad days are almost over. As part of our long-term mission, we as the Kurdistan Regional Government will continue to act on our original main responsibility, which is to provide public services. To further develop our country, we continue to implement development projects that we planned.

Despite all shortcomings, constructive criticism, and even destructive criticism that have been and will be directed at the KRG due to political competition, the KRG has always been providing the best possible services.
If any citizen from the Kurdistan Region or any foreign observer looks back at the past 15 years, she or he will realize the truth that in spite of all challenges, the KRG has made remarkable progress in all sectors.
It is correct that the expectations of the KRG and the people of Kurdistan were higher than what has been achieved. We cannot overlook, however, the fact that over 15 years of the KRG’s leadership the Kurdistan Region has achieved a total makeover in almost all aspects.

Hundreds of completed projects vouch for the efforts of the KRG having contributed to the infrastructure of the country, such as roads and bridges, water and sewer systems, hospitals and schools, spatial development of cities and towns, and reviving livelihoods of many thousands of citizens of Kurdistan in many hundreds of communities, attracting foreign investment and opening of many malls, hotels, restaurants and cafes, building small and large factories, and dozens of other projects.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In ceremonies like this the intention is not to brag about achievements but to reaffirm that the first and foremost responsibility of the KRG is to serve its people, confirm such responsibility is taken seriously at every opportunity, and that the KRG seeks to realize the goals of stability, progress, and a high standard of living for all citizens.

As we participate in this groundbreaking ceremony, we reiterate the objective of the KRG that along with every step toward a stable economy, the government will take similar steps to implement plans to develop all sectors in all parts of the Kurdistan Region.

As we approach a general election, the people of the Kurdistan Region will cast their ballots. I urge all citizens of the Kurdistan Region to participate in the election process in a civilized way and elect their representatives to the Iraqi Kurdistan Parliament and the Kurdistan Regional Government for the next four years. This process is very important for the present and future of the Kurdistan Region. Let us all vote to serve, build, and develop Kurdistan.

We look forward to the next phase to serve the people, promote stability, and build a durable economy with a better living standard for our people. We are sure that the worst days are over, and tomorrow will be better than today.

In the end, I would like to especially applaud Mr. Khalid Khoshnaw, the head of the Hemin Group and his colleagues for all the good work they have produced in various parts of the Kurdistan Region on long-term relaxed loans. This reflects his unshakable trust in the KRG.

He is the ultimate example of a loyal patriot and citizen. I wish to see more people like him and I wish him all success. We truly need people like him in the Kurdistan Region who always look to serve their nation to make progress in every field and build their country.

By that, they will forever leave their positive footprint on the future of Kurdistan.

I look forward to meet you all again in another location of the Kurdistan Region and at another project.

Thank you.

(Source: KRG)

Barzani opens Zakho Tunnel, promises more Infrastructure Projects

Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani opened Zakho Tunnel in a ceremony attended by cabinet ministers, members of Parliament, the Republic of Turkey’s Consul General to the Kurdistan Region, and a number of KRG officials.

In a speech during the ceremony, Prime Minister Barzani said:

“Opening of this tunnel on this important international highway that links the Kurdistan Region and Iraq with Turkey is providing a major strategic service. The tunnel is a major development for local citizens and trade between Turkey, the Kurdistan Region, and Iraq.”

The Zakho Tunnel is 3600 meters long costing the Kurdistan Regional Government 143 million dollars. The KRG Ministry of Construction & Housing, Duhok Directorate of Roads and Bridges, and the Limak and Man Group construction companies were involved in completing the project.

Prime Minister Barzani said:

“Completion of this project is a major step in the Kurdistan Region that shows we are on the right track moving towards a better future for our citizens. This shows the will and capacity of the KRG to advance and serve the people. This is the mandate of steadfast people of the Region for the KRG to stand tall and not fall.”

Despite the difficult economic situation in the past four years, the KRG exerted great efforts to effectively complete some of the planned strategic projects.

(Source: KRG)

Human Rights Training for Police Officers in Garmiyan

Police officers in Garmiyan [Garmian] Administration have completed a two-day training course organized by the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) Human Rights Office (HRO) on core human rights principles relating to police work.

The training course on 18 and 19 September, entitled “Rights of Persons Under Investigation,” was part of a series of activities by UNAMI HRO to support regional institutions and civil society organizations in protecting and promoting human rights in the Kurdistan Region.

The course was attended by 21 officers from the Kalar Directorate of Police and Assayish (Security) and directorates of police in the surrounding districts like Kifri, Darbandkihan and Rizgari within Garmiyan Administration.

The training course examined general principles and concepts of human rights law, including United Nations reporting and review mechanisms and state obligations. It also addressed the rights of detained persons under international, Iraqi, and Kurdistan Regional law, and the role of police in protecting the rights of freedom of expression and assembly.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Nedim Osmanagic of the UNAMI Human Rights Office, expressed the hope that the training course would help participants to see human rights law as a tool, and the United Nations as a partner, to perform their important work to the highest standards.

At the end of the course HRO distributed the Human Rights Booklet on the Core 9 international human rights treaties among the participants.

(Source: UNAMI)

New Demographic Survey of the Kurdistan Region

The Statistics Office, IOM, and UNFPA launch the Demographic Survey of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq

The Kurdistan Region Statistics Office (KRSO), UNFPA, and IOM have launched the demographic survey of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI), one of the largest statistical exercises conducted in the region since 1987.

The survey provides a comprehensive profile of the current population demographics, employment and income, housing, household possessions, literacy and education levels. This socio-demographic study gathered information from 12,699 households, including long term residents and displaced families in the three KRI governorates of Duhok, Erbil and Sulaymaniyah.

This research is timely as it comes at a time where the country is emerging from the conflict and economic hardship; while a significant portion of displaced families have returned or are considering to go back home.

The 2014-2017 war against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has had a severe impact on the Kurdistan Region: from the start of the crisis, KRI has provided refuge to more than one million displaced Iraqis and continues to host more than 800,000 internally displaced persons.

Dr Ali Sindi, Minister of Planning for the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), said:

“The information in this survey establishes a reference base for future statistical studies, and will assist the Kurdistan Regional Government with better planning and allocation of resources.”

Mr Gerard Waite, IOM Chief of Mission said:

“This survey is a true collaborative effort with the KRG and UNFPA and hopefully will contribute to addressing the needs of the most vulnerable households, in this critical post-crisis period.”

Mr Ramanathan Balakrishnan, UNFPA Representative to Iraq added:

“This demographic survey fulfils the need for updated population and socio-economic statistics and will serve as a roadmap for future, policy development and planning with KRG and partners.”

The survey was made possible through the collaboration of the Kurdistan Region Statistics Office (KRSO) within the Kurdistan’s Regional Government’s Ministry of Planning; IOM – the UN Migration Agency – and the United Nations Population Fund (UNPFA). Data was collected from October to November 2017.

Support for the publication of the report is provided by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, and by UNFPA.

Key Finding & Statistics:

  • 87 per cent of households have a monthly income of less than 1,000,000 Iraqi Dinar (approximately 850 United States dollars).
  • More than 20 per cent of youth (18-34 ages) out of workforce are reported to have lost hope in finding a job.
  • In 27 per cent of households the head of household had not worked in the week preceding the survey. Over 40 per cent of the KRI population aged between 15 and 64 years is an active part of the labour force with the public sector employing0 nearly half of the working population.
  • Overall data indicates that the average household size in KRI is 5.1 members.
  • 35 per cent of the population is younger than 15 years, 61 per cent belongs to the active labour force age group of 15-65 years and 4 per cent is 65 or above.
  • KRI families currently enjoy an adequate standard of living: nearly all possess most common household appliances (television, stove or refrigerator). Three quarters of all families own the house they live in connected to the public water (90 per cent) and electricity networks and equipped with sanitation facilities.

(Source: UN)