How Saudi and Qatar are Competing over Iraq

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

As the Gulf crisis continues with the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, with no sign of a resolution, each country deems it necessary to seek a rapprochement with Iraq and win the country over to its own economic and political camps.

Each is trying to have Baghdad align with its axis, while Baghdad affirms its need for help from both countries to get rid of the destruction left by the Islamic State (IS) in the Sunni areas.

A Qatari delegation led by Deputy Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani visited the Iraqi capital of Baghdad on Nov. 7, where he met with the Iraqi president, prime minister and parliament speaker to “discuss the ties between the two countries.”

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Increased Cooperation between Iraq and Qatar

His Excellency Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi has received Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman bin Jassem al-Thani Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Qatar and his accompanying delegation.

The delegation included a group of ministers and advisers. During the meeting, they have discussed boosting bilateral cooperation in various sectors, especially in the economic sector, in addition to the situation in the region.

Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman bin Jassem Al Thani has conveyed greetings and blessings of the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani to His Excellency Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi on the occasion of the government formation and the desire of the State of Qatar to enhance cooperation between the two countries.

Qatari Deputy Prime Minister has confirmed that the similarities are great between the two countries and that his country is looking forward to developing these relations, noting that Iraq has emerged after its victory over terrorism stronger and much more dependent on the next phase in economic and trade cooperation in the field of energy and others.

His Excellency Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi has welcomed the delegation, stressing the importance of relations between the two countries, expressing Iraq’s inspiration for expanding to other fields.

His Excellency has added that the development of the economy, investment, and job creation are priorities of our ministerial platform. Therefore, we are working for good relations with countries, facilitating investment procedures which will contribute to the development of the economy.

His Excellency has reaffirmed that Iraq is recovering and moving forward after defeating terrorism, dazzling the world. It is very important to provide the necessary investment environment to improve the country’s situation in all sectors.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman Al Thani, on behalf of the Amir of Qatar, has invited His Excellency Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi to visit Qatar.

The Qatari delegation has included Ali Ahmed al-Kuwari Minister of Commerce and Industry, Ahmed Bin Mohammed al-Missned advisor to the Emir of the State of Qatar for National Security, Faisal Bin Thani al-Thani Chairman of Qatar Investment Authority, Khalifa al-Kuwari, Director of Qatar Development Fund.

(Source: Media Office of the Prime Minister)

Asiacell Iraq Grows Revenues

By John Lee.

Asiacell Iraq has benefitted from improvements in the security and economic situation in the country, according to its parent, the Qatari company Ooredoo.

In its results for the first nine months of 2018, the company said:

With more areas liberated and network restoration underway, Asiacell reported a 3% increase in Revenue to QAR 3.5 billion at 9M 2018, compared to the same period last year.

“EBITDA was up 8% to QAR 1.6 billion, growing at a faster rate than revenue and reflecting good efficiency management.

Customer base increased 6% to 13.3 million customers for the 9M 2018 period, and Asiacell received the prestigious CARE award for its excellence in customer care service.”

(Source: Ooredoo)

(Picture: Faruk Mustafa Rasool, Chairman of Asiacell)

Trade Bank in talks to Buy a Gulf Lender

By John Lee.

The state-owned Trade Bank of Iraq (TBI) is reported to be in talks to buy a Gulf bank with branches in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar.

Chairman Faisal al-Haimus told Reuters that talks are underway and the purchase is expected to be completed in six to eight months. The name of the bank was not disclosed.

According to the report, Haimus was in Abu Dhabi to sign a 100 million euros ($115.5 million) loan agreement with Germany’s Commerzbank to enable it to support small and medium sized projects in Iraq.

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(Source: Reuters)

Qatar Supports WFP’s Food Program in Iraq

Qatar Fund For Development Supports WFP’s Food Assistance Program in Iraq

The Qatar Fund For Development (QFFD) has made a contribution of US$3 million to the United Nations World Food Programme to provide assistance for displaced people in Iraq. The funding will support more than 22,000 Iraqis living in camps.

“The Qatar Fund For Development is committed to supporting displaced people in Iraq, providing them with their basic human needs, and giving them hope for a better future,” said QFD Executive Director of Corporate Strategy, Ali Abdulla Al-Dabbagh after signing the contribution agreement in London.

In urban areas with functioning markets, families will receive cash, allowing them to buy the food they need in line with their dietary requirements and preferences. In areas where local markets are not well established, WFP provides assistance through e-vouchers, which can be used in selected shops.

“We welcome this donation from the Qatar Fund For Development,” said Francis Mwanza, head of WFP’s London office. “Although some Iraqis have returned to their homes, others have lost all their possessions and face security threats, these people remain in camps and continue to need our support.”

WFP currently assists 570,000 displaced Iraqis in camps each month with food rations and cash-based assistance.

(Source: WFP)

Milaha Launches Qatar-Iraq Container Service

Milaha Launches First Ever Container Feeder Service Between Qatar and Iraq

Milaha, a Qatar-based maritime transport and logistics conglomerate, has announced the launch of a direct container feeder service between Qatar and Iraq.

The new service, which will be an expansion of the existing Qatar-Kuwait service that the company launched last year, will follow a Hamad Port-Umm Qasr (Iraq)-Shuwaikh (Kuwait)-Hamad Port rotation, and will be initially served by one vessel with a 1,015 TEU capacity and 110 reefer plugs.

The service will have a transit time of 2 days, making it particularly ideal for dry and refrigerated food stuff, consumer electronics, and construction materials, among other cargo. The first vessel will depart from Hamad Port on 7 May 2018 and reach at Umm Qasr Port on 9 May 2018.

Commenting on the launch of the new service, Milaha’s President and CEO Mr. Abdulrahman Essa Al-Mannai said:

“There has been excellent demand on the Qatar-Kuwait service that we launched last year, and we have been looking at ways to further expand that service to give our Iraqi clients and partners more convenience through greater port coverage and reduced transit times. This new service will contribute to the reconstruction efforts in Iraq, and will also help boost the growing trade and economic relations between Qatar and Iraq.”

(Source: Milaha)

Qatar, Iraq to Cooperate in Air Transport

By John Lee.

Qatar’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has announced steps towards cooperation in air transport with Iraq.

The announcement came during a visit by Iraq’s Minister of Transport, Kadhim Finjan Al Hammami, during which he met Qatar’s Minister of Transport and Communications Jassim bin Saif Al Sulaiti and CAA Chairman Abdullah bin Nasser Turki Al Subaey.

The two sides agreed to cooperate in preparing and issuing new regulations and legislation on civil aviation safety in Iraq in line with European and U.S. systems.

(Sources: QNA, CAA Qatar)

(Picture: Waving flag of Qatar and Iraq, from Aleksandar Mijatovic/Shutterstock)

New Shipping Sevice between Iraq and Qatar

By John Lee.

A new shipping route has been announced between Qatar and Iraq.

Serving Hamad Port in Qatar and Umm Qasr Port in Iraq, the first ship set to arrive in Iraqi on 1st May.

The announcement was made during the meeting between Ministers of Transport of the two countries.

(Source: The Peninsula Qatar, Qatar Ministry of Transport)

Qatar, Iraq sign MoU on Security Co-operation

By John Lee.

Qatar and Iraq have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to enhance security co-operation between the two countries.

According to Gulf Times the MoU aims to enhancing security co-operation, co-ordination, and the exchange of information and expertise between the two sides.

It covers almost all areas including terrorism and its finance, combating drug and human trafficking, and money laundering.

The MoU also covers security at airports and ports.

(Source: Gulf Times)

Asiacell Revenues Up

By John Lee.

Qatar-based Ooredoo has announced that revenue at its Asiacell subsidiary in Iraq increased 6 percent to QAR 4.5 billion, while and EBITDA increased 3 percent to QAR 2.0 billion, for the year ended 31th December 2017.

EBITDA margin was put at 44 percent.

In a statement, the company said:

A key opportunity in 2017 was restoring our network sites in the liberated areas and helping customers living there to reconnect to our services.

“As a result, Asiacell increased customer numbers by 8% to reach almost 13 million as network recovery advanced in the liberated areas in the north and west of the country.

(Source: Ooredoo)