United Arab Emirates (UAE)


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)

GCC “could Export Electricity to Iraq”

By John Lee.

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is reportedly in discussions with Iraq to connect electricity grids.

An official at the UAE’s Ministry of Energy and Industry told Reuters that the GCC could export its surplus electricity to Iraq.

(Source: Reuters)

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.

More here.

(Source: Reuters)

Iraq signs Air Transport MoU with UAE

The Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority (ICAA) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with its UAE counterpart.

According to a statement from Iraq’s General Establishment of Civil Aviation (GECA), the MoU will guarantee all operational and technical matters related to the field of air transport.

The Director General of the Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority, Mr. Ali Khalil Ibrahim, said:

We look forward to further cooperation and coordination between the two countries in terms of the air transport sector, including increasing the number of flights to Dubai and Sharjah.

“During the meeting, it was agreed to facilitate the granting of entry visas to travelers from both countries through the provision of facilities, which will enhance the joint working ties between the two countries.

(Source: Iraqi General Establishment of Civil Aviation)

Crescent Petroleum, Dana Gas support AMAR IDP Clinics

Crescent Petroleum and Dana Gas deliver vital support to AMAR IDP clinics

As Iraq’s security conditions have improved, international donors have turned their attention to other troubled parts of the world, leaving many IDP camps in the country on the brink of closure.

Thanks to the continued support of Crescent Petroleum and Dana Gas, however, AMAR have continued to deliver much needed healthcare and support to Khanke Camp’s 16,000 residents

Nearly 2 million Iraqis remain displaced within Iraq, a vast proportion of them still in camps for internally displaced people (IDPs). From victims of conflict who have lost homes and livelihoods to families too afraid to return to their homes after the violence of recent years IDPs remain among the most vulnerable population in the country.

After the trauma of violence and displacement, families in the camps continue to rely on the safe, supportive and nurturing environment in the camp to start rebuilding their lives. But with charitable funding drying up, many camp facilities, especially health care centres, are facing imminent closure.

Dana Gas and Crescent Petroleum, which have contributed considerably to causes within Iraq, remain committed to AMAR’s services in Khanke, delivering vital health and wellbeing services to the thousands of residents at the camp.

Crescent, one of the Middle East’s oldest and largest upstream oil companies, and Dana, one of the largest private-sector natural gas companies in the region, are committed to helping AMAR deliver vaccinations, antenatal care and child health monitoring at the camp.

IDPs are among the most vulnerable people in Iraq, but sadly they are often overlooked by donors,” said Majid Jafar, CEO of Crescent Petroleum. “We are proud to be partnering with AMAR to provide critical healthcare services and training to the people in Khanke camp.

A key part of the health programme at the camp are the Woman Health Volunteers (WHVs), who are the front line to identifying health and wellbeing issues among the residents and are trained to deliver health care when needed. Between April and June of this year, the WHVs made thousands of home visits to families at the camp, providing basic healthcare services and delivering health advice, in addition to providing mental health outreach. In all, the WHVs offered support and services to more than 15,000 people during the spring period.

One AMAR WHV, Thikra, for example, recently paid a visit to the Jamila family in the camp. One of the family’s sons had been showing distressing changes in behaviour, including fatigue, excessive sleep and weight gain. Thikra identified the signs of depression in the boy and confided in Mrs. Jamila to openly discuss her son’s symptoms. She then advised the mother to seek a medical assessment for boy’s the condition and set the family on the path to recovery.

Thikra’s work is funded by Dana and Crescent, and is emblematic of the kind of support the companies are funding and promoting in the community.

The companies also provide funds for vocational training programmes in the camps, including sewing and design, IT, and English lessons, providing residents the opportunity to develop skills that can boost their chances of finding employment or to set up their micro-business of their own.

Crescent Petroleum and Dana Gas are among the largest private foreign investors in Kurdistan. Their focus is on developing the region’s natural resources in sustainable way to deliver lasting benefits to local communities. Their US$1.1bn development of the Khor Mor gasfield provides the natural gas to power electricity plants in Erbil and Chamchamal, delivering 1,700 MW of electricity to over 4m people living in the region.

LPG Plant in Kor Mor

Patrick Allman-Ward, CEO of Dana Gas’, said:

“We are committed to developing resources in Kurdistan to provide power to communities and build the structures for inclusive growth, as well as to tackle the economic and social factors that are a barrier to this development. We look forward to strengthening our partnership with AMAR in the future so that we can continue working towards these goals across the region.”

Other projects Dana and Crescent have funded in Kurdistan include renovating and supplying schools, funding hospitals and providing potable water to villages.

Baroness Nicholson, AMAR’s Founder and Chairperson said:

“It is vital that we continue to provide healthcare and education in the camps, as people living there continue to experience extreme deprivation. Thanks to the exceptional generosity of Dana and Crescent, we are able to do this in Khanke. We are very grateful to them for giving us the opportunity to bring relief and support to communities in real need.”

(Source: AMAR)

FLS to Transport Oil Pipes and Equipment to Iraq

By John Lee.

Fleet Line Shipping (FLS) has won a contract to transport 11,000 tons oil and gas equipment and pipes from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to Iraq.

The first batch of pipe laying machines, each weighing 45 tons, was loaded on a ro-ro ship from Jebel Ali to the port of Umm Qasr in Iraq.

Delivery will be 450 kms from port.

(Source: X2 Elite)

Dana Gas gets $44m from KRG in 1H

By John Lee.

Dana Gas has said it has received $43.8 million in dividends from Pearl Petroleum Company Limited for condensate and LPG sales in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) in the first half of 2018, including a $7 million payment for the month of June.

The company added that the capacity to process gas and condensate from the Khor Mor field (pictured) will increase by 580 MMscf/d and 20 mbbld, respectively, with the expansion programme is on track to deliver an increase in output of 80 MMscf/d by Q3 2018.

(Sources: Rudaw, Mubasher)

A Roadmap to Drive the Iraqi Economy Forward

By Sadek Ali.

Resounding Victory

At the height of its reach, Daesh occupied almost 40% of Iraq’s territory. A tragedy for the communities they enslaved and also for Iraq’s economy: the area occupeid produced 80 thousand barrels of crude oil in 2014. The December 2017 liberation of Iraq was therefore a significant release for both people and economy.

Iraq’s economy has proved extraordinarily resilient. It has weathered serious crises, and still suffers from real structural issues within the production and financial sectors, the result of a myriad causes including the lack of strategic economic policymaking and national resources drained by military operations.

Despite the heavy burden of military liberation, the Government of Iraq remains committed to resurrecting the economy, and quickly: overcoming challenges such as the cost of basic services and civil servant salaries. To get back on track it must deal with the gap in investments which must be financed through internal or external sources, all while developing a competitive and attractive investment environment.

A Revitalized Vision

In August 2015, Iraqi PM Dr. Haider Al Abadi proposed a series of reforms centered around government efficiency and anti-corruption. Alongside ongoing oil revenues, local economic reform measures that cut down on non-vital public expenditure and raise collection rates from sources such as customs, duties and other sources of public revenue, this pathway should have a substantial and measurable impact on the fiscal budget and domestic resources available.

The Government of Iraq also implemented a number of reforms aimed at increasing Iraq’s competitiveness on the investments and ease-of-doing-business index, through removing barriers and cutting down on red tape facing local and international investors. These reforms now allow entrepreneurs and investors to start up their operations in a much shorter time while streamlining the government record-keeping and tax accounting.

A New Dawn for Iraq

Fiscal reform policy effect can be seen in several sectors, and an increased stream of non-oil revenues is now apparent. A total of 2,219 and 2323 new private sector companies were registered in 2016 and 2017 respectively; the Iraqi securities exchange also witnessed an increased trading volume that grew from ID 516 bn to ID 900 bn in the same period.

The World Bank confirms that Iraq has been successful in implementing structural reforms in local regulation, helping to facilitate new businesses, supported by better access to credit and financing facilities.

“The Government of Iraq has launched a fundamental economic reform agenda based on the framework of its 2014-2018 Government Programme which put institutional economic reform and private sector development at the forefront of its priorities,” said Saruj Kumar Jaha, Regional Director for the Middle East at the World Bank.

The government has also strengthened the credit information infrastructure with the launch of a credit information bureau managed by the Iraqi Central Bank. As of January 2017, this includes five-year histories of 234,967 individual and 4,877 commercial loans.

The government has also succeeded in enhancing the country’s investment ecosystem and positioning, ratifying the following economic and investment agreements:

  • In 2015, Iraq joined The International Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States (the ICSID Convention), one of the key instruments of international law that protect and promote foreign investment.
  • In 2017, Iraq ratified the United Nations Convention on Transparency in Treaty-based Investor-State Arbitration (the Mauritius Convention on Transparency).
  • In 2018, Iraq ratified the United Nations Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards.

A Bright and Productive Future

Held in Kuwait, Iraq reconstruction conference which wason 12 -14 February 2018. To support to the country following Daesh’s territorial defeat in 2017. The conference, which took drew participants from 76 countries and regional and international organizations, 51 development funds and financial institutions, and 107 local, regional and international nongovernmental organizations, as well as 1,850 private sector representatives .

Investment Opportunities Symposium was held in April 2018. The Symposium demonstrated huge local and international investment appetite throughout all of Iraq’s different provinces and promoted new economic models for Iraq such as Public-Private-Partnerships. PPPs should create excellent opportunities for the country, combining support from public authorities, businesses and civil society. Nine MoUs were successfully agreed, including:

  • Central Markets Rehabilitation – Al Mustansiriyayah, Al Adl, Al Amal, Al Salihiyya, and Al Shaab. Total project cost: $250m, awarded to Daeco of the UK.
  • Al Muftiyya Project in Basra – Residential, Commercial and Leisure Development. Total project cost $234m, awarded to Daeco of the UK.
  • Soda Complex and Table Salt Production Plant in Al Muthanna. Total project cost: $80m, awarded to Al Ghaith of the UAE.
  • 3 MoUs with Kuwaiti investment group Jawad Bukhamseen to develop hotels and commercial centers in Al Kadhimiyyah, Kerbalaa, and Samarraa.
  • A 5-star hotel and commercial center in Baghdad.
  • The Satellite E-Government Project.
  • Development of the Baghdad Industrial City.
  • Expansion and development of Al Andalus Specialist Hospital in Baghdad.
  • Establishment of a branch of an international specialized university in Baghdad over 25,000 square meters, awarded to Al Hawadi Group of the UAE.

These exciting new initaitives correspond to Iraq’s 5-year plan for 2018-2022. The five-year plan seeks to restructure the economy, putting good governance and multi sector reform at its heart, focussed on the recovery of provinces most affected by internal displacement and difficult security conditions.

The development of Iraq’s investment environment will also enable the development of various sectors and create more than two million new jobs and more integration with regional economies and the global community, paving the way to a bright future.

(Source: Sadek Ali)

Mosul’s Great Mosque to be Restored to Former Glory

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.

When the Al-Nouri Mosque and the adjacent al-Hadba minaret in Mosul were bombed by the Islamic State (IS) on June 21, 2017, many thought that the landmark mosque and its “hunchback” minaret most famous for its leaning structure were gone for good.

But today, there is some hope of restoring both structures. The reconstruction of the mosque and the minaret will start in June, said Nofal Sultan al-Akoub, the governor of Iraq’s northern province of Ninevah, on May 6.

The announcement follows a protocol signed April 23 between Iraq and the United Arab Emirates, where the latter would commit $50.4 million over five years for the reconstruction of the mosque that dates from the 12th century. UNESCO is also a signatory to the reconstruction agreement.

The mosque is an important symbol for Mosul, and it was used in 2014 as the venue where Islamic State (IS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and militants proclaimed a caliphate. Three years later, IS fighters blew it to pieces weeks before their defeat.

The minaret, which was one of the few remaining parts of the original construction, is less known to the international world. It had a design often attributed to Iranian architectural influence, with a white plastered top. It had a significant lean since the 14th century, and its likeness can be found on 10,000-dinar bills.

The main questions on the renovation are whether the amount allocated, which is one of the largest sums committed for a restoration project in Iraq, will be enough and whether the reconstruction will be successful.

Mohammed Nouri al-Abed Rabbo, a parliament member from Ninevah, told Al-Monitor that the next phase would be to take bids for the reconstruction after the government agencies finalized the contract and the blueprints for the work required.

Abed Rabbo added that the reconstruction process “needs more funding than what has been allocated by the UAE.” Pointing out that the monument was essentially razed to the ground, he said that great architectural skills would be required for the reconstruction, and UNESCO — the cultural arm of the UN — would need to be involved.

“There have been efforts since the liberation of Mosul to clean the mosque of explosive devices, remove rubble, document the destruction and collect the damaged authentic relics. The area was cordoned off to prevent the loss of the remaining relics from the minaret and the mosque,” Abed Rabbo added.

Mosul Mayor Zuhair Muhssein al-Araji told Al-Monitor via phone that the reconstruction plan was developed following discussions and meetings with UNESCO. These meetings have taken up costs and conducted feasibility studies. He said he expected the construction to take at least four years.

“The implementation process is likely to take a long time, as it is a large area. Given its great historical importance, the work needs to be meticulous. We need to study the available historical data so it can be restored to its original architecture,” Araji added.

According to professor of modern history at Mosul University Ibrahim al-Allaf, Nur al-Din al-Zanki — who ruled Mosul — “ordered the building of the mosque [and its minaret] in A.D. 1172.”

Allaf said the mosque had been damaged many times in its history. “The Iraqi Department of Antiquities dismantled and rebuilt the mosque in 1942 as part of a renovation campaign,” Allaf told Al-Monitor. “Al-Hadba minaret is the only remaining feature of the original building of the mosque. Due to its historical value, the minaret has been printed on Iraqi banknotes.”

Leafing through the documents he held on the minaret, Allaf said of its structure: “The minaret was 55 meters high [although there are different accounts of its height], while the mosque area is about 6,000 square meters. The minaret’s base is large, and it features Islamic decorations on its four facades. The building of the entire mosque cost at the time 60,000 dinars of gold.”

Louise Haxthausen, the UNESCO director for Iraq, said at the press conference April 23 that the “reconstruction of the minaret is an ambitious project that carries major symbolism for the liberation of Mosul.”

The head of Iraq’s Parliamentary Committee on Media and Culture, Maysoon al-Damluji, who is from Mosul, told Al-Monitor that the National Authority for Antiquities and Heritage will be involved in the restoration, and that she hoped archaeologists and architects from Mosul would be involved.

“The reconstruction project will not only address the physical and structural aspects of the building, but also highlight the cultural and artistic heritage such as the decorations, ornaments, inscriptions and writings,” Damluji said. She urged the authorities to be careful “not to damage the remaining relics during the removal of rubble and the works on the site.”

Meanwhile, Ahmed Kassem al-Juma, a retired professor from the University of Mosul and a UNESCO Islamic monuments and archaeology expert based in Mosul, told Al-Monitor, “No matter how meticulous and careful the work to restore the relics is, the restored building will not bear the same value of the original that was blown up by IS.”

“The minaret and the mosque were characterized by fine technical details such as the marble pillars of the praying room, the cubic crowns, the strip engraved with words from the Quranic verses, as well as the mosque’s mihrab ornamented with arabesque decorations carved on marble,” Juma added.

He said, “The summer prayer mihrab (the outdoor niche in the wall where the imam stands to conduct prayers) is made of marble. It is currently at the National Museum in Baghdad.”

Juma accompanied the UNESCO delegation that toured the site before the launch of the project. “I keep all the documents, blueprints and drawings of the mosque with all its parts, the architectural details, measurements and maps of the original locations,” he said.

“I worked for a full year in a field survey of the minaret and the mosque before IS entered Mosul in 2014. I documented the details of the mosque and the ceramic construction units with more than 500 sketches and technical drawings,” Juma said, adding, “The mosque has great moral, social and religious significance, as it has been in the past … the place to hold meetings and gatherings for religious and official public events.”

(Picture Credit: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

Ducorr completes Corrosion Protection work at Majnoon

By John Lee.

Sharjah-based Ducorr has reportedly completed the design and deployment of a cathodic protection system for Shell’s Majnoon oil field.

Construction Week Online quotes company sources as saying that the flowlines were buried in very corrosive soil, hence the need for protection.

(Source: Construction Week Online)