Dr Sami al-Araji Speaks with Iraq Business News

I expect that if we judiciously and appropriately move on all these fronts, definitely we will bring Iraq from one level of development to a much higher level of development in a very short time. The sort of time that we are talking about is the remainder of this 5-year plan started in 2010, and the next 5-year plan which will start in 2015.

So we are talking about 10 years time, we should transfer Iraq from where it is today to a much better standard and to be among the most developed countries in the region, because it has the potential and the capability and the skilled workers and the natural resources and so on. We are estimating 10 years to have really reconstructed the country in a manner that people will feel that we have benefited from the riches of this country, in different degrees of course, some less, some more; that’s what we hope.

IBN: It’s clearly a very exciting period for Iraq. What do you see as the main challenges for you in getting from where we are now to that stage of development?

SA: For example, the people right now are not fully educated and prepared for this onslaught and openness in the market economy, we need to re-orient them, we need to re-educate them so that they can see the benefit of moving ahead immediately with all these reforms.

And they need to understand that while the revenues for development come from the oil, that the revenues of the country are not enough to rebuild the country in this short time. So you need to open up to the world, and you need to change in every way possible to accommodate other people’s contribution and investment, so that [investors] feel that they are in a country that will give them all the privileges and all the protection that they need, and know they can invest better in Iraq than in any of the other country in the region.

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