Iraq’s Excessive Holidays “Cost $150bn”

By Shukur Khilkhal for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Given the many official and unofficial holidays in Iraq, the country seems to be almost on permanent vacation throughout the year. Schools find themselves unable to complete their curricula, while economists warn against a recession due to the excessive number of holidays.

Iraq recognizes 150 official vacation days, which is equivalent to one-third of the year, according to a law that was passed by the Iraqi parliament in April 2013.

According to this law, some cities with religious affiliations such as Karbala, Najaf and Khadimiya are allowed to determine their own holidays, and thus the number of vacation days.

In addition to the large number of holidays in Iraq, time off can sometimes extend for longer periods than specified by the law, as happened at the beginning of November. For 2014, the Iraqi parliament had approved six days for Eid al-Adha, yet the holiday lasted seven days, and since Eid started before the weekend, the holiday actually lasted 10 days.

As for Ashoura — which commemorates the death of Hussein ibn Ali, the third of the twelve Imams in Shiism — the commemorations that started on Nov. 3 will last for 40 days, during which many streets and squares are closed, and most government departments and schools are quasi-closed, especially in the Shiite-majority cities in the south.

The large number of days per year schools and universities in Iraq are closed has a negative impact on teachers and students alike, causing educational levels to deteriorate significantly. Schools fail to complete their curricula and students receive a minimal education that is insufficient to develop their skills.

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