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The latest business news from Erbil, Kurdistan, Iraq – banking, airlines, hotels, property and more – brought to you by Iraq Business News

Empire World “On Track” for 2017 Completion

The vast Empire World real estate development — the largest such development in Iraq — is a centerpiece of the KRG’s continued emphasis on creating a business friendly environment, including a luxury hotel, a villa residential neighborhood, and a surfeit of turnkey office space, all in one sprawling complex.

Slated for completion in 2017, the Empire World development represents a $2.7 billion investment in the future of the high-economic growth autonomous Kurdistan region in northern Iraq.

In an interview with Marcopolis, Peshraw Majid Agha, Chairman of Falcon Group, the developer of Empire World, spoke about the large-scale development and where it fits in with the overall real estate and construction sector in Kurdistan’s capital, Erbil.

The outlook for real estate in Erbil is for further growth. There is more and more demand and there is cash in the market as many investors are coming to Kurdistan. Everyone is looking at the opportunities that exist in Erbil. It is now one of the most important cities in Iraq for business,” Mr Agha told Marcopolis.

Kurdistan is acting as an introduction to Iraq for investors. Investment here is growing, there is a lot of investment happening in infrastructure, power, roads etc. I think the outlook for real estate in Kurdistan therefore is also very good.

The Empire World chairman noted that each phase of the project was started in tandem with various market demands, such as large deficit in the housing market.

He added that the location was an ideal one given its proximity to the international airport and a large park, all of which, combined with his vision for a mixed residential and office complex, made the location perfect for both living and working.

Posted in Construction & EngineeringComments (0)

Iraq’s First Pizza Hut Opens

By John Lee.

Yum! Brands has announced the opening of the first Pizza Hut in Iraq with franchise partner, Al Kout Food Company.

The new restaurant in the popular Majidi Mall in Erbil features “a full casual dine-in experience for Iraqi consumers with a vibrant, youthful design and seating for 120 people. The menu is in Kurdish and offers a range of appetizers, pizzas and flatbreads, pasta, salads, desserts and drinks”.

Scott Bergren, CEO of Pizza Hut and Chief Innovation Officer of Yum! Brands said:

We’re pleased to be able to bring Pizza Hut to Iraq as part of the explosive growth for our brand around the world. While Pizza Hut’s footprint is already significantly larger than our nearest competitor, we’ve still just scratched the surface of global growth.

“We are taking the powerful Pizza Hut Red Roof icon and accelerating the development of our brand across the Delivery, Express, and Dine-In channels around the world as only we can.

Mrs. Fadwa Al-Homaizi, Managing Director, Al Kout Food Company and Co-founder and Chairwoman, Kout Food Group, said:

Kout Food Group is proud of its partnership with Yum! and the success of launching the first Pizza Hut Dine-In store in Iraq. Our utmost priority is to serve our customers with excellent products and services. This is in line with our strategy of expansion in Iraq. More and more customers are visiting the restaurant to test the high-quality Pizza Hut products and to enjoy the dine-in experience.

Al Kout Food Company plans to open four more Pizza Hut restaurants in Iraq this year including three in Erbil and one in Sulaymaniyah. The franchisee expects that the five restaurants, including the new Pizza Hut, will create more than 150 jobs in the region by the end of the year.

Iraq-based Al Kout Food Company is owned by Kout Food Group which is located in Kuwait.

(Source: Yum)

Posted in Leisure and TourismComments (0)

Baroness Nicholson’s Speech to Investment Forum

Speech given by Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, UK Trade Envoy for Iraq and Chairman of the Iraq Britain Business Council, to the ‘Investment Forum in Iraq and Kurdistan Region’, Rotana Hotel, Erbil:

‘I am indeed grateful for the privilege of addressing this eminent audience,and I thank most warmly the President of The Kurdistan Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry and President of the Erbil Chamber, Mr Dara Al-Khayat for his kind invitation and for his Federations’s continuing great work.

May I thank too the President of the Iraqi Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Mr Jaafar Al-Hamdani. The Chambers of his Federation, who cover the Federal Republic of Iraq are well known to us all for their continuing hard work, overall excellence and high standards. And I thank the Governor, Mr Nowzad Hadi and the people of Erbil for their gracious hospitality throughout this conference.

It was indeed a pleasure to hear the Governor speak earlier this morning; and for the conference to be addressed first by Deputy Prime Minister Dr Roche Nuri Shaways who powerfully reminded us of the huge investment opportunities now offered throughout the regions of Iraq and Kurdistan. His Excellency Mr Adnan Kassar brings the entire Arab Union Chambers of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture to Erbil and his members know of the extraordinary business and industry strengths Iraq and the Kurdistan region possess.

I speak today as Chairman of the Iraq Britain Business Council,which is based in London, Erbil, Basra and Baghdad. Our work is designed to facilitate stronger commercial and industrial partnerships between our countries,and to open up new opportunities for our member companies in Britain and Iraq.

We are an international organisation which takes full advantage of the global reach of the City of London and, too, of the truly international nature of the UK. Our membership reflects Britain’s multinational businesses and is not confined to companies that began in the UK.

Posted in Industry & TradeComments (0)

Did Baghdad Reject Nechirvan’s Offer?

By John Lee.

Reuters has reported an unnamed Iraqi government source describing what is supposedly the real reason for the delay in exporting 100,000 bpd from the Kurdish Regional Government to Turkey.

As part of an interim deal , this oil was intended to be exported through the Iraqi state pipeline network.

The oil represents a quarter of what the KRG is supposed to export via the State Oil Marketing Company (SOMO) according to Baghdad. Last week, Kurdish PM Nechirvan Barzani (pictured) offered to export 100,000 bpd via SOMO as a gesture of “good will.”

Baghdad then informed the KRG that it was not able to receive the oil due to a severely damaged part of the pipeline, but sources have noted the oil could have been re-routed.

Instead, an anonymous government of Iraq source told Reuters that the real reason Baghdad would not receive the oil was that it had simply rejected Barzani’s offer.

A source remarked,

“We did not even sit to discuss their proposal. Why should we accept for the region to export 100,000 bpd when the federal budget says they should pump 400,000?”

If this is Baghdad’s official position, then difficult negotiations look set to remain difficult.

(Source: Reuters)





Posted in Oil & GasComments (0)

Iraqis Hone Skills To Preserve Heritage

By John Lee.

The University of Arizona’s Drachman Institute is conducting an education program in heritage conservation through the Iraqi Institute for the Conservation of Antiquities and Heritage, funded by the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

The goal of the program is to build Iraqi museum professionals’ capabilities for preserving the country’s rich cultural heritage.

Faculty from the College of Architecture, Planning, and Landscape Architecture (CAPLA) and the Arizona State Museum are training Iraqis how to take care of the precious ancient artifacts in the country’s museums and sites, alongside academic partners from the Institute and the University of Delaware.

More than 60 Iraqi professionals are participating in two week-long workshops during January and April led by Dr. Nancy Odegaard and Mr. Arthur Vokes of the Arizona State Museum. Dr.Odegaard has served on the Iraqi Institute’s Advisory Council since 2010 and developed the training at the request of Iraq’s museum conservation professionals.

The program consists of two workshops – one for Iraq’s senior administrators who direct the care of artifacts at museums and sites and who set policy for management, and another for museum staff and site managers who organize, inventory, catalogue, store, and preserve collected materials. Participants in each workshop benefit from visits to the nearby Erbil Citadel, currently undergoing excavation and restoration funded by UNESCO and the Kurdistan Regional Government.

Dr. Abdullah Khorsheed, Director of the Iraqi Institute, and Mr. Joseph Pennington, U.S. Consul General in Erbil, welcomed the first workshop participants in January.

The University of Arizona is an ideal partner for the Iraqi Institute as both integrate professional conservation education with an emphasis on arid lands and earthen architecture traditions. The Drachman Institute’s Heritage Conservation Program, located within CAPLA, combines outreach and research projects with its multi-disciplinary heritage conservation graduate curriculum.

Contact: Suzanne Bott, PhD Project Director, Drachman Institute | Heritage Conservation


Posted in Leisure and TourismComments (0)

Budget Delay Hits KRG Banks

By John Lee.

The delay in adopting Iraq’s federal budget, in large part due to the dispute between Baghdad and the Kurdish Regional Government over oil exports and revenues, has reduced banking activity in the KRG by up to 25%, according to Adham Karim Darwesh.

Darwesh, the manager of the Erbil branch of the Central Bank of Iraq, was speaking to the Zawya news agency and explained the impact of the recent dispute:

“The delay in adopting the federal budget this year caused a 25% reduction in banking activities, as there was a three-month lag during which the market did not receive large sums of money, including wages of public servants in the governorate, which affected market transactions.”

Darwesh also pointed out how at least two banks, Rasheed Bank and Rafidain Bank had delayed opening branches in the region because of the recent delay in the $150 billion federal budget.


Speaking of forthcoming plans for the banking sector, Darwesh said that their was a plan to unify banking standards across the whole of Iraq, to combat money laundering and corruption.

Several banks were not meeting Islamic finance standards and 5 banks have been threatened with closure over failing to build up capital reserves:

“There are many problems facing the banking sector, including the lack of new technologies in banking transactions and services, as well as the lack of qualified personnel who are up-to-date with the changing industry innovations and technologies.”

(Source: Zawya)

Posted in Banking & FinanceComments (0)

Shahristani Welcomes Barzani’s ‘Good Will’ Offer

By John Lee.

Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Hussein al-Shahristani (pictured) has welcomed Nechirvan Barzani’s offer of sending 100,000 bpd of oil through the State Oil Marketing Company.

According to Aswat al-Iraq, Barzani’s widely reported “good will” gesture was also welcomed by former oil minister Ibrahim Bahr al-Uloum who was positive about the offer.

Until the dispute is resolved, a million barrels of oil from the Kurdish region cannot be sold and is waiting in storage at the Turkish port of Ceyhan, and Kurdish local government officials have had their salaries withheld by Baghdad.

(Source: Aswat al-Iraq)


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KRG Offers 100,000 bpd Through SOMO

By John Lee.

Kurdish Regional Government PM Nechirvan Barzani (pictured) has offered to send 100,000 bpd of oil from the Kurdish region through the State Oil Marketing Company, Reuters reports.

The move is designed to partially appease Baghdad in the on going and tortuous dispute over oil revenues and exports to Turkey. Currently over 1 million barrels of oil are in storage at the Turkish port of Ceyhan, exported via the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline which became operational in January.

Many analysts remain skeptical of a breakthrough any time soon, especially in the run up to (and aftermath of) April’s general elections. Kurdish  and Iraqi officials have also  acknowledged the dispute has been very difficult to resolve.

A statement from Barzani explained the rationale behind the decision:

“The negotiations with Baghdad on oil export and budgetary matters are ongoing. These negotiations have not yet resulted in any acceptable agreements. As a goodwill gesture the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has offered to make a contribution to Iraqi oil pipeline exports to give the negotiations the maximum chance of success”.

(Source: Reuters)



Posted in Oil & Gas, PoliticsComments (0)

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