From AFP. Any opinions expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Millions of Shiite pilgrims travelled to Iraq’s shrine city of Karbala for the Arbaeen commemoration Thursday of Imam Hussein’s killing in battle:

The rising level of dust pollution in Iraq forced Iranian airlines to cancel their flights to the Arab country’s cities of Baghdad and Najaf ahead of Arbaeen, the 40th day after the anniversary of the martyrdom of Imam Hussein (AS), the third Shiite Imam.

With dust clouds reducing visibility, Iranian flights heading to Baghdad and Najaf were grounded or delayed for a second straight day on Tuesday, Iranian media reported.

Officials at Imam Khomeini International Airport said the pilgrims traveling to Iraq for Arbaeen were required to call “199” and get the necessary information before heading to the airport.

Authorities at Najaf and Baghdad airports have also canceled all the flights because of the wind-blown dust caused by sandstorms in the Arab country.

A large group of Iranian pilgrims, wearing face masks, are stranded in airports and at Iran-Iraq joint border crossings.

Each year, a huge crowd of Shiite Muslims attend the religious commemoration of Arbaeen, by marching toward the holy city of Karbala, Iraq, which hosts the holy shrine of Imam Hussein (AS).

During the Arbaeen event, volunteers set up thousands of congregation halls and pavilions in Najaf and Karbala and along the road between them to offer services for the travelers and pilgrims.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

Finland’s Nokia will modernize and expand Zain Iraq‘s radio networks with its most advanced technologies across Karbala, Najaf and Basra, with a special focus on the holy cities of Karbala and Najaf, to support the expected increase in data and voice traffic during Zeyara as millions of people converge on the region.

Zeyara is an annual event in the holy city of Karbala, which culminates in the event of Al Arba’een. It attracts visitors from across the globe and is one of the world’s largest public gatherings.

Once completed, the upgrade will allow users to enjoy improved indoor and outdoor coverage in both urban and rural areas as well as increased data throughput, leading to an overall superior customer experience.

Nokia’s project management and proven services expertise will be used to expand and modernize Zain Iraq’s 2G and 3G network, providing ubiquitous coverage and faster mobile broadband.

Additionally, the Nokia Mass Event Handler will be deployed to address the surge in data and voice consumption expected during Zeyara. The network modernization will allow visitors to remain continuously connected with their loved ones through superior voice and data connectivity during Al Arba’een and beyond.

Ali Al-Zahid, Chief Executive Officer of Zain Iraq, said:

Our top priority is to provide superior services for our subscribers. This network modernization and expansion is only the beginning of providing the best possible service quality and coverage with the most advanced technologies across the overall Karbala and Najaf and rest of sourthern region.

“We selected Nokia, our longstanding technology partner, for this important project, as we are confident that its advanced technologies will enable our network to provide such superior services. The current project will also enable a best-in-class mobile experience for visitors to Zeyara when we expect a high turnout this year.

Bernard Najm, head of the Middle East Market Unit at Nokia, said:

“Nokia fully understands Zain Iraq’s requirements and is committed to providing leading technologies to enable pioneering services for its subscribers. Nokia’s solutions cater to the unique connectivity requirements of mass events, and will help Zain Iraq address the expected surge in data and voice consumption during Zeyara.”

Overview of the solutions:

  • The high capacity and energy-efficient Nokia Flexi Multiradio 10 Base Station will be used to add the third carrier of 5 MHz on the 900 MHz band, to enhance capacity and increase coverage in suburban and rural areas.
  • Nokia’s Mass Event Handler will ensure network performance is not adversely affected because of heavy traffic during Zeyara. Another feature of the software – HSUPA Interference Cancellation – handles data more efficiently, enabling end users to upload pictures without any network glitch.
  • Nokia FlexiZone will be deployed to enhance coverage and capacity of the existing 3G network in Karbala.
  • Nokia’s refarming service will refarm GSM 900 MHz frequency to expand the operator’s 3G network.
  • Nokia’s NetAct virtualized network management software will provide robust capabilities for troubleshooting, assurance, administration, software management and configuration.
  • Nokia’s Network Planning and Optimization (NPO), Network Implementation , and Care services will ensure smooth execution of the project and maximize the return on Zain’s technology investments.

(Source: Nokia)

UN-Habitat and UNDP are helping Iraq to address strategic urban development of the Pilgrimage governorates of Najaf and Karbala.

Nearly thirty Iraqi officials convened in the holy city of Karbala, on 22-23 August 2017, to partake in an intensive two-day workshop titled “Governorate Urban Strategies for the Pilgrimage Cluster: Meeting the SDGs in Iraq”.

The officials represented the Ministry of Planning, Ministry of Municipalities, Construction and Housing, and Public Works, both the national and local levels, as well as Karbala Governorate.

UN-Habitat organized the workshop under the Local Area Development Programme (LADP), a project implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and funded by the European Union (EU).

Director General for Local and Regional Planning at the Ministry of Planning, Mr. Mohammed Al-Sayed, said:

“We appreciate the chance to enhance coordination between Governorate officials and improve the capacity of the staff at the central and local levels, in line with the decentralization efforts of the government.”

The workshop focused on the on-going spatial analysis of urban issues and development indicators concerning the governorates of Najaf and Karbala, being developed by UN-Habitat in close coordination with the Ministry of Planning.

By John Lee.

In a bid to boost local tomato production,

The Iraqi government has banned the import of tomatoes from Turkey.

A statement from the Iraqi Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources said the tomato production of Najaf and Karbala is enough to supply all of domestic demand.

Rudaw reports that Iraq imported tomatoes valued at $98.5 million in 2014, $82.8 million in 2015 and $88 million in 2016.

(Sources: Rudaw, Armenpress)

(Photo: Muffet1)

The Iraqi Cement Company in coordination with the National Investment Commission (NIC) are pleased to announce the investment opportunities for :

  • Fallujah White Cement Plant
  • Babil Cement Plant
  • The Lime Plant in the Holy City of Karbala

We invite specialized Iraqi, Arab and International companies, investors and financers to participate in these investment opportunities to rehabilitate and upgrade these plants, on basis of partnership in management, production and increase of production capacities.

Regarding the needs of these plants productions, the importance of meeting the Iraqi market, the economic feasibility and the privileges achieved to the investor including provision of raw materials at suitable prices.

The investment profile can be obtained from the Iraqi State Cement Company (HQ), at non- refundable price of (150000 I.D) one hundred fifty thousand Iraqi Dinar.

The company is ready to provide detailed information and facilitate the visit to plants.

We would like to mention that offers must match the conditions stated in the investment profile.

Offers must be handed as two separated offers (Technical and Financial) >

All attached document must be certified officially by the official department in the countries related to those companies beside the official Iraqi embassy in that country.

Notice , the price equation of cement is applied to preserve price fluctuation in cement market .

Offers should be presented by the end of the work day of (Wednesday the 3rd May 2017, 12:00 O’clock).

For more details, please visit the company’s website : www.icsc.gov.iq

Or visit the company’s HQ on the following address: Iraq- Baghdad- Al Za’faraniya

Mobile: 009647716620600

E-mail: iraqicement@icsc.gov.iq

(Source: NIC)

(Picture: Kirkuk Cement Plant)

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

The Karbala Provincial Council announced March 3 the formation of a committee to follow up on the issue of adding the city — which is home to about 300 archaeological sites — to the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites.

The Fortress of al-Ukhaidir (built in 778) was included on the UNESCO agenda during a July 2016 meeting. The site, however, did not meet all the conditions and was not considered for the list.

The council also hopes to include Caesar’s Church, which is located 70 kilometers (43 miles) from Karbala, to the list of World Heritage sites since it is the oldest eastern church in history.

It was built in the fifth century, more than 120 years before the emergence of Islam. Today, the church is considered of exceptional importance as it represents a Christian landmark, and promotes shared living and cultural coexistence in an Islamic milieu.

The council also seeks to add to the list al-Tar Caves, located 45 kilometers (27 miles) southwest of Karbala. These rocky formations date back to 1300 B.C. and are believed to have served as a passage for people who used to roam the Iraqi desert heading toward neighboring countries.

Khan al-Utaishi is also nominated for the list of World Heritage sites. It is one of the many archaeological khans, such as Khan al-Nakheel and Khan al-Rabeh. It was established during the Ottoman rule in Iraq (1532-1918) and served as a rest house for travelers from Baghdad and Karbala all the way to Najaf, 160 kilometers (99 miles) south of Baghdad.

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

Ibtisam al-Hilali, a member of parliament for the Karbala governorate and member of the State of Law Coalition, led by Nouri al-Maliki, stated Feb. 12 that the governorate’s provincial council intends to pass a bill banning unveiled women from entering the holy city of Karbala.

While banners on the streets of Iraq’s religious cities such as Karbala, Najaf and Khadimiya calling on women to wear the headscarf are a normal sight, this is the first time official figures and parliamentarians try to introduce a bill in this regard.

Karbala is home to the shrines of the third Shiite Imam Hussein bin Ali and his half brother Abbas. The citizens of Karbala are mostly Shiites, and each year the city hosts millions of pilgrims who visit the shrines of the two imams.

A parliamentary source who spoke on condition of anonymity told Al-Monitor, “Many blocs affiliated with Islamic parties are now trying to collect signatures to pass a bill that would ban unveiled women from religious areas. However, this was immediately rejected by parliamentarians, but the blocs are still trying to pursue their efforts to this effect.”

These endeavors might not be welcomed by the Iraqi community, which is governed according to the Iraqi Constitution instead of Sharia. Yet, it appears that some Islamic groups and parties are trying to impose Sharia on the different aspects of civil life. This might suggest the possibility of an imminent conflict between Islamic extremists and civilians seeking to live in a nonreligious state.

Sarwa Abdel Wahed, a parliamentarian for the Movement for Change, told Alqurtas News that some parties are seeking to impose political agendas and settle scores by trying to pass a law banning unveiled women from entering religious cities.

The largest cargoes ever to arrive in Iraq have been unloaded at Basra Multipurpose Terminal (BMT), in the port of Umm Qasr.

The four LPG Bullets with unit weights of 665 tons were carried on the MV Happy Star. They measure 65 meters in length and 12 meters in diameter, and will be used at the State Company for Oil Projects (SCOP)’s Karbala Refinery Project, currently being built by Korea’s HDGSK.

BMT describes itself as the largest multi-purpose facility in the country with direct access to major road networks and national rail links.

(Source: BMT)

By John Lee.

AFP reports that Iraqi officials laid the cornerstone of a new Mid-Euphrates Airport, 35 kilometres (20 miles) south of Karbala.

The $500-million project will be carried out by the UK-based Copperchase, with work supervised by the Khayrat al-Sibtein company, which belongs to the Imam Hussein shrine (pictured).

During the ceremony, Karbala Governor Aqeel al-Turaihi said that Karbala receives millions of pilgrims annually, and building the airport is a necessity.

The first phase will include the construction of a runway, passenger terminal, car park and maintenance facility, with the first flight expected in 18 months.

(Source: AFP)