By John Lee.

Saudi Arabian companies have signed 18 agreements with the Iraqi government to jointly develop several key projects in the energy sector.

The statement from the Iraqi Oil Ministry gave little detail, but quotes the Saudi Minister of Energy Khalid Al-Falih as saying that Saudi companies are keen to develop relations with Iraq, adding that several important Saudi companies will open their branches in Iraq to “achieve more bilateral cooperation and expand the size of investments in the sectors of oil, gas, industry, importing, infrastructure and [other sectors].”

According to Reuters, both petrochemical giant Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) and Saudi Arabia’s Industrialization & Energy Services Co (TAQA) are planning to open offices in Iraq.

(Sources: Iraqi Oil Ministry, Reuters)

By John Lee.

A Saudi-based bottling company is reported to be planning to open a new factory in Iraq next year.

According to The National, Aujan Coca-Cola Beverages Company (ACCBC), a subsidiary of Aujan Group Holding, will invest up to 250 million Saudi riyals ($67 million) over the next two years, creating for more than 150 jobs.

The new plant will include manufacturing lines for juices and soft drinks, and will also supply to neighbouring markets.

(Source: The National)

By John Lee.

The state-owned Trade Bank of Iraq (TBI) has reportedly received verbal approval from the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) to open a branch in Saudi Arabia next year.

Chairman Faisal Al Haimus told The National in Abu Dhabi that the bank will launch an asset management business in Abu Dhabi.

The lender is considering several options to expand its presence in the GCC region.

(Sources: The National, Reuters)

By John Lee.

Saudi Arabia has appointed Abdulaziz Al-Shammari as its new ambassador to Iraq.

Al-Shammari, who has been Charge d’Affaires of the Saudi embassy in Iraq since October 2016, was sworn in on Sunday before King Salman in Riyadh.

Relations between the two countries have been improving recently, with high-level visits, the opening of the border crossing, and new air routes.

(Source: Rudaw)

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

Iraqi-Saudi relations have witnessed significant improvement after years of boycott that had worsened during Nouri al-Maliki’s rule between 2006 and 2014. On Oct. 22, the establishment of a Coordination Council between the two countries was announced.

Iran, which is seeking to expand its influence in Iraq, might not like this rapprochement, especially following the latest meeting between Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and Saudi King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud that took place with US blessing when US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson attended the launching of the Coordination Council.

Former Iraqi Ambassador to the US Lukman Faily told Al-Monitor, “Over the past years, the US attempted to take serious steps to mend ties between Iraq and Saudi Arabia. With this development, the region’s geopolitics will change.”

Saudi newspaper Asharq al-Awsat reported that the Iraqi-Saudi rapprochement will “curb the appetite of the parties that cause stability,” in a clear reference to Iran, which Saudi Arabia always accuses of “destabilizing the situation in the region.”

The results of the US-brokered Iraqi-Saudi rapprochement started appearing when Tillerson asked Iranian militias to leave Iraq, saying that the Iraqi-Saudi rapprochement will “counter some of the unproductive influences of Iran inside of Iraq.”

Hashem al-Haboubi, the deputy secretary general of the Iraqi National Accord movement spearheaded by Iraqi Vice President Ayad Allawi, told Asharq al-Awsat that the Iraqi-Saudi rapprochement might help Iraq break free from Iranian control.

The Iraqi-Saudi rapprochement does not include the Iraqi state in its explicit form only, but also expands to political parties that are at odds with Iran such as the Sadrist movement led by Muqtada al-Sadr, who visited Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates two months ago and headed to Jordan recently to visit King Abdullah.

By John Lee.

Saudi Arabia and Iraq are to discuss the opening a border crossing between the countries for the first time in 27 years.

On Tuesday, the Saudi Council of Ministers authorised the minister of finance to work with Iraq to draft an agreement on the re-opening of the Arar border post, which has been closed since Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, apart from its use for the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages.

In a further sign of increasing cooperation between the neighbouring countries, state-owned Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) has just resumed flights to Iraq after 27 years, following a similar announcement recently from Saudi budget airline Flynas.

(Source: Gulf Business, Saudi Gazette)

(Picture: King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in talks with Iraqi Prime Minister Dr. Haider Al-Abadi, 22nd October 2017)

Saudi Arabian Airlines (SAUDIA), the national carrier of Saudi Arabia, began operating nonstop flights between the airline’s hub in Jeddah and the Iraqi capital city of Baghdad on Monday.

The route will commence as a daily service until November 15, with double-daily frequency thereafter.

A single-class Airbus A330 will be deployed on the route, featuring 300 Guest Class (Economy) seats.

Linking the port city of Jeddah and Baghdad will provide a new air bridge and flexible connectivity for new business ties and growing economic development between the two nations.

The convenient schedule times departing at 12:35hrs from Jeddah, arriving into Baghdad at 15:00 hrs.

The second daily flight commencing November 16, will have a departure time from Jeddah at 03:50 hrs arriving at 06:15 hrs.

The total flying time between Jeddah and Baghdad is 2 hours 25 minutes (2 hours 50 minutes from Baghdad to Jeddah).

The route resumes after a 27 year interruption dating to 1990.

(Source: Saudia)

This article was originally published by Niqash. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Locals in Anbar celebrated when an important Iraqi-Jordanian border crossing was recently reopened. But the drivers who use it say many areas are still too dangerous to pass through.

When it was announced at the end of August that the Turaibil [Terbil] border crossing between Jordan and Iraq would reopen, there were celebrations. The border point, which facilitates trade between the two countries, was closed in late 2014 because the extremist group known as the Islamic State, or IS, had taken control of the areas in Anbar province leading toward the crossing.

“Opening the Turaibil crossing is urgently needed,” Faleh al-Issawi, the deputy head of Anbar’s provincial council, told NIQASH. “Other provinces are slowly becoming more stable and secure again and we too are working to restore our economy and our commercial facilities. The time has come for Anbar to go back to what it was before.”

Anbar sits between three countries – Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia – and between four Iraqi provinces. Traders must cross Anbar and locals know they could be exploiting that business. The re-opening of Turaibil has them hoping they will be able to.

On the Jordanian side of the border, everything was apparently ready for Turaibil to re-open. But the Iraqis haven’t been so fast. Most bridges and rest stops on the way there have been destroyed in recent fighting in the province and some areas that the road passes through are still dangerous.

Al-Issawi explains that they have a plan for this. Trucks will be escorted by security forces once they cross into Iraq, right up until they reach another completely secure area. The truck drivers won’t pass through the cities of Ramadi or Fallujah, both of which had been under control of the IS group, before heading to Baghdad or southern and northern provinces directly.

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. 

The Tureibil crossing, or more commonly known as the Karameh border crossing, between Jordan and Iraq reopened in early September in tandem with the opening of another border crossing with Saudi Arabia. This means that more foreign goods are likely to flow into the Iraqi market, which already lacks national products, especially food and agricultural goods.

The prospects for increased imports, which is not good news for the local production industry in Iraq, prompted parliament’s Agriculture, Water and Marshlands Committee on Aug. 14 to accuse the Ministry of Agriculture of mismanagement and confusion in supporting these foreign goods, which caused the local market to become flooded with imported products.

Mohammed Mansouri, an expert on local livestock, warns against “a catastrophe in the sector of livestock and agriculture in Iraq,” urging the government to work “on achieving food security.”

However, the failure of agricultural projects in Iraq is not only the result of poor planning and management, but also a “corrupt agenda seeking to keep this sector lagging so as to continue relying on imports,” said Ali al-Badiri, a member of the Agriculture, Water and Marshlands Committee, in a media statement Aug. 24. “Impeding the cultivation of wheat crops is a conspiracy, as this cultivation has become a threat to the investments of the corrupted,” he said.

In the same vein, Suhaila Abbas, the head of the Agriculture Committee of the Babil Governorate Council, told Al-Monitor, “Linking food security to importation is not due to technical problems such as drought or the rudimentary irrigation and land treatments techniques, as these can be addressed through development plans. This is, however, due to political reasons. Many of Iraq’s neighbors have an interest in keeping Iraq unable to become self-sufficient in terms of food, so it continues importing food products.”