By John Lee.

Tourism in Iraqi Kurdistan has reportedly been hard hit following Baghdad imposed punitive measures on the Kurdistan Region following the independence referendum.

Many restaurants and guesthouses in Erbil have had to lay off employees after international flights were banned and the borders temporarily closed.

According to Rudaw, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) had planned to invest in modern infrastructure and build hundreds of new tourist attractions across the Region, spending an estimated $100 million over the coming years to revive and develop an industry which many believed would be profitable in the long-run.

More here from Rudaw.

(Source: Rudaw)

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)

An official in the Arabian Gulf has stated that construction companies and others in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) look forward to participating in reconstruction projects in Iraq, stressing that it has the potential to qualify for this role.

Abdul Rahim Naqi, secretary-general of the Council of Chambers of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) stated that the Gulf States have made significant progress in many fields, including communications, construction and tourism.

Naqi said that if the Iraqi government supported the use of the private sector in the reconstruction of Iraq then Gulf companies would be looking for investment opportunities in the field of construction and reconstruction in Iraq

(Source: GardaWorld)

The Iraqi embassy and consulates in Iran on Monday started to issue visa for the Iranian applicants intending to visit the Arab country for Arbaeen pilgrimage.

The formal visa-issuance process kicked off during a ceremony at the Iraqi embassy in Tehran, attended by Ambassador Rajih Sabir Aboudi al-Mousavi.

In addition to the Iraqi embassy, the Arab country’s consulates in the Iranian cities of Mashhad, Kermanshah and Ahvaz have also begun processing the visa applications.

As of September 23, 12 other offices across Iran will also start to issue visa for Iranian pilgrims.

All pilgrims will have to submit an application through a designated website.

More than 2.4 million Iranians traveled to Iraq in 2016 for Arbaeen, a major Shiite occasion marking the 40th day after the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein (AS).

Officials predict that the number of Iranian visitors would hit 3 million this year.

Each year, a huge crowd of Shiites flock to the Iraqi city of Karbala, where the holy shrine of Imam Hussein (AS) is located, to perform mourning rites on Arbaeen.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

By John Lee.

The number of tourists visiting the Kurdistan Region of Iraq over the Ramadan holidays has doubled since last year to 243,000 people.

The income generated is estimated at $73 million.

Nawroz Mawlud, the minister for Municipalities and Tourism told Rudaw that about 70 percent of the tourists came from southern and central Iraq and the rest were from Iran, Turkey, and other foreign countries.

She added that more foreign holidaymakers are visiting Kurdistan mainly because of improved airline connections.

(Source: Rudaw)

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.

Iraq’s Mythical Marshes, New UNESCO Site, See Increase In Tourism

Over the past few months, the legendary marshes of Hawizeh have come alive again – and this time, with the sound of tourist chitchat.

The marshes, in southern Iraq near the Iranian border, are part of a network of waterways that were declared a UNESCO World Heritage site last year. They have long been famous for their natural diversity and because thousands of migratory birds stop here.

Recently, after the area became protected in the middle of 2016, there has been an increase in the numbers of tourists coming to check the marshes out for themselves. Most of the tourists are Iraqis but there are also expats and the occasional foreigner in the boats touring the wetlands – although usually nothing is announced until after the visit is concluded, for security reasons.

For Emma Nicholson, director of AMAR, one of the UK’s longest-standing charities in the country, whose organization actually launched with an appeal for marsh locals fleeing persecution by then-Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, it had been 25 years since she had visited the area.

“I see that nothing has really changed,” Nicholson said. “With the exception of some boats that are breaking into the marshes’ long silence. And here we are today, as if it was years ago.”

“The first thing I do when I visit the marshes is to eat the bread the locals make there and eat the fish they catch,” another tourist, Iraqi man, Nasrat Kamel, said. The 70-year-old had once lived in Maysan and worked there in the local police. “The marshes are still extremely beautiful.”

The only problem, another visitor points out, is that the area is undeveloped for tourism. So there are no good roads, hotels or restaurants. She says she would return if this changed. Additionally the security was something of an issue, the woman added.

By John Lee.

Iraqi oil minister Jabar Ali al-Luaibi [Allibi] has ordered the completion of a new tourism facility at Muftiya City, on the Shatt al Arab.

The 38-acre water city will included a waterpark, a leisure resort for families, and an aquarium. There will also be a zoo over 52 acres, a closed football stadium, Olympic swimming pool, sports and entertainment facilities, and restaurants.

The Minister has also ordered other projects in the Basra area, including the rehabilitation of the Ashar River, the restoration of an ancient clock in Basra, and the building of a model school.

(Source: Ministry of Oil)

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

The ruins of the city of Babil, some 56 miles south of Baghdad, flourished as the ancient Mesopotamian capital of Babylon, founded in the 19th century BC.

Since that time, the city has suffered from neglect, and poor treatment of its buildings and the very ground it was built on. There is now talk among Iraqi cultural officials of reviving tourism in the city.

Two events of the modern era greatly contributed to jeopardizing or destroying parts of Babil’s ancient heritage. The first involved renovations under former President Saddam Hussein as part of his political-construction program.

In 1988, some of the buildings were renovated in such a way that UNESCO protested on the ground that the changes threatened Babil’s historic status. UNESCO removed the city from its World Heritage List that same year.

Jeff Allen, field manager for the Future of Babylon project, told Deutsche Welle on June 21, 2013, that work was underway to reinstate Babil to the UNESCO World Heritage List by removing all the modern renovations made to the city in 1980, such as concrete slabs at the Ishtar Gate.

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

The ruins of the city of Babil, some 56 miles south of Baghdad, flourished as the ancient Mesopotamian capital of Babylon, founded in the 19th century BC.

Since that time, the city has suffered from neglect, and poor treatment of its buildings and the very ground it was built on. There is now talk among Iraqi cultural officials of reviving tourism in the city.

Two events of the modern era greatly contributed to jeopardizing or destroying parts of Babil’s ancient heritage. The first involved renovations under former President Saddam Hussein as part of his political-construction program.

In 1988, some of the buildings were renovated in such a way that UNESCO protested on the ground that the changes threatened Babil’s historic status. UNESCO removed the city from its World Heritage List that same year.

Jeff Allen, field manager for the Future of Babylon project, told Deutsche Welle on June 21, 2013, that work was underway to reinstate Babil to the UNESCO World Heritage List by removing all the modern renovations made to the city in 1980, such as concrete slabs at the Ishtar Gate.

By John Lee.

BasNews quotes the Head of the Kurdistan Restaurant and Hoteliers Association, Hersh Ahmad, as saying that 74 of the region’s 2,500 hotels have closed down in Erbil recently:

“The main reason is the fight against the Islamic State (IS) … And those which still operate have fired 50% of their staff, increasing unemployment in the region.”

Nadr Rosti, for the Kurdistan Board of Tourism, said that due to financial and security problems, far fewer fewer tourists are expected to visit this year.

(Source: BasNews)