By John Lee.

Ride-sharing services Uber, from the United States, and Careem of Dubai, have reached an agreement for Uber to acquire Careem for $3.1 billion, consisting of $1.7 billion in convertible notes and $1.4 billion in cash. The acquisition of Careem is subject to applicable regulatory approvals. The transaction is expected to close in Q1 2020.

Uber will acquire all of Careem’s mobility, delivery, and payments businesses across the greater Middle East region, ranging from Morocco to Pakistan, with major markets including Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

Upon closing, Careem will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Uber, preserving its brand. Careem co-founder and CEO Mudassir Sheikha will lead the Careem business, which will report to its own board made up of three representatives from Uber and two representatives from Careem. Careem and Uber will operate their respective regional services and independent brands.

Established in July 2012, Careem operates in 120 cities across 15 countries and has created more than one million economic opportunities in the region.

Careem entered the Iraqi market in January 2018.

(Source: Uber)

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

The Iraqi security forces have expanded their operations to track down members of the Islamic State (IS) in the vast Western Desert.

The security forces, however, have yet to reach an integrated strategy to confront IS in these lands, which stretch along Iraq’s borders with three countries and are located near key Sunni and Shiite cities.

The sub-governor of the city of al-Ratba in west Anbar, Emad al-Dulaimi, confirmed March 13 that an IS member killed a resident who was kidnapped while picking truffles more than two weeks ago in the desert.

Click here to read the full story.

By John Lee.

Baghdad has again been ranked as the city with the world’s worst quality of living, according to the Mercer 2019 Quality of Living Survey.

Just ahead of it in the table of 231 cities are Bangui in the Central African Republic and Sana’a in Yemen.

Vienna again retains the top spot; Zurich and Vancouver follow in second and third places, respectively.

Mercer evaluates local living conditions according to 39 different factors.

More information here.

(Source: Mercer)

Iraq’s Ministry of Planning and the Council of Ministers Secretariat, together with UN-Habitat, publicly launched the National Platform for Reconstruction and Development.

For more than one year, UN-Habitat has been working very closely with the Ministry of Planning to develop and finalize the Platform, with generous funding support from the Iraq UNDAF Trust Fund, which is a multi-donor trust fund.

The Platform provides up-to-date key information on reconstruction and development projects. It is a web-based GIS data system that contains analytical reports, statistical data for projects, as well as interactive maps of projects locations. By sharing project information, the Platform will enable relevant actors to avoid duplication and coordinate for better planning.

Now accessible to public and with interactive window, the Platform will also allow the Government of Iraq to receive feedback from its citizens on the reconstruction and development projects, helping to build trust between the Government and people.

H.E. Dr. Mahdi Al-Allaq, Secretary-General of the Council of Ministers, stated that “the Platform will advance delivery of the commitments made at the Kuwait International Conference for Reconstruction of Iraq”.

H.E. Dr. Noori Al-Dulaimi, Minister of Planning, commented that “through the Platform, projects will be managed in a transparent manner and monitored by the international community”.

Ms. Marta Ruedas, Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General/Resident Coordinator/Humanitarian Coordinator, stated that the Platform provides an overview of the projects implemented, and enables evidence-based planning and decision making.

The Data Platform is accessible at: https://mnpcd.gov.iq/

(Source: UN)

The Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) has announced that Shire Oak International has become the latest organisation to join the Council.

Shire Oak International is the first organisation with a primary focus on Renewable Energy to join the IBBC.

Shire Oak International is a developer and financier of large-scale renewable energy projects in developing countries and emerging economies. Its core mission is to be a global pathfinder in devising, implementing and spreading renewable energy solutions to drive transformational change in the rate of adoption of renewable energy in the developing world.

In line with this mission – as of October 2018 – the company is advancing 3.7GW of renewable energy projects to be operational in the coming 3-5 years. Beyond this initial suite of projects, the company is validating a further potential 5-6GW to be operational by 2030, a total of over 9GW in 13-15 countries. While the projects and country portfolios are different in many ways, they face common challenges.

Shire Oak International aims to provide a suite of development and financing solutions to surmount these challenges in order to bend the emissions curve in globally important energy markets. Innovative blended finance structures, which combine public and private funds, will be deployed.

Shire Oak International will bring significant expertise in the renewable energy sector to the IBBC, which brings exciting future possibilities to Iraq and its people.

(Source: IBBC)

The Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) has announced that Shire Oak International has become the latest organisation to join the Council.

Shire Oak International is the first organisation with a primary focus on Renewable Energy to join the IBBC.

Shire Oak International is a developer and financier of large-scale renewable energy projects in developing countries and emerging economies. Its core mission is to be a global pathfinder in devising, implementing and spreading renewable energy solutions to drive transformational change in the rate of adoption of renewable energy in the developing world.

In line with this mission – as of October 2018 – the company is advancing 3.7GW of renewable energy projects to be operational in the coming 3-5 years. Beyond this initial suite of projects, the company is validating a further potential 5-6GW to be operational by 2030, a total of over 9GW in 13-15 countries. While the projects and country portfolios are different in many ways, they face common challenges.

Shire Oak International aims to provide a suite of development and financing solutions to surmount these challenges in order to bend the emissions curve in globally important energy markets. Innovative blended finance structures, which combine public and private funds, will be deployed.

Shire Oak International will bring significant expertise in the renewable energy sector to the IBBC, which brings exciting future possibilities to Iraq and its people.

(Source: IBBC)

By Alexander Southworth, Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC).

Exploring Tech in Iraq: ‘Hackasuly – Promoting Tech Literacy for a New Generation of Iraqis’

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. In a country which has seen its fair share of weapon misuse over the last few decades Mandela’s quote could not be more relevant in the climate of present-day Iraq.

With a beleaguered state education system and struggling infrastructure, there exists a community within the Tech Sector that is trying to navigate these challenges and promote education of Iraqi youths through the cultivation of digital skills that will help them reach their goals and find meaningful employment.

In the IBBC’s Tech Series: Exploring Tech in Iraq, we speak to some of the innovators and founders of tech organisations making a difference in Iraq.

One such organisation, HackaSuly, is an initiative that aims to promote technology in Sulaimani, Kurdistan and wider Iraq through tech events, hackathons, meetups and to create a network of tech enthusiasts.

We spoke to one of the founders, Hero Mohammed, to find out more about HackaSuly’s events, how they are empowering young Iraqis, the inspiration behind the founding of the organisation and any advice she has to aspiring tech entrepreneurs.

I believe there is a great potential in Iraq for the tech-industry. The people of Iraq are hungry for stability, innovation and facilities after decades of war and conflict” – Hero Mohammed, Founder of HackaSuly

Growing up in Sulaimani, Iraqi Kurdistan, Hero describes her desire to participate in coding challenges and tech events but due to a near complete lack of opportunities, this simply was not possible. In 2015, she helped organise HackaErbil, the first Hackathon in Iraq, which would inspire her to embark on a journey to help others in the community to have the opportunities her peers did not have as college students. Building on the success of that first event, Hero started by organising the first hackathon in Sulaimani with the help of some friends.

So how exactly does HackaSuly help young coders through its events? HackaSuly is trying to help young coders to develop their skills and match them with the existing tech market demands. In the meanwhile, they are encouraged to update themselves with cutting-edge technologies and tools.

Until now, they have had three different types of events.

  1. Meet and code (Co-founded with Razhan Hameed): regular weekly coding meetups for coders and people who are interested in coding to come together, collaborate and share their knowledge and skills.
  2. HackaSuly Hackathon (co-organised with Snur Hamid): an annual hackathon that brings together developers, designers and entrepreneurs to come up with ideas that have a technological implementation, form teams and develop their prototypes over a weekend.
  3. Suli Tech Festival (Co-founded and co-organised with Razhan Hameed in collaboration with five one labs): a day-long tech celebration in Sulaimani. The Festival brought together young innovators and members of the local tech community with leaders and companies in the industry. The goal was to help promote technology, generate more interest in the field, and expand knowledge of career opportunities (from the participant’s side) and potential hires (from the business’ side) in the tech industry in Sulaimani. The Festival contained a number of exciting events over the course of the day, including: a welcome speech by the Deputy Prime Minister of Kurdistan Regional Government, a Coding Challenge, an Intro Workshop to Web Development, a Tech Career Fair and Project Presentations.

While events of this nature may be common in more tech-developed countries, their establishment in Iraq brings many serious challenges. Hero describes how their ideas and events are new to the society in general and the biggest challenge has being delivering their message. Explaining the events and ideas especially when seeking funds and support have been challenging. When they first started with the HackaSuly hackathon, there was significant difficultly making people within the tech industry, even professionals, understand what a hackathon is.

Support has been key to growing the operation, Hero states great support has been forthcoming from local and international NGOs and private sector companies, especially those that are operating within the Iraqi tech industry, many as part of their Social Responsibility programs. More support is necessary to keep momentum growing, especially government contributions.

“I can imagine HackaSuly in 5 years… A large tech community across the country working together to make technology an important sector for the economic development of Kurdistan and Iraq” – Hero Mohammed, Founder of HackaSuly

Inspired by her strong love of coding and tech, Hero is one of the inspiring young innovators that are driving tech literacy and interest in a new generation of Iraqis. By creating a community of tech enthusiasts in Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan, HackaSuly is empowering young people to believe in their abilities, learn new skills and create for themselves tech start-ups in Iraq’s fast growing tech Sector.

As Hero states: Access to new technologies can have many benefits for any developing countries. One such benefit is its impact on reducing the costs of production. Other ways technology is helping developing countries is by boosting economies through innovation, SMBs and advanced communication.

IBBC is holding a Tech Conference in Iraq in early 2019, where we aim to bring together the key innovators transforming the digital landscape in the country, explore solutions to better governance and industry reforms using technology and give a platform to young Iraqi entrepreneurs breaking the mould. For more information, and to get involved, please email: London@webuildiraq.org or visit: https://www.iraqbritainbusiness.org/event/tech-conference-in-baghdad.

(Source: IBBC)

Support for Iraq stabilization continues with EUR 2.4 million contribution from Italy

The Government of Italy has contributed an additional USD 2.7 million (EUR 2.4 million) to UNDP’s Funding Facility for Stabilization (FFS) supporting communities affected by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), taking its total contribution to USD 12.9 million.

“Iraq was officially declared free from ISIL just over one year ago, but that doesn’t mean efforts to stabilize the country are over,” says Mr. Gerardo Noto, UNDP Resident Representative a.i. for Iraq. “Now is not the time to be scaling back funding for a programme that has helped almost three million displaced Iraqis return home.”

“It’s very heartening to see countries like Italy acknowledging this and reaffirming their commitment to helping communities across Iraq rebuild their lives. We are grateful for this support and we look forward to continue serving the people of Iraq,” adds Mr Noto.

“Italy maintains its commitment in supporting Iraq’s stabilization efforts to provide basic services to the newly liberated areas,” says Italian Ambassador to Iraq, Mr. Bruno Pasquino.

“This fourth contribution to the FFS is a testimony of the full engagement of Italy for the people of Iraq, as a qualified partner in various fields, from the provision of services to the rehabilitation of infrastructure and to the capacity-building activity in favour of the Iraqi Security Forces,” adds Ambassador Pasquino.

At the request of the Government of Iraq, UNDP established the Funding Facility for Stabilization in June 2015 to facilitate the return of displaced Iraqis, lay the groundwork for reconstruction and recovery, and safeguard against the resurgence of violence and extremism.

The Facility currently has more than 3,100 projects underway in 31 liberated cities and districts, helping local authorities to quickly rehabilitate essential infrastructure. More than 95 percent of all stabilization projects are done by the local private sector employing local labour.

(Source: UNDP)

UK Export Finance (UKEF) will support a €30.2 million contract for the refurbishment of Al Mussaib power station in southern Iraq, the UK government has announced.

The support will enable the rehabilitation of a 320 megawatt (MW) turbine, that will help improve the overall efficiency and output at the power station.

Al Mussaib power station, located close to Baghdad, is one of the main providers of electricity for the city. Increasing its output will help secure the supply of basic electricity to Baghdad residents.

Minister of State for Trade and Export Promotion, Baroness Fairhead (pictured) said:

I am delighted that UK Export Finance is supporting the first phase of the refurbishment, which will have such a significant impact on the supply and security of electricity in southern Iraq.

“The demand for UK expertise on complex projects like this highlights the UK’s leadership in this sector and I am delighted that UK Export Finance is supporting projects that will have such a direct impact on improving the country’s infrastructure and the lives of the Iraqi people.

“I encourage likeminded businesses to get in touch with UKEF to learn more about the kind of financial support we can provide.”

This announcement follows the agreement between the governments of the UK and Iraq signed in March 2017, which re-affirmed the UK’s commitment to Iraq’s continued economic development.

Darren Davidson, Managing Director – Power Generation Services, Power & Gas, Siemens UK said:

“The refurbishment of the Al Mussaib power plant will be hugely important both for the citizens of Baghdad and for our international business. UKEF’s support demonstrates the UK government’s commitment to improving Iraq’s infrastructure and the UK’s energy sector.”

(Source: UKEF)

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.

 Baghdad defends advantages of Iraq-Jordan agreement from critics

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi and his Jordanian counterpart, Omar al-Razza, signed 14 economic agreements Feb. 2 between the two countries, during their meetings on the Iraqi-Jordan border, where a joint industrial city will be established.

The agreements include the transport, trade, health, agriculture, finance and energy sectors.

The recent economic agreements between the Iraqi and Jordanian governments have raised controversy in Iraq, as some Iraqi political and economic institutions believe these understandings favor Jordan and harm Iraq. The Asaib Ahl al-Haq (League of the Righteous), headed by Qais Khazali, said “the Iraqi citizens will pay the tax of these agreements.

As with most other issues in Iraq, these agreements divided Iraqi political camps into two. One was welcoming, and the other denounced the agreements as having no economic feasibility for Iraq — especially those related to extending a pipeline from Iraq’s oil-rich government of Basra to Aqaba.

Click here to read the full story.