The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Toyota Iraq signed a flagship agreement today in Erbil to train and place hundreds of displaced people in jobs.

This new partnership brings together one of the world’s leading car companies, Toyota, and UNDP, which is actively working to improve conditions for the more than 3.4 million Iraqis who have been displaced by the conflict with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

The Toyota Iraq team will provide vocational training in vehicle mechanics and maintenance to hundreds of displaced trainees. After the trainees graduate, UNDP’s Iraq Crisis Response and Resilience Programme (ICRRP) will facilitate job placement in local companies and businesses.

UNDP Resident Representative and UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, Ms. Lise Grande, said:

“Millions of Iraqis have lost their homes, businesses and jobs. Providing top class training and placing trainees in jobs is one of the best ways to help. Doing this with a leading private sector company is truly pioneering.”

Toyota Iraq’s President, Mr. Sardar H. Hasan, said:

“Our wish is that all trainees will soon be able to return back to their home, and by utilizing the learnt skills, they will be able to support rebuilding local business environment. We are starting the training with automotive technical course, but we foresee in the future to add more course contents, and provide more opportunities for the trainees.”

UNDP’s ICRRP provides fast-track support to vulnerable families in newly liberated cities and villages where social tensions threaten community cohesion. ICRRP is currently active in eleven newly liberated communities in Diyala, Salah al Din and Ninewah Governorates and is expected to expand to nearly 30 locations in the months ahead.

ICRRP is designed as a resilience and recovery programme to help families withstand the multi-dimensional shocks associated with post-liberation and large-scale returns.

(Source: UNDP)

Dubai-based Drake & Scull International PJSC (DSI) has announced that it has been awarded a AED 226 million ($61 million) engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract for the construction of a water injection network installation project at the Zubair oil field in Basra, Iraq by ENI Iraq B.V. (EIBV) a subsidiary of the Italian oil and gas multinational firm ENI S.p.A.

EIBV is the Lead Contractor of the Zubair Project consortium which currently comprises EIBV, Occidental of Iraq LLC and KOGAS Iraq B.V. which is undertaking the redevelopment of the Zubair Oil Field.

Under the terms of the agreement, Drake and Scull Oil & Gas (DSOG) will oversee the Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) of a gas supply pipeline system to a power plant in addition to water injection systems consisting of flow lines, trunk lines, manifolds stations and wellheads hook-up work to enhance oil recovery. Mobilization activity on the project has commenced with a scheduled completion of early 2018.

Commenting on the project award, Wael Allan, Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Drake & Scull International PJSC, said:

Drake & Scull Oil and Gas continues to achieve substantial progress and has gained a noticeable foothold in the oil and gas infrastructure construction sector in the MENA region in short period. The contract award has also raised DSI’s total project wins to AED 570 million in very challenging circumstances.

“We are confident that our high margin businesses including Oil & Gas, Rail & Infrastructure and Engineering will significantly contribute to our sustainable growth, in line with our strategy of focusing on profitability and cash generation.

Fares Khatib, Managing Director of Drake and Scull Oil & Gas added:

The Zubair oilfield contract is a positive development for DSOG, particularly as it represents our second collaboration with EIBV. EIBV had previously awarded DSOG the EPC pipeline installation contract for the Zubair oil field in 2012 which was successfully completed in 2015 on the strength of our in-house engineering management, procurement and construction capabilities. 

“Our prior experience with EIBV in Zubair oil field will prove invaluable in ensuring the successful execution of project delivery on the new project award. We are committed to leveraging the skillset and experience of our teams in Iraq & Abu Dhabi to achieve scheduled project progress and meet our completion target.

DSOG has established its credentials in undertaking large scale, complex Oil, Gas, Chemical & Petrochemical-related projects across the wider MEA region. The company has successfully delivered prominent projects such as the EPC pipeline installation Project for the Zubair oil field in Iraq.

(Source: Drake & Scull International)

eServGlobal and the Zain Group have been named as winners of a Global Telecoms Business Innovation Award for mobile money deployments in Jordan and Iraq.

The Global Telecoms Business Innovation Awards recognise innovative projects in the global telecommunications industry, highlighting the collaboration and partnership between operators and vendors. The award winners were announced during a ceremony held in London on 25 May.

eServGlobal and Zain were recognised for launching a new service, which allows users to access convenient and secure financial services through their mobile. Through the service, called ‘Zain Cash’, customers can have a mobile wallet linked to their SIM card, enabling financial transactions easily and at any time (Cash-In/ Cash-out, transfer money from wallet to another, recharge for prepaid account & bill payment for postpaid account). 

Zain Cash is currently live at Zain operations in Jordan and Iraq and aims to provide a mobile wallet to millions of customers in the two countries in coming years. The service is built on eServGlobal’s flagship technology platform, PayMobile.

eServGlobal’s PayMobile is an end-to-end platform for mobile financial services and advanced recharge. It is a market-proven, state-of-the-art platform which currently supports deployments around the world, adapting to the differing needs of each market.

James Hume, CTO, eServGlobal, said:

“The collaboration between eServGlobal and Zain highlights what can be achieved when two innovative companies work together to launch life-changing services. Early customer reception for Zain Cash has been positive. eServGlobal is proud to be recognised as a leader within the rapidly developing space of mobile financial technology. We look forward to continuing our work with Zain to launch these services in more markets.”

Scott Gegenheimer, CEO fo Zain Group, said:

This recognition confirms Zain’s position at the forefront of the mobile money revolution in the region and that eServGlobal are the right partners for our continued success in this space. We are not just innovating for innovation’s sake, but that the services and initiatives we are developing are really impacting people’s lives positively, further supporting our aspirations on becoming a digital lifestyle operator.”

eServGlobal has a framework agreement with the Zain Group to provide an end-to-end mobile money and EVD (electronic voucher distribution for prepaid rechage) solutions across Zain Group’s operations.

Mobile financial services have a transformational effect on unbanked populations as they open financial systems to formally excluded population segments. This kind of change is crucial in emerging markets where financial inclusion is key to economic development.

Mobile money, mobile financial services, mobile recharge and distribution are key elements in the Zain Group strategy. Zain Group coverage extends to more than 45.5 million customers spanning Kuwait, Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, South Sudan and Sudan. Notably, in several of Zain’s markets, over 90% of the population does not have access to banking facilities.

(Source: eServGlobal)

Wyndham Hotel Group has announced plans for two new hotels in the Iraqi holy city of Najaf, in a deal announced with Bukhamseen Group For Real Estate, Tourism, General Trading & Contracting Company.

Located just 800m from the Imam Ali Holy Shrine, the third holiest site for the estimated 200 million followers of the Shia branch of Islam, the co-located Ramada Plaza Najaf and Ramada Hotel & Suites Najaf will cater to the needs of the booming religious tourism industry in the city.

The new four-star hotels will join the existing Ramada Sulaymaniyah to become the second and third Wyndham Hotel Group properties in Iraq.

Millions of pilgrims visit the Imam Ali Holy Shrine each year, with numbers expected to surge further when the expansion of the nearby Al Najaf International Airport is complete.

Dan Ruff, Wyndham Hotel Group’s president and managing director for EMEA, added:

Najaf is a thriving holy city, with thousands of Shia Muslims from Iran and other areas of the region making the pilgrimage to the Imam Ali every week. This growing number of visitors seeks the quality accommodation which we offer under the umbrella of our Ramada brand, as well as the convenience of being located just 800m down the road from the sacred site.

“The significant number of jobs these openings will create for local people will help to boost the city’s growing tourism industry even further.

Located on Kahrabba Street, the Ramada Plaza Najaf will boast 225 rooms including 20 suites to suit differing needs and budgets of visitors. Multiple meeting rooms including an 800sqm banquet room can accommodate business or special occasion functions. Guests can enjoy the luxury of leisure facilities, including both indoor and outdoor pools, a fitness room and spa, before relaxing and dining in a choice of two restaurants or an additional lounge.

Connected to the Ramada Plaza, the Ramada Hotel & Suites Najaf offers flexible accommodation in the form of 149 studios and 91 high-end one-bed apartments, providing an ideal space for families and groups. Guests can make use of the leisure facilities at the Ramada Plaza next door, as well as additional meeting space, restaurant and lounge. Both properties are expected to open their doors by mid-2018, creating an impressive 465 jobs for local workers and helping to boost the growing local economy.

Developer Emad Bukhamseen added:

The signing of this deal with Wyndham Hotel Group will allow us to fill a real gap in the market in Najaf. The global reputation the Ramada brand enjoys is one of quality and reassurance for the traveller, so it’s a solid addition to our portfolio.

“Environmentally-friendly building materials were used to suit the local conditions, solar power technology will be used whenever appropriate and most of the hot water for the property shall be generated by a solar system.  This multi-use complex also hosts a commercial centre with a rentable area of 14,000 sq.m. to enhance the experience of the hotel guests as well as the local business community.

(Source: Wyndham Hotel Group)

Cristal Group has entered into a management agreement with HARCO Erbil, represented by Mr. Mustafa Hariri, to operate the first Emerald Hotel in Erbil. It is the group’s second property in Erbil and its third in Iraq.

Making the announcement, Mr. Kamal Fakhoury, COO of Cristal Group, said:

“Emerald is our Mid market brand and we are proud to debut it in Kurdistan within the Lebanese Village development that will in fact be the first signature property to carry the Emerald flag. Erbil is an attractive hub for business as well as leisure travelers and is one of the safest destinations in Iraq.

“We are extremely grateful to HARCO Erbil for having given us the opportunity to manage Emerald Erbil and are confident it will be a great new addition to the existing range of accommodation options in the city.”

Mr Hariri, said:

“The Lebanese Village is a very significant project for us and we are pleased to work with the Cristal Group on this exciting new development. At the moment we are witnessing remarkable growth in tourism in Kurdistan that has resulted in increasing demand for quality mid-market hotels and we are confident, Emerald Erbil will establish itself as a preferred choice in the sector”.

The Emerald is part of a massive 240,000 sq.m mixed use development in Erbil and will feature 196 well-appointed hotel apartment suites. On site will be four superb dining outlets, three meeting rooms, gym, Cristal Spa and a retail centre. The phase one of the hotel is expected to be ready for operation from September 1, 2016.

Harco Erbil is sister company of Hariri Construction and Contracting.

Emerald Hotel, Erbil (Cristal, Harco)

(Source: Press Release)

By John Lee.

Kirintec, a UK-based supplier of tactical equipment for anti-terror solutions in the security and defence industry, has announced that it is sponsoring the Ur Region Archaeological Project in Iraq, led by Dr Jane Moon.

Founder and Managing Director Roy Peers-Smith commented:

We feel privileged to share the story so far and wait with baited breath as we relay what is uncovered in the Middle East.

“We respect Dr Moon and her team’s work, passion and desire to preserve.

Located in Dhi Qar Governorate, Ur was an important Sumerian city-state in ancient Mesopotamia.

(Source: Kirintec)

By John Lee.

UK-based Serco has agreed a contract extension with the Iraq Civil Aviation Authority (ICAA) to deliver air traffic services and academy training.

David J. Greer OBE, CEO, Serco Middle East commented:

“The contract extension issued to Serco is a true testament of our work and approach to air traffic safety and training of Iraqi nationals. We are proud that it reaffirms our position as the leading provider of outsourced air navigation services in the region and we aspire to look at longer term partnership models across the region in the future.”

The contract covers a full range of services including the continued development of Air Traffic Services and Academy Training at Baghdad International Airport.

The partnership between Serco and the ICAA has achieved a number of successes that include increasing airspace capacity, successful training and validation of national staff to become air traffic controllers, while continuously developing a solid foundation for advancing Air Traffic Services capabilities in Iraq in line with ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices.

(Source: Serco)

American Science and Engineering (AS&E) has announced that it has received an order to supply its Z Portal cargo screening system and Gemini parcel inspection systems to Najaf International Airport.

Chuck Dougherty, AS&E’s President and CEO, said:

“We are proud to have been selected by Najaf Airport, one of Iraq’s busiest airports, to provide the advanced technology and expert technical support it needs to protect the safety of passengers, personnel, and infrastructure.”

Sheikh Faed Al-Shimary, Director General of the Najaf Airport Authority, said:

“Passengers and freight forwarders are increasingly turning to Najaf Airport for their international air travel and shipping requirements. We chose AS&E’s comprehensive detection solutions because they provide rapid inspection of vehicles and carry-on luggage in a high-security and high-traffic environment while ensuring the flow of passengers and commerce — and because it is well-known in our region for delivering exceptional, responsive customer service.”

To secure this order, AS&E worked closely with its distributor, ASJ, in Najaf, Iraq.

(Source: AS&E)

The Kurdistan Regional Government’s Department of Information Technology (DIT) has announced that Kurdistan’s top level domain, “.KRD” is available for public registration.

The Department encourages brands, organizations and individuals to take this opportunity to register the names that are important to them.

In an era of increasing global connectivity and emergence of billions of new internet users worldwide .KRD eases the limitation of millions of domain names registered in other top level domains such as .com or .net” said Hiwa Afandi, Head of DIT.

With an increasing number of partnering registrars all over the world, .KRD domain registrations are now available through retailers such as 101Domain, DomainDiscount24, OpenProvider, Namecheap and NameISP. Registrations are also available through brand protection agencies such as MarkMonitor and SafeBrands.

(Source: KRG)

By John Lee.

Iraq’s Ministry of Oil quotes a report by Rystad Energy as saying that Iraq has the world’s third-lowest-cost crude oil.

Kuwait came in lowest at $8.50 per barrel, with Saudi Arabia at $9.90, followed by Iraq at $10.70.

Fourth place went to UAE at $12.30, and Iran took fifth place with $12.60.

The United Kingdom was the most expensive at $52/barrel, followed by Brazil at $49 and Canada at $41.

The US cost averaged $36, and Russia $18.

(Source: Ministry of Oil)