Qatar Airways, Emirates and several other Persian Gulf airlines still fly in Iranian and Iraqi airspace and to cities in both countries since Iran and the United States traded military strikes.

Iranian airspace is important for all carriers in this region,” said Adil al-Ghaith, Emirates’ senior vice president, commercial operations, Persian Gulf, Middle East and Iran, Reuters reported.

Dubai-based Emirates and sister carrier flyDubai together serve 10 cities in Iran and Iraq, and have continued to use the airspace of both countries for other flights.

Kuwait Airways and Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways have also continued using Iranian and Iraqi airspace.

We will continue to fly to Iran because Iran is an important country to us and it is our neighbor and we want to serve the people of Iran,” Qatar Airways Chief Executive Akbar al-Baker said on the sidelines of a Kuwait air show.

However, some regional carriers have changed their routes. Bahrain’s Gulf Air has redirected European flights away from Iraqi airspace and now flies longer, more fuel consuming routes over Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

We want to take the safest option even if it costs us a little bit more for a period of time. We can live with that,” Deputy Chief Executive Waleed Abdulhameed al-Alawi said.

The UAE regulator told its carriers — Emirates, Etihad, flydubai and Air Arabia AIRA.DU — this month to “evaluate flight path risks” although it said it was up to the airlines to make the final decision on the routes they chose.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

IBBC Autumn conference in Dubai attracts deep engagement and discussion of the Protests

Over 100 attendees of largely Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) members engaged in deep discussions and conversational at the Autumn Conference in Dubai this weekend.

As a backdrop to the protest and conflict in Iraq, speakers and delegates articulated the causes, solutions and reforms required to improve the situation in Iraq.

Distinguished speakers included H.E Mr Abdulla Ahmed Al Saleh, under-secretary Foreign Trade and Industry UAE Ministry of Economy, Dr Dara Rashid, senior deputy minister of housing construction and municipalities GOI, Mr Talib Abdullah Bayesh, deputy Minister of Transport and Mr Simon Penney- HM Trade Commissioner for the Middle East, along with Baroness Nicholson, President of IBBC and Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Iraq, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.

Key panels included Middle East, economic trends and prospects – with particular reference to Iraq – lead by Professor Frank Gunter, Prof Economics Lehigh University –his presentation, outlining the underlying economic issues in Iraq can be found here IBBC Dubai 1Dec19 (2)

Joining him were Dr Alexander Hamilton of DFID, Simon Penney and Dr Dara Rashid – while the outlook for Iraq currently looks bleak, there was a marked degree of optimism on the panel, as the protests and prospective new government are seen as a potential spur to reform and change for the better.

Mr Christophe Michels, MD of IBBC observed:

“Following meetings with leaders of the protest movement in Baghdad last month, and despite the fact that the protests themselves led to a severe disruption of the work of most businesses, the protest movement is led by a multitude of civil society organisations who consist mostly of very young women and men, inspired by hope for the future of the country.  It transcends religious, sectarian, class and gender barriers and appears to be crystallising into a new form of Iraqi nationalism.”

Other panels covered Power, John Scott of IBBC chaired GE, Crescent Petroleum and Uruk engineering.

Infrastructure and Water – with a stunning presentations by Mr Hussam Chakouf of Zaha Haddid Architects, Dr Rashid and Mr Sean Gamble MD of RSK, who are undertaking significant environmental clean- up and land reclamation projects across Iraq and particularly in the oil fields around Basra.

Transport and Logistics, chaired by Ms Beverly Simpson Director of Department for International Trade at the British Embassy Baghdad, with Mr Talib Abdullah Bayesh, Deputy Minister of Transport, Mr Jason Sutcliffe of Rolls Royce and Mr Phil Marsham CEO of Basra Gateway.

Alongside the conference a special newly active Women’s group, led by Samer Athamer of AMS Iraq and Agne Abramauskaite of IBBC which discussed the empowerment of women and development of careers, and a dedicated afternoon to the Tech Forum – an increasingly dynamic new member group, dedicated to promoting Tech in Iraq – Sponsored by Innovest, investors in Iraqi Start-ups, and led by CEO Mr Bassam Falah. The forum was  chaired by Ashley Goodall of IBBC and ably supported by Mr Mohammed Khudairi of Iraqtechventures, with Mr Chris Ferguson Director and lead of UK Government Digital services, and Mr Alexander Hamilton of DFID, this panel discussed how to encourage the GOI to develop more and faster Tech initiatives and infrastructural support for Start ups and the Tech Ecology in Iraq, and to form a group within IBBC to develop these initiatives further – Second panel ( Educational Tech ) included Mr Timothy Fisher CEO of Stirling Education, whose team showcased their distance learning platform that is being trialled in their Iraqi schools, and is expected to be available to all schools in Iraq and beyond, ably supported by Mr Chris Ferguson with HMG UK examples of Educational tech, and Mr Hamilton of DFID.

IBBC is most grateful to the following sponsors, without whom we would not be able to hold these important events: Rolls Royce, Khudairi group and Severn Glocon group as Conference sponsors, and Basra Gateway terminal as reception sponsors, and Innovest as key Tech Forum and conference sponsors.

For more information please contact: or Telephone: 0207 222 7100

(Source: IBBC)

The Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) is delighted to be holding a Tech forum within the main Conference at Address Hotel in Dubai on December 8th.

Principal among the speakers are Mr Yassin Bhija of GE Healthcare and Mr Uwe Bork of Siemens Healthcare who are driving the healthtech panel – exploring the hot topic of ‘How best to Develop primary and general healthcare in Iraq.’

Iraq has structural and tactical issues in providing universal healthcare at all levels of delivery and in all locations and classes. The two leading healthcare companies will discuss how tech solutions in general can address the issue and how their particular capabilities contribute to the general provision of healthcare.

Following on the Education Tech panel, will be discussing ‘The importance of Digital literacy in Iraq’, led by Google’s Mr Martin Roeke, Dr Victoria Lindsay of the British Council and Mr Timothy Fisher CEO of Stirling Education.

The Forum is sponsored by Innovest Middle East, an investment company that invests in startups during their scaling up stage in key markets in the Middle East region. With representations in Lebanon, Dubai, KSA, and Iraq, Innovest Middle East has played a key role in driving the startup ecosystem through direct investments as well as through supporting incubation and acceleration platforms collaboration with governmental and international bodies. In Iraq, Innovest Middle East launched IRAQPRENEURS in 2018, in collaboration with the World Bank, Central Bank of Iraq and leading private organizations, which grew to become one of the leading nationwide entrepreneurship empowerment platform in Iraq.

Mr Bassam Falah, CEO of Innovest will be addressing the delegates on the progress in support of the Iraqi start up ecology.

More speakers are expected to confirm.

For more information and to register, please contact

(Source: IBBC)

Iraq’s media regulator should reverse its decision to order the closure of 12 broadcasters over a licensing dispute and should allow media outlets to freely cover protests in the country, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said on Monday.

On November 12, the Communications and Media Commission (CMC), Iraq’s media regulator, ordered the closure of eight television broadcasters and four radio stations for three months for allegedly violating media licensing rules, and issued a warning against five more broadcasters over their coverage of protests, according to a copy of the closure decision, which CPJ reviewed, and reports by local news organizations and press freedom groups.

According to the decision, the commission also renewed the closure of U.S.-funded broadcaster Al-Hurra for an additional three months. The outlet was shuttered on September 2 after it aired a report on alleged state corruption, as CPJ reported at the time.

The decision includes a recommendation to the prime minister’s office to send security forces to the outlets to force them to close. According to CPJ’s review of the outlets’ broadcasts, and an official with the media regulator who spoke to news website Arab News, none of the outlets have been closed as of November 25.

The outlets have critically covered the protests that have taken place throughout Iraq since October over a lack of basic services, unemployment, and government corruption, according to CPJ’s review of their broadcasts.

“Iraqi authorities are using all the means at their disposal, legal and otherwise, to intimidate outlets in an effort to prevent them from covering the ongoing protests in the country,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Representative Ignacio Miguel Delgado. “We call on the Iraqi Communications and Media Commission to reverse this order and to allow TV broadcasters, radio stations, and journalists to do their jobs.”

The outlets listed in the decision are the Amman-based Dijlah TV and Anb TV, the Dubai-based Al-Sharqiya TV, the Saudi-funded Al-Arabiya Al-Hadath, the U.S.-funded Radio Sawa, the Sulaymaniyah-based NRT News and Radio Nawa, and the Baghdad-based Al-Rasheed TV, Al-Fallujah, Hona Baghdad, Radio Al-Nas, and Radio Al-Youm.

The decision also issued a warning to five outlets to “adapt their discourse to the media broadcasting rules” or else face possible suspension: the Abu Dhabi-based Sky News Arabia, the Beirut-based Al-Sumaria, the Erbil-based Rudaw, and the Baghdad-based Asia TV and Ur TV.

The document recommends that the prime minister’s office approach representatives from the home countries of the foreign outlets listed in the decision, as well as the management of Egyptian satellite provider NileSat, to address the alleged violations.

Iraq’s Communications and Media Commission did not immediately reply to CPJ’s emailed request for comment.

Amid the protests, unidentified gunmen raided the Baghdad offices of four broadcasters, and the Communications and Media Commission ordered Al-Dijlah TV’s transmissions into Iraq to be blocked and its offices shut down for allegedly failing to abide by professional standards, according to CPJ reporting.

(Source: CPJ)

The Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) will also be holding a Tech Forum on 8 December, which will run in parallel with its Autumn Conference at the Address Hotel, Dubai.

IBBC tech conference is bringing together some of the key innovators of Tech in Iraq and will be speaking on how Digital Technology can deliver Health and Education for Iraq.

Speakers include representatives from EY, Siemens, GE Healthcare, Google, KPMG, and others.

Digital Transformation and Technology is at the heart of a better future for Iraq, join us and deliver this future together



Chairman of the day: Ashley Goodall, IBBC

14.00    How technology can support the delivery of the healthcare services in Iraq?


    • Dr Uwe Bork, Siemens Healthcare
    • Mr Yassine Bhija, Director of Enterprise Solutions, GE Healthcare
    • KPMG
    • EY


16.00    Developing Digital literacy in Iraq


    • Mr Timothy Fisher, Stirling Education
    • Dr Victoria Lindsay, British Council
    • Mr Martin Roeske, Google Education and Govt affairs.


Register Now

Registration is FREE to Tech conference and for Women’s group discussion or phone +44 (0) 20 7222 7100 to request a registration form. 

From Peace to prosperity:

The Conference to find out what’s happening for Iraq business.

The Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) Autumn Conference in Dubai on December 8th is set against a backdrop of relative peace and security in Iraq, and the prospect of oil revenues surging through the economy is driving a wider range of business opportunities and a prospective 8% increase in GDP.

Peace is enabling the economy to diversify through the revenues that pay for a range of infrastructure projects. So this Autumn we are focusing on a range of sectors set to benefit from a stable Iraq: namely, Water, Transport and Logistics, Energy and Tech.

The recent protests have also spurred on Government reforms and incentives to drive employment, entrepreneurship and service diversity, and increase the volume of opportunity that lies ahead and the prospects for not just business-to-business but also a burgeoning consumer market.

The Iraqi Electricity Minister will likely be speaking about his reforms to open up the market to SME’s, training and new players. Other ministers including those from Construction and Transport are attending.

The recent announcement of a 10year tax-free period for SMEs in Iraq will also stimulate the Tech entrepreneur market and drive the uptake of engineering skills.

At this conference, we will discuss big-picture economics with Professor Frank Gunter (Lehigh University), Ahmed Tabaqchali (AFC Iraq Fund), and Simon Penny (UK Trade & Investment), who will address the economic backdrop in the Middle East, and the context for Iraq in particular.

The World Bank and Wood Plc will cover the water sector, while Rolls Royce, Basra Gateway Terminal (BGT), and Menzies will look at transport and logistics, and Iraq’s Electricity Minister, GE, Siemens and Enka will focus on energy.

Alongside the conference our Tech Forum brings experts on HealthTech and Educational Tech, including speakers from GE, Siemens Healthcare, KPMG, EY, Google and the British Council, among others.

While key opportunities will be outlined, the real opportunity for business is to meet the people directly involved in contracts and supply-chain opportunities. This is the place to do business, to network and to find out what’s happening in the Middle East’s most potentially dynamic market that is Iraq.

For further information and to find the latest updates on speakers – more are expected – please contact or visit the website to register for tickets.

The year it’s all on the up…

On Tuesday 1st October the Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) was pleased to host a roundtable discussion chaired by IBBC President Baroness Nicholson with His Excellency, Chief Justice Faiq Zidan, who was visiting the United Kingdom as guest of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

The meeting was attended by several IBBC member representatives including from Constellis, G4S Secure Solutions, Harcus Sinclair, Mosul University, Protechnique, PWC SPS and Unihouse Global.

Chief Justice Zidan introduced himself and summarised his career, which began in 1991 as a lawyer in Baghdad. He was appointed as a judge in Baghdad’s Civil Courts and Criminal Courts in 1999 and then Chief of the Central Investigative Court responsible for Combating Terrorism and Important Crimes in 2005. In 2012, Faiq was appointed to the Federal Court of Cassation as Vice-Chief in 2014 and in 2016 as Chief, a position he still holds today. He was appointed President of the Supreme Judicial Council in January 2017.

Christophe Michels, managing director of IBBC, gave a summary of the history of IBBC in Iraq, the make-up of its current membership and the many events and activities currently being organised in Iraq, Dubai and the UK.

Members reported on current legal and judicial challenges they face when operating in Iraq. His Excellency confirmed he was familiar with many of these issues and undertook to review them on his return to Iraq. He said he would be particularly interested in any legal or judicial interpretations that could discourage foreign investment.

Chief Justice Zidan further encouraged IBBC and its members to organise more encounters with Judges from Iraq and to also increase its exchanges with the Iraqi Parliament, a suggestion much welcomed by the IBBC management and members present.

(Source: IBBC)

By John Lee.

Dubai-based Careem has reportedly launched its ride-hailing services in Mosul.

According to a report from Arabian Business, the company plans to roll out its full suite of services in the future.

Careem entered the Iraqi market in January 2018; it was bought by Uber for $3.1 billion in March 2019.

More here.

(Source: Arabian Business)

By Ahmed Mousa Jiyad.

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

Transparency in the Arab Countries’ Upstream Petroleum Sector- Iraq as case study*

While upstream petroleum sector is either dominant or has significant importance in many Arab economies of MENA region, the transparency of the sector is alarmingly lacking; this is manifested by their “formal” association with Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI), which is extremely limited and their Resource Governance Index (RGI) and Corruption Perception Index (CPI) that are too poor.

This presentation comprises three parts;

The first part addresses, briefly, the essence of transparency and what it entails:

  • Full disclosure & availability of and accessibility to related Data & Information;
  • Openness, answerability, accountability;
  • Multiplicity of involved, reporting or concerned entities;
  • Objective, Independent & Verifiable Indicators;
  • Transparency is not rhetorical claim; it is evidence-based;
  • Reconciliation of data: Materiality, Identifiably, Measurability;
  • Constitutional Premises (ownership) Right and Rights Based Development- RBD

Also, this part provides a selection of most known international entities specialized in the matter; these are EITI, Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI), Transparency International (TI), Publish What You Pay (PWYP) and the Fund for Peace. Each of these entities has its distinct methodology, working procedures and publications. In addition to them, this part refers to the IMF’ Fiscal Transparency Code.


The second part exhibits charts on the standing of the Arab countries based on the latest available data and information from three international entities: EITI, NRGI-RGI and TI-CPI.

As on September 2019 only Mauritania has “meaningful progress” standing with EITI; Iraq was “suspended” since October 2017 due to “inadequate progress” and Yamen was “suspended” on February 2015 due to “political instability”, then in October 2017, Yemen was “delisted” and, thus, could be invited to reapply to the EITI once conditions were again favourable for implementation.

Obviously, the above manifests extremely poor standing (in number of countries and their status) with EITI.

The NRGI’ RGI measures the quality of resource governance in countries that together produce 82 percent of the world’s oil, 78 percent of its gas and a significant proportion of minerals, including 72 percent of all copper. RGI is the product of 89 country assessments (eight countries were assessed in two sectors), compiled by 150 researchers, using almost 10,000 supporting documents to answer 149 questions.

NRGI’s RGI for 2017 (oil and gas only) covers 89 countries and provides their “Score” on a scale of 100 and “Rank” of 89. RGI 2017 classifies the standing of countries according to their scores into: Good (>74); Satisfactory (60:74); Weak (45:59); Poor (30:44) and Failing (<30).

All the 12 Arab countries covered by RGI scored less than 60 out of 100. Countries with Weak score are Tunisia, Kuwait and Oman. Those scored poorly are Qatar, UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Algeria and Yamen. Finally, Libya scored failing.

TI’ CPI 2018 draws on 13 surveys and expert assessments to measure public sector corruption in 180 countries and territories, giving each a Score from zero (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean) and their Ranks accordingly.

Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Iraq and Lebanon each scored less than 30; Egypt, Algeria, Kuwait, Tunisia, Morocco, Jordan and Saudi Arabia scored over 30 up to 50; Oman, Qatar and UAE scored over 50 to 70.

Since both RGI and PCI are composite indexes, there is strong correlation between Scores and Ranks: low scores are associated with high rank numbers; high rank number means at the bottom of the list.

In conclusion all the standing of Arab countries is alarmingly very poor and disappointing with EITI, NRGI and TI.


The third part of the presentation focuses on Iraq as a case study on transparency through its association and experience with EITI.

Briefly, Government of Iraq (GoI) launched (2007/8) the International Compact with Iraq (ICI) in cooperation with the UN and the WB. ICI specifically calls to, “Establish and implement mechanisms to ensure transparency of petroleum sector flows”.

The government publicly announced its commitment to work with all stakeholder groups at the 4th EITI Global Conference in Doha, Qatar, in February 2009, and then made formal commitment to EITI at the Iraq EITI (IEITI) launching conference on 10-11 January 2010; a month later the country was accepted, by EITI Board, as a Candidate.

The first validation report, prepared by EITI’ International Secretariat- IS staff, endorsed by Adam Smith International- ASI, prompted EITI Board to announce, on 12 December 2012, Iraq as “Compliant” country under EITI rules and process. On 3 April 2013, IEITI organized big event in Baghdad celebrating this achievement by Iraq.

A team from EITI-IS visited Iraq during 1-9 April 2017 and held numerous meetings in Baghdad and, also, in Dubai (UAE); IS Report presents the findings and initial assessment of the data gathering and stakeholder consultations and followed EITI usual and unified “Validation Procedures” and applied the “Validation Guide” in assessing Iraq’s progress with the EITI Standard.

Iraq was found to have inadequate progress in implementing the EITI Standard in October 2017. The country status as “compliant member” was suspended and, according to EITI rules, was given a grace period to rectify the shortcomings to achieve at least “Meaningful” progress on all identified requirements.

Why and what went wrong

The presentation highlights and discussed questions relating to why and what had led to such suspension under the following headlines:

  • “Mission accomplished” and sense of complacency; frequency of MSG meetings and attendance curve
  • Wrong understanding of what “compliant” status really means;
  • Focus on “release on time” not on the quality and contents of the IEITI Annual Reports;
  • IEITI Annual report mostly Copy & Paste; most Parts are prepared by MoO/ MIM officials and full of flaws and inaccuracies;
  • Structure & composition of the MSG: dominated by Government representatives, IOCs not active, CSO lack understanding of Extractive Industry and language;
  • Big Secretariat, weak national capacity contribution and complete reliance on the Administrator;
  • Opposing domestic views: useless/invisible; event-base; abused by authorities and two extreme views (Rosy vs. UN full control!):
  • Surprising passivism on Corruption!!!!!!;
  • IEITI itself is a Black Box
  • Limited impacts that led to diminishing international support and lack of funding e.g., NORAD; NRGI: from “priority country” to “Limited engagement” to only in “RGI”;

What are next and the way forward

In this part, the presentation reviewed responses and actions taken by the Iraqi authorities since the suspension: From the initial “muteness” and “passivism” October -2 November 2018,….., to 4 Nov 2018 alerting article; Committees & changes,  …; February 2019 Baghdad Conference; EITI-IS second validation; EITI Global Conference, Paris- June 2019.

In case of re-instating Iraq “Compliant” status, IEITI still has to take specific necessary measures and actions for real impacts instead of making rhetorical statements; such measures and actions were proposed, justified and discussed during the presentation. The PowerPoint slides are attached herewith.

* Presentation delivered before the 12th Middle East and North Africa Oil & Gas Conference, organized by Target Exploration, Imperial College, London, UK. 18 September 2019. I am very grateful to Target Exploration for sponsoring my participation.

Click here to download the PowerPoint slides presented at the conference.

Mr Jiyad is an independent development consultant, scholar and Associate with the former Centre for Global Energy Studies (CGES), London. He was formerly a senior economist with the Iraq National Oil Company and Iraq’s Ministry of Oil, Chief Expert for the Council of Ministers, Director at the Ministry of Trade, and International Specialist with UN organizations in Uganda, Sudan and Jordan. He is now based in Norway (Email: mou-jiya(at), Skype ID: Ahmed Mousa Jiyad). Read more of Mr Jiyad’s biography here.