By John Lee.

The Turkish charter company Freebird Airlines will reportedly offer flights from Eindhoven Airport in the Netherlands to Erbil and Sulaymaniya throughout the summer.

According to Eindhoven News, flights depart once a week from April to October.

(Source: Eindhoven News)

Top Mountain LLC hosted the first annual Business Canvas Erbil conference which was attended by 120 participants and took place in the Dedeman hotel.

The conference was funded by the European Union and German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development through GIZ.

The event was also sponsored by GroFin Iraq, a financing organization that provides loans of up to $2 million to SMEs in Iraq.

The goal of the conference was to inform the audience about the future of economic development in the Kurdistan Region and promote the services of Top Mountain Business Incubator.

Throughout the conference, speakers and panelists reviewed the challenges and opportunities related to the job market and entrepreneurship.

During his presentation on the future of the startup ecosystem in Iraq, one of the Co-founders of Top Mountain explained that within the next few years startups in Iraq will begin to rapidly multiply and grow as financing and technical skills become more widely available.

This predication is based on the rapid growth in startups that has occurred throughout the MENA region over the last 3 years. Some of the key conclusions reached by panelist and speakers are that companies in Iraq must expand their internship programs to help train the next generation of skilled workers.

Panelists also noted that lack of access to finance is the most critical challenge to SME growth. Despite the challenges facing businesses in Iraq, most of the attendees and panelists remain optimistic and anticipate a bright future for Iraq’s economy.

(Source: Top Mountain LLC)

It’s a money-making machine,” says garage owner Karhi Bakr, 59, about the import of secondhand car parts into the Kurdistan capital of Erbil.

Containers full of parts from cars written off after accidents in the West continue to pour into the city, which has become a major hub for the trade.

Some of the 200 or so Kurdish traders involved have become very rich, Bakr says. “Their profits are enormous. If I had a partner willing to invest, I would also go to Europe to collect used parts.

Click here to read the full report.

(Source: Deutsche Welle)

By John Lee.

Iraq’s Communications and Media Commission (CMC) has reportedly ordered operators to block calls between their customers and Korek users in a dispute over number portability.

According to Rudaw, the regulator told mobile network providers that Erbil-based Korek had failed to meet its “contractual obligations” to allow customers to keep their phone number when they change service provider, while other providers such as Zain and Asiacell had complied with the regulations.

Korek has called the policy “unfair and unjust” both to customers and companies.

More here.

(Source: Rudaw)

By John Lee.

UK-based recruitment agency SSK Recruitment is reported to be looking to open an office in Erbil.

Bdaily quotes Managing director Adam Smith as saying:

With all the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, we decided to focus on building relationships in the Middle East.

“The margins are significantly higher in the Middle East than here in the UK and we’ve been lucky that through existing relationships we’ve formed with our current clients, they have in turn recommended us to other companies.

It adds that the company is looking to engage with more companies in the oil and gas sector and is holding meetings in the UK, Dubai and Iraq.

(Source: Bdaily)

By John Lee.

A Turkish airline will start new services from Diyarbakir and Gaziantep to Erbil from 21st March.

AnadoluJet, a subsidiary of Turkish Airlines, plans to offer three flights per week to each location.

(Source: AnadoluJet)

By John Lee.

Housing prices in Iraqi Kurdistan have reportedly increased by 20 percent in 2018, while rents has gone up by 15 percent.

Citing research from real estate company Baghi Khoshnawati, Rudaw says that demand for rental accommodation in the second half of 2018 has increased by 45 percent compared to the first half of 2018.

It adds that the rent for a house in the Italian Village in Erbil has increased from was $500 per month in May 2018 to $650 now, but “there are no houses available because of high demand“.

More here.

(Source: Rudaw)

(Picture credit: Jan Kurdistani21)

On Wednesday 12th December, the Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) was pleased to host a first meeting between the British Chambers of Commerce and Chamber of Commerce & Industry representatives from the Kurdish Region of Iraq.

Erbil Chamber of Commerce is a founding member of IBBC and the IBBC is now the affiliate Chamber for Iraq of the British Chambers of Commerce.

Liam Smyth, International director represented the British Chambers.

Dr Dara Al Khayat, Chairman Erbil Chamber and Chairman of the Kurdish Federation of Chambers of Commerce & Industry was joined by the Chairmen of Sulaimani and Dohuk Chamber of Commerce.

The work of all the Chambers was discussed and in particular areas where the KRG requested UK involvement was identified.  Apart from oil and gas and utilities there was much discussion about the agricultural and food processing potential of the region. In addition mining, tech and textiles were also put forward as sectors which foreign investment would be most welcome.

Both sides looked forward to continuing engagement with each other to mutual benefit.

(Source: IBBC)

Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani attended the ground-breaking ceremony of the 150-meter ring road project of the city of Erbil.

In a speech during the ceremony, Prime Minister Barzani said:

“The 150-metre road project is one of many projects which were prepared for implementation by the Kurdistan Regional Government. If it had not been for hardships faced since 2014, the KRG would have completed many similar projects in all major communities of the Kurdistan Region.”

Below is the text of Prime Minister Barzani’s speech:

Good morning,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

As we participate in this ground-breaking ceremony to open the Erbil City 150-meter ring road, I am delighted to meet with you again. This project is good not only for Erbil, it will facilitate road transport throughout the Kurdistan Region by reducing congestion on routes within and through the Erbil City area.

As the capital city in the center of the Kurdistan Region, Erbil is situated on many routes that connect international border entry points with the rest of Iraq, and also connects neighbouring countries with each other. Important trade routes pass between Syria, Turkey, and Iran through the Kurdistan Region.

This project will generate more fast-flowing traffic and exceed the success of the Erbil 120-metre road. As a tangible solution, the Erbil City 120-metre road has been very effective in reducing traffic congestion.

The first stage of the implementation of this 150-meter road project, includes the part which will run from Koya road to Bahirka road, 14 kilometres long and estimated to cost 131 million US dollars.

The Hemin Group will finance and implement this project with deferred payment. It will be a high-speed road with a service road alongside it. There will be three bridges and three underpasses with related high-standard equipment.

The Hemin Group will also be implementing a dual carriageway14 kilometres long between Erbil City and Gopal.
Yesterday also we participated in the ground-breaking ceremony of a project that connects Erbil and Duhok with a dual-carriageway.

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

The 150-metre road project is one of many projects which were prepared for implementation by the Kurdistan Regional Government. If it had not been for hardships faced since 2014, the KRG would have completed many similar projects in all major communities of the Kurdistan Region.

Adversaries of the Kurdistan Region were unable to accept the progress being enjoyed by the people of the Region, did not, and do not, want to see a well-built and lively region filled with peace and security. They did their best to obstruct the Kurdistan Region’s wheel of success.

Cutting the Kurdistan Region’s budget and ISIS threatening the Region with terrorism did not randomly occur. They were considered and planned. The war against ISIS brought nearly two million displaced persons. But the most damaging factor that adversely affected the people of the Kurdistan Region was the fall in global oil prices.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

If it were not for the perseverance and courage of the Peshmerga, security personnel, understanding and support of the people of our Region, including our government employees, no government anywhere in the world would have withstood such crises during the past five years! What government has withstood war in the midst of such severe political and financial challenges, and all the domestic issues that have been crippling the Kurdistan Region and its government?

Now, strengthened by the support of the Kurdistan people and by the determination, loyalty, and selflessness of the Peshmerga, and the sacrifice and endurance of all the hardships the government employees have gone through during past few years, the bad days are almost over. As part of our long-term mission, we as the Kurdistan Regional Government will continue to act on our original main responsibility, which is to provide public services. To further develop our country, we continue to implement development projects that we planned.

Despite all shortcomings, constructive criticism, and even destructive criticism that have been and will be directed at the KRG due to political competition, the KRG has always been providing the best possible services.
If any citizen from the Kurdistan Region or any foreign observer looks back at the past 15 years, she or he will realize the truth that in spite of all challenges, the KRG has made remarkable progress in all sectors.
It is correct that the expectations of the KRG and the people of Kurdistan were higher than what has been achieved. We cannot overlook, however, the fact that over 15 years of the KRG’s leadership the Kurdistan Region has achieved a total makeover in almost all aspects.

Hundreds of completed projects vouch for the efforts of the KRG having contributed to the infrastructure of the country, such as roads and bridges, water and sewer systems, hospitals and schools, spatial development of cities and towns, and reviving livelihoods of many thousands of citizens of Kurdistan in many hundreds of communities, attracting foreign investment and opening of many malls, hotels, restaurants and cafes, building small and large factories, and dozens of other projects.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In ceremonies like this the intention is not to brag about achievements but to reaffirm that the first and foremost responsibility of the KRG is to serve its people, confirm such responsibility is taken seriously at every opportunity, and that the KRG seeks to realize the goals of stability, progress, and a high standard of living for all citizens.

As we participate in this groundbreaking ceremony, we reiterate the objective of the KRG that along with every step toward a stable economy, the government will take similar steps to implement plans to develop all sectors in all parts of the Kurdistan Region.

As we approach a general election, the people of the Kurdistan Region will cast their ballots. I urge all citizens of the Kurdistan Region to participate in the election process in a civilized way and elect their representatives to the Iraqi Kurdistan Parliament and the Kurdistan Regional Government for the next four years. This process is very important for the present and future of the Kurdistan Region. Let us all vote to serve, build, and develop Kurdistan.

We look forward to the next phase to serve the people, promote stability, and build a durable economy with a better living standard for our people. We are sure that the worst days are over, and tomorrow will be better than today.

In the end, I would like to especially applaud Mr. Khalid Khoshnaw, the head of the Hemin Group and his colleagues for all the good work they have produced in various parts of the Kurdistan Region on long-term relaxed loans. This reflects his unshakable trust in the KRG.

He is the ultimate example of a loyal patriot and citizen. I wish to see more people like him and I wish him all success. We truly need people like him in the Kurdistan Region who always look to serve their nation to make progress in every field and build their country.

By that, they will forever leave their positive footprint on the future of Kurdistan.

I look forward to meet you all again in another location of the Kurdistan Region and at another project.

Thank you.

(Source: KRG)

By John Lee.

Erbil’s main outdoor stadium will reportedly be sold off to a private investor.

According to Rudaw, a new stadium will be built on the site of the Franso Hariri Stadium.

The existing 28,000-capacity venue was built in 1956 and refurbished in 1992.

More here from Rudaw.

(Source: Rudaw)

(Picture credit: Kushared)