Iraq Business News is delighted to bring you a major new guide to business in Iraq.

Published by Allurentis, in association with Iraq’s National Investment Commission (NIC), Iraq 2020 – Discovering Business contains a wealth of case studies, commentary and data; it’s 68 pages of essential reading for everyone with an interest in the redevelopment of Iraq.

And as Salar Ameen, of the National Investment Commission, says in the introduction:

“We are determined to embark on real change and open up to other countries by providing every incentive to invest in Iraq … there is a firm desire to stimulate the private sector.”

We’d like to congratulate Laura Curtis (laura.curtis@allurentis.com) and all her team at Allurentis on a splendid publication.

Iraq Business News is delighted to make this guide available to readers in pdf format: Please click here to view or download the full document.

By John Lee.

New Zealand-based Burger Fuel Group Limited (BFG) has advised the market that its Master Licensee in Iraq has closed its last remaining BurgerFuel store in Baghdad.

In a statement, the company said:

Whilst Iraq did experience a period of stability a few years ago and two BurgerFuel restaurants were operating at one point, the situation in Iraq has progressively worsened.

“Given the ongoing turmoil and recent escalation of major potential warfare, the company saw no prospect of operating in Iraq in the future.

“BFG advises that there will be no material effect on its earnings as a result of the single store closure in Iraq.”

(Source: BFG)

By John Lee.

The Iraqi Cabinet has approved an increase in the total budget for the Kirkuk Olympic Stadium project to 33,500,000,000 dinars ($28 million).

In a statement, it said it had directed relevant ministries to take the necessary measures to implement this measure.

(Source: Iraqi Govt)

Al-Burhan Group has taken over the management of Baghdad International Airport Hotel in a joint partnership with the Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority (ICAA).

The hotel consists of 100 rooms, a fitness centre with sauna and steam room, the hotel also benefits from having a conference Centre, meeting rooms, exhibition space, large landscaped gardens and ample parking. The hotel has been operating for over a decade.

The hotel is in need of major refurbishment works both externally and internally, as well as to its structure. Al-Burhan Group started these works immediately on its managerial takeover on the 13th of October.

Al-Burhan Group plans to make the Baghdad International Airport Hotel a leading hotel within the airport in conjunction with its current facility the Al-Burhan Centre, located just a few minutes away the hotel will primarily house transit passengers, guests of government visiting Baghdad, and we hope in the near future, tourists. The airport will also be used for airlines at positioning overnight crews in Baghdad for their onward flights.

Speaking at a directors meeting, the Managing Director of ABG Mr. Imad Burhan expressed his pleasure in undertaking this new venture and of being given the opportunity to be able to make a positive change to the surroundings of Baghdad International Airport, thus confirming its position as a reliable leader in the hospitality sector.

(Source: Al-Burhan Group)

Iraq’s upcoming matches against Iran and Bahrain, scheduled to be played at the Basra Sports City Stadium, must be relocated to a “neutral venue outside Iraq.”

World football’s governing body, FIFA, has asked Iraq to find a neutral venue to host its upcoming World Cup 2022 qualifiers.

The anti-government demonstrations in Iraq have gripped the capital, Baghdad, and swept through several other cities in the country’s south.

In a letter to the Iraqi Football Association (IFA), FIFA said it has been “closely monitoring the safety and security situation in Iraq” for the past few weeks, where anti-government demonstrations are rampant.

It added that due to the “significant deterioration of the overall security situation,” Iraq’s upcoming matches against Iran and Bahrain, scheduled to be played at the Basra Sports City Stadium, must be relocated to a “neutral venue outside Iraq.”

The move “will enable all interested parties to focus their attention on delivering both matches successfully within a safe and secure environment,” the FIFA statement read.

Iraq is set to play Iran on November 14 before they host Bahrain five days later. FIFA has given the IFA until November 7 to find a suitable venue for the qualifiers.

The Basra Sports City Stadium seats 65,000 people and is one of the country’s top sporting facilities suitable for international games.

Iraq sits top of Group C of the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification, a group that consists of rivals Iran, Bahrain, Hong Kong, and Cambodia.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

Iran’s Ambassador to Iraq Iraj Masjedi (pictured) praised the Baghdad government’s move to remove visa restrictions for Iranian pilgrims visiting the Arab country during the Arbaeen season and said the Islamic Republic will do the same for the Iraqi nationals in the near future.

Speaking at a meeting of the Arbaeen Headquarters of the western province of Ilam on Tuesday, Masjedi hailed the recent reopening of the Khosravi border crossing and the removal of visa restrictions for Iranians during the Arbaeen season, which marks the 40th day of the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein (AS), the third Shiite Imam.

He further said Iraqi nationals will soon be allowed to enter Iran without visas for 65 days.

To reciprocate Iraq’s move regarding visa-free travels for Iranian pilgrims, Iran plans to allow Iraqi nationals to enter the country without visas for 65 days as of October 24, he added.

Speaking on Monday, Hossein Zolfaqari, Iran’s deputy interior minister for security affairs, said three million pilgrims had crossed the country’s four borders with Iraq for Arbaeen pilgrimage by then.

This year, the four borders of Khosravi, Mehran, Chazzabeh, and Shalamcheh are open to the Arbaeen pilgrims.

Arbaeen, one of the largest religious gatherings in the world, comes 40 days after Ashura, the martyrdom anniversary of the third Shiite Imam.

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.

In August, Iran and Iraq signed an agreement in Tehran to reopen the Khosravi border crossing and remove visa restrictions for Iranian Arbaeen pilgrims.

Iran and Iraq also agreed to raise the level of services and facilities for the pilgrims and enhance border security during the Arbaeen season, which will culminate in a large gathering in Karbala on October 19.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

More than three million Iranians have registered to visit the holy cities of Iraq during the Arbaeen season, which marks the 40th day after the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein (AS), the third Shiite Imam, a senior official said on Saturday.

Amir Moradi, the executive manager of a task force charged with handling the Arbaeen pilgrimage, said by 8:30 on Saturday morning, the number of people who have registered at the Samah website, has surpassed three million.

The Samah website has been launched by Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization to facilitate sending pilgrims to Iraq’s holy sites during the Arbaeen season.

Moradi pointed to the Iranian provinces that account for the largest number of people registered to go on the pilgrimage to Iraq, and said Tehran, with 500,118 names registered, is on the top of the list.

This year, the four borders of Khosravi, Mehran, Chazzabeh, and Shalamcheh are open to the Arbaeen pilgrims.

Arbaeen, one of the largest religious gatherings in the world, comes 40 days after Ashura, the martyrdom anniversary of the third Shiite Imam.

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.

In August, Iran and Iraq signed an agreement in Tehran to reopen the Khosravi border crossing and remove visa restrictions for Iranian Arbaeen pilgrims.

Iran and Iraq also agreed to raise the level of services and facilities for the pilgrims and enhance border security during the Arbaeen season, which will culminate in a large gathering in Karbala on October 19.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

The Khosravi border crossing between Iran and Iraq reopened on Friday, more than six years after a terrorist attack led to its closure.

In a ceremony on Friday, Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli and his Iraqi counterpart Yassin Al Yasiri reopened the Khosravi border crossing.

The border crossing had been closed in 2013 in the wake of a deadly terrorist attack on Shiite pilgrims.

Khosravi border crossing allows the Iranian pilgrims to take the shortest route from the common border to Iraq’s city of Karbala, where the holy shrine of Imam Hussein (PBUH) is located.

The interior ministers of Iran and Iraq had signed an agreement to reopen the border crossing and remove visa restrictions for Iranian Arbaeen pilgrims in August.

Iran and Iraq have also agreed to raise the level of services and facilities for the pilgrims and enhance border security during the Arbaeen season, which will culminate in a large gathering in Karbala on October 19.

Arbaeen, one of the largest religious gatherings in the world, comes 40 days after Ashura, the martyrdom anniversary of the third Shiite Imam.

Each year, a huge crowd of Shiites flock to Karbala to perform mourning rites in commemoration of Imam Hussein (PBUH) and his companions.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

By John Lee.

Iraq and Iran have reportedly signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) relating to cooperation in the tourism sector.

According to Tehran Times, the document includes the areas of medical tourism and religious tourism, and was agreed between Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, and Iraq’s Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Antiquities.

In March, Tehran and Baghdad agreed to waive fees on visas in the hope of increasing the tourist numbers.

(Source: Tehran Times)

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

Mheibes: Iraq’s Ramadan ring game returns after ISIL’s defeat

A traditional Arab game is making a welcome return for players in northern Iraq.

Known as the ring game or Mheibes, it has been played by Iraqis for decades during Ramadan.

However, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) banned the popular pastime in Mosul when it took over the city five years ago.

Now, with the ISIL gone, it’s game on again.

Al Jazeera‘s Rob Matheson reports from Baghdad: