By Ali Al-Makhzomy, for The Station. Re-published with permission by Iraq Business News.

Five One Labs recently hosted an online Start-up Showcase to celebrate the graduation of their first-ever Arabic incubator program in c.

Over 90 attendees joined the event from Iraq, Germany, USA and other places.

Ten of the entrepreneurs gave brief overviews of their businesses, and then answered audience questions. At the end of the event, Five One Labs announced that three startups would receive seed funding:

  1. Al-Ruaa for CNC, a company providing services, workshops, maintenance, installation and providing spare parts for the CNC machines, came in first place and won $15,000;
  2. For second place, EcoLift, a company providing an alternative power system (potential energy recovery system) to power elevators instead of using electricity, was awarded $10,000;
  3. And finally, Mosul Solar, a company providing and installing solar cells for houses, was awarded $5000.

No one could predict what the year 2020 would bring, especially facing an unprecedented global health pandemic.For Mosul, which today is still reeling from the effects of ISIL’s four-year brutal rule, COVID-19 presented a crisis upon crises affecting the city’s quest for stability.

Under its Funding facility for Stabilization Programme (FFS), UNDP has been active in Mosul before its liberation, working to restore critical infrastructure and services, provide short-term job opportunities, and build cohesion amongst its fragmented communities.

To mitigate health risk and to safeguard the safety and health of workers and communities, UNDP temporarily halted its field operations in mid-March, to comply with the curfews and movement restrictions instructed by the Iraqi Government and health advice provided by the World Health Organization.

More here.

(Source: UNDP)

By Hassan Ali Ahmed for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Mosul sowing seeds post-Islamic State

The Mosul local government in cooperation with civil society is undertaking a project to plant a million trees in Mosul.

Click here to read the full article.

By Hassan Ali Ahmed for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Mosul sowing seeds post-Islamic State

The Mosul local government in cooperation with civil society is undertaking a project to plant a million trees in Mosul.

Click here to read the full article.

By Hassan Ali Ahmed for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Mosul sowing seeds post-Islamic State

The Mosul local government in cooperation with civil society is undertaking a project to plant a million trees in Mosul.

Click here to read the full article.

By Isadora Gotts for the London School of Economics (LSE) Middle East Centre.

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

The business of recycling war scrap: the Hashd al-Shaʿabi’s role in Mosul’s post-conflict economy

The modalities of the scrap trade reflect a larger struggle for power in post-ISIS Mosul, and how seemingly marginal processes can and will impact the future balance within the city.

On the local level, the scrap trade has become a monopoly, disrupting the ability of residents to profit from this very lucrative material.

By co-opting local economic processes, various actors stifled trade and reshaped the very ways in which economic activities are conducted.

Click here to read the full paper.

This article has been originally published in the GIZ magazine ‘akzente’ at https://akzente.giz.de/en/artikel/iraqs-digital-innovators. It is reprinted here by kind permission of GIZ.

A new generation of young Iraqi entrepreneurs are confronting the country’s challenges, even during the coronavirus pandemic.

Text und Fotos: Olivia Cuthbert

The streets are eerily silent in Mosul’s old city. A fierce nine-month battle against Isis in 2017 left this once-bustling quarter in ruins and reduced its historic buildings to rubble. Even now, Iraq’s second-largest city is still reeling from Isis occupation, but there are visible pockets of progress.

Climbing the stairs to the Mosul Space innovation hub, the atmosphere lifts. The door opens onto a modern, open-plan room where young Maslawis, as the city’s residents are known, work to develop ideas that look ahead to the future.

Salih Mahmod

One of them is 23-year-old electronic engineering graduate Salih Mahmod, who devised the concept for the innovation hub back in 2014. He was in the first year of his engineering degree and frustrated with learning solely from books rather than also developing practical skills. Reading about makerspaces, that is, high-tech workshops offering digital training and opportunities to engage in dialogue and implement ideas, in Germany and elsewhere, he was inspired.

‘I thought, why not in our city.’ So he ordered computers and printers, but 20 days after taking delivery of the first computers, Isis descended on the city and he had to put his dream on the backburner for the time being.

Mahmod’s family fled the terror group, finding refuge in the northern Iraqi countryside. Determined to continue, he and his friends offered improvised computer and programming workshops for people from the region. When Mosul was liberated in summer 2017, he returned and hosted an engineering festival that drew more than 500 participants. The tremendous response spurred Salih Mahmod on to set about realising his original dream once again.

He decided to work with like-minded individuals to create a meeting space where young technology enthusiasts would be taught the skills they need, such as programming, the use of new robotics technology and business aptitude. The space would offer them inspiration and an environment in which to develop their innovative ideas, paving the way for the establishment of Iraqi start-ups. Mahmod found a small room and began by launching a project to produce parts for broken hospital machines.

Using a 3D printer, a group of young people created plastic screws and wheels that couldn’t be sourced locally, fixing incubators and other devices that had fallen into disrepair during the Isis occupation. ‘It was a clear example of how an innovative idea can be implemented in the field,’ said Mahmod.

Rapid response to the coronavirus pandemic

The young creatives were able to build on this experience when looking for ways to support the country’s medical professionals in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. The makerspace in Mosul quickly switched to developing face shields and is now working with Iraq’s four other innovation centres. Over 10,000 of these shields have already been manufactured and delivered to hospitals throughout the country in recent weeks.

This was all achieved by the Mosul Space, as the innovation centre in the old city is now known, having grown from small beginnings. Salih Mahmod had already made contact with GIZ several years ago. The federal enterprise is working throughout Iraq on behalf of the German Development Ministry to promote the establishment of an ecosystem for tech start-ups and young computer enthusiasts.

There are now five innovation centres in the country where Iraqis can be trained to meet new requirements on the labour market or prepare for self-employment. Over 5,500 people have now completed courses or attended events at these centres. Offerings include workshops and mentoring programmes for aspiring start-up entrepreneurs looking to find solutions to the challenges facing the country.

Talent platform in Erbil

It’s not just in Mosul either. An hour down the road in the autonomous Kurdistan region, another hive of entrepreneurship buzzes with creative energy. Re:Coded House is pioneering the co-working concept in the city of Erbil. Prior to the coronavirus lockdown, a growing community of young people used the space to develop projects. ‘People tend to come here with ideas and we support them to make them a reality,’ said Wafa Al-Attas, Iraq Innovation Advisor at non-governmental organisation Field Ready.

Wafa Al-Attas

She runs the makerspace in Re:Coded House and manages the fund for Mosul Space. Al-Attas explains that the concept is quickly catching on in Erbil, fuelling a fledgling creative ecosystem that, five years ago, didn’t seem possible. But strict regulations, cumbersome bureaucracy and limited infrastructure have dampened creative ambitions. Nonetheless, she says things have started to get off the ground. With GIZ’s support, Re:Coded House, which opened in April 2019, has become a platform for talented youth who want to bring their ideas to life.

Refugee refines handbag design

Before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the space was busiest in the evening, when students came after university classes to work on their projects. Book shelves and indoor plants add a cosy touch. Re:Coded House is normally also a social hub. ‘I don’t have many friends here in Erbil, but in the makerspace it feels like a family,’ said 26-year-old Sliman Khazal, who fled Syria before the war.

Sliman Khazal

He dreams of one day launching his edgy, geometric handbag designs onto the market. ‘Everyone in here is supporting me to work harder and dream bigger.’

Online courses during the lockdown

Mallak Al-Rifaie

Re:Coded House, Mosul Space and the other Iraqi innovation centres are focusing during the pandemic on online courses and video presentations on subjects such as ‘software products for the post-Covid 19 period’. 24-year-old computer expert Mallak Al-Rifaie has been working on these kinds of ideas for some time. As the only female on her university degree course, she initially met with a lot of opposition. ‘At first, all the boys told me that I didn’t have a right to be there.’

But classmates quickly changed their minds when she gained top grades for her project which saw her develop a digital system to allow individuals with limited mobility to stay at home and receive rapid assistance in an emergency. Al-Rifaie also specifically promotes training for children. One of her teams of school pupils even won a national robotics competition last year. ‘I taught them university-level coding and they grasped it incredibly quickly. This generation is really smart,’ she says. And she doesn’t appear to be worried about the future.

Contact: Inga Niere, inga.niere@giz.de

The research in Iraq was conducted prior to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. The young people used digital media to update the editorial team on their initiatives during the lockdown.

This article has been originally published in the GIZ magazine ‘akzente’ at https://akzente.giz.de/en/artikel/iraqs-digital-innovators. It is reprinted here by kind permission of GIZ.

A new generation of young Iraqi entrepreneurs are confronting the country’s challenges, even during the coronavirus pandemic.

Text und Fotos: Olivia Cuthbert

The streets are eerily silent in Mosul’s old city. A fierce nine-month battle against Isis in 2017 left this once-bustling quarter in ruins and reduced its historic buildings to rubble. Even now, Iraq’s second-largest city is still reeling from Isis occupation, but there are visible pockets of progress.

Climbing the stairs to the Mosul Space innovation hub, the atmosphere lifts. The door opens onto a modern, open-plan room where young Maslawis, as the city’s residents are known, work to develop ideas that look ahead to the future.

Salih Mahmod

One of them is 23-year-old electronic engineering graduate Salih Mahmod, who devised the concept for the innovation hub back in 2014. He was in the first year of his engineering degree and frustrated with learning solely from books rather than also developing practical skills. Reading about makerspaces, that is, high-tech workshops offering digital training and opportunities to engage in dialogue and implement ideas, in Germany and elsewhere, he was inspired.

‘I thought, why not in our city.’ So he ordered computers and printers, but 20 days after taking delivery of the first computers, Isis descended on the city and he had to put his dream on the backburner for the time being.

Mahmod’s family fled the terror group, finding refuge in the northern Iraqi countryside. Determined to continue, he and his friends offered improvised computer and programming workshops for people from the region. When Mosul was liberated in summer 2017, he returned and hosted an engineering festival that drew more than 500 participants. The tremendous response spurred Salih Mahmod on to set about realising his original dream once again.

He decided to work with like-minded individuals to create a meeting space where young technology enthusiasts would be taught the skills they need, such as programming, the use of new robotics technology and business aptitude. The space would offer them inspiration and an environment in which to develop their innovative ideas, paving the way for the establishment of Iraqi start-ups. Mahmod found a small room and began by launching a project to produce parts for broken hospital machines.

Using a 3D printer, a group of young people created plastic screws and wheels that couldn’t be sourced locally, fixing incubators and other devices that had fallen into disrepair during the Isis occupation. ‘It was a clear example of how an innovative idea can be implemented in the field,’ said Mahmod.

Rapid response to the coronavirus pandemic

The young creatives were able to build on this experience when looking for ways to support the country’s medical professionals in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. The makerspace in Mosul quickly switched to developing face shields and is now working with Iraq’s four other innovation centres. Over 10,000 of these shields have already been manufactured and delivered to hospitals throughout the country in recent weeks.

This was all achieved by the Mosul Space, as the innovation centre in the old city is now known, having grown from small beginnings. Salih Mahmod had already made contact with GIZ several years ago. The federal enterprise is working throughout Iraq on behalf of the German Development Ministry to promote the establishment of an ecosystem for tech start-ups and young computer enthusiasts.

There are now five innovation centres in the country where Iraqis can be trained to meet new requirements on the labour market or prepare for self-employment. Over 5,500 people have now completed courses or attended events at these centres. Offerings include workshops and mentoring programmes for aspiring start-up entrepreneurs looking to find solutions to the challenges facing the country.

Talent platform in Erbil

It’s not just in Mosul either. An hour down the road in the autonomous Kurdistan region, another hive of entrepreneurship buzzes with creative energy. Re:Coded House is pioneering the co-working concept in the city of Erbil. Prior to the coronavirus lockdown, a growing community of young people used the space to develop projects. ‘People tend to come here with ideas and we support them to make them a reality,’ said Wafa Al-Attas, Iraq Innovation Advisor at non-governmental organisation Field Ready.

Wafa Al-Attas

She runs the makerspace in Re:Coded House and manages the fund for Mosul Space. Al-Attas explains that the concept is quickly catching on in Erbil, fuelling a fledgling creative ecosystem that, five years ago, didn’t seem possible. But strict regulations, cumbersome bureaucracy and limited infrastructure have dampened creative ambitions. Nonetheless, she says things have started to get off the ground. With GIZ’s support, Re:Coded House, which opened in April 2019, has become a platform for talented youth who want to bring their ideas to life.

Refugee refines handbag design

Before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the space was busiest in the evening, when students came after university classes to work on their projects. Book shelves and indoor plants add a cosy touch. Re:Coded House is normally also a social hub. ‘I don’t have many friends here in Erbil, but in the makerspace it feels like a family,’ said 26-year-old Sliman Khazal, who fled Syria before the war.

Sliman Khazal

He dreams of one day launching his edgy, geometric handbag designs onto the market. ‘Everyone in here is supporting me to work harder and dream bigger.’

Online courses during the lockdown

Mallak Al-Rifaie

Re:Coded House, Mosul Space and the other Iraqi innovation centres are focusing during the pandemic on online courses and video presentations on subjects such as ‘software products for the post-Covid 19 period’. 24-year-old computer expert Mallak Al-Rifaie has been working on these kinds of ideas for some time. As the only female on her university degree course, she initially met with a lot of opposition. ‘At first, all the boys told me that I didn’t have a right to be there.’

But classmates quickly changed their minds when she gained top grades for her project which saw her develop a digital system to allow individuals with limited mobility to stay at home and receive rapid assistance in an emergency. Al-Rifaie also specifically promotes training for children. One of her teams of school pupils even won a national robotics competition last year. ‘I taught them university-level coding and they grasped it incredibly quickly. This generation is really smart,’ she says. And she doesn’t appear to be worried about the future.

Contact: Inga Niere, inga.niere@giz.de

The research in Iraq was conducted prior to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. The young people used digital media to update the editorial team on their initiatives during the lockdown.

UNESCO and ICCROM (The International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property) sign an agreement on capacity building for the reconstruction of Mosul’s cultural heritage.

ICCROM, through its Regional Conservation Office in Sharjah (UAE), will provide a two-year capacity building programme for professionals and craftspeople to contribute to the reconstruction of Mosul’s Old City.

This programme is possible thanks to the financial support of the Government of the United Arab Emirates and the European Union and is part of the UNESCO initiative to Revive the Spirit of Mosul.

This ICCROM-UNESCO partnership aims at strengthening the expertise of local young professionals and craftspeople in order to equip them with the required skills for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the Old City and, as a result, ensure long-term livelihood opportunities.

The programme targets both young professionals from various disciplines such as architecture, engineering or urban planning, and craftspeople such as masons, carpenters, or stone carvers. Young professionals will be trained on heritage management and conservation, providing them with technical competencies needed to participate in the physical reconstruction of the city.

The programme will also prepare a number of skilled building craftspeople to contribute towards the long-term reconstruction needs of the Old City, taking into consideration the protection, revival and evolution of Mosul’s heritage values.

The capacity building programme will be implemented though a practical on-the-job training modality where trainees will actively participate in the reconstruction of the city’s historic landmarks and houses, and will receive a stipend.

The institutional capacity building scheme falls into the framework of the Revive the spirit of Mosul initiative, UNESCO’s response for the recovery of one of Iraq’s iconic cities. The initiative aims at contributing to community reconciliation and peace building through the recovery of the living environment and rehabilitation of the city’s heritage sites.

The initiative places special emphasis in empowering the population as agents of change involved in the process of rebuilding their city through culture and education. This partnership between UNESCO and ICCROM will reinforce local expertise that can participate in the reconstruction, ensuring both ownership and long-term livelihood opportunities for the people of Iraq.

This ICCROM-UNESCO partnership will specifically support the UAE funded project Reviving the Spirit of Mosul by rebuilding its historic landmarks namely the Al-Nouri Mosque and its Al-Hadba Minaret, as well as the Al-Tahera Church and Al-Saa’a Church and European Union funded project Reviving Mosul and Basra Old Cities.

(Source: UN)

The Japanese Ambassador to Iraq, Mr. Hashimoto Naofumi (pictured), and Representative of UNESCO to Iraq, Mr. Paolo Fontani, on Tuesday 3rd of March 2020 signed an agreement in Baghdad in support of the project to support job creation for youth in Mosul.

The project aims to foster sustainable job creation for youth supporting the return of IDPs through quality TVET training for skilled construction workers.

The project will be implemented in synergy with other UNESCO activities under the umbrella initiative ‘Revive the Spirit of Mosul’ to coordinate international efforts in revitalizing educational and cultural institutions in Mosul, in close cooperation with the Government and the people of Iraq. This project will have linkages to the EU project “Reviving Mosul and Basra Old Cities”.

Director and Representative of UNESCO Iraq Office praised this innovative contribution:

“UNESCO is very grateful to the Government and the people of Japan. The project will empower young people in Mosul through supporting employment and self-employment and reduce the likelihood of marginalization and extremism.”

Ambassador Hashimoto highlighted:

“Japan has recently decided new assistance package for Iraq amounting to USD 41 million including this project as assistance for youth in Mosul. With this package, the total amount of Japan’s assistance to the people affected by the crisis reaches USD 540 million since 2014.

“I hope that the assistance from the Government and people of Japan will help foster sustainable job creation for youth in Mosul in reconstruction efforts”.

Japan has long been a valued donor to UNESCO in Iraq. In 2019, the Government of Japan supported the project “Voices of the children of Old Mosul: the rehabilitation and management of primary schools in historic urban context emerging from conflict”.

The project lays the ground for a holistic approach to the prevention of violent extremism in primary education with the provision of training to support the four key elements that influence the experience of children’s learning: parents, teachers, school principals and school policies and procedures.

(Source: UN)