By Ali Mamouri for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Conflict erupts over properties surrounding Samarra shrine

Property owners around the Holy Shrine of Askarian Imams in Samarra, Iraq, are being pressured to sell their land below market value, according to Salahuddin Provincial Council Chairman Ahmad al-Krayem.

In a Dec. 29 meeting with property owners, Krayem accused the shrine administration of blocking the areas surrounding the shrine and preventing landowners from investing in their properties in order to pressure them into selling at cheap prices. He said the administration, citing security concerns, is using checkpoints to limit access to the area.

Krayem considers the authorities’ actions an effort to systematically displace the people of the surrounding areas. The people, however, are fighting back, he said.

Click here to read the full story.

(Picture credit: Alzanjani)

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)

By John Lee.

Zawya reports that the Iraqi cabinet has asked the National Investment Commission (NIC) to go ahead with the huge Al-Rashid City project planned for Baghdad.

The $10-billion development is to be carried out by Dubai’s Emaar Properties and Abu Dhabi’s Eagle Hills, and will include the building of “up to” (sic) 64,000 new homes, has previously been estimated by Iraqi officials to have an investment value of about $10 billion.

Emaar Properties told Thomson Reuters that it will make appropriate disclosures when the agreements are finalised.

(Source: Zawya)

(Picture: Construction at Bismaya New City)

UN-Habitat provided legal assistance to 1,015 vulnerable households in Mosul to address their housing, land and property rights claims

UN-Habitat in collaboration with its implementing partner, the local NGO Mercy Hands for Humanitarian Aid, concluded the activities funded by the 2017 Iraq Humanitarian Pooled Fund to address housing, land and property rights (HLP) of vulnerable people in Mosul.

Under this project, UN-Habitat assessed ten neighbourhoods in East Mosul where many displaced persons from the west of the city have settled. The surveys covered 3,083 houses, reaching a total of 19,261 individuals, and aimed to identify HLP incidents and needs of vulnerable households in East Mosul.

Accordingly, 61% of the surveyed households reported that their house was partially or fully destroyed, while more than 33% had no legal occupancy/ownership documents linked to their current residence.

As such, UN-Habitat undertook an information dissemination and awareness raising campaign related to households’ HLP rights and available redress mechanisms through the distribution of leaflets, as well as awareness raising sessions with beneficiaries seeking information on HLP.

Among those, seven sessions were conducted exclusively for females to provide them with a safe and comfortable space to raise their issues and concerns. Mahdia Hamed Ismail, highlighted how she benefited from the help:

“My house was flattened in East Mosul by the war. We were sitting on the floor and we still are as we neither filed nor received any compensation. UN-Habitat’s legal partners visited my house, took my information, helped me fill in the compensation application, and filed the claim in court on my behalf. I would like to thank them for keeping us in mind, and for making the effort to support us.”

As a result of the strong commitment and work ethic of the community representatives (Mukhtars), as well as other local authorities, including the Mosul court, the project was able to provide legal assistance on lease and ownership issues to 1,015 vulnerable families, 29% of which were female-headed households.

The majority of the households who have been impacted by the previous hostilities are in need of support with filing their claims at court. HLP issues are a major challenge for returnees and households in areas previously controlled by ISIL, and can only be solved by legal representation in courts, and/or community-based land mitigation mechanisms.

The authorities in Mosul face many challenges in responding to the high number of claims related to HLP violations, which are a major driving force of conflict and social tension. The cost of not promptly addressing these issues will be too much to bear in the future.

In this regard, the housing registration directorate will be re-established and functioning in Hay Al-Zuhur on 17 February 2018, which marks a significant step in facilitating the production/restoration of occupancy, rental, or ownership documents. UN-Habitat is committed to support the efforts of the authorities and increase its HLP interventions in Mosul, and other areas in Iraq in 2018.

(Source: UN)

This article was originally published by Niqash. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Anbar Families Seeking Safety Sell Homes At Half Price, Fuelling Real Estate Boom

If there is one winner in the province of Anbar right now, it may well be those dealing in real estate. Families who have returned want to leave again, and are selling property at half price to be able to do so.

Ramadi local, Omar al-Hamdani, 48, says he never thought he would live anywhere else but his hometown. But things are becoming impossible.

“Working hours and transport is determined by the military leaders here, using security plans that often don’t appear to be very well organised,” he told NIQASH. “Sometimes one of the security teams at one of the checkpoints blocks a whole neighbourhood from going to work, using the excuse that there are security breaches that threaten the population,” he complains.

Security procedures in Ramadi are complex and time consuming and his family are only too well aware that there is still significant threat of extremist attacks. Additionally, al-Hamdani says, health care facilities are non-existent nor is schooling. On top of this, a business he had founded while out of Anbar was doing well and would support him in the semi-autonomous and far more secure northern region of Iraqi Kurdistan.

So he’s relocating. To move though, al-Hamdani has had to sell his house, a large property in a good central neighbourhood.

“In the past my house was valued at about IQD250 million [about US$208,000] but I sold it for IQD150 million. I know this is a low price but I didn’t hesitate,” al-Hamdani explains. “I wanted to stop paying anything toward the house – the payments were a terrible burden on us while we were displaced – and now I just want a safe, secure life for my family away from ideological conflicts or any threat of further displacement.”

While selling property at such a low price means a loss for the sellers, it is proving to be an opportunity for the buyers.

By John Lee.

Following a visit by the Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım (pictured) to Iraq last week, an Iraqi business delegation has come to Turkey and proposed a $200-million construction project in Baghdad to Turkish businessmen.

Tevfik Öz, a member of the board of the Turkish-Iraqi Business Council, told Daily Sabah that the Iraqi delegation proposed the construction of a $200 million real estate project in the so-called “Green Zone” in Baghdad, adding that another Turkish delegation may visit Iraq in the coming days.

Turkey’s exports to Iraq have fallen from $14 billion to $7 billion.

(Source: Daily Sabah)

By Wassim Bassem for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News. 

When the Iraqi Commission of Integrity Court entered a default judgment Oct. 16 against the head of the Karbala Real Estate Registration Directorate, ordering her imprisonment for tampering with citizens’ real estate records, it came not as a surprise but rather as a manifestation of a known underlying phenomenon.

This situation has been raising both popular and governmental concern, as it has spread to various regions, such as Babil, south of Baghdad, where a case of corruption was reported at the Real Estate Registration Directorate earlier this year.

In Baghdad, this phenomenon is even more pervasive, according to the parliamentary integrity commission’s annual report published March 3; this prompted an investigation into forged property deeds.

Several cases of illegal seizure of real estate properties were reported in Baghdad involving property dealers and employees from governmental bodies involved with real estate registration. Real estate owned by emigrants — especially Christians — has been the main target because of the owners’ long absence from the country.

In some areas of Baghdad where signs of this phenomenon have become noticeable, one is bound to come across houses with walls marked with writing saying things such as “confiscated,” “not for sale or purchase due to problems” and “house claimed by tribes.”

Capt. Ali Bahadeli of the Baghdad anti-corruption police told Al-Monitor, “Most of these incidents are deliberate and intended to force the owners to sell at a very cheap price, especially since they live abroad and it is not possible for them to learn about the details.”

By Omar al-Jaffal, for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.v

Christian citizens in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq issued complaints in court June 15 that Kurdish residents are attacking and seizing their villages in the provinces of Dahuk and Erbil. They also accused the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) of neglecting the crisis and failing to take serious action to resolve an issue that has been going on for some time.

On April 13, the KRG had prohibited residents from eight Christian villages in the Nahla area in Dahuk province from accessing the KRG’s headquarters to protest and demand that an end be put to the encroachment upon their land on the part of Kurdish individuals and populations.

However, some of them managed to make it to the sit-in location and stage a protest as they held a banner that reflected the deep sorrow plaguing Christians in the region. “Our [Christian] people’s lands are encroached upon across the Kurdistan Region,” the banner read.

On April 22, a Human Rights Watch report highlighted the hardships facing Christian citizens in the Kurdistan Region amid restrictions by the Kurdish authorities preventing them from peacefully claiming their right to restore these territories.

Kurdish individuals and tribes have been seizing lands and properties belonging to Christians since the 1980s. In 1986, Saddam Hussein’s regime demolished these villages, leading to the displacement of the residents. However, as soon as the military operations of the former regime had finished, the Kurds returned to these villages and many seized Christian territory, taking advantage of the residents’ forced absence, as per the testimonies of Christian residents of those villages.

This article was originally published by Niqash. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Kurdish Agree Arabs Can Own Real Estate, Sparking Controversy

Last week, the governor of Sulaymaniyah ruled that Arabs could own houses and land in the area. The new rule sparked controversy, protests and accusations of racism.

The 58-year-old Iraqi had visited the city of Sulaymaniyah, in the semi-autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan, many times before. The Baghdad local, who wished to be known only as Abu Salwan, really liked the city. In the past he has always returned to the Iraqi capital – but when he arrived here five years ago, he made a momentous decision: This time he wasn’t going back.

Like many others, Abu Salwan says that when he began to fear daily for the lives of his family and his own life in the Iraqi capital, Sulaymaniyah was the first place that came to mind, a place where he hoped he would find peace and a better life.

“I don’t believe there is a difference between the Kurds and the Arabs here,” Abu Salwan addresses the idea that there might be racism in the northern region, which has its own borders and laws and which has largely been protected from the security  crisis caused by the extremist group, the Islamic State. “I came here some time ago when security deteriorated in Baghdad and I settled here in Sulaymaniyah because the people here are kind hearted.”

This may be a slightly optimistic view. Even a quick look at local social media shows a slew of racist comments and anti-Arab arguments from Iraqi Kurdish users. One of the topics many of these anti-immigration individuals are talking about is a decision made by the governor of Sulaymaniyah, Aso Faraidoon Amin, less than a week ago.

By John Lee.

BasNews reports that the Islamic State group (IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh) is allegedly attempting to put residential buildings taken from civilians in Mosul on sale.

A source told the news agency that IS confiscated “more than 126” (sic) houses left by Kurds and Christians in Mosul, and is now selling the houses as the group is financially weakened.

A Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) official said that IS has realised that they have no future in Mosul after the airstrikes have been intensified, and has started looting people’s belongings and properties before a planned move to Libya to establish a ‘State of Sirt’.

BasNews has learned that these properties previously were rented to displaced IS members, but they are now urged to leave the houses.

(Source: BasNews)

(Mosul image via Shutterstock)