Iraq’s Minister of Finance, Ali Allawi, arrived in Kuwait on Saturday for talks with senior officials.

Mr. Allawi held discussions with the Prime Minister of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Sabah, on bilateral relations and delivered a written message from Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi.

He also held talks with the Minister of Finance, Barrak Al-Shitan, the Minister of Oil, Khaled Al-Fadhel, the Deputy Foreign minister, Khaled Al-Jarallah and other senior Kuwaiti officials.

The discussions focused on taking forward and implementing the decisions of the International Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq held in Kuwait in February 2018, linking the electricity grids of the two countries, and rescheduling Iraq’s compensation payments to Kuwait.

The two sides also discussed encouraging Kuwaiti investment in Iraq, especially in the commercial and industrial sectors, and in infrastructure.

Mr. Allawi earlier visited Saudi Arabia where he held talks with Saudi officials on deepening economic and commercial and cooperation.

(Source: Govt of Iraq)

The United Arab Emirates and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) renewed their collaboration to the flagship UNESCO initiative Revive the Spirit of Mosul earlier this morning, extending the historic partnership on restoration and reconstruction efforts in Mosul, Iraq. Her Excellency Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi, UAE Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development; and Audrey Azoulay, Director General of UNESCO met earlier today at the organisation’s headquarters in Paris, signaling a continued focus on rebuilding iconic landmarks that lie at the core of human civilisations.

This agreement arises in line with the UAE championing 2019 as the Year of Tolerance, emphasising tolerance as a universal concept and a sustainable institutional endeavour through legislation and policies aimed at entrenching the values of tolerance, dialogue, coexistence and openness to different cultures.

Concluding in the presence of His Excellency, Abdulrahman Hamid al-Husseini, Iraq’s Ambassador to France; HE Dr. Mohamed Ali Al Hakim, Under Secretary General and Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA); Brother Nicolas Tixier, Prior Provincial of the Province of France of the Dominican Order; and Brother Olivier Poquillon, General Secretary of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the EU, the new agreement today reiterates the restoration efforts for the rebuilding of two destroyed cultural sites; the Al-Tahera Church and the Al-Saa’a Church.

The project is an extension of the historic agreement signed earlier in April 2018 whereby the Emirates committed $50.4 million to contribute to the rebuilding of the cultural heritage of Mosul. The project initially concerned the restoration and reconstruction of the historic landmarks of Mosul, notably the emblematic Al-Nouri Mosque and its celebrated, leaning 45-metre Al-Hadba Minaret, built more than 840 years ago.

With the renewed partnership, the UAE will support the reconstruction of the 800-year old Al-Tahera Church, located in the Midan area in Mosul’s Old City and considered one of the oldest churches in the area, dating back to the first millennium; and the Al-Saa Church, also known as Our Lady of the Hour Church, which became a living example of the brotherhood between the people of Mosul who have graduated from its educational institution, regardless of their religious background.

These efforts will also contribute to the construction of a museum and memorial site which will exhibit and preserve remnants and history of the restored mosque and churches, with engaging community and educational spaces. The museum and memorial will have a long-lasting impact on Mosul’s young community with the creation of training and job opportunities for over 1,000 young Moslawis, the development of sustainable skills for those employed by the project and through educational and training opportunities, and the significant contribution of the project to the local economy through cultural tourism for Mosul and Iraq.

To date, the project has employed 27 Iraqis and contracted 4 Iraqi companies, with efforts to further bolster this growth as the project progresses. The UAE has also engaged with over 50 local Iraqis to receive direct feedback about their perspective on the restoration of the cultural sites that reflect their country’s legacy.

Speaking on the momentous occasion, HE Noura Al Kaabi remarked:

We are very honoured to sign this partnership with UNESCO and the people of Iraq to take our efforts further in helping rebuild Mosul and reviving the spirit of co-existence and social cohesion. Our work with UNESCO around the world is testament to our country’s commitment to furthering the organisation’s mandate through international cooperation within the fields of education, culture and science.

“Today’s signing is a pioneering partnership that sends a message of light, in seemingly darker times. By rebuilding a fraction of the past, Iraq can shape its future as an inclusive, tolerant and open society which has always found a tangible manifestation in Mosul’s rich historical sites.

“As we start working with UNESCO to reconstruct the ancient Al-Tahera Church, considered to be one of the most ancient churches in Mosul dating back to the 7th Century; as we break ground rebuilding ‘Our Lady of the Hour’, a catholic church built by Dominican Fathers; the UAE becomes the first country in the world to reconstruct Christian churches in Iraq.”

Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO’s General Director joined HE Al Kaabi in the announcement of the renewed partnership:

Today was an important step for the recovery of the Old City of Mosul. With the inclusion of the two churches Al Tahera and Al-Saa in our project we are all strongly mobilized. This rehabilitation aims to reclaim the true spirit of the City, a story of peaceful coexistence between different religious and ethnic groups.

“I am thankful to the United Arab Emirates and Minister Al Kaabi who have generously supported our Initiative since the beginning, and who believe, as we do, that there is no true reconstruction and revival without Culture and Education.

The Al-Tahera Church of Syriac Catholics in Mosul is considered as one of the largest and oldest churches in the Old City of Mosul. Located in the heart of the first inhabited hilltop of Mosul, known as Qile’aat, near the river, Al-Tahera was surrounded by other churches and mosques.

Before its destruction, the church used to include a school, a library, and a healthcare centre, and it was symbolic of the peaceful coexistence between Christian and Muslim communities in the Old City of Mosul.

The Al-Saa’a Church, which means “Church of the Clock” in Arabic, lies at the heart of the Old City of Mosul. Belonging to the Dominican Fathers, who built it between 1866 and 1873, historians say that Empress Eugenie (María Eugenia de Montijo), wife of Napoleon III, the last emperor of France, donated the funding for the bell tower, which is one of the iconic landmarks of the historic town of Mosul today. Al-Saa’a Church used to have a school and many Moslawis graduated from this educational institution, regardless of their faith, Christian or Muslim.

(Source: UAE Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development)

By Hideki Matsunaga, for Brookings Institution.

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

Bitter experiences of reconstruction in the last two decades have made the international community hesitant to engage in robust reconstruction activities. Iraq’s reconstruction after the United States-led invasion in 2003 contributed significantly to this reluctance.

Between 2003 and 2014, more than $220 billion were spent on rebuilding the country. Despite the huge amount of money spent and extensive projects and programs implemented, the international community and the Iraqi people view the effort critically.

This perception makes the international community focus mainly on humanitarian relief and much less on engagement that requires medium- to long-term commitment.

The full report can be read here.

(Source: Brookings Institution)

From The Economist.

Did American road-building in Iraq lead to more violence?

Drivers called it the “highway through hell”. Attacks on the road linking Baghdad to Amman occurred so often in 2014 that truckers were paid three times the normal rate to haul goods along the artery. Gangs and militias were a constant threat.

The jihadists of Islamic State set up roadblocks, charged drivers a tax of around $300 and even handed out receipts. The road, officially called Highway 10, was recently secured by the Iraqi army. But those who drive on it still face the threat of extortion or attack.

America spent loads improving Highway 10 after 2003, the year it toppled Saddam Hussein, Iraq’s former dictator. Over the next decade, as the war in Iraq dragged on, America spent nearly $12bn on infrastructure in the country.

President George Bush touted the improved roads, hoping they would boost the local economy and lead to a reduction in violence. But a working paper presented at this year’s meeting of the European Economics Association suggests that the effort may have had the opposite effect.

Read the full article here (subscription needed).

The Ministry of Planning and the United Nations signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to establish the Iraq Reconstruction and Recovery Trust Fund in support of the Government’s Recovery and Development Framework.

Iraqi Minister of Planning Dr. Nouri Sabah al-Dulaimi signed on behalf of the Government of Iraq. Marta Ruedas, the Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq and Humanitarian and Resident Coordinator, signed on behalf of the United Nations.

The MoU falls in the framework of cooperation, is in line with the Iraqi government’s commitments under the provisions of the Kuwait Conference in 2018, and will help in articulating the international community’s pledges made at that time.

Ms. Ruedas said:

“This Fund is a way to channel the commitments from the Kuwait International Conference for Reconstruction of Iraq. We are pleased to continue supporting the Ministry of Planning and the Government of Iraq in the implementation of this agenda as well as the longer-term Sustainable Development Goals”.

The Trust Fund is in support of the Government’s Recovery and Development Framework as defined in the Recovery and Resilience Programme and for the required policy and programme support to the Government’s achievement of its SDGs targets and its Vision 2030.

(Source: UN)

The Ministry of Planning and the United Nations signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to establish the Iraq Reconstruction and Recovery Trust Fund in support of the Government’s Recovery and Development Framework.

Iraqi Minister of Planning Dr. Nouri Sabah al-Dulaimi signed on behalf of the Government of Iraq. Marta Ruedas, the Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq and Humanitarian and Resident Coordinator, signed on behalf of the United Nations.

The MoU falls in the framework of cooperation, is in line with the Iraqi government’s commitments under the provisions of the Kuwait Conference in 2018, and will help in articulating the international community’s pledges made at that time.

Ms. Ruedas said:

“This Fund is a way to channel the commitments from the Kuwait International Conference for Reconstruction of Iraq. We are pleased to continue supporting the Ministry of Planning and the Government of Iraq in the implementation of this agenda as well as the longer-term Sustainable Development Goals”.

The Trust Fund is in support of the Government’s Recovery and Development Framework as defined in the Recovery and Resilience Programme and for the required policy and programme support to the Government’s achievement of its SDGs targets and its Vision 2030.

(Source: UN)

This past week, IBBC’s ,

Christophe Michels, Managing Director of the Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC), and IBBC’s Deputy Chairman, Eng. Rasmi Al Jabri, visited Iraq with Brigadier James Ellery CBE, Chairman of Turnkey LLC.

The main focus of the visit was construction and redevelopment in Ramadi, Anbar Province, which has undergone a remarkable period of change since Islamic State was ousted from the area.

While in Ramadi, IBBC met with a number of tribal leaders, local business figures and the provincial governor, Mr Ali Farhan Hamid, who shortly intends to visit the UK. IBBC looks forward to hosting him on this trip, and will be organising events which will allow its members to meet and network with him in the near future.

Mr Michels commented:

Overall, this trip was a great success. While always good to connect with members, it was particularly impressive to see how far the Anbar Province has come since its liberation from Islamic State.

“The level of infrastructure and construction I saw is some of the best in Iraq, and increasing long-term stability offers real potential for foreign investors.”

IBBC also visited Baghdad, where they met Dr Thamer Ghadhban, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Oil, Abdulkariem Al Faisal, Chairman the Prime Minister’s Advisory Commission, Professor Hamid Ahmed, Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Dr Salar Ameen, Deputy Chairman of the National Investment Commission.

They also hosted a dinner at the Alwiyah Club, which was kindly sponsored by the Iraqi International Islamic Bank and attended by over forty IBBC members.

A particular highlight of the trip’s time in Baghdad was a visit to the Iraqi National Museum. While closed for a number of years after the war, it has now reopened to the public, and is a world-leading collector and displayer of ancient artefacts from the region.

For more information on the Iraq Britain Business Council, visit https://www.iraqbritainbusiness.org/

(Source: IBBC)

Health, sport, nature: Key sites in Mosul reopen after damage by ISIL

Al Rabee Primary Healthcare Center, the Al Muthana Sport and Youth Center and the East Mosul Nursery Plantation were officially reopened today by the Government of Ninewa, following their rehabilitation by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

“While a lot of work remains to be done in Mosul, the opening of these three projects shows the strength and resilience of the city – one that’s well on its way to recovery after experiencing immense hardship under ISIL’s control,” says UNDP’s Resident Representative in Iraq, Zena Ali Ahmad.

“Al Rabee is one of 24 healthcare centers and hospitals rehabilitated by UNDP in Mosul and provides critical healthcare services to communities across the city,” she says.

“The Al Muthana Sport and Youth Center is an opportunity to reengage our youth. Sport and organized youth actives go a long way in keeping young people feeling healthy, recognized and valued, so this facility is extremely important.

“And plants produced by the Nursery will not only beautify the city, but they also hold great symbolism – representing new life and restored hope for the people of Mosul.”

Rehabilitation of Al Rabee Primary Healthcare Center was funded by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and furniture for the Center was provided by a financial contribution from Poland. Rehabilitation of both the Sport Center and Nursery Plantation was supported by The Netherlands.

“The completion of these sites wouldn’t have been possible without the generous contribution of our donors. We’re extremely grateful to the UAE, Poland and The Netherlands for their continued support to stabilizing Iraq,” adds Ms Ali Ahmad.

Approximately 827 stabilization projects have been completed or are underway by UNDP in Mosul, including restoring water and electricity networks, rebuilding educational institutions and healthcare facilities, providing employment for locals to clear rubble from streets, and rehabilitating 15,000 houses.

About the projects

Al Muthana Sport and Youth Center is a public sporting facility and a hub for organized youth activities. At 6700m2, it includes multi-purpose courts for basketball, volleyball, tennis and handball. Under ISIL’s occupation it was used as the militant group’s primary training base.

East Mosul Nursery Plantation is the main source of plant supply to government departments. The area covers 56,000m2 and consists of greenhouses, net shades, open spaces and admin buildings. Prior to ISIL’s occupation, the nursey would produce 250,000-300,000 plants per year.

Al Rabee Primary Healthcare Center is one of the largest in West Mosul. Before ISIL’s occupation, the Center served some 500 patients per day in a catchment area of about 39,000 people. Today it receives about 100 patients per day, however this number is expected to increase as more people return home.

(Source: UNDP)

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

Slow progress is being made to rebuild the ruined city of Mosul in northern Iraq.

It is two years since the Iraqi army, with a United States-led coalition and Iran-backed Shia militias, drove ISIL fighters from the capital of their self-declared caliphate.

Reconstruction efforts are not being helped by the sanctions imposed by the US on Iraq’s ally Iran.

UN agencies estimate it may take tens of millions of dollars and 10 years just to remove mines and explosives.

Al Jazeera‘s Osama Bin Javaid reports: