By Padraig O’Hannelly.

Insurance is a complicated business, and as economies develop they demand more of it.

This brings challenges, such as how to assess claims when the skills are not readily available locally, how to satisfy reinsurers that risks have been correctly priced and losses properly assessed, and how to develop lower-premium business without driving up costs.

One Iraqi insurer believes fintech assists in providing the solution to several complex issues.

Al Maseer Insurance was founded by Chairman Arak al-Bayati and CEO Sarah Safa Kasim in 2011, with the aim of bringing innovation, knowledge and global skillsets to the insurance sector in Iraq.

As Chief Underwriting Officer Douglas Way told the recent IBBC Technology Conference in Baghdad:

“Iraq is a challenging market for insurance, to put it bluntly; there are some extremely large risks in Iraq, which require very large reinsurance, which is where fintech solutions come to the fore.

When a proposition is difficult, rather than just saying ‘no’, we find a way to make it happen, and increasingly that involves the use of imaginative and cutting edge technology.”

For example, the company is currently working with Virtual i, which enables it to use experts located remotely to carry out detailed surveys on the ground in Iraq.

Just taking a photo and ticking a box is not sufficient to satisfy reinsurers,” Way explains, adding that using this system also helps to up-skill local Iraqis. “We are very much committed to providing the highest level of service, and very committed to using Iraqi people to do that.

Similarly at the low-premium end of the market, the use of mobile devices and automated systems is helping to strip out the costs of processing applications and claims, enabling new business to be written.

When I visited their offices in Baghdad’s Al Mansour district, CEO Sarah Safa Kasim and her team were busily expanding to serve a growing base of international and domestic clients.

Kasim also took me on a virtual tour of their impressive new HQ, designed by Mutaa Al Hashimi, which will be ready in 2022:

“We’re investing in the right people, the right technology and the right facilities – we’re very confident that Iraq can look forward to a bright future.”

By John Lee.

Ride-hailing service Careem has reportedly started operations in Basra.

According to The National, the company, which currently operates in Baghdad and Najaf, also has a pilot project in Erbil.

Careem entered the Iraqi market in January 2018, and was bought by Uber for $3.1 billion in March 2019.

(Source: The National)

From the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC):

Small projects bring life back to the streets in Mosul

Various small and medium businesses in the Old City of Mosul are supported by the International Committee of the Red Cross as life gradually returns to the streets and people resume their lives.

Some business owners have restored their activities to pre-conflict levels while others are gradually recovering.

And some even earn a higher income than ever before.

Full story here.

Actress Alia Shawkat Designs Exclusive Tee for 5K to Benefit Iraqi Children

Iraqi-American performer and producer, Alia Shawkat, is best known for her acting work in TV shows like Arrested Development and films like Whip It and The Runaways.

She is also a talented artist, with her contemporary works featuring in high profile gallery shows including at the Known Gallery and Dilettante Gallery in LA.

This year, Ms Shawkat joins the Iraqi Children Foundation (ICF) to design a custom t-shirt for their upcoming “In Their Shoes” 5K race in Alexandria VA, on June 22nd.

Ms Shawkat’s artistic style is a playful and contemporary mix of colors and textures, often taking the form of abstract cartoons.

I’ve grown more and more curious as I’ve gotten older about my father’s heritage”, says Ms Shawkat.

I’ve travelled to the Middle East and feel such a strong connection to the people and the environment.

The more misunderstood Arabs and the Muslim culture are in America, the deeper my urge is to share the beauty of our culture with Americans and in my art”.

Ms Shawkat’s father came to America from Baghdad in the 1970s with only $200 in his pocket, and eventually started his own business.

Her father has been an active participant in charitable giving for children in Iraq, and this commitment clearly runs in the family.

I’m open to every opportunity that allows me to help children in need”, says Ms Shawkat.

Iraqi Children Foundation invests in education, legal protection, and medical on-the-ground support for Iraq’s most vulnerable orphans and street children.

An investment in these children is an investment in the future of Iraq.

In 2018, ICF provided 14,200 meals for children enrolled in their education programs, and handled 675 legal cases for children, including the victims of sex trafficking.

Without these critical services, these children are vulnerable to abuse, neglect, and exploitation by criminals, traffickers, and extremists.

The Alia Shawkat t-shirts are available exclusively through registration in the 5K in Alexandria this week.

The event, now in its 7th year, promises to be a fun family-friendly morning, with an after party including Iraqi music, snacks, and entertainment.

For those who can’t make it to Alexandria, donations can be made via the same link, or registrants can sign up and note and note their location as a “remote runner” in the comments (ICF will send remote runner’s shirts with free shipping in continental US).

Race details:

ICF’s “In Their Shoes” 5K will be held at the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) at 0800 on June 22, 2019 (registration opens at 0700).

Registration link: https://runsignup.com/Race/VA/OldTownAlexandria/InTheirShoes5KIraq

For more information please contact Liz McRae: liz@iraqichildren.org, +1.202.790.1109

By Amnesty International.

Nobody wants us: The plight of displaced female-headed families in Iraq

Amnesty International and other organizations have continuously documented the collective punishment of displaced families, especially female-headed families.

Many are perceived as supporters of the Islamic State armed group (IS) due to factors outside their control – such as being related, however distantly, to men who were somehow involved with IS – and are ostracized by the rest of society.

Such families have reported being forcibly displaced, evicted, arrested, had their homes demolished or looted or faced threats, sexual abuse and harassment, and discrimination after returning to their places of origin.

More here.

(Source: Amnesty International)