Friday, January 23, 2015

Baghdad Invest - Website

This is an old blog we had years ago for the BaghdadInvest site. A link through to our homepage is available to you here.

Baghdad Invest - Baghdad Invest - Iraqi Dinar News and Intel resource for investors interested in the Iraq story. See you on the other side :-)

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Maximall Baghdad Shopping Centre

Maximall baghdad
Customers enjoy shisha pipes and coffee on the balcony of the new Maximall mall in Mansour, Baghdad. Photograph: Peter Beaumont for the Guardian
Alice Kalyan and her husband sat in the food court on the fourth floor of their local shopping centre, staring down at shoppers milling around on the floors below. It's a scene repeated across the world, but this shopping centre is in Baghdad's Mansour district. Open a year, it is the city's biggest, but others may soon rival it.
The couple live in the Baghdad suburb of Khadra, an area with a heavy military presence, and it is hard for them to get to places like this. "It's our first visit," Alice, 56, explained. "We stayed here throughout the war, though we lived in the UAE for 10 years until 1999. Mostly I don't get out. I mean, we can go shopping in our neighbourhood but there's nowhere like this." The Maximall is popular with younger middle class Iraqi women who can be found on the floors below. It's the template for a new standard for Iraqi shoppers.
On the outdoor balcony overlooking the domes of Saddam Hussein's vast unfinished mosque – planned to be the biggest in the world – a group of young tattoo artists enjoy a shisha. The city is still on edge, and bombings and killings remain common, so Baghdad's social life is conducted in safe places – in people's homes and neighbourhoods where they are known – or in public spaces where they feel comfortable.
The little disco boat that coasts on the Tigris at weekends is largely for groups of young men.
But since the end of the sectarian war in 2008, Baghdad has crept towards a cautious normality, albeit under a very heavy security presence at almost every junction. Although there are no bars, alcohol is tolerated in central neighbourhoods of the capital with Christian populations. At the height of the city's sectarian tensions it was available in only the most secretive of backdoor transactions. In hardline neighbourhoods such as Sadr City, selling it will still get you killed.
New private parks have sprung up in the city's green spaces to rival the long-established Zawara amusement park, with its rides and gardens, popular with both families and groups of young men and women.
One of the recent additions is the Olive Leaves near Jadriya, several restaurants and a playground set among palm trees beside the river.
Like the Maximall it is under a year old. Adel al-Omran, the manager, said: "It used to be my grandfather's farm, but it wasn't that financially viable being in the middle of the city so I had the idea of opening this.
"Baghdadis have a thing for places like this where you can sit outside and it's safe for the children to play. It's nice here with the breeze from the river, especially in summer."
The considerations Baghdadis make over how and where to pursue their entertainment is explained by Mustafa al-Obeidi, 28 and his fiancee, Ala Rubaie, 30, at the al-Faqma ice-cream parlour in Karrada. Both engineering graduates, and unable to get salaried positions, they work as daily contractors for government ministries.
"We get out about once or twice a month. We live on opposite sides of the city," explained Mustafa. The ice cream costs $2 – a treat, he admits, when his salary is only $350 (£235) a month.
"We come to places like this or go out in Mansour. I started going out again in 2009 [a year after the end of the sectarian war]." Displaced from his home district, he only finally returned three weeks ago.
"There are neighbourhoods you avoid and places you feel more comfortable going than others," he adds. "Here it is nice and its secure."
Underlining the recent rising tension in Baghdad, Mustafa admits he no longer stays out as late as he did even three months ago, before protests in Anbar and other western provinces with large minority Sunni populations triggered new fears for the country's direction. "I used to stay out until midnight," he says, "but now I try to get home by 9 or 10 o'clock."
Adel Abbas is the proprietor of the Top Coast coffee shop and restaurant in the Karrada district. "I started with nothing. I sold the Americans a generator then opened a little shop on one of the bases that became a supermarket.
"I got out of that when there were six shops on the base. My business had grown too big for that by then. I bought an old house here and turned it into a restaurant with this coffee shop next door."
He fetched some photographs showing the windows of his restaurant blown out after a bomb attack on a nearby police post. "Things started picking up when people started going out again after 2008 but to tell the truth since the Americans left business has only been average.
"They were pumping billions into the economy and that was trickling down. Now people have less money to spend. To tell the truth it's getting a little worse each month."

13 Year Jail Term for US Contractor

13-Year Jail Term for US Contractor

13 Year Jail Term for US Contractor

An American contractor has been sentenced to 13 years in prison for taking at least $3.7 million in bribes and kickbacks while working for the US army in Iraq.

John Alfy Salama Markus, 40, pleaded guilty in September before a federal judge in New Jersey to taking the money in connection with more than $50 million in U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) contracts in Iraq.

Charges included wire fraud, conspiracy to commit bribery and to defraud the U.S. government, money laundering and tax offenses. Two other Army corps employees and two foreign contractors also were charged in the indictment.

NazarethPatch reports that as part of the plea, Salama Markus — a U.S. citizen born in Egypt — agreed to forfeit at least $3.7 million.

Working in Tikrit, he was involved in the review and award process for contractors seeking “lucrative” Army corps contracts, as well as the administration, oversight and modification of the contracts after they were awarded.

Iraq - Sri Lankan Trade Attache

Iraq Requests Sri Lankan Trade Attache

Iraq - Sri Lankan Trade Attache

The government of Iraq has requested that Sri Lanka appoint a trade attache to the Lankan embassy in Baghdad before the two governments joint committee meeting that is to be held three months from now.

According to the Sri Lankan Daily Mirror, the Iraqi Ammbassador in Sri Lanka, Kahtan Taha Khalaf (pictured), said that the relationship between the two countries is growing, and that they are preparing for a high level delegation from both countries to attend the joit committee meeting in July.
The first meeting of the Sri Lankan-Iraq joint committee was held in 1975, and the last meeting took place in Colombo during 2010.

Iraq’s Oil-for-food Corruption Case Dismissed by the US Judge

A US judge on Wednesday (NZT Thursday) dismissed Iraq’s lawsuit blaming the dozens of companies of conspiring with the regime of Saddam Hussein to frustrate the United Nations’ oil-for-food program, and depriving Iraqis of approximately US$10 billion of necessary aid. Sidney Stein, the US District Judge in Manhattan said that the Iraqi government could not improve from the damages and other remedies under an anti-racketeering law because most of the wrongful conduct took place in foreign countries. He also stated that Iraq did fail to allege the companies’ conduct was a major reason for the injury and that laws governing sovereign nations did not let the present government escape their responsibility for Hussein’s abuses. He wrote that the court refuses Iraq’s view that it may sidestep responsibility because the conduct was not legal or the actors held power illegitimately. More than 90 firms, subsidiaries and affiliates were named as defendants in the 2008 lawsuit over the US$ 64.2 billion oil-for-food program, which ran from 1996 to 2003. Amongst them were French bank BNP Paribas SA, which administered a UN escrow account for the program; Swiss engineering company ABB Ltd; Dutch chemicals company Akzo Nobel NV; US oil company Chevron Corp; German automaker Daimler AG; British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline Plc, and German electronics company Siemens AG. A lawyer representing BNP Paribas, Robert Bennett said that it is clearly the total right decision. He said he is extremely satisfied. James Gillespie, another lawyer, representing ABB, said Stein followed the arguments in the defendants’ papers very directly, and in our view properly applied the law. A lawyer representing Iraq, Christian Siebott did not immediately respond to requests for comment. SURCHARGES AND KICKBACKS The UN program let Iraq sell out oil to finance the purchase of medicine, food and other goods for citizens hurt by global trade sanctions. Many of the present government’s allegations had been drawn from a scathing October of 2005 UN report by a panel led by previous US Federal Reserve Chairman, Paul Volcker. According to the report, Iraq had sold US$64.2 billion of oil to 248 companies under the oil-for-food program, while 3614 companies sold US$34.5 billion of humanitarian goods to Iraq. Oil surcharges were paid in connection with the contracts of 139 companies, and humanitarian kickbacks in connection with the contracts of 2253 companies, the report said. RACKETEERING ALLEGED In its lawsuit, Iraq said that the regime of former President Saddam Hussein defrauded the program by selling out oil at below-market prices in exchange for the kickbacks, and paying too much for food and drugs in exchange for side payments. It told that the defendants’ engagement deprived the citizens of Iraq of necessary supplies that should have been paid from the escrow account. While noting the agreement of the parties, that Hussein had been responsible for the alleged injustices, Stein refuses the effort of Iraq to hold the corporate defendants liable under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). It was said by the judge that the alleged racketeering took place outside the United States, even though the United Nations is headquartered in the city, New York, and that applying RICO to such extraterritorial action would not be honest. Stein also rejected the effort made by Iraq for recovering under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, saying that federal law does not afford a private right of action.