Sunday, June 24, 2012

Baghdad Fast Food

An Iraqi entrepreneur has opened a burger joint in Baghdad reminiscent of the classic New York diner - a symbol of the changing face of the war-torn city.

Frank Sinatra croons from speakers and the walls of the small restaurant in the Mansour commercial district are decorated with posters of Miles Davis, James Dean and Muhammad Ali.

"Burger Joint is a quick service fast-food restaurant and the only one with a western look and feel to it," said Omar Hadi, the managing partner of VQ Investment Group, an Iraq-focused firm run by private-equity veterans and entrepreneurs based in Abu Dhabi and Baghdad.

A slew of new restaurants has opened in the same area, and many more are expected to launch in coming months as Iraq returns to something like normality with falling levels of violence and the withdrawal of the last United States troops last December.

Like many adventurous businessmen in Iraq, Mr Hadi hopes to capitalise on Baghdad's large population. He plans to open six Burger Joint restaurants in the capital before the end of the year with an investment of a "few million dollars".

"In Baghdad alone, you have a population of 8 million people with an increasing middle class, and sizeable income," he said.

VQ has also bought franchise rights through Turkey to Pizza Pizza, a Canadian company, with two restaurants already open and plans for two more this year. Mr Hadi and his investors expect to make their money back in 18 months to two years.

"Iraq is a virgin market," he said.

Burger Joint plays on nostalgia, but also uses international quality standards and cutting-edge technology. The cooks use 100 per cent Iraqi lean beef and the servers take orders using iPads.

"We are using new technology, and can see from our offices in Abu Dhabi how the orders are being made."

Al Wifaq Iraq Printing Company

Al-Wifaq Printing Company of Iraq has signed an order with Goss International at the drupa trade show in Düsseldorf for two new 16-page M-600 web presses. The investment is part of the company's drive to modernize and innovate in ensuring the highest commercial print quality in Iraq.

Goss International and Al-Wifaq Printing Company at drupa 2012. Shaking hands on the order for two new M-600 presses are Jean Segura, vice-president of sales EMEA (left); and Mr. Muthanna Abdul Samad Al-Samarraie, owner and managing director of Al-Wifaq Printing Company.
According to representatives of Al-Wifaq Printing Company, the Goss M-600 press will be a huge contribution towards the development of the printing industry in Iraq, in particular, and throughout the Arab countries in general.

‘Iraq is currently going through an intensive investment program, but technical capabilities are only one side of the equation,’ commented Muthanna Abdul Samad Al-Samarraie, owner and managing director of Al-Wifaq Printing Company. ‘We aim to invest in the latest, state-of-the-art technologies that will allow us to reflect the unique spirit and artistic endeavors of our nation. We are investing for the ability to produce publications with the highest quality and aesthetic appeal so that we can give clients the means to express their creative ideas in beautiful, highly impressive print.’

The two Goss M-600 presses ordered by Al-Wifaq will initially be used to produce a range of high-quality books and magazines. The presses will incorporate a number of the latest-generation automation features as displayed on the Goss booth at drupa to ensure maximum efficiency and low makeready waste. These include the enhanced Goss Autoplate automatic plate changing functionality.

The presses are scheduled for installation in the first quarter of 2013.

Al Wifaq was established in 1988 by the late Abdul Samad Al Samera'i. His sons, Muthana, Abdul Samad, Ahmad and Muhammad continued the efforts of their father and worked on developing the company. Al Wifaq is specialised in printing books, magazines and posters.

According to Muthanna Al-Samarraie, it is his late father's passion for the printing business and a dedication to the future development and prosperity of his country that inspires Al-Wifaq Printing Company to leave no stone unturned in meeting current and potential needs of its customers, ‘By investing in the best brand in commercial web printing, we are dedicating our relentless pursuit of modernisation and development to help translate the ideas of our customers into a daily reality,’ Al-Samarraie concluded.

Latest Iraqi related news from:

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Generator Man - Baghdad Electricity

Baghdad Invest - 20/06/2012 Baghdad.

What is life really like in Iraq?

Filmmakers: Rashed Radwan and Carmen Marques
Nine years after the fall of Saddam Hussein, Iraq's national grid struggles to provide more than six hours of electricity a day - so a new form of entrepreneur has sprung up, the 'Generator Man'.
For a price, he will fill the gap.
Hadi is a 'Generator Man', who owns two generators but finds that being on call for hundreds of people, all desperate for power, means that his life is no longer his own.
Witness follows him as he wanders the backstreets of Baghdad to talk to some of his customers for whom power - or the lack of it - has become the most important fact in their day-to-day-lives.
Of the many ironies of post-conflict Iraq this is perhaps the starkest: how a country afloat on a sea of oil and in receipt of $5bn of US investment since 2003 cannot yet guarantee power for its people.
Filmmaker's view: Rashed Radwan
They say the war in Iraq is over. But is it really?
George Bush declared it over when he was president and Barack Obama did the same. But ask ordinary Iraqis and they will tell you that a new war is just starting in a country where the most basic of infrastructure has been destroyed.
In the summer of 2010, I spent two months filming in Iraq.
It was during that summer that I first met Bakr, a 12-year-old boy from Sadr City; a child carrying the soul of an adult.
He told me about the death of his brother, a victim of an American apache, as though it was something that could not have been avoided; an almost inevitable part of his destiny as an Iraqi.
And, when asked about his dreams, Bakr revealed that he had just one: to have electricity so that he might have a fan to keep him cool in summer and a heater to keep him warm in winter.
It was an unusual conversation to have with a child. After all, aren't their dreams usually filled with the more remarkable, with the less mundane?
In the comfort of my hotel, power outages were only a problem in the few minutes between the national grid going down and the lights coming back on - triggered by the huge and noisy generator behind the building.
But Bakr had opened my eyes to a problem I had not been aware of. I began to notice the tangled mess of wires hanging from buildings all over the city. And for the first time I understood why I had met so many people wearily climbing the stairs of Baghdad's general hospital with their sick children in their arms, trying to reach a doctor on a higher floor: without electricity, elevators do not work.

When I spoke to doctors, they told me of patients who could not visit the hospital because they were too weak to reach the higher floors. In these tales, I thought I had found the starting point for this story - but I soon came to realise that doctors and patients are too afraid to talk about their daily struggles in these hellish conditions.
For the past nine years, two words have been at the forefront of Iraqi minds: kahraba (electricity) and amn (security).
Security has improved markedly, although only to the levels that many of those who proclaim this war over would consider murderously dangerous in their own countries.

But the single most crucial ingredient in the country's reconstruction - electrical power - continues to lag far behind the country's needs.
On Tuesday, June 22, 2004, forty pallets of cash were loaded onto a truck that delivered the money to Andrews Air Force Base, near Washington, D.C. The money was then transferred to a C-130 transport plane. The next day, it arrived in Baghdad. That was the largest shipment of currency in one single day in the history of the NY Fed. But it was not the first shipment of money to Baghdad. For more than a year, $12bn taken from Iraqi oil revenues - in other words, belonging to the Iraqi people - was delivered for use in reconstruction. At least $9bn has gone missing.

Iraq is swimming in oil, which generates revenues of nearly $2bn a week, but Baghdad's 7,216,040 million people are reliant on private generators. And the private generator is a luxury most people cannot afford. Fuel prices are too high for many and the poorest are literally living in the dark.

Those who are fortunate enough to have their own personal generator must either spend hours waiting in line to buy fuel or pay the steepest premiums on the black market.

The generator man - owner and operator of the neighbourhood power plant - is the solution for the vast majority of the Iraqi population. Iraq depends on the generator man to survive. They are the country's umbilical cord, bringing power to hundreds of thousands of homes and shops.
I wish I could tell all of the stories hidden behind the headlines declaring to the world that the war in Iraq is over. I wish each of you could know the suffering and despair that has been left behind and how Iraqis must live huddled in dark houses, sleeping outside during the summer months because the heat inside is unbearable, afraid that they may be hit by a stray bullet from somewhere in their neighbourhood.
I have covered the war in Iraq since 2003, and if there is one thing that I can say for sure, it is that beyond the tragedy lies the triumph of the human spirit as ordinary people fight to preserve their dignity.

I wish I could tell all of their stories - the stories of the children dying from strange diseases never seen before the war or of the army of women awaiting the return of their missing husbands and sons. But Generator Man is a simple story about common people - people who will probably never find a place in the history books. These people are the real witnesses to the reality behind the headlines that the war is over.

Latest Iraqi related news from:

Iraq Salinity Project

Baghdad Invest - 20/06/2012 Baghdad.

The Iraq Salinity Project aims to develop long-term strategies to manage salinity in central and southern Iraq.

It is coordinated by the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) and is scheduled to run until the end of 2014.

Kamal Hussein, Iraqi deputy minister of environment, told SciDev.Net that farmers abandon an estimated 25,000 hectares of farmland in central and southern Iraq every year because of elevated salt levels.

"Watering crops [through traditional irrigation canals] is one of the main causes of the salinity problem in Iraq," said Hussein, pointing out that the irrigation water washes out the salt (from natural sources and fertilisers) from soil in the more elevated northern parts of the country and brings it to the southern parts.

Nasri Haddad, coordinator of ICARDA's West Asia Regional Program, told SciDev.Net: "The project will develop in-depth research to identify how to rid the water and soil of salinity, and suggest strategies for water management to achieve this goal".

He added that rising salt levels in soil and water is a global problem.

"This project is a glimmer of hope to many other countries that have a bitter experience with salinity," he said, adding that the techniques to tackle the problem developed in Iraq will be made available to other countries.

The project is operating at three different scales: regionally to identify the distribution of salt-affected soils and causes of soil salinity; locally to assess the irrigation and drainage infrastructure; and on farms to find out the best ways to control salt levels in soil.

Kasim Ahmed Saliem, the project coordinator and the head of the planning and follow-up department at the Ministry of Agriculture, said: "We hope that there will be a second phase of the project based on the results that will be achieved, but this depends on the ability to bring additional support from donors to finance long-term efforts to combat salinity."

The initiative involves the training of Iraqi researchers and linking the country with potential donors to ensure the project's long-term sustainability. It also aims to establish reliable agricultural infrastructure.

The project is funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and the Italian government, and implemented by ICARDA in partnership with the University of Western Australia, Australia's national science agency CSIRO, the International Water Management Institute and the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture.

Latest Iraqi related news from:

Czech Companies Iraq

Baghdad Invest - 20/06/2012 Baghdad.
Czech companies to ink more deals in Iraq

With deadly attacks and political violence threatening to wreck a hard-won power-sharing agreement in Iraq, business is booming in at least one part of the country, and Czech companies are positioning themselves to take advantage of the thriving investment opportunities.

In the relatively peaceful and semi-autonomous northern region of Iraqi Kurdistan, foreign ventures and soaring oil exports helped drive a remarkable economic growth rate of 8 percent last year.

A delegation of businessmen, led by Industry and Trade Minister Martin Kuba (Civic Democrats, ODS), has just completed a high-level visit to Kurdistan that culminated in the announcement of plans to build a new steam-gas power plant in the region, with an output of 980 megawatts.

The project will be designed by Czech company PSG International, and will be built with the help of Turkish and Kurdish companies over the next few years.

The power plant is being financed by the Czech Export Bank in a deal that will hopefully attract further foreign and domestic companies, the Kurdish Globe reported June 9.

"I am pleased to represent the first Czech bank to organize financing support to this kind of project. There is a strong desire among Czech businessmen to be more engaged and present in Kurdistan," said Tomáš Uvíra, CEO of the Czech Export Bank.

Speaking at the signing ceremony in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, Kuba said he was impressed with Kurdistan's continued economic growth and stressed the importance of strengthening bilateral ties with the Kurdistan regional government (KRG).

"Today, a number of our companies are doing good business in Kurdistan; however, there are many more opportunities for further engagements, and we are here to explore those opportunities."

Kurdistan's prime minister, Nechirvan Barzani, highlighted the recent progress the KRG has made in electricity and energy production.

"We are continuing our efforts to achieve more progress; we are taking steps to further modernize the electricity sector, and we will continue these efforts until we can provide all the necessities of our citizens in this sector throughout the region," Barzani said.

The Czech delegation, comprising 24 businessmen and three representatives of the Confederation of Industry, also traveled briefly to the Iraqi capital Baghdad to participate in another forum and to meet with representatives from government ministries.

"It was a very successful exercise. We are hoping to welcome a Kurdish delegation to the Czech Republic very soon, perhaps as early as this year," said Olga Zuláková, the international relations manager of the Confederation of Industry, after returning from Iraq.

In March, Iraq was named one of 12 "priority" countries for the Czech Republic's export strategy 2012-20.

However, Zuláková concedes that while Kurdistan remains an attractive destination for business, trade in other parts of Iraq such as Baghdad is considered too risky for many companies.

Czech trade with Iraq sank some 40 percent to 1.54 billion Kč last year after previously experiencing growth.
Latest Iraqi related news from:

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Hadeel Hassan Law Firm

Doing business in Iraq - Law firms:

raq is the new Middle East destination for business and investment, with Iraq's security improving, it is time to do business here, the most important thing is to find a qualified law firm to guide you on how to navigate Iraqi laws, incorporate, and start your business. Your challenges and opportunities can't wait for your law firm to catch up. You need a firm that is based in Iraq, with qualified lawyers, ready to work in concert with you delivering focused, responsive and personalized service.

At Hadeel Hassan Law Firm we leverage the talents and resources of our entire firm to deliver effective advocacy and comprehensive, integrated solutions in virtually all areas of the law across Iraq. Our infrastructure, along with our collaborative approach, enables our clients to benefit fully from the size of our team, the depth of our experience and our extensive geographic footprint. Having offices inside Iraq in Baghdad, Basrah & Erbil enables us serving our clients’ needs all over Iraq.

Due to the fact that our firm is a local Iraqi firm that used to operate and still operating in Iraq, with qualified staff of Iraqi lawyers whom had exercising legal works through the past difficult period, accompanying the changing laws and the way those laws were implemented by competent authorities in Iraq, we did gain a unique experience that not many law firms can compete us with, we also managed to build strong links with competent authorities in Iraq based on mutual respect and high understanding to each party’s needs at the current critical time of Iraq’s investment life, bearing in mind that no international law firms are legally registered in Iraq.

Also, and as an Iraqi law firm working for foreign companies for years now and supported by well-known international law firms, we are knowledgeable with foreign companies' needs with the type of services from one side and our services compliance with the Integrity and transparency International standards and laws from the other side.

We understand the dimensions of our clients’ legal needs today because we vigilantly and proactively study current laws, regulations, issues and trends and their impact on our clients’ interests. We know our business thoroughly to better serve our clients.

Our Commitment:
As an Iraqi law firm supported by well-known international law firms and to better serve our clients, we have associated offices located throughout the UK, UAE, Lebanon, Jordan and soon the USA. In addition, when necessary, we call upon our network of national and foreign correspondent counsel. Our highly qualified team is led by internationally respected and experienced lawyers in practice areas such oil & gas, construction, communication, environment and energy. We are also well positioned to deal with complex matters concerning Tax, Customs, Transportation Logistics and Cargo, Employment, Corporate, Securities matters, Commercial and Civil Litigation. Our commitment to the Iraqi laws is demonstrated by our involvement in the law amendments and by our participation and service on the boards of law organizations, industry groups, seminars, conferences, bar associations.