Geopolitical instability and the economic crash in Iraq caused primarily by the global oil glut have caused the worlds second largest oil producer to be in a constant state of crisis for the last several years. Yet, the recovery of both Fallujah and Ramadi recently, gave way to foreign interest in the country. An advisor to Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on financial policy reiterated, “after Fallujah and Ramadi everything changed,” said Mudher Salih.
Foreign investment and business development executives are tentatively considering Iraq as a potential business opportunity again.
Early in the year, General Electric’s confidence in the region is shown by their US$1 billion worth of projects in the country’s electricity infrastructure and continues to see, “growth opportunities going forward.”
The World Bank (International Finance Corporation Branch) similarly showed their support by signing a US$375 million finance package for an Iraqi owned power company, undersigned by Lebanon’s Bank Audi. Moused Makhlouf, IFC Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said their financial aid was also accompanied by “increase in interest by investors from the region.”
Tourism in Iraq may also soon grow as the Wyndham Hotel Group announced they would be constructing two new hotels, one in Najaf which is an area frequently visited by Shiite Muslims for their pilgrimage.
“It takes a long time to develop new hotels so you can’t wait until the moment before the thing is in all the travel magazines,” said Daniel Ruff, Wyndham’s president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. “Once you are the first mover you see some opportunities emerging quickly and growth can be really fantastic.”
The International Monetary Fund also recently approved a US$5.3 billion bailout for Iraq, boosting investor confidence. The IMF expects a 7% growth in the economy.