Call for rebuild bids but security is still a concern

The Iraqi government has called on the UAE construction industry to bid for reconstruction work in its war-torn country but has still not committed to providing any security for incoming firms.

A bridge under construction in Baghdad. The Iraqi government is seeking international investment. (Getty Images)
A bridge under construction in Baghdad. The Iraqi government is seeking international investment. (Getty Images)

The Iraqi government has called on the UAE construction industry to bid for reconstruction work in its war-torn country but has still not committed to providing any security for incoming firms.

Last month, at The First Iraq Business and Investment Conference held in Dubai, Iraqi government officials and businessmen called on construction conglomerates and developers to take advantage of the many business opportunities that were available in Iraq's reconstruction sector.

"Our aim is to strengthen the platform of investment despite the tough conditions and terrorism that Iraq has been through," said Bayan Dezayie, minister of housing and construction.

"The future of Iraq is based on reconstruction, expanding the private sector and other sectors, and by setting up commercial buildings, malls, hotels, houses, airports, schools and other state-of-the-art facilities."

Iraq's Development Programme market is worth an estimated US $100 billion - making it one of the biggest reconstruction opportunities anywhere in the world - and is set to expand even further.

"We are looking at the establishment of five-star hotels in various places in Iraq," said Hamood Al Yaqoubi, minister of tourism.

He also said that the government is looking to set up resorts and theme parks to establish a thriving tourism industry.

So far investors and builders have been apprehensive about entering the Iraqi construction market due to the country's volatile situation and lack of security.

US construction giant, Bechtel, which was awarded a $1.3 billion package for reconstruction work in Iraq, was forced to stop work on some of its projects due to violence and conflict.

"I think it's fair to say that violence and insecurity posed the biggest challenge," said Jonathan Marshall, media relations manager, Bechtel Corporation.

"Two jobs we failed to complete were both suspended because of extraordinary security risks. Twenty-four people were murdered by armed killers in the course of construction of one of the jobs."

The main fear for most contractors hoping for a slice of the lucrative Iraqi reconstruction market is the lack of security, which they want the government to provide.

"The security situation is not encouraging but I can prove that all companies can work in these conditions," said Nouri Al Badran, government construction advisor.

But when it comes to providing a safe environment, the Iraqi government has still not made any commitments.

"Companies will be responsible for their own security in line with the police force and can ask for their help whenever it is needed," said Badran.

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