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  2. Official: Fuad Hussein and Qassem al-Araji in the Iraqi delegation to Washington 2021-07-17 10:22 Shafaq News/ Shafaq News Agency obtained an official roster of the members of the Iraqi delegation heading to Washington next week. According to the document issued by PM Mustafa al-Kadhimi's office, the delegation will stay in the U.S. capital for two days to resume the rounds of the Strategic Dialogue. The delegation includes Minister of Foreign Affairs Fuad Hussein, National Security Advisor Qassim al-Araji, and head of the National Commission for Investment Soha Daoud, along with a group of undersecretaries and senior military officials. United States President Joe Biden will welcome Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi to the White House on July 26, his office has announced. The meeting will “highlight the strategic partnership between the United States and Iraq”, the White House said in a statement on Friday. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden “also looks forward to strengthening bilateral cooperation with Iraq on political, economic and security issues to include joint efforts to ensure the enduring defeat” of ISIS. The meeting will take place against the backdrop of growing concerns among US officials about more frequent attacks against the US targets in Iraq and Syria. There have been at least eight drone attacks targeting the US presence since Biden took office in January, as well as 17 rocket attacks. The Biden administration has responded by twice targeting Iraqi armed groups operating inside Syria, including one close to the Iraq border. Iraq has long been an arena for a bitter rivalry between the US and Iran despite their shared enmity towards ISIS. Baghdad’s relationship with Washington has been complicated since the US assassinated the last year Iranian top General Qassem Soleimani and senior Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis at Baghdad International Airport. The drone strike on January 3, 2020, was ordered by then-President Donald Trump.
  3. Zain Group second quarter 2021 net profit grows 17% to reach USD 138 million, Board recommends half-year dividend of 10 fils July 16, 2021 For H1 2021, Net Income up by 5% to reach USD 285 million Chairman, Ahmed Al Tahous: “The Board is focused on the next phase of growth and minimizing the impact of COVID-19 on the business” Vice-Chairman & Group CEO, Bader Al-Kharafi: “A first in the company’s history, Board’s recommendation to pay a half-year dividend of 10 fils per share (as part of the 33 fils) is a result of our strong balance sheet and solid operational performance.” Data Revenue represents 42% of Group Revenue for H1 ‘21 Currency devaluations in Iraq and Sudan impact revenue by USD 378 million Zain Iraq and Zain South Sudan launch high-speed 4G commercial services boosting connectivity and socio-economic activity Company’s focus on Wholesale and Enterprise business lands lucrative regional corporate accounts Robust growth in FinTech, Digital Operator entities, API platform and esports Zain Group, a leading telecommunications innovator operating in seven markets across the Middle East and Africa, announces its consolidated financial results for the six months to June 30, 2021. Zain served 48.3 million customers at the end of the period, a 1% increase year-on-year (Y-o-Y). Group Key Performance Indicators (KD and USD) for first six months (H1) of 2021 Total Managed Active Customers 48.3 million Revenue KD 750 million (USD 2.5 billion) EBITDA KD 310 million (USD 1.03 billion) EBITDA Margin 41% Net Income KD 86 million (USD 285 million) EPS 20 fils (USD 0.07) For the first six months of 2021 (H1) Zain Group generated consolidated revenue of KD 750 million (USD 2.5 billion), a decrease of 3% Y-o-Y. EBITDA for the period reached KD 310 million (USD 1.03 billion), down 6Y-o-Y, reflecting an EBITDA margin of 41%. Net income amounted to KD 86 million (USD% 285 million), up 5% Y-o-Y, reflecting earnings per share of 20 fils (USD 0.07). For H1 2021, foreign currency translation was impacted mainly due to the currency devaluation in Sudan from 55 in January 2021 to 444 (SDG / USD) end of June 2021, and a 19% currency devaluation in Iraq from an 1,190 to 1,470 (IQD / USD), cost the Group USD 378 million in Revenue and USD 233 million in EBITDA. Group Key Performance Indicators (KD and USD) for the second quarter (Q2) of 2021 In the second quarter of 2021 (Q2), Zain Group generated consolidated revenue of KD 369 million (USD 1.2 billion), remaining relatively stable compared to the prior period. EBITDA for the quarter reached KD 152 million (USD 506 million), down 5% Y-o-Y, reflecting an EBITDA margin of 41%. Net income for the quarter amounted to KD 41 million (USD 138 million), up 17% Y-o-Y, reflecting earnings per share of 10 fils (USD 0.03). For Q2 2021, foreign currency translation was impacted mainly due to the currency devaluation in Sudan from 55 in January 2021 to 444 (SDG / USD) end of June 2021, and a 19% currency devaluation in Iraq from 1,190 to 1,470 (IQD / USD), cost the Group USD 215 million in Revenue and USD 175 million in EBITDA. Key Operational Notes for H1 2021 Extraordinary General Assembly held in June 2021 saw the approval of the Board of Directors' recommendation to distribute interim dividends, quarterly or semi-annually. Zain Group achieved consolidated data revenue of USD 1.05 billion, representing 42% of the Group’s revenue. Throughout the first six-months, Zain Group invested over USD 491 million in CAPEX reflecting 20% of revenue, predominantly in expansion of Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) infrastructure; spectrum fees; 4G upgrades and new network sites across its markets, as well as 5G rollouts in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain. Enterprise (B2B) business arm continues to witness strong growth across several key markets landing key regional clients. Zain esports growth continues, holding 11 tournaments during Q2 2021 with over 5,000 participants and attracting 6 million social media impressions. Zain partners UNICEF to launch Child Online Safety Booklet promoting safe esports and gaming to schools & universities. The Zain Group Application Program Interface (API) platform enabling faster deployment of digital partnerships, continues to grow exponentially, offering 26 live services resulting in a healthy Y-o-Y increase in revenue with approximately 5 million transactions per month. Zain named winner in three categories at the annual Global Good Governance Awards 2021: Best of the Best in Diversity Award 2021; Leadership in Sustainability Award 2021; and Championship Award in Women Empowerment 2021. Commenting on H1 2021 results, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Zain Group, Mr. Ahmed Al Tahous said, “The Board’s key focus during these challenging times has been to support management in its endeavors to be future-ready to fully exploit the next phase of growth in driving shareholder value. We remain focused on providing meaningful connectivity and minimizing the impact of the pandemic on society by implementing digitalization initiatives to better serve communities, businesses, and governments. I would like to thank all the government ministries and regulatory authorities across our markets for their wisdom and understanding of the emerging industry dynamics and support of the telecom sector at large.” Mr. Bader Nasser Al-Kharafi, Zain Vice-Chairman and Group CEO commented, “The robust growth witnessed during Q2 2021 reaffirms the success of the ‘4Sight’ strategy and digital transformation set forth by the Board and executive management to invest heavily and focus on monetizing our 4G, FTTH and 5G networks, while seeking new business verticals and revenue streams. Our excellent performance is even more satisfying when one considers the unavoidable currency devaluations in Iraq and Sudan, which had considerable impact on the financials.” “To minimize the impact of the currency devaluations, management has proactively undertaken decisive cost optimization initiatives across all markets, and both Zain Iraq and Zain Sudan have revamped prices and are now offering new attractive data monetization packages.” “Operationally, most of our markets recorded growth in Q2 as compared to the same period a year earlier. The healthy growth in Kuwait was powered by its incomparable 5G network that sees the operator capturing the largest market share in the country. Similarly, quality networks were instrumental in the robust profit growth in Iraq, Jordan, Sudan, and Bahrain, while in Saudi Arabia the operator continues to receive international accolades for the reach, speed and quality of its 5G network.” Commenting on the success of Zain’s focus on reaping the lucrative opportunities in the digital space, Al-Kharafi said, “Management is extremely optimistic of the potential of our fintech entities including Zain KSA’s subsidiary, ‘Tamam’, Zain Jordan’s and Zain Iraq’s ‘Zain Cash’ platforms and ‘M-Gurush’ in South Sudan, that are all experiencing exponential growth.” “Zain KSA’s digital operator ‘Yaqoot’ continues to deliver healthy growth in the Saudi digital telco space, and we recently launched another digital operator in Iraq, ‘oodi’, where we expect similar success. Both Yaqoot and oodi offer a simple, all-digital mobile experience that frees customers from the traditional retail buying experience. From the moment customers download the app, they have all the power they require to manage their mobile service.” With respect to the continuing growth of Zain esports, Al-Kharafi said, “This exciting and fast- growing initiative creates shareholder value on multiple fronts as it meets several different goals for Zain, including youth development, enriching the brand, fostering innovation, and creating vast digital opportunities across our 4G, 5G and fiber networks. Our confidence that Zain esports will develop into a regional gaming powerhouse is taking shape.” On Zain’s Wholesale business, Al-Kharafi noted; “We have recently revamped our wholesale carrier company, ‘Zain Global Services’, consolidating and providing it the resources to open new revenue streams and manage the capacity, voice, messaging and roaming businesses across Zain’s operating companies. Zain Global Services will ultimately evolve to become a truly regional carrier and the single interface for all of Zain’s operating company requirements, as well as for other international carriers having requirements within the region.” “Over recent years, Zain has been evolving to become a fully integrated service provider and has been focusing on enterprise segments for additional synergies and growth. Given that the wholesale industry has at its core the transformation of the infrastructure enabling global connectivity, Zain considers the development of its wholesale business as a key area to the telco’s overall transformation. It is worth noting that our B2B revenue has grown an impressive 16% over the year, and we are elated to land several lucrative corporate accounts in key markets.” Al-Kharafi concluded by commenting on the recently held EGM, “The amendments and new provisions to the company's articles approved by the Assembly will help the Group in its execution of our ‘4Sight’ growth strategy, providing the Board of Directors and executive management greater flexibility, while we focus on digital innovation and seek new lucrative opportunities in the ICT arena across the region and beyond.” Iraq: Zain Iraq’s H1 2021 revenue reached USD 376 million, and EBITDA amounted to USD 145 million, reflecting an EBITDA margin of 39%. Net profit reached USD 24 million for the period. The operator’s customer base increased by 7% to reach 16.1 million customers maintaining its market leading position. It should be noted that the Iraqi dinar devaluation also impacted Zain Iraq’s revenue by USD 88 million for the six-month period.
  4. Biden to meet with Iraqi prime minister at White House The White House says President Joe Biden will meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi later this month in Washington Via AP news wire 3 hours ago Biden (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.) President Joe Biden will meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi later this month in Washington the White House said Friday. The meeting set for July 26 comes at a pivotal point in the U.S.-Iraq relationship, and amid growing concerns about more frequent attacks against U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria. There have been at least eight drone attacks targeting the U.S. presence since Biden took office in January, as well as 17 rocket attacks. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden “also looks forward to strengthening bilateral cooperation with Iraq on political, economic and security issues to include joint efforts to ensure the enduring defeat" of the Islamic State militant group. The attacks on U.S. forces have been blamed on the Iranian-backed militias that make up the bulk of Iraq’s state-supported Popular Mobilization Forces. The Biden administration has responded by twice targeting Iraqi militia groups operating inside Syria, including one close to the Iraq border. The relationship has been complicated since last year’s U.S. drone strike killing of Iran’s expeditionary Quds Force commander Qassim Soleimani and senior Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis at Baghdad International Airport. That strike was ordered by then-President Donald Trump But with the Biden administration seeking to revive an Obama-era nuclear accord with Iran, there have been signs that Iran is looking to curb, at least for now, militia attacks on the U.S. Soleimani’s successor Esmail Ghaani last month called on Iranian-backed militias to remain calm until after nuclear talks between Iran and the United States, The Associated Press reported last week.
  5. Iraqi Kurdistan The Autonomous Part Of Iraq That Is Actually Safe To Visit 2021-07-16 16:37 Shafaq News/ Even if Iraq isn't necessarily on your radar, there are plenty of reasons (and places!) for why it should be. Iraq isn't on many people's travel radar. Most folks are likely considering it to be unstable and unsafe. It is true that the last few decades have been very bad for this country with the country seemingly lurching from crisis to crisis, but it is not actually true of all the country. Northern Iraqi Kurdistan is actually safe and very rewarding to visit. Iraq occupies the ancient lands of Mesopotamia and is the classic site of the "Cradle of Civilisation." So many empires have risen and fallen over these lands including some of the oldest known to man - like the Akkadians and Sumerians. It is the land of ancient Babylon and it is home to the all-important rivers of the Euphrates and the Tigris. Today northern Iraq is home to the Kurdish people who have the autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan. This region has been able to maintain relative stability and has been welcoming tourists from around the world for years. People here are very hospitable and will be very glad to see you visiting their country. Some things to understand with etiquette is that while Iraqi Kurdistan is open and tolerant - especially by comparison to other parts of Iraq - there are some things travelers should be aware of. For men, it's ok to wear shorts here (something that is forbidden or offensive in some other parts of the Middle East). Women do not need to wear any head covering, but they should dress modestly and cover their shoulders and knees. It's fine to drink alcohol here. Getting In And Getting A Visa The visa situation is a little complicated as Iraqi Kurdistan is part of Iraq and for Iraq, one needs a visa. But in practice, the Kurdish regional government controls the ports of entry and allows almost all Westerners to visit visa-free for 30 days. But you are only permitted to stay in the Kurdistan autonomous region. Erbil Erbil is the capital and largest city of the autonomous region. There is plenty to see and do in this city. In the center, you can visit the ancient citadel of one of the oldest cities in history. You can try traditional Kurdish food and shop in the impressive bazaar located in the heart of the city. Erbil is centrally located and is likely to be your central base for exploring the wider Kurdish region. Erbil is a modern city complete with modern shopping malls and everything you are likely to need. You can also find a very large ex-pat community. Sulaymaniyah Sulaymaniyah is perhaps Iraq's most progressive city and it sits nestled amongst the Iraqi mountains and boasts some stunning driving and hiking. The variety of the Kurdish language people speak here is different from that spoken in Erbil and many can't understand each other. Sulaimani Museum: The Largest Museum In The Iraqi Kurdistan Region And Covers Kurdish Struggles And Genocide Lalish Lalish is an absolute must-see if you visit this region. Lalish is the holiest temple of the Yazidi people (the Yazidi are a unique ethnoreligious group in Iraq who are of the Yazidi religion). Visiting this site is one of the most powerful things anyone can do while in Iraq. Here you will see their unique and often untold story and their unique beliefs including that of the "Peacock Angel." Yazidis are incredibly hospitable and welcoming people - so much so that sometimes it's embarrassing. It is recommended that you hire a translator or guide, you may struggle to find people to speak English to here and it is helpful to have someone explain the etiquette of this holy site. These are just a few of the many things to see and do in Iraqi Kurdistan. It is safe and truly one of the most welcoming places on earth for visitors. Source: The Travel
  6. Enhancing agricultural development will facilitate Iraq’s accession to WTO Source UNAMI Posted 9 Jul 2021 Originally published 9 Jul 2021 Baghdad – A workshop on “WTO Accession and Agriculture” was organised from 4th to 7th July 2021 in Baghdad. Agricultural development consistent with WTO standards needs enhancement in Iraq for facilitating the negotiations leading to the accession process. The workshop provided a comprehensive overview of the agriculture sector as perceived within the WTO and the Agreement on Agriculture and its pillars. Representatives from various government institutions from Baghdad and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq including officials from the Ministry of Trade, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Industry participated in the workshop. The workshop was organized by the International Trade Centre (ITC) a joint agency of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and United Nations (UN), through “Strengthening the Agriculture and Agri-food Value Chain and Improving trade policy in Iraq“ (SAAVI) project. Funded by the European Union (EU), the project is contributing to inclusive economic growth and job creation, particularly for youth, by improving Iraq’s agriculture competitiveness and supporting trade development. It is also particularly focuses on providing support to Iraq in the process of acceding to the WTO. Mr. Adel Almasoodi, Director General, Foreign Economic Relations Department, Ministry of Trade opened the workshop and reaffirmed Iraq’s commitment to the accession to the WTO and assured the support of his team to the SAAVI project. H.E. Martin Huth, Ambassador of the European Union to Iraq and Ms. Irena Vojáčková-Sollorano, the United Nations Resident Coordinator to Iraq were also present. Speaking on the occasion, H.E. Martin Huth, Ambassador of the European Union to Iraq said, “The EU has a strong interest in Iraq acceding to the World Trade Organisation in order to bring Iraq into the illustrious WTO group of 164 states. WTO accession, and the economic reforms that it entails, represents a clear opportunity for Iraq to implement the goals of the White Paper. Being a full member of the WTO, will allow Iraq to improve its collaboration on trade and investment with all WTO members and ultimately support the creation of decent work for all Iraqis” Ms. Irena Vojáčková-Sollorano, the United Nations Resident Coordinator to Iraq said,* “The drive for economic reform, including political commitments in resuming the WTO accession process with a clear roadmap, is a clear signal of a better future awaiting Iraq.”* The workshop included sessions from experts from WTO, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and the International Trade Centre. In addition the trade policy technical team from the International Trade Centre, Geneva, including Mr. Jean-Sébastien, Senior Officer for Policy and Business and Ms. Devika Rajeev, Associate Programme Officer, were present in Baghdad to facilitate the workshop. This workshop is the first in a line of capacity building sessions that will be organised through the SAAVI project to support Iraq to accede to the WTO.
  7. 2020/02/15 00:02:29 A- A A+ Shafaq News / Member of the Parliament of Towards Reforms Alliance , Salam al-Shammari confirmed on Saturday that the Prime Minister-designate Muhammad Tawfiq Allawi has almost completed the nomination of the ministers of the new government. Al-Shammari said in a statement received by Shafaq News that the new cabinet will be independent technocrats without any former minister, in desire for the demands of peaceful demonstrators and the order of the religious Marjiyaa. Al-Shammari added that most political blocs are with this trend, and the new government will vote and grant its confidence within the constitutional period. He stressed the necessity of the parliament's attendance at the session to grant confidence to the new government and its ministerial program, which is in line with popular demands.
  9. Below are the central controls related to the exchange rate of the foreign currency to convert the project inputs and outputs from foreign currency to its equivalent in the local currency, and that is by calculating the net discounted present value standard and the internal return on investments in economic analysis that governs investment projects that costs excess one million dinars. Estimate the shadow price of foreign currency: 1. It is necessary to put central controls to amend the official exchange rate * to reflect the shadow price of the foreign currency, and that is considered one of the necessary requirements to implement the net discounted present value standard and the internal return rate on investment in the economic calculation stated in the instructions, paragraph nine. The central controls for adjusting market prices distinguished a gro group of outputs and inputs traded internationally, where the projects production or usage of them is reflected on the abundance of foreign currency in the economy and thus project outputs or inputs used of such are considered purely foreign currency output y in the economy and thus project outputs or inputs used of such are considered purely foreign currency outputs or inputs. * What is meant by exchange rate: the number of units of foreign currency, expressed in dollar per one dinar. In particular the following outputs and inputs of foreign currency were distinguished: • Export-outputs. • Outputs marketed locally that substitute imports. • Imported inputs. • Inputs produced locally that usually go to exports. • Foreign labor. According to the pricing rules the value of the output and input (traded) is calculated using export prices (FOB) and import prices (CIF), according to what is listed in the pricing rules. In other words the pricing rules calculate what the project produces from foreign currency (quantity of exports multiplied by the export price (FOB) in foreign currency or the quantity of substitute imports multiplied by the import price (CIF) in foreign currency, as well as what the project uses from foreign currency and imported inputs multiplied by the import price (CIF) in foreign currency .... etc.). In a later step, project outputs and inputs must be converted from the foreign currency to its equivalent in local currency (dinars) by using a specific exchange rate for the foreign currency. 2. Justifications for exchange-rate adjustment: there are a number of important and powerful arguments which support the view that the official exchange rate reduces the real value of foreign currency for purposes of calculating the economic national profitability for investment projects and hence for the purposes of investment planning. It is demonstrated in this context to call for assessing the dinar for less than (3.208) dollar (official exchange rate) when assessing project outputs and inputs of traded goods of exports, substitute imports and imports... etc. The justifications to call for the use of an exchange rate that is lower than the official exchange rate are: • The use of an exchange rate that is lower than the official rate is the appropriate action at the investment planning level to translate the country’s economic strategy aiming at stimulating central investments in the sectors that encourage the development of non-oil exports, as well as sectors that encourage the expansion of domestic production base in order to reduce imports and compensate it with local commodities. This helps to reduce reliance on foreign exchange earnings from crude oil exports and increases the share of non-oil sectors in the local production. • The application of the amended exchange rate on project imported inputs will assist in directing investments away from aggregated sectors dependent on imported inputs and the preference of those sectors that rely on locally produced inputs. • The use of the amended exchange rate helps to correct the balance in favor of the traded goods sectors compared to non-traded goods. • The real exchange rate has declined rapidly since the early seventies, through rapid rise of the level of prices and local costs which led by the steadiness of the official exchange rate to change in prices and actual local rate costs that gave an advantage for imported goods at the expense of locally produced goods, meaning that it led to deterioration of the competitiveness of alternative replacement goods and export commodities. • This action shows that the official exchange rate overestimates the value of the dinar, compared to the (2 of 3) [3/31/2010 12:57:23 PM] Ministry of Planning foreign currency and from the promoting goods substituting imports and export commodities point of view of. And in support to this view is the state’s utilization and in a broad approach to the customs and quantitative protection policies especially for consumer goods, as well as export subsidies that exports have through an amended export exchange rate. 3. Estimate the amended exchange rate of the Iraqi dinar to be used in technical and economical feasibility studies and for (1.134) dollar per dinar. This price should be approved for 3 years until reappreciation by the competent authorities.
  10. KRG Delegation to Visit Baghdad Next Week Basnews English 04/08/2019 - 13:39 Published in Kurdistan ERBIL — A delegation from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is set to visit Baghdad for concrete talks with the federal government of Iraq, said KRG representative in Baghdad. Faris Isa told BasNews on Sunday that the delegation is expected to arrive in Baghdad “in the next two days”. He explained that the delegation consists of technical committees who are responsible to discuss the solutions to address the Erbil-Baghdad disputes pertaining to the contested territories, as well as gas and oil issues. Isa noted that the new cabinet of the KRG under the leadership of Prime Minister Masrour Barzani is keen to explore the possibilities with Baghdad to find solutions to the prolonged disputes between the regional and the federal governments. “Delaying a solution to the disputes serves no interests of Erbil and Baghdad. The situation has changed now,” the KRG envoy added.
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