Iraq makes another bid for UAE help in reconstruction
Attempts in past failed because of security fears
Iraq is once again turning to the UAE for help in rebuilding of the still war-shattered country. The single largest post-war delegation of Iraqi businessmen will be headed for Dubai in November, where they will present opportunities to exhibitors and visitors at the Big 5 Show.
The delegation, expected to number more than 500, is also scheduled to meet with officials of various government institutions in Dubai such as Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority and Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry. “We do not yet have a final confirmation on the numbers, but we are told that this would be the single largest team from Iraq to come to Dubai since the war ended in October 2003,” said Bernard Walsh, managing director of dmg world media Dubai Ltd, organisers of the Big 5 trade fair. The show will be held at the Dubai International Exhibition Centre from 20th to 24th November.
He told Construction Week that the delegation is planning to make a day and a half trip by boat from Basra and return the same way.
Since the war ended, several visits have been made to various countries in the Gulf, and to the UAE and Dubai in particular, to get contractors and suppliers to do business with Iraq. Contractors from the UAE have been put on the preferred list. In February, the governor of Basra led a large delegation to Dubai (Issue 13) and in March, following the Madrid Summit, international donors met in Abu Dhabi (Issue 15). Main contractors from the USA, holding some US $6.7 billion in Iraqi contracts, chose Dubai as one of the seven locations worldwide to look for subcontractors (Issue 20).
Iraqi efforts have not been successful due to lack of security, proper legislation, banking facilities and logistics issues. Construction Week reported that the cost of building a square metre in Baghdad is almost the same as that in New York and that providing security at construction sites gobbles up more than a quarter of the value of the contract (Issue 32).
Undaunted and still eager to find partners, Iraqis are making yet another bid to entice UAE businessmen. Rebuilding Iraq will require over $150 billion over the next few years, according to the World Bank, with construction and related services the single largest segment. The Dubai visit is organised by the Iraqi American Chamber of Commerce & Industry in Baghdad, in co-operation with Dubai Chamber, dmg world media Dubai Ltd., and Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority.
The Big 5 trade fair in Dubai will provide Iraqi visitors with an opportunity to network with around 1500 companies from 50 countries.
“The Big 5 is the major international construction event in the Middle East, and we are very pleased to welcome the business delegation from Iraq to this year’s event. I am sure our exhibitors are looking forward to meeting their Iraqi colleagues,” said Walsh. Around 30 000 key buyers and decision-makers from the public and private sectors are expected to attend this year’s Big 5 trade fair.
“We are keen for our members to attend the most important business event outside Iraq, and the Big 5 in Dubai offers a valuable opportunity for Iraqi businesses to meet potential suppliers and trading partners from all over the world,” said Raad Ommar, CEO of the Iraqi American Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “I am grateful for the cooperation of the Dubai Chamber and all other partners in putting this project together.”