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Young Arabs are increasingly turning their backs on cushy public sector jobs in favour of working for private companies and starting their own businesses, a survey in 16 countries has found.

There has also been an erosion in optimism that the “Arab spring” uprisings in recent years against authoritarian governments across the region will translate into better lives for ordinary people, the survey found. Continue reading »

There are frontier investment markets, and then there is Iraq. Bombings and fighting killed at least 42 people on Thursday alone, in nine or more separate explosions from Baghdad to Fallujah; yet so commonplace is the violence that the news merited few headlines. After all, at least 24 had died in explosions the previous day.

Yet despite the violence and uncertainty, fund managers and bankers are venturing in to the country, attracted by oil wealth and a surprisingly upbeat outlook for national GDP growth. Continue reading »

Iraq’s semi autonomous region of Kurdistan has given its clearest signals yet that it is preparing to realise the export of oil and gas by pipeline via Turkey, independent of the Iraqi central government in Baghdad.

Ashti Hawrami (pictured), the Regional Government’s minister of natural resources, said that the central government will have to accept that the Kurdistan Regional Government can export oil and gas without interference from Baghdad. Continue reading »

By Mark DeWeaver and Ali Albazzaz (l)

The steadily worsening security situation in Iraq has led many to wonder whether the country is once again descending into anarchy. A recent New York Times article, for example, spoke of “new fears that Iraq is returning to the bloody sectarian violence that nearly tore the country apart in 2006 and 2007”.

Going by the news feed, casual and informed observers alike might well conclude this to be a plausible outcome. Yet home-grown Iraq Stock Exchange (ISX) investors – some of the most knowledgeable insiders around – don’t seem to think so. Continue reading »

By Majid Jafar of Crescent Petroleum

Hampered by broken promises, unfulfilled potential and worsening governance, 10 years on from the US-led invasion, Iraq has failed to live up to its promise.

The country’s vast oil resources – over 140 billion barrels proven – were once seen as a guarantor of a smooth political transition. Yet production and exports are little more than a decade ago, and less than half where they had been expected to be by this stage.

Far from being a source of unity, oil has become a central point of dispute between Iraq’s quarrelling leaders, with oil revenues also fuelling corruption and mismanagement on a scale unimaginable in the heady days when Saddam’s regime fell. Continue reading »

By Ali Albazzaz and Mark DeWeaver

Among the small but growing band of investors in the Iraq Stock Exchange (ISX), the question most asked is whether 2013 will mark the start of a new bull market.

Two recent developments may help drive significant foreign capital inflows. The first is the much publicised and surprisingly successful IPO of Asiacell Communications, Iraq’s largest mobile phone company, which listed on February 3. The second is the awarding of Iraq’s first custody license, a breakthrough that few were predicting even a couple months ago and few are aware of even now. Continue reading »

Iraqi telecoms firm Asiacell’s $1.3bn initial public offering is the Middle East’s largest in four years.

There are also hopes the issue will mark a turning point in the history of post-Saddam Iraq, with the authorities seeking to broaden public share ownership throughout the country. But the buzz around the landmark event has not travelled far. Continue reading »

Opening the only five-star hotel in Iraq two years ago was a bold move by any standards. Throw in marketing cigarette makers in Lebanon and distributing Shell Lubricants in Iraq, and Malia Group looks like a controversial risk-taker. Continue reading »

The World Energy Outlook 2012 was published by the IEA on Monday, and rightly, the forecast that the US will become the world’s biggest oil producer by 2017 has grabbed headlines.

But tucked inside the 668 pages there are some interesting insights for emerging markets too. Beyondbrics brings you a few highlights. Continue reading »

On top of all its other challenges, Iraq has problems with its banks. While it’s understandable that banking reform may not have had top priority for a government struggling to control violence and settle the future of its oil fields, bankers say it’s high time to act. As Camilla Hall reports, banking reform could attract new finance, boost economic growth and create jobs. Continue reading »

“Don’t forget, revolutions are expensive”, says Dimitris Tsitsiragos. He should know: his responsibilities as a vice president at the International Finance Corporation include north Africa and the Middle East, not least the countries hit by the Arab Spring.

The IFC, the World Bank’s private sector arm, has, in the last five years, boosted its annual commitments to the region by nearly 50 per cent to over $2bn. But, Tsitsiragos says it’s not enough: without more private sector involvement, the region cannot generate the investments required to produce faster economic growth and more jobsContinue reading »

By David Edgerly

Overlooked in the rubble of Greek public finances is the performance of those Greek companies that have managed to survive and even grow throughout the drama of the country’s struggle to meet the demands of its creditors and remain in the eurozone.

The key to success for most of these companies is the ability to find export markets. And few of them have gone quite as far as the dairy products company Kri Kri to find new outlets. Long active in Germany and neighbouring Bulgaria, the company’s decision to invest in Iraq a few years ago is beginning to pay real dividends. Continue reading »

Six months of intense pressure from Washington to persuade Turkey to reduce its oil imports from Iran have apparently paid off.

Figures released on Tuesday by Turkey’s state statistics office TUIK indicate that of the 1.87m tonnes of crude Turkey imported in June only 684,000 tonnes – 37 per cent came from Iran. This is a significant drop on last year when Turkey sourced 51 per cent of its crude from Iran, and on March this year when imports from Iran peaked at 68 per cent of total imports. Continue reading »

Ordinarily, news of six road tankers carrying tiny quantities of unrefined crude oil 700km to a coastal port would not warrant much comment.

But the fact that six Turkish tankers have carried crude from the Kurdish-controlled region of northern Iraq to the Turkish port of Iskenderun is a different matter. Continue reading »

By David Edgerly

There are developed markets, there are emerging markets, there are frontier markets. And then there’s Iraq – very, very far under most investors’ radars. Long associated with despotism, wars and, more recently, factional violence it is easy to overlook the fact that Iraq is actually a wealthy country with enviable recent economic growth and decent macro-economic balances. Continue reading »