Wyndham Hotel Group brings first branded hotels to Najaf in dual signing

Wyndham Hotel Group today announced plans for two new hotels in the Iraqi holy city of Najaf, in a deal announced with Bukhamseen Group For Real Estate, Tourism, General Trading & Contracting Company. Located just 800m from the Imam Ali Holy Shrine, the third holiest site for the estimated 200 million followers of the Shia branch of Islam, the co-located Ramada Plaza Najaf and Ramada Hotel & Suites Najaf will cater to the needs of the booming religious tourism industry in the city. The new four-star hotels will join the existing Ramada Sulaymaniyah to become the second and third Wyndham Hotel Group properties in Iraq.

Millions of pilgrims visit the Imam Ali Holy Shrine each year, with numbers expected to surge further when the expansion of the nearby Al Najaf International Airport is complete. Dan Ruff, Wyndham Hotel Group’s president and managing director for EMEA, added: “Najaf is a thriving holy city, with thousands of Shia Muslims from Iran and other areas of the region making the pilgrimage to the Imam Ali every week. This growing number of visitors seeks the quality accommodation which we offer under the umbrella of our Ramada brand, as well as the convenience of being located just 800m down the road from the sacred site. The significant number of jobs these openings will create for local people will help to boost the city’s growing tourism industry even further.”

Located on Kahrabba Street, the Ramada Plaza Najaf will boast 225 rooms including 20 suites to suit differing needs and budgets of visitors. Multiple meeting rooms including an 800sqm banquet room can accommodate business or special occasion functions. Guests can enjoy the luxury of leisure facilities, including both indoor and outdoor pools, a fitness room and spa, before relaxing and dining in a choice of two restaurants or an additional lounge.

Connected to the Ramada Plaza, the Ramada Hotel & Suites Najaf offers flexible accommodation in the form of 149 studios and 91 high-end one-bed apartments, providing an ideal space for families and groups. Guests can make use of the leisure facilities at the Ramada Plaza next door, as well as additional meeting space, restaurant and lounge. Both properties are expected to open their doors by mid-2018, creating an impressive 465 jobs for local workers and helping to boost the growing local economy.

Developer Emad Bukhamseen added, “The signing of this deal with Wyndham Hotel Group will allow us to fill a real gap in the market in Najaf. The global reputation the Ramada brand enjoys is one of quality and reassurance for the traveller, so it’s a solid addition to our portfolio.” Emad Bukhamseen also added that, “Environmentally-friendly building materials were used to suit the local conditions, solar power technology will be used whenever appropriate and most of the hot water for the property shall be generated by a solar system. This multi-use complex also hosts a commercial centre with a rentable area of 14,000 sq.m. to enhance the experience of the hotel guests as well as the local business community.”


Launching large – scale military operation to free Fallujah

The security forces and the popular mobility launched a massive offensive in eastern Fallujah.

The popular mobility media in a statement “the security forces and the popular mobility launched a massive offensive on eastern Fallujah.” The anti-terrorist forces had reached the eastern outskirts of Fallujah in conjunction with the intensification of fighting in the area north.”

Iraqi Media Network

Shortage of power lines, not electricity, to blame for Kurdistan’s blackouts

The daily power blackouts in the Kurdistan Region are not because the enclave is not producing enough electricity: it’s a problem of distribution.

“We are generating 5,000 megawatts of power but we don’t have the good infrastructure,” Hogir Shali, deputy minister for electricity in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), said Wednesday.

“We can distribute only 3,500 megawatts of the power we generate,” he said at a panel of an Economic Forum of Erbil’s Middle East Research Institute (MERI).

“Power generation is one issue and distribution is another,” he said.

Shali explained that investments had been made in the power sector in the boom years of the Kurdistan Region, which came to an abrupt halt in 2014, when Baghdad stopped making regular payments from the national budget and the Kurds were pulled into an ongoing war with the Islamic State (ISIS).

“By 2017 we will be producing 7,000 mw, but we will still be unable to deliver this to the public,” he said, adding that the government must try to pave the way for private companies to sell the power to the public.

Shali said that other problems that exist include an efficient system to collect bills and stop theft of electricity.

“The system of collecting electricity bills is very inefficient, because many people don’t pay their bills. We receive a very limited amount for bills from the public,” he said. “Only 10 percent of the bills are paid. Ninety percent of the expense is borne by the government.”

According to Shali, there was no good law to stop the theft of electricity, only small fines for offenders, which were not enough to put a stop to the illegal practice.

“We cannot say the KRG has been mismanaging electricity,” the deputy minister said, explaining that the ministry was also a victim of Kurdistan’s severe financial crisis.

Shali said that there was a draft law in the works to privatize the electricity sector.

In Kurdistan, as in the rest of Iraq, households are hooked up to privately-owned power generators in every neighborhood, which kick in for subscribers every time state power shuts down.

Iraq Daily Journal

No comment on trips to Erbil will depend on the start of the bombing of Mosul

Iraqi Airways confirmed on Thursday not to suspend its flights to Erbil, pointing out that “trips will stop with the start of shelling of the city of Mosul.”

The general director of Iraqi Airways, Osama al- Sadr told all of Iraq [where] that “the company continues its flights to Erbil, that any decision concerning this matter will be in coordination with the Joint Special Operations Command.”

Among that “the company would seek 48 hours before informing passengers in the event of the postponement of their trips or change course, depending on periods determined by the joint Special operations command.”

News circulated about turning off air traffic between Baghdad and Erbil, for security reasons.


The transmission of 76 officers to military courts on the fall of Mosul

Chief prosecutor Mohammed al – Janabi announced the referral of 76 officers to military courts on the fall of the city of Mosul to Daash terrorist gangs in June 2014.

Judiciary media, al – Janabi as saying that “the General Command of the Armed Forces formed investigative councils end of the year 2014, investigated 76 officers in the field starting from the rank of lieutenant and down to small rank referred to military courts.”

Between, that “also the formation of investigative councils to 800 ISF members, some senior colonels down to lieutenants”.


Iraq building world’s largest cooking oil plant


Iraq is constructing the world’s largest cooking oil plant with a production capacity of nearly 3,200 tonnes a day, an Iraqi newspaper reported on Wednesday.

The project in the Central Babil governorate for the production of palm, soya, sunflower and corn oil will be completed in November 2016, the Arabic language daily Al-Mada said, quoting Haidar Al-Nomani, manager of the Babil-based Etihad Food Industries Co, a private venture which owns the plant.

“This is the largest cooking oil plant in the world….the second largest plant is in the Netherland, with an output capacity of 2,000 tonnes a day…this project will be officially inaugurated in March 2017,” he said.

The project is located Southwest of the governorate’s capital Hillah and that nearly 45% of construction and engineering work has been completed, he added.

Al-Mada did not mention the project’s costs but said the Company, which was created in 2010, owns a 250-million-dollar sugar plant launched in November 2015 with a capacity of 1.1 million tonnes a year. It said the company laid the foundation stone for the cooking oil project on the same day when the sugar mill was opened.

Iraq Daily Journal

Southern oil exports running at record high

Oil exports from southern Iraq have reportedly reached a record consistent rate of 3.43 million barrels per day so far in April.

If sustained for the full month, Reuters reports that this would exceed the record of 3.37 million bpd reached in November.

The increase partly reflects an easing of delays in the loading of Basra Heavy crude.

Northern shipments of crude from the Kurdistan region have risen to 420,000 bpd so far in April, up from 327,000 bpd in March.

Iraq Daily Journal

Iraq offers reward for reporting missing Kuwaitis

Iraqi government has allocated financial reward for reporting missing Kuwaitis after the invasion by the former regime of Kuwait in 1990.

Called on the ministries of defense and foreign affairs in a joint statement that “all of those citizens with information about supposed graves of missing Iraqis and Kuwaitis in Iraqi territory or Kuwait to give it.”

The statement pointed to “the identity of informants will remain under wraps, will be handsomely rewarded for correct information.”

The Ministry of Defence, allocated phone numbers and email address to send information on missing Kuwaitis.


Abadi pledged the rest of the cabinet reshuffle during the next two days

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi pledged the rest of the cabinet reshuffle during the next two days, noting that al-Abadi confirmed his intention to choose the heads of independent bodies of technocrats after the completion of the reshuffle.

The information office of the Council in a statement received by Alsumaria News, a copy of which, “The Prime Minister thanked the ladies and gentlemen of Representatives to vote on the cabinet reshuffle as part of a comprehensive reform, pledged the rest of the cabinet reshuffle during the next two days,” indicating that al-Abadi, “confirmed his intention the selection of heads of independent bodies of technocrats after the completion of the reshuffle.”

Added that “al-Abadi stressed that the reshuffle is an important step for the country’s stability and cooperation to carry out reforms for the benefit of the Iraqi people and to communicate with the world and international financial institutions”, pointing out that it “expressed concern over the attempts to disrupt the House of Representatives.”