erbil’s big challenge: tourists vs. locals in fight for facilities

This year the northern Iraqi Kurdish city of Erbil must live up to its hard won title, Capital of Arab Tourism 2014. But power cuts, an ailing sewage system and a lack of public restrooms has locals complaining that before authorities look after the visitors they hope to attract, they should take care of local business. by Hiwa Barznjy in Erbil more

‘sorry, we’re out of money’: banks in iraqi kurdistan out of cash

Locals in Iraqi Kurdistan have found themselves unable to withdraw cash from their banks, despite the fact that they have enough in their accounts. It’s a liquidity problem that recurs every year around this time. Some financial analysts suspect a plot and locals have started keeping their cash under the bed. by Sangar Jamal in Sulaymaniyah more

clash in the desert: karbala’s tomato farmers versus iraq’s biggest airport.

The authorities in the religious boom town of Karbala plan to build the country’s biggest airport on the city’s outskirts. But to do so, they will have to confiscate land from hundreds of farmers, who live a basic lifestyle but provide the city with its food. After protests and threats of eviction, the question remains: which is more important - vegetables or planes? by Abbas Sarhan in more

one man’s rubbish: basra’s poor fight for wealthy neighbours’ garbage

Gangs of poor people in Basra are making a living sifting through rubbish in the oil boomtown’s affluent neighbourhoods. Often they’ll make more in a day than social welfare pays them in a month. Which is why the rubbish business is rife with different gangs claiming turf and competing with official garbage trucks. by Saleem al-Wazzan in Basra more

turkish-kurdish oil pipeline: a blessing or a curse?

The November meeting between the Turkish and Iraqi Kurdish PMs seems to have ended in a tacit agreement to build a new oil pipeline between the two territories. But Baghdad disagrees. Local oil industry experts say that unless this deal – and others – becomes more transparent, Iraqi Kurdistan may become a victim of its own success. by Hiwa Barznjy in Erbil more

in iraqi kurdistan, workers pay for boom town with their lives

While many locals are celebrating the building boom in Iraqi Kurdistan, there are also casualties. The number of deaths on construction sites has doubled over the past year and workers say that they’re paying for the region’s boom with their lives. by Sangar Jamal in Sulaymaniyah more

religious clash: chinese flag makers driving iraq's artisans out of business

The production and embroidery of the red, black and green flags that are everywhere during religious festivals in Karbala is done by Iraqi artisans whose way with silk thread and fabric is often a family tradition. But making and selling the flags is big business. And now cheaper, Chinese imitations are threatening the livelihood of the traditionalists. by Ibrahim al-Jibouri in Karbala more

ninawa's bold move: toward an independent oil policy for iraq's sunni muslims?

Authorities in Sunni-dominated Ninawa have invited the oil industry to build a refinery. The Ministry of Oil in Baghdad says they have no right to extend such an invitation. But the Ninawa council says the government has ignored them for too long and that it must pursue an independent energy policy - with help from neighbouring Iraqi Kurdistan. by Abdullah Salem in Mosul more

legal loopholes in oil industry threaten iraqi kurdistan’s environment

The region of Iraqi Kurdistan is brimming with untapped oil resources. And multi-national oil companies know it. But because of the grey legal area in which oil contracts are being signed, none of the oil companies seem to be under any real obligation to abide by environmental regulations. And some of them are exploiting this loophole. by Hiwa Barznjy in Erbil more

high price of sadness: in karbala, religious grief translates to big business

It is traditional for Shiite Muslims to wear mourning black around Ashura, a memorial day commemorating the death of one of their sect’s most important icons. But while some grieve and work on their piety, others in Karbala are doing big business trading in black clothing and black fabrics. And interestingly enough, so are Chinese manufacturers. by Abbas Sarhan in Karbala more
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