Gulf investors find Iraq an attractive market


Emirates Business 24/7

Emirates Business 24-7, 17 January 2010

There is a rising inclination among investors in the GCC to put money into Iraq and Gulf companies have started to test the prospects of investing in the war-torn country that is now rebuilding itself, according to officials at YouGov, a UK based market research firm.

The UAE leads the investors from the region into the resource-rich country and according YouGov officials, investments from the country fall into a wide spectrum of sectors such as telecommunications, constructions as well as oil and gas. Besides, FMCG companies from the region, particularly those from Saudi Arabia are finding Iraq an attractive market for their products, YouGov officials said.

"There is a strong interest among GCC investors to invest into Iraq and they have been investing into diverse sectors. The Iraqi government has been promoting foreign investment through its policies," said the YouGov CEO Nadim Zahawi.

There are about three to four developers from the UAE working in Iraq, said Zahawi. "One of them is Damac that is working in the Kurdish part of Iraq."

Though Iraq's massive oil reserves have steadily attracted companies from the world over for the last few years, UAE-based Dana Gas and its sister concern Crescent Petroleum have had the strongest presence in Iraq in the same period, said Zahawi. "It goes unargued that Iraq is rich in resources. It produces 2.5 million barrels a day today. In the next three years, Iraq could reach the production of 12.5 million barrels a day," he said.

"Oil revenues constitute 90 per cent of the revenues of Iraq. The recent movements in the private sector indicates that there is a determination to explore more reserves and produce more oil," said Zahawi.

Recently, Iraq awarded several contracts in auction of oil fields, including the rights to extract crude from the massive Majnoon and West Qurna-2 reservoirs. Oil companies that are currently working in Iraq include the Anglo-Dutch giant Shell, Angola's Sonangol and China's CNPC. Iraq has signed deals with three large companies so far. And then, there are at least four smaller companies operating in the country.

In telecommunications, UAE's etisalat is looking seriously at the markets in Iraq, said Zahawi. "There has not been a final deal in place but they are very serious towards Iraq." Zahawi's comments come close on the heels of statements from Iraq's Minister of State for National Security Sharwan al Waeli who recently said in Abu Dhabi that the UAE is set to become a large investor in the country.

By Shashank Shekhar