Most areas ‘safe for tourists and investors’


Iraqi officials are encouraging people to visit the country – saying potential travellers should not believe everything they see on the news.

The embassy claims most of the country is actually safe, but investors and tourists are being put off going because of what is happening in just three per cent of the country.

“As from now, what we need – what we really want from Bahrain’s government and individuals as well – is to look at Iraq in a different way,” Iraqi Embassy minister plenipotentiary Ahmed Agha told the GDN.

“To look at Iraq in the way they look at other countries.

“We tried so many times to arrange visits for Bahrainis to go and visit certain safe areas in Iraq.

“We are not asking them to go to Baquba. When people hear on the news there is a problem in Iraq they think it is a problem everywhere.

“In the past two years we had problems in 17 per cent of the country. Today, the problems areas have been reduced to 3pc.

“There are 19 provinces free of trouble to visit and do business.

“We need more understanding, rather than people believing what they are reading about Iraq in a newspaper or watching on TV.

“The more visits we have, the more understanding we will build.”

He warned businesses that delay their entry into the Iraqi market could find they have missed their opportunity.

Mr Agha claimed to have seen the improvements in security for himself when he dined at restaurants in Baghdad on a recent trip home.

“I know the present situation is a temporary phase Iraq is going through – in 2008 it will be difficult for companies to go into Iraq because of increased competition,” he said.

“Personally, in 2003 and 2004, I used to beg companies to go to Iraq and meet ministers and higher officials.

“Today, a company has to queue up for three weeks to be seen by the investment board because of an increasing number of companies that are planning to set up business there.”