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Thread: Erbil exchange market takes in millions

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2004

    Default Erbil exchange market takes in millions

    Erbil exchange market takes in millions

    28 September 2010

    The heart of Sheikh Allah market serves as a currency exchange center

    Despite dozens of new private banks, the exchange market is still a destination for money transfer and currency exchange.

    Hello. Yes, How much? Nine-hundred and ninety-one thousand dollars Ok, call our Dubai office after five minutes and get the amount, Siamand Mawlood said to a client on the phone. Ok, I am busy. I have a guest. I'll talk to you later.

    Mawlood, the owner of Siamand Currency Exchange and Money Transfer Company, based in the Erbil exchange market, is one of the busiest people in the market. He has one of the few money transfer and currency exchange companies in the market. This is in addition to being the chair of Erbil exchange committee that announces official dollar exchange rates.

    His small office with a normal capacity of four customers is rarely seen with less than 10 people inside for different reasons. Some are currency traders of the market following market fluctuations; some are sending or receiving money to and from all around the world; and some are trying to sell and buy currency.

    Erbil's exchange market, located at the heart of Sheikh Allah market, one of the most crowded spots in downtown Erbil, is the center for currency exchange for the majority of the city's residents and businesses. Besides exchange, the market serves as a money transfer medium that is widely used by the public.

    The reason behind the high demand on that market in the past was lack of banks that provide these financial services to customers. But dozens of private banks and bank branches have been established in the city. Nevertheless, it is well noted that this has not changed the situation much or lessened the demand for the market.

    We have a long history and long-term relations with our customers. They trust in us and they still use our services, said Mawlood in an interview. The relation is not the only reason people choose us, but also because our transfers are very fast and efficient, and we charge less commission. However, still there are people and especially companies who trust banks more than our companies and use them for their financial needs.

    Traders in the market exchange almost all kinds of major currencies such as U.S. dollars, Euros, British pounds, Turkish liras, Syrian pounds, and Jordanian dinars. Money is sent to almost every spot in the world and received from all around the world.

    We get the U.S. dollar exchange rate from the Central Bank of Iraq [CBI] and the other exchange rates from the world markets, said Mawlood. Other offices and traders in the market get the rates from us. But since it is a free market, it is up to them how much commission they add to the rate when trading their money. But in general, the rates are almost the same all around the market and the city.

    Regarding the money transfer services, Mawlood said they do this via private banks. The amounts go through the Kurdistan Regional Bank [Harem Bank] and the CBI, which takes a long time. But we have our offices in many foreign countries that have large scale trade with Kurdistan such as China, Dubai, Amman, Turkey, Iran, and even some European and American countries. As soon as we get the transfer amounts from the customers here in Erbil, we call our office in the corresponding city to pay the amount to the receiver immediately. Then we reimburse them via a wire transfer.

    But the owner of another money transfer company in the market told the Globe, on the condition of anonymity, that though they have a license from Harem Bank and the Ministry of Interior, what they do has to be done through banks and they do it without the proper, legal rights to do so. I have bank account under my personal name and I use it for all the transfers. But since our business is in the benefit of everybody, including the government since all the transfers, amounting to millions of dollars per day go through the central bank and are charged a commission there, no one forces us to stop this business.

    The traders working at the exchange market seem to be happy with what they are doing and have little complaint about the government, and business seems to go well and quite smoothly there. This is the best location one can ever think of for such a business in Erbil. It is at the heart of the business center in Erbil, Mawlood explained. All business people such as goldsmiths, food, cosmetics, and many other wholesalers and traders who deal with countries all around the world such as China, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Iran, Syria, and so on are within walking distance and easy access to our market. All these people are in daily need of our services.

    Mohammed Hassan, 30, from Erbil, has been exchanging currency in the market since 1996. He said he has no complaint about the market and loves his business. I have been working here for the past 14 years and have been earning my family's living out of this small box [referring to his small box containing different kinds of currencies], Hassan told the Globe as he texted. The place is very strategic and secure. I haven't witnessed serious accidents or problems recently. Everything goes in an ordinary way.

    We are doing our business, and the government is helping us by securing the place. Though the place is secure, still there are always security and police officers wearing unofficial clothes walking around to monitor the situation.

    Mawlood said that they know all the security and police officers, but normal customers and passersby aren't always familiar. Though we almost never witness any unusual or extraordinary situations, in case we do, we can tell them [security] and they will act immediately.

    By Aiyob Mawloodi © The Kurdish Globe 2010
    "we aspire in the near future to the return of Iraqi dinar to what it was in the seventies and the beginning eighties against the dollar" - Dr. Shabibi

    I just did my job...You either get them out alive or you die trying. If you don’t die trying, you didn’t try hard enough." - Marine Sergeant Dakota Meyer, Medal of Honor recipient

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2007


    Erbil Shows Baghdad Path Out of Political Impasse

    The opinions expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

    The inability of Iraqi political elites to form a government more than six months after the March elections is hardly surprising given the fragmented poll results and deep divisions separating top leaders. All major parties and their representatives seem determined to hold onto power as a matter of political, economic and perhaps even physical survival.

    The stalemate is aggravating the security and economic situation and threatens to drive the war-ravaged country further into political instability and massive unrest. An uptick in violence since March could signal renewed sectarian divides and a new impetus for the insurgency.

    But things don’t have to escalate to that level and Baghdad need only look in its own backyard for models of a better arrangement.

    Erbil, the capital of the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan, has transformed itself into a haven of safety, functionality and prosperity by regional standards. The Kurdistan Regional Government, while not free of infighting and political maneuvering, is by far a more efficient administrator of local resources and services compared to the overall situation elsewhere in Iraq.

    Instead of opposing further Kurdish autonomy and self-reliance, Baghdad could learn from the region and emulate some of its successes. Incorporating functional elements that work in Erbil would not only help the entire country move forward but could also foster a bond and a sense of shared values between the regions that form the emerging federal democracy of Iraq.

    The two dominant political parties of Kurdistan, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) have between them monopolized most aspects of life in Kurdistan based on their historical and heroic fight against Saddam Hussein’s regime. When a new challenging opposition movement, Gorran, gained the second highest number of seats in the 2009 local elections, none of the players resorted to overt violence to overcome their opponents. Instead, they expressed their differences and fought at the polls.

    Another stark contrast between the thriving Kurdistan region and the rest of the country is its ability to provide basic services for the population. While Baghdad continues to be plagued by massive power shortages, Erbil enjoys a constant flow of electricity with only minor interruptions. In fact, Kurdistan consumers get an average of 20 hours of constant electricity per day and projections call for closing that gap by early next year when new power plants are due to come on line.

    This is in large part due to investment programs and incentives that attracted foreign operators to build generating facilities in the autonomous region, taking advantage of its vast oil and gas resources. Kurdistan estimates its oil reserves at about 45 billion barrels and its natural gas reserves at 20 trillion cubic meters.

    Erbil is also welcoming of investment from abroad. The German Chamber of Commerce chapter in Erbil promotes business ties and attracts major German companies to the region. Italian, French, Austrian, American, Russian Turkish and other Arab energy, construction, apparel, and manufacturing companies are also investing in the region at an accelerated pace. RWE, Rosneft and a slew of smaller but significant players clamor for a piece of the action in this most stable of all Iraqi regions. Turkey is emerging as the premier trading partner of Kurdistan with economic ties expected to push towards $10 billion by next year, a significant development given the uneasy historical relations between Ankara and Erbil.

    Cultural and travel ties are also increasing with Erbil stealing the lime light from Baghdad. France maintains a cultural center in Erbil and the German School reopened its first location in the country earlier this month after its previous Baghdad school was closed down in 1990. Austrian Airlines has a direct Vienna-Erbil link and Lufthansa resumed its Erbil route this spring, after a two-decade hiatus, while postponing indefinitely the resumption of Baghdad flights.

    The Erbil Stock Market is scheduled to start trading during the first quarter of 2011 with a startup capital of nearly $10 million. With an open attitude towards investment and a legislation to match it, the KRG is forging ahead with major oil and gas, commercial and residential construction projects worth several billion dollars.

    The new Baghdad central government, when one is formed again, would be well served to learn from Erbil.

    The opinions expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

    Posted in Blog0 Comments
    Committee Set Up to Resolve KRG/Baghdad Disputes
    Committee Set Up to Resolve KRG/Baghdad Disputes

    Posted on 08 September 2010. Tags: KRG, Kurdistan, oil exports, RWE

    The Iraqi government has formed a committee to discuss its numerous disputes with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), AKnews reports.

    Salam Yaseen, an economic adviser to the Iraqi government, told AKnews that the committee will discuss a range of issues with the Kurds including the oil and gas exports by the KRG that recently caused uproar in Baghdad.

    The Kurdish and Iraqi governments have had deep disagreements for years over the management and control of oil resources in the country’s northern Kurdistan Region.

    Recently disputes took another turn when the KRG announced the signing a new deal with the German utility company RWE to export gas to Europe.

    He said the committee will soon start its work to resolve the differences over KRG’s gas exports.

    Meanwhile, Iraq’s deputy oil minister told AKnews that so far oil and gas disputes between the KRG and Iraqi government have remained unresolved.

    Assem Jihad said improving the relations between the KRG and Iraqi government will help increase Iraq’s crude oil exports.

    The Iraqi government had already said some regional countries were trying to “complicate” the relations between the Kurdish government and Baghdad.

    The Iraqi government has frequently objected to the oil and gas contracts between the Kurdish regional government and foreign firms saying it is a violation of the Iraqi constitution. But, Kurds insist that their contracts are constitutionally valid.

    (Source: AKnews)

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