Huge construction opportunity in Iraq. But at what price?

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Dr Saleh Muhammed al-Mutlaq who believes the vast majority of Iraqi people want an end to division: “We have lived together for centuries before”.

Dr Saleh Muhammed al-Mutlaq who believes the vast majority of Iraqi people want an end to division: “We have lived together for centuries before”.

Companies which get involved in Iraq’s rebuilding now can expect to be in a strong position to win government contracts in the future, the country’s Deputy Prime Minister has told Construction Week.

Dr Saleh Muhammed al-Mutlaq was speaking after a two-day conference in Dubai on 22 & 23 May on Iraqi infrastructure and construction, held at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel.

He had a clear and honest message to contractors looking at his country in an exclusive interview: ”Things are not that fantastic in Iraq… they (contractors)  may find some risks, but they should compare it to the future opportunities – get there first and you will have better chances in the future.”

Dr Mutlaq, who is the deputy in charge of reconstruction and services, said: “Iraq needs over two million houses or flats for people and this is a project that can be of interest for people to come and work.”

He is aware that many big construction firms are looking at his country’s huge contracts that will be offered as it rebuilds and becomes a major oil producer, but he was realistic about the security risks.

“Iraq is going to build a huge number of roads, bridges,” he said. “There is a need for power generation, transmission and distribution, with a lot of money contributed here. And agriculture – Iraq of course is an agricultural place.

“Huge investment is also going to be done in land reclamation, water distribution, seed technology, other sorts of technologies for seedlings and harvesting.  Also the industrial projects for the agricultural projects.”

There is plenty of money available now and in the future he said. “We used to have a lack of money before.”

But now his country will be spending millions of dollars on its rebuilding programme and it “is going to be increased every year”.

“Oil production is going to be increased. Within three years we are going to reach six million barrels a day, which is a huge quantity and it can contribute a lot to the Iraqi economy.”

The doctor who has held the position of deputy prime minister since December 2010 is head of the Iraqi Front for Naional Dialogue, the fifth largest political list in Iraq’s parliament.

He believes his countrymen have had enough of war and infighting and want to reunite and the 65-year-old doctor, who obtained his PhD from Aberdeen in 1971, places huge faith in the coming elections. He believes will move his country forward and he talks confidently about a more “mature democracy” saying that the divisions between politicians did not reflect the views of ordinary Iraqi citizens.

He said: “If you ask the Iraqis, they will say they want a united country. We have lived together for centuries before. But politicians themselves, due to their isolation, suffered a negative attitude. Even if we are suffering and there is oppression, we want to live together and we will give some time until it is more mature. Politicians will realise they cannot run the country on their own.”

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