Living Standard in Iraq showing positive growth, said British diplomat

Posted by on Jan 07, 2014 | Leave a Comment

Standard of living of the common Iraqis is getting better day by day, as the country is making a swift economic progress. This has been stated by a British diplomat recently.

Mark Bryson-Richardson, British Charge d’Affaires in Iraq, stated that though there are several challenges within the country, Iraq has managed to make some progress at a drastic level. The country is preparing for its fourth national elections, which would be the game changer for the country in forth-coming years.

British and the US troops invaded Iraq in 2003 but as 2004 dawned, the country was a bloody scene of violence and remained that way for several years. UK combat operations did not officially finish until 2009, followed by the US the following year, many years after the invasion.

However, he pointed out that fact that security is a major problem within the country and probably the main barrier towards country’s development. Though, he remarked that things in Iraq are now better than ever.

In November the opening of a branch of Standard Chartered in Baghdad – the first British bank to open a branch in Iraq – was hailed as a milestone in the country’s “recovery”. At the opening ceremony of Standard Chartered, Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki said that it is a definite sign of international trust amongst the foreign investors towards Iraq.

Mr. Bryson-Richardson has insisted that improvements are continuing.

He told the Press Association: “Iraq has experienced momentous change over the past 10 years.

“It is about to head into its fourth national elections and has also successfully held provincial elections: a significant step forward for a country so recently embroiled in dictatorship and conflict.

“Iraq has moved out of Chapter VII of the UN Charter and has one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, with a growth rate of 8.4%.

“It is about to head into its fourth national elections and has also successfully held provincial elections: a significant step forward for a country so recently embroiled in dictatorship and conflict.

“Iraq has moved out of Chapter VII of the UN Charter and has one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, with a growth rate of 8.4%.

“On a day-to-day basis, Iraqis are seeing a more open media, have access to more goods and services, and are engaging in a public debate about the future of their country.

“But, as reflected in the government of Iraq’s own priorities, significant challenges still remain, notably the security situation; the establishment of an inclusive political system that brings together all the different communities in Iraq; and translating Iraq’s growth and oil wealth into improved public services and standards of living.”

Nowhere is the change to Iraqis’ everyday lives more obvious than the Mansour Mall: a new shopping centre in Baghdad. Home to a cinema, restaurants, children’s area and shops, including British staple Clarks, the centre which opened in 2013 could be in any western country.

Managing director Ammar al-Khafaji said, “In 1966 the first mall in the Middle East was in Iraq. After that when Sadddam Hussein came, we are the last country in the world. This is a new thing here in Baghdad.

“In our mall we have everything. We have restaurants, we have shops, we have a kids area, we have a cinema. We have entertainment, games.”

There are around 25,000 visitors a day, swelling to around 40,000 in holidays or the weekend, all attracted not only by the shops but by the safety the centre provides, he said. A security scanner greets people as they walk in, while security staff men the roofs of buildings across the streets and CCTV cameras cover every centimeter of the mall.

With Western brands like Clarks and Marks & Spencer in the mall, Mr. al-Khafaji claims that it symbolizes a “new life” for people in Iraq. He also said that this is a completely rejuvenated Iraq.

“The malls will build a new culture, a new era for the people.

“I tried to get Starbucks, and we already signed with KFC. They are coming here. This is just the start.”
Photography student Haider Muhamed, 22, who comes to the centre every day with his friends, said: “It’s nice. It’s safe. The street isn’t safe but it is safe here.”

In Clarks, worker Murtatha Alaa said people buy the British brand because it is a symbol of quality. He said, “They come because of the shoe. It’s well made and because it’s from the UK.”

“We have known the UK shoes. They were in Iraq and (the Iraqi people) have the expectation that everything made in the UK is the first-class thing.”

Mr Bryson-Richardson said Iraq continues to strengthen its ties with the international community, including the UK. “The UK is working to increase trade, investment, educational and cultural links,” he said.

“Thousands of students from across Iraq are studying in the UK. Standard Chartered – one of Britain’s leading financial institutions – recently opened a head office and first branch in Iraq.

“The largest-ever British trade mission visited Baghdad with more than 50 UK companies taking part; and we held the second Joint Ministerial Trade Council between Iraq and the UK.

“Security remains a challenge but, with appropriate precautions, businesses

 

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