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Egyptian Construction Giant Qualifies for $300 Million Basra Water Projects

Iraq, BAGHDAD

Egyptian construction firm Arab Contractors Company has qualified for the final stage of a $300 million USD desalination and drinking water pipeline network project in the southern Iraqi governorate of Basra, company officials said on May 6.

“The Arab Contractors is among five companies that qualified for the final phase of the tendering process. These companies are from Turkey and other Arab countries,” said Osama al Husseini, chairman of Arab Contractors’ board. He did not name the other firms.

“The winning bidder will be announced before the end of June,” he added.

Al Husseini said his company, which is Egypt’s largest, has set its sights on major infrastructure projects in Iraq in the next few years.

“The Iraqi government is expected to allocate $100 million USD for reconstruction projects in the coming few years,” he said.

The company is holding regular negotiations with Iraqi government officials and private companies to land infrastructure projects, according to Al Husseini.

These negotiations follow Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Qandil’s recent trip to Baghdad to explore new business opportunities for Egyptian companies.

The Iraqi Ministry of Municipalities recently revealed plans to initiate $750 million USD worth of water projects in Basra. The projects include building a desalination plant with a total capacity of 9,000 cubic meters per hour, which will mix water taken from Al Badaa Canal with saline water from Shatt al Arab. The water produced will be transported to residential areas in Basra.

Other works involve renovating and replacing water pipelines in the city.

The Iraqi government will cover 42 percent of the cost of the projects, with the rest coming from a soft loan from the Japanese government. The projects will take three years to complete.

Basra has been experiencing severe water shortages since 2007; the problem is especially bad during the summer. The situation is exacerbated by the decline in water flow from the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, and Iranian authorities’ decision to cut off water supplies from Al Karoun River.

The water in the area has become increasingly saline, which in turn has led to a decline in agricultural productivity.

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