A special report by NNN-KUNA

KUWAIT, Feb 1 — The Al Nasriyah Al Kuwaitiah Company’s wining of a contract to build and operate the Diwaniya Airport and Aerotropolis in South Iraq comes within the framework of Kuwait’s role and efforts to help neighboring Iraq restore its economic, social and cultural renaissance, said the CEO of Al Nasiryah Sheikha Eman Nasser Sabah Al-Nasser Al-Sabah.

“The Airport and Aerotropolis, which Al Nasiryah Co. will build and operate, will become the engine that drives the socio-economic development of Southern and Central Iraq for several decades and assist with Iraq’s goal of sustainable economic development,” Sheikha Eman said in an interview with KUNA.

“It is also anticipated that the airport and aerotropolis will attract additional investments into Iraq and foster the further development of closer economic and political ties between Iraq, Kuwait and the rest of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states.”

Sheikha Eman also noted that the USD 1.35 billion-worth contract was signed with representatives of Iraq’s National Investment Commission and Diwaniya Governorate.

“Wining this big contract shows that the Kuwaiti private sector’s companies are capable of competing for and executing the biggest projects in the world,” she said.

Kuwaiti companies are fiercely competing major national and multinational companies on wining contracts of mega projects, she added.

The CEO of Al Nasiryah said the project comprises three phases: the first phase for building the Airport, the second for establishing a free trade zone and the third for building the aerotropolis.

“The first phase will take 26 month and the whole project will take five years to complete,” she told KUNA.

“The project is a milestone for the economic growth of the Diwaniya Governorate as it will create job opportunities in different domains and contribute to the Iraq rebuilding efforts to restore its pivotal role in the region,” she said.

She suggested that the experience of Kuwaiti companies, especially the Al Nasiryah Company, could be employed to contribute to the infrastructure projects in Iraq and help accelerate development process there.

Sheikha Eman said the airport will have an extremely positive socio-economic impact on the Diwaniya and create a large number of permanent jobs during its construction and operation.

“The whole area surrounding the project is expected to see an economic boom which will be reflected on the economic situation of families living there,” she clarified.

She reiterated that the wining this contract is a considered a historic development in Kuwaiti-relations with Iraq and an example of the speedy growth of the bilateral cooperation.

“Aside from the socio-economic importance of the airport for southern and central Iraq, it is a remarkable milestone in the establishment of closer economic ties between Kuwait and Iraq,” she told KUNA.

She went on to say that “Given the significance of the Airport project, it had also received the prior approval of the Iraqi Premier Haider Al-Abadi as well as of the Iraqi cabinet.”

The ground breaking for the USD 420 million-first phase of the project will take place in the spring of 2015 and the airport is projected to be fully operational in early 2017, she unveiled.

She elaborated that Al Nasriyah, in its capacity as the airport sponsor and developer, will lead an international consortium of airport consultants, engineers and EPC contractors to design, build and operate it for 45 years.

The extraordinary investment and project are a culmination of nearly one year of meetings and negotiations that first began when Diwaniya Governor Dr. Ammar Al-Madani and Al Nasriyah signed a Memorandum of Understanding in April of 2014, when it was also approved by the Ministry of Transportation, she said.

Sheikha Eman pointed out that the airport will be the largest cargo air facility in Iraq and will provide full service air freight and passenger operations for southern and central Iraq.
The airport will occupy 7,000 donums (17.5 million sq. m. or 1,750 hectares) of land adjacent to Highway 1 outside of Diwaniya, she said, noting that “once the airport is fully operational, it will become the foundation upon which Al Nasriyah is going to develop an entire aerotropolis”.

She added that this full service aerotropolis will include hotels and an entertainment district, exposition center, public plaza, shopping center, hospital, medical center, sports complex, industrial parks, university campus, research and technology park, just-in-time manufacturing facilities, and mixed use commercial and residential housing.

The aerotropolis will occupy an additional 7,000 donums (17.5 million sq. m. or 1,750 hectares) of land that will be leased to Al Nasriyah once that phase of the project is ready to be commenced.

The airport and aerotropolis will result in a total investment of USD 1.35 billion once all three phases of the project are completed, she said.

Al Nasriyah Al Kuwaitiah Company signed late January the 45 year-land lease license for the Airport in Diwaniya in a ceremony attended by a large number of Iraqi and Kuwaiti officials.