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Iraq's Economy Wakes Up


Investment and products from abroad begin flowing—along with oil

By Stanley Reed and Nayla Razzouk


1018covdx.jpg April 26, 2010



Boosting private investment won't be easy. Officials were "raised in a statist environment"





Yet Dar Es Salaam (known as DES) is thriving as Iraq begins to show signs of life. Profits have grown from about $600,000 in 2004 to more than $16 million. HSBC (HBC), the giant international bank that bought 70% of DES in 2005, feels so confident that it may put its own brand on the banks. "We think the timing is right," says James Hogan, HSBC's country manager. "Iraqis are starting to reconnect to the outside world."


Seven years after the ouster of Saddam Hussein, Iraq has changed. Yes, convoys of SUVs packed with heavily armed security men still roar down Baghdad's busy streets. Armed gangs still prey on truckers. Iraq's political class struggles to form a new government. The few expat managers in the country live like prisoners: Every night, HSBC's Hogan holes up in a walled compound run by a security company.


Ordinary Iraqis, however, are living more normally than they have in years. Shops on Saadoun and Karrada Streets are filled with flat-screen TVs, computers, and clothing from China, Turkey, Iran, and Korea. Pedestrians have to step around the Turkish and Iranian refrigerators and stoves piled outside. At night many Baghdadis relax watching one of the privately owned television channels that have sprung up, or checking the latest Iraqi Web sites.

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