Najaf's contested tourism bids

Iraqi merchants say Iranian companies control tourism to the south's holy cites.




    Iraq has moved to capitalise on religious tourism to some of its most revered sites in recent years.

    Hundreds of thousands of Shia Muslims, particularly from Iran, flock to the city of Najaf, which hosts the tomb of Ali bin Abi Talib, cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad.

    Although religious tourism brings millions of dollars of revenue every year, local merchants have complained that Iranian companies have monopolised the industry.
     
    They say the Iraqi government has awarded tourism contracts geared toward Iranian pilgrims and that the Iranian Hajj organisation was granted exclusive rights to put together package deals for hundreds of thousands of Iranian pilgrims visiting Shia holy sites.
     
    The exclusive deal for Iranians has kept food and board prices artificially low at a select number of contracted hotels and restaurants, they argue.
     
    Al Jazeera's Mosab Jasim looks at how the contracts affect the local economies in southern Iraq.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Meet the man on a mission to take down Cambodia's timber tycoons and expose a rampant illegal cross-border trade.

    The priceless racism of the Duke of Edinburgh

    The priceless racism of the Duke of Edinburgh

    Prince Philip has done the world an extraordinary service by exposing the racist hypocrisy of "Western civilisation".

    China will determine the future of Venezuela

    China will determine the future of Venezuela

    There are a number of reasons why Beijing continues to back Maduro's government despite suffering financial losses.