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

    'Money can't buy us': Mapping Canada's oil pipeline battle

    'Money can't buy us': Mapping Canada's oil pipeline battle

    We travel more than 2,000km and visit communities along the route of the oil pipeline that cuts across Indigenous land.

    Women under ISIL: The wives

    Women under ISIL: The wives

    Women married to ISIL fighters share accounts of being made to watch executions and strap explosives to other women.

    Diplomats for sale: How an ambassadorship was bought and lost

    Diplomats for sale: How an ambassadorship was bought and lost

    The story of Ali Reza Monfared, the Iranian who tried to buy diplomatic immunity after embezzling millions of dollars.