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

    Senegal's village of women

    Senegal's village of women

    Women in northeast Senegal are using solar-powered irrigation to farm food and halt the encroaching desert.

    Inside Baltimore's human trafficking industry

    Inside Baltimore's human trafficking industry

    Survivors of sex trafficking and those who investigate it in the city share their stories.

    Nuclear Gulf: Is Saudi Arabia pushing itself into a nuclear trap?

    Nuclear Gulf: Is Saudi Arabia pushing itself into a nuclear trap?

    MBS is prepared to pursue nuclear weapons if Iran gets them. But could he end up making the kingdom a nuclear pawn?