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U.S. firm WSI starts $220 mln housing project in Iraq

Project includes 2,500 housing units.

November 4, 2010 4:24 by

U.S. engineering firm World Solutions International (WSI) unveiled a $220 million contract to build 2,500 housing units in Iraq, which is battling a housing shortage and in desperate need of investment.

The engineering and construction company, based in Maryland in the United States, said on Thursday the units would include flats and villas and be built on 200 acres on the outskirts of Basra, 420 km southeast of Baghdad.

“The start of this project is a big success and the fruit of long and exhausting efforts. We are interested in investing in Iraq generally and in Basra particularly,” said Aydan al-Jbory, WSI projects manager in the Middle East.

Each flat would be sold for $55,000, while villas would be available for between $300,000 to $400,000, Jbory said.

Construction in Iraq has been hampered by red tape and security concerns since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. The government hopes a sharp fall in violence in the past two years from the height of sectarian warfare, and a new investment law allowing foreigners to own land for housing projects, will entice foreign developers.

Iraq faces an acute shortage of houses after years of wars and sanctions. It needs between 2-3 million new homes for its growing population.

“The project is one of three housing projects which will provide Basra with 12,000 housing units,” said Haider Ali Fadhel, the head of Basra’s investment commission.

Fadhel said a second housing project for $240 million had been granted to a Lebanese firm and would be launched next week.

The third project, which includes the building of 5,000 housing units for $938 million, has been awarded to an Iranian firm and is pending approval by the Iraqi cabinet.

(Reporting by Aref Mohammed; Writing by Aseel Kami; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)

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