On Friday Iraq broke ground on 30,000 housing units near Baghdad, as part of a $2 billion project in partnership with Chinese firms to build five new cities across Iraq, Bloomberg has reported.
The government of Prime Minister Mohammad Shia al-Sudani is seeking to build 250,000 to 300,000 housing units for poor and middle-class families. The new city on the outskirts of Baghdad will include universities, commercial centers, schools and health centers and should be completed in four to five years.
Contracts to build the housing units were awarded to East China Engineering Science and Technology Co., Ltd. and China National Chemical Engineering Co., Ltd along with their Iraqi partner Shams al-Binaa.
Contracts to build four more cities are expected to be awarded soon and another 10 will be announced next year, including in Karbala, Anbar, Nineveh and Babel governorates.
Chinese firms have increased their presence in Iraq in recent years, in part due to a deal between Baghdad and Beijing.
In 2019, Iraq signed a 20-year contract, agreeing to supply Chinese firms with 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil, with the revenue earmarked for funding various development projects in Iraq undertaken by Chinese firms.
Following the deal, Chinese firms built 1,000 schools, developed the Nasiriya city airport, erected power plants, and completed several other infrastructure projects.
China has accelerated its investment in Iraq and other West Asian nations as part of its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) announced in 2013.