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April 24, 2009
Q&A: Ask your questions on the business of Iraq

Iraq’s massive oil reserves, the third largest in the world, are well-known. But small businesses represent about 90 percent of the country’s businesses.

More than a quarter of young men in Iraq are jobless, according to the United Nations, and this high rate of unemployment and lack of prospects can often contribute to instability. Some 450,000 people will enter the workforce in Iraq this year — but only a fraction of them will find jobs.

The country is also not immune from the global financial crisis, and dropping oil prices represent a threat in a country where oil accounts for about 95 percent of the government’s revenue.

As the new administration in Washington prepares to scale down the U.S. presence in Iraq and the world’s focus shifts to Afghanistan,’s weekly radio show explored the state of the Iraqi economy, from small shoe shops to large oil corporations.

Worldfocus anchor Martin Savidge hosted a panel of guests: 

Ali Alnaemi was born in Baghdad, Iraq. He worked as a freelance reporter for the BBC and Voices of America in Iraq, and from 2004-2007 worked as the newsroom manager for The New York Times’ bureau in Baghdad. Ali’s main interests include politics and issues that affect minorities in the U.S.

Eric Davis is a professor of political science at Rutgers University and past director of the University’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies. His research has included the study of the relationship between state power and historical memory in modern Iraq and the impact of oil wealth on the state and culture in Arab oil-producing countries. His publications include “Memories of State: Politics, History and Collective Identity in Modern Iraq,” among others. 

Robert Looney is a professor of national security affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School. He has been an adviser to the governments of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Panama, Jamaica and Mexico. Robert’s regional interests are government budgets, defense expenditures and economic planning in the Middle East/South Asian region. He has written twenty books on various aspects of economic development, including “Economic Development in Saudi Arabia: Consequences of the Oil Price Decline.”

Thank you for your questions.

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