After expelling ISIS from its territory, Iraq is now facing another daunting challenge: rebuilding and modernizing the country’s shattered economy and infrastructure.

This effort could be helped by a major Iraq reconstruction conference taking place in Kuwait City February 12–14. Kuwait coordinated with the government of Iraq, the United Nations, the European Union and the World Bank in convening the conference.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and top officials from other donor countries supporting Iraq’s recovery will attend the event, as well as representatives of international financial institutions and private sector companies interested in striking deals in Iraq.

“The needs are tremendous, and the only way to attain lasting success
is by encouraging private-sector investment and growth.”
~ Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan

More than 100 U.S. companies will be there. Iraq has identified reconstruction needs of some $85 billion for which it needs partners and investors.

American companies of all sizes are already at work across Iraq. They provide training for Iraqi staff that not only benefits their enterprises but puts Iraq in a stronger position to address challenges on its own in the future.

The Khudairi Group, a Texas engineering and construction firm founded by Iraqi Americans, set up shop in Iraq more than a decade ago, motivated not only by the pursuit of profits but also by a desire to help the land of their birth.

It started as a small general contractor but now has 200 employees who work across several industries, including oil and gas, food manufacturing and heavy equipment sales.

“We hired one or two staff in Baghdad and just grew from there. We didn’t know how or what it would turn into,” says Mohammed Khudairi, 35, the managing partner, who was born in Iraq and raised in Houston.

Worker atop electrical pole (© Danish Siddiqui/Reuters)
An Iraqi technician repairs electricity lines in Mosul months after Iraqi forces drove out ISIS fighters. (© Danish Siddiqui/Reuters)

General Electric, the American multinational, has sold equipment and services in Iraq for decades, including gas turbines that generate much of its power. The Jordanian company Mass Global is a principal partner, with three plants in the Iraqi Kurdistan region and a new plant in Basmaya that is making Baghdad’s electricity supply more reliable.

William Wakileh, president of GE Iraq & Levant, says the vast majority of GE staff in Iraq are Iraqi nationals. “Everything we do here is helping Iraqi communities and fellow citizens.”

Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, on a January 28 visit to Baghdad, said, “To safeguard an enduring stabilization across the country, Iraq must rebuild. The needs are tremendous, and the only way to attain lasting success is by encouraging private-sector investment and growth.”