Iraq Airways to start direct flights to Abu Dhabi in May

Flights between Baghdad and Dubai have been operating for over a decade through Emirates Airline and Fly Dubai

Passengers wearing protective masks wait for flights at the departure hall of Baghdad international airport following its reopening on July 23, 2020, after a closure forced by the coronavirus pandemic restrictions aimed at preventing the spread of the deadly COVID-19 illness in Iraq. (Photo by AHMAD AL-RUBAYE / AFP)
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Iraq Airways plans to start direct flights to Abu Dhabi next month, the company said as Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi headed to the UAE.

Mr Al Kadhimi has been trying to boost ties between Iraq and Gulf neighbours.

Baghdad needs the support of Gulf states to revive its economy that has been battered by years of conflict and war.

“Direct flights between Baghdad and Abu Dhabi will begin early May,” the company said, according to Iraqi state media.

Flights between Baghdad and Dubai have been operating for over a decade through Emirates Airline and Fly Dubai.

The airlines fly to Baghdad, Erbil, Basra and Najaf.

Flights to Iraq were halted last year due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic but were resumed in July.

Mr Al Kadhimi arrived in Abu Dhabi on his first official trip to the UAE after assuming office last May.

Iraq and the UAE maintain strong relations, especially as Baghdad finds itself caught in the crossfire between Washington and Tehran.

Since his appointment last May, the UAE has shown support for  Mr Al Kadhimi.

On his appointment, the UAE’s Foreign Ministry said it hoped to see Mr Al Kadhimi “succeed in his duties and for political and popular forces to unite in ensuring a better future for Iraq and the Iraqi people”.

Last week Mr Al Kadhimi visited Saudi Arabia where Riyadh announced a joint $3 billion fund with Iraq to spur development in the private sector.

Saudi Arabia's investments in Iraq are expected to increase to 10 billion riyals ($2.67bn) from about two billion riyals at present.

The two countries also agreed to grow co-operation in renewable energy and maintaining stability in the global oil markets, a joint statement said.

Officials signed three new agreements – one to avoid double taxation, another for co-operation in planning for economic diversification and private sector development, and the third on financing Saudi exports.