Iraqi bank moving to base

Story by Sgt. Ryan Twist
139th MPAD

JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — Individuals throughout Joint Base Balad, Iraq, will have access to the first Iraqi bank on base, opening in roughly two to three months.

The Al Warka Bank on JBB will serve Iraqis, Department of Defense contractors and third-country nationals who have access to get on base, said Maj. David M. Foster, officer in charge of the Iraqi Based Industrial Zone, with the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary).

“The bank provides a great opportunity here for us to help develop the infrastructure and help build the economy in Iraq,” said Foster.

Foster, a native of Newport Beach, Calif., said they are in the final phase of opening the bank, aimed at providing services previously not available to Iraqis.

He said the hope is that bank employees will take the experience learned from their jobs and spread it throughout the local community.

Foster said there are 110 branches throughout Iraq. He said the Iraqis who work at the bank, if the bank and workers are successful, would eventually transfer to a new bank and help open it to the local economy.

He said the banks are fee based banks and the services they provide are foreign currency exchange, wiring money, letter of credit, electronic funds transfer, savings and checking accounts, and fund transfers.

Foster said this bank will also provide services to Iraqis who work on JBB who may not have access to those services in their local communities and give them the opportunity to learn how to use the banking services Al Warka offers.

Khalid Almoola, the bank manager, speaking through an interpreter, said the bank is here to support the locals.

“The bank is the vein of the economy, the economy is the vein of the country,” he said.

Almoola also expressed his gratitude for U.S. assistance.

“We appreciate the Americans because they help us a lot,” said Almoola. “They help the Iraqi people because they support the Iraqi people with medical issues plus they help find jobs for the people.”