Earlier this month, a small team from Google and YouTube spent a week in Iraq on a trip arranged by the Department of Defense’s Task Force for Business and Stability Operations (TFBSO), to explore opportunities for Google in Iraq, to understand the landscape of Internet access and connectivity in the country during this critical transition period and to bring top-voted questions from YouTube to Iraqi leaders in a series of interviews.
It’s immediately evident upon arrival just how completely the country missed the Internet boom during Saddam Hussein’s regime. Internet penetration rates in Iraq are among the lowest in the Middle East — somewhere between one and 8%.
The Iraqis we met consistently expressed their desire for increased access to web and for more access to content and tools in both Kurdish and Arabic.
Here’s the television special that Al Arabiya produced before Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, the Prime Minister of the Kurdish Regional Government in Erbil, Dr. Barham Salih and Iraqi politician and once the interim Prime Minister of Iraq, Ayad Allawi, showcasing their answers: