Dear Brother Adam & Musa
I would like to say a sincere "thank you" to you for making my "Grand Tour" of Iraq so memorable. I feel very fortunate that I had this opportunity to be on this tour and you were the guide. Visiting Iraq was my dream come true.It was amazing how much i packed into 7 days. Your stories and descriptions of the sites and the history was phenomenal. You certainly have a wonderful manner of giving some of the information you have about your country.
Looking forward to visit Iraq in 2015 or 2016 Insha ALLAH

Riyaz attar
Dear Adam:

We are back to China safe and sound… Thank you so much for your kind efforts to make our trip to Lebanon and Iraq successful, despite the short time we have.. As we have discussed, I would like now to summarize the trip to Lebanon and Iraq and to share with you some of my thoughts....

1. About the program

You have commented with me that due to our short time in Lebanon and Iraq, we will not be able to explore many interesting sites in Lebanon and Iraq. This is true... The reason is that at this moment Chinese groups could not spend many days in this trip, as we are touring total 8 countries for a total of 25 days. These people like to see these countries and spend only 2 days 3 days maximum in each country. It is not an extensive tour for which they probably spend 25 days in only 3 or countries... They have their time and budget and want to tour countries as many as possible during a certain period... This is the characteristics of this kind of groups. On the other hand, they want to see more places.. This is why I have discussed and requested you to include Balbeck on our 2nd day, and so on.... And they are happy as they see a lot of things in Balbeck, such as the ruins, the mornach, etc.... Also as you remember I have mentioned to you on numours accasions that we want to tour more places in Bagdad... In our promgra, it only mentioned the Bagdad museum and city tour...and as you remember my client is shouting at me to let them see these places. That is why I have suggested to you that we get up early, take early breakfast and leave early from hotel, to get more time to tour Bagdad,on the last day... .. And due to your efforts, and the kind efforts of the driver, we have visited many places on the last day!! And finally my guests were happy as you can see on the last day.... So next time, if I have another group, we can write in our program what we did for this group, and that would be very attractive and interesting, even if it meant early get up and late arrival back to hotel...... and extra tips to driver and to guide... ... I am sure you have also had your experience with our group... This is the way how we chinese want these tours to be, to see more places at short time....

2. about the guide

I can see you have made a good organization for our group, both in Lebanon and in Iraq..

Dear Adam, I should thank you very much for all your efforts to assist us to make our trip to Beirut and to Bagdad, although it is war-torn country still with danger... due to your efforts, we have seen many places in Bagdad and make many photos with those soliders... I hope from our first cooperation you also learn about our needs and about chinese tourists and that is good and very helpful for our future... I also have another inquiries about tour to Irak and I think Rido has already contacted you for that...

Thank you very much and best regards

General manager
Beijing solution alliance Business limited
I recently returned from my second trip to Southern Iraq in two years and wanted to share my recommendation of Alwaseilah Tours, who facilitated both of my trips. Here is their contact information:

Adam Jebrin
UK Office: +44 7947138673 / +44 7947138373
Iraq Office: +964 7801002151 / +964 7801560671
Adam Jebrin and his brother Musa are truly wonderful people, who went out of their way to help me plan a customized itinerary that encompassed all of my historical, cultural and religious interests. While their agency primarily organizes packages for Shi'a pilgrims visiting the country's numerous Islamic sites, they are just as happy to organize tours comprised entirely of historical sites (Babylon, Nippur, Ur, etc.) or a combination of both.

Their Agency is based out of Najaf, which happens to be one of the safest and most stable places in Southern Iraq, as well as being centrally located to several of the country's major archaeological sites. As such, we used Najaf as our primary base, making day trips to surrounding cities and sites and overnighting in cities further afield (Baghdad, Kut and Basrah).

Adam's primary concern is for the comfort and safety of his clients, and for that reason he is very up-front about what is and isn't feasible. Many places to the North and West of Baghdad, which had featured on classical itineraries for Southern Iraq (e.g. Samarra, al-Mada'in, al-Ukhaydir) are at present entirely unsafe, and Adam is quite simply not willing to risk your life and his to try and take you there. The situation on the ground is extremely fluid, and it's impossible to predict what will happen between now and when you've planned your trip, so some flexibility will of course be necessary.

That said, the vast majority of places of interest to tourists are feasible, and I'm happy to say that on both of my trips we were able to visit every point on my itinerary without a hitch. Yes, there are dozens of military checkpoints along each of the roads between Baghdad and Basrah, and security can at times be very tight, but it helps to remember that this is all in place for your protection and for the security of the country, and in all cases I was treated with politeness and respect.

In terms of logistics, whereas Alwaseilah (and, I suspect, other tour agencies) was previously able to arrange for individual visas on arrival at Najaf and Baghdad airports, the Government of Iraq has unfortunately just overhauled their policy within the last few months, and the situation is a bit more complex. At present, all visitors to Iraq must travel as part of a group of no less than 5 people, all of whom must enter Iraq together at Najaf airport. The visas must be applied for in advance (it takes approx. 4 weeks to issue an approval code) and then collected from the Iraqi Embassy in your country of residence, similarly to how the Iranian visa system works.

26 Jan 2015

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