A spokesman for the Iranian parliament’s Budget Reconciliation Committee announced that two trillion tomans (over $477 million) has been allocated to complete unfinished prayer houses, and that the Khatam-al-Anbiya Construction Headquarters, an affiliate of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), can receive this amount in the form of crude oil any time it wishes.
According to the spokesman, Rahim Zare, half of this amount, close to a $250 million, will be used to complete the prayer house in Tehran and the rest will be used to complete prayer houses across the country, as decided by the National Policy Council of Friday Imams. This council is responsible for organizing Friday Prayers in 600 locations in Iran.
Earlier, Iran’s Minister of Agriculture had reported that the Khatam-al-Anbiya Construction Headquarters had entered into the production of rice. But the headquarters denied this report in an statement.
Khatam-al-Anbiya Construction Headquarters was created during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war to facilitate reconstruction with the help of the military. But, since then, it has turned into a business powerhouse and one of Iran's largest contractors in industrial and development projects.
According to Khatam-al-Anbiya officials, it provides employment for 170,000 people, including 30,000 full-time staff, and it has around a million additional independent contractors. Currently, it will not accept projects that are less than one trillion Iranian rials (about $24 million) and has 5,000 contracts with private companies. Managers at the body claim they have completed more than 2,500 construction and infrastructure projects.
During the last two decades, especially during the eight years of former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s administration (2005-2013), the Khatam-al-Anbiya Headquarters was the exclusive contractor for numerous government projects. Many contracts were signed without observing official procedures. These included a $1.3 billion contract for the construction of a gas pipeline from the southern port of Asaluyeh to Sistan and Baluchestan Province in the east, and a $2.5 billion contract for completing phases 15 and 16 of the South Pars oilfield.
After American sanctions against Iran’s oil and gas sector intensified in 2011-12, Khatam-al-Anbiya tried to fill the vacuum left by international companies. The sanctions were a turning point: Khatam-al-Anbiya has since turned into a giant business enterprise and the biggest contractor in Iran.
In recent years, the company has designed and executed some construction and infrastructure projects in Iraq, such as natural gas installations, water treatment facilities, development, and renovation of religious shrines and buildings.
Khatam-al-Anbiya's activities include crude oil, natural gas, petroleum, energy and water treatment facilities, ports, harbors and marine industries, transportation, information and information technology, mines and mining industries, construction and infrastructure, agriculture, health and sanitation, environment, manufacturing and design, a cultural and educational program, and poverty alleviation schemes.
Now, with the presidency of Ebrahim Raisi, more big government contracts are directed to this business arm of the Revolutionary Guards that is, by nature, also a military entity.