Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo signed a Letter of Understanding with Samarra, Iraq Mayor Mahmood Khalaf Al Bomahdi, with the intent to establish a Sister City relationship between the two cities. The arrangement, signed on August 5th, will help open doors for cultural and educational exchanges and will encourage economic and commercial activity between the cities.
Samarra, like Wilmington, is a riverfront city that also has significant tourism, mainly due to holy sites in the area. Mayor Mahmood visited Wilmington in March of 2010, and met with local business and education leaders over lunch at the Chamber of Commerce to discuss ideas for riverfront and economic development.
If approved by the councils of both cities, Samarra will become Wilmington's fifth Sister City since the program was established in the 1980s. Twinnings have also been established with Dandong, China; Doncaster, England; Bridgetown, Barbados; and San Pedro, Belize. Having international ties is looked upon favorably by knowledge sector workers. Expanding Wilmington's international ties could also be a source for attracting skilled workers to the region in the future.