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Autumn 2013




RESPONSIBILITY Shell Iraq’s support for local communities


Alastair Niven speaks


Peter O’Sullivan of Penspen EVENTS



Faik Nerweyi, Iraq’s first UK Ambassador in six years

We speak to Britain’s Ambassador to Iraq, Simon Collis

The biggest sports venue in the Middle East: Basra Sports City


Postcard from Basra








Baroness Nicholson being greeted by the Iraqi Minister for Human Rights, Mohammed Al Sudani at the Human Rights Conference, Baghdad




We’ve got mail 5

Iraq has its first ambassador to the UK in six years, Faik Nerweyi

Diary 6

Conference 26

More than just a stadium: Sports City is a lot more to the Iraqi people than just a football coliseum

Catch the action from the recent IBBC events

Baroness Nicholson speaks at the Ministry of Human Rights’ firstever international conference, Baghdad

Welcome letter 4

Event 26

News pages 8-20

Basra Sport City 46


Book review 57 Photojournalists on war

10 Things you need to know 62

Responsibility 30 Shell Iraq’s support for local communities

Essential information for investors in Iraq

Postcard from... 58 Our cameraman captures the rich kaleidoscope of Iraqi life

Cover story 32


Shining Stars The Nezir brothers have built a small family business into a global force, we speak to UB Holding’s Hadi Nezir

Postcard from Basra


Report 38 Alastair Niven looks at the current education and training situation in Iraq


Profile 42 O’Sullivan picks a winner with Penspen

Interview 52 Sheffield to Baghdad Britain’s Ambassador to Iraq, Simon Collis, talks to Iraq Today www.webuildiraq.org

Autumn 2013 | IRAQTODAY | 3

Letter from IBBC founders


Hello and welcome to Iraq Today!

The Iraq Britain Business Council brings together business, trade and investment, for the benefit of the Republic of Iraq and its members.

Dear readers We hope the IBBC’s new magazine will give you all a chance to read about the real successes and the fantastic progress being made in today’s Iraq. As we all know, the country is wrestling with the daunting problems of a violent insurgency and political upheaval – problems that would test any country, let alone a fledgling democracy. Behind the sad headlines though, there is much that both Iraq and its friends can be proud of. Investment is pouring in from around the world, with the smartest companies realising just what Iraq has to offer. We believe this magazine will give you the most accurate picture of Iraq today. Much of the journalism comes from the region itself, and the rest is from our own in-house correspondents who all have huge knowledge and a deep respect and affection for the country and its people. Please enjoy the magazine. We would love to have your feedback on how we’re doing – any criticisms or praise that you have – and what you’d like to see us report on for the next edition. Please email our Editor Robert Cole on robert.cole@ amarfoundation.org or simply Tweet @IBBC_LONDON. Don’t forget to check out our Website – www.webuildiraq.org that also includes a great video section and twitter feed that regularly breaks news stories from the region. So enjoy – and do not forget to mention it to your friends and colleagues! Emma Nicholson

Mohammed Charchafchi


Published by the Iraq Britain Business

Council Today IRAQ Today Journal of the Iraq Britain Business Council


IRAQ(IBBC) Today A company registered in England and Journal of the Iraq Britain Business Council

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Baroness Nicholson Of Winterbourne

Wales company number 06929280 Registered as an NGO in Iraq with registration number 2D76104


oday IRAQToday



Nicholson of Winterbourne IRAQBaroness Today Mohammed Charchafchi

Iraq Britain Business Council

Journal of the Iraq Britain Business Council

EDITOR: Robert Cole

e Iraq Britain Business Council

Journal of the Iraq Britain Business Council

Journal of the Iraq Britain Business Council

DIRECTORS: Journal of the Iraq Britain Business Council

Richard Crow and Christophe Michels CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Alastair Niven and Dominic Gould

EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE 2012-2013 REPRESENTATIVES FROM: Anwar Soura General Contracting Company Basra Engineering Group Clyde & Co. KBR Mott MacDonald Penspen Petrofac PwC UB Holding








Philippa Dragonetti, Guleid Abdulkarim, and Jeremy Taylor


Angus Beaton


MANAGEMENT: Christophe Michels, Chief Operating Officer Dr Alastair Niven LVO OBE, Associate Director

ART DIRECTOR: Today IRAQ IRAQToday Jon-Paul Daly;Today Entwurf.co.uk




PRINTING: Colourfast Financial Ltd, Anton House, Christy Way, Basildon, Essex SS15 6TR, UK




Tel: +44 20 7222 7100 Fax: +44 20 7222 2535 www.webuildiraq.org Or follow us on Twitter: @IBBC_London JOURNAL OF THE IRAQ BRITAIN BUSINESS COUNCIL






IBBC Hope House 45 Great Peter Street London SW1P 3LT


ADDITIONALToday PHOTOGRAPHY:IRAQToday Today IRAQ Fakher Abdul Sattar Al Ghanim





4 | IRAQTODAY | Autumn 2013




Our members include: Aegis Al Saraji Group Anwar Soura GCC LTD Basra Engineering Co. Basra Chamber of Commerce BIOGH BP Chevron CCC Clyde & Co LLP Control Risks Deloitte Dome Group Erbil Chamber of Commerce Ernst & Young Iraq Eversheds LLP ExxonMobil Fluor Foster Wheeler G4S GardaWorld Genel Energy Gulfsands Petroleum HWH & Associates KBR KCA Deutag Kier Construction Kuwait Energy LGC Ltd Milio International Mott MacDonald Olive Group Penspen Limited Petrofac PwC RPS Energy Saipem Shell SKA International Group SNC Lavalin Solar Turbines Standard Chartered Bank Trade Bank of Iraq UB Holding Vitol Group of Companies Weir Group Wood Group Zain

GET IN TOUCH Tel: +44 20 7222 7100 or london@webuildiraq.org www.webuildiraq.org Or follow us on Twitter: @IBBC_London


Journal of the Iraq Britain Business Council

We’ve got mail 4Foreign Investment Having been a focal point for foreign investment in the Middle East during the mid-twentieth century, Iraq had all the characteristics of an economic power house. Political security, financial stability and a strong legal infrastructure meant that the pre-Saddam Hussein governments were focused on the typical problems that the modern day first world country has. Even though tyranny, three wars and a sectarian divide have fragmented the country and taken away its status as an economic power in the region, its appeal to foreign investment is at its highest since the country’s inception in the early twentieth century. Alex Benn-Amir, London

4Open for business Despite the tense security situation and the political instability inside and outside Iraq, the world needs reassurance that the country is open for business. One area which is often overlooked is Iraq’s potential as a cultural hub in the Middle East. Recently a German archaeological team found an ancient Assyrian city in lower Zab River in Kurdistan. The city, named Idu, thrived between 3,300 and 2,900 years ago, and archaeologists are confident that the glimpses of Idu’s palaces will provide a fascinating insight into how the ancient Assyrians lived. Archaeologists have always favoured excavations in the South due to the rich history of Uruk and Ur, but the potential throughout the country is astounding. An Italian team has also www.webuildiraq.org

recently been given access to ancient manuscripts in Basra Museum and permission to explore new archaeological sites, and the plans for Baghdad’s Youth City are extremely impressive. The proposed ‘Baghdad Library’, an architectural masterpiece, will house three million books, providing a space for Iraqis to read, study, and re-acquaint themselves with their rich cultural history. Whilst the emphasis on corporations and food chains to invest in Iraq is important, it is also equally, if not more important to remind the world of what Iraq once was – the home of Abu Nuwas, Al-Mutannabi and Al-Zahawi, the pride of the Assyrians, Babylonians, Abbasids, and many more. Iraq has the potential to be a cultural triumph, not only for tourism, but for its own people, who, as a result of violence and instability,

4FIFA ban Earlier this month, FIFA was criticised by one of its own, Prince Ali bin Al-Hussain, for banning Iraq from hosting even friendly international home matches and I congratulate him for it. What FIFA failed to fully take into account in reinstating their ban on Iraq hosting international matches of any sort were the knock-on effects and how they might affect Iraq’s continued growth. Not only will this hinder the growth of Iraq’s service industry and job creation, it may also hinder the growth of infrastructure within the country. If the ban is lifted and

– + Send your letters by email to london@webuildiraq.org or by post to 45 Great Peter Street, London SW1P 3LT, UK.

have forgotten their history. By investing in our cultural potential, you are investing in our capability to educate our youth, increase tourism, and give Iraq back its pride. Maysa, London

4Look to Dubai Even though Iraq could learn a great deal from Dubai in terms of investment, growth and tourism, I do not side with Michael Turnbill’s entry where he writes ‘One day Baghdad could look a little like Dubai. What would be wrong with that?’ I feel a great deal would be wrong with that. Dubai has attracted hundreds of thousands of migrant workers from the Indian sub-continent and while many come to escape the poverty in their home countries, they are often met with less than ideal living conditions and feel psychologically isolated. Baghdad has the opportunity Iraq is once more allowed to host matches, apart from increasing regeneration in the area, as we have seen in Basra with the Sports City, it will increase the confidence, both of Iraqis and non-Iraqis, in the recovery of the nation. With Deloitte’s “Arab Media Outlook 2011-2015” putting sport viewership in the region at 90% among men, FIFA would do well to encourage local involvement among an already captive audience. Mansour Abdulmajeed Dubai, UAE

to realise its substantial development potential through educating, training and otherwise empowering its own citizens, while simultaneously, where necessary, welcoming expertise and manpower from abroad, on a fair and equitable basis. In this way, I feel that Baghdad will achieve more sustainable economic growth, and that in the process it will not risk losing touch with Iraq’s rich cultural heritage. MJ, Oman

4Al-Faw Port While much of the focus in the news about Iraq is on the Oil and Gas sector, not much is said about Iraq’s maritime expansion. With the expansion underway and Iraq having recently exempted foreign companies working on the Al-Faw project from customs duties and taxes, it shows that the country is taking the long view instead of focusing on immediate gains in the form of customs and taxes, which in itself should tell us something. A report from Iraq’s National Media Centre in 2011 indicated that not only would the Al-Faw port project, upon its completion, shorten travel through the Suez Canal by half (from one month to two weeks), but also pointed out that it could be a cheaper alternative to the Suez Canal. This massive development, along with that of Basra Sports City show the massive infrastructural growth the country, specifically Southern Iraq, is undergoing – something it should be lauded for. Sincerely, Hussein Bretzger London, UK Autumn Autumn2013 2013| |IRAQTODAY IRAQTODAY|| 5



Each year the IBBC holds 5 conferences: three in Iraq and two in London. The IBBC also takes several trade delegations to Iraq and regularly hosts senior Iraqi officials and politicians in London. MISSION TO Basra

H.E. Governor Majid alNasrawi (right) and Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne in Basra

DINNER AT THE REFORM 4 RIGHT Left to right, Dr Steve Wood, LGC and Dr Alistair Fraser, Shell. FAR RIGHT Mr Richard Cotton, BIOGH and Dr Wasan Al-Anwan, Health AttachĂŠ at the Iraqi Embassy in London



TOP: Leading politicians and dignitaries listen to proceedings. BOTTOM: One of the expert panels debates human rights issues.

6 | IRAQTODAY | Autumn 2013

IBBC & UKTI DINNER AT THE ROYAL OVER-SEAS LEAGUE TOP: Minister of Municipalities and Public Works, Adel Mehoder talks to George Booth of Clyde & Co. BOTTOM: Left to right, Carl Powell, Alastair Niven, Catharine Pye, Amer Khalil Ismail, Roddy Porter, Philippa Dragonetti, Toby Chinn, John Kemkers Journal of the Iraq Britain Business Council


18 delegates from IBBC companies and diplomats from the UK’s Baghdad Embassy at the IBBC’s offices in Basra, Wednesday 31 July

CUMBERLAND LODGE TOP RIGHT Guest speaker Prof. John Davies FAR RIGHT Baroness Nicholson presenting HE Hoshyar Zebari with a copy of IRAQ TODAY

FAR LEFT Hans Nijkamp, Shell LEFT Left to right, Zouzou Khalil (Flour) and Dr Usama Karim BOTTOM Delegates in the glorious garden of Cumberland Lodge, Windsor Great Park


Autumn 2013 | IRAQTODAY | 7


Iraq has cash in reserve Iraq’s Central Bank (CBI) has announced that its foreign currency reserves have reached US $76.5 billion. The news came from the Acting Governor Abdul Basit Abdul Samad. Mr Samad said they now had the biggest reserves in history, pointing out that the increase would mean there would be more confidence in Iraqi currency.




The number of Iraqi mobile phone subscriptions   1.3 million Iraqis have a landline


Iraq to pump money into Basra oil city?


Iraq’s Oil Minister, Abdul Karim Al Luaibi, says the government is planning to create a new oil city in Basra province, close to the Arabian Gulf at Faw. Mr Luaibi said the project was vital because of the big expansion in oil operations and businesses in the region. He added: “The South Oil Company created the floor space needed for the project and we are now waiting for preliminary designs from the Planning Directorate in the ministry.” The government estimates that oil companies in Faw will be pumping six million barrels per day by 2017. Iraq exports crude oil from the ports of Basra and Khor al-Amaya on the Arabian Gulf, as well as the port of Ceyhan, on the Turkish Mediterranean. By road, tankers drive to Jordan for onward delivery around the world.


The number of Iraqi families with access to a television


Percentage of Iraqis employed by the public sector


Average life expectancy in Iraq



• The number of Turkish firms working in the Kurdistan region has tripled to at least 1,500

• Plans are being made to turn the KRG’s Khurmal water springs into a major health spa

since 2009. modelled on Iceland’s • Air France offers Erbil Blue Lagoon as a destination with a • Volvo to open third codeshare service with truck centre in Iraq MEA. by the end of 2013. • Kurdistan based firm Korek Swedish company also Telecom rolls out highplanning an assembly speed mobile broadband in line in Babylon the south of Iraq Iskandariya 8 | IRAQTODAY | Autumn 2013

•K  RG has bought nearly a quarter million tonnes of wheat from local farmers

• The Iranian media announces that Iran is to begin supplying Iraq with 7 million

•A  Pakistani company Alkitan is to build a giant cement plant in Basra • Iraq to get first shipment of Chinese trains. They will run on a new Baghdad to Umm Qasr line – when it’s built

cubic metres of gas a day. The recipients will be two power plants in Baghdad. • According to the KRG region’s Contractors Union there are 30 billionaires in north Iraq

Journal of the Iraq Britain Business Council

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LEFT: Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister, Dr Rowsch Shaways, addressed the conference. RIGHT: The UK’s Minister of State for Trade and Investment, Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint.

Six of the best for Iraq British Business Council Leading political and business leaders from around the world attended the IBBC’s sixth annual London Conference. Held in the splendour of the Institution of Civil Engineers’ building in Central London, the two-day event is now at the top of the must-attend list for anyone involved in business in Iraq. Welcomed by the IBBC Executive Chairman, Baroness Emma Nicholson, the delegates heard from a wide variety of speakers. The opening address was given by former Conservative Cabinet Minister, Lord Howell of Guildford. The Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq, Dr Rowsch Shaways and the UK’s Minister of State for Trade and Investment, Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint, led



the impressive speakers’ list, and took questions from delegates after their speeches. The European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman, Mr Elmar Brok, spoke about the European Union’s policy on the Middle East, whilst the newly appointed Iraqi Ambassador to the UK, Mr Faik Nerweyi, talked about his role in encouraging British business to invest in his country. The UK’s Ambassador to Iraq, Simon Collis, also attended the event, and spoke about the substantial efforts to give British business a kickstart in Iraq. The conference sponsor was Northern Iraq’s UB Holding group. Its Chief Executive, Hadi Nezir, attended the event.

Iraq’s rank in the Global Growth Generator country index, which identifies countries’ economies with the highest growth potential and profitable investment opportunities



Proportion of Iraq’s federal income from oil




The value of gas flared every day from Iraqi oil fields


The average number of children per Iraqi household

• Greek Construction Company wins 2 Billion dollar contract for Al Anbar Power Plant

• The KRG signs a 200 million dollar electricity deal with Turkish companies

• F oreign Minister Zebari announces to an IBBC conference that Iraq is on course to produce 5.6

• KRG Natural Resources Minister Ashit Hawrami told the newspaper Al Hayat

• Empire Cinema announces it will build theatres in Erbil • Iraqi Al-Naser, Iraq’s first private airline, makes a debut flight from Najaf to Tbilisi

Aksa and Katrek, who are also supplying Mosul • The Ramada hotel opens in Sulaimaniyah • Trade between Iran and the KRG reaches 4 billion dollars annually

million barrels a day of oil by 2018. •U  S Firm Stirling Global wins contract to clear minefields in the Kurdistan region.

that the KRG has 45 billion barrels of oil reserves. • The Turkish automobile firm Dogus Otomotiv announces it will begin to sell Volkswagens and Audis in Iraq.

10 | IRAQTODAY | Autumn 2013

Journal of the Iraq Britain Business Council

Advice you can trust

The leading international law firm in Iraq Make the most of the opportunities offered by Iraq. Eversheds is the country’s only international law firm with permanently staffed offices on the ground in both Baghdad and in Erbil, Kurdistan Region. We have been working in Iraq since 2003 and can help businesses, both local and international, to succeed. Our advice covers all the legal issues that matter to you and, with colleagues based across the Middle East and around the world, we have the strength to match our quality.

Trust Eversheds for lawyers who understand how Iraq can work for you. Tawfiq Tabbaa Partner +964 78091 67976 tawfiqtabbaa@eversheds.com

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The number of Iraqi families owning a car


The number of years the average Iraqi youngster attends school

TOP LEFT: IBBC Executive Chairman, Baroness Nicholson, views the UK’s stand. TOP RIGHT: Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari warmly greets the IBBC’s Baroness Nicholson. BOTTOM LEFT: Omar Abdullah Hasan of Zain with Executive Chairman. BOTTOM RIGHT: The British Embassy’s Deputy Head of Mission, Mark Bryson-Richardson, chats to local students.

Baghdad international trade fair Despite the unstable situation in the country, Iraq’s government was determined that this huge international event would go ahead. They weren’t to be disappointed, with hundreds of businesses from around the world using the sprawling fairground complex to advertise their products. Many of the world’s biggest nations were represented. The UK, the United States, France and Italy led the names from the West, but there were firms from all over the world, including Russia, Japan, Ukraine, Turkey, Pakistan, Egypt, and other countries

in the Middle East. The IBBC’s Baroness Nicholson toured the event, spending the majority of her time at the UK’s exhibition. There she met the Head of UK Trade and Industry (UKTI) Chris Maskell and Deputy British Ambassador Mark Bryson-Richardson. The two men said this was Britain’s first representation at the event, and they were determined for the UK to grow its presence there over the next few years. The event is a perfect showcase for businesses hoping to invest in Iraq. It attracts not only Iraqi government and business leaders – the country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hoshyar Zebari, was there on the day IBBC visited – but also huge crowds of ordinary people eager to see what the world has to offer.



The number of Iraqis described by World Food Programme as “food insecure”



Percentage of Iraq’s $150.67 billion GDP due to its oil sector


Number of miles of Iraqi coastline



• South Korea’s Daewoo wins 700 million US dollar contract to upgrade Akkas gas field near the

• Iraq to set up three new public oil companies alongside SOMO, North Oil,

•D  irect flights between Baghdad and Moscow begin to run • Iraq Oil Ministry says

• 26th August – Erbil governor tells IBBC that the city is under severe

Syrian border • IBBC member Eversheds has been advising Citigroup on the establishment of the first US bank in Baghdad

Missan Oil and Midland • Genel doubles its estimate for Miran and Bina Bawi fields to up to 36 trillion cubic feet of gas

earnings for July were 7.272 million US dollars from oil exports compared with 6.799 billion in June • Iran’s Saipa car company has started a production line in Iraq and is exporting trucks to Iraq

pressure feeding and maintaining 6 refugee camps. 30,000 Syrians have arrived in one week • Britain’s Petrofac to work with Russia’s Gazprom Neft in Badra oil field

12 | IRAQTODAY | Autumn 2013

Journal of the Iraq Britain Business Council


Free market in Iraq says Deputy PM Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister, Hussain Al Shahristani (pictured) says the government is enhancing the policies of free markets through new economic laws. Mr Shahristani said he hoped the measures would encourage direct and indirect foreign investments in Iraq. Speaking at the Iraqi-South Korean Investment Conference in Seoul, he disclosed that his country’s trade exchange with South Korea has reached US$12 billion. Mr Shahristani appealed to South Korean companies to invest in Iraqi oil, electricity, transport, housing, ports and communications.

Thanks for the memorandum! The French and Iraqi governments have signed a memorandum of understanding on civil aviation and railways. Iraq’s Minister of Transportation, Hadi Al Amiri, and France’s Minister of Trade, Nicole Bricq, expressed hopes that they could work together to bring direct flights between Baghdad and Paris a step closer.




5/10 Number of Iraqis who use the internet



Percentage of Iraq’s principal exports to the United States




Iraq’s projected revenues from oil exports by 2035



Percentage of Iraqi citizens who live below the poverty line according to UN

DNO sets new production record in Kurdistan DNO International says that production is at an all-time high of 32,500 barrels per day from its second horizontal well in the Tawke oilfield in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. The oilwell – Tawke-23 – was “spudded” in May 2013 and the cost to drill, complete and test the well was US$12 million, DNO said. The Norwegian firm said that each of the 10 independent fracture corridors penetrated by a 930-metre horizontal section in the Cretaceous reservoir interval flowed in excess of 9,000 bpd. Tawke-20, the first horizontal well completed in the field in July 2012, is located six kilometres away and reportedly set the previous record production rate for a Tawke well at 25,000 bpd. Both wells are subject to wellbore and surface facilities limitations, DNO said. Bijan Mossavar-Rahmani, executive chairman of DNO International, said, “The exceptional results from Tawke-20 and Tawke-23 have fundamentally changed our approach to developing this field and also our expectations for its performance.” “By any measure, these are prolific wells tapping into what increasingly feels like a sea of oil.”

• New airline Zagrosjet maiden flight from Erbil to Ankara on October 2nd

• New York education firm Kaplan Inc to begin major projects in KRG

•E  ricsson and Tishknet partner to launch first LTE TDD internet/ comms network in Iraq

• KRG has bought 12 helicopters from US firm MD Helicopters for aerial surveillance

• BP has been paid 4.5 billion US dollars for its investments in Rumaila • Iraq to spend 1.5 billion US dollars a year upgrading nation’s drains and sewage systems.

region including language schools and university • New major cable car opens on 2000 metre high Korek mountain in Erbil province

focussing on north eastern KRG region • Iraq to open 600 new schools this month built at a cost of almost half a billion US dollars

and fire fighting missions • National Iranian Drilling Company is to train Iraqi apprentices in oil and gas sectors.

14 | IRAQTODAY | Autumn 2013

Journal of the Iraq Britain Business Council

Are you looking to export? Speak to the experts

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For more information about doing business with the UK and to speak with some of our specialist advisors visit www.ukti.gov.uk or email baghdad.commercial@fco.gov.uk





The amount Iraqi Airways is spending on new aircraft

18 Refinery will be Swiss Made Swiss company Satarem has signed a $6 billion contract with the Iraqi Government to construct and run a 150,000 barrels per day (bpd) oil refinery in the southern province of Maysan. Domestic demand for fuel is increasing in Iraq and other major oil exporters such as Saudi Arabia. Baghdad, which is boosting its oil production, is also pushing ahead with a downstream expansion to end costly fuel imports. “Today we signed a contract for an important investment project with the participation of the private sector, which will contribute towards filling the need of the country for oil products,” said Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki at the signing ceremony. The refinery is one of four new projects designed to increase refining capacity by around 740,000 bpd and revamp Iraq’s oil sector, left dilapidated by decades of war and sanctions. Iraq’s Oil Ministry plans to add one 150,000 bpd refinery in each of the cities of Kerbala and Kirkuk, as well as another 300,000 bpd facility in Nassiriya.



• Two crude loading berths at the al-Basra Oil Terminal (ABOT) in Iraq have been reopened. • Empire City, a $2.3 billion investment to be completed by 2017, positively changing business travel trends to Erbil

16 | IRAQTODAY | Autumn 2013

That would raise Iraq’s refining capacity to around 1.5 million bpd from the current 650,000750,000 bpd. Iraq’s capacity to refine fuels like diesel and gasoline has been hit by underinvestment, forcing it to buy imported fuels to fill the widening gap between supply and domestic demand.

Plastic will be fantastic says Missan The Missan Oil Company has announced plans to use plastic pipelines to transport oil from their newly drilled wells in the Abu Gharab region of Iraq. The firm says they will use the new plastic technology for their pipelines because of the difficult terrain and mines in the area, which hinder the use of metal tubes and their heavy equipment accessories.

• The Wall Street Journal and Reuters  report that Iraq has shortlisted 12 international companies to build the new $18-billion oil export pipeline to Jordan, the country’s first such pipeline in decades.


Percentage of women employed in Iraq



The number of tonnes Iraq wheat farmers grow in an average year



The proportion of total shares being offered by Zain Iraq in its initial public share offering

•B  asra Export Terminal in al-Basra Oil Terminal has now fully been reopened, boosting Iraq’s

• China seeks 70% more Iraqi Crude, “Iraq is in a lucky position because we always

oil export capacity • F ollowing its survey of 10 Iraqi cities the market research organisation TNS Mena says Iraq could be “the next big one” for consumer spending

get more requests than we can actually supply,” said Deputy Prime Minister for energy, Hussain AlShahristani

Journal of the Iraq Britain Business Council


The World Bank in the Southern Iraqi Marshlands The support of a global international financial institution makes a difference to some of Iraq’s poorest people A major milestone in Iraq’s redevelopment was reached on November 13, 2012 when the Government of Iraq signed a Country Partnership Strategy with the World Bank covering the period 2013-2016. Since 2003, the World Bank has been one of the most active and well-financed international agencies assisting Iraq to rebuild its institutions. Following its first investment support to the country for three decades in 2005, the World Bank has supported a wide range of initiatives resourced through designated funding mechanisms such as the multi-donor PostConflict Fund and, latterly, the multi-donor Iraq Trust Fund – to which the UK came in as the third-largest donor, with US$71.4m, after the EC and Japan. The new Partnership Strategy aims to support Iraqi Government efforts to implement its own National Development Strategy, and is organized around three pillars: improving governance; supporting economic diversification for broadly shared prosperity; and improving social inclusion and reducing poverty. This ambitious agenda holds much promise for Iraq at a macro level, and its existence demonstrates the country’s progress from being a recipient of development assistance to a fully-fledged middleincome partner. So much is clear. Less well-known is the remarkable impact that the World Bank’s support has had on Iraqi people at the local level – and perhaps most 18 | IRAQTODAY | Autumn 2013

notably on the Marsh Arabs of southern Iraq, one of the world’s most ancient communities and a population which had been almost destroyed by the previous regime. Conceived and implemented through a three-way partnership between the World Bank, the Government of Iraq and a British-Iraqi NGO – the AMAR International Charitable Foundation – two consecutive health care projects totalling approximately US$1.8m have benefited thousands of families through bringing training, health care, health education and hope to rural communities in Basra, Maysan and Thi-Qar Governorates, as well as in Babil Governorate, north of the Marshlands. The first project, financed through the Post-Conflict Fund, began in 2007, with AMAR’s all-Iraqi health and education personnel playing the key role on the ground through implementing the project hand-in-hand with local health authorities in each governorate. As with the second project, funded through the Iraq Trust Fund, the focus was provision of communitybased primary health care, with a strong emphasis on prevention through health education. The specific objectives of the second project, designed explicitly to build on the success of the first, were to increase access to, and quality of, basic health services; to promote awareness of those services; and to increase health awareness in order to reduce, through behavioural changes, the incidence of preventable

disease. A particular aim within this was to improve services for women and children and to target them actively as beneficiaries. With the Iraqi Government as joint-implementer, this project too was designed and delivered within national and local public health strategies, with the support and oversight of the health authorities. A pioneering partnership model A key reason for the success of the partnership has been that AMAR’s modus operandi of working as a partner of the Iraqi Government, rather than as a parallel or external agency, complemented the World Bank’s own mandate to work directly with government. This allowed the World Bank to accomplish significant development progress on the ground during a very challenging period through funding a locally-focused independent NGO while simultaneously continuing to build up its bilateral relationship with Iraq as a nation. Furthermore, an unusually high level of integration with national authorities was possible due to the legacy of strong relationships that AMAR had built over several years and at all levels, from senior national-level government decision-makers, to health sector managers, to doctors and medical staff working within local Primary Health Care Centres. Iraqi Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education employees were involved throughout the project as project implementers, supervisors and beneficiaries of training. AMAR was perhaps uniquely placed to work in this way, functioning almost as an extension of government capacity and complementing government efforts in key areas. Journal of the Iraq Britain Business Council

POVERTY: The new Partnership Strategy aims to support Iraqi Government efforts to implement its own National Development Strategy which will include reducing poverty

The project was designed and implemented in accordance with the internationally-recognised standards governed by the World Bank’s Code of Conduct. The fiduciary arrangements (including financial management, procurement, accounting, reporting, staffing, internal control procedures, planning, budgeting and external auditing) were regularly reviewed, including through site visits by World Bank-appointed Iraqi financial and procurement specialists, assuring compliance with World Bank fiduciary guidelines. The project was also fully compliant with the World Bank Environmental and Social Safeguards Framework, as well as with Iraqi Ministry of Health environment and safety guidelines. The capacity of AMAR’s Iraqi field teams was further enhanced, particularly in the area of planning and financial management, through benefiting from World Bank feedback and on-thejob training delivered by the Bank’s Iraqi financial and procurement specialists. Training, Outreach and Health Education A major element of both projects was the delivery of high-quality training programmes. Government health sector management personnel received training on evidence-informed decision making, informing the planning, implementation and coordination of public health programmes and raising the bar on what constitutes good practice in health project management. Over 1,000 health care professionals – doctors, doctor assistants and Mother-Child Health specialists – received ongoing training on primary health care delivery, management and www.webuildiraq.org

strategy, bringing their knowledge in line with worldwide advances in medicine and health management. Training was delivered in accordance with training curricula developed with the Iraqi Ministry of Heath, ensuring relevance and integration with existing training strategies. Outreach was another substantial component, most notably through a Women Health Volunteer Programme. Training in sanitation, hygiene, basic health care and mother child health care was provided to 1,000 local women who then conducted regular home visits to 30,000 families, delivering health education, acting as first-point-of-contact for health issues and promoting awareness of local primary health care services. In this way, health education was delivered within the local cultural and traditional idiom, challenging attitudes and beliefs – including those relating to gender – that were negatively impacting the health of the community. The impact of the Women Health Volunteer programme (along with the training for medical professionals) was very significant, and was the part of the project most highly praised by stakeholders at all levels. Health education was also provided both to schoolchildren and to community groups by 300 Ministry of Education schoolteachers to whom the project gave supplementary training and support. A regular programme of health education was established in 69 schools, providing children with continuous lessons in basic health care, hygiene and sanitation. This work had a positive impact on the health behaviour of large numbers of people, including through lessons being passed on from children to their families at home. The project also launched and operated

three mobile clinics, providing primary health care and health education to over 16,000 people in very remote marshland communities. And at a later stage, four dedicated Tuberculosis clinics were also launched and operated, acting as centres of excellent for diagnosis, treatment and tracking of Tuberculosis within the catchment area. Evaluation An evaluation of the project was conducted earlier this year by an independent public health consultant. The evaluation, which involved a desk review of documentation and visits to implementation sites, assessed the extent to which the project was effective, relevant, replicable, sustainable and integrated within the Iraqi Government’s plan for health care. One of the key conclusions of the evaluation was: “The project has greatly exceeded what one could normally expect for an initiative of this scale given the available resources. A particular strength of the project lies in its modalities of service delivery, designed and implemented in close collaboration with government.” Next Steps The grant for the second project expired in May 2013, and the focus now is to ensure that Ministry of Health strategy incorporates and sustains the various project elements – a goal which should be readily achievable given the close and positive involvement of the Ministry throughout its implementation. Meanwhile, as Iraq and the World Bank take their first steps together to implement the new Country Partnership Strategy, the model forged by the Marshlands initiative remains highly relevant in the context of the country’s continuing development needs, and the World Bank’s vision in identifying and supporting this new development model for the benefit of thousands of people at local level deserves wider recognition. n Autumn 2013 | IRAQTODAY | 19



The number of miles on Iraq’s border with Iran - its longest frontier


Latest investment figures from Kurdistan released

WHAT THE FIGURES LOOK LIKE: Chart 1: Investment in $Billion

Investment in each province in US billion dollars.







The average number of Iraqis out of work


The average hours a day Iraqi households receive electricity from the public system

Foreign investment in Kurdistan has reached US $31 billion in just seven years. The region’s investment board said that this year alone, more than US$6 billion had been invested. Today, Kurdistan region’s investment board has released a press statement that investment in Kurdistan has reached $31 billion since 2006. This year’s investment alone has amounted more than $6 billion. Overall, Turkey is the biggest foreign investor in Kurdistan with around $1 billion and $95 million followed by UAE with $143 million. Meanwhile a joint investment venture between Kurdish and Emirates is now worth $412 million.

Fair enough!



Iraq’s annual population growth – one of the highest in the world



The first Egyptian fair in the Kurdish region opened this October. The ceremony was attended by Kurdish Industry and Trade Minister Sinan alChalabi, and Egyptian Trade and Industry Minister Muneer Fakhri Abdulnour. The fair highlights tourism, culture, training, education, aviation, construction, medical industries, and electric industries.

• Russian Night Hunter attack helicopters delivered to Iraq as part of a 4 billion dollar US

weapons deal • Nainawa power plant in Mosul – built by Turk company Calik – opens September. Will generate 750 megawatts • UAE’s Gulf Pre Cast wins contract to build 65 schools in Iraq 20 | IRAQTODAY | Autumn 2013


Chart 2: Investment Type Investment type and their amount.

Joint Venture






Source: Press Statement by Kurdistan Investment Board PS. The above investment sums do not contain investment in the oil and gas sector, because the sector has its own investment law passed by the KRG’s Ministry of Natural Resources not Kurdistan Investment Board.

• Iraq talking to US about buying 2 billion US dollars of military hardware including

•B  arzani family set to launch Zagros Airways out of Erbil in September • Genel Energy reported

• The Governor of Kirkuk has laid the cornerstone of a new industrial city project

Stryker vehicles and Bell helicopters • Iraqi Airways to start new air route between Erbil and Gaziantep, south east Turkey

ready to export gas from KRG region by end of 2013 • Phone giant Nokia opens Erbil base • Korea’s Samsung, Hyundai and Daewoo set for 3 billion US dollar contract at Al Zubair

to be built on the Lelan-Binja Ali road • Reuters reporting Zain Iraq partial flotation expected to raise “north of 1 billion US dollars.”

Journal of the Iraq Britain Business Council

LET’S CAPTURE THE GAS THAT WILL POWER THE NATION’S PROGRESS. We all need electricity, whether it’s to light a football stadium or to chill our half-time drinks. Shell provides the gas that can help others generate some of that electricity in Iraq and around the world. In Basra province for example, we’re working with the South Gas Company and our partner Mitsubishi to capture gas being wasted through flaring. Gas that Iraq itself can use to help develop its economy. Let’s light up our daily lives with local resources. www.shell.com/letsgo



Good to be back!

Iraq has its first ambassador to the UK in six years.

YOUR MAJESTY: Faik Nerweyi presents his ambassadorial credentials to the Queen

It’s understandable when you move to a new city to be on the look out for new friends to help you settle in. Iraq’s first ambassador to Britain for six years, Faik Nerweyi, is no exception, though he’s looking for friends and partners on a diplomatic level rather than a personal one. Iraq needs all the friends it can get right now, says Mr Nerweyi, so it’s one of his priorities to promote the vast opportunities on offer in his homeland, and encourage British business to take a chance and exploit them. “The Federal and the regional Governments are determined to make Iraq attractive and safe and a profitable place to work in. Missions such as ours have the assignment of finding friends and partners,” he explained. www.webuildiraq.org

“There are joint Ministerial, Trade, and Co-operation Committees formed with many countries. The aim is to make it more feasible to work in our country and to secure the success of these enterprises. Also legislative work in this respect is going on and is bearing fruit.” Mr Nerweyi may be new to this job. So new that he has only just presented his credentials to Queen Elizabeth, but he’s no virgin in the diplomatic world. He has many years of highlevel experience, having been most recently Iraq’s ambassador in Moscow, and before that the country’s representative in Turkey, and later Jordan. Previously, the ambassador worked in many governmental roles, though he started out his working life as a high school teacher after graduating

from Baghdad University in 1970. Mr Nerweyi also holds a Masters degree in politics and international relations after studying in Finland for a number of years. Both elegant and urbane, the ambassador is well liked and regarded by both friends and others in the diplomatic and business world. Though his mother tongue is Kurdish, remarkably Mr Nerweyi speaks six other languages, Arabic, English, Persian, Finnish, Turkish and German. He is clearly passionate when it comes to his nation and desperately wants to see it rise from the ashes of a cruel dictatorship, years of war, terrorism, and political upheaval. “Within the restless Middle East, Iraq is an important country, and always has been both economically and politically. It has huge natural

Curriculum vitae

1946 Born in Erbil, Iraq. 1970 Graduates from Baghdad University.

1984 Masters degree from University of Finland.

1999-2009 Iraqi Representative in Jordan

2010-2013 Iraqi Ambassador to Russia

Languages Arabic, Kurdish, English, Turkish, Persian, Finnish and German Autumn 2013 | IRAQTODAY | 23


great companies dedicated to rebuilding Iraq

Tel: +44 20 7222 7100 | london@webuildiraq.org | www.webuildiraq.org | Or follow us on Twitter: @IBBC_London

24 | IRAQTODAY | Autumn 2013

Journal of the Iraq Britain Business Council

Event Faik Nerweyi

resources and a capable population, who have the will to rise up and claim a prominent place among nations,” said Mr Nerweyi. He continued: “We are all aware of the profound journey Iraq has undertaken in the last decade to emerge as a strong, democratic and free society, committed to international values of human rights, freedoms and cultural, religious and ethnic diversity.” “This continuing transformation has been deeply painful at times, and it continues to pose many challenges for prospering in the areas of business and industry that a country as rich in natural and human resources as Iraq should enjoy,” added Mr Nerweyi. “The security situation, the lack of a robust legal and investment framework and unfamiliar territory has deterred nervous investors, who have lost market share to their more ambitious competitors.” Mr Nerweyi admitted that over the last decade Iraq had gone through a turbulent time of fluctuating internal tensions that worked as a fertile ground for violence. However, he says it’s now worth noting that the troubles are concentrated only in certain areas of Iraq. He claims that the Governorates of Basra, Amarah, Nasseriah, Kut, Kerbala and Najaf among others, are to a large extent clear of terrorism. In fact, he said, the three provinces of Kurdistan were so safe now that it was possible to go out and about doing business and even enjoy the “vivid” outdoor life on offer until late into the night. Safety and security are obviously of paramount importance to foreign business and investors, but Mr Nerweyi says the government is also determined to stamp out another curse – corruption. “Eliminating corruption depends on translating our constitution to relevant laws. This can only be achieved by building proper institutions that can www.webuildiraq.org

recognise the criminal acts of stealing public money in all its forms, and through a well-developed judicial system.” “We are determined and we are continuing to strive to establish well defined institutional frameworks for democratic life. The rule of law will make citizens believe in the justice of our state.” Speaking passionately about what his country wants to achieve, Mr Nerweyi listed what Iraqis themselves wanted to see happen. “We want to send our children out to get a proper education. We want to be united and ruled by tolerance, peace and justice. We need a working health and

“I can tell you that the Embassy in London is open for business. We will soon be fully staffed and we are ready and willing to help.”

sanitation system. We need the capability to defend ourselves, and we need food security and that is true for any other institutions of an independent democracy.” Moving on to talk about his own role, he admitted that the new job presented a real, but exciting, challenge, and he was determined to succeed. “I can tell you that the Embassy in London is open for business. We will soon be fully staffed and we are ready and willing to help. I can also assure you that British business people wishing to visit Iraq will find obtaining visas slightly easier than Iraqis trying to come here.” The ambassador is full of praise for the IBBC. “Both the Council and its members are to be commended for their willingness and steadfast efforts to initiate and develop industrial and economic relations with our industry sectors, and for showing faith in Iraq’s recovery when many others take a more pessimistic approach.” He added: “The broad spectrum of the IBBC network is ambitious in its geographical activities, from Erbil to Basra, and its vision reflects the development agenda of our Government to educate, innovate and promote the sectors to rebuild our country as the regional powerhouse it has been before and can be again.” Mr Nerweyi said both the federal Government and the Kurdish Regional Government, had “vast spending power”, and both realised the significance of foreign partners. They were ready to engage in dialogue to find ways to improve the situation at any time. He concluded: “The IBBC opens up a world of possibility for Iraqi business to tap into British markets and encourage a new era of cooperation and investment. Now one notes with satisfaction that there are increasing numbers of British companies establishing themselves in Iraq.” n Autumn 2013 | IRAQTODAY | 25

Event BARONESS NICHOLSON OF WINTERBOURNE, Executive Chairman of the Iraq Britain Business Council, speaks at the Ministry of Human Rights’ first-ever international conference, Baghdad

What is the impact of terrorism on human rights?

26 | IRAQTODAY | Autumn 2013

SPEAKER: Baroness Nicholson, keynote speaker at the conference

Journal of the Iraq Britain Business Council

or many in the business world, the daily news of car bombings and cold-blooded murder on the streets of its towns and cities is reason enough not to invest in Iraq. The turmoil that has left thousands dead or injured has been headline news for more than a decade, keeping many potential investors well away from its borders. But that view is something IBBC’s Baroness Nicholson is determined to change, and change quickly. Our Executive Chairman has just returned from her latest mission to Iraq, and after days of talks with senior government and business leaders, and


having given a major speech in the city, she believes business can play a huge part in fighting the terrorist threat. The Baroness was a keynote speaker at the Ministry of Human Rights’ firstever international conference. The subject? The Impact of Terrorism on Human Rights in Iraq. Following directly on from an address by the Prime Minister, Nuri Kamil Al-Maliki, she told the audience at Baghdad’s Al Rasheed Hotel that she strongly believed that introducing and promoting foreign investment in developing countries like Iraq played a crucial role in helping to protect human rights. She then went on to explain why

“When I first visited Iraq 22 years ago, this wonderful and astonishing nation was being torn apart by Saddam Hussein’s brutal crackdown” she formed the Iraq British Business Council. “The IBBC was founded five years ago with just a handful of members. Since then we have grown ten fold and I am proud to say we now have 50 of the world’s most important companies – including Iraqi corporations and chambers of trade – as members.” She told delegates that major oil corporations, Britain’s BP and AngloDutch Shell, were now responsible for producing an astonishing 80 per cent of Iraq’s total income of around US$8 billion a month. She continued: “The Iraq Britain Business Council’s philosophy is to bring together business, trade and investment, for the benefit of the Republic of Iraq. The IBBC enjoys the www.webuildiraq.org

highest level of support from Western governments like the United Kingdom and the European Union.” “Committed to a free, prosperous and diverse Iraq, the IBBC has created extremely strong relationships to benefit business, industry and the people of Iraq. The IBBC is fully supported in its goals by the Iraqi Government, and the Iraq National Investment Commission,” said the Baroness. She added that IBBC was more than a business initiator. It promoted best practice and international standards as well as transferring technology and know-how. After explaining that the IBBC was a not for profit charitable company, funded privately by its members, registered as an NGO in Iraq, she concluded by saying, “Our whole reason for being is to support this country and our slogan is “Together we build Iraq.” Baroness Nicholson went on to pay tribute to Iraq for hosting the conference at such a difficult time in its history. She said the whole world, and not just Iraq, was wrestling with the human rights agenda. “When I first visited Iraq 22 years ago, this wonderful and astonishing nation was being torn apart by Saddam Hussein’s brutal crackdown on the Kurdish people in the north and the Shia population – including the Marsh Arabs – in the south. The misery inflicted on families was unspeakable and scenes of men women and children fleeing for their lives will live with me forever.” She added: “The sheer scale of the brutality – with no regard for human life and dignity – and the unbearable agony suffered by thousands and thousands of refugee families – is indeed a stain on Iraq’s history. I was determined to do what I could to help heal those wounds.” Baroness Nicholson agreed with Prime Minister Maliki that terrorism Autumn 2013 | IRAQTODAY | 27


Human rights

was arguably the greatest threat to Iraq’s revival. She said she was truly shocked by the statistics, the latest of which showed that in September alone, more than 3000 Iraqis were killed or injured in terrorist incidents. She agreed that Iraq was not alone in facing a terrorism threat. “You cannot look at Iraq in isolation from the rest of the Middle East. The collapse of certain Arab regimes and removal of their leadership has resonated many miles away in Iraq, where ethnic and religious tensions have been stirred. And as we all know, Syria is a tortured nation on Iraq’s western borders.” She said countering terrorism and protecting human rights were not competing objectives. “They complement each other by encompassing the same basic principle of protecting human life and dignity. While terrorism is unacceptable in any shape, way or form, human rights violations deserve equal condemnation.” As if to illustrate the subject matter of the conference, security surrounding the arrival of Iraq’s Prime Minister, Nuri Kamil Al-Maliki, was extraordinary. Hundreds of heavily armed police and army officers, security officials, 28 | IRAQTODAY | Autumn 2013

special branch officers and even sniffer dogs, watched Mr Maliki’s every move. Very few, save for the Baroness and her fellow speakers, were allowed anywhere near Iraq’s first citizen. With pictures of the appalling injuries and destruction greeting every visitor to the conference, and a 15-minute long graphic video showing just how much the country’s people had suffered over the last 10 years, Mr Maliki did not pull his punches in the speech that followed. “Iraq is a good laboratory to study terrorism, but the Iraqi people have to live in this laboratory. It’s a laboratory founded with the blood of hundreds of thousands of our citizens. Terrorism has created many martyrs, disabled people and widows. It has stopped economic development and education,” said Mr Maliki. “Of course, terrorism is not just an Iraqi problem, it is an international phenomena, but we are at the very centre of this criminal network. These people believe they can destroy the political process in Iraq,” he added. “The problem is that many countries in this region are controlled by uneducated and intolerant people. The whole world should stand up against this terrorism. We don’t need your

“Terrorism is not just an Iraqi problem, it is an international phenomena, but we are at the very centre of this criminal network.” Prime Minister Maliki

TOP LEFT: Delegates to the conference listening to proceedings MAIN: Members of the conference stand RIGHT: Prime Minister Maliki

Journal of the Iraq Britain Business Council

advice on arresting or killing these people. We are killing them like rats, but this is not enough. We hope that this conference will help create an international strategy, a policy against terrorism.” The Prime Minister continued by criticising so-called religious leaders: “The most important generators of terrorism are religious fatwahs issued by evil scholars. Religious leaders who say they believe in god, but are really non-Muslims who tell people to kill other people for their own ends.” “Please help us in the security and intelligence fields so we can find and destroy these terrorists and eradicate this phenomena that hurts humanity and ruins our economy.” Mr Maliki’s message was reiterated by the Human Rights Minister, Mohammed Shyaa Al-Sudani. He attacked the countries that financed terrorism, though he stopped short of naming them, and he accused others of trying to destabilise Iraq. During the two-day event, the conference heard voices from all sections of society. Senior civil servants told us afterwards that they were “absolutely delighted” it had been a complete success and said it was “just the beginning." n www.webuildiraq.org

Autumn 2013 | IRAQTODAY | 29



Shell Iraq’s Support for Local Communities A Corporate Social Responsibility initiative makes its mark

30 | IRAQTODAY | Autumn 2013

n the court of public opinion, major oil corporations have not always emerged in the best of lights in relation to the impact of the industry on people living in and around their oil fields. So it comes as a refreshing change to witness the energetic efforts being made by Shell Iraq to protect and sustain local communities near the Majnoon oil field in Basra Governorate, one of the largest oil fields in the world. Since being awarded the Majnoon development contract as the major partner in a joint venture consortium in 2009, the company has shown itself to be highly conscious of the potentially negative social impacts of its work there – not in terms of avoiding a PR disaster waiting to happen, but rather out of a genuine belief that the work it is implementing should actively benefit, not damage, local communities. In the process, Shell Iraq is proving that dedicating a proportion of its resources to such social engagement, far from being an additional pressure on the company, is in fact boosting their image in the communities around the Majnoon field, as well as building the capacity of Iraq’s future workforce in a way that is likely to bring benefits both Journal of the Iraq Britain Business Council

to Shell Iraq and to the country further down the line. Much of this work is being done in partnership with the AMAR International Charitable Foundation, a British-Iraqi NGO which has been dedicated to supporting the Iraqi people for more than twenty years. AMAR’s presence on the ground, its outstanding reputation among the local population and its strong connections with local authorities – as well as its high level of expertise in the relevant fields of health care and education – made it a natural partner for Shell Iraq to approach. Since 2010, when the first contract was signed, the relationship has been yielding excellent results across an ever-larger roster of projects. Following the success of the first small-scale pilot project targeted at supporting one health centre with ultrasound and ECG machines (and training the medical staff in their use), the partnership has grown substantially, and at the time of writing it is delivering health, education and training services to over 9,000 beneficiaries each month. The Shell-AMAR health projects are aimed principally at improving access to quality health services in rural and often isolated communities. According to World Health Organisation statistics for 2011, only 83% of the population in Iraq has access to local healthcare. Initiatives supported by AMAR and Shell Iraq so far have included funding for professional development training for health staff; mobile health clinics; Women Health Volunteers; outreach vaccination programmes; health education in schools; community health education; and delivery of more laboratory equipment. Professional training for medical personnel is a key capacity building priority for Shell Iraq, as well as for AMAR. The training is developed and implemented in close coordination with Basra Health Directorate and involves trainers from the Directorate as well as visiting medical professionals. The mobile health clinics – three in number – have been funded by Shell Iraq since July 2012, and AMAR is www.webuildiraq.org

running them in close partnership with local health authorities. The mobile clinics are serving a catchment area of over 10,000 people scattered across remote rural villages and deliver over 1,000 health services each month comprising therapeutic/GP services, laboratory services and vaccinations for children and women of reproductive age. Each mobile clinic is staffed by a doctor, a nurse, a laboratory assistant and a trained health educator. These Ministry of Health professionals receive ongoing monthly training as part of the programme. The role of the health educator is to provide ad hoc lectures for the communities visited by the clinics and to distribute relevant health material aimed at raising awareness of disease prevention techniques and how to access available public health services, as well as encouraging improvements in health behaviour. At the same time, Shell Iraq is supporting a network of twenty-four Women Health Volunteers who visit over 1,000 families every month, providing essential public health knowledge and advice on preventative health techniques. Each Volunteer is responsible for up to 50 designated families who they visit at least once a month. Like the mobile clinics, the Women Health Volunteers and their supervisors are managed, trained, monitored and evaluated by AMAR’s Iraqi staff hand in hand with local health authority personnel. The Volunteers report to the health centre on a regular basis where they receive their training and make the health centre staff aware of any health concerns arising among the families for whom they are responsible. Equally, they inform the families about the location of the health centre and services provided there, and, whenever required, make referrals. A Health Education in Schools programme is another major initiative funded by Shell Iraq and implemented by AMAR. The programme trains Ministry of Education teachers on key health topics relating to health issues within the family and local community

(e.g. water and sanitation) and appropriate teaching methods. At the time of writing, it is being implemented in 31 primary and secondary schools (for girls and boys); initially the programme was designed to benefit 6 schools, but in July 2012 the success of the programme and positive feedback from the community led Shell to extend the programme to other communities. The programme now covers all schools in the area and is reaching over 2,000 pupils each month with teaching in personal development, public health and preventative health techniques. In education, AMAR and Shell Iraq are working together to develop a Road Safety Education programme in Basra Governorate for primary school pupils aged 5-7. The programme promotes safe play, pedestrian safety and passenger safety through games, stories, songs and interactive activities for children. The current programme will ultimately involve training for a minimum of 140 primary school teachers and principals, and will reach an estimated 5,000 beneficiaries. Shell’s commitment to corporate social responsibility is not just in Iraq but global. That said, Shell Iraq is leading the way: in 2011 the Majnoon project team won the Chief Executive’s HSSE and SP Award1 for Excellence in Social Performance. Shell Iraq’s work with AMAR was explicitly recognised by the judges for its valuable contribution to improving Shell’s social performance in the communities around the Majnoon oil field. Looking to the future, it seems likely that the partnership with Shell Iraq and AMAR will continue to grow, in particular through extending the reach of health and education programmes to more communities in the area of the Majnoon oil field. Meanwhile, the work already achieved has set a high standard for corporate social responsibility projects in Iraq – which, of course, is no more than its people deserve. n 1 Health, Safety, Security and the Environment

and Social Performance Award.

Autumn 2013 | IRAQTODAY | 31

Cover Story

In just 23 years, the remarkable Nezir brothers have built a small family business into a global force. Our Editor Robert Cole meets UB Holding’s Chief Executive Hadi Nezir.

Shining Stars


even stars for seven brothers may sound like the title of an old 1960’s American movie, though it isn’t. However, the phrase does give you an instant idea of who runs the Northern Iraq-based multinational UB Holding. The company’s simple emblem – seven stars beneath bold red letters U and B – represents the seven Nezir boys who together founded United Brothers just 23 years ago. Since then, the growth of the company has, by any standards, been remarkable. The brothers – who also have six sisters – founded the company in 1990, to help drive forward the traditional family business, based on agriculture and the food sector. Since then, UB has gone from strength to strength, quickly expanding into other areas, especially the oil business, manufacturing and construction. More recently it has begun work in the leisure sector, opening theme parks in its Kurdish homeland, and in two months’ time is opening the region’s first five star hotel in their historical home, Dohuk. Hadi Nezir, UB’s charismatic and charming Chief Executive, now bases himself in London, though he spends many weeks back in Iraq and neighbouring Turkey, where much of 32 | IRAQTODAY | Autumn 2013

We are a very close family and we have always worked as a team. We are constantly on the look-out for new businesses and new ways to grow.”

the business is now centred. Strangely for such a successful businessman, Hadi has had no formal training. He studied to be a sports teacher at Iraq’s Mosul University for four years in the 1980s, but after leaving and relocating to Turkey, he soon realised that his future belonged in business and trade. “I actually wanted to be an architect, but it just didn’t work out at that time, so I went to Mosul to study sports. However, this was a difficult time in the region. Iran and Iraq were at war, and I decided to go to Turkey and start my own business,” explained Hadi. “We imported and exported mostly food and materials on a large scale,” he added. Then, just 16 years ago, the ambitious brothers decided to get into oil trading. Hadi said it seemed the logical move at that time, and their gamble paid off handsomely. The family soon moved into construction. Bottling water followed – their Life mineral brand is now a market leader. He beams with pride when he talks about the family’s achievements over the last two decades. He puts the success down to inherited business skills – his father is still a hugely successful entrepreneur – and large Journal of the Iraq Britain Business Council


Autumn 2013 | IRAQTODAY | 33

Cover story UB HOLDING

amounts of hard work and dedication. Oh, and of course, an acute eye for a deal! “We are a very close family and we have always worked as a team. We are constantly on the look-out for new businesses and new ways to grow,” explained Hadi. He admits that UB’s main business is now oil. They not only trade in it, but have fuel storage and distribution terminals in Erbil and Zakho, and gas (petrol) stations all over the region under the brand Iraq Oil. The political turmoil and terrorism affecting much of the Middle East, especially Iraq, has not had an adverse effect on the business. Hadi says that’s partly due to the immediate geography. “Kurdistan is safe and stable. Of course we have businesses in the rest of Iraq, but the majority are based there, and it’s a great place to do business. Safe and secure, with a lot of opportunities and an open market,” continued Hadi. He said foreign businesses should take advantage of the situation and open up in the region. “As an executive board member of the IBBC, I would say to fellow members that you should come and see what the government here has to offer. It’s not just about oil; there are all sorts of industries that are needed. The government would of course welcome the inward investment, but foreign companies should think about the opportunities on offer to them.” Hadi continued: “There are so many fields crying out for investment. Food, health care, tourism, education, agriculture, construction, the list goes on and on. Kurdistan is a gauge for the rest of Iraq. Start here and see how it goes. You will not be disappointed.” He goes on to talk with delight about his latest love, UB Holding’s involvement in the tourist industry. “This is our native land and we want to give something back. We have 34 | IRAQTODAY | Autumn 2013

Kurdistan is a gauge for the rest of Iraq. Start here and see how it goes. You will not be disappointed.”

UB HOLDING FACTS UB Holding companies include: Iraq Oil, Ahram General Trading, Legacy Construction, Safpet, Pak, Hayat, and Burak Logistics. UB Holding is about to open Northern Iraq’s first five-star hotel. The dramatic 20-storey complex in the centre of Dohuk will be run by the famous Rixos group.

Journal of the Iraq Britain Business Council

LET’S PUT VALUABLE SKILLS INTO THE HANDS OF IRAQI PEOPLE. We can all help build a better future for the nation. Like getting local people back into work and developing the talents and skills of Iraqi citizens. Shell has been investing in Iraq for many years. Not just in the energy sector, but working directly with the government and local communities to fight unemployment. At the Majnoon oilfield for example, over three-quarters of the 3,000-strong team are Iraqi. Let’s give local talent the power to succeed. www.shell.com/letsgo

LET’S GO. www.webuildiraq.org

Autumn 2013 | IRAQTODAY | 35

Cover story UB HOLDING

built theme parks, fun fairs and even a soon to be finished cable car in the region, and now we are about to open our first 5-Star hotel, in Dohuk. “We are the investor, but the hotel will open under the famous Rixos brand. We are very excited about this. It will open in about two months and we are confident that all the rooms in the 20-storey complex will be filled on a regular basis. There is plenty of demand,” said Hadi. UB Holding believes they are different from other multinationals in the region because they care what happens there. “To succeed I believe we must invest not only in the business but in the people. We have around 3000 fantastic 36 | IRAQTODAY | Autumn 2013

Journal of the Iraq Britain Business Council



staff – many of them women – and we train them to a high standard, often taking them outside Iraq for training and development,” continued Hadi. With such enormous success, does he not want to sit back and enjoy the fruits of his labours and leave the hard work to a new generation of Nezirs? Hadi laughs at the very thought. “Of course business is not easy. We have stress, pressure, but it’s like a very exciting hobby – I adore it. It is my sport!” With that, he immediately goes on to talk about UB’s latest project, which could create thousands of jobs in the South of Iraq. “We have made a major investment in the Government-owned Basra steel factory. We plan to have it up and www.webuildiraq.org

running very soon, producing products for the construction industry,” explains Hadi. Once manufacturing has begun again in Basra, he hopes that it will create work for more than 5000 people. Hugely good news in an area blighted not just by the fear of terrorism and political upheaval, but terrible unemployment. Hadi says there are new projects in the pipeline, though he cannot talk about them yet because of commercial sensitivities. He is full of praise for the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC), which has helped out UB over the years not only with finance but expert advice as well. The family is passionate and enthusiastic about UB’s charitable work. They have built, and are currently building, several schools in the region and also a number of mosques. “We want to put something back, to help people who are not as fortunate as us. As well as the school and mosque building programmes,

We want to put something back, to help people who are not as fortunate as us. This is all very important to us.”

we also support education in general and we help orphans. This is all very important to us,” he said. So what does the future look like for UB Holding? “The family is drawing up its very own constitution. A legal document that will ensure the new generation continues our work and carries on in the way UB should.” As for Hadi himself, there’s no chance of him enjoying a quiet life anytime soon. He’s moved his family to London, but he divides his time between the British Capital, Istanbul, and Erbil keeping a beady eye on all his interests. “I love it in the UK, it is so cosmopolitan, you can find everything here,” said Hadi, though he does admit he doesn’t get to see as much of his favourite football team, Istanbul’s Galatasaray, as he’d like. “There have to be some downsides to being a company chairman,” joked Hadi. Luckily for him, his UB Holding team continues to play at the highest level, and he always gets the best seat in the grandstand to watch! n Autumn 2013 | IRAQTODAY | 37


| Autumn2013 38 | |IRAQTODAY IRAQTODAY| Summer 2013

Journal of the Iraq Britain Business Council

Report: ALASTAIR NIVEN, IBBC ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR & CHAIRMAN, IBBC EDUCATION AND TRAINING SECTOR TABLE Any conversation about modern Iraq and its most pressing needs will start with an acknowledgement that good education at all levels is the key to successful development. It is with this in mind that the IBBC has set up an Education and Training Sector Table. Education is a big subject, potentially covering not just the primary, secondary and tertiary levels of formal education, but knowledge of civil society, governance, health and safety, dietary advice and even the highway code. There is a real danger, therefore, that any commitment to education and training will end up so baggy a monster that it is unclear to anyone as to what precisely it is about. For this reason the newly established Education and Training Sector Table has met to decide on its priorities and focus. > www.webuildiraq.org

Autumn Summer2013 2013| |IRAQTODAY IRAQTODAY|| 39



COMMITTEE: Alastair Niven with IBBC members at the inaugural meeting of the Education and Training Sector Table

t was eighteen months ago that I was invited by Baroness Nicholson to chair this new sector table. My credentials were ten years as a full-time university academic, two long stints, one of six years and one of twelve, running educational foundations with charitable status, and fourteen years as an executive director of national organisations. One of these organisations was the British Council, which has a global remit. In the summer of 2013 we took advantage of the IBBC retreat at Cumberland Lodge in Windsor to convene a general discussion about the educational and training needs of Iraq and how best our member companies might help. This has been followed by a meeting in London on 7th October, attended by nine representatives of companies, all of whom asked to be part of the Table’s future deliberations. Each of them outlined the education and training work in which they were already engaged. It was extensive. This is not the place to itemise their programmes in detail, but I was encouraged to hear how much 40 | IRAQTODAY | Autumn 2013

is already afoot. There was mutual interest in and respect for each other’s projects. IBBC has a role, they felt, in providing a forum for keeping these initiatives in touch with each other. Some companies have ambitions to build their presence in Iraq and others are very well established there already. All agreed that training centres are vital for their expatriate staff as well as for Iraqis. There was an even more united conviction that the improvement of English language teaching would be essential if Iraq was to link effectively with the rest of the world. This will, I hope, be balanced by good instruction in Arabic for the staff of western companies working in Iraq. One of three priorities to which the Education and Training Sector committed itself was to seek ways of extending access to good English language tuition. To help determine how this should best happen, an IBBC working group will be convened. The British Council has a good record in this respect in Iraq and we shall hope to work in partnership with it. Two other priorities emerged. There was considerable optimism

that IBBC could be effective in helping to improve the range and quality of primary school teaching in Iraq. One member gave a graphic account of her visit to a school in Surrey and her determination to see schools of similar standard set up in Iraq. Such schools would not depend on the financial input of the pupil’s family. We were privileged to have specially written for the meeting two background papers on higher education, one describing the possibility of developing a British higher education presence in Iraq and the other exploring the condition of indigenous Iraqi universities. After forty years of unyielding government control and abuse under Saddam Hussein, the university sector has begun to revive in Iraq. There is huge pride in the academic and scholarly traditions of the country. There is a collective academic memory that Iraq has provided, not just within Iraq itself but internationally, some of the best doctors and researchers in the world. There is a desire, almost ebullient in its vigour, to see Iraqi higher education return to its past greatness. British Journal of the Iraq Britain Business Council

experience and expertise in matters of accreditation, degree parity and research methodology could be hugely useful in this process. Again, it is something that IBBC can help bring about. There are various routes to establishing a British higher education presence in Iraq, of which a full university, along the lines of the British University in Dubai, is one. David Lock, now of the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, a U.K. based body, was present at the Table and wrote one of the papers informing the meeting. An alternative would be to foster the concept of distance learning, along the brilliant lines of the Open University, one of Britain’s great educational success stories. A third possibility is to explore the possibilities of online teaching and study as part of the electronic revolution. IBBC will look at all these ideas. We have been encouraged by the Minister of Higher Education in Iraq to do so. In time it is likely that IBBC will also try to assist in setting up a scheme to provide career refreshment to www.webuildiraq.org

university teachers and administrators who, without the opportunity to travel, can easily become jaded. There may be a role, too, for the organisation to help in finding short-term placements in British museums and art galleries for curators charged with the conservation of Iraq’s glorious cultural inheritance. They would receive vital training in the protection and management of historic artefacts. The Director of the British Museum has already responded favourably to this notion. Another ambition is to create a competition for young people to write stories or autobiographical pieces about their lives in Iraq, both as a way of celebrating their love of their countries and as a means of using their English. I could go on! There is no shortage of imaginative thinking in IBBC’s Education and Training Sector. What I have sketched out here is but the start. It is great that all our members recognise the importance of this work. I am confident that Iraq Today will be able to report progress in future issues of this new publication that

will point to the determination of Iraqis themselves, and all who work in their country, to realise Iraq’s great educational potential. We cannot replicate the work of the Ministry of Education in Iraq; it would be arrogant to try. We can, however, be helpful. In the process more Iraqis will come to Britain for further training and the links between our countries will be hugely strengthened. n

We cannot replicate the work of the Ministry of Education in Iraq; it would be arrogant to try. We can, however, be helpful.”



O’Sullivan picks a winner with Penspen Robert Cole meets the engineering and management company’s ambitious new Chief Executive.

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Journal of the Iraq Britain Business Council


ike his famous horseracing commentator namesake, Peter O’Sullivan, the new chief executive of Penspen, always tries to back a winner, and it’s odds on that he’s chosen one with the London-based engineering services and asset management business. Having been in the job for just a few weeks he is still getting used to his new position, but he’s already passionate about what he wants to achieve over the next few years, and where he wants the company to go. “I want to grow the business of course, and build on the considerable amount that has been achieved already. But I also want it to become more integrated. We provide a range of different services that we have built up over a number of years, and I think there’s a market for a company like ours to provide a comprehensive offering – a one stop shop if you like,” said Mr O’Sullivan. He continued: “We have a fantastic depth and breadth of highly skilled people, and I want to achieve greater integration of these teams and add in more capabilities. For example, we are expanding the scope of our upstream engineering capabilities.” Mr O’Sullivan, 44, goes on to talk about what he describes as the “great strength” of Penspen – its people. “Basically I want to build the next generation of top quality oil and gas engineers. We are a people business so it’s hugely important for us to be able to identify and develop engineering talent.” “It’s a great testament to our company that we have people who have been with Penspen for 20 or 30 years, with great depth of experience, but it’s


also important to bring the next cohort through,” added Mr O’Sullivan, a father of four. He said the London-based firm is casting a wide net to find the brightest and the best. “Obviously we employ many British engineers, but we also employ people from around the world. We are finding in the oil industry that there is a gap between the more senior, experienced engineers and the younger ones. There are fewer people in the middle tier, so we need to develop more junior engineers to help us plan for the future and eliminate this gap. ” Mr O’Sullivan, who was born in Dublin but grew up in both Ireland and Canada, says there is fierce competition to find the brightest and the best. “Penspen sets itself apart by offering its staff interesting and varied work as well as significant responsibility. Our junior employees gain experience that they probably would not get with the bigger companies. For many people that’s quite compelling.” Penspen won the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise in 2010 for its work in international trade. It is now working in many areas of Iraq, and Mr O’Sullivan is keen to build on this to take advantage of the tremendous

opportunities to enterprising foreign companies. “Iraq is certainly a very important country for us. We are involved in projects in the South, at Al Faw and Rumaila, and in the North in Kurdistan. Strategically we want to be involved in the development of Iraq because it is plays to our strengths,” said Mr O’Sullivan. “We are an engineering services and asset management company and there is plenty of room for us to grow there. We are strong in pipeline design and onshore oil and gas facilities engineering, and we have similarly developed offshore facilities and subsea engineering capabilities through our work in the North Sea.” Mr O’Sullivan said that Penspen is very good at helping solve the many problems associated with upgrading and improving existing facilities that are operating below their potential – something which Iraq has in abundance. “There are lots of fields which are under-achieving, so to speak. In many cases, both surface and sub-surface operations have not been optimally maintained. There’s a lot of work to be done there. That is the key challenge for Iraq now – getting their fields

It’s a great testament to our company that we have people who have been with Penspen for 20 or 30 years, with great depth of experience, but it’s also important to bring the next cohort through.” Autumn Summer2013 2013| |IRAQTODAY IRAQTODAY|| 43


Peter O’Sullivan

up to modern performance levels.” Mr O’Sullivan added that this was a “hugely important” issue for the country. “It’s production that will fund the wider development of Iraq and its infrastructure.” Like many foreign companies, Penspen, is constantly wrestling with the problems caused by the threat of terrorism and political upheaval in the region. “If we can see the security situation improve, it will unlock Iraq’s economy and bring investment flooding in. “ Despite the worries over the situation there, Mr O’Sullivan talks about the future with great optimism. Penspen, a member of the Lebanese-owned Dar Group, feels it has a significant contribution to make to the planned design, build and operation of a vast pipeline, which will run more than 1000km across the Arabian Desert from South Iraq to the Jordanian port of Aqaba. “It’s an incredible venture. The big issue of course will be security across vast swathes of Iraq. It’s a very strategic project for the country and very important. It will significantly increase the amount of oil they can export. Currently Iraq’s crude export is constrained by the existing export capacity,” explained Mr O’Sullivan. He said because of the amount of work Penspen is doing in Iraq, they are big supporters of the IBBC. “IBBC has helped us build our business in Iraq. It’s helped us develop relationships with the oil ministry and also with other companies that are interested in working in Iraq. The type of work we do always requires us to work with other companies, so this is vital for us.” n

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Iraq is certainly a very important country for us. We are involved in projects in the South, at Al Faw and Rumaila, and in the North in Kurdistan.”

Journal of the Iraq Britain Business Council


Autumn 2013 | IRAQTODAY | 45



Rising from

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Journal of the Iraq Britain Business Council

Basra Sports City sits in the southern Iraqi desert like a massive spaceship from another planet. This colossus is the biggest sports venue in the Middle East and the pride of Basra. IRAQ TODAY has been given exclusive access to the newly finished stadium and to Abdullah al-Jibouri, the man who built it. Sports City is a lot more to the Iraqi people than just a football coliseum.


ake the main western highway out of Basra and as the city falls away you see it shimmering in the heat haze; an astonishing white mirage rising from the burning desert. Your jaw drops as you near Sports City which is both inspiring and awesome. The only thing you can say is: “wow!” This incredible amphitheatre has taken just four years to build which in Iraq – troubled with security issues and import difficulties – is a fantastic achievement.4 Ahead of the official opening in


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PROUD: Anwar Soura Construction chief Abdullah alJibouri shows off his new stadium



August I am invited for a tour of Sports City and also to meet the man who built it: Abdullah al-Jibouri. Security is naturally high profile and there are a number of check points before any vehicle can enter the main stadium car park – Iraq’s Youth and Sports Ministry must convince the worldwide football body FIFA the venue is safe before a ban on international games in Iraq can be lifted.

daytime temperatures of 40C plus. And it is on the pitch where my host Mr Al-Jibouri is waiting in shirt sleeves at the centre spot where games are scheduled to kick off soon, to the joy of football mad Iraq. “You know, I am so proud of this stadium. It means so much to the Iraqi people,” says Mr Al-Jbouri and he invites me to continue our conversation in a cooler VIP room in the stand.

I am so proud of this stadium. It means so much to the Iraqi people.” ABDULLAH AL-JIBOURI

Iraq’s revival Breathtaking Up close this amazing building is even more breathtaking. I notice between the white “bubbled” outer casing, supporting legs designed to represent the trunks of palm trees for which Iraq, and Basra in particular, was once renowned. Walking through the cool of the black marbled lobbies I see workmen installing ticket barriers, escalators and other paraphernalia found in world class stadiums. Beyond is a stunning green pitch made from special grass able to survive 48 | IRAQTODAY | Autumn 2013

Over good sweet Iraqi tea and chilled water, Mr Al-Jibouri adds: “This stadium is very much the brain child of His Excellency Nouri al-Maliki the Prime Minister of Iraq, who said he wanted something to represent this country’s revival. “He made sure the funding was there for us to build the best. I think we have fulfilled his dreams.” “The Prime Minister has taken a strong personal interest during construction. “When he visited in May, he said he was amazed how fantastic it is – which

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MAIN: The main stadium is believed to be the third biggest in the world BELOW: Aerial view of Sports City complex including main stadium, practice arena and hotels

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Journal of the Iraq Britain Business Council

SPORTS CITY FACTS Construction started on: July 15th

2009 The roof structure is steel and cantilever 30 metres from the back support column of the upper deck with a 15 metre back-span. When complete the complex will comply with Olympic track and field standards. The complex contains four training facilities, athlete housing, a fire station, a medical centre and a helipad.

When the British Army were here they promised us David Beckham!” ABDULLAH AL-JIBOURI

Barcelona Football club have already started a training programme for young players. The architectural team was 360 based in Texas, USA who teamed with Newport Global Project Management Group of Missouri, USA

is what most people say,” smiles Mr Al-Jibouri. No-one is quite sure what the inaugural football game will be, but Iraq’s Sports and Youth Ministry is considering a mouth-watering match between a Basra team and another from Baghdad.

They promised us Beckham! “When the British Army were here they promised us David Beckham!” says Al-Jibouri. He adds: “But we Iraqis love the Spanish clubs, so seeing someone like Messi kick a ball on our pitch some time soon would be just amazing.” The 65,000 seat stadium, with its secondary stadium for 20,000, its four 5 star hotels, swimming pool and www.webuildiraq.org

other sports facilities cost half a billion US dollars – a staggering amount when millions of Basra residents are without mains electricity, regular water supplies and get by on about US$2 a day. Al-Jibouri, aged 58, and who heads the Anwar Soura General Construction Company, acknowledges this but points out the stadium has generated a thousand Iraqi jobs during construction and will create many more when it opens. The stadium is boosting fresh local construction with new roads to connect the stadium to Basra airport and a new highway west. And because foreign football fans must sleep somewhere several new hotels are being built in Basra. All

this is generating wealth for the local community for years ahead. The regional and television spotlight will turn on Sports City when it hosts the Gulf Cup in 2015 putting Basra on the football map.

More will follow Because of the success of Basra Sports City there are plans to build other stadiums in Iraq. The country’s football chiefs are hoping this will lead to the scrapping of a FIFA ban on Iraqi venues for international games. Al-Jibouri sums up: “Basra Sports City is an iconic building and a symbol of national pride. Its value to Iraq is utterly priceless.” n

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EPIC: The sun sets over the Baghdad skyline MAJESTIC: A stunning bird’s eye view of Baghdad and the River Tigris.

Shining Stars

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Journal of the Iraq Britain Business Council


Sheffield to Iraq Today’s Editor, Robert Cole, talks diplomacy and trade with the UK’s Man in Baghdad, Simon Collis.



or most schoolboys, doing a newspaper round is the best way of earning some extra pocket money to spend on a young life’s little indulgences. A video game, a DVD, or a few sweets. However, Britain’s Ambassador to Iraq, Simon Collis, was not most schoolboys. His reason for doing the round was altogether different. It was the papers themselves he was after – to be exact, the foreign pages. “It was how I became interested in international relations. I’d take a bit longer than the usual paperboy on his round, because I spent ages reading the foreign news, learning about far off places that seemed so romantic and interesting,” said Simon.

He added: “I was curious about how people lived in other parts of the world, and I was keen to try and make a difference to some of the issues I was learning about.” He began to look into the work of British Foreign Office, but wasn’t sure at first whether it was the right place for him. But the more he read, the more he thought to himself “why not?” After school in Sheffield and a degree from Cambridge, Simon finally realised his ambition, and began work in his chosen profession, joining the diplomatic service through the open competition run by the Civil Service Commission. A glittering career has followed. Since joining the Foreign Office, he

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Interview Simon Collis

WELCOME: Baroness Nicholson (centre), Simon Collis and the rest of his senior embassy team.

has worked mostly in the Middle East, or dealt with the region from London, becoming “Our Man” in Baghdad just 16 months ago. “My last two jobs before this were as Ambassador in Syria and in Qatar. Outside the region I’ve worked in India and at the UK mission to the United Nations. I’ve also worked in Dubai, Basra, Amman, Tunis, Algiers and Bahrain,” he explained. Crucially, Simon also spent what he describes as “an amazing year” on secondment to BP, where he admits to learning a huge amount about how things look from a business perspective, as well as about the energy sector in particular. All good experience for a post where attracting and encouraging business is one of the main parts of the job. “Our three main goals are to support State-building inside Iraq, to encourage better relations between Iraq and its neighbours in the interests of regional stability and development, and to strengthen the ties between Iraq and the UK across the whole range of trade, investment, education and other areas,” Simon explained. 54 | IRAQTODAY | Autumn 2013

To most, Ambassador to Iraq must seem to be one of the toughest jobs on the diplomatic circuit, but Simon sees it as a fantastic challenge. “Iraq is the fastest growing economy in the world. After 40 years of dictatorship, wars and sanctions most of its infrastructure needs renewal and extension. There are also massive human development needs in education and healthcare. These are all sectors where British businesses, universities and institutions are well placed to partner Iraq, building on some deep historical ties,” he says. “It’s a privilege to represent the UK in Iraq at this busy and important time. Yes, there are challenges, but the opportunities are immense.” For Simon, the most enjoyable part of the job is when he feels he is able to take some tangible practical step towards bringing Iraq and the UK closer together in areas that benefit everyone. “So far this year the highpoints have been when we established a joint ministerial committee working closely with the IBBC to improve the business environment, and when we opened full visa services in Baghdad and Erbil

as well as a Business Embassy service in Baghdad so that Iraqi and British business people can get together more easily. I also enjoyed being on the inaugural flight when Iraqi Airways resumed services to London.” The British Government, says Simon, is committed to increasing trade with Iraq. “Our UK Trade and Investment teams (UKTI) in Baghdad and Erbil have had a very busy year supporting British business that is already in country; seeking and communicating new business opportunities available and running a series of trade missions and visits to connect British business to their Iraqi counterparts,” said Simon. This year, the UK Trade Minister Lord Green has visited Baghdad and Basra, and Trade Envoy Lord Marland headed a UK delegation to the Kurdistan Region for the Erbil Trade Fair. The embassy has opened Visa Application Centres in Baghdad and Erbil, and will be opening one in Basra shortly, making it significantly easier for business applicants to travel to the UK. “We’ve launched the Ministerial Trade Council (MTC) between the UK and Iraq. This is the Government Journal of the Iraq Britain Business Council

Iraq is the fastest growing economy in the world. After 40 years of dictatorship, wars and sanctions most of its infrastructure needs renewal and extension. There are also massive human development needs in education and healthcare.”

forum for discussing barriers to trade between our countries. The first MTC meeting was in Baghdad in February 2013, co-chaired by Minister Alistair Burt, and Foreign Minister Zebari. The next meeting will be co-chaired by Lord Green and Foreign Minister Zebari in November,” continued Simon. He added that IBBC’s Executive Chairman, Baroness Nicholson, would be hosting a dinner in the House of Lords Guest Dining Room for the ministers and FCO/UKTI team close to that Conference. Recently, the British mission in Iraq has taken further measures to encourage business from the UK to take a chance on Iraq. “We’ve opened a business support service at the Embassy in Baghdad, allowing British companies to stay on the secure Embassy compound and utilise Embassy security teams and vehicles on commercial visits – easing their first visits to Iraq. And we are running the first ever inward investment conference from the Kurdistan region, with 50 Kurdish investors visiting London in early November.” So far this financial year, UKTI has www.webuildiraq.org

supported £70m of business wins through their Trade Growth Value programme, and secured a $100m oil and gas supply chain contract under the UKTI High Value Opportunities Programme. Simon says UK firms are well placed to benefit from the commercial opportunities in Iraq. British firms have a strong reputation in Iraq for quality of goods and services, and clean business practice. Indeed, many firms are already doing well there.  BP, through its operations with China National Petroleum Company at the Rumaila oil field, is current producing half of Iraq’s total oil output.  And Shell has recently started production at the massive Majnoon oilfield in Basra. Half of the registered oil exploration companies operating in the Northern Kurdistan region are British. He explained: “UK companies are experiencing increasing demand in various sectors including health, power, water, security, financial services and retail; British Universities are currently attracting 80% of the students funded through the Kurdistan Regional Government’s $100m per year international scholarship programme.” “Our financial services companies are starting to consider the enormous demand for their services and expertise that exists in Iraq.  For example, UK bank Standard Chartered is about to open three new branches in Iraq, in Baghdad, Basra and Erbil – the only Western bank operating full branches in country.” Added Simon. As anyone knows who’s recently done business in the region, Iraq can be a difficult environment. Simon says this has not put off potential British investors. “We cannot deny that Iraq is a challenging place to do business, not least regarding the security situation which has deteriorated in recent months.  But UK companies are still visiting the market – with the support of some excellent security

companies – and business is being done here,” he said. He added that other major challenges included the bureaucracy, corruption, and the lack of a proper banking system. Simon said the Embassy was always there to offer a helping hand to new British business. “We advise all new visitors to the market to adhere to security advice provided from whichever private security company they employ, to take advantage of our Embassy Business Support Service or to join one of our outward trade missions.” “We also tell businesses that investment law is improving. Iraq’s Investment law now includes tax incentives, investor guarantees, obligations of investors, and a National Investment Commission (NIC) has been created – a single point of contact for investors interested in entering Iraq – effectively streamlining licensing and investment services.” In late November, the UKTI and the IBBC will be jointly running a company mission to Iraq – including both Baghdad and Erbil.   “This will be a chance for UK firms to hear about some of the enormous opportunities in Iraq first hand, from the Ministries, organisations and companies that are managing them.  The mission is open to companies from all sectors, though there is a particular focus on healthcare, education, and new-to-market companies,” explained Simon. “UKTI is offering an £800 grant to any SME companies that attend the mission. IBBC are organising recruitment, and can be contacted for more details.” There are around fifty people working at the Embassy in Baghdad and the Consulate in Erbil – roughly half British and half Iraqi. Because of the security situation, the expats have to live and work on the secure compound in the Green Zone, alongside security and support staff. Simon explains: “Our families are Autumn 2013 | IRAQTODAY | 55

Interview Simon Collis

SPECTACULAR: The beautiful 14th of Ramadan Mosque in Baghdad’s Firdos Square

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not allowed to stay with us or to visit. We are able to travel around Iraq to do our jobs but we do need to follow some special security procedures. It’s a challenging environment yes, but the mood is very positive and I’m very lucky to have a group of people around me who are great at their own jobs and who know how to live and work together.” With the extraordinary demands of the role, you’d think that Simon would struggle to have any free time at all, but that’s not quite the case. “In my private time, I enjoy translating some Arabic poetry – the modern poets are easier for me! I speak pretty fluent Arabic, it’s such a beautiful language, but you never stop learning.” Simon is married and has five grown up children and three grandchildren. “They are spread between Singapore, London, Dubai and Beirut so we are spoilt for choice about where to spend our holidays!” he joked. Simon adds that a lot has changed in the world since he joined the Foreign Office. “The work is even more stimulating and worthwhile. And like football, and maybe life in general, the game we play has become faster, more professional, and more dependent on effective communication and teamwork. But the basic deal, that you work for an organisation that promotes British interests and values overseas, supporting British citizens and businesses around the globe, hasn’t really changed.” “It’s satisfying and enjoyable work with some great people. You can see why the Foreign Office is currently ranked 13th out of the top 300 graduate employers. So what’s next for Simon Collis? “I’m looking forward to completing my second year as British Ambassador in Baghdad next summer. After that, who knows? That’s one of the joys of my job!” n Journal of the Iraq Britain Business Council


A new collection of iconic photographs captures the untold story of the Iraq war 2003

Untold stories from Iraq

BY STEPHEN CASSCELLS-HAMBY 4 PHOTOJOURNALISTS ON WAR, MICHAEL KAMBER Recommended retail price: US$ 65.00 | Amazon: US $55.05 | University of Texas Press: $43.55


wenty years from now, when the next generation is studying the 2003 Iraq War, I can only imagine what will fill their curriculum: dates, numbers of dead and injured, who won – who lost? Yet while they frantically scribble notes to prepare for their exam, my guess is their minds will be devoid of stories unheard by most: about those caught in the crossfire of this conflict which changed Iraq forever. Michael Kamber’s book provides that unique and intimate touch of photojournalism as he captures the tales of American soldiers and correspondents, but also of Iraqi families and their struggle to survive. A foreword by Pulitzer winning journalist Dexter Filkins describes the book as, “epic in scope, human in scale.” And for me turning every page I could feel my heart ache as I hoped the images and descriptions of Iraq at war were merely fantasy. But no, they were painfully real. Contributor Lynsey Addario’s

and Iraqi citizens evokes a traumatising yet unforgettable experience that is certainly engrained in my mind. And my feeling is the goal was not to evoke a sense of victory, as Iraq parted ways with a tyrant; rather to instil a moment of compassion and understanding that Iraq still had a long way to go. When I read the stories and captions of photographs from Addario, Bangert and others I could imagine myself in Firdos Square, Baghdad witnessing historic change – a paradigm shift which cast shadows of anxiety and fear over its citizens as American forces, whose goal was to liberate from tyranny, but left a nation seemingly drowned in a sea of insurgency. In a conflict where the only clearly identifiable soldiers on the streets American-led coalition forces, hopeful yet frightened Iraqi men, women and children found themselves caught between their ‘liberators’ and militias. Images from Patrick Baz and Guy Calaf showed exactly that

recount of Iraq’s transformative perspective of Americans

with the latter remarking: “What always killed me about all of this


was that these attacks were so costly to the population” For me the strength of Kamber’s work lies in his astonishing ability to instil breathtaking images in our mind of the painful untold stories and although shocking and sometimes gruesome, these photographs penetrate our deep understanding of war and its repercussions. Dates and statistics are ignored, and once you turn that final page, you can finally understand. Like the Baghdad woman photographed crossing a street filled with smoke and flames, you hope she and millions of other Iraqis eventually do find tranquillity on the other side. SCH

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Postcard from...

Basra After years of conflict Iraq is being transformed – but modernisation means slices of traditional life are lost forever. We asked photographer FAKHER ABDUL SATTAR AL-GHANIM to capture some of the familiar sights which make up the rich kaleidoscope of life for ordinary Iraqis, before they become just a memory.

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Journal of the Iraq Britain Business Council

Ferry across the Sha’at The earliest civilisation in Basra is thought to be at least 6,000 years old and almost since time began families have crossed this watery region in a variety of craft. Despite the opening of three new bridges across the 800 metre wide Sha’at al-Arab in Basra traditional ferries are still in business. The fare from the Corniche to the other side is less than US$1, although for a few dollars more the ferryman will take you anywhere on the Sha’at. But a new road tunnel and a suspension bridge are being planned. In the future: will there be anyone to pay the ferryman?4


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Postcard from...


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Journal of the Iraq Britain Business Council

Old Basra


Basra is often called the City of Shanasheel, which is the Arabic term for a stand-out window surrounded by wooden latticework from the second floor upwards – the earliest versions were found in Baghdad from the 12th century onwards. The wooden screen with openable windows gives shade and protection from the hot summer sun which in Basra often tops 45C, meanwhile shade from the street causes different

air pressures and the lattice allows cool air to flow through the house. The lattice also allows the home owner to watch the street without being seen. These magnificent examples of Shanasheel are in Old Basra and are thought to date from the end of the Ottoman period. Somehow they survived years of wars, especially the Iran-Iraq conflict more than 30 years ago when much of Old Basra was destroyed.4 Autumn 2013 | IRAQTODAY | 61

Postcard from...

Rope souk, Basra Rope was first made by the ancients from the fibres of date palms which were plentiful in Iraq until recently. It was from age-old settlements like Basra that the skill of rope making spread through the rest of the world several millennia ago. Basra’s maritime history – especially during the time of sailing ships – meant rope making in the city never died out and although some rope is made from hemp, most are now twisted from synthetic fibres. All that remains of a once thriving industry in Basra is the rope souk made up of a small collection of shops in the Ashar district where rope of every colour and strength can be found.

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Journal of the Iraq Britain Business Council

Al-Zubhair The souk at Al-Zubhair

Any gentleman looking for an abaya cloak to slip over his dishdash will find a souk dedicated to sewing together his requirements in Al Zubhair. Seated on the floor crosslegged tailors have been turning out fine abayas here for a hundred years.

A standard one will cost around US$200, a more elaborate version with gold stitching much loved by sheikhs will cost more than five times that. In some parts of Iraq sales of hand-made abayas have dropped dramatically with customers opting for cheaper ready made cloaks imported from the Far East. But more traditional Basra still prefers the quality of a handmade garment. n

LEFT: Many stalls sell trinkets, toys and coffee pots for tourists, especially those from neighbouring Iran.


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Building on 21 years of essential work throughout Iraq


MAR has an exemplary record, established over 21 years, of advising on and delivering essential health, education and training services in continuing complex emergency environments. AMAR forms close partnerships and works in close cooperation with local and national governments, global health and education institutions and international companies. By working in this way, and by only employing local professionals, AMAR is able to respond to the needs of the population, the government and corporate donors in a way which builds capacity and is therefore completely sustainable. Zain Iraq is AMAR’s leading corporate sponsor and has been supporting AMAR in the delivery of all its projects in Iraq for over six years. Zain and AMAR are working together to address the desperate need for health care and education after several decades of neglect and deterioration of the health and education infrastructure. The generous financial support provided by Zain enables AMAR to continue providing assistance to hundreds of thousands of men, women and children, as well as being able to develop and start new projects, such as the latest project to fight tuberculosis in Iraq in partnership with UNDP and the Ministry of Health. AMAR has worked in partnership with Shell Iraq since 2010 to strengthen the provision of basic services in the communities around Shell’s Iraq operations and to increase access to primary health care services and health education. This project was awarded the Shell CEO’s Global Award for Social Performance. As this partnership grows AMAR and Shell | Autumn2013 64 | |IRAQTODAY IRAQTODAY| Summer 2013

MAIN: A hand-washing class from AMAR’s Health Education in Schools programme BOTTOM LEFT: A consultation with one of AMAR’s Mobile Health Clinic doctors BOTTOM RIGHT: A home visit by one of AMAR’s Women Health Volunteers

Iraq are now also developing a Road Safety Education campaign for schools and working to develop opportunities for professional medical training in addition to skills training and employment projects. AMAR is also supported by Kuwait Energy Company, Gulfsands Petroleum, GardaWorld, SKA Group, Central Park Hotel, IKB Travel and AAIB Insurance, and has recently been supported by Dragon Oil and Olive Group.

CONTACT US For more information about AMAR, please contact us on: Tel: +44 (0) 207 799 2217 Email: london@amarfoundation.org Or visit: www.amarfoundation.org

Journal of the Iraq Britain Business Council

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AND FINALLY..... in each edition of IRAQ TODAY we will outline 10 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW about doing business in Iraq; an honest assessment aimed specifically at potential Western investors.

PIPING: Massive revenues are sure to follow from Iraq’s gas industry FUNDS The UK acted aggressively to address an historical weakness in its anti-bribery laws by enacting the UK Bribery Act

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The good news is Iraq is very much open for business and there is limitless goodwill towards Western investors. Quite simply Iraq is potentially one of the world’s wealthiest nations. With 10% annual growth Iraq is already one of the fastest growing economies after China Senior Iraqi politicians regularly tell the Iraq Britain Business Council: “We want Western businesses to come. Westerners are pushing at an open door.” Iraq is generating more than US$7 billion a month from oil exports, a figure which could easily treble by the end of the decade. Further massive revenues are sure to flow from Iraq’s gas industry which is still in its infancy in terms of development; at the moment US$10 million of gas is burned off every day until the capture program begins. Iraq has not started mining rich mineral wealth beneath its deserts and mountains, including gold and platinum.

| Autumn2013 66 | |IRAQTODAY IRAQTODAY| Summer 2013

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Stalled since 2007 there is no sign a vital hydrocarbons law will be passed soon, but there appears to be a thawing of relations between Erbil and Baghdad over oil revenue sharing According to business watchdogs Transparency International, Iraq is languishing at 169th place out of 174 in a corruption list country by country. Anyone doing business in Iraq would be wise to remind themselves of the severe penalties which can be imposed on corporations and individuals. The United States, through the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission, has dramatically increased its investigation and enforcement of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. In addition, in 2010 the United Kingdom acted aggressively to address an historical weakness in its anti-bribery laws by enacting the UK Bribery Act. Local Iraqi courts: not recommended; especially if a high value claim.

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Paperwork for setting up a company in federal Iraq can take up to a year.


Journal of the Iraq Britain Business Council

New postpaid plan for individuals “Mumeiz Plus�

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Iraq Today - Autumn Issue 2  

Iraq Today - Autumn Issue 2  

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