Iraq Education and Training News


Tech in Iraq

By Mohammed Khudairi, for Bite.Tech. Re-published with permission. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Through many visits to Iraq and exciting conversations with visionaries like Hal Miran, I began to learn about Iraq’s budding world of startups, incubators and entrepreneurs.

Communities and organizations such as FikraSpace in Baghdad, along with Re:Coded and 51Labs based at TechHub in Erbil, have all developed in recent years and are growing at an astonishing pace. In my quest to figure out how I could best contribute to this ecosystem, I learned that we don’t have to wait for more “traditional” investment conditions to get involved.

Iraq’s Potential

In many ways, Iraq has been closed off from the rest of the world for many decades due to war and sanctions and now the people of Iraq are hungry for innovation and development. Iraq’s young, growing population of 37 million people, an increasing percentage of the population on the internet (17.2% in 2015), and mobile subscriptions on the rise (93.8 per 100 people had mobile subscriptions in 2015), make it a promising environment for tech. Source: World Bank.

Iraq still faces many issues including security, political and financial challenges, but the beauty of technology is that it can potentially allow developing nations like Iraq to “leapfrog” in the evolution of certain consumer processes, e-commerce, on-demand services, fintech and many more.

For those interested in diversifying their investments outside the more established tech communities and in gaining access to new (and potentially undervalued) opportunities, Iraq is fertile ground. While investors can’t turn a blind eye to the legal, financial, and operational challenges that exist, we all know that where there’s risk, there’s reward.

The Road Ahead

Good tech ecosystems require skilled human capital. The Iraqi government can support universities and other institutions by investing in science and technology programs and emphasizing these fields’ importance to Iraq’s future economy. Additionally, the government can work to improve the conditions for foreign direct investment (FDI) into Iraq by strengthening the legal frameworks and recourse surrounding FDI. This is what is currently veering foreign investors away from Iraq and into other MENA countries who have established a more secure legal framework for FDI.

While there’s a number of measures the government can implement to make it easier on new businesses and FDI, it may take some time for the government to establish these reforms. Rather than waiting on the government, I encourage those interested in making Iraq a better place to take action now and provide support to this ecosystem where possible.

Aside from financial investment, many of the Iraqi diaspora have access to resources, institutions or technology that could be very useful to entrepreneurs and tech communities in Iraq. Those interested should follow Bite.Tech and other online sources to learn more about the tech ecosystem in Iraq and contact organizations directly.

Any support will go a long way to these individuals who are dealing with regular power outages, security challenges and limited local institutional resources. These brave men and women will be the entrepreneurs who forge a new economy and transform Iraq into a modern, inclusive and innovative society it can be.

Articles by external contributors do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bite.Tech.

British Businesses Training and Educating in Iraq

By Ashley Goodall.

Is the UK overlooking a key USP for British International businesses?

Education and training footprint of British companies around the world has a significant and excellent impact on communities and economies and is often taken for granted.

As the UK ramps up its trade rhetoric and a ‘Global Britain’ emerges, one of the key benefits that British companies bring is being overlooked: Education and training…

The penny dropped for me as I attended a meeting of the Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) members to find that one after the other, each company was committed to the concept of a learning organisation that are locally integrated. Not only are British companies employing as many local people as possible, but also training them to deliver increasingly complex managerial and technical roles.

Oil and gas companies, Shell and BP in particular, deliver an extraordinary amount of training in Iraq alone. The effect on the local communities and national economies is a massive injection of know-how and a source of social stability, development, prosperity and economic progress, let alone the transformative power training confers on individuals, families and communities.

Not only are our companies a source of prosperity, but when partnered with UK Universities offer a double whammy for the delivery of global standards and expertise that  few countries can match in country and via external courses, such as delivered by Oxford Brooks and Northampton Universities.

Emerging economies appreciate this expertise, as it raises business operations to global standards and enables them to compete with the best, to encourage inward investment and generate employment opportunities in their regions.

Oil and Power companies in particular make a big social impact on their suppliers. Osama Kadhum Managing Director of Ratba’ contracting in Iraq says his staff received 3885 hours of training in Majnoon Oilfield from Shell alone, ensuring the highest technical and supervisory standards are applied.

GE power likewise employ over 90% of local staff, often sent for technical training in USA or x for 6-12 month stretches supporting local recruitment , diversity of employees, and women for increasingly leadership and supervisory roles. Shell in Iraq train over 7,900 local staff in Basra for whom they are delivering over 200,000 training days per year. BP and its Partners are developing the Rumaila field which is supported by a 93% Iraqi workforce.

Around 2,400,000 training hours have been delivered to staff in a variety of technical disciplines, core skills, leadership and safety.  And these figures do not include community initiatives such as an extensive community vocational training programme that has been running for 3 years, or 400 women from a remote community that have been trained in the Rumaila funded Qarmat Ali Women’s Training Centre.

In Baghdad Serco have set up an ATC Academy for Air traffic Controllers. Multiply this scale of training globally in just Iraq and you begin to see the scale and quality of training that British companies deliver among International, Emerging and Frontier markets.

More widely Rolls- Royce has committed an ambitious plan to reach 6 million people worldwide through their STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths) education programmes between 2014- 2020. This bold target will encourage a more creative and engaging outreach through the company’s supply chain, through the wider STEM sector and to inspire society to attract talented young people from around the world to the world of STEM.

Businesses are often castigated by the media, but the reality is that they are usually a force for good, prosperity and ultimately stronger communities. So let’s celebrate the important impact British companies’ commitment to education and training brings to millions of people and their ability to change the world.

Ashley Goodall is a martketing consultant to Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC).

Criminal Case Management Course for Judges

Criminal case management course for judges and prosecutors in Ninewah, first of a series of UNDP activities to support effective criminal justice administration in Iraq

Twelve Iraqi judges and prosecutors from the Governorate of Ninewah successfully completed a criminal case management course held in Baghdad on 25-26 August 2017. UNDP Rule of Law Programme designed and conducted the course collaboratively with the Higher Judicial Council and the Judicial Development Institute.

The judges and prosecutors came from Mosul, Rabia, Sinjar, Makhmour, Shikhan, Zumar, Tal Aafr and Hamdania courts in Ninewah. They are sepcialized in adjudicating terrorism and criminal cases committed against Sunni, Shia, Christian, Yazidi, Shabak and Kurd populations during the control of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

The course addressed effective justice administration, stages of complex crime investigations, assessment of strengths and challenges of the Iraqi justice system, prosecution system, digital evidence, in addition to money laundering and terrorist financing, and forensic flows.

Attending the closing ceremony, Chief Justice Hon. Faiq Zedan expressed appreciation to the judges and prosecutors “for their commitment and hard work under very challenging conditions.” He added: “The Higher Judicial Council will continue to collaborate with UNDP to improve the judiciary in response to the needs of people in Iraq.”

Participants identified priorities to improve Iraq’s criminal justice system, particularly in newly liberated areas. Amongst key recommendations was to establish a comprehensive unified database for terrorist suspects to help avoid duplication of names and improve access to corresponding information on suspects’ alleged crimes.

Other recommendations included: increasing the number of judges to address the large case load, increasing the number of qualified and trained judges and investigators to assist the police, training and equipping police for better crime prevention and detection, and rebuilding destroyed court houses and detention centres in Ninewah.

Judge Ghanim Mohammed Sultan said:

“The course helped the participating judges and prosecutors to enrich their knowledge and expand their vision … In spite of challenges on the ground, we will do our very best to provide justice for all in Ninewah and hold to account those who have committed crimes against the people.”

UNDP’s Rule of Law Programme Manager, Ms. Chamila Hemmathagama, said:

“The workshop helped participants to gain new knowledge on areas such as criminal case management specifically related to terrorism cases, digital evidence and the role of forensic evidence in detecting crimes. This is just the beginning of a series of workshops to develop a robust training programme for judges and prosecutors in Iraq with a specific focus on liberated areas.”

The next workshop will take place in September 2017 for 12 judges and prosecutors from the Governorate of Anbar. Outcomes of the two workshops will be maximized to further refine and review the training curricular and required topics for future trainings in discussion with Higher Judicial Council and the Judicial Development Institute.

(Source: UNDP)

Video: UK Trade Enjoy to Iraq discusses Opportunities

Baroness Nicholson, President of the Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) and Her Majesty’s Trade Enjoy to Iraq, Azerbijan and Turkmenistan, discusses Iraq as a major market, IBBC’s role in creating a worldwide network for those doing clean business in Iraq, further increasing investment and the positive consequences of businesses transferring skills and technology into Iraq:

New AMAR School almost Complete

Work is almost complete on AMAR‘s latest exciting educational project in Iraq.

The state-of-the-art Secondary School in Basra is expected to begin teaching its 500+ students in October.

Ten percent of that number will be orphans who will receive a fantastic education completely free of charge, thanks to AMAR’s generous supporters.

Please help ensure Iraq’s children have the childhoods they deserve — support AMAR’s work today: https://appeal.amarfoundation.org/

(Source: AMAR International Charitable Foundation)

IRC, Sesame Workshop bring Hope to Refugee Children

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) and Sesame Workshop — the nonprofit, educational organization behind Sesame Street — are working together to give millions of refugee children in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and northern Iraq the support they need to learn, grow and thrive.

The Syrian refugee crisis is the defining humanitarian issue of our time. It challenges our morals, imagination, leadership, and global stability. Failing to act can cast a long shadow: a lost generation of children whose lives are forever defined by their experience of war.

Few Syrian children have opportunities to learn and play; many are neglected; some have been exposed to extreme violence and experienced unspeakable trauma that will have a long-lasting impact on their health and future. They are at risk of “toxic stress,” a biological response to prolonged and severe adversity that disrupts a child’s brain development.

But children are resilient, and if we can reach them early, we can reduce this damage and have a positive influence on their lives. Research shows that nurturing care and learning can reverse the effects of toxic stress, and skills developed in early childhood last a lifetime.

That’s where the IRC and Sesame Workshop are determined to help.

We will combine Sesame Street’s history of proven educational content with the IRC’s decades of assistance in crisis-affected areas to deliver a suite of culturally relevant programming and multimedia content tailored for the needs of refugee children and their caregivers.

David Miliband, President and CEO of the IRC, said:

“Our partnership with Sesame Street will help transform children’s lives by making sure that their social-emotional needs are met so they are able to receive an education, contribute to their community and succeed as adults.”

(Source: International Rescue Committee)

Experts discuss Future of Iraq’s Economy at IBBC Retreat

The Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) held its annual weekend retreat on 7-9 July at Cumberland Lodge, Windsor Park, a venue dedicated to the advancement of international societal issues through constructive dialogue.

Around 60 IBBC Members and guest speakers attended this unique event to discuss pressing issues on the future of Iraq’s economy, prospects and stability.

Friday afternoon featured an Oil & Gas Sector Table Meeting, with representatives from Shell, Constellis, Penspen and Amec Foster Wheeler amongst others. William Wakileh, President and CEO of GE Iraq and Levant, gave a detailed presentation of GE’s work in Iraq during the meeting.

This was followed by a meeting of the Education, Training & Heritage Sector Table. The meeting featured presentations by the Vice Chancellors of the universities of Brighton, Leicester, and the Dean of Academic Partnerships of Northampton University, showcasing the progressive initiatives of British universities to support educational and curricula development in Iraq. Shell gave a presentation on their current training and educational work and requirements in the country. The meeting was also attended by the newly appointed HR director of BP Iraq.

The evening events saw speeches from Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, Her Majesty’s Trade Envoy to Iraq, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, Canon Dr Edmund Newell, Principal, Cumberland Lodge and H.E. Dr Salih Husain Ali, Ambassador of the Republic of Iraq.

The day was concluded by a powerful speech, courtesy of Dr Barham Salih, former Deputy PM of Iraq, former PM of the Kurdistan Regional Government and Founder of the American University in Suleimani.

The Friday Evening Dinner was generously sponsored by IBBC Member Severn Glocon Group.

The second day of the Conference on Saturday 8 July, consisted of 5 Sessions of panel discussions to address the economic, social and political situation in Iraq from a variety of different angles.

Session 1Present Situation in Iraq’ was chaired by Neil Quilliam, Senior Research Fellow at Chatham House and featured speeches from Baroness Nicholson, Dr Barham Salih, Ambassador Jonathan Wilks and Dara Rasheed, Deputy Minister of Construction, Housing and Municipalities for the Government of Iraq.

Session 2 addressed ‘Iraq after ISIS/The Future of Governance in Iraq‘ and was chaired by Botan Osman, Managing Director of Restrata. The Panel featured representatives of Chatham House, Dr Renad Mansour, Academy Fellow and Dr Nussaibah Younis, Associate Fellow, who recently published the Atlantic Council Report of the Task Force on the Future of Iraq. Nicolas Pelham, Middle East Correspondent at The Economist completed the panel.

Session 3 of the day, ‘A New Approach to International Trade’ saw a more finance focused discussion and was chaired by John Curtin, Partner, Ernst & Young. The panel was made up of Martin Kent, Strategy Director at the Department for International Trade, Gordon Welsh, Head of Business Group at UK Export Finance, Rob Lally of the Infrastructure Leadership Team and the Department of International Trade and Andy Birch, Director of DIT in Iraq.

Session 4 on ‘International Financial Support, PPP and Debt Finance’, was chaired by Richard Cotton of the IBBC and featured presentations by Ammar Shubar of Management Partners and Christian Josz, Mission Chief to Iraq of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Session 5 closed the day’s events on ‘Future IBBC Events’ chaired by Vikas Handa, IBBC’s UAE Representative.

IBBC also held its bi-annual Council Meeting at the Lodge, prior to dinner on Saturday evening.

The Seminar concluded with an after dinner speech and discussion with Jonathon Wilks, Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Iraq (Designate).

(Source: IBBC)

Iranian University to Open Branches in Iraq

Iran‘s Islamic Azad University (IAU) seeks to boost cooperation with the neighboring countries and allies, a senior official at the 35-year-old organization said, unveiling plans for opening new branches in Iraq and Lebanon.

Head of the Founding Council and Board of Trustees of the Islamic Azad University Ali Akbar Velayati said on Tuesday that his organization has focused on supporting the neighboring and friendly countries as part of its international plans.

The IAU is going to open universities and academic centers in the Iraqi cities of Baghdad and Basra and in the Arab country’s Kurdish regions, he added.

Velayati further pointed to a shortage of scientific centers for those interested in receiving higher education in Lebanon, saying the IAU has been in correspondence with Secretary General of the Lebanese Hezbollah Resistance Movement Seyed Hassan Nasrallah in order to open offices in Lebanon and to promote cooperation with the Lebanese academic centers.

Founded in 1982, the Islamic Azad University is a private network of academic centers. It has more than 30 state university branches with 400 campuses and research centers across the country. The IAU has several overseas branches as well.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

New Aerial Survey of Iraqi Antiquities

By Adnan Abu Zeed for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News. 

Iraq, together with UNESCO, has concluded a comprehensive aerial survey of Iraqi heritage destroyed by the Islamic State (IS), paving the way for further cooperation to restore various Iraqi sites, particularly at the 13th-century Assyrian capital of Nimrod.

In mid-May, Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini handed over to his Iraqi counterpart, Friad Rwandzi, a 500-page report prepared in coordination with UNESCO that includes the survey data. The report, which focuses on northern Iraq, documents affected archaeological sites before and after their destruction, assessment of the damage and an action plan for their restoration.

Iraq and UNESCO have worked together since 2014 to restore the archaeological sites that have been in IS’ grip, including HatraNimrod and the Mosul Museum. UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova said in November 2016, after the liberation of Nimrod, that her agency was determined to support Iraq in assessing the damage and protecting the remains from further looting and destruction.

UNESCO has indeed been vocal about the need to restore Nimrod, which is located in Ninevah province. In 2010, Nimrod was submitted to the UN body’s tentative list of World Heritage sites. Also known as Kalhu, Nimrod is one of the main archaeological sites from the Assyrian period. Established in the 13th century BC, it later became the second capital of the Assyrian Empire. Its murals and monuments are referenced in literature and scripture, and its clay tablets with cuneiform writing are known worldwide.

Faleh al-Shammari, director of antiquities in Ninevah, told Al-Monitor that the next step will be to form a joint technical committee of Iraqis and UNESCO representatives. “Experts from both sides will oversee a strategic project for the restoration of historical places in Ninevah, based on the aerial survey database,” Shammari said.

Displaced Iraqi Youth learn Job Skills

With support from UNDP and Toyota Iraq, displaced Iraqi youth learn job skills and regain hope for a better life

More than three million Iraqis are currently displaced as a result of the protracted conflict in Iraq.

The experience of displacement has been particularly difficult for young people, whose education and employment opportunities have been upended. Immediate support is urgently needed to provide these young people with income opportunities to help them restart their lives and rebuild their country.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Toyota Iraq joined hands in 2016 to provide young displaced Iraqis with access to sustainable income opportunities. Under this flagship programme, UNDP’s Iraq Crisis Response and Resilience Programme (ICRRP) refers potential candidates to Toyota Iraq. The Toyota Iraq team provides top class vocational and on-the-job training whilst ICRRP facilitates job placement, if Toyota Iraq cannot recruit them, in local companies.

The first group of youth graduated in basic vehicle maintenance in January 2017, whilst the second group graduated in customer relationship management and automotive parts storekeeping in June 2017. A third group will begin in August 2017.

This programme also provides job opportunities for women affected by the crisis in Iraq, enabling them to go beyond their gendered role as caretakers. One of the women trainees, Taghrid Hassan, 29, from Mosul, said:

We thank you for this training; we have benefited so much from it. We have learned how to deal with different clients, and how to respond to their requests by phone and by email in a professional way. I am confident that the new skills I have acquired at Toyota Iraq will increase my chances of finding a job in the customer care field.

UNDP’s Assistant Administrator and Director of the Regional Bureau for Arab States, Mr. Mourad Wahba, visited Sumitomo Corporation, shareholder of Toyota Iraq, in Tokyo on 28 June 2017. He discussed with Mr. Naoki Hidaka, Executive Vice President of Sumitomo Corporation, the partnership between UNDP and Toyota Iraq.

Mr. Wahba said:

“Partnership between UNDP and leading private sector companies, such as Toyota Iraq, can play a key role in enhancing resilience of young people and empowering them as change makers in Iraq. UNDP is proud to work with Toyota Iraq in the implementation of this successful vocational training and job placement programme. It will help displaced Iraqi youth rebuild their lives.”

Mr. Hidaka said:

“Iraq is a special country for us, Sumitomo Corporation. We have been exporting Toyota and Hino products since the 1960s. We would like to contribute to a sound and sustainable development of the Iraqi society through our business activities. We continue to provide more education opportunities to Iraqi people together with UNDP.”

Some of the trainees who have successfully completed the vocational training programme have been recruited by Toyota Iraq, like Omar Hussein Ali, 27, from Ramadi. He said:

“I have a degree in mechanical engineering but had no working experience in this field. This programme helped me gain hands-on experience in vehicle maintenance. I am so glad I found a job at Toyota Iraq. With my steady salary, I can pay off my debts and provide for my twins and my wife.”

UNDP’s ICRRP and Toyota Iraq are committed to continuing this partnership to support Iraqi youth to create a brighter future.

(Source: UNDP)