By Shatakshi Singhania.

This is an extract from an article originally published by Nina Iraq, and is reproduced here with permission.

“Moving to the cloud” was a phrase found only in fairy tales just two decades ago.

Today, however, it refers to the use of servers, storage and other tools located in the Internet rather than on local hardware.

And “the cloud” is a larger part of your life than you think – if you have ever used Facebook to store your photos, read an email on Gmail or uploaded a video to Youtube, then you are already a direct user of “the cloud”.

Just as an individual user has lower costs (and effort) by not saving and organising all their emails on their computer’s hard drive or downloading millions of videos to their personal hard drive, businesses too can significantly reduce their costs and improve their efficiency thanks to cloud-based applications.

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By Samar Rassam-Whitticombe, CEO of Somer Industrial Projects (SIP).

This is an extract from an article originally published by Nina Iraq, and is reproduced here with permission.

After celebrating the end of Ramadan, I hope that everyone experienced a welcoming Eid al-Fitr.

Unfortunately, the time of joy for Iraqi citizens was tinged with sadness due to memories of their missing loved ones. Around the world, families, friends and neighbours gathered to share traditional food and congratulate each other on achieving the test of Ramadan.

I am proud to say that I attended Iftar. It was wonderful to see so many people, representing different cultures, colours and backgrounds joined together in harmony.

I know that all alike are thinking that people, irrespective of their beliefs, are hoping and praying that peace will soon endure in Iraq.

This same message was shared in the greeting by Adel Abdul-Mahdi, the Iraqi Oil Minister, congratulating the Iraqi people on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr.

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By Nadje Al-Ali.

This is an extract from an article originally published by Nina Iraq, and is reproduced here with permission.

Professor of Gender Studies at SOAS University of London, author of two books, co-founder of Act Together: Women’s Action on Iraq, Nadje Al-Ali, talks to young writer Yorva Tsiakara about the way Iraqi women have inspired not only her career path but also her life.

Born to a German mother, Professor Nadje Al-Ali spent the first 18 years of her life in Germany. Despite her Iraqi father and her parents getting engaged in Baghdad in 1966, she didn’t learn Arabic as a child as bilingualism was not encouraged in the 60s and 70s in Germany.

Although she was unable to speak the language, her determination to create a career inspired by the Iraqi women illustrates a strong will so common to her country women.

She admits that this iron will has also helped her juggle a career and family life, although she freely shares that a helpful partner, who supports the household – as well being equally involved the raising of their daughter – has been key to her success on an international stage.

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By Madeleine White, capacity building specialist and co-founder of Nina Magazine

It was the third and final day of last week’s Iraq Petroleum conference, hosted by CWC in London. It was breakfast time and I was just about to take a second bite of my croissant, when the guy next to me, one of the several senior International Oil Company (IOC) executives at my table, shared;

“Of course, Iraq is almost too problematic  – there are easier places to do business…”.

We had spent the day before hearing about Iraq’s vital positioning within global future energy security from speakers at the highest levels of commerce, industry and government. Within this context, this simple aside from a breakfast companion took my breath away. Now, very nearly a week on, during which time Nina-Iraq herself was offline due to a sophisticated cyberattack, I keep coming back to the truth at the heart of his comment, one that although unpalatable needs to be explored more closely. Is Iraq just too difficult?

As many of you will know by now, Oil and Gas isn’t my field. In fact, before attending the conference, I had to google ‘upstream’ and ‘downstream’, in an attempt to get a better understanding of how it all worked! I generally leave the industry specific reporting to our Oil and Gas expert, Samar Whitticombe-Rassam. However, although my understanding of the specifics may be a little shaky, my understanding of the underlying themes that emerged from this important three day event, are slightly less so. If Iraq is seen as too challenging a place to offer a sustained Return on Investment for IOC’s, the core drivers of Iraq’s economy, how can this be combatted and reframed to attract and maintain relationships with stakeholders, both internally and internationally?

In 2008, following the economic crisis, there was a ‘demand shock’, i.e., people were not buying enough oil. There then came a few years which offered some respite, allowing Deputy Prime Minister HE Dr Rowsch Shaways to share Iraq’s 10.3% annual GDP growth with delegates at the 2013 World Islamic Economic Forum. Now however, the picture has changed again. We are living through a ‘supply shock’, which means there is a supply surplus and prices have shot downwards. With Iraq’s federal budget dependent on the ability to sell Oil at the best possible price, this has had catastrophic consequences.

Iraq’s inability to pay for many of the key elements that define good governance and social and physical infrastructure (including salaries and defence), have left the country reeling. The major immediate impact has been felt in two particular areas critical to national importance; honest dialogue and perspectives around this underpinned the communicational direction of Iraq Petroleum 2015.

  • The first is the battle against ISIS is hampered by lack of financial muscle and ability to pay those who are fighting.
  • The second is the relationship with the KRG, and the terms of the agreement made to pay a percentage of the federal budget and a fair valuation of the export of a set amount of oil facilitated by the KRG.

As a first step it was clear that, in a formal setting at least, speakers were united in the faith they had in Iraq’s long term ability to recover and take its rightful place as a leading global player in global energy security. A couple of examples were particularly resonant.  Simon Hatfield, CEO of Western Zagros shared the company’s direct and continued investment of nearly half a billion USD in the:

 “ significant, sustainable production and long term development of the Kurdistan region”.

The successful establishment of the Basra Gas company as a public/private joint venture (between  majority shareholder, South Gas Company, Shell and Mitsubishi) in 2013, offered another perspective, this time from the  South – showing  how faith in the future of Iraq, linked to current need,  could turn natural gas into nation-building for current and future generations.

The clamour of voices united in calling for an honest dialogue between the KRG and the federal government was the second key indicator of progress.  According to HE  Ashti Hawrami, the KRG’s Minister for Natural resources the KRG are currently receiving just over 30% of the payment agreed earlier this year. Instead of the usual dialogue of negativity and distrust, speakers and delegates alike were determined to showcase an Iraq united in the desire to facilitate real movement, despite the overall budget squeeze. Falah Alamri, head of the State Oil Marketing Organization (SOMO) shared the fact that regular meetings were now taking place between all parties. There seemed to be a consensus from all sides that resolving this issue was essential to Iraq’s long-term future, underpinning a consistent energy policy on payments for oil export. This is of course where the IOC’s see their return on investment…

Falah Alamri,Director General SOMO

Falah Alamri,Director General SOMO

Shared knowledge of strategic direction was an important takeaway also. HE Dr Rowsch Shaways, Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister, announced that the federal government was in discussions with international financial institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank to support Iraq’s financial investment and development. Iraq has the third largest oil reserves in the world (tenth for gas) but, if there is not enough liquidity within the economy currently to support the infrastructure required to get at them, this is meaningless. Understanding that the government is taking immediate measures to resolve this was of critical importance, highlighting as it did also, a transparent dialogue in terms of being able to meet KRG expectations also.

UK Energy Minister, Andrea Leadsom

UK Energy Minister, Andrea Leadsom

Ultimately this leads to the next step, which is the ability to collaborate in a way that is based on mutual respect. In her maiden speech, UK Energy Minister, Andrea Leadsom was very clear in her determination to make British business Iraq’s primary partner of choice. Britain’s Ambassador to Iraq, Frank Baker put some flesh on the bones of intent, sharing that he saw the development of the private sector within Iraq as a prerequisite for Iraq being able to meet its potential on an international stage. He linked tackling corruption into his plan for action, with the economic standing of individual Iraqis being part of the overall motivation for wider change. Within individual opportunity comes responsibility, with levers of transparency and strong internal leadership driving clarity of purpose. The Ambassador’s vision called for some tough choices, including privatisation of swathes of the public sector, but also promised a tangible way forward.

I want to add to this with some final thoughts. Many of you will have seen articles in which I have pointed out that finding a way for women to participate as entrepreneurs and in the labour market benefits society as a whole. This, in turn, promotes economic growth. Perspectives offered at Iraq Petroleum 2105 showed IOCs crying out for stability and the internal capacity needed in terms of skilled labour.  Within this setting, working towards the inclusion of women as employees and within the supply chain must be part of the plan set out to produce 5.5-6.0 million bpd by 2020 (an increase of 60%).

In Tuesday’s Ministerial keynote session I explored whether the women’s and inclusion agendas were considerations for the Petrochemical industry in Iraq. Answers I got reflected the fact that this was still seen as an aside, ‘icing on top of the cake’ as opposed to a driving force within national economic development.

Iraq’s economy remains dependent on hydrocarbons and revenue from these resources which generate over 95% of budget revenues. So SOMO may employ 40% women but the sector as a whole only employs one per cent of the labour force[i], of this a tiny fraction are women. By setting the women’s development agenda within hard business facts for Iraq as a whole, this industry in particular will reap the benefits. An environment for growth that sees the full weight of international support behind it is possible – but to my mind to realise this, a new kind of thinking is needed, driven by the kind of in-person dialogue I saw at last week’s event.

By promoting an environment of inclusion, we show faith in each other. By adding integrity, knowledge and mutual respect into a Women’s Economic Empowerment agenda, national economic development is a natural conclusion. The Oil and Gas industry should see this as an opportunity, one that reaches beyond CSR into the very heart of  good business practice, thus ensuring that Iraq becomes an easier place to do business.

I’ll leave Chevron’s Ian MacDonald with the final word:

“ By realising the potential of human and hydrocarbon resources it is possible to improve the fabric of society…”

In other words, the buck stops here.

 

[i] Dr S Rimmer, Gender and PSD in Iraq

Nina -iraq has been hacked. This is not a simple sabotage. In a hacking attempt similar to the one that saw data being stripped from the US government a few days ago the entire server of this leading, bilingual Iraqi magazine has been corrupted, bringing down many other sites also.

Nina has been fending off constant cyber threats since January this year. Recent publication of features such as Women’s Inheritance Rights and cartoons against ISIS have enjoyed huge popularity in Iraq and also world-wide. As the reach of the ground breaking women’s economic empowerment community and magazine grows hacking attempts have increased exponentially.

Nina threatens the extremist elements of Islamic militants. It provides a narrative in English and Arabic that builds up and empowers, not just women, but civil society as a whole. It stands in direct contradiction to the pro-ISIS propaganda that is flooding social media. Nina is part of the battle for hope, hearts and minds. It is important that this voice continues to be heard.

Strategic partners Iraq Business News have featured many Nina’s articles . Nina’s print magazines can be seen here English and Arabic. A more comprehensive introduction to Nina can be found here.

Show Your Support For Nina-iraq.com by giving a shoutout – hit that tweet button!  #saveninairaq

About Nina

Nina is a bilingual women’s economic empowerment magazine which launched last June in Iraq as well as England and Sweden.   Nina inspires, empowers and educates Iraqi women by giving voices from Iraq and across the world a forum in which they can collaborate to create a better future for their nation – past, present and future.  It is a universally relevant digital and printed media-tool ; focussed on building awareness and solutions around real issues affecting real people.

Published by Iraqi NGO the Private Sector Development Centre (PSDC), The World Bank funded the first issue. SIDA (via Chamber Trade Sweden) has contributed towards 2015. Nina shows significant month on month growth. In January we had 8000 readers and a community of 14,000 on Facebook. May’s userbase has grown to 13,000 – with over 30,000 likes on Nina’s Facbeook page.

For more information contact madeleine white on nina.madeleinewhite@gmail.com  +447904835188

By Lemya Ayub.

This is an extract from an article originally published by Nina Iraq, and is reproduced here with permission.

Interview with H.E. Ambassador of Japan to Iraq, Mr. Kazuya Nashida

It is 2:00 pm Monday afternoon. I have been preparing my questions and kind of know what to expect, however, I am also slightly nervous at the time frame of the meeting, simply because there are so many things that I want to achieve with this interview, not least build awareness in Japan for the work Nina is doing.

The Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has gone on the record to state his commitment to women’s empowerment within the post-2015 development agenda.

This alongside other key initiatives (more on those later), meant I really was keen to understand Japan’s vision for building GDP by fully mobilising its women also. I am hoping for insights, as well as a sense of the drive for change that has emerged from Japan to be reflected in our interview today.

I am ushered into Mr. Kazuya Nashida office by first secretary Ms Kazuko Hikawa, who then joins us also. The office is opulent and very formal – it is clear however, that despite this formality his Excellency truly wants to engage.

It seems as though he is almost as excited by this opportunity to connect as I am!

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Madeleine White with Nouriel Roubini

Madeleine White with Nouriel Roubini

By Madeleine White, capacity building specialist and co-founder of Nina Magazine

“Emerging markets will be a driving force in sustainable economic growth. If civil society is fully and inclusively engaged in the economy, the significant population growth rate will lead to greater consumption and therefore greater economic growth.  Cash rich emerging markets with an inclusive approach to prosperity will be ideally placed to become economic trailblazers.”

Nouriel Roubini, global macroeconomic strategy expert and former senior white house economist

Vancouver, May 7th, The Next Billion Conference. A unique opportunity, a global dialogue – with the aim of moving gender inclusion moving beyond the nice to have, to the must have, driven by a hard financial evidence. The conference aligned global thought leaders, policy makers and economists with key data. With women cited by experts as the largest emerging economy in the world, the question of the power of long term strategic investment in inclusion and diversity is beyond doubt. What is less clear though is how to realise this potential for growth in terms of national and economic advantage –  the Next Billion Conference was all about taking steps to make it happen…

To contexualise this in terms of Iraq. In March’s Middle East Congress, the region’s richest oil resources were cited as belonging to Iraq. At the moment 50% of its other richest natural resource – its people, are not engaging within the country’s economic activity. Less than 1% of managers in Iraq are women, just 17% of women are engaged as entrepreneurs or employees.

Alexander Meira da Rosa , VP for countries of the Inter-American Development Bank, was able to explain that the significant economic growth enjoyed by countries such as Brazil, who at one point had battled with a similarly challenging gender gap, was driven in part by the burgeoning economic participation of its women. By understanding that gender is an economic development issue and instituting a pro-women policy in its dealings in partnership with government and private sector investors, he shared that regionally this gender gap had closed by  70%.

Indeed, the importance of partnerships was at the heart of most discussions. The idea of a collaborative national and international approach in terms of closing the gender gap, with policy advocacy, business profits and social impact forming a triangle of success was championed by many speakers, including former US Ambassador for Global women’s issues -Melanne Verveer and Accenture’s Marianne Schoenig. Other key points of peer to peer guidance, within this strongly evidenced based dialogue included:

  • Women in leadership and on boards – the significant financial return was highlighted (40% greater profitability with women on the board)
  • Women as successful entrepreneurs
    • Access to finance needed to be improved– examples of significant return on investment by assessing risk levels of women owned business and answering their specific needs led to marked profitability for  Itau Unibanco for example.
    • By ensuring women owned business were part of inclusion and supply chain stronger communities and more profitable business practices were shared by the corporations, including HP and Accenture.
  • Unilever cited significant return on investment by providing a safe working environment for women; project Shakti which has created 50,000 rural women entrepreneurs in India, was given as an example of how women focussed policy could drive corporate brand message and profits.
  • The importance of a relevant, forward-looking education came up frequently with responsibility for individual learning and access to technology being particular priorities.
  • Large corporations incorporating horizontal and vertical strategy in terms of work culture:

IBM’s Catherine Lord championed, “ regional women’s councils drawn from the workforce  and the importance of “ including men and women in a way  that is relevant to local cultural need, while reflecting the values of the corporation”. Examples from Russia and the Middle East were shared.

  • Disney/ ABC Daisy Auger-Dominguez spoke of positive policy of inclusion being reflected in Disney and ABC’s product output:

“Media must be reflective and supportive of gender inclusion, thus modelling culture positives. A recent study showed that we used more men than women in most crowd scenes, we have now taken steps to change this”.

  • The importance of women’s networks in supporting the elimination of trade barriers by fostering a culture of economic diplomacy
  • Moving beyond gender bias occupations – Charles Jeannes, Goldcorp CEO spoke of the 20% of women in his workforce of 19,000 and the level of female directors on his board contributing to this mining company’s growth and innovation, which of course was reflected on the very positive balance sheet.

So what are the messages here that are relevant to Iraq? The opportunity exists to turn a strong GDP into a phenomenal one, purely by government and private sector working together to promote inclusive prosperity, implementing some of the policy suggestions above. The eyes of the world are on Iraq, for very often the wrong reasons. By creating a safer workplace for women and inclusive business practices, it is possible to leapfrog the negative and become a trailblazing emerging economy, as lauded by one of the world’s leading economists, Nouriel Roubini. However, if it is to live up to its potential, Iraq will need to depend on the readiness of a labour force that is skilled enough and willing to ensure Iraq’s natural resources are able to fund a better future for all.

The emergence of Nina Magazine as a national and international voice bears testament to the readiness of the Iraqi people to participate in this change of narrative. The world is ready to embrace an Iraq that may be battered and bruised, but has shown its willingness to build from the roots of an ancient heritage into the knowledge age.  Iraq has sent out green shoots of understanding, showing a tentative recognition of the role of women as a medium to transcend challenges of violence and bigotry; sharing instead the strength and energy and resilience of the Iraqi people with a global audience.

I travelled all the way to Vancouver because I believed there was a need to translate this game-changing dialogue into Arabic, whilst presenting the business opportunities Iraq offers. However, I believe the need is stronger even that that. It is clear to me that a common language is needed, one that is evidence based but can be accessed because it represents fundamental shared human values. It may be the language of business drivers and profit but it is also one that connects the private sector, government and civil society (us as individuals)  – delivering economic growth by connecting us in a way we can all buy into and understand.

Lisa Wolverton, convener of the Next Billion, and one of Canada’s key business leaders pointed out that the thriving global business hub Vancouver now represents is relatively new, even in the new world. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Iraq, as a cradle of civilisation, could become the trailblazer for a new world of inclusive prosperity.  If there ever was a time to stop ticking boxes and think outside the box, that time is now!

 

To see this feature in Arabic and English from next week, with images and further analysis, visit nina-iraq.com