By Ashley Goodall.

At this challenging time what kind of activities are businesses undertaking in Iraq and how are they doing things differently?

In canvassing Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) members, we found a consistent pattern of adaptation and response across the membership which can be summarized in three headings:

  • Firstly, taking care of staff and looking after their well-being and income. Members recognize that employees are the most valuable element in a business, and for those who wish to sustain their businesses longer term, employee care is top of the list, with regular online calls and management videos to support people working at distance. Ultimately this is good leadership and communications.
  • Secondly, Technical adaptation: in supporting employees and clients, businesses are undertaking various adaptations, mainly the move to work from home and using online technology to enable this. Often, home video conferences and use of Skype/Teams or Zoom are the first time these systems have been used and should well lead to longer term benefits and changes. In this way businesses are becoming more flexible and productive delivering work and client activities.
  • Finally, Communication: those who work with clients are spending more time supporting them online, especially where an intangible service such as Insurance, Banking or Consultancy are concerned. Communicating, regularly and constantly is key to retaining and supporting client business for the short and long term.

One of the most proactive is Sardar Group who tell us:

Due to the present lock down across all the cities we operate in Iraq, all our companies are working from home.

“Business, which was very busy until the 14th March 2020, has suddenly come to a halt and effected all our business big time by stopping all the operations and thereby stopped all turnover.

“To support our employees, we have Group-wide travel restrictions that are updated regularly based on changing conditions and on advice from governments and health ministries. As well as ensuring that we meet all local regulatory authority requirements, we have instituted additional measures such as reduced face-to-face meetings, working from home, split teams and locations, and cancelling or delaying community events.

“We are arranging salary payment to all the employees in regular intervals subject to the governments relaxing the lock downs. Many companies are unable to pay for salaries, but Sardar Group is planning to support our employees for a longer period of time.

John Goering of Constellis says:

“Our primary business in supporting the Oil & Gas industry in southern Iraq continues to function. With our staffing, we have adopted a one in one out system, so the majority of the staff in now are probably in for a bit of a long haul. We are operating at full capacity, but remain flexible to our clients’ needs and dispositions, it’s challenging times for sure!”

Sara Safa Kasim, MD of Al-Maseer Insurance, quotes:

“We are working from home and at a distance – and have put new systems in place to support that. Enjoyably, we are also connecting more with clients to support them at this time.”

Mike Douglas of SKA said:

“We stand firm in the face of adversity and get the job done. These combined challenges just make us more determined to succeed. Fuel supplies are vital to industry, transport and power generation and we will keep them flowing.

“Of note, the vital dredging we just completed during the curfew, guarantees that the biggest cargos on LR2 vessels, are not stalled; before we started, that size of ship had never been seen in the river. The company was built on the motto of “doing difficult jobs in difficult places” and now, more than ever, that is true.’

“We thank all our local and expatriate staff, and the Iraq Government, for their steadfast support and cooperation. We realize that it is not easy to be away from homes and families in these challenging times, but together we will continue to ensure that the Iraqi people get what they need to overcome these daily challenges. We hope and pray that SKA as a company and Iraq as a nation will emerge stronger at the end of all this.

Shehad Khudairi from the Khudairi Group reports:

We are looking into various options such as online ordering and delivery (via Miswag). At the moment, Iraq is essentially shut down, so we are trying to find ways to continue to do business.

“We are communicating internally a lot more and trying to keep morale high in a very uncertain time, via video messages. Additionally, we are trying to keep the employees as safe as possible with our HSE team. Each branch has to report daily on every single touch point of the offices.

“The HSE team is most useful to our business to ensure the safety of our employees. Additionally, being flexible on how we work and our personnel are key to ensuring we are able to ride this out.

Raed Hanna of Mutual Finance, tells of how technology and online communications via Skype and Hangouts are enabling new ways to communicate for them with video conferences and virtual meetings.

Finally, Phil Malem of Serco Middle East says:

Patients in hospitals rely on us now more than ever. We are preparing for peaks in demand and implementing infection screening and control measures across the healthcare facilities we work in.

“Citizens still need to get from A to B and our frontline staff are committed to keeping vital infrastructure operating. Our business continuity planning and workforce management ensures that sickness leaves of absence do not affect the operational efficiency or experience of those using a service.

“Residents should feel like everything possible is being done to protect them and where we operate in real estate or the higher education space, disinfection is a key priority. Escalating cleaning and sanitisation programmes is increasing confidence within the communities across the facilities we support.

“Across all sectors we operate in, it is our responsibility to ensure all staff are educated and trained on good hygiene practice and understand how they can do their bit to limit the spread of this disease. Increased sanitisation programmes across company provided accommodation and transportation have been introduced. Staff health is being monitored daily with various programmes, including temperature checking, which provides an early warning of the onset of any fever related conditions.

The upshot of all this is that challenging times bring out the best of best management practice:

Do the right things and look after and care for your people, as they are your most valuable asset. Find new ways to adapt and communicate with them, deploy new technology, and ensure your communications are working harder to support clients and staff alike.

While times are challenging, it could be a time to upskill, build in resilience and make your business even more productive for the long term. The future will be different.

(Source: Ashley Goodall, IBBC)

The Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) was delighted to host H.E. Dr Abdullah Luaibi the Iraqi Minister of Transport in London today.

The Minister, accompanied by a delegation of officials, was on a 4 day official visit to the United Kingdom organised by the Department of International Trade.

His visit included meetings with IBBC Members Rolls-Royce and Serco, and a number of bilateral meetings with the British Government. UK companies play a leading role in aviation in Iraq and the Ministers visit cemented the existing ties while exploring new ventures.

By courtesy of Brigadier James Ellery and thanks to the generous sponsorship of Vitol, IBBC was fortunate to offer the Minister and his delegation Lunch together with about 20 IBBC Members and guests at the Cavalry and Guards Club on Piccadilly.

Members in attendance included representatives of Serco, Zaha Hadid Architects, Menzies Aviation, G4S, Al Burhan Group, Basra Gateway Terminal, HWH & Associate, Eversheds Sutherland, Stirling Education and Constellis.

Delegates at the Lunch were addressed by Baroness Nicholson, IBBC President and the Prime Ministers Trade Envoy for Iraq, and of course the Minister who expressed his great satisfaction about his visit and working so closely with the UK Government, UK businesses and the IBBC.

He also made it clear that establishing regular direct return flights between London and Baghdad was one of his top priorities and that he was looking at upgrading some of the major Iraqi transport infrastructure during his tenure.

IBBC’s Managing Director Christophe Michels commented:

Minister Luaibi has been a staunch supporter of IBBC members in Iraq over some years now, first as Deputy Minister and now as Minister. His office door in Baghdad is always open to us and I am pleased to say that UK companies lead the way in airport security, ground handling and air traffic control.

“Now we are looking forward for Rolls-Royce to work with Iraqi Airways and for one of the great UK architects and design companies to work on an new airport project in country.

For more information on the Iraq Britain Business Council, visit https://www.iraqbritainbusiness.org

(Source: IBBC)

By John Lee.

The Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) has announced that it has established a Health Sector Table.

This Table will be chaired by Professor David Kerr, Rhodes Professor of Clinical Pharmacology and Cancer Therapeutics, and Head of Department of Clinical Pharmacology at Oxford University.

It is being supported by the Iraqi Minister of Health and the Environment, Dr Ala Alwan, who attended its first meeting.

The Table’s first meeting was held at IBBC’s offices on the morning of Friday 28th June. Its purpose is to allow relevant member organisations to become involved in the further development of the Iraqi health sector.

Healthcare is a priority for IBBC, and the Minister will personally be liaising with this Table. Also present at this meeting were representatives of Almanseer Insurance, Serco, Protechnique, GE Healthcare, Perkins+Will UK, PwC, Management Partners, and The Amar Foundation.

For more information on the Iraq Britain Business Council, visit https://www.iraqbritainbusiness.org/

(Source: IBBC)

Iraq Britain Business Council completes productive trade mission to Baghdad

IBBC recently completed a productive mission to Baghdad, meeting with high-level government officials and British authorities in Iraq. Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, President of IBBC and the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Iraq led the delegation alongside Mr Rasmi Al Jabri, Deputy Chairman of IBBC, Mr Christophe Michels, Managing Director of IBBC and Mr Vikas Handa, IBBC representative in the GCC.

IBBC was joined by numerous member representatives, including from Al Bilal Group, Al Burhan Group, Al-Nukhba OFS, ARCHS, Constellis, Dar Group, EY, Gulftainer, G4S, Khudairi Group, International Islamic Bank, Kuwait Energy, Management Partners, Menzies Aviation, Mosul University, National Bank of Iraq, Ratba’a Contracting, Serco, Shell, Standard Chartered Bank and Turnkey LLC.

The delegation visited soon after the election of President Dr Barham Salih, who took time out of his busy schedule to meet Baroness Nicholson and the IBBC leadership who were joined by HMA Jon Wilks. Dr Salih has been a close friend of the IBBC for many years and recently spoke at the IBBC Cumberland Lodge Conference in July.

On Sunday 7 October the delegation held meetings with the Governor of the Central Bank of Iraq, Mr Ali Mohsen Ismael Al Alaq, H.E. Mr Adbuallah Luabea the Deputy Minister of Transport, Mr Fayadh Neema, Senior Deputy Minister of Oil and Dr Sami Al Araji, Chairman of the National Investment Commission. The delegation were hosted by the Iraqi Federation of Chambers of Commerce in the evening for dinner.

On Monday the delegation met with Dr Mehdi Al Alak, Secretary General of the Council of Ministers, Dr Hameed Ahmed Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers, Dr Sabah Mushatat, Economic & Investment Advisor to the Prime Minister of Iraq, Dr Mudher Mohammed Saleh, Finance Advisor to the Prime Minister of Iraq and with Ján Kubiš Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq.  In the evening Ambassador Jon Wilks hosted a reception for the delegation and Iraqi dignitaries at his residency.

Before leaving Iraq, Christophe Michels visited Serco, who are working with the Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority at Baghdad International Airport. Serco supports the Iraqi authorities in managing the entire spectrum of air traffic control in Iraq including the increasing number of international overflights.

(Source: IBBC)

The Deputy Chairman of the Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC), Rasmi Al Jabri, and Managing Director, Christophe Michels, hosted a dinner for members and guests at the Babylon Warwick Hotel in Baghdad on 29th August.

Many representatives from member companies were in attendance, including the Chairman of Khudairi Group and the International Islamic Bank, the CEO’s of Kuwait Energy and the National Bank of Iraq, as well as representatives from Al Burhan Group, Al Nukhba-OFS, Constellis, G4S, Standard Chartered Bank, Serco, Shell and XReach Ltd.

Ms Beverly Simpson, Iraq Country Director for the Department for International Trade, gave guests an update on the latest visa and labour regulations being applied in Iraq, followed by a discussion.

(Source: IBBC)

Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, President of the Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC), visited Baghdad on 2-3 June, accompanied by Managing Director Christophe Michels, as well as Rasmi Al Jabri, Deputy Chairman and Iraq Representative to meet with numerous politicians and IBBC member representatives.

Jonathan Wilks CMG, Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Iraq joined the IBBC team for several high profile meetings.

The IBBC management first attended a religious tolerance seminar and Iftar dinner on 2 June organised by the AMAR Foundation in Baghdad, where numerous representatives of different religious groups in Iraq were present, as well as notable academics, journalists and artists. The dinner was preceded by a meeting with the Chaldeen Patriarch.

Meetings were held on 3 June with H.E. Mr Kadhim Finjan, Iraqi Minister of Transport together with  IBBC Member representatives from Serco, G4S, Al Burhan Group and Menzies Aviation at Adnan Place in Baghdad, where constructive talks were held on further cooperation in the civil aviation industry.

Later meetings were also held with Dr Mehdi Al Alak, Secretary General of the Council of Ministers and Dr AbdulKariem Al Faisal, Chairman of the Prime Minister’s Advisory Committee at the Council of Ministers in Baghdad on behalf of IBBC members.

The IBBC team also met Dr Barham Salih, former Prime Minister of the KRG and former Deputy Prime Minister of the Government of Iraq and founder and leader of the Coalition for Democracy and Justice. Dr Barham Salih is a long-time friend and associate of the Iraq Britain Business Council and will be attending the IBBC Weekend Retreat at Cumberland Lodge in Windsor Great Park from 6-8 July.

In the late afternoon of 3 June IBBC hosted a meeting for its members at the Babylon hotel. The meeting was joined by Dr Sami Al Araji, Chairman of the National Investment Commission, Professor Sabbah Mushatat, Advisor to the Prime Minister and Eng. Dara Rasheed, Deputy Minister for Housing, Construction & Public Municipalities and Deputy Head of Refaato (Reconstruction fund for areas affected by terrorism https://www.refaato.iq/en/) .

IBBC also visited The Station in Baghdad during their visit, which is the first combined workspace in Iraq, providing tech and artistic entrepreneurs with a communal space and resources to develop and expand business projects. This exciting initiative is a boost to a small but growing number of young Iraqis willing to engage and develop the private sector in Iraq. The building itself is a landmark of modern architecture in the heart of Baghdad. For more information please visit: http://the-station.iq/.

(Source: IBBC)

The Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) held its bi-annual Council Meeting on 30 January, followed by a Reception & Dinner for IBBC members and guests.

Both the meeting and the reception and dinner were hosted by Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, President of IBBC and Trade Envoy to Iraq, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.

The Meeting was Chaired by IBBC’s Deputy Chairman Alistair Kett of PwC and discussed at length the current state of Iraq and presented over 30 members present with a detailed brief of events in the last six months.

The Council also discussed future events and the progress of IBBC’s Sector Tables. Several exciting new developments were reported, including the launch of a new Iraq Britain Business Council website, which is expected to go live in the coming weeks and the development of the Young Executives Network.

The Council Meeting was followed by a Reception & Dinner hosted by Baroness Nicholson in the House of Lords, where the 80 guests present were privileged to hear from Baroness Fairhead, Minister of State for Trade & Export Promotion at the Department for International Trade (DIT), the Rt Hon Alistair Burt MP, Minister of State for the Middle East at the Foreign and Commonwealth and Minister of State at the Department for International Development.

After dinner, Ambassador Jon Wilks, her Majesty’s Ambassador to Iraq, gave an address to members, which highlighted his vision for UK-Iraq relations. The Ambassador spoke at length about the need for a coordinated and fruitful relationship between business communities of both countries to enhance the encouraging signs of stability witnessed in the last six months since the defeat of Daesh.

The Ambassador also touched upon the critical need to redevelop infrastructure in the newly liberated areas and the pivotal role of the private sector to facilitate further economic growth. Ambassador Wilks reaffirmed the Embassy’s longstanding commitment to promote trade and investment with the support of organisations such as the Iraq Britain Business Council.

Christophe Michels, MD of IBBC said:

“2017 has been an exceptional year for IBBC both in the volume and quality of attendees to our conferences in UK and Dubai, the very well attended and successful trade missions to Baghdad and Basrah and for the number of International and Iraqi companies that have joined our network.

“IBBC has welcomed Chevron, Al Burhan, Shamara, Ratba’a and Al Bilal groups, Leicester and Northampton University, Serco, Rolls Royce, MenziesAviation, GulfTek and Al Jaber Company. All in all we are seeing confidence and opportunity return to Iraq with overall economic perspectives for the country being at its best since 2010 – 2011.”

IBBC and its members are determined to build on these foundations to continue building economic and political ties, industry capabilities, knowledge sharing for UK, Iraqi and international businesses sharing the same high values and standards.

(Source: IBBC)

Iraq Britain Business Council holds successful Autumn Conference in Dubai

Following on from the first Iraq Britain Business Council conference in Dubai in 2016, the IBBC was delighted to host its Autumn Conference in the UAE once again. The event was strongly supported by the UAE authorities.

Alongside Baroness Nicholson, the UK Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Iraq and President of the IBBC, the conference was opened by H.E. Mr. Abdulla Ahmed Al Saleh, Under Secretary for Foreign Trade and Industry, UAE Ministry of Economy.

H.E. Mr. Abdulla reminded delegates that non-Oil & Gas related trade between the UAE and Iraq had already passed 11 Billion USD in 2016, with Dubai in particular being a hub for local and international companies in the region.

H.E. Mr. Abdulla firmly believes that the UAE’s role in the rebuilding of Iraq will continue to expand and expressed his wish to cooperate with organisations such as the IBBC to accomplish this crucial task.

Vikas Handa, IBBC UAE Representative and the Managing Partner of the Emirati Company DrillTech, warmly thanked the minister and stated that the IBBC stands ready to work even more closely with the UAE in Iraq.

The Government of Iraq sent a high calibre ministerial delegation led by H.E. Mr Qasim Al-Fahdawi, The Minister of Electricity, to the conference. The delegation included H.E. Mrs Ann Naufi Aussi Balbool, Minister of Construction Housing and Public Municipalities; H.E. Kadhim Fijan Al Hamami, Minister of Transport; H.E. Dr Sami Al Araji, Chairman of the National Investment Commission (NIC); and H.E. Mr Fayadh Hassan Nima, Deputy Minister of Oil for refining affairs.

The conference was structured around several sessions in which the Iraqi officials and international companies operating successfully in Iraq, most of which are members of the IBBC, exchanged their views and experiences.

These sessions focused on strengths, weaknesses and opportunities of the economy in Iraq, Reconstruction & Infrastructure, Transport, Power and Oil & Gas. In parallel, a series of high level round-table discussions between investors and Iraqi Government representatives took place.

The conference included for the first time a presentation on the rapidly developing Tech sector in Iraq , given by the CEO of Zain.

IBBC thanks the International Finance Corporation (World Bank) and the IMF for its participation. Thanks also go to the IBBC members who sponsored the conference: Gold Sponsor International Islamic Bank; Silver Sponsors Serco and Gulftainer; Lunch Sponsor Rolls-Royce; pre-reception Sponsor Wood; and Coffee Break Sponsors Eversheds Sutherland and KCA Deutag.

IBBC Managing Director, Christophe Michels, stated that the increasing involvement of the UAE and wider GCC with Iraq was a game changer for the country. The IBBC very much welcomes this development and is delighted to be part of it and support it. The organisation will increase its presence in the UAE and the Autumn Conference in Dubai will become a regular feature in its calendar of events.

(Source: IBBC)

Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, President of the Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) and UK Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy for Iraq, led a delegation of 25 IBBC member company representatives on a Trade Mission to Baghdad organised by IBBC Managing Director, Mr Christophe Michels and IBBC Co-Chairman and Iraq Representative, Mr Rasmi Al-Jabri.

Delegates included representatives from Penspen Ltd, Kuwait Energy, Serco, Wood, Ratba’a Contracting Co., Management Partners, Gulftainer, HWH & Associates, Al-Burhan Group, CCC, Dar Group, Restrata, Rolls Royce and new member XReach Ltd.

The delegation met with a number of ministers and high ranking officials to discuss future policies and opportunities for growth as well as focusing on business opportunities for IBBC member companies.

They also discussed the upcoming IBBC Autumn Conference in Dubai to be held on 12 November which will be attended by a powerful Iraqi Government delegation led by the Minister of Electricity. To register, please follow the link: http://www.webuildiraq.org/ibbc-conference/autumn-conference/

During the visit, delegates had meetings with:

  • Mr Qasim Al-Fahdawi, Minister of Electricity
  • Mr Abdul Kariem Al Faisal, Chairman of the PM’s Advisory Committee
  • Dr Mahdi Al Alak, Secretary General of the Council of Ministers
  • Dr Ann Nafi Aussi Balbool, Minister of Housing, Construction and Public Municipalities
  • ‎Mr Dara Rasheed, Deputy Minister of Housing, Construction and Public Municipalities
  • Mr Istabrak al Shouk, Deputy Minister of Housing, Construction and Public Municipalities
  • Mr Imran Abass, Deputy Minister of Transport
  • H.E. Mr Fayyad Naama Deputy Minister for refining operations, Ministry of Oil

The above meetings were joined by a number of Director Generals heading up the different departments in the various ministries.

On Sunday 29 October, IBBC Member Al Burhan Group, generously invited delegates for dinner at the Al Burhan Centre near the Baghdad International Airport.

The delegation was also invited for a Dinner at the British Embassy in Baghdad on Monday 30 October, where members delegates met with Representatives of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Department for International Trade, the World Bank, the EU and the Prime Ministers Advisory Council.

 

(Source: IBBC)

Rebuilding Iraq is central to the agenda of the Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) autumn conference at The Address, Dubai Marina on 12th November.

The opportunity for businesses in the region to engage in Iraq is reflected by the attendance of a number of high profile Iraqi Ministers: from Electricity, Transport, Oil, Construction and Housing, to the Governor of Basrah and International financiers, including the IMF and World Bank.

Vikas Handa, the IBBC UAE representative agrees:

“Iraq is the second largest oil producer in OPEC and has one of the biggest programmes for new power generation projects in the region; Iraq presents massive opportunities for housing, Infrastructure and FMCG businesses. The event is designed to discover the opportunities and projects live and intended in Iraq, for business people to meet the decision makers, to obtain insights and to network”.

UAE is increasingly seen as the regional hub for corporate operations in Iraq and the place where business decisions are determined.

We can confirm this as a range of leading international companies are attending, including GE, Siemens, BP, Wood, Serco, Shell, Petronas, Gulftainer, Zain, KCA Deutag, the International Islamic Bank and more. There will also be plenty of networking and engagement on the sidelines beyond the main stage.

The IBBC Dubai conference is also the location for the Governor of Basrah to outline his vision for the future, and it is expected ministers will outline the latest thinking on the evolving situation in Iraq and the opportunities this brings.

To register, please follow the link: http://www.webuildiraq.org/ibbc-conference/autumn-conference/

(Source: IBBC)