First National Conference to Address Early Marriage in Iraq

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and the Council of Ministers Secretariat (COMSEC), in partnership with the Women Empowerment Department (WED), and support from the United Kingdom, Sweden, France and Canada, organised a two-day conference to address early marriage in Iraq.

The conference, which took place on 11-12 June, recognised the alarming situation with early marriage which has increased from %21.7 to %25.5 for the past ten years in Iraq.

The event brought together government entities, local authorities, religious and tribal leaders, civil society organisations, young people, academia, and representatives of the international and donor community to discuss the root causes of early marriage, its impact and solutions to address it.

Representatives of the government of Iraq and the government of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, ambassadors, tribal and religious leaders, academia and experts shared profound evidence on the devastating consequences of early marriage on the socio-economic progress, psychological and physical health of young girls and boys, families, communities and society at large.

UNFPA Representative of Iraq, Dr Rita Columbia, said:

"Tribal communities and young people affected by early marriage have asked us to raise our voice and advocate more for women and girls' rights and empowerment and take a step forward in addressing early marriage in Iraq, including the Kurdistan Region. This event shows the criticality of reducing early marriage to fulfill the rights of girls and women, and accelerate achievement of SDGs in Iraq."

The conference participants discussed and elaborated recommendations that will be taken by the Women Empowerment Directorate under the leadership of the Secretary-General of the COMSEC to support the local authorities to reduce and prevent early marriage in Iraq.

The Early Marriage is #NotNormal also includes a social media campaign and a partnership with Rakuten's Viber to promote the end of early marriage.

UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, delivers a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person's potential is fulfilled.

(Sources: Relief Web, UN)

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IBBC hosts largest ever Spring Conference

The Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) hosted the largest attendance for their Spring conference at the Mansion house on 24th May, with just under 300 attendees, half of whom came from Iraq.

Widely considered a success, the overall theme was 'sustaining economic growth in Iraq', There were multiple panels and roundtable sessions; including four panels focused on Finance and Energy, and additional themes of Education and Skills, Future Tech, Privatisation and a Kurdish ministerial roundtable with full attendance at all.

The conference was opened by Baroness Nicholson, president of IBBC.

Notable speakers included the Governor of the central bank H.E Mr. Mustafa Ghalib Mukheef, the Governor of Kirkuk, H.E. Mr Rakan Aljoubouri, the Chairman of the Trade Bank of Iraq, Dr Salem Chalabi and H.E. Dr Dara Rasheed, Minister of Planning, Kurdish Regional Government, and Mr Louis Taylor, CEO of UKEF, while Lord Howell gave an insightful and powerful speech on energy provision and the continuing importance of oil and gas distribution and production, especially in the light of Russian aggression. Professor Frank Gunter offered his paper for privatisation to a packed room. Dr Luay Al Khateeb, Distinguished Fellow Columbia University, chaired the Energy Transition session alongside with panellist from BP, Shell, GE and Oilserv.

The Rasmi AL Jabri award to the most outstanding, well run, professional Iraqi company engaged with the UK and international business from Iraq, was awarded to The Sardar Group and accepted by Mr Sardar Al Bebany from Rasmi's son and Baroness Nicholson.

Delegates came from all regions of Iraq, including KRI, Basra and Baghdad, with chambers of commerce, leading Iraqi businesses, and private investors and business- people engaged and supplying IBBC corporate members.

Principal sponsors included the Iraq private banking league, who brought 20 banking members, gold sponsors - The Sardar Group and Hydro C and Bronze sponsors - GE.

The Conference was also made available online and a recording of the Tech forum is available here.

(Source: IBBC)

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Meet Top Iraqi Officials at IBBC Conference

Hear Iraq's principal ministers and financiers share their vision and policies for Energy, Finance and Educational sectors at IBBC's Mansion House conference on 24th May.

Iraq is on the cusp of forming a new Government and is benefitting from high oil revenues and stability. The IBBC Spring conference is ideally timed for a potential new Government announcement with key players in both oil and finance speaking and sharing their vision of what policies and the future landscape lies in store for Iraq and the private sector.

Iraq is clearly open for business, and we can expect to hear strong indicators of where the economy and investment will be directed and how banks and government expect to achieve this.

Addressing the new government agenda of reforms, we have a panel dedicated to the Iraqi Government White paper, led by Dr Alaa, the executive director or the Prime Minister's reform unit.

It is also expected that the Minister of Oil will announce several investment opportunities that will be discussed in a separate session after the energy panel during the afternoon

This is your opportunity to meet these confirmed speakers: the Minister of Oil H.E. Ihsan Abdul Jabbar Ismaael, the Governor of the Central Bank of Iraq, H.E Mr. Mustafa Ghalib Mukheef, Ms Taif Sami, Deputy Minister of finance, the Minister of youth and sport H.E. Adnan Darjal Motar Al-Rubaye, and higher education, as well as a Dr Salem Chalabi, President & Chairman of the Trade Bank of Iraq and a delegation of Iraqi private banks. In addition, key IBBC members including BP country director Zaid Elysari, Shell, Total, GE, Siemens, KBR, SKA, Serco, Petronor and Petrofac, PWC, EY, Standard Chartered Bank, JP Morgan, TBI, SAP, Barclays, City and Guilds among many, and from the UK Government Mr Louis Taylor, director of UKEF are attending.

The overall theme will examine how Iraq can sustain economic growth going forward, through the significant speaker energy, finance and Insurance panels who will discuss this at length.

New topics include privatisation of state-owned enterprises at a round table discussion led by Prof. Frank Gunter with the participation of the Prime Minister's Office, additionally, a special paper on the subject written by members of the IBBC Advisory Council will be launched on the day and form the backdrop of the discussion.

Panels on project finance and energy transition are included during the day.

Beyond these topics many companies will find ample opportunity to meet the key speakers, as well as network with large businesses in Iraq and UK during the conference and in separate sessions. IBBC constantly advocates for the opportunity of private business to change economies and this conference confirms the benefits business brings to Iraq.

Economic sustainability is not just confined to energy and finance sectors as the knock-on effect of an expanding economy is creating big demand for skilled employees across all sectors, an issue that will be addressed by the educational panel including MSelect, who's Iraq employment report has shed great light on the unprecedented nature of skills and sectoral requirements and how they might be addressed.

IBBC are very proud to be holding, possibly our best conference and we hope those companies' operating in Iraq and considering joining our council, will attend at this time of opportunity and evolution for Iraq's economy to meet the people who are shaping its future.

Click here to register.

(Source: IBBC)

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IBBC appoints Industry Specialist as Strategic Development Officer

IBBC appoints industry specialist as Strategic Development Officer

As the Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) Board and Executive Committee re-fresh their strategic plan to continue a pathway to success for Iraq and its business community, it has appointed a Strategic Development Officer to bring industry expertise and experience to its management team.

Colin Findlay brings over 40 years of experience in the Oil & Gas sector and in industrial manufacturing as a Chief Executive Officer and Industry Association Chairman.  Colin led Severn Glocon Group's Iraq operations from 2012 onwards and was an active member of the IBBC during that time.

Colin says:

"I am delighted to take up this appointment. I took 3 months carrying out an in-depth strategic review of IBBC, its aims, objectives and member activities before joining and feel able now to support its future strategic development.

"My review further consolidated my understanding of the IBBC's reputation and merits as an influencer in the Iraq & British business community. My initial activities will focus on improving the capacity of the IBBC to reach its goals before supporting Christophe in the delivery of long term strategic objectives."

Christophe Michel's IBBC's Managing Director commented:

"We are delighted that Colin has chosen to join IBBC and support our work. His strategic review was very timely and has helped focus our thinking on the future of IBBC and how it delivers its work across the region.

"The IBBC has always sought to bring industry experience together with international relations expertise and also to ensure that we offer value to our members and business associates. The addition of Colin to the team will add strength and capacity to our work."

Please see Colin Findlay's bio here.

(Source: IBBC)

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IBBC Iraq Conference, London, Tuesday 24th May 

The IBBC Iraq conference at the Mansion House - meeting at a most important time for Iraq - Tuesday 24 May 

After a two-year absence, IBBC is back at the Mansion House hosting its Iraq conference on Tuesday May 24th focusing on finance, energy and sustaining economic growth in Iraq.

The country stands at another pivotal moment with a new government still in formation, record high oil and gas prices and a world supply crisis, in recovery mode after the pandemic and a strong desire to diversify the economy, grow the private sector and improve employment prospects, particularly for the young, a possible Iranian / US nuclear settlement, issues over water supply and food production, diversifying into renewable energy  and still much work to be done on repairing and renewing infrastructure, but progress being made on improving governance and hugely enhanced government revenue to provide business opportunities across all the sectors.

International interest in investing in Iraq remains strong with the Chinese (Rumaila) and French (Total) Governments being particularly aggressive and most recently a wish expressed by the Saudi Government to join them.

In each sector we are hosting influential Iraqi ministerial attendees including the Minister of Oil H.E. Ihsan Abdul Jabbar Ismaael and Mr Kareem Hatta Deputy Oil Minister for Upstream Affairs, the Governor of the Central Bank of Iraq, H.E Mr. Mustafa Ghalib Mukheef, the Minister of Youth and Sport H.E. Adnan Darjal Motar Al-Rubaye, as well as Ms Taif Al-Shakarchi, Deputy Minister of Finance , Dr Salem Chalabi, President & Chairman of the Trade Bank of Iraq, a delegation of Iraqi Private banks.

From the UK side Louis Taylor, Chief Executive of UKEF, UK Ambassador Mark Bryson- Richardson, BP President Iraq Zaid Elyaseri, and Richard Wilkins from JP Morgan will address the audience with latest developments and opportunities and Professor Frank Gunter will present his latest views on the political economy.

Principal panel subjects include developing the banking sector, project finance, energy transition and how to boost short term production, education and skills, insurance, in addition to an online Tech panel addressing the benefits of crypto currency.

For companies interested in Iraq, this is a prime opportunity to hear what some of the most important players, both government and private sector are saying and thinking, and an excellent place for networking with potential partners and customers from both national and international organisations.

For further information and to register - please follow the link below:

IBBC Spring Conference at the Mansion House, London - IBBC (iraqbritainbusiness.org)

A reminder to overseas attendees, to arrange for visas to UK within the next few days as is relevant for your country.

(Source: Iraq Britain Business Council)

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IBBC meets with Saudi Iraqi Business Council in Riyadh

From the Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC):

Baroness Nicholson and Christophe Michels led a 30-strong delegation of IBBC Members to Riyadh to meet with Members of the Saudi Iraqi Business Council.

The high profile meeting of Members of both Councils met under the auspices of the Saudi Minister of Commerce at the head quarters of the Saudi Chambers of Commerce.

Mr Mohammed Al Khorayef, Chairman of SIBC presided over a 3 hour seminar at which 10 different IBBC member companies presented and discussed challenges and opportunities in doing business in Iraq. Mr AlKhorayef and Baroness Nicholson gave opening addresses on behalf of their respective organisations and attendees also heard short presentations from the Saudi Foreign Investment Authority and the Export Finance Authority.

The seminar was followed by an extensive networking Lunch.

The Saudi Minister of Commerce hosted members of both councils for dinner at the Ritz Carlton Hotel. The dinner was attended by the Governor of the Saudi Investment Authority, the Chairman of the Saudi Chambers of Commerce and other senior Saudi officials.

Both sides voted this first meeting a huge success which allowed for ample business to business meetings and the exchange of valuable experiences and information. Baroness Nicholson highlighted the important role IBBC can play in a triangular relationship between Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Britain. Christophe Michels emphasised the depth and knowledge of IBBC and its members, having worked in Iraq since 2009 if not longer and the willingness of IBBC Members to do business with their Saudi Companies in Iraq, but also in Saudi Arabia.

The meeting concluded with an invitation to SIBC members to attend the IBBC Spring Conference at The Mansion House in London on 24th May.

Christophe Michels stated that this was a first historic visit to Saudi Arabia for IBBC and that he was confident that IBBC and SIBC will build on it to further strong cooperation between their members in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom. He added that today in Iraq business to business relationships really mattered and would lead to substantial measurable outcomes.

The IBBC delegation included, Mr Zaid Elyaseri, President of BP Iraq, Mr Sardar Al Bebany, Chairman of Sardar Group, Mr Mohammed Delaimy, CEO of SCB Iraq, Mr Ismail Maraqa, Chairman of PWC Middle East, Mr Khalil Nezir, Director of UB Holding, Mrs Sarah Akbar, MD of Oilserv, Mr Stuart Mackay, Corporate Development Director at G4S Risk Management, Mr Jaber Aljaberi, CEO of AA Global Trading Company, Ms Hadeel Hasan, Managing Partner of Al Hadeel Al Hasan LLC; Mr Khalil Al Salem, Deputy CEO of Al Majal; Mr Anmar Al-Gharifi, Partner, Saudi Arabia of Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP, Mr Amar Shubar, Partner of Management Partners, Mr Hamed Silmi of Martrade Shipping & Logistics, Mr Hal Miran, Founding CEO of MSELECT, Mr Yaser Al Abbadi, Head of Business at NB of Iraq, National Bank of Iraq / Capital Bank and Mr Zeid Barghouti, NBI- Head of Treasury, Invest & FI, National Bank of Iraq / Capital Bank, Mr Faisal AlTamimi, Senior Associate- Business Development, PwC, Ms Leena Zeyad, Group BOD Administration Manager of Sardar Trading Agencies, Mr Habib Bitar, CEO of TBI Saudi Arabia and Mr Hussam Chakouf, Senior Associate of Zaha Hadid Architects, and was joined by IBBCs GCC Representative Mr Vikas Handa, Mr Richard Cotton, Commercial Advisor and Professor Mohammed Al Uzri, Health and Education Advisor.

On Saturday 26th March, our hosts organised visits to Riyadh Fort, now fully refurbished to its original state, the site now designated as the place where the modern Saudi state began in 1902 and to the Saudi National Museum, which records in fabulous settings, the geology, the history of the country over centuries, and the large diversity of cultures across the country.

On the evening of Sunday 27th March, the Trade Bank of Iraq in Saudi CEO Habib Bitar kindly hosted a dinner for the IBBC delegates who were able to exchange ideas with senior bank officials and other distinguished Saudi guests.

(Source: IBBC)

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Another Unaoil Bribery Conviction Overturned

By John Lee.

The UK's Court of Appeal has reportedly overturned the conviction of Paul Bond, who was jailed last year in relation to the Unaoil bribery scandal in Iraq.

Mr Bond (69), a former senior sales manager at SBM Offshore (SBM), had been sentenced to three and a half years in prison on two counts of conspiracy to give corrupt payments to Iraqi public officials to secure lucrative oil contracts in post-occupation Iraq.

According to Bond's legal team, key evidence was withheld from the defence during the trial.

In December, Ziad Akle, Unaoil's territory manager for Iraq, has had his conviction for bribery quashed.

(Sources: Evening Standard, Reuters)

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Aggreko completes Flare-Gas-to-Power plant in KRI

UK-based Aggreko has announced that it has completed commissioning of the largest flare-gas-to-power project in the Middle East to date at 165 MW capacity.

The plant is situated nearby the Saqala [Sarqala] Field, Garmain block, South East Kurdistan.

The 165 MW modular power plant has run at full capacity for 72 hours in the project's final site acceptance test (SAT), marking successful on-time, on-budget delivery.

The plant is run on approximately 40 million square cubic feet (SCF) per day of associated petroleum gas (APG) from the Saqala Field, saving 840 tonnes of CO2 per day, and cutting flaring by a third.

Delivered over the course of 2020-2021 against the backdrop of the pandemic, the project was conceived and executed in close collaboration with Kurdistan's Ministry of National Resources (MNR) and Ministry of Electricity (MOE).

Aggreko also delivered a new 6km gathering pipeline to transport the APG to the power plant, and upgraded 7km of 33 kV and 33km of 132 kV overhead cables to new high tensile low sage (HTLS) conductors in order for the local distribution grid to handle the new power plant's full output.

Ahmed Mufti, Kurdistan Regional Government's Deputy Minister of Natural Resources (MNR) said:

"We worked with Aggreko to provide a creative solution to convert flare gas to power in a way that directly benefits the local population and the regional in general, while creating a positive environmental impact and improving air quality."

Phil Burns, Managing Director for Aggreko Middle East, comments:

"Kurdistan's Regional Government has been forward-thinking in looking for ways to capture and convert gas that would otherwise be flared, to unlock production and power the local economy. We are extremely proud to have worked with the Ministries to deliver the Middle East's largest flare gas to power project to date, while upgrading the local infrastructure to the lasting benefit of the community and businesses it serves."

The project is now contracted to run for four years, delivering power 24/7/365.

Built using 192 MW of modular gas generators, the plant can easily be scaled up or down in response to changing gas volumes.

Approximately 60 Aggreko engineers have delivered the project, with 80 local jobs created directly and indirectly for the site's delivery and ongoing operation, including 44 local nationals who have already commenced Aggreko's official training scheme.

More here.

(Source: Aggreko)

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Construction Starts at $94m Shatra Hospital

By John Lee.

The Secretary-General of Iraq's Council of Ministers, Dr. Hamid Naim Al-Ghazi [Hamed Al Gazi] has laid the foundation stone for a 200-bed general hospital in Shatra City, in Dhi Qar province.

The hospital will serve the inhabitants of Shatra and the surrounding areas.

UK-based Protechnique will complete the project within 36 months, under the supervision of Japanese engineering firm ITEC and the Iraqi Ministry of Health.

Funding for the $94-million project includes a loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

(Source: Protechnique)

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Unaoil Bribery Conviction Quashed

By John Lee.

Ziad Akle, Unaoil's territory manager for Iraq, has had his conviction for bribery quashed by the UK's Court of Appeal today (Friday).

He had been sentenced to five years' imprisonment in July 2020 having been found guilty of paying over $500,000 in bribes to secure a $55-million contract to supply offshore mooring buoys in Iraq.

The court found that the refusal by Serious Fraud Office (SFO) to provide key documents to the defence was "a serious failure by the SFO to comply with their duty," adding that "that failure was particularly regrettable given that some of the documents had a clear potential to embarrass the SFO in their prosecution of this case."

Paul Bond, a former senior sales manager at SBM Offshore (SBM), which was a client of Unaoil, had his request for leave to appeal against his sentence denied.

The full judgement can be read here.

 More here, here and here.

(Source: England and Wales Court of Appeal - Criminal Division)

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