Harvesting the Iraqi Diaspora

By Padraig O’Hannelly.

Iraq has many assets, and while oil is the first that comes to mind, we should not forget the multitudes of Iraqis who live outside their country of birth — the Iraqi diaspora.

Estimates vary, but there are probably between four and five million Iraqi-born emigrants living in a wide range of countries, and even more if we also count second-generation Iraqis; this compares to about 31 million people living in Iraq.

They left the country at different times and for different reasons, and they collectively represent a wealth of human capital that could be of huge benefit of their native land.

Many contribute to Iraq already in the form of remittances, and by advancing the Iraqi cause throughout the world, but now the Ministry of Migration and the Displaced has announced that 100 billion Iraqi dinars ($86 million) will be allocated to encourage skilled Iraqis to return home.

This is an interesting move, and it raises some questions, such as to what extent resident Iraqis will face competition from returning ex-pats, are unskilled Iraqis less welcome in their homeland than skilled Iraqis, and will government central planning dictate the professions that are to be encouraged.

But, those reservations aside, there are plenty of examples of successful diaspora harvesting to draw on; Israel and Ireland, for example, have gained from their respective diasporas either returning or simply investing from abroad, and there is no reason to believe Iraq could not do the same.

Are you an ex-pat Iraqi? Would this new initiative be enough to lure you back? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

12 Responses to Harvesting the Iraqi Diaspora

  1. Ramy January 24, 2013 at 8:28 am #

    That totally depends on so many things.

    1. What are the conditions to us coming back and staying? Can we have total freedom to leave and travel?

    2. What is it exactly they are offering? A house budget? How much for? We require full details.

    3. How long this support will continue?

    4. What is expected of us when we return?

    The fact that they spending 86million or 1billion dollars, doesn’t change anything to our point of view, unless we know the full details.

    It’s like me saying to you, your company X is spending 86million dollar on improving the situation of it’s 5million staff, as staff there, how do you feel about that?

    Guessing your answer would me “Nothing. What am I getting exactly? And what’s expected of me?”

  2. Abdullah M. January 24, 2013 at 10:34 am #

    Well, as mentioned earlier it’s very interesting move to consider the Iraqi diaspora to return to homeland, but then again what are the benefits, advantages and disadvantages.

    I mean no one will ever risk going back till he/she is fully aware with the consequences of such decision.

    If there a scheme or road-map to how they’re going to relocate those expats and portal’s to refer to, then only we’d be taking it serious. allocating budgets in Iraq has never shown real results on the ground as far as our memories recall.

    Cheers,
    Abdullah M.

  3. Haider January 24, 2013 at 1:35 pm #

    Having a well-paid job in Europe makes me very reluctant to go back to my home country.

    It is not only about the money we need freedom, infrastructures, good education… OR a positive environment where one can see progress and less corruption, actually corruption is the root of all evil when you work hard to earn money and you see other people make millions in commissions you start thinking about fairness and politics instead of doing your job…

    So, sorry but I will not go back, at least not now!

  4. Dr. Katja Petereit January 24, 2013 at 1:48 pm #

    I agree with comments above that the conditions and procedures have to be clearly defined and follow a real strategy.
    The home-coming initiative should be run according to professional international recruiting procedures (especially regarding applicants’ privacy).
    Dr. Katja Petereit

  5. Jenny January 24, 2013 at 2:41 pm #

    Hi! I am very interesting in Iraq business, I am from sweden thou. I can see Scania have seen a lot of potential in Iraq and are recruitment for 500 iraqis. But what about women there? Are Iraq open for a equal society ?

  6. abbass hassan January 24, 2013 at 2:53 pm #

    Love to built My Iraq , the problem is that it has so many crocks that can not be trusted . The system there at the moment does not allow you to invest or bring your family . It is full of corruption .

  7. yasir January 24, 2013 at 5:17 pm #

    I agree to return back to my country(Iraq)if I will get the same respect I get it her in UAE & the same sallary (8000$) why not,also if there is fair & intgrity

  8. Hannaa Murad January 24, 2013 at 8:03 pm #

    The idea is very clever and would do alot for our country. The money allocated for this move is not the problem, but how they going to employ it. And how they going to protect it from corruption as most of Iraqi officials are involved in various corruption files.
    Re jenny’s inquiry if Iraq is equal society, unfortunately IT IS NOT. To be fair, KRG is absolutely different. It is equal society and much much less corruption.

  9. Rzgar January 24, 2013 at 10:13 pm #

    Well this is great news , but I am afraid lots of my friends went to Iraqi Embassy at London for an interview they made it for them impossible and they are talented Artists the reason they did not accept them in my view is that we are not a member of any party in Iraq or Kurdistan .. this has being designed for their own members of the parties .. it is another joke as usual. rzgar said – London

  10. Aziz Alnassiri January 25, 2013 at 10:12 am #

    I returned to Iraq in 2005 after 35 years absence. If you asked this question up to about 2010 I would have written a very good response here arguing for return of all professionals. However the country is not making any tangible steps forward. In fact the reverse.
    People must separate convenience from achieving something worthwhile. You have to put up with a lot of negative things ( bureaucracy ,corruption, lack of many services, low salaries in private sector, etc). However the biggest problem now is lack of what an earlier response called a positive environment. No one here cares about the country making any progress including the entire leadership. Sadly!

  11. Dr. Hameed Abid- London January 25, 2013 at 11:51 am #

    In order to attract Qualified Iraqis to return to Iraq many factors have to be met.for example. Housing to suit their families and to be secured may be in a guarded compounds, unless they choose otherwise. an equal salary or total income to what they are now getting at least, if not double that. Yearly paid Holiday entitlements to them and their families to the same country they are in now.. Health insurance and family health Insurance cover. Luggage allowances. Bonuses. No Income tax. Car allowances. Minimum contract five years renewable. free private schools for their kids anywhere in the world. Paid travel for these kids three times a year. Must be treated with respect and not made to feel guilty by the stupid ideas of being in debt to the country. Freedom to come and go as they please without let or hindrance.

    There are much more conditions that an International Recruitement expert could advise upon.

    This job is to complex and too big for the current Iraqi Ministry’s knowledge and management skills. It must be given to an Independent Professional Management Consultants to handle.

    Good luck

  12. taz January 25, 2013 at 4:14 pm #

    guys, please have a look to the link and you will understand (if you guys read Arabic), its 2013 so you better search it by your self and email the Ministry of Migration

    http://www.momd.gov.iq/Items/Articles/10035/Documents/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D9%88%D8%A7%D8%B5%D9%84%202011.pdf