The two years I spent at the boys' school had a huge impact on my personality. But I consider the way I was raised by my family the cornerstone of everything that I was able to accomplish later on.
Despite all this, I still respect many of the traditions of Eastern women and follow them.
NIQASH: How do you account for your success in Norway and Sweden? At the age of 40, you went there, learned the language and studied medicine.
Al-Birmani: I did not go to Sweden as a refugee. I went there as a student and it wasn't the first time that I went to a European country. I put lots of effort into understanding the people of Norway and Sweden especially when I learned their languages and became proficient in them. After staying for a while in Norway, and getting to know the beauty of the country and the nature of its people, I decided to settle there.
I am very thankful for the luck that allowed me to become part of the people of this country. I urge everybody who left Iraq willingly, or forcibly, not to forget his country and to work for its interests. I urge everybody to plant the seeds of love of Iraq in the hearts of their children.
NIQASH: Some wealthy Iraqis have entered into other areas with their investments, such as the media or politics. Why did you decide to invest in a school?
Al-Birmani: I consider my country part of my identity and my roots. It had made me what I am now. I was born and raised in Iraq and I studied there. I wish I could do more to pay my debts to this country. I opened the school because I thought this would be the best way to pay that debt and to contribute to the education of our young girls.