Baroness Nicholson – Opening Speech at IBBC Conference

Two weeks ago IBBC in company with the Amar Foundation moved to new offices on the fourteenth floor of the Westminster Tower Office Building at No 3 Albert Embankment. We have wonderful views across the River Thames to the Houses of Parliament and you are most welcome to visit us there.

From September 17th to 20th IBBC hosted a delegation of twenty four of its members and high level meetings were held with Ministers and Senior Government officials. Mr Frank Baker and IBBC were generously entertained with dinners hosted by our members the International Islamic Bank and Harlow International, where members were able to meet with other guests from the business and diplomatic communities.

On 12th October IBBC were invited by the FCO to join a Joint UK Iraqi Trade Council Meeting at Lancaster House and in the afternoon members attended a meeting hosted my Dr Sami Araji, Chairman of the National Investment Commission and other leading Iraqi businessmen.

In my role as the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Iraq I have of course also met with many incoming Iraqi visitors to the UK and I am constantly in touch with senior UK Ministers advising on and promoting trade and business with Iraq.

IBBC and education

For the past four years we have been developing an increasing role for the IBBC in educational development, since everyone says, quite rightly, that without more and better education at all levels, then there can be little fundamental progress in Iraq.

We are very pleased that Christina Slade, Vice-Chancellor of one of our newer but most innovative universities, Bath Spa, has agreed to take the chair of this initiative from next month.  We have recruited some university members of the organisation and have fostered links between educational institutions in the UK and Iraq.  Our boldest hope is to see a new university established in Iraq, rather along the lines of the British University in Dubai, which will offer quality assured degrees which are validated in both countries.

Meanwhile we have launched several projects: for example, Women in Business, to encourage more opportunities for Iraqi women to achieve high things in industry and management; a mentoring scheme for Iraqi students in Britain who will be returning to their own country, benefiting from the experience of a brief attachment to a British company; more and better English language instruction for Iraqi business people; celebrating and helping conserve Iraqi culture and heritage.

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