The Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) held its annual weekend retreat on 7-9 July at Cumberland Lodge, Windsor Park, a venue dedicated to the advancement of international societal issues through constructive dialogue.
Around 60 IBBC Members and guest speakers attended this unique event to discuss pressing issues on the future of Iraq’s economy, prospects and stability.
Friday afternoon featured an Oil & Gas Sector Table Meeting, with representatives from Shell, Constellis, Penspen and Amec Foster Wheeler amongst others. William Wakileh, President and CEO of GE Iraq and Levant, gave a detailed presentation of GE’s work in Iraq during the meeting.
This was followed by a meeting of the Education, Training & Heritage Sector Table. The meeting featured presentations by the Vice Chancellors of the universities of Brighton, Leicester, and the Dean of Academic Partnerships of Northampton University, showcasing the progressive initiatives of British universities to support educational and curricula development in Iraq. Shell gave a presentation on their current training and educational work and requirements in the country. The meeting was also attended by the newly appointed HR director of BP Iraq.
The evening events saw speeches from Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, Her Majesty’s Trade Envoy to Iraq, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, Canon Dr Edmund Newell, Principal, Cumberland Lodge and H.E. Dr Salih Husain Ali, Ambassador of the Republic of Iraq.
The day was concluded by a powerful speech, courtesy of Dr Barham Salih, former Deputy PM of Iraq, former PM of the Kurdistan Regional Government and Founder of the American University in Suleimani.
The Friday Evening Dinner was generously sponsored by IBBC Member Severn Glocon Group.
The second day of the Conference on Saturday 8 July, consisted of 5 Sessions of panel discussions to address the economic, social and political situation in Iraq from a variety of different angles.
Session 1 ‘Present Situation in Iraq’ was chaired by Neil Quilliam, Senior Research Fellow at Chatham House and featured speeches from Baroness Nicholson, Dr Barham Salih, Ambassador Jonathan Wilks and Dara Rasheed, Deputy Minister of Construction, Housing and Municipalities for the Government of Iraq.
Session 2 addressed ‘Iraq after ISIS/The Future of Governance in Iraq' and was chaired by Botan Osman, Managing Director of Restrata. The Panel featured representatives of Chatham House, Dr Renad Mansour, Academy Fellow and Dr Nussaibah Younis, Associate Fellow, who recently published the Atlantic Council Report of the Task Force on the Future of Iraq. Nicolas Pelham, Middle East Correspondent at The Economist completed the panel.
Session 3 of the day, ‘A New Approach to International Trade’ saw a more finance focused discussion and was chaired by John Curtin, Partner, Ernst & Young. The panel was made up of Martin Kent, Strategy Director at the Department for International Trade, Gordon Welsh, Head of Business Group at UK Export Finance, Rob Lally of the Infrastructure Leadership Team and the Department of International Trade and Andy Birch, Director of DIT in Iraq.
Session 4 on ‘International Financial Support, PPP and Debt Finance’, was chaired by Richard Cotton of the IBBC and featured presentations by Ammar Shubar of Management Partners and Christian Josz, Mission Chief to Iraq of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Session 5 closed the day’s events on ‘Future IBBC Events’ chaired by Vikas Handa, IBBC’s UAE Representative.
IBBC also held its bi-annual Council Meeting at the Lodge, prior to dinner on Saturday evening.
The Seminar concluded with an after dinner speech and discussion with Jonathon Wilks, Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Iraq (Designate).