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IBBC Members Rise to Coronavirus Challenge

By Ashley Goodall.

At this challenging time what kind of activities are businesses undertaking in Iraq and how are they doing things differently?

In canvassing Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) members, we found a consistent pattern of adaptation and response across the membership which can be summarized in three headings:

  • Firstly, taking care of staff and looking after their well-being and income. Members recognize that employees are the most valuable element in a business, and for those who wish to sustain their businesses longer term, employee care is top of the list, with regular online calls and management videos to support people working at distance. Ultimately this is good leadership and communications.
  • Secondly, Technical adaptation: in supporting employees and clients, businesses are undertaking various adaptations, mainly the move to work from home and using online technology to enable this. Often, home video conferences and use of Skype/Teams or Zoom are the first time these systems have been used and should well lead to longer term benefits and changes. In this way businesses are becoming more flexible and productive delivering work and client activities.
  • Finally, Communication: those who work with clients are spending more time supporting them online, especially where an intangible service such as Insurance, Banking or Consultancy are concerned. Communicating, regularly and constantly is key to retaining and supporting client business for the short and long term.

One of the most proactive is Sardar Group who tell us:

"Due to the present lock down across all the cities we operate in Iraq, all our companies are working from home.

"Business, which was very busy until the 14th March 2020, has suddenly come to a halt and effected all our business big time by stopping all the operations and thereby stopped all turnover.

"To support our employees, we have Group-wide travel restrictions that are updated regularly based on changing conditions and on advice from governments and health ministries. As well as ensuring that we meet all local regulatory authority requirements, we have instituted additional measures such as reduced face-to-face meetings, working from home, split teams and locations, and cancelling or delaying community events.

"We are arranging salary payment to all the employees in regular intervals subject to the governments relaxing the lock downs. Many companies are unable to pay for salaries, but Sardar Group is planning to support our employees for a longer period of time."

John Goering of Constellis says:

"Our primary business in supporting the Oil & Gas industry in southern Iraq continues to function. With our staffing, we have adopted a one in one out system, so the majority of the staff in now are probably in for a bit of a long haul. We are operating at full capacity, but remain flexible to our clients' needs and dispositions, it's challenging times for sure!"

Sara Safa Kasim, MD of Al-Maseer Insurance, quotes:

"We are working from home and at a distance - and have put new systems in place to support that. Enjoyably, we are also connecting more with clients to support them at this time."

Mike Douglas of SKA said:

"We stand firm in the face of adversity and get the job done. These combined challenges just make us more determined to succeed. Fuel supplies are vital to industry, transport and power generation and we will keep them flowing.

"Of note, the vital dredging we just completed during the curfew, guarantees that the biggest cargos on LR2 vessels, are not stalled; before we started, that size of ship had never been seen in the river. The company was built on the motto of "doing difficult jobs in difficult places" and now, more than ever, that is true.'

"We thank all our local and expatriate staff, and the Iraq Government, for their steadfast support and cooperation. We realize that it is not easy to be away from homes and families in these challenging times, but together we will continue to ensure that the Iraqi people get what they need to overcome these daily challenges. We hope and pray that SKA as a company and Iraq as a nation will emerge stronger at the end of all this."

Shehad Khudairi from the Khudairi Group reports:

"We are looking into various options such as online ordering and delivery (via Miswag). At the moment, Iraq is essentially shut down, so we are trying to find ways to continue to do business.

"We are communicating internally a lot more and trying to keep morale high in a very uncertain time, via video messages. Additionally, we are trying to keep the employees as safe as possible with our HSE team. Each branch has to report daily on every single touch point of the offices.

"The HSE team is most useful to our business to ensure the safety of our employees. Additionally, being flexible on how we work and our personnel are key to ensuring we are able to ride this out."

Raed Hanna of Mutual Finance, tells of how technology and online communications via Skype and Hangouts are enabling new ways to communicate for them with video conferences and virtual meetings.

Finally, Phil Malem of Serco Middle East says:

"Patients in hospitals rely on us now more than ever. We are preparing for peaks in demand and implementing infection screening and control measures across the healthcare facilities we work in.

"Citizens still need to get from A to B and our frontline staff are committed to keeping vital infrastructure operating. Our business continuity planning and workforce management ensures that sickness leaves of absence do not affect the operational efficiency or experience of those using a service.

"Residents should feel like everything possible is being done to protect them and where we operate in real estate or the higher education space, disinfection is a key priority. Escalating cleaning and sanitisation programmes is increasing confidence within the communities across the facilities we support.

"Across all sectors we operate in, it is our responsibility to ensure all staff are educated and trained on good hygiene practice and understand how they can do their bit to limit the spread of this disease. Increased sanitisation programmes across company provided accommodation and transportation have been introduced. Staff health is being monitored daily with various programmes, including temperature checking, which provides an early warning of the onset of any fever related conditions."

The upshot of all this is that challenging times bring out the best of best management practice:

Do the right things and look after and care for your people, as they are your most valuable asset. Find new ways to adapt and communicate with them, deploy new technology, and ensure your communications are working harder to support clients and staff alike.

While times are challenging, it could be a time to upskill, build in resilience and make your business even more productive for the long term. The future will be different.

(Source: Ashley Goodall, IBBC)

Posted in Iraq Industry & Trade News Comments Off on IBBC Members Rise to Coronavirus Challenge

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IBBC Council meeting, Sector Tables and Members’ Dinner

IBBC hold Council Meeting, Sector roundtables, Reception & Dinner for Members on 28 and 29 January

The Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) held its Council Meeting, Dinner & Reception for IBBC Members and distinguished guests on 28 January. The Council Meeting, hosted by Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, President of IBBC and the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Iraq, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan took place in the House of Lords.

Ms Jwan Khioka, Minister Plenipotentiary from the Embassy of the Republic of Iraq greets IBBC Members and distinguished guests

The Council Meeting was followed by a Reception & Dinner hosted by Brigadier James Ellery CBE at the Cavalry & Guards Club, where Ms Jwan Khioka, Minister Plenipotentiary from the Embassy of the Republic of Iraq greeted more than 40 guests.

After dinner, Dr Heike Harmgart, Managing Director for the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean (SEMED) region at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) elaborated EBRD’s strategy and business plan for the SEMED region, especially highlighting the business opportunities in the Republic of Iraq.

Dr Heike Harmgart, Managing Director for the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean region at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), after dinner speaker

The Education, Training and Heritage Sector Table Meeting hosted by IBBC in its London offices on 28th January was attended by representatives from the UK Embassy of the Republic of Iraq, Bath Spa University, the University of Northampton, Stirling Education, UB Holdings, Unihouse Global, the British Council and the IBBC.

The meeting agreed its over-riding objective is to improve education across Iraq, build in-country capacity and facilitate cooperation between Iraq and international, especially UK, universities. The BC confirmed it is continuing to function in Iraq, albeit at a lower activity level with some restrictions to personnel movement. The proposal for senior representatives of UK universities to visit Iraq was well supported, subject to acceptable security, all parties agreed that involvement of relevant ministries in Iraq is essential to  A number of initiatives to encourage Iraq’ entrepreneurs in were presented, including establishing a Tech Hub in Baghdad, run seminars to assist students aiming to study outside Iraq and setting up an alumni network for Iraqi graduates who has studied in UK. It was agreed that the Chevening Programme had been successful and should continue.

A highlight of the meeting was the detailed presentation of Dr Amir Saadati, Strategic Advisor, City & Guilds MENA (Projects) (https://www.cityandguilds.com/) who gave a detailed presentation on the organisations plan to roll out a number of essential training programmes across Iraq in conjunction with IBBC Member Stirling Education.

IBBC Education, Training and Heritage Sector Table Meeting

The Construction and Infrastructure Sector Table met earlier in the day with Jones Lindgren of Perkins and Will in the chair. The main discussion was about current work and opportunities in the water and environment sectors with Brad Moxham of Pell Frischmann and Steve Rowan of Eame, both active in Iraq, leading the discussion.

The IBBC Executive Committee met in the morning of 29th January. The Committee of IBBC Members, reviews IBBCs activities and advises the management of its future planning. After many years of service Alistair Kett of PWC, Hadi Nezir of UB Holding, Hani Akkawi of CCC retired from the committee. The new committee members are John Curtin of EY, Charles Walker of ZHA, Charlie Burbridge of G4S and Sadar Al-Bebany of Sadar Trading Agencies.

IBBC Executive Committee meeting

The Oil & Gas Sector Table Meeting was hosted by IBBC in its London offices On 29th January was attended by representatives from BP, ExxonMobil, SKA, Constellis, Gulftek, Petrofac, Basrah Engineering Group, the UK FCO and the IBBC. There was wide ranging discussion on the current situation in Iraq and its adverse impact on investment in the country, in particular in the oil and gas sector. There was general agreement that more investment is required to maintain current levels of production, and additional investment will be required to increase production and monetise the extensive associated gas reserves currently being flared.

Oil & Gas Sector Table Meeting

Posted in Investment, Iraq Banking & Finance News, Iraq Education and Training News, Iraq Industry & Trade News, Iraq Oil & Gas News Comments Off on IBBC Council meeting, Sector Tables and Members’ Dinner

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IBBC hosts Discussion with Iraqi Ambassador

IBBC host a roundtable discussion with His Excellency, Mr Jaafar Al-Sadr

On Wednesday 4th December the Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) was pleased to host a roundtable discussion chaired by IBBC President Baroness Nicholson with Iraq’s newly appointed Ambassador to the UK, His Excellency, Mr Jaafar Al-Sadr, and fellow diplomats Dr Ahmed Al-Nakash and Ms Hanaa Jawad.

The meeting was attended by several IBBC member representatives including from Al Hadeel Al Hassan LLC, Constellis, EAME, Ernst & Young, March Holdings, Mutual Finance Ltd, Perkins & Will, Protechnique, PWC, Rolls Royce, RSK, Shell, Unihouse Global and Xratech.

His Excellency, Mr Al-Sadr introduced himself and opened a constructive discussion on current affairs in Iraq.

Baroness Nicholson, gave a summary of the history of IBBC in Iraq, its membership and the many events and activities it supports Iraq and the UK.

There was a good interactive discussion which identified opportunities for further cooperation between IBBC, its members and the Government of Iraq. Baroness Nicholson noted that the IBBC and its members looked forward to working closely with the Ambassador in the months and years ahead, and HE Al-Sadr expressed his appreciation for the continuing support of IBBC and its many members.

(Source: IBBC)

Posted in Investment, Iraq Industry & Trade News, Politics Comments Off on IBBC hosts Discussion with Iraqi Ambassador

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Iraqi Chief Justice to examine Barriers to Investment

On Tuesday 1st October the Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) was pleased to host a roundtable discussion chaired by IBBC President Baroness Nicholson with His Excellency, Chief Justice Faiq Zidan, who was visiting the United Kingdom as guest of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

The meeting was attended by several IBBC member representatives including from Constellis, G4S Secure Solutions, Harcus Sinclair, Mosul University, Protechnique, PWC SPS and Unihouse Global.

Chief Justice Zidan introduced himself and summarised his career, which began in 1991 as a lawyer in Baghdad. He was appointed as a judge in Baghdad’s Civil Courts and Criminal Courts in 1999 and then Chief of the Central Investigative Court responsible for Combating Terrorism and Important Crimes in 2005. In 2012, Faiq was appointed to the Federal Court of Cassation as Vice-Chief in 2014 and in 2016 as Chief, a position he still holds today. He was appointed President of the Supreme Judicial Council in January 2017.

Christophe Michels, managing director of IBBC, gave a summary of the history of IBBC in Iraq, the make-up of its current membership and the many events and activities currently being organised in Iraq, Dubai and the UK.

Members reported on current legal and judicial challenges they face when operating in Iraq. His Excellency confirmed he was familiar with many of these issues and undertook to review them on his return to Iraq. He said he would be particularly interested in any legal or judicial interpretations that could discourage foreign investment.

Chief Justice Zidan further encouraged IBBC and its members to organise more encounters with Judges from Iraq and to also increase its exchanges with the Iraqi Parliament, a suggestion much welcomed by the IBBC management and members present.

(Source: IBBC)

Posted in Investment, Iraq Industry & Trade News, Politics 1 Comment

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IBBC hosts Iraqi Minister of Transport

The Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) was delighted to host H.E. Dr Abdullah Luaibi the Iraqi Minister of Transport in London today.

The Minister, accompanied by a delegation of officials, was on a 4 day official visit to the United Kingdom organised by the Department of International Trade.

His visit included meetings with IBBC Members Rolls-Royce and Serco, and a number of bilateral meetings with the British Government. UK companies play a leading role in aviation in Iraq and the Ministers visit cemented the existing ties while exploring new ventures.

By courtesy of Brigadier James Ellery and thanks to the generous sponsorship of Vitol, IBBC was fortunate to offer the Minister and his delegation Lunch together with about 20 IBBC Members and guests at the Cavalry and Guards Club on Piccadilly.

Members in attendance included representatives of Serco, Zaha Hadid Architects, Menzies Aviation, G4S, Al Burhan Group, Basra Gateway Terminal, HWH & Associate, Eversheds Sutherland, Stirling Education and Constellis.

Delegates at the Lunch were addressed by Baroness Nicholson, IBBC President and the Prime Ministers Trade Envoy for Iraq, and of course the Minister who expressed his great satisfaction about his visit and working so closely with the UK Government, UK businesses and the IBBC.

He also made it clear that establishing regular direct return flights between London and Baghdad was one of his top priorities and that he was looking at upgrading some of the major Iraqi transport infrastructure during his tenure.

IBBC’s Managing Director Christophe Michels commented:

Minister Luaibi has been a staunch supporter of IBBC members in Iraq over some years now, first as Deputy Minister and now as Minister. His office door in Baghdad is always open to us and I am pleased to say that UK companies lead the way in airport security, ground handling and air traffic control.

"Now we are looking forward for Rolls-Royce to work with Iraqi Airways and for one of the great UK architects and design companies to work on an new airport project in country.

For more information on the Iraq Britain Business Council, visit https://www.iraqbritainbusiness.org

(Source: IBBC)

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IBBC hosts Members' Retreat at Cumberland Lodge

This weekend, the Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) hosted its annual members’ retreat at Cumberland Lodge, Windsor Park, which was generously sponsored by Al Burhan Group.

As with previous years, it was very well attended by over seventy delegates, and allowed our members to mingle and network with representatives of other businesses, civil servants, and Iraqi government dignitaries.

Speakers and organisations represented included:

  • Dr Falah Al Amiri, Advisor to the Ministry of Oil, Government of Iraq
  • Dr Hameed Ahmed, Deputy Higher Education Minister
  • Eng. Dara Rasheed, Deputy Minister of Housing, Construction & Municipalities
  • Jon Wilks CMG, HM Ambassador to Iraq
  • Beverley Simpson, Director, Department of International Trade (DIT) in Iraq
  • Dr Victoria Lindsay, Director, British Council, Iraq
  • Emma Sky, Director, Greenberg World Fellows Program, Yale University
  • Nicolas Pelham, The Economist
  • Professor Toby Dodge, London School of Economics
  • Dr Renad Mansour, Chatham House
  • Al Burhan Group
  • Al Maseer Insurance
  • Basra Gateway Terminal
  • Bath Spa University
  • BP
  • Chevron
  • Constellis
  • EAME
  • ENKA
  • ExxonMobil
  • Financial Times
  • G4S
  • GulfTek Saudi
  • KBR
  • Management Partners
  • Mosul University
  • OiLSERV Kuwait
  • Perkins+Will UK, Ltd
  • Petrofac
  • Petronor
  • Pro-Technique Group
  • Rolls-Royce
  • Serco
  • Shire Oak International
  • Stirling Education
  • Tube Tech International
  • TurnKey LLC
  • Unihouse Global
  • University of Dundee
  • University of Liverpool
  • University of Northampton
  • University of Sheffield
  • Wood Plc
  • Zaha Hadid Architects

Sessions included discussions and panels on the state of Iraq, contemporary Middle Eastern politics, meetings for our various sector tables (including oil and gas, and construction and infrastructure), economic development strategies for Iraq, and how higher education partnerships could be developed between the UK and Iraq. A biannual council meeting for representatives of our member organisations was also held.

Christophe Michels, Managing Director of the IBBC was happy with how the weekend went:

“As in previous years the Retreat has attracted some of the finest minds from business, academia, politics, media and diplomacy working on Iraq to conduct truly meaningful and intimate discussions”.

Baroness Emma Nicholson, President of the IBBC and the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Iraq, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan said:

“IBBC has had a fantastically happy and hugely productive busy weekend. We call it a retreat, but I am not sure what it was a retreat from! People were working morning, noon, and night, and they were making great achievements, and huge strides in the various different table meetings…one of the best I can ever remember”.

For more information on the Iraq Britain Business Council, visit our website at https://www.iraqbritainbusiness.org/

(Source: IBBC)

Posted in Construction & Engineering In Iraq, Investment, Iraq Banking & Finance News, Iraq Education and Training News, Iraq Industry & Trade News, Iraq Oil & Gas News, Politics, Security Comments Off on IBBC hosts Members' Retreat at Cumberland Lodge

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IBBC in Productive Trade Mission to Baghdad

Iraq Britain Business Council completes productive trade mission to Baghdad

IBBC recently completed a productive mission to Baghdad, meeting with high-level government officials and British authorities in Iraq. Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, President of IBBC and the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Iraq led the delegation alongside Mr Rasmi Al Jabri, Deputy Chairman of IBBC, Mr Christophe Michels, Managing Director of IBBC and Mr Vikas Handa, IBBC representative in the GCC.

IBBC was joined by numerous member representatives, including from Al Bilal Group, Al Burhan Group, Al-Nukhba OFS, ARCHS, Constellis, Dar Group, EY, Gulftainer, G4S, Khudairi Group, International Islamic Bank, Kuwait Energy, Management Partners, Menzies Aviation, Mosul University, National Bank of Iraq, Ratba’a Contracting, Serco, Shell, Standard Chartered Bank and Turnkey LLC.

The delegation visited soon after the election of President Dr Barham Salih, who took time out of his busy schedule to meet Baroness Nicholson and the IBBC leadership who were joined by HMA Jon Wilks. Dr Salih has been a close friend of the IBBC for many years and recently spoke at the IBBC Cumberland Lodge Conference in July.

On Sunday 7 October the delegation held meetings with the Governor of the Central Bank of Iraq, Mr Ali Mohsen Ismael Al Alaq, H.E. Mr Adbuallah Luabea the Deputy Minister of Transport, Mr Fayadh Neema, Senior Deputy Minister of Oil and Dr Sami Al Araji, Chairman of the National Investment Commission. The delegation were hosted by the Iraqi Federation of Chambers of Commerce in the evening for dinner.

On Monday the delegation met with Dr Mehdi Al Alak, Secretary General of the Council of Ministers, Dr Hameed Ahmed Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers, Dr Sabah Mushatat, Economic & Investment Advisor to the Prime Minister of Iraq, Dr Mudher Mohammed Saleh, Finance Advisor to the Prime Minister of Iraq and with Ján Kubiš Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq.  In the evening Ambassador Jon Wilks hosted a reception for the delegation and Iraqi dignitaries at his residency.

Before leaving Iraq, Christophe Michels visited Serco, who are working with the Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority at Baghdad International Airport. Serco supports the Iraqi authorities in managing the entire spectrum of air traffic control in Iraq including the increasing number of international overflights.

(Source: IBBC)

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IBBC hosts Members' Dinner in Baghdad

The Deputy Chairman of the Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC), Rasmi Al Jabri, and Managing Director, Christophe Michels, hosted a dinner for members and guests at the Babylon Warwick Hotel in Baghdad on 29th August.

Many representatives from member companies were in attendance, including the Chairman of Khudairi Group and the International Islamic Bank, the CEO’s of Kuwait Energy and the National Bank of Iraq, as well as representatives from Al Burhan Group, Al Nukhba-OFS, Constellis, G4S, Standard Chartered Bank, Serco, Shell and XReach Ltd.

Ms Beverly Simpson, Iraq Country Director for the Department for International Trade, gave guests an update on the latest visa and labour regulations being applied in Iraq, followed by a discussion.

(Source: IBBC)

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Triple Canopy Pays $2.6m to Settle False Claims Suit

US-based security company Triple Canopy has agreed to pay $2.6 million to settle civil False Claims Act allegations that the company submitted false claims for payment to the Department of Defense for unqualified security guards stationed in Iraq.

Contractors must be held accountable for their actions, especially when the safety of government personnel is at stake” said Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “This settlement should remind contractors of the high value we place on safeguarding our personnel abroad.

The allegations stem from Triple Canopy’s one-year contract with the Joint Contracting Command in Iraq (JCC-I), an entity established to provide contracting support related to the government’s relief and reconstruction efforts in Iraq. Under the 2009 contract, Triple Canopy was required to perform a variety of security services at Al Asad Airbase, the second largest air base in Iraq.   

The government’s complaint in intervention alleges that Triple Canopy knowingly billed the United States for security guards who could not pass contractually required firearms proficiency tests. The tests were designed by the Army to ensure that the guards hired to protect U.S. and allied personnel were capable of firing their assigned weapons safely and accurately.

The government further alleges that Triple Canopy concealed the guards’ inability to satisfy the firearms testing requirements by creating false test scorecards that Triple Canopy was required to maintain for government review, in an effort to induce the government to pay for the unqualified guards.    

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SMEs can Transform Emerging Markets such as Iraq

The Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) has hosted a dinner in honour of Mr Xavier Rolet, CEO of the London Stock Exchange Group.

After dinner, Mr Rolet spoke about the transforming power of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), particularly in emerging markets such as Iraq.

He said that SMEs can spearhead profound societal change in countries which face political and other factors of instability, and spoke of the various initiatives his company is taking globally to build up and promote SMEs.

IBBC Managing Director, Christophe Michels, added:

It was an immense honour and privilege for IBBC to host Mr Rolet, one of the busiest actors in the global economy.

“The dinner with Mr Rolet was part of the wide ranging effort the IBBC is undertaking to put Iraq firmly on the map as a country to do business in.”

Members in attendance included representatives of Amec Foster Wheeler, Bath Spa University, Constellis, EY, Garda World, HWH & Associates, International Islamic Bank,  Mott MacDonald, Pell Frischmann, Perkins +Will UK, Petrofac, Rolls-Royce, Standard Chartered Bank and UB Holding.

(Source: IBBC)

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