Opportunities abound in Iraq, says FIAFI chief
Move from hard times to great expectations in tale of two countries
Ragdan El-Akabi says this year will vindicate FIAFI Group’s recent development into construction with a number of new opportunities in Iraq.
The CEO and founder of the Baghdad-based infrastructure services firm told CW that the 1 million homes planned by the government will 'keep a lot of companies busy' for the next few years, despite the ongoing political uncertainty surrounding the election.
The ballot crisis “will affect matters for a couple of months until the new government is formed. However, there are positive messages coming out of the political parties - which are encouraging.”
For a company comprised of 97% Iraqi nationals it is a patriotic push to serve both state-sponsored schemes – which has also recently announced a joint rail project by the electricity and transport ministries to deliver fuel to the Dora power station in the capital – as well as the next phase of the oil companies’ development. These firms 'will need the support of local Iraqi companies like FIAFI Group to help establish their camps' in remote locations.
The international hunger and haste to capture the opportunities in Iraq has kept the company on its toes – though also allows it to demonstrate one of its logistical strengths with importing mandates.
“The international clients are always pressed for time,” El Akabi says. Things have to be done yesterday. Logistics plays a big part for the international companies and specialised equipment needs to be imported into the country. This is where our logistics arm plays a pivotal role in getting the equipment to the right locations on time and intact.”
His belief that 'security always comes top of the list' will chime with a number of materials suppliers in the UAE still hedging their bets on the country. Dinesh Nainani, general manager of Shaker Trading, a mid-sized supplier of steel products such as pipes sheets and tubes, said that although his firm has seen more business coming from Iraqi companies in the last year-and-a-half, the security situation means that the company does not plan to operate directly in the country.