Arabia Time Zone UTC+03:00
Capital City Baghdad
Currency Iraqi dinar
National Day October 03
Dr Salih Husain Ali Al-Tamimi is clearly inspired by his latest posting: “Working in a great nation like the UK, and in one of the greatest cities on earth, opens a wide scope of visions and horizons.” He arrived in London as Iraq’s new Ambassador back in July with his wife and children. He says that presenting his credentials to The Queen was one of the most memorable days of his career. “A great honour, I had the opportunity to discuss many things ranging from local Iraqi affairs to international cooperation. Her Majesty is hugely knowledgeable on the region.”
Dr Al-Tamimi’s career has been built around one of his greatest hobbies: reading. “It is essential to constantly increase our knowledge and reading is a fantastic way to engage with the modern world.” Graduating with a first class BSc encouraged him to pursue his postgraduate studies, earning an MSc and PhD in Electrical Engineering and Information Technology respectively. A career in academia beckoned, in which he chaired the IT Department, alongside the CISCO Academy at the University of Technology in Baghdad. As well as lecturing at many Iraqi universities, his work involved contributing to conferences in Iraq and publishing many research papers in local and regional journals.
The Ambassador believes his experiences working in academia are a significant asset: “There is great convergence between academia and diplomacy, in that analysis, research, exchange of ideas and visions, along with conducting meetings and seminars are required for both roles. The analysis and research side to academia are also attributes of a good Ambassador.”
Diplomacy called in 2009, when he was appointed as Ambassador at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. “I have total faith that for a nation to be great and to develop scientifically, it has to invest in two major areas: higher education and diplomacy. So serving my country in its search for development therefore seemed like the next logical step.”
Working within the Arab Department at the MFA headquarters in Baghdad prepared him for taking office in Khartoum as Ambassador for five years in June 2010. “Strengthening bilateral relations with Sudan was my main task, which was especially important because Sudan is a member of the Arab League.” Reflecting on his time there, he says, “I believe our efforts were fairly successful given that the Sudanese Embassy has now reopened in Baghdad. Furthermore, we initiated a series of visits between countries, and promoted educational relations, signing memorandums of understanding between Iraqi and Sudanese universities.”
Prior to his present appointment, he spent four months at his MFA headquarters in Baghdad being briefed on the main issues between Iraq and the UK. So what did he learn? What are his key priorities as Iraq’s Ambassador in the UK? “Primarily, I’m here to promote political, economic and bilateral relations with the UK. My priorities also include finding the best British expertise to develop various scientific and administrative fields in Iraqi institutions, which will strengthen the democratic process in the country.”
The Ambassador is frank on the subject of the War on Terror: “Iraq is currently battling Daesh who represent international terrorism throughout the world. One of Iraq’s greatest diplomatic challenges is to engage the international community in Iraq’s war against terrorism, through political support, intelligence cooperation, military logistics, and whatever is required to defeat the threat Daesh poses to the whole world. Unfortunately, the international media is not reflecting the true story of our everyday battle to protect our land and people. A significant part of my plan is to convey this true image and try to gain the international support Iraq needs.”
Dr Al-Tamimi gives an impassioned plea: “The international community must realise that defeating Daesh will dramatically improve their own national security. Furthermore,” he continues, “it is important to emphasise that the economy plays a major role in Iraq’s ability to stand up against terrorism. Iraq has huge potential for international investment in many sectors, from electricity to oil, industry, agriculture, housing, banking, metal mines, and others. It is a great challenge for Iraq to fight international terrorism, whilst also promoting foreign investment across the country.” Using his academic approach of telling the real story of Iraq today, Dr Al-Tamimi’s background makes him the ideal man for the job.