Capacity Building in Iraq

In May our consultants were onsite in Erbil, Iraq, building and configuring a secure network as part of a capacity building project for the UK government with key Kurdish partners. As one of the oldest continually inhabited areas in the world, I was very excited to see such an ancient city.

Not the usual commute...

Not the usual commute...

The project was an opportunity to actually see part of a country that is so often in the news, and rarely for good news. Nothing about the trip was run of the mill, from simply arranging travel insurance, to the regular security searches at every point. Seeing road signs to Mosul and Baghdad every day was somewhat surreal.

Arriving at Erbil International Airport was the first surprise. I certainly wasn't expecting a large, airy terminal, which wouldn't have looked out of place in any European city. Travelling round the city and this theme continued, with part built office blocks in and amongst older buildings.

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It is a great honour to be able to work on such projects, especially when they make a difference locally. In terms of digital transformation, this project wasn't a refinement, it was a complete game changer. Erbil clearly has had waves of investment since the Gulf War, which has stalled during the war with Isis, and it was great seeing progress being made again.

The World Trade Centre building in Erbil

The World Trade Centre building in Erbil

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Everyone in Erbil was incredibly welcoming and friendly. They were really keen to talk about their lives and the city. The best bit was always lunch, when our meeting room table would be transformed into a buffet of meat, bread, stew, beans, dips, rice...and the sweetest, strongest coffee I've ever had! 

It was a short trip, but a successful project. And hopefully in time Erbil will be somewhere that is safer and easier to visit.