Iraqi-American Perspectives: Business in Baghdad

Dear Pita-consumers:
Happy New Year and hope you are well! January also marks the first month since the U.S. withdrew from Iraq, and luckily, other “pita-consumers” (Ayad Mirjan and Hamada Zahawi) had an opportunity to visit Iraq and reflect on their experiences as Americans of Iraqi descent. Below we have two perspectives regarding the business environment in Baghdad.

First we have Ayad Mirjan, who has a business background and writing his dissertation on customer experience management. Second, we have Hamada Zahawi, who is a former corporate attorney and currently is a speech coach. In November, Hamada visited Iraq to participate in TEDxBaghdad. His story was published in Al Jazeera English on January 3rd, 2012.


Perspective #1: Explosive in the literal sense
By: Ayad Mirjan


A rather rude awakening at 7:25 am this morning when an improvised explosive devise exploded near a hotel less than a mile away from my residence.

I came to Baghdad to continue my research on customer experience management and customer service; however, three days into my trip I realized that this is neither the appropriate time, nor the appropriate city to conduct such research. The country is still politically and economically unstable and cannot seem to move forward before addressing the basic needs. Continued here on Ayad’s blog: Moment of Goof.

Ayad Mirjan pursued his MBA degree in the UK at Henley Business School, where he focused on customer experience management and customer loyalty.graduated from the University of California, San Diego. In Washington, DC he pursued positions in Relationship and Account Management in financial services and international development; where “the experiences taught me that ‘people’ is my strength” according to Ayad. Ayad maintains his “Moment of Goof” blog, which includes his reflection above on Iraq, among other observations.

Perspective #2: TEDx Baghdad: “Iraq Is Infinity”
By: Hamad Zahawi

Washington, DC- “My father gave me a great Iraq that now I have to pass down to my son. Will I be able to deliver to him what my father gave to me?” Manhal Al-Habbobi looked straight into the eyes of his audience. It was the first-ever TEDxBaghdad conference, and Manhal was wrapping up his impassioned speech with a call to action for his fellow Iraqis in the audience and around the world watching. “Sometimes I wonder if we are the broken link in the chain,” he continued, “and will our generation be able to pass along this message of a great civilization to the ones to come.”

A gifted and visionary architect, Manhal had recently won a competitive bid to design the General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers, a $250 million project to develop one of Iraq’s principal government buildings. As a volunteer speaker coach, I had the honor of working with Manhal in crafting and delivering his speech to a global audience. In his speech, he emphasized the notion of infinity, a symbol found in 5,000-year-old cuneiform writing from Mesopotamia. Manhal drew the inspiration for the structure of his building from this symbol, paying tribute to both Iraq’s ancient heritage and its resilience over the millennia. His use of infinity was indeed a salient concept that truly embodied the spirit of the event and won the hearts of the audience. Little did I know that I would find myself flying to Iraq to directly witness this incredibly moving TEDx talk.

It was the first time I (Click here to continue.)

Hamada Zahawi is an Iraqi-American, Washington DC-based International Transactional Lawyer and Education Admissions Consultant. He was one of the Lead Speaker Coaches at TEDxBaghdad 2011.


Filed under Interests, PIDE (Policy, International Development & Economics), Technology

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