Iraq Telecoms

10 March 2010

Six key figures leading the development of Iraq’s telecommunications industry are: Ali al-Dahwi, Hameed Akrawi, Faruk Mustafa Rasool, Loay Almalaieka, Kassim al-Hassani and Wilson Varghese.

Ali al-Dahwi

Position: Chief executive officer (CEO), Zain Iraq

Biography: Ali al-Dahwi is CEO of Zain Iraq, part of the Kuwaiti telecoms group formerly known as MTC. Al-Dahwi left Baghdad in 1972 to complete a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering at the University of Texas in the US. He later worked in software development at US firm Accugraph as executive vice-president for international operations, before moving to Telnix, also in the US, where he served as chairman and CEO. He returned to Iraq in 2004 as general manager of MTC Atheer, securing a 15-year licence for the mobile operator in 2007. Al-Dahwi oversaw MTC’s acquisition of competitor Iraqna, from Egypt’s Orascom Telecom in 2007, and merged the two entities to form Zain Iraq. Today, Zain is the largest mobile provider in Iraq with more than 10 million subscribers. The firm is the first and only operator to offer the BlackBerry mobile device in Iraq.

Contact Tel: +964 154 10960

Hameed Akrawi

Position: Deputy CEO, Korek Telecom Company

Biography: Hameed Akrawi is co-founder and deputy CEO of Korek Telecom, the Iraqi mobile operator based in Irbil. He is a graduate of Baghdad’s College of Engineering and has a master’s degree in engineering from the University of Vienna, Austria. He has a doctorate in electrical engineering from the University of Leuve, Belgium. He worked as a university lecturer for six years in the UK and Austria. In 1993, he returned to Iraqi Kurdistan to work in the Television & Communications Ministry. He was appointed Minister for Transport & Communications in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in 1996, a position he kept until 2000, when he co-founded Korek Telecom with Sirwan Mustafa, adviser to the prime minister of KRG. Korek, the smallest of three mobile operators in Iraq, aims to expand its subscriber base to 3 million from 2.5 million. Dubai-based mobile operator Etisalat is in talks with Korek over a possible takeover.

Contact Tel: +964 7504 450 022

Faruk Mustafa Rasool

Position: Founder, Asiacell

Biography: Faruk Mustafa Rasool founded Asiacell, Iraq’s oldest mobile operator, in 1999. After graduating from Baghdad’s College of Economy & Trade in 1964, he worked with the Iraqi Trading Bank but left to join the Kurdish Democratic Movement. His first business venture was a building-block factory in 1975. He opened a poultry processing unit in Sulaymaniyah in 1987 before moving onto importing goods from Turkey to Iraq and Iran. Rasool bought satellite telephony equipment from the UK’s Inmarsat in 1995, which he used to set up a small mobile communications network in Kurdistan. This later became Asiacell, the only operator to cover all 18 Iraqi provinces. Qatar’s Qtel bought
a 30 per cent stake in 2007 for $159m after Asiacell went into voluntary liquidation. Asiacell plans to increase its subscribers from the current 7.5 million to 10 million by the end of 2010.

Contact Tel: +964 7701 195 852

Loay Almalaieka

Position: CEO, Itisaluna Abr al-Iraq

Biography: Loay Almalaieka is CEO of Itsaluna, a wireless internet provider. He has more than 17 years’ experience in the industry. He spent five years in the US, working for a joint venture of the US’ AT&T and the UK’s BT as an engineer and later as a consultant. He moved to the US’ Lucent Technologies in 2000 as account manager, before becoming the company’s international business development manager. As part of Lucent, Almalaieka became sales and business development director, focusing on Iraq, Palestine and Jordan. In this role, he negotiated 12 local and foreign partnerships worth more than $90m. In 2006, Almalaieka left to set up Barqtel Communications in Iraq, a small business of engineers specialising in installing and operating telecoms equipment. He was appointed CEO of Itisaluna in 2009. Itsaluna’s subscriber base has more doubled in the six months to January 2010 to 256,000.

Contact Tel: +964 7400 400 400

Kassim al-Hassani

Position: Director General, Iraqi Telecommunications & Post Company (ITPC)

Biography: Kassim al-Hassani was appointed director general of the ITPC, part of the Communications Ministry, in January 2009. He is also the executive board chairman of the ministry. Al-Hassani graduated in 1992 from the UK’s London South Bank University with a bachelor’s degree in computer studies. He has a postgraduate certificate in telecommunication regulation and an master’s degree in communications policy, both from the UK’s Westminster University. Al-Hassani has more than 10 years’ experience as a communication and broadcast consult and has worked for Cap Gemini, Deloitte and Hays Consulting, all of the UK. He worked on projects with the UK’s BT Cellnet, Germany’s T-Mobile and Sweden’s Ericsson. In 2005, he became telecoms manager for Basra at the Communications Ministry before being appointed director general of the State Company for Internet Services in 2006.

Contact Tel: +964 717 9440

Wilson Varghese

Position: President and CEO, Kalimat Telecom

Biography: Wilson Varghese is president and CEO of Kalimat Telecoms, Iraq’s only fourth-generation telecoms network. He has a bachelor’s degree in science and a master’s in Business administration from the UK’s Cambridge University. Varghese is a certified professional contracts manager in US federal contracts law. Varghese was general manager for regional operations at Visionaire Corporation, based in Dubai, before joining US-based conglomerate Trade Links as director of contracts and operations in 1998. He later became vice-president of the department. In 2006, he was promoted to president and began to diversify the firm’s investment portfolio. New business units include Kalimat Telecom, Trade Links Aviation and Trade Links Power. Kalimat offers broadband, wireless internet and internet telephony services. The firm won Iraq’s first wireless internet licence and aims to provide a nationwide fixed wireless network by 2011.

Contact Tel: +964 7435 300 300

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