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Arabian Nights

It’s the land of opportunity, where Oil flows like water and water flows occasionally. Of course you guessed, it’s post ‘conflict’ Iraq and I’m sitting here moderating the website which monitors the progress of new technology in the middle-east.

If you believe the newswires, Iraq promises a telecommunications ‘leapfrog’ into the future, having very little in the way of advanced communications infrastructure that isn’t Russian or hasn’t been buried under sixty feet of concrete rubble, observers are predicting that Iraq could prove to be the biggest opportunity for wireless yet.

Knowing something about the middle-east – I’m speaking at a regional futures conference in Bahrain in May, I thought I would do the patriotic thing and draw the DTI’s attention to the reconstruction opportunity that the new Iraq might offer to UK technology companies. A little research took me to the Iraq desk and it appears that they are building a register of interested companies. However, one swift look at the material that I was emailed, appeared to confirm my wildest suspicions.

Apparently, “The telephone number for the Army Corps of Engineers is 001 202 761 0014. This number should only be called once companies have registered with the Department of Defense, and wish to give additional information on their company's capabilities” and “All consultations will be held in the USAID Public Information Center, Suite M.1, Ronald Reagan Building, Washington, D.C., starting promptly at 10:00 a.m., and ending at 11:30 a.m.. Pre-registration is required and will be announced when it is available. Conference attendees are limited to one person per organization".

I rather gained the impression that behind all the political puff about a coalition effort, the reconstruction opportunity we have been hearing about is a limited one but then I suspect the British taxpayer knew that anyway.

I very much doubt whether Iraq’s redevelopment will see much in the way of a significant involvement from British IT companies even supposing that the DTI knew much about IT, which it doesn’t. Mention ‘wireless’ and you’re quickly into a conversation about clockwork-driven radios, so I’m afraid that if UK PLC wants to play a significant part in anyone’s reconstruction, then we may have to send our armed forces somewhere else, without oil and without inviting the Americans along to shoot at us.

If you want to discover more about ‘Opportunities’ in Iraq, call the DTI Iraq desk on 0207 215 8892 to register your interest in joining the coalition effort.


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