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Iraq Country ProgramNews

Kurdistan At a Global Crossroads:

The Impact of IBB’s New Registration

Erbil Citadel in the Kurdistan region of Iraq at sunset.
Erbil, Iraq. View of the Qalat Citadel at sunset.

Kurdistan’s Ethnic Beginnings and Global Crossroads

The geographical region in which the Kurdish live spans Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and Syria. Over a millennia, the region became an intersection for multiple religions and ethnicities, and was occupied by Ancient Persia, Alexander the Great, Mongols, Seljuk Turks, Medieval Persians, the Ottoman Turks, and the United States in the War on Terror. As a result, the Kurdish people experienced both ethnic wars as well as co-existence with each other. The region remains a hotspot for the exchange of ideas, cultures and pluralism.

Fast Forward to Kurdistan in 2022

Kurdistan today remains an area that is open to a global economy and diversity of thought and democratic political involvement. There are a plethora of public and private universities in the Kurdistan region. The region offers a hospitable environment for IBB programs and services. 

Our Ideas Beyond Borders Office in Kurdistan

Ideas Beyond Borders recently achieved certification status from the Kurdish government in Erbil, Iraq. This first step will lead to the establishment of a brick and mortar office in Erbil. IBB is also pursuing registration in Baghdad, with the aim of enabling long-term, country-wide programs with greater impact.

The establishment of an IBB registered office in Kurdistan allows for a strategic move into other regions in Iraq, softening the reception of our work in Iraq. Faisal Saeed Al Mutar, IBB’s Founder and Executive Director, spoke to 35-40 students at American University of Kurdistan last week about our work and about the University Student Translator Program, in collaboration with the Wikimedia Foundation:

“Kurdistan is the safest region in Iraq. That part of the country is aiming to open up to the world and be connected culturally and economically to a global outlook. Multiple American universities are there, such as the American University of Sulaimani and Duhok Kurdistan (where I recently spoke).

The goal is to bring in more education, training, and skill-sets to improve the country’s economy so the Iraqi people become self-sufficient. 

This is a strategic move for us, this part of the country is more sympathetic to what we do. In other places in the region, we have not seen an allowance of registered NGOs.

The registration and certification of the Baghdad office may take years to be approved. We believe that the Kurdistan office means we don’t have to wait. It will provide IBB with leverage and help us establish the relationships needed to effect lasting change.”

Faisal Saeed Al Mutar
Founder and President, Ideas Beyond Borders
Hussein Podium
Hussein Ibrahim, IBB’s Iraq Country Director, speaks at a University Translator Event. As a native Iraqi from Kurdistan, Ibrahim comes to IBB with a Master’s in Global Affairs from New York University and an extensive background in International Development.

“Our local partners and our University Translator Program students here in Iraq are responding positively to the news about our certification. We made the decision to establish a presence in Kurdistan because the Iraqi government requires that international NGOs have local program offices before they’re allowed to launch bigger projects and to receive funding. For the same reason, we are also pursuing registration legislation in Baghdad. We look forward to many more impactful programs and services to be initiated and continued in Iraq!”

~ Hussein Ibrahim, Iraq Country Director

Our Ongoing Programs In Iraq

What you may not know is that IBB has carried out successful on-the-ground activities in Iraq, including our Iraq university translation program first launched in 2019. There have been so many impactful projects that have been implemented that IBB recognized the need for an in-country office for ongoing management and coordination of activities and initiatives.

IBB implemented the Stop the Spread humanitarian initiative in 2020. Launched in the first few months of the pandemic, IBB distributed more than 144,500 surgical masks, 756,000 meals, and educational materials about COVID-19 in war-torn and underserved areas. 

In 2021, IBB significantly expanded its university translator program in partnership with the Wikimedia Foundation. The current program has already attracted more than 200 students to participate from the University of Mosul, the University of Babylon, Al-Turath University College in Baghdad, the University of Kufa, and fourteen more universities throughout Iraq.

Also in 2021, IBB donated more than 4,500 physical and digital books, computer programs, computers, and more to the University of Mosul Central Library. Destroyed by ISIS in 2014, IBB sought to reverse this act by providing books the university actually needed, as opposed to the unneeded used books the library had been receiving.

IBB’s investment in Iraqi programs is already thriving, and we have good reason to believe the new Iraq Country Program will succeed in building on our early success.

For more details on our programs, check out our other articles below!

Success Stories from our Student Translators at the University of Kurdistan Hewler.: IBB’s Worldview as a New Hope for the Middle East

Fighting For Humanity In The Middle East Through Metal

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