Lunch with the Ministry of Higher Education & Research, Iraq

The links between the WHO Collaborating Centre for Public Health Education and Training at Imperial College London and the Ministry of Higher Education and Research, Iraq have been growing strong for some time.  The connection has now been sealed with the Face-to-face meeting on Tuesday  20th January 2015.  Representatives of the WHO Collaborating Centre (Director: Professor Salman Rawaf, Dr Sondus Hassounah and Ms Ela Augustyniak) had a privilege to meet Minister of Higher Education and Research, Iraq, His Excellency Professor Hussein Al-Shahristani in person over lunch at South Kensington Campus, ICL, 58 Prince’s Gardens. His Excellency was accompanied by the Iraqi Cultural Attache Professor Musa Almosawe.

Professor Al-Shahristani is a graduate from Imperial College London Chemical Engineering,and we are delighted that the Head of the Department of Chemical Engineering, Professor Andrew Livingston joined the group alongside Mrs Clare Turner, representative of the International Office at Imperial College London.

It is not surprising that the discussion had a reminiscing part where HE concluded building of the Chemical Engineering Department was very much as he remembered it from 50 years ago, but obviously familiar faces are missing. Education remained at the core of the conversation; and although the development of the technologies seem to imply the inevitable turn towards online education sessions more and more, the party reached an agreement on the irreplaceability of the face-to-face interaction and its unquestionable value in the education process. “It is not the equations and theories we remember from our studies, it is the people and personalities and their impact”, was the commonly agreed conclusion. His Excellency is very keen to strengthen the links with WHO in supporting the development and strengthening Iraqi universities and in particulr the new Medical University under development in Baghdad. He welcomed the training of many Iraq academia over the last few years and he emphasised the importance of the continuation of such collaborative work between Iraq and I-C-L.

Dr Al-Shahristani was accopmapnied by Dr Mosa Almosawie, the Cultural Attaché: a well know academia and the immediate past president of University of Baghdad, the largest university in Iraq.

Professor Hussein Al Shahistrani, a senior member of the State of Law alliance, he was previously the deputy speaker of the Iraqi National Assembly under the Iraqi Transitional Government and was considered for the post of Prime Minister in both the current government and the interim government.
He was tipped to be the Iraqi Prime Minister during the 2004 discussions, a position which he refused to take it and stated "I have always concentrated on serving the people and providing them with their basic needs, rather than party politics."
He was appointed oil minister in May 2006 after the withdrawal of the Islamic Virtue Party Minister, which was also a Shia from the government coalition. By August, however, he was under pressure as there was a fuel crisis.
In December 2012 he was named the head of the committee responsible for receiving and addressing the demands of the demonstrators. He has made some significant achievements in period of December 2012 to February 2013.
From 2006 to 2010, Shahristani was Iraq's minister of oil, and he served as acting minister of electricity in 2010.
Before his arrest and imprisonment Shahristani served as Chief Scientific Advisor to the Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission. Prior to that, he was a lecturer at Mosul University (1973), an Assistant Professor at Baghdad University (1974), Chief of Baghdad University’s Radioisotope Production Department from 1975-1977, and Chief of the Nuclear Chemistry Department from 1977-1979.
He is recognised as the architect of Iraq's oil future and during his time Iraq oil output reached a 20-Year high.[8]
The key reason why Shahristani was imprisoned is that he was personally requested by Saddam to contribute to a military program to produce Weapons of Mass Destruction. He refused on moral and religious grounds. He was first enticed with money and high government positions in return for his cooperation in building the WMD program Saddam intended. ( source:

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