x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Iraqis gain as GE aims for growth

General Electric plans to double its workforce at its Iraq unit to 200 people by the end of the year.

General Electric (GE) plans to double its workforce at its Iraq unit to 200 people by the end of the year.

The US company, the world's largest manufacturer of electric turbines and engines, has hired 100 Iraqi nationals since its set up its first offices in Baghdad, Basra and Erbil two years ago.

"It's something I am very proud of," says Aziz Koleilat, the president and chief executive at GE Iraq and Levant. "The GE Iraqi employees will be the future of this company."

It plans to recruit 20 additional university graduates who have completed its graduate management programme.

"We are hiring the first batch that have finished the programme," Mr Koleilat says.

"Some are going to be on the technical side, others in sales.

"We are trying to do hiring cycles over the years, get them familiar with our divisions in the country."

The conglomerate has done business with Iraq for more than 40 years but only set up operations within the country in 2011.

Foreign companies have been slow to boost their staff levels in Iraq because of security challenges in an unstable political environment.

"It's worried us, on multiple aspects, from the decision-making process to security. We'd love to see a stable environment," says Mr Koleilat.

"What I see is a maturing population in the sense of demands.

"The challenges are there, but at the end when you see what people want and what they are asking for, it's an increase in the standard of living."


halsayegh@thenational.ae