Fadhil Al-Dulaimy: I Realized My Ambitions and Dreams in China
IN the summer of 1998, with the help of a CSC (China Scholarship Coun - cil) scholarship, an Iraqi student Fadhil H. T. Al- Dulaimy came to China with his family in the hope of continuing his study here. He fi rst studied in Tsinghua University, an institution which boasts a long and illustrious his - tory. Nearly 20 years have now passed since then.
Upon receiving his DPhil in electronic engineering in 2004, Al-Dulaimy formed a new resolve. His family liked Beijing very much and had adapted to life here, and his children had already been admitted to an Arabic school in the city. “We felt so comfortable living in Beijing. There was little difference between Chinese people’s Asian habits and customs and ours, so Beijing was suitable for us to live, study and work in,” Al-Dulaimy recalled. “Furthermore, the Chinese market was also so attractive that we chose to stay on here.”
Realize Ambitions in China
In 1998, the computer industry was gathering momentum in China. This inspired Al-Dulaimy to turn to the commercial field. He sought computer components in the Chinese market that could satisfy Iraqi market demand. Tsinghua University is within walking distance of Zhongguancun, China’s Silicon Valley, which was a burgeoning e-market then. Al-Dulaimy used to hang around there a lot in his spare time, and bought small and light readily-marketable computer components to send to Iraq by post. “Though conditions back then in Iraq were bad and postal delivery procedures were cumbersome,” Al-Dulaimy said, “it was still worth a try.”
Thanks to his unremitting efforts, the components Al-Dulaimy purchased gradually changed from small objects of less than two kilos to bulkier ones. He became an intermediary agent and finally set up a company for exporting building materials, mechanical equipment, and production lines to Iraq and other Arabic- speaking countries. He also encouraged his friends back in Iraq to enter the Chinese market, which was dynamic and inspiring, and offered tangible benefits. “The market functions so well and efficiently that any problem could be tackled through dialogues and cooperation,” Al-Dulaimy said.
Speaking of the economic and trading environment, he said the challenges he occasionally meets with are the frequently-changing terms of trade, the changes in the exchange rate between the RMB and the dollar or other major currencies, and the consequent fluctuations in raw material prices. As regards exporting, he also noted that a lack of Chinese standards for international manufacturers to follow impedes the certification of their
products necessary to facilitate export. Together with others who are concerned about this issue, Al- Dulaimy is working to formulate unified export standards to serve the interests of every party. “During this process, I feel that the vitality of the Chinese market is the determinant propelling things to develop in a more optimal direction,” he said, “and it also encourages me to carry on my business.”
A Dynamic Market
The China-Arab States Cooperation Forum was held in 2004, the year in which AlDulaimy obtained his doctorate. This marked a major step in promoting Chinese- Arab economic and trade cooperation and in streamlining their market relations.
“The forum exerted a positive effect on the relations between us and China’s various government agencies,” Al- Dulaimy observed. “As an effective framework, the forum brought Arabs and Chinese closer together. While in China, like my Iraqi and other Arabic friends, I am fully aware of the enormous potential of the Chinese market and its role in propelling the development of the Chinese economy, as well as its positive effects on Arabic countries and the entire world.”
Al-Dulaimy and friends also perceived vital elements in the history of friendly relations between Arabs and Chinese. In ancient times, the Silk Road linking the two regions engendered an amicable and fruitful trade network. “This timehonored friendship is also helpful for us living here in China today and enables us to get along with Chinese people,” he said. “The development and needs of the present trading market demand more efforts from us.
“China boasts a huge market which is like a world unto itself,” Al-Dulaimy added. “It provides reasonably- priced commodities and raw materials of good quality, modern clearance equipment at customs, and various reliable transportation modes for logistics.” However, this doesn’t mean there are no obstacles. The world economic crisis in 2008 followed by a global economic slowdown cast a shadow across most economies. While the environment changes both at home and abroad, the Chinese market keeps moving onward to integrate with the world and become increasingly reliable through its growing influence. “In China, we see the immense vitality of its market and a series of policy measures by the government to develop a favorable trade and investment environment.” Al-Dulaimy believes that China still remains a major market by virtue of attracting global investment.
Opportunities and Challenges
The success of the Iraqi businessman Al- Dulaimy serves as a parable on seizing favorable opportunities and choosing the optimal route. “Our experience informs us that nothing will be accomplished if you exert no efforts or fail to adapt yourself to new developments,” Dr. Al-Dulaimy said. He recalled how, on seeing Iraq undergoing a phase of reconstruction, he realized that the Iraqi market had an urgent need for building materials.
Subsequent events have abundantly validated this view, and it was thus that he achieved his consummate success. Meantime, he was keenly aware of the challenges occasioned by the global economic slowdown, steady price increases in most raw materials including industrial ones, and especially the continuing rise in home prices in China. “We have lived here for many years, and have become accustomed to local market dynamics,” he said. “We can do everything in our power to deal with the challenges to normalize our life and work, since challenges are accompanied by opportunities.” He believes the modernization of China, its construction in science and technology, the development of its service industry, and the Belt and Road Initiative all provide various kinds of opportunities. “I believe each player can make use of every challenge and opportunity,” he added.
Dr. Al-Dulaimy’s commercial efforts in China haven’t stopped there, however. At present, he is establishing another company in Xiamen, Fujian Province, to be run by his son. He explained, “The reason why I have achieved academic and career success is that, although one’s dream and will are of course important, even more importantly, I chose a promising Chinese market full of vitality and potential where I could realize my dreams and ambitions.”
Fadhil Al-Dulaimy believes China boasts a huge market.
Al-Dulaimy’s son and his company staff.