Fad­hil Al-Du­laimy: I Re­al­ized My Am­bi­tions and Dreams in China

China Today (English) - - CONTENTS - By staff reporter ANSAM SH. KHEDHR

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.

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