Vice Chancellor of the University of Kurdistan

From a region that was closed off from the West pre-2002, Kurdistan is gradually moving toward an English bilingual society. This linguistic shift owes much to the vision of Prime Minister Barzani, who took the decision for the institution to provide education through English as of 2006.

This shrewd move has in turn allowed education to emulate the business sector, with international education partners now being enticed to Kurdistan, interested in exchanging with the increasingly intriguing region. A collaboration with Paris’s Sciences Po shows how much has been achieved in stripping away past complexes; indeed, Mr. Salih insists the knowledge exchange is equally reciprocal.

The confidence now being afforded Kurdistan owes much to the societal structures enshrined in the constitutional settlement with Iraq from 2003 to 2006, in which Mr. Salih played a pivotal part. An undeniably historic agreement – the very ‘‘basis for Kurdistan’s re-emergence,’’ according to Mr. Salih.

With Kurdish society now heavily involved with international investors, Mr. Salih’s vision has undeniably paid off, but this is only part of the process. Mr. Salih is determined to see it through to its conclusion, as he says, ‘‘to be able to say that the influence of what we brought to our university is now on a society level.’’

It can’t be ignored that all of this has been achieved against the backdrop of severely adverse circumstances. Until recently lingering conflict in neighboring Baghdad, as Mr. Salih points out, had a direct impact on the international image of Kurdistan – ‘‘We were seen as the rest of Iraq.’’ Those shackles have now been cast off, and Mr. Salih is perfectly poised to continue Kurdistan’s education shift toward maturity.

The dream isn’t over yet, though: Mr. Salih wants to be head of the ‘‘best university in the region.’’ It’s in perpetual motion, and the next challenge is on the horizon.

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