In recognising Al Anbar province as one of the stand-out FDI stories of last year, and highlighting the dogged work of its governor, Qasim Al Fahadawi, fDi Magazine wrote in August 2009 that running Iraq’s largest – and, until recently, most violent – province is not a role for someone who wants an easy life or is prepared to shrink from a challenge, and that attracting investment to such a place is a matter of life and death.

Mr Qasim said at the time how he was on a mission to bring jobs to the region – formerly a stronghold for terrorists groups – faster than these violent groups could recruit. In November 2009, at the new home he had constructed in the provincial capital of Ramadi, complete with plans for an adjacent hotel to house potential investors and business travellers, he described the stark challenges he faces in trying to bring security, stability and prosperity to a place whose cities (Fallujah being most notorious) were still scarred physically and emotionally by war. “I hope,” he said, resolutely but somewhat wearily, “I will be successful.”

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‘It is clear that we will persevere’

 One month later, he nearly lost this struggle – and his life – to a double suicide bomb attack at the gates of his office compound that killed two dozen people, including a provincial council member, and wounded more than 100. Airlifted to Germany and then sent to recover in a US hospital, the governor lost an arm. He faced a difficult recovery, but was adamant that he would return to Iraq, and his job, in time for elections in March 2010.

“My health is improving every day. I am recovering from the attack and able to work in my office daily. It is impossible for these injuries to prevent me from continuing to serve Al Anbar and Iraq,” he tells fDi Magazine, speaking from his office in Ramadi. “The people of Al Anbar have wrapped their arms around me and help with their prayers to God for healing. So, my outlook has done nothing but improve. It is clear that we will persevere and I will continue to lead the investment and reconstruction process in the province.”

I am dedicated to finding work for the unemployed. This is the only possible reaction to terrorism

‘I have many motivations’

The road back has not been smooth, however, and the threats to his life and those around him are constant. In early July, a female suicide bomber managed to enter the compound and detonated, killing five people and wounding scores of others. He insists he will not relinquish his role, though, however lethal.

“I have many motivations to continue acting as the governor, but the major reason is my endeavour to rehabilitate and build all sectors across the province. I am dedicated to finding work for the unemployed. This is the only possible reaction to terrorism, to continue along the correct path,” he says. “All investors continue to work in Al Anbar, especially in housing complexes, and [there are] continued visits by foreign companies to discuss investment opportunities in many sectors. We continue to schedule such delegations to Al Anbar and visits to foreign countries.”

Key development projects are going ahead and deals are still being inked, he insists: “We are continuing with the New Ramadi City project and we do have a number of project offers, including construction and investment. We are in the final stages of negotiation to reach an agreement with one of them.”