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An electricity success story

Article - October 8, 2012
In just two years Middle East Power has worked with the Ministry of Electricity to increase the supply of electricity to the national grid by investing in the country's out-of-service power plants
Bachir Al Kheshen, CEO of Middle East Power (MEP) and a London Business School alumnus, attributes the company’s achievement to the region itself: “Any company from around the world investing in Kurdistan will grow much faster than it would anywhere else, thanks to the clear investment laws and the transparency when dealing with the public sector,” he says.

Acting also as the Business Development Manager for Tahseen Khayat Group – which owns MEP and has been doing business in the MENA area for the past 35 years – he was given a task: “to identify a region and an activity.”

He did his homework, and with the founding of MEP in 2009, he set an example.

“Any company from around the world investing in Kurdistan will grow much faster than it would  anywhere else.”

Bachir Al Kheshen,
CEO of Middle East Power

“We are an investment company,” says the CEO, “so we invest in the countries we go to; we do not just get contracts and execute them.”

Mr. Al Kheshen has traveled to 22 countries in the Middle East, plus some in Europe, and spent a year researching. He took with him the knowledge of working for Tahseen Khayat Group, a holding company with 12 subsidiaries and publishing relationships the Middle East and North Africa region. He compared projects and performed feasibility studies. Interest landed the company in Kurdistan due to a “sophisticated market” and a “really good future.” Opportunity asked it to stay.

Kurdistan’s strengths as a business partner make it an attractive draw. Mr. Al Kheshen speaks of a fresh, young region “as safe as Geneva.” He predicts the economy will grow to match that of Saudi Arabia and highlights the respect and honor essential to the Kurdish personality: “An ethnicity full of honorable courageous people over the course of history.”

While most investors in Kurdistan focused on the region’s “main attractions”, namely real estate development and oil and gas, Mr. Al Kheshen decided to do something different and focused on the electricity sector.

Middle East Power carried out an impressive reconstruction of two power plants: the rehabilitated power plant at Erbil (one of Kurdistan’s first plants, built in 1997) had lain dormant since 2003, while the revived Dohuk station celebrates its re-opening this September. Both plants have been restored to like-new condition, which was a sincere challenge due the amount of detailed technical work and the availability of some spare parts in the international market.

Due to a genuine belief in Kurdistan, MEP’s board has decided to further invest in the electricity sector, proposing a $400-million project to build and operate a 325MW combined cycle power plant. The proposed plant will bring electricity to remote areas, facilitating the region’s agricultural, industrial and educational growth. MEP has signed a power purchase agreement with the Ministry of Electricity for this project, which will soon be launched upon the assignment of the exact location.

As always, directed by its chairman, Tahseen Khayat Group gives back to society by training and hiring locals, deepening its commitment to society growth.

Together with Kurdistan’s Ministry of Electricity it looks to an “efficient, cost-effective, environmentally clean” future – a happy hybrid of the company’s ingenuity and the Ministry’s reconstruction efforts.