Prof Samir Qasim Fakhro, Bahrain Consultant to UNESCO and Director, Arab Open University, Bahrain Branch, is an internationally reputed scholar, educationist and business tycoon. He was one among dozens of Arab delegates participating in the international conference on “Indo-Arab Relations: Partnership in Development” held on November 13-14, 2006 in New Delhi. In an exclusive interview to A U Asif, Editor, fanawatch.com, he talked in detail on the Indo-Arab relations and outcome of the conference.
An enterprising individual, Prof.Fakhro, Chairman-cum-Managing Director of Qasim Ahmad Group of Companies is keenly involved in the development and enhancement of the group business activities. The group of companies comprises Qasim Ahmad Fakhro and Sons WLL, Qasim Fakhro Gulf Elernit WLL, Bahrain Computer & Techno Consults WLL, Qasim Ahmad Fakhro (Exports) and Doha Market Enterprises WLL. In addition, Prof. Fakhro has led teams of researchers on over 20 major national, regional and international projects on computer applications in education and higher education.
Prof Samir Q Fakhro was born on December 21, 1953 in an intellectual and businessman family of Bahrain. His father late Qasim Ahmad Fakhro was the architect of Bahrain’s Constitution. He served as Secretary General of Bahrain Constitution Council during 1972-74. He also played an instrumental role in founding Bahrain’s two commercial banks, Bank of Bahrain and Kuwait, and Al Ahli Commercial Bank as well as two major insurance companies, Ahlia Insurance Company and Bahrain-Kuwait Insurance Company and was elected to their Boards of Directors during seventies and eighties Besides, he also served as Chairman of Ahlia Insurance company for two terms till his death in April 1995.
Prof Samir Q Fakhro’s academic achievements earned him H H Amir of Bahrain Distinction Awards in his B Sc, M Sc and Ph D degrees in 1975, 1976 and 1980, respectively. He attained the rank of Professor in electrical engineering and computer applications in 1993.
He began with the faculty of the Gulf Polytechnic Institute, as Chair of the Computer Science Section (1980-81), then Head of Engineering Department (1982-85), Assistant to the Dean Engineering Affairs (1985-87); and in University of Bahrain Assistant to the President (1987-89) and as Vice President for administration and finance (1989-1995). In addition, he has taken on a variety of consulting positions with prestigious organizations throughout the world. Currently, he is working with UNESCO (1986 till date), the International Telecom Union (1994 till date), the Association of Arab Universities (1993-94), Educational Development Center (1992 till date) and International Association for Education, Training and Communications Technology (1994 till date).
On an honorary status, Prof Fakhro has been awarded memberships in New York Academy of Sciences, IEEE (U.S.A), American Society for Engineering Education, American Association for Physics Teachers, Bahrain Society of Engineers and International Council on Education for Teaching. In addition, he has served since 1985 on the National Computer Licensing Committee of the Government of Bahrain, on the National Committee for Assessment of Technical Qualifications of Academic Degree Holders in Bahrain, and as Deputy Chair of Bahrain National Computer Education Committee. Prof Fakhro has served in various regional and international information Technology Committees too. He also served as Chairman of the Evaluation Committee for awarding the Crown Prince Prize to the Best Bahraini Researcher in the field of Science and Technology for the years 1994-95.
So far as the age-old ties and trade relations between India and the Arab world are concerned, it continues since the time immemorial. But the first evidence on record is the following Hadees (Saying of Prophet Mohammed) indicating the visit of Kodungallur (Kerala) King Cheraman Perumal to Makkah. It is said that Cheraman had gone there along with the visiting Arab traders to meet the Holy Prophet (PBUH) after seeing the split of the moon from his palace and embraced Islam at the hands of the Prophet himself in the presence of a number of his companions.
A tradition of the Holy Prophet has also been reported from one of the companions, Abu Saeed al Khudri, regarding the arrival of Cheraman Perumal:
“A king from India presented the Messenger of Allah with a bottle of pickle that had ginger in it. The Holy Prophet distributed it among his companions. I also received a piece to eat.”---Hakim reports in ‘Al Musthadrak’
Following are the excerpts from the interview:
Question: How did you find the conference?
Answer: It was a mega event, a great success. Conceptually, it was well designed. First time there was a well managed people-to-people contact from both India and Arab world on the “Indo-Arab Relations: Partnership in Development”. The two NGOs---Indo-Arab Economic Cooperation Forum (IAECF) and Institute of Objective Studies (IOS)---deserve kudos for bringing them together. There is an age-old relationship between India and the Arab world and also much common between the two regions. Therefore, the first step was to break the barrier and formalise it. I think that this work has been done to an extent..
Q: What was the outcome? Any major breakthrough?
A: Coming together to sit and talk on the partnership in development was itself a major breakthrough. Another important point was that the conference got full support from the Government of India. Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh himself visited the venue and met the delegates, particularly business tycoons from the Arab world. Four senior ministers of his cabinet---Finance Minister P Chidambaram, Railways Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, Chemicals, Fertilisers and Steel Minister Ram Vilas Paswan and Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises Minister Santosh Mohan Dev---not only participated in the conference but also offered India to the Arab countries as the best destination for the investment in the fast changing scenario.
Q: But Finance Minister P Chidambaram also made it clear that in spite of very good and traditional relations no Arab company is included in the 10 major foreign investors in India. How do you take it?
A: It’s true.
A: Reason is nothing but a communication gap. Arab countries are still ignorant about India’s emergence as an economic power.
Q: Do they really not know about India’s reaching 8 per cent GDP rate now from 2 per cent several years ago
A: I doubt that they know about its even 2 per cent GDP. They have still in mind an India of 15 years ago. The global scenario is changing fast.
Q: Then how can this communication or information gap be bridged?
A: Impressions made 15 years ago have to be corrected. Media can play a key role in this process.
Q: But one problem is that the persons who represent Arab media in India are not concerned with this agenda
A: We have to see to it.
Q: Was this your first visit to India? How did you find this country and its people?
A: Yes, this was my first visit to this country. India has a reason to act as an economic power. I saw India and hope it would emerge as per the dream of its scientist President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam. I found its people very cordial and courteous.