Oumayma Omar, based in Baghdad, is a contributor to the Culture and Society sections of The Arab Weekly.

  • Young Iraqi innovator building home-made drones, On: Sun, 23 Apr 2017

  • Iraqi rappers voice grievances and hope, On: Sun, 23 Apr 2017

  • Bill encouraging polygamy stirs controversy in Iraq, On: Sun, 09 Apr 2017

  • Iraq’s war correspondents in the line of fire, On: Sun, 19 Mar 2017

  • Iraqi artist uses murals to blast Trump’s travel ban, On: Sun, 19 Feb 2017

  • Iraqi hospitals unable to keep up with cancer patients, On: Sun, 12 Feb 2017

  • Kurdistan, a place where Iraqis leave worries behind, On: Sun, 12 Feb 2017

  • Restrictions, intimidation dent freedom of speech in Iraq, On: Sun, 29 Jan 2017

  • Women bikers breaking taboos in Iraq, On: Sun, 08 Jan 2017

  • Karada, Baghdad’s dying commercial heart, On: Sun, 11 Dec 2016

  • Education in Iraq, a luxury not accessible to all, On: Sun, 27 Nov 2016

  • Tears and tales of horror at Iraq’s refugee camps , On: Sun, 20 Nov 2016

  • Iraq alcohol ban threatens to hurt minorities , On: Sun, 06 Nov 2016

  • Miniature models help preserve Baghdad’s heritage, On: Sun, 30 Oct 2016

  • Resisting hatred and tribalism with art, On: Sun, 23 Oct 2016

  • Landmines, insecurity, lack of funding challenge Iraq reconstruction, On: Sun, 04 Sep 2016

  • Iraqi Safe House for Creativity a haven for orphans amid Baghdad violence, On: Sun, 14 Aug 2016

  • Baghdad slum settlements burgeoning, On: Sun, 07 Aug 2016

  • Iraq’s children, a generation deprived of education, On: Sun, 31 Jul 2016

  • Iraqis seek to preserve their ‘Garden of Eden’, On: Sun, 03 Jul 2016

  • Baghdad residents enjoy Ramadan against all odds, On: Sun, 19 Jun 2016

  • ‘Capsulisation’– Iraqis’ way to escape bitter reality, On: Sun, 05 Jun 2016

  • Iraq’s national folk dance group struggling to survive , On: Sun, 29 May 2016

  • ‘Marriages of pleasure’ take Iraq by storm , On: Sun, 08 May 2016

  • Politics, terror are laughing matter on Iraqi TV , On: Sun, 08 May 2016

  • Old Baghdad is slowly vanishing, On: Sun, 17 Apr 2016

  • Caricature in Iraq — a resilient art under threat, On: Fri, 01 Apr 2016

  • Youth initiatives revive hope in Baghdad, On: Fri, 25 Mar 2016

  • The changing world of Baghdad’s cultural cafés, On: Fri, 04 Mar 2016

  • Poverty in Iraq dramatically rises, On: Fri, 04 Mar 2016

  • Feeling ‘rejected’ in Germany, Iraqis return home, On: Fri, 12 Feb 2016

  • Empowering Iraq’s abandoned war widows, On: Fri, 12 Feb 2016

  • Hilm: Iraqi youth looking to revive Sufi music, On: Fri, 12 Feb 2016

  • Souk al-Safafeer, a fading Baghdad landmark, On: Fri, 22 Jan 2016

  • Iraqi tribes take law and justice into their own hands , On: Fri, 22 Jan 2016

  • Iraqi culture struggling to survive, On: Fri, 08 Jan 2016

  • Treasures still missing from Baghdad museum, On: Fri, 13 Nov 2015

  • Unregistered marriages a trap for Iraqi women, On: Fri, 30 Oct 2015

  • Baghdad holds film festival against all odds, On: Fri, 16 Oct 2015

  • Young Iraqi innovator building home-made drones

    Husseini and his team, RC Karbala, seek to set up a fully fledged workshop for drone production.

    Childhood hobby. Haidar Husseini preparing to fly a remote-controlled drone that he built in Karbala in central Iraq. (Oumayma Omar)


    2017/04/23 Issue: 103 Page: 20



    Baghdad - Haidar Husseini is deter­mined to turn his hobby of making remote-con­trolled drones that can be used for agricultural, military and information purposes into a fully fledged official business. In a small workshop in his home in Karbala in central Iraq, he has pro­duced at least 400 drones.

    “It is a hobby that I have been practising since childhood. At first I used to make miniature planes in­spired by the cartoons I watched on TV and from the few scientific mag­azines I could find in bookshops and libraries,” said Husseini, 27.

    “At a later stage, I started buy­ing second-hand electronic games, which I disassembled to extract cer­tain parts, such as engines and bat­teries, which I used in the creation of a miniature drone specimen that I was able to fly.”

    Husseini’s quest for more knowl­edge to develop his hobby prompt­ed him to learn English.

    “Learning English helped me a lot as I was constantly reading research papers posted on the internet and following lessons on how to manu­facture drones on YouTube,” he said.

    Husseini created a Facebook page on which he wrote: “This page aims at linking all the hobbyists in Kar­bala together as well as providing training and sharing knowledge.”

    Through his Facebook page, Hus­seini set up an 11-person team called RC Karbala. The team includes a 16-year-old who won the gold medal in the competition for young innovators organised by the Arab League in 2015 for designing a drone that could be used in the pollination of date palms.

    Husseini and his team aspire to set up a licensed workshop to pro­duce drones, a matter fraught with difficulties due to security reasons. “Drones are considered to be a kind of weapon by security forces that have occasionally confiscated some of our planes,” he said.

    Some of team’s drones have been equipped with high-definition and infrared cameras used for aerial filming at night.

    “We find difficulties in procuring raw material and essential parts, namely engines, remote-control de­vices, cameras and batteries, which we try to get from neighbouring countries such as Iran and Kuwait or order online on Amazon through friends established in Europe and the United States,” Husseini said.

    The group’s reputation has grown and it has been hired to film reli­gious feasts and cultural festivals in Karbala and other areas. The op­eration features a production part offering filming services to produce documentaries.

    “Many satellite televisions seek our services for aerial footage but the work is challenging and fraught with risks because of the volatile security situation in the country,” Husseini said.

    He said he was arrested and inter­rogated three years ago after a tech­nical error caused one of his drones to crash near a school. “Security agencies always try to obstruct our work, although our drones can help maintain security if they are used in a conventional way,” he said.

    Hazem Khalidi, the head of Youth and Sports Committee in Karbala Provincial Council, acknowledged that security challenges in addition to financial restrictions have been hindering innovative young peo­ple from practising and developing their talents.

    “The lack of budget allocations for the Ministry of Youth and Sports deprived innovative youth of the support they need to develop their skills and inventions,” Khalidi said. “We are very well aware of security issues in the country and we could reach an agreement with the author­ities allowing the youth to practise the hobby of manufacturing and fly­ing remote-controlled drones within certain limits to prevent being ex­ploited by unruly parties.”

    He said the provincial council would soon launch a new initiative called the Innovator Gate, which is aimed at developing young people’s talents. Under the initiative, inno­vators will be invited to show their creations to council members and local investors, who would spon­sor or support inventions and ideas they deem feasible.

    Husseini said he welcomed the council’s initiative as an encourag­ing step for fulfilling the ambitions of Iraqi innovators.

    Editors' Picks

    The Arab Weekly Newspaper reaches Western & Arabic audience that are influential as well as being affluent.

    From Europe to the Middle East,and North America, The Arab Weekly talks to opinion formers and influential figures, providing insight and comment on national, international and regional news through the focus of Arabic countries and community.

    Published by Al Arab Publishing House

    Publisher and Group Executive Editor: Haitham El-Zobaidi, PhD

    Editor-in-Chief: Oussama Romdhani

    Deputy Editor-in-Chief: Dalal Saoud

    Senior Editor: John Hendel

    Chief Copy Editors: Jonathan Hemming and Richard Pretorius

    Analysis Section Editor: Ed Blanche

    Opinion Section Editor: Claude Salhani

    East/West Section Editor: Mark Habeeb

    Levant Section Editor: Jamal J. Halaby

    Gulf Section Editor: Mohammed Alkhereiji

    Society and Travel Sections Editor: Samar Kadi

    Senior Correspondents:

    Mahmud el-Shafey (London)

    Lamine Ghanmi (Tunis)

    Correspondents

    Saad Guerraoui (Casablanca)

    Dunia El-Zobeidi (London)

    Roua Khlifi (Tunis)

    Rasha Elass - Thomas Seibert (Washington)

    Published by Al Arab Publishing House

    Contact editor at:editor@thearabweekly.com

    Subscription & Advertising: Ads@alarab.co.uk

    Tel 020 3667 7249

    Mohamed Al Mufti

    Marketing & Advertising Manager

    Tel (Main) +44 20 6702 3999

    Direct: +44 20 8742 9262

    www.alarab.co.uk

    Al Arab Publishing House

    Kensington Centre

    66 Hammersmith Road

    London W14 8UD, UK

    Tel: (+44) 20 7602 3999

    Fax: (+44) 20 7602 8778

    Follow Us
    © The Arab Weekly, All rights reserved