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Middle East

Haider Al-Abadi: From fixing the BBC’s lifts to running Iraq


The man tasked with unifying Iraq to save it from a takeover by Islamic extremists used to be in charge of repairing lifts at the BBC, it has emerged.

Haider Al-Abadi’s past as a lift engineer was revealed today as European ministers agreed to arm Kurdish fighters to help them block and roll back the advice of Isis forces.

He takes over from Nouri al-Maliki as Iraq’s Prime Minister at a time when the country’s very existence is at stake. As an exile from Saddam Hussein’s regime for much of the 1980s and 1990s, Mr Abadi worked in the UK and for several years controlled the company that serviced lifts at Bush House in central London when it was the home of the World Service.

Hamid Alkifaey, a former BBC Arabic journalist, said: “He used to come to oversee the work and see how it progresses.”

He added that Mr Abadi “did a good job as a lift engineer and he will do a good job as a prime minister”.

Mr Abadi studied electrical engineering at Bahgdad University in the 1970s and in 1981 he went on to complete a PhD at the University of Manchester.