A city as interesting as Nottingham is worth selling
A FRIEND frequently tells me that there is no city in the world more interesting than Nottingham.
Read the words carefully. He adds hastily, and to make his point, that there are cities as interesting as Nottingham.
The point is made today. Professor Dlawer Ala'Aldeen is a microbiologist at the Queen's Medical Centre in Nottingham, where he sees patients and supervises students. He came to this country as a refugee.
But he is also nation-building in Kurdistan, where he was brought up and is now the minister for higher education in Kurdistan.
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It is a remarkable story of a Baghdad-educated doctor who has become a leading specialist in meningitis and septicaemia.
Prof Ala'Aldeen is drawing on his knowledge and experience at the University of Nottingham to re-shape and modernise the universities in Kurdistan, in northern Iraq.
Appointments were traditionally by nepotism and not on merit.
All that has changed and he is pulling his country's higher education up by its boot straps.
He has closed down badly performing private universities.
PhD students must gain experience at a Western University. This is nation-building at its very best.
A home-grown "export" is Prof Katherine Smart, who has made a name for herself as a professor of brewing at Nottingham. She is about to become chief brewer at one of the world's biggest brewing groups, SABMiller
These personal stories should help Nottingham regain its self-confidence and support its efforts to sell itself on an international stage.
Last week, about 60 local business leaders went to Cannes to sell Nottingham as the place to invest and do business. Nottingham is not as big as Manchester or Birmingham. Nor is it as big as many cities attending MIPIM, the property fair in Cannes.
They are cities as interesting at Nottingham. But none is more interesting.