Sunday 29 April 2012


The only time I felt that if I died here no one would know about me was when I went to Omra last week and I was asked to leave me bag in a safe. My bag is a treasure trove, it has my iPad, two phones, pen, paper, a bag of sweets, tissue paper, lip balm, lip stick, small bottle of perfume, wet ones tissue, Nail file, nail clipper, one extra glasses, my business cards, my ID, passport, driving licence, all my other IDs and also money from all currencies(very little though, as I hate to carry cash).  Sometimes I have a sandwich and an old banana. Oh well, in case I get hungry on the way.

So that day all I was thinking of is that if I die, no one would know who am I, and I will be like those men and women who die with an unknown identity. Oh my god, I felt sick, I didn't know what to do, so as soon as I finished the Maghreb prayers I made my way out of the house of god, and walked hurriedly to where the bag was stored! But the door was locked. I almost fainted, I was trying to hold myself up and my thoughts were focused on keeping myself alive long enough till the guard of the safety boxes arrive and I get my bag. I don't care if I die afterwards or not, I just want to be sure that I have an ID and a phone with me when I die. 

Why are we fixated on identified death? Is it because we may have our face taken when we are dead and published in the papers and dreading how we look after death? Maybe my face will be so swollen that no one will recognise me? So they will bury me in one of those "unknown" graveyards. Maybe I will not be washed properly and wrapped properly? Maybe no one will mourn me until like a year lat when my remains are already disseminated with the earth, and hence no point then? So who will do the mourning party that I had asked my kids to do for me? I wanted them to distribute lots of chocolates, cakes, pastries and all of that sugar that I couldn't eat (being on diet all the time) to those attending my condolence session! So if I died without an identity this will not happen and by the time the family would have known it would be too late really.

So my thoughts were pouring out of my brain, I thought of that movie where they fix a chip at the back of our necks that registers everything we see or do except ourselves (unless we are looking at ourselves in the mirror or any reflecting surface). Also I thought maybe we need to have that chip that I inserted in my cat that gives her a signal so we find where she is through the Internet.  That chip is a good idea of course, as you can tell where one is at any point in time. I wonder why the CIA's of any country haven't used it thus far to track individuals associated with terrorism? Wouldn't that be better than stopping all of us and checking all of us?  Imagine how much time we will save? We wouldn't need two hours to check in at airports, and we will just breeze through immigration and customs. 

Well, forget my wild ideas, and focus on not dining in strange places. Macca was the last place I wanted to die in.

Thursday 26 April 2012

Our trip to Oman.

Going to Oman had become a regular thing to us, in actual fact I feel so bad that when we lived in the UAE prior to 1998, even though we had the same friends that we stay with now since 1981. So for 17 years they used to visit us on a regular basis and beg us to visit but we never did. Of course once we returned from New Zealand and settled in our lives, we decided to embark on a road trip to Oman, and after 4.5 hours, we realized that we had done a great mistake for not coming before, it was lovely.

What I like about this place is its simplicity, it's affectionate people and it's lovely surroundings. The country is full of potential and touristic attraction, but what they need is to borrow the PR companies that marketed Dubai, and let them loose in Oman so they know what is there so they promoted well; in actual fact I have just been talking with some students about Sur and Bani Waheebe, which are fantastic areas of Oman but no one seems to know about them, when in Dubai you have literally hundreds of companies who specialize in desert safari, but none in Oman, maybe I will give them the hints.

Also if you think about it! Masandum is part of Oman but you can only get to it from Fujairah, that is why it is promoted very well, as its promoted by the small businesses in the UAE. There you go, we got the secret, the UAE entrepreneurs are more tuned to exploiting every opportunity and are able to create needs out of every possibility, while the Omani people are oblivious to the fact that their touristic areas are up for grabs if only people know about them! In Lonely planet, they mention an Omani restaurant called Bin Ateej, us who are accustomed to the great food provided by the hundreds of restaurants in the UAE will never think of eating in that joint, to us it's just a place like those we used to find on the highway between Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the eighties!

So if I were the minister of tourism, I will firstly invite companies from Dubai to check Oman, and ask them to promote it. Tourism generates funds to the locals and can change lives. to the best of course.

Sunday 22 April 2012

Cairo, Egypt

Suad Alhalwachi, Director, Education Zone
Favourite destination: Cairo, Egypt
The many Egyptian movies that I had seen since I was 3 years old had really affected me in a way that is inexplicable be it people, the Beauty of the houses, the Louis the 13 furniture or the cloths of the 50's and 60's that makes any woman look like Marilyn Monroe. However, I experienced the real beauty of the place only few years ago, when I had a special opportunity to visit the place since the New Zealand Prime Minister was going to open the first ever embassy in Cairo, and I was invited, so that time I decided I will drag my daughter with me.

Cairo was amazing, however, I wondered how any car can pass through the traffic jams, but everybody including the cart on donkeys were so skilful. We went for a walk on the Nile, ate corn on the cob, popcorn and Koshary and then visited Alazhar University, Khan Alkhalili, Imam Husain Mosque, Saida Zainab Mosque, shopped for Egyptian Jallabias and some souvenirs. The most memorable trip was to the Pyramids, as one cannot imagine that these have stood the conditions of times for 5000 years, the only thing missing is the nose of the Sphinx, and otherwise everything is intact. The precision of cutting those square cubes of stone is remarkable, each one is exact size of the other, and I was able to imagine how the Pharaohs carried these stones and built the Pyramids. We also went on top of one of the houses in old Egypt to see the mosques and the rest of the city, bought the lotus perfume that was used by the pharaohs.
Tips for people
The most important thing to remember when one goes to Egypt is that the Egyptians love bargaining, so do not buy anything unless you negotiate on the price. I regret not seeing the museum, the Pharaohs village, and the Abu Simbol, so I still have to visit one another time, but during your visit don’t miss these important spots.

Friday 20 April 2012

Ladies day out

Women from around the globe are very similar. We have the same pains, agonies, things to be thrilled about, things to be happy about, and things to ignore. Women are creatures that are not very complicated and do not require a lot to live happy. A smile, a rose, a painting from the kids, a piece of cakes and you find us as cheerful as can be. I am ignoring here all the items of discrimination that are described in the united nations conventions. Items like nationality, colour, religion, age, and I will add the term social standing. I noticed that when women meet, we will talk about everything that is under the sun without prejudice. We hate discrimination, we hate injustice, we hate ignorance, we hate HATE, we hate jealousy, we hate envy, we hate corruption, we hate wars, we hate politics, basically we hate anything that could harm our children as most of us are mothers, and we treat everything that can hurt our children with utter hateredism! (this is my word I think as the dictionary didn't like it) So when we go out we imagine a world full of justice, love, happiness, and security. When we talk we discuss how to stop this madness that is ruining our earth. We of course talk about the environment, as we are at the same time will be thinking not only about our kids but also of our grandchildren! Yes we do that. When I see my next door neighbour's child growing and not being as naughty as before I feel proud of my neighbour as she had done a good job. When we discuss politics we feel that if all the presidents of the world were women there will be no wars. When we talk about products on supermarket shelves we imagine them free from edditives, organic and healthy so our nation of men and women will not suffer of diseases. I think it is good to have ladies day out once in a while, it just re-emphasis in my mind those beliefs that keeps turning inside my mind every time I see a newspaper. This is my mission from now on, I will have a monthly ladies day out, and this time it's to do something about what is happening in our earth. Not just to talk passively about them.

What if we grew like google? And why didn't we?

Google We started our company at the same time google started, and it grew magnanimously while we stayed as a drop in the sea.  All of these companies and us have one thing in common, all of us started with minimal or non existing capital, we all started in garages or in a room in our houses, but they grew and we didn't!why?  In actual fact if we look at the companies of the second decade of the millennium, like Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr and so on you will notice that all of these companies had one thing in common, that is growth. They all wanted to connect organisations and people so they are linked and socially connected.  The word growth has a lot of meanings in the English dictionary. To grow clever, to grow rich, to grow old, to grow plants, to grow in wild and so on, but the main thing is to grow. So they managed this very well.  Also we started to use the names of these companies as verbs, I googled it, or I facebooked it, I tweeted it, and I placed it on LinkedIn, or did you flickr it?  The jobs that were created for clever users of these companies, I saw advert for jobs like twitter experts, facebookers or social media supervisor. Also our friends on twitter are called tweeps, and those on Facebook are our face to the outside world. Don't forget the ancilliary organisations that grew around these companies, like those that do promotions, those that assumed themselves as experts on social media and started to do conferences to explain the use of these media in  huge social gatherings, and all of us would go to these conferneces or attend webinars.  What I am trying to say here is that these companies main reason for existence is to link people. We also wanted to link learners and learning organistions, and to date this is what we do. We provided a platform so learners find their best fit. Why didn't we achieve this objective very well? If you think about it, education is a quarter of envy country's GDP, and every body requires to learn, so the government spends, and universities and schools open, attract learners and teach them. The players in the international education are huge, as you can imagine the funds that is poured on this side of life, it's huge and it's growing day by day. What happened then? Is it because we lacked the appropriate technology to link learning organisations with learners? Or is the platform that we created is not good enough? So we need to invest in a technologists? The person or persons who can creat those portals that is socially clever and attractive and easy to use by laymen and laywomen so its used to its maximum without having to have Einesten next to us to explain how to get into a learning organisation website? And how to link ourselves it's them.  Is that what we need? I think we are ready to have a staff meeting to discuss.  Watch out, you maybe dragged into a yet another Ezonemedia which will be a hub for growth, linking and friendship with a purpose this time. Let's see what happens, watch this space for the third decade of the melenium!  Gash, I love me, how can I come up with great ideas like this on a friday morning 

It's not my concern, but!

It must be me, as I often Faced trouble with airlines, either seat problems, tv problem, food problem, the socks of my neighbour traveller is a problem, but having customer disservice is something no airline should have no matter what. Today, I witnessed first hand why Saudi airline is not a first class airline, nor did I ever see any news about it winning any award.  The problem is not the aircraft, it's not the very polite air hostesses nor is it the captain! It's the ground staff, especially the supervisors.   The ground check in staff are always the face of the airline, if they are nice and smiley, then you will want to see them again, so you travel on the same airline, otherwise you would want to get the hell of their face and try to hypnotise yourself so you erase their memory from your brain, else it will haunt you forever. What happened to me today reminded me of my Haj trip, and how we stayed in Jeddah airport for 28 hours, sitting on the floor with no food, drink or even chairs, we didn't know if we were going to travel or not, and my sick dad (rip) was so edgy and wanted to leave ASAP, but of course we were not able to, then, suddenly at 6 am the next day we were lined-up to take our ride in that precious airplane. I must have tried to erase this memory as I was so upset about the lack of organisation, and apparently they were people who stayed for days without a ride (I am calling it a ride because having confirmed tickets didn't matter). Also what happened to me this morning reminded me of the hong kong incident that also kept us waiting for two days in the airport during the storm that they had; there was food at the airport in the beginning, but towards the end of our second day everything that resembles food had vanished from all the restaurants and the little children were crying as they had no milk to drink as well as having rash due to shortage in nappies. We all smelled like old yogurt!!! But of course we couldn't help it. And the reason is the lack of organisation by the ground staff.  Today the same happened. The check in staff must have woken up on the wrong side of the bed, and it took him half an hour of staring on the screen in front of him, then he told me that my name is not there? Of course before that he said that I should have a printout of my ticket? Which I never print since the past few years, I don't want to go to hell because I killed trees!! So I confirmed that I don't have a printout, he argued that he will not find me on the list. And he didn't, so amidst the screams of other passengers I said what is next? He said to go to the supervisor; I obeyed as by now I only have 35 minutes to take off. So I went to the supervisor who had an army in front of him wanting to know what is happening to their seats? I became the brigadier and went next to him as he was not looking at us, I was curious to see what he was upto of course, I saw that he was not even looking at names or anything, so I asked what I should do? He sent me to the customer service desk? Oh Suger! I dashed and behind me came the troops, went inside that tiny room, and the guy sent us back to the supervisor, I can see one of the passengers crying her guts out, but the customer service person had blindness and deafness as he didn't even bother about her tears. We went to the supervisor (this trip takes at least three minutes so we are basically losing time), who shouted again at us that we should return to the CSS, well I think they had a plan that they want us to do our daily exercise by running between check-in desk to the CSS office.   At the end I shouted that if they don't give me my seat I will sue them and they have to put me on the next flight for free (my ticket was one of those supersavers that cannot be refunded in case the flight was not taken). So he looked at me and started to type my name (remember, the other guy looked for half an hour and couldn't find it huh) and voila there comes my name, he printed my two boarding passes and off I dashed to the plane. Not sure what happened to my troops and to the crying woman. I hope they managed. Well as I said earlier it is not my concern, but if I was Saudi Arabian airlines I would kick everybody out and bring lovely looking females who are instructed to smile and get on with their work without having me turn into a brigadier nor having a crying woman or a young man dashing as he was told falsely he is on standby?

Easy to forget

I cannot believe how easy it is to forget things, maybe it's only me, so I shouldn't be generalising the story.  It's just I have been itching to tell you my short trip to Macca today, and how during the rituals I was trying to remember if I had done this before, and how did I feel at the time? Did my feet hurt? Was I tired? Did I become thirsty and had to stop to drink water? Or are these symptoms correlate with age? 

The thing about our Islamic rituals is, we have to complete them very quickly, so as soon as the plane lands, and you do the intention, you have to literally run to do the anticlockwise circles around the house, then quickly do your prayers, and find the two mountains and so your runs, watching of course your steps and reading carefully the prayers so as not to forget the number of runs one had completed, otherwise you may have to run the 7 kilometres again!! So it's either that god makes us forget so we go again (like pregnancy sort of, if we remember the agony of childbearing and birth we will only be a one child family, and if we vividly recapture the paid to our youngsters, then girls will never get married and thus humanity would be extinct, maybe that is way dinosaurs are extinct? Because they remembers the paid and aches of childbirth? 

Seriously, the total amnesia that follows the performance of the pilgrim is something I must investigate, I mean am I the only one who is forgetful of the proceedings! Or everybody is? I think though that religious performances should not be forgotten as otherwise the whole religion ould be forgotten.  However these are written in lots of books so the process will be there I guess, but what I am talking about is the feelings and the thoughts that happens when you are performing an Islamic duty.  

So let me write it down. First I was thinking how the hell did I just think of coming for Omra and did it in the span of two days, nothing planned and nothing was organised? Then I thought what a coincidence to meet a person that I know who does hotel and car bookings fromJeddah to Macca, which means that it was meant to be. Then I thought gosh why are they pushing and shoving? Can we not be in queues depending on which position we are in? The my bottleneck theory started to draw circles marked one to seven, so people who just started will merge like a zipper in the number one circle, and then like a spiral we will go to number two and so on. The reason I had this thought is at because the person next to me read a prayer and I could hear it to be different than mine, I started to check the book I was reading from, and almost lost where I was, someone puts doubts in your mind so you don't do the work well. 

Then for a while I could taste the salty sweat, and my eyes were burning as the sweat was seeping through them, I think I lost all the water in my body, I could feel it going down from my head to my back and I could feel my feet becoming slippery. I thought what a fine day to be that hot! Again I thought shutup and keep reading. It was my seventh round completed, now I have to leave the imaginary circle, so I passed through all the other circles to do the prayers, which was fine, I didn't have any thoughts or feelings at that time except thinking that I am wet all over. 

When I went to the mountains, I remembered that in 1993, a hair went through my foot's skin, it took me days to be able to remove it as during haj you cannot purposely injure yourself, so I watched my steps as I didnt want a similar experience. I actually enjoy walking in between these two mountains, I can imagine the wife of Prophet Ibraham running and hearing the echo of her voice on the other side when she was trying to get water for her son Ismail. And then I remembered when I told my daughter that the whole of haj is to celebrate the bravery of this woman? Imagine? It's a fascinating story of course. You will have to read it one day.

The heat and thirst was a killer today, I went to the hotel straight away and took a long cold shower, and went to sleep.  Too short really, as I wish I could have stayed longer.  Life had kept me away from a Macca for 12 years, that, I thought will never happen again. I am coming back, even though there were. Any annoying situations. Like allowing my iPad in the morning and refusing to let me take it with me in the afternoon, or the women Pryor places gets filled faster then men's, and the water places are not done properly so women and men can easily slip and fall (this old and large woman had a humpty dumbty fall, and we couldn't pull her up again), then seeing lots of money on the floor and no one was touching it, was also annoying, why would people loose their money? When some had none at all, but due to being in Macca they cannot take that money?

Anyway, I blabbered a lot today. Sorry. I think it's the exciting stuff that made me think this way. 

Wednesday 18 April 2012


no its not a medicine, and its not an acronym for a new drug, its the international exhibition and conference in higher education, that is held in Riyadh for the third year. I am lucky to be able to witness it, and to tour the facility. of course the place is full of all these universities that came from around the world, as well as the Saudi government and private universities.

The most interesting thing that I heard is that the ministry of higher education had paid the top 100 universities to attend, the total cost of the stand, the tickets, hotel and other expenses was all taken care of by the Saudi authorities, of course this is done for the love of education. In actual fact the amount of money this country spends on education is phenomenal, and of course its correct to mention that its the only country in the gulf that has over 18 million Saudi people and all of them can go to study abroad if they want to! yes this is true, the scholarship programme is open to anyone who would like to study provided that he or she has a letter of acceptance from the university, and provided that he or she are able to study. The encouragement is great, and the offices that the government had opened around the world is also worth noting. people do complain and of course everyone has the right to do this, as the sheer volume of applicants makes any organization overwhelmed, let alone the various programmes of study, the various universities, the countries and everything else that is impacted when a student decides to study in a place rather than the other. The government wants to ensure that everyone has an equal right, and that everyone comes back with a degree from an approved university and be ready to give back and make the necessary changes that are required of him or her to the country to help build a giant in the gulf. Women are given a double opportunity of course as they can take a father, brother or a husband with them and those too will be given the opportunity to study. Hats off to the government and its leadership, education is the main ingredient for change, and if its done properly, then change is immanent.

I didn't bother to visit the foreign universities, as I know them all. However I visited most of the Saudi universities and talked with them about the importance of articulation and twining with foreign universities, as that gives a boost to the university and compels it to be on the forefront, also being articulated provides opportunities to the students to be in exchange programmes as well as study abroad, which means that even though they are studying in their home country they are still exposed to foreign studies and will come back and compare and contrast. The importance of studying abroad is not to be taken lightly, however studying at home and being able to go abroad in a foreign country is the least one can do to have a taster.

Next week is Oman fair, so I will let you know how that goes.

Tuesday 10 April 2012


My son went on his honey moon on sunday, of course we were waiting ofr his call since then, he called me this morning at about 1 or 2 but of course I was fast asleep. It seems he is enjoying himself, missed few things, and noticed few other things, that frankly I never noticed when I went to France. So here is he remarks to the french governement: "Hey guys, Were in Paris, and the weather is lovely, sorry we haven't called you but it has been a crazy day. We'll try to find a phone card tom row while we adventure around some more. After tomorrow Eurooo disney!! can't wait. Theres so many people here. I don't remember it being so busy. Notre dam had a line up the road. Louvre was zoo full! (we didn't get in btw, because we didn't know it closes at 5.30 {thanks for not telling us}) and we can't go tomorrow because they close on tuesdays (how stupid is that{mama write a blog about it, and at the same time write a blog about how they don't have escalators or elevators in paris shops, and many shops are not made for disabled people}) anyway. Just wanted to let you know that were alright. everything is good at your end" I am putting these remarks here to serve two things, first, my son remebers us during his honey moon, and secondly, he believes in my power as a blogger, I doubt very much that the parisiens are going to listen to me and install escelators and sliding walkways to the French and other handicapped tourists now, its too late for this decaying lovely city. but i feel that i must do this for the good of the world. One day I am going to live in France for at least a month, and continue my french language learning. I feel that is going to open doors for me. Orevoir a bien tot.

Sunday 8 April 2012

Our Needs and Wants

Every time I watch Castaway (for those who haven't seen it it's a whole movie acted by Tom Hanks and a ball called Wilson) I re-evaluate my life. This person was castaway on an island in the pacific ocean, where he had nothing and despite this he lived for five years. Okay, No cloths and no food, no coffee, no cigarettes! but he lived. He fended for his food and fought the  calamities of life with the rain, wind, storms, vicious insects and animals. He didn't need a doctor to treat his ailments nor did he need a dentist to extract his tooth, he operated on himself and extracted his own teeth.  He ate raw fish, and survived like a tree in the middle of the desert  Look at us, we accumulate everything, we have cupboards filled with cloths, cabinets filled with all sorts of goodies, bookshelves filled with books, each one of us may have a minimum of two cars, may have couple of laptops, a desktop, few TV's, 50 pairs of shoes, a lot of jewellery, I am not even going to mention the plates and home appliances, as someone will turn around and tell me off.  Think how much of these things did we actually need? How many of those shoes did we actually wear? Do we change bags with every outfit or we make do with one, but still buy more whenever we find a brand on sale? Do we really need all of these things? Or we just buy them because we want them?  I am not saying that we should be Chuck and live "Bearly" as if we are on an island, that could benefit some of us completely, what I am trying to say here is that life needs us to stop, breath and think! What do we want that thing for? And why should we listen to all of that commercialism and get hooked to the many tricks the shop keepers use on us so we believe that we need those stuff.  Not sure if you remember the movie Jungle book, when the bear sang that song "Bear necessities, the bear necessities" ( what the bear was trying to tell Mowgli is that he can live happy wherever he is. In high rises or in the jungle.  Why am I writing this? Well one of our people is on hunger strike for 60 days, and this blog is for his support.  I will give up one thing for a day, Coffee. I will see if I survive. 

Friday 6 April 2012

The beliefs and practices of teachers with Arab springs and government

An acquaintance of mine left her teaching job due to what she continuously saw and heard in her school from the 13 years old fighting and bullying each other about their religion. The country that this person came from is known, as it's one of those that are part of the recent Arab Spring, and what hurt even more is that she comes from a mixes sect family, so is this situation going to transfer to her own family too? Anyway, she left, and found a job at a neighbouring country, but she lasted only 12 days. Why? We all think it's because of her sect. It is assumed rather than confirmed, but she lost her job because of this assumption.

Couple of weeks ago I attended the GCES symposium, and various discussions took place in regards to teaching and learning for kids as well as the teachers reaction towards the various types of learning techniques that are being thrown at them to make our kids better learners and enhances their knowledge base.  It seems that the teachers are apprehensive in learning about these new techniques, as they feel that it may not be easily transferable to the mids of the students.  

Now here is the question, why on earth are we able to install unethical behaviours in relation to religion, but we cannot teach by using new methodologies? And does this mean that the family has more influence on the kids' minds than what us the teachers can do in the school time? 

Let's take this question to bits; let us examine the families these days, we do not have the extended family, so when the children return home, there is only the maid, the tv, the play station and their homework.  When the mum and dad return home, they are so tired to the extent that they have no time to teach the kids anything. So where did the kids learn those weird words from? How did they learn to swear at each other? 

Then let us look at the schools. The children spend most of their time in the class rooms for almost 8 hours a day, which means that they should learn more from their teachers than from their mums and dads? If this argument holds, then the complaints of the teachers are nots valid, and maybe the teachers are busy teaching the swear words to the kids rather than science, math, technology and library uses.  I shouldn't be so mean, I am sure they will not do this, as all of us are reasonable people and very tolerant? Or are we?

In my opinion nothing will work in the middle east unless we all live in harmony, that is when can introduce all of these changes that the world is introducing into the education system.  The day that we can practice our beliefs freely, is the day that we can have open minded teachers, principles, and children, the formula needs to be understood by all. Discrimination on the basis of religion is not to be taken lightly, and it is synonym to the black and white discrimination. We are returning to the middle ages. 

Wednesday 4 April 2012

Colours of the desert

Why is it wherever I go in the gulf countries I only see the colours of the desert? I imagined Qatar will be different, but its not, it has the same dull colour of sand, all over the place and including the new buildings and those that are refurbished to look old, or built newly but with the old style. Is it us the gulf people or it is the architects that we bring from overseas to build for us? do they think that since we live in the desert we must camouflage all our buildings so we do not see them when we are in the sky? or do they think that we love that terracotta colour? or is it because its cheaper?

These are photos I took today, of course its an amazing place, we must not forget that the country grew ten fold since 2007! and its growing taller, wider and smarter.

Tecom CEO's network

An unbelievable number of companies are part of TECOM. 4500 companies in 10 sectors gathered in one place to network with each other to fish synergies and collaborations. Can this happen? Of course it can.

In my humble opinion, all small business start with that ignition of an idea; this may have come to someone's mind due to a need (dubizzle for example) or just being genius (Ezone for example), and everything in between.  At the end of the day any product or a service will find its way to the hearts of the people due to increased publicity and exposure.  Not to forget word of mouth, peer pressure and the strong existence of social media nowadays, and previously the mother's coffee mornings.  I don't think that men can promote a product or a service really well, as they are always I grossed in their work plus being single taskers. So the products or the service find their way into a woman's mouth, and the story begins.  We single handedly can bring a product or a service down like a rock falling from the sky, and can splash it everywhere like a rainbow. Unfortunately the advertising companies do not give us enough justice.  Take me for example, I use all the vitamins that there are in the world, and convince my friends to use them, shouldn't the vitamin companies use me as their advertising magnet, rather than putting a 20000 dollars advert on TV? Also women are naturally jealous, so if we find a person wearing that Prada bag, we all have to have one. So shouldn't Prada find a woman with lots of friends and giver her a Prada bag, so the rest of her friends follow suit and but one each?  Ok, I know I am digressing here.

Anyway, the CEO's at the networking event were all looking to sell their products to me, no one of them asked what we do? So let me say it here. Guys, you are all busy being CEO's, and you're all married with kids who are at schools. Give me those kids to take care of their educational needs, whether it being better schools, summer and winter camps, extra curriculum activities, psychometric testing, language training, Kids MBA, football academy, golf academy, and so on.  You can be as busy as can be, and I will take care of the kids as you would like me.  Is this too difficult to understand? Or is pausing the question of what do you do too demanding?  We were taught of the 30 seconds intro when we are in the left.  The person who taught us this forgot to mention that when we ask the person in the left what he or she does, we should remember to mention what we do too, otherwise we learn a lot about others, and no one would know about us. There we go again.

This remind me of the movie Hitch, when he teaches men or women how to find a partner and stick with it.  And in the same movie, they should the dating companies that give the couple 2 minutes each to talk about themselves and either they will like each other or they will not? Imagine that someone actually pays to be a date fixed after 2 miniatures of introduction? Hardly.  So the CEO network didn't work in my opinion.  Firstly the people were there to eat those silly nibbles, and drink that juice! And the place was dark, and we had to stand next to cocktail tables, some of us wear high heels guys, and there was green lawn, we damaged it by standing or waking on it. I would rather if we were in a proper room, sitting on tables and having booked appointments we move from one to the next. Or maybe they would choose few companies to talk in one slide what they need for us? Why beat around the bush, let's say it, we need business, and that is why we are renting offices, and hiring staff? And that is how we will be able to pay the staff and pay for the office and other stuff that comes with it.   Even the place that rented us the office need to have all the offices rented, otherwise they will not be able to pay the staff.  

Money makes its cycle, it doesn't stay in anyone's pocket. Show me a person apart from uncle Scrooge who has money kept under the pillow. Every cent made is spent on something or the other. It's like gold, there is only a limited amount of it, so if my neighbour buys gold, the other neighbour is not able to buy the same gold. The cycle of money is interesting, and we all know it, but we still have to work to be in the way of the cycle, otherwise we are out of it altogether. 

If the above doesn't make sense to you, you must excuse me, as I am too sleepy, so hopefully you can correct it and let em know what you think I meant by this blog. 

Tuesday 3 April 2012


If there is anything I hate in this world, really and truly, it's politics. I dislike the way it's transformed, as it was intended to be something, but practiced in such a way that us the normal joe bloke thinks that it's dirty.  However in the past few months, politics had affected my life tremendously; I will not embark on the details of what happened as that is besides the point. However what is important is that on a daily basis I see practices that emphasises my hatred towards politics and to those that practice it.  

I was listening to a young Egyption man, with a beard, about his feelings to what is happening in Egypt. He described it in a nutshell. He said that at present there is the military with it's huge contracts (it has free manpower as every Egyption has to serve in the military for a minimum of three years, so the military owns land, factories, hospitals and everytng one can imagine, also it gets contracts to build things from the government) so the military is an economic entity by itself. Now the military is running the country.  Then you have the Muslim brothers, and the salaf, both are religious parties, who had never been in politics nor have they practiced working in a goverment entity. The three powers are fighting to rule the country.  The young chap says, that even though he believes in the Muslim brothers, and the salaf, he will never vote for them if one of their people wanted to be a presidency candidate. Why? because he doesn't think that they will be able to run that huge country with its 80 million people the way it is supposed to be run (they want a Scandinavian country so the Egyptions will live happily for a while) can this happen in an Arab country? I don't think so.

Then take Bahrain, it is over a year, and with a country that really has only 700000 people, we are still fighting to gain some governmental respect and to be given few basic necessities, food, shelter, and freedom of speech.  Some of those have been prevented from work, and not only that, they have been asked to leave the country, and deprived from gaining any employment in any country in the gulf, this means that someone with his wisdom had executed a ruling on these persons, and prevented them from earning a living.  So what should these people do? Beg in the streets? 

Then you come to Qatar, and find the companies fighting over a 300000+ people to let them work in their organisations, pay them fabulous salaries, and pay for their education as well as their kids and grand kids education, just to be able to work in Qatar. As if the company doesn't take 30% Qataries, then it's doomed and had to leave. This only mean one thing: Qatar loves its people more than anything else.  The result, Qataries loving their country and respecting its wisdom and it's political stand.  Also don't forget that in Qatar, you have Aljazeera, you have Doha Debate, you have a film institute that help people produce their movie idea and fund it to execution, they also have Shaikhs that work really hard to promote Qatar, and they have a woman that is equivalent to a 100 men, Shaikha Moza, what this woman had done for Education is something to be written in History. I am not going to say a word here, but let me add a last sentence, the Qatari Shaikhs actually work for a living, I met one of them and he was standing in the booth, promoting!!!! With no personal protection!!!!!!!! 

Then you look at the rest of the Gulf and all you hear is corruption, ministers sitting in their glass ceiling offices, preventing anyone from seeing them.  I am going to stop here as if I continue I will be like those people who are prevented from earning a living, and I have all these loans to repay, So I will shut the hell up.

So even though I am apolitical, the normal citations make one feel political, and think politics.  Of course also confirms that politics stink. 

Monday 2 April 2012


I am 56 years old, ok I know thats a revelation I guess, as as long as I remember I have spent a lot of my time travelling. I am not complaining, don't take me wrong, I love traveling and love the experience that comes with it (like my companion just admired my glasses, and asked me where I got them from and how much etc) which you don't necessarily encounter if you are doing your dad to day chores.  Sometimes I don't say a word the whole day, especially when my husband is watching his football match and will not allow us to say anytng!  Of course that too is great as I can focus on my work, and finish most of my pending work.

As I said travelling have been my way of life, my kids are happy about it too; last friday we all gathered and my son took out the photo albums, remembering our trips to Paris, Stalkholm, Amsterdam, Turkey, Singapore etc. they couldn't believe how they changes, and how my own fashion changed too.  They laughed at one of my suits, and thought that I was wearing a curtain.  They remembered the tuna salad they had on the train to Amesterdam from Paris (how can they remeber this?) I think this is one thing that I am proud about, I mean introducing the kids to travel.  

However travelling for leisure is different to travelling for business.  If its a holiday, then your plans are focused on which museum to see and where to have lunch? And whether you would want to take the bus or the metro; even your suitcase has casual stuff only making space for the things one would buy from the shops there. But if you are going for business, one needs to focus on the suits, the shoes, the details of the appointments and so on.  There is no luxury for sightseeing or shopping, one is lucky to have time for a nice dinner with music or a piano player (I hate them by the way, what a waste, to work your way up the ladder of music school and ending in a hotel lobby is not what I think I would want to do or would let any of my kids end up doing that, unless of course it's their pass time hobby).  Also one has to have enough time to go to the various meetings, as one doesn't know where everything is.  Last time I was in Qatar the taxi driver didn't know where the building is, and I was late for my meeting, which was so embarrassing as it was with a high ranking individual! 

Ok, now  I am on the plane, forgotten to charge my iPad, so I have to hurry up in writing this blog before the battery drains out. 

I am sure I will have lots to say when I return from this week long trip. See you then.

DIAC- Education forum

Dr Badr Abu Alula was the main focus

A research conducted  about Youth in the gulf. 
70 themes came out
Mainly technological advances
Will I get jobs is a dominant landscape -
girls want to contribute to the economy
Young people don't feel well equipped to the work force.
The companies don't feel the young are equipped to enter the workforce. They should set on a table and decide what is needed by the society

How can higher education contribute to the innovation 
Financial sustainability.  Can the institutions be sustainable for the long run. 

Education can be a driving force to society, in australia the export in education is one fourth of GDP.

Abuoella what do we mean by community. 92% of the labour are expats. The largest two emirates (dubai and abu dhabi) contribute to the largest importer of labour due to the buildings and expansion.  The number of students in licensed institutions increased by 27% . In total 110000 students, two third in the private sector.  60% of this number is in 6 institutions 
Male female 70-30
Increase in graduate  programme increased to 16 compared to two five years ago.  The fields of programme 50 % in business area. 4 years ago it was 39% . Engineering is 20% . 
25000 jobs are required in abu dhabi by 2020.  As it wants to be industrial.  They need National students in particular but there is imbalance. More students take law, but few  in basic sciences. Knowledge economy courses like information library science, we have only two programmes. CAA requires institutions to have advisory panels and community engagement so they discuss what is needed, like which programmes. 

Raed Awalma -middlesex
25% of international branch campuses in the world are operating in the Dubai. The main reason is the diversity of the student body. 
Shortcomings, low research, low collaborations between universities, companies and governments in research for example . We must bring students to dubai to study. 

CEO of Wollongong 
Global issues, lots of changes, first the economic downturn, 
Quality of the educational system is a focus.
Uae trends  (we must look at the report he is talking about)
We must start to find strategic priority, and have programmes to sustain the strategic priority. Produce innovation culture. Key issue is to attract good quality staff to help make this happen. 

Low level of english in schools is a hindrance to advances too. Culture . Eg look at area that are needed, like hospitality and nursing, no national go to these two fields.  Also the low investment means its easy to start chalk and talk programmes, but not easy to do a health or an engineering programme. Vocational programmes are not understood either by the students or by the industry. 

No career guidance in schools. No programmes for gifted kids. Lack of institutional mechanisms for dialogue. There is policy, and private sector wary of academia, and the students are sandwiched in between. 

Ksa is facing more problems. The goverment allowed private sectors to start their own institutes to match what they do  so car industry's are running automotive programmes. Sabic and others (find out)

We need data to do benchmarking. No data for the labour market is available.
The role of the private sector in defining the characteristics of the labour needed to fit the jobs. 

More UAE students go to private schools, as the parents recognise that english language is not done well in public schools. What is happening to public schools. Also more UAE students going to private universities? Why? Because the parents recognise the shortfalls of public universities. Should the goverment then insist on the private universities to start the needed programmes and pay the private institutions to run them?  

21st century skills (this was the point that I raised, check my blog about then GCES)

Sheikh Zayed academy for girls. What they learnt 9 years ago didn't fit the colleges which were there at that time.?? 

Insistence on PD budget for teachers. 

Howard reed was here too.  He graduated 5000 women and they all own the 21st century skills???  But Collaborations is missing in the UAE between schools, universites, government and business sector. 

Arabic language - qatar introduced arabic at qatar university . Abuolela says whats the point as we don't have the resources in arabic. 

Have the universities took care of graduate outcomes? Are they tracking their alumni?

Raed, we must challenge the education system. We must do collaboration, and we must find out if the teachers that we hire believes in what he or she does and is equipped for it

Abuoluela dubai is the UAE's education Hub. We have to sustain ourselves to be on the lead, emphasis the importance of data and information. We must do benchmarking . But not ranking as it could move either way depending on the criteria.  We need collaborations between the universities here, like joint programmes, joint research and so on. 

So far everybody talks but no one does anything. What shall I do? I think if each one of us felt responsible we can do a lot to change the education system, it's the backbone of the country and we cannot ignore it.