Wednesday, 31 December 2014

New year, old year and remembrance

This has been a fabelous year for me and my family.  We had a new member, Rashed, a lovely boy born on May 9th.  This date is also when my youngest sister Nehad was born, she was wishing that Rashed is born then and she did it, her wish came true.  Also this year I wrote a family book for my nephews who were away at that time.  We opened our office in Bahrain and we started the project of promoting Art in Bahrain.  The company that helped us in doing this loved Bahrain so much and decided to move to Bahrain too. We worked with over a 1000 students, I wish they will all go to their destinations, normally a third do, but I am very hopeful.

There were many trips this year, amongst them are few trips to Oman, few to Qatar, few to Bahrain, and of course I went to Swedon, Germany, UK, Prague, Saudi Arabia and ? oops that is all I think.  when I counted the number of days I was away from the office in Dubai, it was like half the year.  which brings me to my new resolution:

This year I am going to dedicate more time for the office, both Dubai and Bahrain, I am going to go to less B2B workshops and more to places for advising clients. I am going to work on establishing new schools, and universities, and I am going to focus on Aviation students as well as high school students.  I will establish a network for teachers and principals to help them know new stuff in the education world. I will also clear my emails on a daily basis.

On a personal note, this year I will work on my diet, lose weight, do more exercise, treat my knee, mybe do more facials and massages.  I will have more time for my mum and siblings, not just through Whatsapp.  I will travel mostly for fun instead of only of business. 

This year I will clear all my loans, and I will buy a car.

This year I will read more books (I read only four books last year) and I will watch better movies (I only went 4 times to the movies this year) I will keep contact with my friends and i will work on two charity events.

This year I will write my books (three are pendng and maybe a fouth one)

This year will be my year. and this article is the last one to b written on this laptop, as I am shifting to macbook pro.

Monday, 29 December 2014

Its hard to tell the difference between what is important and what is not.

I was working when I was pregnant with my first child, my company was generous with me as I had to be in bed for a while due to some complications, however I still had to go to work and had to start my accounting course at the same time. In actual fact I started work prior to marriage, and continued till date.  My career journey took many turns, but all I can say here is that it was from good, to better to best.  In most jobs, I didnt have to prove that I was a good worker because of my gender, people knew how good I was. I was fortunate enough to have bosses who can tell the differnce between women who are there just to earn money and those that are there for a career.  Not many girls that I know have had that splendid opportunity. 

Back to my subject, while I was pregnant I was studying for a course that I passed, and when I had my baby I did another course which I passed too. Even though the child was restless, never slept at night, very colic, wants lots of milk and attention, I did it. How? with the help of my husband, he was sharing some of the responisbilities.  My son was scribbling on my notes and my books when we were in England (after doing two courses by distance the company decided to send me to England to complete the programme, so we spent two and a half years there), he was crying at night, and I was still nursing him but that didn't stop me from my ultimate objective, my studies were imporatant, so the years went by and I graduated. 

Then I had my second daughter, who was very quite, it was a year later that I noticed that she grew so much without any hassle, the third one arrived and we were a family with three children.  They all went to great schools, I was helping them with their homework, taking them to thier programmes and extra curriculum activities and so on, but still working, then I started my third course and studied for it, and I was still workting, then we went overseas to do my fourth course, and continued to work, study, raise kids and so on.

Not easy, but we did it, did I stop for a minute to think if what I am doing is important or not? and if my kids and my family life was sufering because of what I was doing? if my social life was affecting my family life? Am I seeing my mum and sibling enough? am I travellin enough? is my house nice? is my furniture upto standard? am I going to travel to do stuff other than work?  many questons and they all came to my mind, however one thing was for sure on my mind all the time.

That thing is the love for my kids, whatever I did in my life is for them, and because of them.  Life is worth the struggle when the results means better housing, better schools, more quality time, better universities, better trip (even though they were short) better everything.  I wanted my kids to have it all, so I didnt spare anything to do better in life so I can get them the best. 

I hear that some people are gossiping about me and how I devoted my time to myself and deprived my kids, I would say to them that my kids and my work is part of the same currency, the head and the tail; the good thing though, one doesnt need to flip the coin, both heads and tails are on the same serface of the coin.

Again I would say, anyone can achieve work and life balance, it depends though on how heavy the weight one puts on that scale.  A kilo on both side doesn't equal the ton.  I would go for a higher weight on both sides of the scale than many would have done in my time.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

I had the fright of my life

As usual, I was driving on the highway to start my day's work, listening to Abba's song "the winner takes it all" and wondering whether I will be a winner today or not; I was watching how people drive in Dubai, and how they can easily kill each other. I couldn't help but notice the dents on the barriers along Shaikh Zayed's road from the careless drivers who did a worng turn and took on the way few lives with them; I was thinking how many people got killed on this road alone when I spotted my lovely daughter driving to her work place. 

She looked confident, and I remembered how much she wanted to drive a car since she was little, she loved it so much, so one day I had let her drive my car in the neighborhood for a film she was making for one of her school assignments. I think I still have that film, it was really lovely.  Of course she is not that little anymore, she managed to clear two degrees and one minor at university, persistently looked for a job, and she got a temporary one once she arrived back from KIWI land.  While at this job, she continued to look for other jobs and went to so many interviews, I am sure she will be getting a great job.  A Million companies would kill for that girl, as she is bright, brilliant, superbly dressed, no nonsense, pretty of course and very very confident.  She lectures me on how I am running my business, the one she refused to work in until she gets enough experience to grow it (she says).  All of this was going on in my mind while driving close to her car without her spotting me. 

Then I saw it, the tire is low on air, oh my god, that is a one drastic thing to have in the middle of the road, I didnt know what to do, and I had promissed myself not to talk on the phone while driving, but I had to,  called her number and when she replied, I screamed, slow down, slow down, as your wheel is low on air, and go straight to the pertol station (she was close to that).  I didnt want to startle her as I am sure she had never experienced a flat tire, its horrible, I had it so many times that I can feel what happens to the car in my mind.  Frieghtfull moment it was, my heart was racing and pumping hard until she called me back and said that she is fine and reached work. 

My lesson from today, please lets all teach our kids the basics of car driving, check your tires before taking off, and don't give your mums a heart attack.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Oman and its wonders


Do you know that every time I come to Oman I get stunned with its beauty, serenity and quietness; with its white washed buildings that rise not that high to obscure the vast land behind it and not that low to show bareness. 
It's people still wear the traditional cloths and its beaches are open to the public to do their yoga, exercise, jogging, or fishing.

Today I had a little bit of time before going to the airport so I decided to have my coffee on Shati alqurum! I thought I will be on my own as its too early on a friday morning, but when I reached there the cafe was crowded and the children were playing with the sand on the beach.

There was a guy flying his troll and many walking their dogs. The easy life here is something to reminisce upon as its different to any country I had been to and since I have been commuting to Oman for 14 years I yet to see change in behavior due to advancement in technology and otherwise.

The people remained the same despite being so technologically advanced;  many of the people that I met in my first years are still around and still look the same as the ease of life didn't make them age the same as their counterparts in Dubai. Of course there are more cafes and more shops than 14 years ago but nothing that will alter or disturb the kindness and the sincerity of its people.

To my utter disgust is to see the rubbish of the people in the streets and thrown from the windows ofThe airport for example had more rubbish on its pavements than travellers so I looked around and didn't see rubbish cans, maybe that's a good solution for reducing the amount of rubbish discarded in the streets. their cars.

At the airport it took me few minutes to finish the formalities and when I went to the gates I saw a gallery in the sky. Amazing work by amazing Omani artists. Here are some pictures of that art. 

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Why don't we reach the ranks

I am attending a conference about quality assurance in higher education. Great researchers and great results. However I think the arab world lacks the basic criteria of acheiving high ranks and no matter how much we spend on higher education such as hiring noble prize winners or top researchers or have incredible buildings and infrastructure and so on we will never reach the level of those top universities. 

I am not being pesimistic here, trust me I beleive in what we are trying to do to improve the outcome but we do not have the liberty to do any research.  Once this becomes open you will see that at least half of world class universities is from the arab world  

Sunday, 30 November 2014

A woman and a dream.

My trip to Makka this year so different to all the ones I did before. Maybe because I was totally on my own! Maybe because I did the processions at night and when I finished by three in the morning I was too tired to sleep so I got to thinking!  I should be stopped from thinking these days as I go so deep into the matter like the mind of the researchers or even deeper. 

I need to provide you with some details on what we do when we go for pilgrim. We start with the "neiah" which is the intention to go for pilgrim. Then we must do a special shower and read some sort of prayor. Thirdly when we reach we must do seven rounds of walks around Kaaba followed by a short prayor then seven rounds of long step walk between the two mountains Safa and Marwa then we go again for seven rounds around Kaaba and a prayor and that's it. No big deal. No fuss. After that one can either stay there or go to the hotel. 

Even before I went to pilgrim the first time which was many many years ago I was always wondering about the number seven. I didn't know why in Islam number seven is so unique. We have seven heavens and seven earths. Seven rounds for everything that we do in haj and seven of many things that it's not enough to talk about in this short blog. But for the keen researchers I am sure it will be a very interesting find. 

I went deep into finding out more about the pilgrim and not only in the processions themselves. And what I found is so romantic. 

Prophet Ibraham took his wife and son Ismail and left them in a valley with no plants and no water.   The wife was stunned when she saw him going on his camel and turning back to Palestine. Are you leaving us alone in this valley? There is nothing for us here?  He kept quite and prayed to God to keep them safe and bring to them lots of people. 

So Hajar (the wife) felt sad and worried about the little child who was screaming of hunger! So she heard a voice coming from one of the mountains. She ran to it then she heard the echo from the other mountain and she ran to it. She did that "seven" times and while she was running back and forth and again checking on her son who was kicking the ground with his little foot while crying and the ground burst with water. So she washed his face and drank from the water which made her be able to breastfeed him. She stayed there for a while till the tribes of that area who commute between Syria and Yemen for trade passed by and started to stop there and feed their animals and the valley was inhibited. 

Years later Prophet Ibraham was visiting the wife and the son who by that time had grown to a nice young man. They started to build Kaaba. One night came the dream. Prophet Ibraham saw that he gives his son as a sacrifice to God. And when he wanted to tell his son satan was stopping him so he took stones and hit him seven times to push him away. Then again satan came and so the seven stones continued the second time and the third time. When the prophet reached to where the son was and told him about the dream. The son said that Ibraham must concur to the dream. Then when he was going to sacrifice the son God stopped him and said that I know that you are a believer and here is a goat to sacrifice for me instead of the son. 

Basically millions of Muslims around the world go to Haj each year because of a woman and a dream. 

God almighty is telling us something here. We Should never underestimate women nor should we underestimate our dreams. 

But number seven is still a mystery to me


Monday, 24 November 2014

Leadership and communication

Is leadership a trait that a person is born with or is acquired by time? Can leadership be taught? Can the organizations that provide leadership programs guarantee that every student who participates will become our future leaders?
Firstly, what is leadership?  According to the Oxford dictionary, leadership is the action of leading a group of individuals or the state or a position of being a leader.

Secondly, who are the gurus that are known for their leadership qualities by many individuals all over the world? I am not going to mention Porter, Stephen Covey, and other Gurus who are chosen annually in the “Best of lists” (this can be easily checked through various websites). I will only mention the few people that directly come to mind whenever we are asked about leaders: Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, John Kennedy, Jamal Abdul Nasser, Shaikh Rashid and, Shaikh Zayed. These individuals have been called leaders because of the roles they played and all the accomplishments they have made.  They inspired individuals all over the globe by the work they have done for their country. This in turn helps individuals to do better, that is what a leader does, like Mahatma Gandhi once said “Be the change you want to see in the world.”  On the corporate side we can quickly mention Henry ford, Lee Iaccoca, Bill Gates, Steve jobs, and Saatchi. 

I am sure you have noticed that so far leadership is used as a synonym with politic? Since we are in education then we may also notice that most political figures are great in communications, we may conclude that communication is a trait of leadership.  Hence, if you are going to study leadership (and you are not born with it) then you must develop a strong communication skill.

Thirdly, let us distinguish between positive leadership vs. negative leadership; negative leadership is when a powerful and dogmatic leader takes his country/organization/unit to destruction through actions and quotes that encourage the group to follow malicious routes.  Positive leadership on the other hand happens when the leader is highly educated and will only say or do the best to his country/organization/unit. 

Fourthly, is leadership linked to communication? Well, a leader must be able to lead by both words and actions, as the saying goes “walk the talk” and talking is an act of communication. Keeping the team informed is also a part of communication and the latter can happen upward, downward and across the organization/country/unit.  A leader must allow this to happen else, leadership will be incomplete.

Now let’s talk about our students, and why don’t they choose leadership as a major? Is it because they are not exposed to leaders who inspire? Or is it because we never encourage students to be leaders and to take on roles that are compatible with their personality traits?

Personally speaking, leadership is both a genetic trait as well as environmentally effected traits.  How the person lives, where the person lives, and why the person lives are all determinant factors to either induce leadership or evicts it from the brain all together. 

Many universities and institutes in the world teach leadership as a major and then it’s linked to education, politics, corporate world or sports. We are trying to explore the various majors that are available out there for our students to show them ways to explore every situation to be able to complete their studies and to find jobs.  These jobs can be in politics, education, corporate world or sport, but it doesn’t matter where the students will end up in. The important thing is to learn how to become effective leaders and to exert the maximum effort to have the skills necessary to run a great organization; these skills can be initiative, flexibility, persistence, resilience, communicative and most of all passionate.  Always remember that you have a generation to inspire, so work at it and be very communicative. 

 A reader today, a leader tomorrow (a quote from a school I visited today)

Sunday, 23 November 2014

How life can be the same for some people but not similar

It is a surprise when you meet people and see that they had a similar life turbulance to youself, but it is more surprising that how dissimilar each individual had run his or her own life.  We all wake up in the morning, we all do our chores whether its at home or at work, we all face diffiulties in our bodies, we all try to reach a life balance in terms of work, play and rest, however not all of us reach what we want and our ambition in the same way. 

Some people can have it naturally, without any struggle, but with perseverance, others have to put more energy in their work to get a similar result.  Some can have hobbies and are active in their communities and some have to work really hard to make ends meet.  Some take up job that they don't like just to be able to live, and here I am talking about the laborers and the workers who come to foreign land to do menial jobs and are paid very little for them, and I am also talking about those that live in their own country and have to still do jobs that they don't like or do not match their expectations but are running their lives despite this. 

Even marriage is not a straight forward affair to all people, some get married, some stay married for life and are happy and some ask for  divorce for the many known reasons for divorce. Those that ask for divorce may or may not think of their kids and the effect of divorce on them, and talking about kids some may have kids and some may not. And when the kids come to us, life as we know it will not be the same, we deal with so much while raising them, are they good at school, do they have learning difficulties, are they doing well in high school, are they doing their activities and completing their assignments, which university will they go to? and who are they going to get married to? then we wait for their children and so on.

So life is not a very straight forward thing, the number of variables that we have to deal with in everyday life are so large that we need mathematical formula to deal with them. From the time of waking up in the morning we deal with the question of whether we should wake up or not? then comes to the breakfast time, what kind of cereal are we eating, should we have cheese and jam, how is our egg cooked, what type of bread should we buy? lunch is a similar dilemma and dinner is a different kettle of fish.

What brought this about? I met two women, who each married a guy who turned out to be non supportive, non working, not romantic, not helpful, not open for any suggestions, not talkative, not not and not. One of the women just had a great outlook in life and was full of positivity, so she worked and made life easy for her kids, her husband and herself while the other woman sulked and wating for omething to happen to make her life better.

Choices, many of them are there so please grab life by the balls, and be happy. 

Friday, 21 November 2014

Are we doing lots of travels? or are we imaginng these?

These days I keep on dreaming that I am in England, Thailand, Iraq, Iran, Indonesia, New Zealand, Australia and many other countries around the world.   I had gone to all of these countries, but not in the past month, but no matter what I do, I dream of them at night.  I can smell the food, I can walk on the greenery, I can swim in its beaches, see its people, talk to its animals, be in its spas and walk on its streets.  Why? now you ask me why!

Since the advent of social media everyone is sharing their trips on its pages, we can avoid going to social media, but one thing we cannot avoid is whatsapp, no matter what we do the picture and comment will come to us, so the number of times we see the countries that I or my family or friend had gone to, no wonder that we will imagine the country and be there with them at that moment.  I remeber before when we used to return from our trips and gather around out families to show them the pictures and reminese with them about the things that we did and the scenaries that we saw; and when everyone gathers we give out the gifts and the various souvenirs to show that we didn't just have fun we also remembered everyone and got them what we thought they would have liked had they been there.  Nowadays we are with whoever is travelling by the minute, they tell us about it, and we see the happiness in their eyes and their smiles. 

Travel makes us happy, its not because we are not happy as it is, its just that there is something about travel that gives a boost to the energy and acts as a type of vitamin to the body.  When we travel we are compelled to be out and about, to see the various cultures and tastes the food of that country, talk to the people and notice what they do and how they do it, check out their art and the items on sale at the souvenir shops.  in fact that is the first thing i would visit as from there you would know what is so popular and what is a must see, then we see the other stuff.  However when I went to Prague (now it seems a hundred years ago but it was in September only) the taxi  driver who took us to the airport asked us what we did, so my daughter told him about the touristic places likes Charles bridge and the clock, he laughed and said that this is where the tourists go? we don't go there? so we asked him what the Prague people do? he said we go to the mountains and enjoy the scenery of our country side.  I would do that too, but I guess when we travel we would want to rub our shoulders with the old things around that city, and we forget the nature and what it brings to our lives. 

This bring me to my subject, my brothers went on their annual brotherhood trip to Thailand, and my sisters went to the Pilgrim in Iraq with my mum.  on a minute by minute we know what they did, so those that used to suspect what a person would do while abroad, is nor assured that people had gone abroad just to have fun, talk more, enjoy the country, do their religious stuff, be with the family and have as much happiness as possible.  some of the pictures that I had received follows:

the first lot is the Pilgrim to Iraq
my sister and my cousins who live in iraq  

my mum
another picture of my mum

My mum returning to her roots, accompanied by Amal, my forever traveling sister.
my sister Fadhila, which i wish i had traveled with her and drank her coffee.

Nehad gets a sever pain in her back and neck when she travels, but still she loves it and her face just radiates when she is on a plane.

the selfie story continues even though one is on a pilgrim.
meeting with the cousins

another selfie

The whole family
Imam Ali Shrine in Najaf
This second lot is my brothers annual trip to Thailand
My brothers in Thailand enjoying? not the beautifully cut water melon of course.

wearing th sailors skirts all of them.  lovely

Now that is where i want to be if I was in Thailand.

First Catch, I can smell the barbeque from here.

well, How many did they catch? its only five of them!

I guess they must have stopped here.