Archive for August, 2012

Tax shelters are obscene.

Posted on: August 24th, 2012 by Tom Pattillo No Comments

Looking for and taking advantage of a “tax shelter” is obscene.

shocking: a citizen enjoying all the benefits of Canadian citizenship while paying accounting professionals to find the every possible way to avoid paying taxes that support Canada. “Avoiding the payment of money to support our way of life in Canada is shocking!”

scandalous: the 1% has inculcated the majority of the 99% into acquiescing to this practice. In the US it is accepted that the 99% don’t complain about this stupidity because they openly believe in the same principles. They don’t complain about the very way of life they have been led to believe is the very foundation of the American Dream. If the actions of Bernie Madoff and the banks can be considered scandalous (they were just trying to maximize their assets), isn’t finding a way to reduce exposure to legitimate taxes also scandalous? (Even if the shelter comes with a nice beach.) “Avoiding the payment of money to support our way of life in Canada is scandalous!”

vile: “Yes Tommy or Suzy, your father and I can provide this lifestyle for you because we only pay taxes at a rate of 9%. The average rate for taxes for those who are taxed? About 28%. For those is our asset bracket, upwards of 50%. This kind of saving allows us vacations outside of Canada, cars made in Japan and Germany, education in the US, the best wines from Chile, and computers designed in the US and made in China. Why should we pay more taxes when the government can’t even fix the damn potholes on our street? “Avoiding the payment of money to support our way of life in Canada is vile!”

foul: a foul ball is one outside of bounds on a baseball field. If caught, the batter is out. A foul smell stops me in my tracks and usually means something has gone bad, really bad, must be cleaned up, not brought into my bedroom to help me sleep. “Avoiding the payment of money to support our way of life in Canada is foul!”

atrocious: not sure I ever used that word when I was young. Now I might hear, “those prices are atrocious”, or “what she is wearing is atrocious”, of “it is atrocious that they can get away with that.” In each case I am expressing the feeling that “whatever” is outside the bounds of acceptable, moral, and ethical behavior. “Avoiding the payment of money to support our way of life in Canada is atrocious!”

outrageous: When do I use the word outrageous? Those prices are “outrageous”. Paying that amount to someone fired from his/her job for incompetence is “outrageous”. All those students thinking that cheating and plagiarism is acceptable as long as you don’t get caught is “outrageous.” “Avoiding the payment of money to support our way of life in Canada is outrageous!”

heinous: The crimes the Special Victims Unit investigates.

“In the criminal justice system, sexually-based offenses are considered especially heinous. In New York City, the dedicated detectives who investigate these vicious felonies are members of an elite squad known as the Special Victims Unit. These are their stories….”

Of course sheltering ourselves from taxes is not a sexually-based offense. “Avoiding the payment of money to support our way of life in Canada is heinous!”

odious: Not one of my favorite words. “O – Di – Ous” Sounds yucky (as my daughter would say when she was 5).  “Yucky!” “Avoiding the payment of money to support our way of life in Canada is odious!” “Avoiding the payment of money to support our way of life in Canada is yucky!”

abhorrent: Now this is a word. ABHORRENT! That activity is abhorrent to my sensibilities. What an abhorrent thing to do. I wonder if the root of the word is based on “horror”!!!  “Avoiding the payment of money to support our way of life in Canada is abhorrent!”

abominable: Cool, like the abominable snowman? an ape-like cryptid said to inhabit the Himalayan region of Nepal, and Tibet. It is believed to be taller than an average human and is similar to Bigfoot.[2]

I know I can’t go any further with this, but ummmm, “ape-like cryptic” sounds close to what I want to infer. “Avoiding the payment of money to support our way of life in Canada is abominable!”

disgusting: What is disgusting? Pooping in our own nest?  Disgusting. Litter on the road. Disgusting. Cigarette smoking. Disgusting. “Avoiding the payment of money to support our way of life in Canada is disgusting!”

hideous: This sounds like a low voice, intense, guttural, pejorative word. This is “hid-e-ous”. That is “hid-e-ous”. Your actions were / are “hid-e-ous.” Not a nice word, not a nice adjective, not what I would want used to describe something I have done. “Avoiding the payment of money to support our way of life in Canada is hideous!”

repugnant: That smell is repugnant? Subtle difference from repellent. “Extremely distasteful.” “Unacceptable.” ” (repugnant to) in conflict with; incompatible with: a bylaw must not be repugnant to the general law of the country.” “Avoiding the payment of money to support our way of life in Canada is repugnant!”

offensive: The very word is “offensive” to me. Yes, that is something I would say. Or a behavior is offensive. “Avoiding the payment of money to support our way of life in Canada is offensive to me!”

objectionable: This sounds wimpy. I don’t think that word conveys the depth of the word obscene. Objectionable seems kind of logic based. Ah well it still works. “Avoiding the payment of money to support our way of life in Canada is objectionable!”

repulsive: Good word. YOU ARE REPULSIVE!!! Don’t bring that in here, it’s repulsive (disgusting would work too). “Avoiding the payment of money to support our way of life in Canada is repulsive!”

revolting: My mother used that word a lot, usually in talking about something my brother and I had done, made, or talked about. I can still hear her, “Get that out of here, it “revolting.” “Avoiding the payment of money to support our way of life in Canada is revolting!”

repellent: This makes me think of mosquitoes. I put mosquito repellant on. And for a behavior to be “repellant” has something to do, in my mind, with those pesky, insidious, keep me awake at night and bothersome little flying bugs. “Avoiding the payment of money to support our way of life in Canada is repellant!”

loathsome“Avoiding the payment of money to support our way of life in Canada is loathsome!”

nauseating: Ah it makes me sick. That’s very appropriate. And think of the visuals, and the smells, and cleaning it up. Delightful. “Avoiding the payment of money to support our way of life in Canada is nauseating!”

sickening: A more pleasant word than “nauseating”. Perhaps more telling. Nauseating is right now. Throw it up, get it over with, and now get sober! But “sickening” is more long term, more insidious, more deeply dangerous. “Avoiding the payment of money to support our way of life in Canada is sickening!”

awful: Give me a break. Such a weak word. Awful. Well, got to use it. “Avoiding the payment of money to support our way of life in Canada is awful!”

dreadful: Another word that does not work for me. There is a comedy that uses “dreadful” with a high whiny voice. “That’s dreadful”. However. “Avoiding the payment of money to support our way of life in Canada is dreadful!”

terrible: This has to be repeated . . . terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible. “Avoiding the payment of money to support our way of life in Canada is terrible!”

frightful: Yes, it is frightful. It is frightening. For me. For my children. For my grandchildren. And on and on. “Avoiding the payment of money to support our way of life in Canada is frightful!”

Yes, I know I have beaten this to death.

What I want to do, what we need to do, is throw out all the words and phrases that have become acceptable ways of defining and describing success.

Some further to examine.

Outsourcing as logical and acceptable business practice. It is not. At all. It is completely short term thinking. In the short term in increases “profits”, in the short term shareholders share in these profits and in the short term makes it easier for homegrown companies to be global competitors, borderless mega companies. And can they find ways to protect themselves from those “pesky” taxes? Oh yes!

Some words and phrases for further discussion


“Trickle down . . . (giving the rich even more money will help all those at the bottom of the economic ladder)

“Stock market driving economy is a good thing.”

“One answer political parties.”

“Opposing political parties are the “enemy” and must be “destroyed”.

“A women’s right to have control of their bodies is a “political” position rather than a basic, fundamental human rights issue.”

“The state/country/whatever allows same sex marriages.” To . . . nothing. Pierre Trudeau famously said, “the state has no business in the bedrooms of the nation.”



“To hell in a handbasket”

Posted on: August 17th, 2012 by Tom Pattillo No Comments

Pussy Cats verdict: Where is Putin taking Russia – pre 1989! I read history. I have read about Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot and all the rest from far past to present. Making people objects, dehumanizing, manufacturing enemies from innocent people. You want to question me, I will shoot you, don’t take it personally.

Syria: The killing has ceased to appall us. One more day, a 100 more deaths, Ho Hum. The naiveté of the UN, of the US, of everyone. There is nothing remotely incomprehensible about Assad’s actions, broken “promises” or violence. Read about tribal cultures. Read about genocide, pogroms, and rats backed into a corner. Assad has everything to lose (his tribe will be wiped out if the rebels take over) and nothing to love by pursuing his genocidal methods.

Saudi Arabia and Iran: Closer connection. Where does that leave the US? The Saudis are Arabs. Arabs have survived thousands of years but adjusting to reality. Arabs are survivors (as are Persians). Whatever you want us to say or promise . . . no problem. Word are just words, contracts but pieces of paper. If we are in the same room, in front of each other . . . we will abide by these signed agreements. Outside of the room, away from the agreement signatories, and whatever is best for us is a valid action. The boundaries of many of the Middle Eastern states are not centuries old; were not forged by wars, or even language homogeneity. They were created by western nations, politicians (or Statesmen as they prefer to be called) who either wanted to sloth off responsibility or look good to the world. Even today the UAE and Iran are fighting over islands, and Saudi Arabia quibbles about borders on the Arabian Peninsula. Iran and Saudi Arabia have no problem changing allegiances and loyalties at a whim.

Israel: Bomb them, bomb them, bomb them. US, please don’t. UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, Iraq, Iran. Yemen, Oman – I can see those on the top of Burg Khalifa watching Cruise Missiles fly past (hoping the missiles guidance system are accurate). The US election, competing ideologies and political backing, lobbyists and their employers focused on next week, profits, deniability, shifting blame, and lets bomb the heck out of them because think of the profits to be made on rebuilding these bombed out countries!!!! No lose situation, save the planet by destroying the planet. Initiate a Middle East conflagration that could spread to the whole world – WWIII – now theirs a business opportunity!

US Elections: devolving into pathetic idiocy as the Republican make up false stories that they can then comment on when the Obama administration does not respond. And if the race elephant in the room is totally ignored, the millionaires win (thing of the way Obama was treated by the female republican politician). It is terrible to think that people feel they receive more objective news from a comedy show, than from networks purporting to be “news” networks. No longer is there pride in being an America based on separation of Church and State, the truth, honest comment and an unwavering belief in the process of government and the ethical and moral behaviors of its leaders. Republicans and Democrats are not enemies. They are “positions” and “policy suggestions” designed to protect, build, and survive.

Canada: Harper destroying every Canadian ideal, belief, and ethical standard. The US works on health care for its citizens, Harper attempts to dismember the world renown and respected Canadian Health Care system. (Check Switzerland for a terrific role model for “medicare”.) People all over the world fighting for more government transparency and responsiveness to citizen needs and Harper’s government is the most secretive, divisive, and deliberately condescending (Opposition, Premiers, and anyone with criticism) government in Canadian history. (I have studied Canadian history.) To Harpers helpers, the Liberals and NDP are the enemy to be crushed, destroyed, put out of existence. That is not the Canadian way. Harpers Helpers, lower taxes, lower health service, next to no environmental protection (Canada or the rest of the world), helping the rich while reducing services for the poor (they don’t have lobbyists or power or political contributions). Building more prisons rather than investing in the health and welfare of Canada’s youngest and more needful citizens. “Let them eat cake.” “Let’s lead them to the guillotine.” What do you call millions of unemployed, helpless, denigrated, and poorly served young people – a really good basis for a rebellion. (Which as it true throughout the world, will have not impact on the rich and the leaders who will bail for another country as soon as they can no longer rape and pillage their “home” country.

The banks: Where to start. They are just criminals taking as much as they can, using their reputations as the most trustworthy companies in the world (Royal Bank of Canada on Prince Street in Truro Nova Scotia Canada circa 1960 . . . could not be more respected). Billions in profit as they raise their bank fees to the extent they are greater than the discount they give to seniors. Banks for years, manipulating anything they can hide their manipulations, and feigning surprise over being caught out. And the penalties are paid to whom? Not the people who suffered.

Ponzi Schemes, Hedge Funds, High Risk Mortgages and on and on and on. Lord of the Flies, 1984, Robber Barons . . . everything is legal in the pursuit of power and money as long as you a) set up regulations so loose and ineffective no one can tell what is legal or illegal, b) don’t get caught.

Corporate executives: Earning thousands of times the wage of their lowest employee. A difference so great (compared to the 1950’s) as to be obscene. And then given golden parachutes for incompetent, pilfering, unethical and immoral decisions. (What lessons/example are they given to anyone?) Admiration for rapacious, sanctimonious, manipulative, and purchased “spin doctored” exhortations of brilliance, humility, honesty and morality. Did anyone read Outliers? Luck, luck, luck, luck combined with just enough intelligence, and willingness to work and take credit for everything successful, while removing competitors both internal and external. (I studied Machiavelli. The Prince is very, very “good.”)

Greed: Unbelievable, unethical, immoral, silly (how much money do you really need?), and sickening. How can we ignore the reality of the monopolistic practices that allowed Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Paul Allen, and every bloody company president get so much money that it is . . . I don’t have words to describe. These people are monopolists. There companies are monopolies. Adam Smith’s whole capitalist concept is based on ease of entry and exit from business. If a company is making huge profit, that situation brings in competitors who can offer equivalent services and products at a lower price. Selling software for $500+, when it costs a dollar to produce, and then having the government, (remember lobbyists) protect copyrights, is illogical. Perhaps a limit on how much profit can be made. Do you really think Bill Gates or Steve Jobs or whomever is actually “worth” as a person, that much money? And that is without considering the poverty, debts, and deficits – personally and nationally – through the world that allows the disparity between rich and poor. I started out as a libertarian, capitalist, anti-Socialism believer. And then I saw reality; poverty, hopelessness contrasted with “gated” communities, the rich buying islands and every other obscene representation financial success. It is said the American people are not offended by the behavior of the rich, because the American Dream has inculcated the concept everyone/anyone can become rich, powerful, famous and successful. No one dares to criticize the very dreams in which everyone “buys into” and thus considers right, valid, moral, and ethical.

Roman Catholic Church: ignoring for so many years / centuries the child abuse endemic to their priests. Add to that the Boys Scouts. Add to that abuse of young children by neighbors, friends, family that is known but ignored. This abuse cannot be condoned in any way ever. It is a criminal activity. It is rape. It is punishable by prison terms and execution. Period. (I know a friend who was abused by a neighbor as she babysat his children. It had a hugely destructive impact on her life. (Her parents denied it could have happened.) To my mind there is nothing more heinous. (direct from Law & Order, SVU)

Penn State: condoning sexual exploitation of young men by a “trusted” colleague. (Penn State is getting everything they deserve.)

Global Climate Change: How can anyone say it is not true? Although I am afraid it is far too late to do anything remotely useful. One executive speaking to the HCT in September 2006 stated that Climate Change was terrific because of all the business opportunities (read government largess from last minute efforts to mitigate the disasters) that would result. (Ah the power of positive thinking (don’t let me get started on that!))

The stock market Deity: What is the Stock Market – buying and selling of shares or bonds – really mean? It is just playing with investor’s money and making money with every transaction, with every rise and fall of a stock price. What connection does the Stock Market have with reality? None. Really, None. It is just a fabrication to justify making money by those whose only goal in life is to make money, more money, and well, all the money out there. I have laughingly said that the fisherman from Newfoundland Canada saw Cod as their enemy, and proudly said “we gate’s all, by the Jesus, we got’em all! And don’t even get me started on the destruction of the Canadian Fisheries, aided, abetted and paid for by the Canadian government following the advice of corporation paid scientists. Anyone with any common sense knowledge of the fishing industry would know the huge government “paid for” trawlers would devastate and eventually destroy the first stocks.

Human Rights: When opposition to Gay Marriage is considered a Political Police/Position rather a fundamental Human Rights violation equivalent to racism, anti-Semitism, and genocide, that does not auger well for a society.

Africa: Death, death, death, death. Wars, Pirates, Civil Wars, Genocide, Child Soldiers, Starvation on a scale too great to comprehend. And the Chinese are having a field day. (Don’t think they don’t see themselves as England, Spain, France, Portugal and the Netherlands saw themselves 300 years ago.) You give us your resources, we pay you to dig them up, cut them down, mine them to empty, ship them to us for manufacture so we can re-sell them to you. And you might recall the wars were fought to maintain ownership of these colonies. The method: keep them poor, uneducated, and dependent. (And yes I too hope for the best, that I am completely wrong, and that China has only the highest regard for the peoples and countries they are exploiting. Still there is that image of Tiananmen Square: democracy is good (for others). “Don’t take your death personally.”

India: Space mission to Mars when they can’t provide guaranteed power to their population. And they have immense poverty, inequality, billionaires and beggars on the same street. And graft, dishonest politicians, bribery . . . beyond any thing anyone can imagine. Not that India is alone in these practices; it is just that India has one of the largest populations, and greatest poverty in the world . . . and the fact that the country seems proud of their ineptitude.

China: There are more young people (upwards of 250 million) unemployed, hopeless and “desperate” than the populations of just about any country other than India. What do we call men 18 to 23 who have no hope? Warriors. Warriors for any cause that fills their stomach and gives meaning (any meaning) to their lives. And that includes money, cars, women, children, homes – which their country and its leaders and elites enjoy without seeing anything unfair or unjust.

Hybrid and totally electricity powered cars: Using power generated by burning fossil fuels. WTF? Removing dependence on non-renewable (but incredibly profitable (okay obscenely profitable)) energy sources when, with a political will and dedication equivalent to putting a person on the moon in 8 years (using “computers” the size of $1.00 calculators we give away) could make Solar Power, Wind Power, Tidal Power, Geothermal, even fusion all within a dedicated US and other technologically advanced countries ability to achieve. Right now. And we all know costs go down as volume goes up. (What about EVERY building from the small house, every apartment building, and every skyscraper with gardens and solar power collectors on tops and sides (yes their are vertical gardens on the side of buildings)? Europe wants to do this. There is a policy and government support to develop the methods, machinery, technologies and infrastructure to make this happen. Think of a world commitment.

Technical Gadgets (I hate an iPad being called a gadget!) that are priced beyond the yearly income of billions of people, with profits that could, without effecting the company’s success, feed the world.

The 1%: Can any religious person or atheist or humanist or citizen of this world in any way think this is a standard to be set and rewarded in a ethical civilization.

Offshore tax shelters: How can anyone think this is a valid “human” action. 1) How much money does ANYONE really need, 2) Countries are tasked to maintain the peace, create the infrastructure, education, medical services, defense required for the rich monopolists (entitled people) to get their start, survive and prosper and then refuse to pay the taxes the government needs to pay for the country’s investment? Obscenely rich people from Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada, building huge estates in Bermuda, sheltering their income, avoiding taxes, and then when they get sick, coming back to Canada to take advantage of the Canadian Health Care System. How can that be ethical?

All this is just a start.

It is not what we know; it is what we do that matters.



Give it all away! 40 years: Sales & Marketing, Soft Skills Training, Training Trainers

Posted on: August 11th, 2012 by Tom Pattillo No Comments

Give it all away:


I put a True False Questionnaire on my website.

You can download, open, read, and complete the exercise.

You may send your answers 1 – 50 (True or False) to: , and I will send you the answers (but not my rationale for each answer).

Once a week I will upload explanations five (5) questions.

Questions & AnswersAttached is a True False Exercise.

Catalyst Consulting and Tom Pattillo (me) used this method to “teach” the concepts of each course we were teaching.

The first topic is Business Development (Sales and Marketing). 50 questions – have fun!AU1112 Business Dev TF Form

Response to Manar Al Hinai’s “It might be boring but perhaps the lesson is get a life”

Posted on: August 5th, 2012 by Tom Pattillo No Comments

Finding a purpose for our life is one of consistent themes for personal satisfaction. Whether it be the impact of Maslow’s “Self-Actualization”, Rogers “Peak Experiences”, Covey’s “Seven Habits”, or any of the thousands of personal coaches around the world, the majority of us understand that a purpose larger than “ourselves” is a major prerequisite for a life well lived.

Taking Mana Al Hinai’s excellent article as a starting point regarding the “purpose” for our efforts, I propose that both private and public organizations understand that the biggest challenge to achieving Emiratization is ineffective and inappropriate of both the western oriented management principles and the “survivor mentality” of the ex-pats from lower income countries.

Too often in “western management”, financial reward is still considered the underlying motivation for job performance. Decades of evidence indicate the fallacy of this assumption. Money is rarely even in the top five of motivation drivers. People invest their time to benefit their families, look after their health, and to make a difference to the people and the world around them. Daniel Pink’s book Drive gives many examples of the reality behind successful motivation methods. It is not enough to say “if you do better, we’ll pay you more money.” It does not work.

In the UAE another particular problem regarding motivation is the example set by those ex-pats whose primary reason for being in the UAE is to send money back home to their families. Whether in labor or professional occupations, the dedication, intensity, and willingness to spend any number of hours on the job, while laudable, is not based on a desire for a meaningful life. It is based on the goal of maintaining a job, by whatever ways possible, so that a consistent revenue stream is sent back home. These ex-pats are rarely interested in recreation, community involvement, or a balanced life style. They really don’t care about the UAE except as a place to earn as much money as possible to send back home.

The corollary to the above is that the ex-pat professional managers, have no use for those who want jobs that provide meaning, or that have a purpose beyond earning money. They have no patience for UAE employees who are not motivated in they same way they, the ex-pat managers, are motivated. I spoke to one young Emirati woman who was giving up her job with a bank because achieving money based targets was the only measure of her success. Emiratization fails in large part because money is not going to work as a major motivator for Emirati employees.

My constant refrain is: The UAE is a unique nation. There is no nation in the world, past or present, that has grown as fast as the UAE in 40 years. There is no nation in the world that is as committed to, and has the resources to, provide a standard of living for its citizens second to none on the world stage. Whether you believe that the symptoms of a “rentier” state explain the current “motivation” for Emirati employees or not, the reality is that the only true method for Emirati motivation NOT money.

The best motivation is internal (intrinsic) rather than external (extrinsic) motivation. The motivation for a “purpose” driven job or career is rarely, if ever, based on the external motivation financial reward. Purpose driven implies and is the result internal motivation.

All of this to plead for Emirati leaders to consider that UAE employees will not be motivated by traditional “western oriented” money motivation, nor the paranoid obsessive compulsive examples of the professional expats. Look at ways to bring purpose into both private and public jobs. Look for different ways to measure accomplishment. This does not mean lowering expectations, it does me changing the work atmosphere to allow the Emirati employees to find their own motivation that will inspire them to not only achieve, but exceed the expectations of their managers.

This echoes Ms. Al Hanai’s recognition that it is only by find a purpose beyond ourselves that we can find meaning (and avoid boredom) in our life.

It might be boring but perhaps the lesson is get a life
Manar Al Hinai
Aug 5, 2012
I went out for an after-iftar coffee with nine of my girlfriends last weekend. They included engineers, an interior designer and a renowned TV presenter – but not one of them said they were excited by their jobs.

In fact they complained about how bored they were and how meaningless they felt their work was, even though they were busy for the eight hours they spent at the office every day.

But, just like a heavy workload, boredom is also stressful. And when we are busy at work but still feel bored, that means even more stress.

By the looks of things, my own working life should be very exciting. I have a busy and non-routine job at a government organisation. I write articles and columns for national publications. I run my small fashion business. I get to meet interesting people from different walks of society. I have been lucky enough to win prestigious awards. I volunteer at various community causes. I have more upcoming projects in the pipeline. I am fully occupied – and yet sometimes I, too, feel bored.

Unable to shake off this terrible feeling from time to time, I often introduce a new challenge to my personal business, or suggest something new to work on at my office and that really helps.

However, I realised the boredom my friends suffer from is not a result of having nothing to do but from having nothing worthwhile to do.

The thing is, if boredom is a result of having nothing to do it could be eradicated by giving more tasks to employees. Nonetheless, this is only likely to work in the shortterm, until employees realise what they are asked to do does not contribute to something bigger than themselves.

In another situation, if boredom is a result of having to do too much of a good thing, with a consequent loss of excitement, then it could be solved by giving people something new to do. This situation is common with high-performers who get the job done quickly but are easily bored and feel unchallenged. It is like giving a middle-school maths student a first-grade maths problem to solve.

Obvious fixes to such situations include job rotation, new training programmes and larger responsibilities to handle.

But how do employees fix the ironic situation of having more than enough to do in the office yet still suffering from boredom?

I am lucky as my job is a far from routine one and I always have something new to work on. But for my friends, and some of you, that might not be an option.

And so it seems the only solution to boredom is to give people something more meaningful to do.

As a chief executive of an organisation or an owner of a business, ask yourself this question: if your organisation went bankrupt, who would really care about it besides you and those who depend on it? But when you empower your employees to make them feel what they do, however small, is important to the organisation, not only will they feel less bored, they will be more productive.

Coming back to you as an individual, if meaningful work is too much to ask at this point, why not develop a passion?

Many high-achievers have “other lives” or talents besides their daily job. From my own social circle, I know a vice president who owns a successful gymnasium, and a government officer who is an abstract artist and an art curator.

After volunteering for different community causes, I also found the ultimate key to a meaningful life – at work and elsewhere – lies in turning our focus from ourselves to others. We can do this by creating opportunities for those we work with, aiding them when they need help, or by supporting a community cause.

Boredom should not be underestimated. After all, the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard described boredom as the root to all evil and the major task for mankind is to overcome it.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning fashion designer and writer. She can be followed on Twitter: @manar_alhinai

Response to: Female Olympians remind us of how far Arabs have to go, by Sara Al Boom

Posted on: August 3rd, 2012 by Tom Pattillo No Comments

As a male basketball player and coach (both men and women) I am very much on your side. I have two sisters intensely and successfully involved in the equestrian world. And a very good friend was an all Canadian Small College Women All Star.

While living in the UAE, I would occasionally meet young women with a huge commitment to and love for basketball. One women in particular, although she was not well at the time I met her, had set her goal to become a member of the UAE national basketball team. Given her ability, dedication, intelligence, self belief and desire, I have no doubts (assuming her health permits) about her achieving this goal.

Sara, as I read your article it occurred to me that you might adopt a communication strategy that would add impact and clarity to your ideas.

Formally it is called the dialectic approach (Hegel). Essentially there are three points. Thesis, Antithesis, and Synthesis.

Your position and supporting evidence about women in sports is your Thesis. The countervailing opinions are the Antithesis. The possible solution, taking into account both Thesis and Antithesis, is called Synthesis. Although simple in concept, I think it will help clarify your argument.


What is it you want?
Why do you want it?
Who will it benefit?
What evidence can you give to support your claims.
Evidence has a number of sources; your personal experiences and beliefs, citing experts about women in sports, Arab cultural norms that you feel have been overcome in other Arab countries, examples of successful Arab women athletes on the national and international stage, and potential benefit of participation in sports at all age and educational levels.


These are the arguments opposed to your Thesis. It is important these be given the same hearing and respect accorded to your Thesis arguments. You must always begin with the attitude and assumption that those on the “other side” have legitimate and well thought out reasons for disagreeing with your Thesis.

What points have you highlighted?
1) no one cares about Emirati women’s athletic potential, 2) some do not believe there are talented female athletes worthy of Olympic aspirations, 3) money is not available to support these athletes, 4) traditional Arab societies do not “support” young women competing in high-level sporting events (and thus logically at any level!).
IMPORTANT POINT: Saying those arguing against you are NOT wrong. Those stating that women in sports violates culture and religion are just as right as you. Really. They would not agree they are wrong, any more than you would agree with their statement that you are wrong!

Your comment about the Twitter campaign in Saudi Arabia must be taken into account with objectivity and understanding. The Saudi culture is very conservative regarding women’s place in the society. Although you disagree with this, you must see that your statement: “But Saudi Arabia will not be able to keep a lid on this much longer, and conservatives are going to have to accept it.” is like putting a red flag in front of the proverbial bull. In the 2012 world of the repercussions of the Arab spring, the idea of “not keeping a lid” on anything, or “conservatives are going to have to accept it” is tantamount to denigrating the multitude of efforts in the UAE to maintain a balanced, peaceful, and safe national environment. Challenging “conservatives” directly, at this point, might engender a reactionary response rather admiration and agreement. (What do you think?)

Given your understanding of the Thesis and Antithesis, what might a reasonable plan include. (Notice I did not say compromise . . . that word can also generate anger rather than interest. “People don’t want to feel they have been “forced” into a compromise.)

Your challenge:

(It would be fun and appropriate at this point to do a complete organizational values, mission, beliefs, goals, objectives, strategies and tactic process procedure. The goal would be not only to bring about agreement on the concept of women in sports, but also a plan (agreed to by both sides) to bring the various things you mentioned, to fruition.)

However, for the purpose of this Dialectic approach, Synthesis means starting at the point where both sides can agree. (As far up the “common denominator” mountain as you and they need to go.)

Think about the rational (to them) arguments your critics have. Which can you agree with?

For example, culture is important. Right? And of course so is religion. Right? Both sides can agree on that.

Physical education and sports are certainly necessary components in the drive to reduce the dangers of being overweight; currently a worldwide “epidemic.” Type II Diabetes can be avoided, or its impact minimized, if people are involved in good eating habits and exercise that sports people recognize as essential to health. Right?

Money is available to support many good things in the UAE. Sports is not an expense. National pride has no price tag, a healthier population puts less strain (and costs) on the medical system, and people live longer, healthier lives.

There is no guarantee to any strategy or approach. This method gives both sides the opportunity to be heard, understood, accepted (not agreed with!), and respected.

A wonderful article Sara. I hope these ideas are helpful.

Tom Pattillo

Female Olympians remind us of how far Arabs have to go
Sara Al Boom
Aug 3, 2012 Female Olympians remind us of how far Arabs have to go
For many years, we have witnessed the western world produce female athletes of Olympic calibre. Female athletes around the world have embraced their talents and are representing their countries at the highest levels. The Summer Games in London are just the latest example.

Many nations show so much support for women athletes, while the Arab world still fails to provide the same opportunities.

Russia, the United States, China, Kenya and other countries have numerous female athletes participating in these Olympics who will bring home gold. These women excel because they are good at what they do – but they also have the full support of their countries.
As an Emirati, I am often disappointed in the lack of participation of Arab women in sports. At certain times, I don’t have a clear answer as to why this is. If asked, I either say it’s political, or just shrug and walk away. And to be frank, I usually go with the second option.

Don’t get me wrong, it is not that the Arab world does not have talented female athletes. It just needs to promote the idea of women participating in the Olympics to encourage more young girls across the region to demand their inclusion.

The Asian Games in 2006 provided the first real opportunity for Gulf women to participate at a large-scale sporting competition. That contribution has increased over the years, along with a remarkable display in the inaugural 2010 Youth Olympic Games in Singapore and the Arab Games in Doha last December.

Along with the UAE, Brunei, Qatar and Saudi Arabia all sent women to participate in the Olympics this year, the first time for the last three countries. These are remarkable steps towards a gender balance in international sport.

This is phase one. Phase two will be far more difficult.

There are so many talented female athletes in the Arab world who can only reach the highest levels of sport if they are supported fully by their countries. This support is multifaceted. First, it is financial: money must be spent on training, research and facilities for elite athletes to excel. But even more important than money is political and cultural support.

The biggest challenge Arab societies will face is adapting to the idea of young women competing in high-level sporting events. Many people still believe it is a violation of culture and religion, or perhaps a mere waste of time. But they are wrong.

The UAE, Qatar and other neighbouring countries are pushing to change this way of thinking. Lagging behind is Saudi Arabia- the recent Twitter campaign against the two female members of the Saudi Olympic team illustrates just how far the country has to go. But Saudi Arabia will not be able to keep a lid on this much longer, and conservatives are going to have to accept it.

Sport has always been an essential part of my life. It has become a release, a chance to get away from boredom and turmoil. But it hasn’t always been easy. Seven years ago, during a hot summer in July, I remember calling various clubs in Dubai to ask if they had a girls’ football team I could join. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, the responses I got were either laughter or a simple hang up.

The UAE has come a long way since then, and the 2012 Olympic team includes Khadija Mohammed, who represents the UAE in weightlifting today, and runner Bethlem Deslagn Belayneh, who competes next week.

They are an inspiration, but they need our support. First, physical education programmes should be introduced and properly taught at every school. Second, Arab countries should send scouts to schools, and sponsor girls who are talented in any sporting field so that they can compete at an international level.

Young women gain and learn so much from participating in athletics that they cannot get anywhere else. If they are not receiving those opportunities, think of the vast amount they are missing out on.

The global status of women in sport is changing. We live in a world that can only move forward. We must work together and introduce a positive attitude towards the female role in sports.
Sara Al Boom is an Emirati university student and sport enthusiast