Archive for the ‘The United Arab Emirates’ Category

The February 31st Ras Al Khaimah snowstorm.

Posted on: September 27th, 2015 by Tom Pattillo No Comments

290508 Snow Covered 2_3

All those from Ras Al Khaimah, all those from all over the UAE, all those areas in the Middle East where snow is not common.

The Ras Al Khaimah International Airport. Do you remember??

Hee. Hee. My daughter did the photoshopping.

Ramadan for Body and Soul, PowerPoint Presentation

Posted on: July 28th, 2013 by Tom Pattillo No Comments

RamadanForBodyandSoul copy

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

Emirati women working. Time to actually make it happen.

Posted on: May 21st, 2012 by Tom Pattillo No Comments

Thesis: Emirati women working for gov’t

Advantages: hours, vacations, medical, maternity leave, retirement benefits, and appreciation of both culture and religion

Antithesis: Emirati women working in private industry.

Advantages: Emiratization Private industry goal

Synthesis: Emirati women researching, creating, opening and operating their own business

Essential criteria:

Gov’t help to guarantee salaries until business generates sufficient revenue.

The business must provide competitive salaries, work times, vacations, medical, and retirement benefits PLUS create an environment as good or better than the public workplaces.
(Day care, education, and conferences)

While in the UAE I developed a project that I, and the Emirati women I explained it to, felt would meet the requirements of Emirati women to enter private industry.

The project: 10 Emirati women graduates would create and operate a Soft Skills Training Center. At the end of a 12-week training component, the center would be in operation. Gov’t assistance would continue for a year, or until revenue meets expenses. There would be two project leaders, a successful Emirati woman, and myself (a soft skills trainer, entrepreneur and small business owner).

Funding options other than gov’t: Women’s Organizations or large private businesses.


I will send contact to Emirati partners.

Cigarette Package Graphics: USELESS

Posted on: May 18th, 2012 by Tom Pattillo No Comments

What if all the studies as to the impact of graphic images on cigarette packages, proved that, although “smokers” notice the graphics, the graphics do not stop cigarette smokers from smoking. As with all unvarying stimuli, we just tune it all out after about ONE viewing.

I imagine the Tobacco Industry loves these graphic images as it makes it “appear” that they are doing something positive to reduce smoking, when in actuality it does nothing at all. And of course the tobacco companies “complain”. Their complaints just make gullible, or revenue aware, politicians glow with pride as they “hurt” those pesky tobacco companies. Make that profit for the tobacco companies, death for citizens, and sanctimonious bragging by government policy makers.

The question is: Why do people smoke? And are they at all embarrassed (when they are amongst their fellow smokers) about smoking, let alone the graphics on the package. Of course not. The graphics are at best a joke. Anyone who thinks they have any impact about the decision to start or stop smoking is either oblivious to the psychology of dependence, peer acceptance, and addiction; or a tobacco employee, manager or lobbyist. Well done tobacco companies, well done!

My suggestion: Make all cigarette packages white. Completely white. The only marking on them is invisible to the naked eye. Retailers shine an ultraviolet light on the package to determine the brand, The cigarettes themselves are also white. No filter color, nothing but white.

Remove branding from the smokers reinforcement. “What do you smoke?” must never be answered by just looking at the package. There must be no cachet to smoking this brand or that brand.

Second suggestion. In the cold areas of the country when smoking in the winter requires fortitude and the shared suffering of smokers huddled together 10 meters of so from their building; make it MORE PLEASANT to smoke. Build a little covered kiosk 10 meters from the building. Seats, windows that do not open, no water, an automatic door that must be closed tightly at all times, and NO fan. AND regulations that smokers MUST go into the “Smokers Kiosk” to smoke.

Change the environment of smoking. Take away the shared suffering that builds such a huge feeling of camaraderie and solidarity.

Take away the pride of smoking.

Make smoking nothing. Not good, not bad, just nothing.

Oh, and let the employees who do not smoke have the same number of breaks and the same length of breaks as the smokers.

Any other suggestions?

Emiratization Project: Soft Skills Training Centre, owned and operated by Emirati women

Posted on: May 7th, 2012 by Tom Pattillo No Comments

MA0712 Emiratization

Emirati Employees ARE NOT lazy!

Posted on: May 7th, 2012 by Tom Pattillo No Comments

Emirati employees ARE NOT lazy! Enough already.

Professional managers and employment consultants MUST begin to recognize the reality of the present UAE culture.

As is happening all around the world, money is (except for the greed of obsessed senior executives) NOT the motivator it “perhaps” was. Read Drive by Daniel Pink. Apply the concepts.

I have worked with Emirati women. They are tremendously motivated. They are very intelligent. They are aware of the world around them – inside and outside the UAE. They know that to work, start a family, and be a good wife, is best facilitated by working in Public Service.

As I have said over and over; I am prepared to offer to conduct a program to bring Emirati women graduates into the world of private business. The Soft Skills Training company they would create and operate would consider as a given that all services, holidays, hours, and “perks” of Government jobs would be included in the training company.

The goal, other than the explicit one of building a successful business, would be to demonstrate a method of bringing Emirati graduates into private industry.

My role as mentor, trainer of the trainers, marketing and sales expert, and entrepreneur (I operated my own Training and Consulting company in Canada for 14 years) would, along with an experienced Emirati woman businessperson, provide a good base for success. Take a chance?

This project could also work in Qatar. As a man, I understand it would be impossible to be the instructor in those Arab countries and UAE Emirates that prohibit male teachers for female students.

Response to ‘Attract qualified locals to the private sector’

Posted on: May 7th, 2012 by Tom Pattillo No Comments

One of the training managers at the EmiratesNBD said in his reference for me: (Tom) “ you are a very fine trainer, plus your dedication and attitude towards Emiratization in UAE is unsurpassed amongst the expatriate population here.”

I have collected literally hundreds of articles and editorials on Emiratization gathered since I arrived in the UAE in August 2006. (I returned to Canada a year ago.) The comments in this article echo the same concerns I first read about six years ago.

In that time innumerable studies, pronouncements, publicity campaigns, and projects have come and gone. I had to dig deep for evidence of the failures.

Those who were tasked by the country’s leaders were well versed in the sycophantic skills required to slither out of accountability. (Indeed, often the very people who initiated the failed project were hired to create another project, and so on.)

My anger stems from my observation that a program that raises a person’s expectation of success, and then has them fail through no fault of their own, is extremely de-motivating. I have then listened to ex-pat professionals who imply publically and claim privately that the program failed because Emiratis are lazy, uneducated, unmotivated or whatever.

Yet even a simple analysis of the proposals of the past six years confirms that the same ideas, suggestions, projects, “pronouncements” are brought back to the public every year. I could criticize those experts, consultants, and leaders who have promulgated these worn-out ideas, but for what purpose.

Rather let me reiterate: Emirati employees ARE NOT lazy!

I have had more than enough of those comments. These comments originate from education administrators and consultants, as well as senior private industry managers, who would rather blame Emiratis rather than acknowledge their personal incompetence. Professional managers, educators, and employment consultants MUST begin to recognize the reality of the present UAE culture. The UAE is not comparable to any country in the world. Period. To apply outmoded and ineffective teaching and management methods and then blame the students and employees for the failure that results is both immoral and unethical.

Motivating the present generation (or allowing them to choose their own motivation) is an international issue. All over the world, the reality is being faced that financial rewards are not motivating. (Money (except for the greed of obsessed senior executives) is NOT the motivator it “perhaps” was.

To understand why please read Drive by Daniel Pink. (And apply the concepts.)

I have had the honor to work with Emirati women as an instructor at the HCT, as a freelance trainer with the Sharjah Museums Department, and the Emirates National Bank of Dubai. (And many other organizations both public and private.)

These women are tremendously motivated. They are very intelligent. They are aware of the world around them – inside and outside the UAE. They know that to work, start a family, be a good spouse and an active and influential citizen is AT PRESENT best facilitated by working in Public Service. It is hard to refute their conclusions.

For five years I worked on a project to demonstrate the viability and benefits a private industry career can bring. I focused on developing a business owned and operated by Emirati women. I have prepared (and would love to conduct) a program to bring Emirati women graduates into the world of private business.

My background as owner of a “Business” Soft Skills Training company in Canada led me to develop a project that would train Emirati women graduates to create and operate a small company similar to mine. (Catalyst Consulting, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada 1985 to 1999.)

Remuneration, benefits, services and holidays would be at least equal to those offered by the government. The goal, other than the explicit goal of building a successful business, is to demonstrate a method of bringing Emirati graduates into private industry.

My role as mentor, trainer of the trainers, marketing and sales expert, and entrepreneur (my experience owning and operating Catalyst Consulting in Canada for 14 years) gives me the practical and academic background to bring to the project. Of equal importance is hiring and working with an experienced Emirati business woman to be a liaison with all Emirati stakeholders; family, investors, customers, service providers and participants.

Young women to whom I have explained this project have reacted very positively. They are concerned about how they would be paid until the Training Centre is self-sustaining. Other successful businesswomen have expressed both confidence in the program and the possibility of offering to be the experienced businesswoman I need to work on the project with me.

Response to “We stay united, says Shaikh Saud”

Posted on: May 6th, 2012 by Tom Pattillo No Comments

I greatly admire His Highness Shaikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah.

I was fortunate to live and work in Ras Al Khaimah for five years. I was honored to tutor two of his nephews. I met and became friends with people of all nationalities and religions.

While in RAK, I taught at the HCT Women’s College, started my own business, and was the corporate trainer for RAK International Airport.

As a Human Resources consultant and trainer, I prepared and conducted seminars for Ras Al Khaimah government and private organizations.

(The parents of a young Muslim woman ex-pat from Jordan allowed me to teach her how to conduct a 1-hour Motivation and Communication workshop. (Allow me to again offer a sincere thank you to government organizations in RAK who permitted her to conduct five workshops (for which she received my MacBook Pro!).

Those five years allowed me to experience the professionalism and friendship of the citizens with whom I interacted; the court, both hospitals, RAK Tourism, the Police, my Emirati sponsor (she and her family looked after me!) and all of the wonderful people at the RAK International Airport.

The one constant during that time was the leadership of Shaikh Saud. Echoing his many comments, I certainly support the commitment he, his family, and the citizens of Ras Al Khaimah, have made to protect their culture, their history, and their voice.

Justice Louis Brandeis (Dissenting, Olmstead v. United States, 277 U.S. 438 (1928).) opined: (précis) All leaders must be on guard, regardless of how honest, sincere, loyal, and honorable, against the “insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.”

The United Arab Emirates must cease to listen to and follow the advice of those “without understanding.”

My greatest regret about my time in Ras Al Khaimah was my inability to help Emirati students overcome the UAE education system staffed by ex-pats “without understanding”.

The reality is that  “behind closed doors”, UAE citizens and their leaders were both denigrated and patronized. Sycophants promoting their own agenda are the bane of trusting and honorable leaders. My friends, my students, their parents, and RAK leaders deserve more.

A country must wrest control of their future from the experts (and consultants) who appear to be erudite and wise but are in fact unethical and immoral.

As the UAE continues to further trust its ability to analyze, choose and implement decisions, ways will be found to fulfill their commitment to preserve and protect their Arab culture.

I hope one day I may return to RAK to renew my acquaintances and to admire the changes and progress taking place.

Thank you to His Highness Shaikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, for allowing me to experience a very meaningful five years.

(As an aside, please note: my daughter, using a picture I took in 2008, created the image (attached) of the RAK International Airport covered in snow. If this does not come through, please contact me and I will send separately.)

Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi’s comments

Posted on: May 1st, 2012 by Tom Pattillo No Comments

Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi’s comments are insightful. I want to focus on transitioning young women graduates into private business. While instantaneous change would be “nice” (government quotas and executive orders) we all know that those solutions do not last. Unless there is a fundamental shift in the way young women (and their parents and spouses) perceive the reality of private business, long-term change is unlikely to happen. I feel a cultural shift requires small steps to build understanding of, and confidence in, a private business career. My suggestion, using my personal example, is work with a small group of Emirati women graduates, to assist them to create a company to market and conduct Soft Skills Training Programs. Using my expertise in marketing and training, I would both instruct and mentor these women. Of interest are ideas already generated including day care facilities in the training facility and private marketing processes bringing potential clients to the facility to complement the UAE cultural sensitivities. I returned to Canada a year ago after 5 years in the UAE. Although I may be persona non grata in the UAE, I continue to be a passionate believer in the potential of Emirati women graduates. I have created and conducted many programs for Emirati organizations both private and public. I would be honored to have Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi read this comment.

How the UAE’s women flourish even in a man’s world
Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, the UAE’s Minister for Foreign Trade, holds the distinction of being the first woman to hold a ministerial portfolio in the Gulf. Here she evaluates the prospects for women in the male-dominated financial industry.
Why are so few women attracted to a career in financial services?

There are many factors behind this phenomenon. Some women find that the long hours associated with financial services work prevent them from fulfilling their family duties. Others lament the compensation and career development gaps that they feel favour men. There is also a fear that female-related concerns, such as going on maternity leave, could result in the loss of promotions, pay rises and other opportunities. Moreover, many women are caught up in the stereotype that, like the technical fields, the financial services sector is a world designed exclusively for men.

What can companies do to both attract more women and ensure that they are supported as they progress into senior positions?
Financial services firms should closely review their corporate culture and determine if it fosters equal opportunities for men and women. Any gaps should be addressed via effective measures such as schemes for mentoring, training and supporting women, policies that emphasise equality, and reward schemes that recognise best employees regardless of gender. Companies should clearly send out the message that their organisation encourages, supports and recognises women achievers. Cultivating a corporate mindset that fosters equal opportunities for both sexes will make it easier for women to aspire to and undergo the transition to senior positions. 

Governments, companies, associations and councils are all focusing on advancing women in business, but limited real progress is being made, especially in the private sector. Is there an opportunity for better collaboration, and if so, what could that look like?
Collaboration will need to start from the top. If the government shows a genuine concern for empowering women, then the concerned agencies, the private sector and the general public will follow suit.
Here in the UAE, for example, government has made great strides in improving the representation of women in the public sector and making us a leader in women’s rights in the Arab world. Emirati women, in fact, now account for more than 60 per cent of the government workforce.
This confidence in our abilities has had a spillover effect on the private sector, as our country now has the largest number of businesswomen in the region. A 2011 index of women in business in the Gulf shows UAE women topping the region in terms of business ownership, business and government leadership, workforce participation, regular employment opportunities, and education.
Of course, leading by example is not enough. There should be concrete programs for advancing women’s roles in business. Government should be vocal in encouraging private businesses to enhance the role of women within their ranks and make the workplace as gender-neutral as possible. Private companies in turn could coordinate with Government in reaching out to women through campaigns or sharing women-related information and statistics.
A good collaborative system would be one where communication channels between government and corporations are open, extensive and transparent.
We must also keep in mind that women in the UAE prefer government work due to its working hours, which allows them to both have a career and also focus on their home and children.

International practices include quota systems and reporting requirements for the number and skills held by individuals on boards. Should similar practices be considered in the UAE, or more broadly, GCC?

Women are typically under-represented in the boardrooms of financial services firms. A 2011 census of women executive officers of Fortune 500 companies estimates that women account for around 18.4 [per cent] of executive officers in the finance and insurance industries. Clearly there is a lot of ground to cover as women have more than enough expertise and capability to handle executive responsibilities.