Posts Tagged ‘Emiratization’

Emiratization Proposal: programs written and taught in Arabic.

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

There has been some confusion about Tom’s Pattillo’s proposal to help UAE women college and university graduates join private industry by creating and operating Business Soft Skills Training Centres.

Some people think the courses developed will only be taught in English.

Although the ability to speak Arabic and English is required to participate in the proposed program, the Centre would develop and teach only Arabic courses.

Potential clients would be Arabic speaking women (perhaps older than 30), who want to learn, in a short term “workshop” or “seminar” program, how to do “things” (from cooking, to understanding their children, to public speaking, to the newest technology, and retirement planning).

The courses developed would be based on the needs of the potential customers as discovered through consumer research including focus group methods.

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.

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

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

MA0712 Emiratization

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.

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.

Criticize the United Arab Emirates? Easy!

Posted on: November 27th, 2011 by Tom Pattillo No Comments

An unedited version of this response is at the bottom of this post.

Criticize the United Arab Emirates? Easy. Live there and the lack of logic, accountability and responsibility, cause both frustration and an unlimited source of humorous anecdotes.

The restrictions on Emirate women are to me unacceptable (four successful sisters and 3 successful daughters in Canada).  Why do the majority Emirati women appear to acquiesce?

CID (secret police) presence is overwhelming, yet non-invasive if on the right side of their laws. Police are professional and courteous. I thoroughly enjoyed teaching English language and communication programs with Police, Immigration and Customs officers. We shared meals, jokes, and laughter.

“Western” ex-pat professionals, experts, and consultants tend to accept that greed is a better motivator than “Western” truth, justice, ethics and morality.

“Non-Western” ex-pats are primarily laborers. To send upwards of 80% of their meager wages home to their families, they endure 10 to a room in a variety of conditions. Labor camps are “improving” because of international condemnation.

Non-Emirati Muslims (from Palestine, Jordan, Yemen, and Syria) cannot become UAE citizens. For some, going home is not possible. For others, the educational system and economic opportunities are better in the UAE than in their home countries.

When fired by a government organization (although lauded for my work and belief in the potential of Emirati Nationals), no reasons were given. The CEO was told to fire me. I had no recourse.

Where am I going with this? Simple explanations, simple understanding, simple conclusions, and simple criticisms are abhorrent to me.

The UAE’s 40th anniversary is next week. Consider Canada at 40 (1907); Could women vote? Were there controls on rapacious capitalists? Was there protection for the Chinese laborers that built our rail system?

Canada in 1967 versus the UAE in 1971. Only a 400-year-old Canadian would be able to witness the changes in Canada equivalent to the changes experienced by UAE in 40 years. From 1971 to 2011 the UAE has progressed from a desert and small business economy to what could be argued is the most technologically advanced country in the world.

Naïve criticism of cultural and religious influences on Emirati citizens is counter-productive to our “western aims and desires” for the citizens of the UAE.

We demand a more “western” orientation to women, power, business, democracy, justice, ethics and morality. We demand immediate changes. We demand they see the rightness of our demands. We demand and expect Emirati Nationals to easily accept these demands.

Asked about my five years in the UAE, I challenge my audiences to consider the different ethnic, racial, and religious influences on the Canadian mosaic.

Then I introduce four concepts that help explain the UAE (Arab) reality.

1) Tribes

2) Nomads

3) A “rentier” mentality.

4) The Muslim religion.

My Response to a reply to my “response” above.

Thank you for your comments.

I use the idea of a nation’s age to encourage perspective. There are people and cultures all over the world that practice behaviors based on traditions that we in the “West” consider barbaric.

Serbia, Rwanda, Cambodia, Russia, Germany, East Timor, India, China, Mexico . . . all have existed as countries well before the UAE was created. And their attacks on individuals, democracy, freedom, equality, peace are certainly not exclusively the result of the Muslim religion.

The common denominator in the worst examples of barbaric behaviors is authoritarianism, dictatorship, AND isolation from news about the world “outside”. Lack of education, social stratification, and the marginalization of women, also contribute to a country’s character.

Criticism of the Arab world, and the UAE in this comment, is based on the assumption that the UAE of 2011 is the same as “our” 2011. While the buildings, cars, airports, airlines, houses, highways, interchanges, malls, entertainment, and sports facilities are all equal to or better than many “western” oriented countries, the underlying, deep, traditional, cultural memory still drives the beliefs, attitudes, and actions of the majority of the Emirati National population. Culture, as anyone who has worked to change corporate culture, is notoriously difficult to influence let alone change.

It is absolutely imperative to know the cultural history of a society you are attempting to understand and potentially influence. Look at the UAE in 1971 or 1951 or 1931. Consider the native populations in those years. Consider their exposure to education, other religions, other nationalities, world media, different roles for men and women, childrearing . . . up to 1971. Throw in the negative impact of the “colonial” attitude on native populations and you will appreciate even more the reality of the UAE in 1971 to 2011.

Pictures of Dubai in the mid 1990’s show very little change from 1971. The major changes have been in the last 18 or so years. The Higher Colleges of Technology, the largest institution of higher learning in the UAE, was founded in 1988. Expansion to the smaller Emirates was not completed until 5 years ago.

The admonition “Ignorance of the law is no excuse”, does NOT apply. Ignorance pre-supposes awareness of “laws” and their application. Ignorance of what you should and can know is far different from what you are unable to know, and unable to understand. “We cannot perceive that which we cannot conceive.”

 Below is an unedited version of my first response.

It is easy to criticize the United Arab Emirates. When you live there, the little things that make no sense, the lack of logic, and the absence of the concept of responsibility, cause both frustration and an unlimited source of humorous anecdotes.

The role and apparent restrictions on Emirate women (though much, much less repressive than Saudi Arabia), were unacceptable from my perspective (four very successful sisters in Canada).  Why do the majority Emirati women appear to acquiesce?

The presence of the CID (secret police) is overwhelming and yet non-invasive if you are on the right side of their laws. For small accidents and some other administrative issues, as well as interacting with many as an English language / soft skills trainer, I could not meet a nicer group of people. We shared meals, jokes, and laugher. However they do of course have unquestionable authority.

On the other hand, “Western” ex-pat professionals have it made if they accept that greed is a better motivator than “Western” truth, justice, ethics and morality.

The “non-Westerner” ex-pats are primarily laborers who put up with “anything” in order to send upwards of 80% of their meager wages back home to their families. They live 10 to a room, or more, in a variety of conditions. Labor camps (hidden behind both the laws and the power of Emirati owners sponsoring the construction) are “improving” because of international condemnation. I met and worked with many, visited some of their accommodations and listened to their stories. I count more than a few as friends. Regardless of their lifestyle in the UAE, it is often immeasurably better that at “home.”

Are the labors slaves? NO. As per the Irish immigrants to the US in the mid 1800’s, slaves would be treated better because of their economic value (assets of their owners). The laborers, despite apparent reforms (stated but rarely implemented), are often treated as mere fodder for the economic prosperity. They can be, and are jailed for any verbalization or action against their working/living conditions. And they can be sent to jail and deported with no fanfare.

Non Emirati Muslims (from Palestine, Jordan, Yemen, and Syria) are not allowed to be citizens and are treated with destain. For some, going home is not possible. For others, the educational system and economic opportunities are better in the UAE than in their home countries. My “family” in the UAE are Muslim ex-pats from Jordan (to which they will eventually retire) and are wonderful, warm, and supportive friends.

I was fired from two government organizations (although lauded for my work and belief in the potential of Emirati Nationals). There was no recourse. None. Nor even reasons given for dismissal in one case. My CEO was told to fire me. End of story.

In another instance (completely unrelated to the above) I experienced the UAE legal system (I was sued, but won). It is a totally different process from Canada! I met, informally, a number of judges. The ones I met were not Emirati. Some from Saudi Arabia, some from Syria. They are intelligent and open to conversation and questions, but they are far more “powerful” than Canadian judges. You can appeal a decision, but rarely with success. The same judge, the same evidence; the same decision!

Where am I going with this? Simple explanations, simple understanding, simple conclusions, and simple criticisms are abhorrent to me. The UAE is 40 years old next week. Were we to look at Canada at 40 (1907); could women vote? Controls on capitalism? Protection for the laborers from China who build our rail system?

What is more important is to look at Canada in 1967 versus the UAE in 1971. The change in the UAE in those 40 years would be in many ways greater than that of our primarily European background from hundreds of years before 1867. Such change in 40 years is beyond comprehension by the average Canadian. A Canadian would have to be 400 years old to witness the changes experienced by UAE in 40 years. From the desert to the most technologically advanced country in the world in 40 years.

Pejorative accusations against the cultural and religious influences on Emirati citizens is both naive and counter-productive to the aims and desires of those of us in the West. We demand a more “western” orientation to women, power, democracy, justice, ethics and morality. We demand immediate changes. We see the rightness of our demands. We expect the Emirati Nationals to quite easily accept our judgements, our demands, and the logic of both.

When asked about my five years in the UAE, I immediately challenge my audiences to consider Canada’s cultural realities. The different ethnic, racial, and religious influences on the Canadian mosaic. Then I introduce four concepts that explain the current United Arab Emirates (Arab) actions.

1. A tribal history that dates back thousands of years and that continues to exist and significantly affect thinking and actions in all Arab based societies. (An interesting parallel to the Canada’s Aboriginal community.)

2. A nomadic way of living, again dating back thousands of years in the Arabian Peninsula. (And again the parallel to Canada’s aboriginal community.)

3. The “rentier” mentality brought on by the immediate and overwhelming influence of oil. The mega-prosperity experienced in the UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain gave power to men (and only men) whose previous experience and history had been confined to a few thousand people, a small patch of desert, less than a little education, and leader status based on violence, blood shed, and death.

(While one could certainly argue that the Canadian Aboriginal Community is hardly rich, the same sense of entitlement pervades both the Arab and Aboriginal way of looking at their place in the world. For Canadian Aboriginals, the largess of the Canadian government could easily be seen to mimic oil revenue in the United Arab Emirates.)

4. The influence of the Muslim religion. Although most of the western media looks to the Muslim reality as the most significant influence on Arab actions, I would argue that it is the least important of the four. Easy to see, easy to attack, and yet of far less import. The tribal way of life explains suicide bombers far more accurately than the Muslim religion.

It will be interesting to observe the eventual outcome of the Arab Spring. I am not hopeful. The depth and pervasiveness of Arab culture is not to be overcome in a year, a decade, a generation, a century, or even a millennium. Yet we have to work with, live with, and grow with the Arab world. My simple advice is to begin with understanding. Only then can we accept the reality of Arab cultural assumptions. Only then can we find those areas of commonality upon which friendship and trust are based.

Response to: “Hatching a Job Plan.” UAE National News SE2411

Posted on: September 24th, 2011 by Tom Pattillo No Comments

I respect Mr. Weir’s desire to offer ideas on “Hatching a Job Plan.”
I have some difficulty with the ideas.

First, “What does job creation look like in the Arab world?” is a good question.

Second: The three suggestions (addressed individually below) do not address the UAE reality, let alone the Arab world reality.

A few assumptions:

a) The primary (or implied) target market for these initiatives are Emirati Nationals. The goal is to increase the Emirati presence and percentage in the private business sector. (Thereby decreasing the dependence on ex-pats in the private business sector throughout the UAE.)

b) There is a “culture” in the UAE that embraces the “visceral feel of entrepreneurial greatness.” (Theodore Levitt “Marketing Myopia”)

c) If money were available, the only thing missing is training related to today’s job market.

Fuel entrepreneurial activity:

The very nature of the word “entrepreneur” (the person who creates new businesses), pre-supposes a national business environment and culture that accepts and supports private enterprise, accountability, and a level playing field. If this is not the case, all efforts are merely handouts.

The UAE is a “rentier” state regardless of protestations to, and denial of, this fact. (Please remember: “Just because you ignore the facts doesn’t mean they go away.”)

Please read: (or look up the definition of a rentier state)

A “rentier” state’s revenue does not come from the citizen effort, it comes from “external rent (that) liberates the state from the need to extract income from the domestic economy.”

“The government becomes an allocation state, which is very different from a production state.

A production state relies on taxation of the domestic economy for its income; taxpayers stay involved with government decisions because they are supporting them with onerous taxes.

An allocation state, by contrast, does not depend on domestic sources of revenue but rather IS the primary source of revenue itself in the domestic economy.

The primary goal of the allocation state’s economy is spending.”

“the rentier . . . violates the most sacred doctrine of the liberal ethos: hard work.”

“The economic behavior of a rentier is distinguished from conventional economic behavior ‘in that it embodies a break in the work-reward causation.’”
“Rewards of income and wealth for the rentier do not come as the result of work but rather are the result of chance or situation.”
The rentier mentality is a “psychological condition with profound consequences for productivity:

contracts are given as an expression of gratitude rather than as a reflection of economic rationale;

civil servants see their principal duty as being available in their offices during working hours;

businessmen abandon industry and enter into real-estate speculation or other special situations associated with a booming oil sector;

the best and brightest abandon business and seek out lucrative government employment;

manual labor and other work considered demeaning by the rentier is farmed out to foreign workers, whose remittances flood out of the rentier economy; and so on.

In extreme cases income is derived simply from citizenship.”

(Please refer to the website (address above) for reference information.

The efforts of all Emirati leaders are to be lauded. They are setting goals for Emiratization. They are providing education opportunities (often free) for their citizens. They are encouraging more participation by citizens in the private business sector.

However, you cannot create a “reality” that is at odds with the prevailing culture. Culture wins every time. Receiving money without attaching effort, accountability, pride, and “the respect of friends and family” will never push people to look for jobs in the private sector, let alone to take the risks associated with becoming an entrepreneur.

Entrepreneurs are a special group. They risk. They take risks. (Not unexamined and naive risks, (that just promotes failure), but they do step away from security, certainty, a guaranteed salary and lifestyle.

The suggestions to facilitate small-business loans and train workers for today’s job market, are irrelevant other that to provide opportunities to avoid reality.

My weakness is my desire to help Emirati college and university graduates enter the workforce, consider the private sector as a realistic and attractive alternative to the public sector, and help them become proud, effective, and creative citizens of the UAE and the world. And I have done and will do everything I can to help that happen.

I say weakness because I refuse to play the “colonial” game. I will not be a sycophant. I will say and repeat the obvious rather than stay silent and take the rewards; job, high salary, no accountability, and false credibility based on past education and experience. (I much prefer nepotism to cronyism. With nepotism you know what you are getting. With cronyism what you are getting is just a guess (without any reliable vetting). And only the new employee and his “crony” benefit.)

Please know, however, that I continue to be a huge fan and supporter of the Emirati college and university graduates (mostly women) with whom I have worked. I believe, however, that an employment strategy that ignores the cultural reality of a nation is both unethical and immoral.

A problem is either managed or solved. Pseudo managers, experts, and consultants benefit from “managing” a problem. To solve the problem means they stop getting paid to solve the problem. As long as these people can make it “seem” like they are doing something productive, they will NEVER solve the problem. (They will however, vigorously and vehemently attack anyone who questions their recommendations.)

Do I have the answers? No.

Do I believe there are processes both to address the issues and to develop (with continuous and in depth participation by all Emirati citizens)? Yes.

Do I think that ideas can be generated that include the rentier reality and it cultural impact, while generating a culture of, and a desire to be part of, the private sector. Yes.

If you agree with my response to Mr. Weir’s article, do something, speak to those in power, challenge them to accept rather than deny, and call on their national pride, their love of their children, and the potential of the United Arab Emirates, to be the stimulus that moves them to action.

Other resource: