Posts Tagged ‘UAE’

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

Response to Mentoring needed to retain new Emirati teachers

Posted on: July 29th, 2012 by Tom Pattillo No Comments

Teaching is not an academic profession. It is a practical, pragmatic, skills based activity, within an environment of empathy, enthusiasm and trust. Teachers of today, and certainly tomorrow, will find (must find) teaching methods that are both more individualized and in-line with the needs and wishes of education’s stakeholders. Those stakeholders and their basic requirements include: The UAE: Arabic instruction and fluency, cultural and religious training and awareness; Parents: happy, enthusiastic, motivated and successful chlldren who are treated with respect, and challenged by superb teachers “effectively” using the latest technological aids and teaching pedagogy; Colleges and University: academically prepared high school graduates with English fluency: reading, writing and speaking at 100% not some arbitrary minimum “number”. When there is a gap between expectation and reality, the ISO professionals will tell you that you either lower your expectations or raise the “reality” (in this teachers’ abilities). While reaching that goal, mitigating activities are put in place. I hope this makes sense, because it is a way to transition from the “what are we going to do” to actually doing something. This discussion (I have followed it for six years), reminds me of an iceberg. Everyone screams about what they can see (10%) rather than the 90% beneath the water. Address the 90%.

Mentoring needed to retain new Emirati teachers
Afshan Ahmed
Jul 30, 2012 
DUBAI // Lack of an induction programme for new Emirati teachers is causing many to quit the
Dr Ali S Ibrahim, of UAE University, found newly employed teachers suffered from stress, work overload and low self-esteem, which contributed to attrition rates.
“The prevalent view has been that new graduates from teacher education programmes are ready to fulfil their duties as teachers without support from schools or school districts,” said Dr Ibrahim, who surveyed 100 teachers.  “Young teachers feel like they are thrown into the water without a life jacket.”
The Ministry of Education could not provide official figures for the new Emirati teacher attrition rate.
But international studies confirm that those with no formal induction are twice as likely to leave within the first three years of teaching.
Dr Ibrahim said that some of the most important learning needs of the novice teachers he interviewed included tips on managing a classroom, discipline and using different strategies to teach.
Amnah Al Kindi, 24, joined a Government high school in Fujairah last year. She has been struggling with the paperwork required and other tasks she was unprepared for.
“You do not know what their expectations are from you and the school is not always clear,” said Ms Al Kindi, who plans to quit her job when she finishes her master’s degree in education at HCT.
She said new teachers needed to be guided in tasks that they were not taught about at university.
“My principal is very supportive and new teachers have workshops,” she said. “But we also need a mentor to tell us what is right and wrong and give us courage to continue.”
Sameirah Abdouli, who graduated from HCT in Fujairah and teaches at a boys’ school, said the regular practical training at university gave her a good idea of what was to come.
“This is not the case with other federal universities where there is very little training inside schools,” said Ms Abdouli. “Some of the teachers I know are not motivated to stay on because they did not expect the work they are given.”
Dr Ibrahim said a strong practical course had to be brought in at university level, but an induction programme could also help.
“All novice teachers should be assigned qualified mentors,” he said.
An induction programme was tested in Abu Dhabi in 2004 but was shut down in 2008 because of several shortcomings.
Dr Ibrahim said his survey found that new teachers wanted experienced colleagues of the same sex to be their mentors, and for not more than a year.
Mentors and novices should also have reduced teaching loads to provide time for co-planning, and they must also receive money for counselling, the study suggests.
The Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi Foundation for Policy Research also piloted a mentor programme this year. Twelve experienced teachers were selected to undergo courses to support new teachers in March.
“Nine of those teachers will team up with a new teacher and spend at least an hour a week with them,” said Charlotte Lamptey, project manager for teaching and learning at the foundation.
Dr Steven Bossert, dean of the College of Education at UAEU, said they were working with Adec and other education officials to develop an induction programme, too.

Response to: Smart Learning Program set to revolutionise UAE education, Khaleej Times July 8, 2012

Posted on: July 8th, 2012 by Tom Pattillo No Comments

As a personal advocate for the young people of the UAE, I am appalled at this announcement. Once again a project is is promoted beyond any kind of rational basis. Once again the leadership lines up to support and praise a unique  “initiative”. Once again the teachers, the students, their parents and the general population is subjected to the ego boosting tirade of a monomaniac on a mission. (I leave you to fill in the name.)
Let’s look at the results of the “crap-o-meter” evaluation of the announcement. The following words and phrases are so much bullshit, that professional writers and Grade 6 students are prohibited from using them. (Hold your noses folks, this will get a bit smelly!):
Embarked; share its vision; unique new educational environment; entails; in line with global scientific renaissance; in-depth understanding; implement this unique; ultimately boost; enable the nation to stay in touch. The paragraph beginning with the words ““The process of education” is one of THE WORST paragraphs of ONE SENTENCE I have ever read. The paragraph beginning with “Dr. Issa Bastaki . . . ” is complete and utter boilerplate nonsense with the depth of . . . well to have depth there would have to be substance, there is not one whit of substance here.
Some more high points on the crap-o-meter: strive to ensure; enrich the curriculum; a new trend globally; transition to a more market-relevant; output of; connecting deeply with students; pursuit; empowering; strives to instill; Furthermore; enhance. And much, much more.
That UAE leaders let them names be attached to this “initiative” must keep the purveyors of this rip-off laughing uproariously every time they see the automatic deposit into their account.
Suggestions: check the effectiveness of the successful launch. Candid comments from teachers, principals, students, parents, and students going into subsequent grades or entering the work world. Take a long cynical and skeptical look at the promoters. How much  money are they making? And how pray tell at they being evaluated.
Is this, and I expect it is, just one more project that starts with a photo-op, and ends with a whimper and blame spread on the teachers, the principals, the students and their parents . . . I would bet that within less than two years this program will be forgotten, at least two more initiatives will have be announced and “implemented” and the nation and its media will continue to complain about the poor educational systems, high unemployment of Emirati college and university graduates, and the need for Emiriatization to take place in private industry.
I will save this, and send it back to you at some point in those two years. And knowing this will never be printed, it is going to be frustrating that I can’t say “I told you so!”

The article

Smart Learning Program set to revolutionise UAE education

(WAM) / 8 July 2012

Following the successful launch of the Mohammed bin Rashid’s Smart Learning Program by His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai ,the program has embarked on a workshop to share its vision with teachers.

The program aims to create a unique new educational environment in schools, and this entails the distribution of tablet PCs for all students, and providing all state schools with 4G high-speed networks. These plans will improve the quality of education in line with the global scientific renaissance.

The program organised a workshop to give teachers an in-depth understanding of the program’s goals, and explain how they can implement this unique experience in the region.

The workshop was attended by Humaid Mohammed Obaid Al Qattami, Minister of Education. The workshop highlighted the importance of the program in the Ministry of Education’s goal to upgrade educational standards in the UAE. This will ultimately boost the UAE’s productivity, and enable the nation to stay in touch with developments in the international education field.

“The process of education demands teamwork and investing in the best human resources and expertise as well as support from all national bodies so as to keep up with the overall progress achieved in the UAE under the leadership of the President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai and Their Highnesses Members of the Supreme Council and Rulers of Emirates,” Al Qattami said in a speech at the meeting.

Dr Issa Bastaki, CEO of the Etisalat Fund Support and Information Systems, stated: “The program extends over a period of five years and consists of three phases, including the introduction, implementation, follow up and maintenance. We aim to achieve the highest rate of success, by putting special emphasis on a gradual transition to smart concepts of education. We have already set up the appropriate mechanisms, so that each phase can shift successfully to the next phase.”

The program’s organizers strive to ensure the smooth operation of the educational system at schools across the country, and to enrich the curriculum. This is particularly relevant because there is a new trend globally which has seen a transition to a more market-relevant form of education. Therefore it is vital to ensure that the output of the education sector matches the needs of the employment market.

During the workshop, attendees discussed the program’s goals of improving education standards. This will be achieved by connecting deeply with students, encouraging their pursuit of knowledge and empowering them to learn, by giving them modern educational tools. The program also strives to instill the concept of global competitiveness, so that UAE students aim to be the best in the world. Furthermore, the program aims to enhance the education system at all levels: from the school administration, teachers and students. These levels will then be linked with external stakeholders such as parents and policy makers.

When I miss in basketball, I can still find the ball.

Posted on: July 4th, 2012 by Tom Pattillo No Comments

As I think about the growth of a country such as the UAE, I am amazed at all the initiatives begun with great fan fair, publicity, photo ops, and promises of profound, worldwide significant change. Then . . . what happened? The initiative, using my basketball analogy, is the basketball. The “initiative” gets thrown at the “hoop” and if it does not “score”, the ball bounces away. Why? There is no backboard, Basketball is about missing . . . the best shooters rarely shoot above 55%. But the entertainment is not just in the 3 point shot, the entertainment is in the misses, the rebounds, the outlet passes, the fast breaks, the plays the free the open player for a good shot. The UAE initiative “game” plays without a “backboard”. One miss and the ball flies out of the basketball court, perhaps out of the gym. There is no opportunity to grab the rebound, learn from the “miss”, and allow others to help score the basket. No initiative is guaranteed to succeed. (If it was guaranteed it would take all the fun out of living.) The UAE must allow initiative to miss, to regroup, to re-think, and keep going. By forcing initiatives to be “successful” (to score with the first shot) just promotes 1) shooting the ball once, and if you miss, the game is over, the ball (the initiative rolls away and is lost), and the game stops until another initiative hits the courts! and 2) encourages this creating the initiatives to care little about responsibility or accountability. These so-called experts are paid for shooting, not for scoring. Without the opportunity of “rebounds” the initiatives are 9 times out of 10, going to fail.

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.

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.

Ode to Ras Al Khaimah

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

Ras Al Khaimah is “deservedly” enjoying, and will continue to enjoy, its reputation as a tremendous Tourist, Business Convention, and Education destination.

Ras Al Khaimah was my home for almost five years. In that time I witnessed incredible growth in both the infrastructure and confidence of the city. I watched the Cornish develop from a very small walkway (where I walked at 33C at 6:30 AM in 2007), to a fantastic, busy, multi-use venue in 2011. I was honored to teach at the Cove Rotana and saw first hand the quality and commitment of hospitality sector. My work at Injaz, RAK Tourism, the HCT, RAK Airport, Al Nahda Women’s Association, SAQR and “SAIF” hospitals and many other places, allowed me to experience the vitality of RAK citizens. It was difficult to leave.

Some further comments: While in RAK I live in three different locations, I witnessed quite amazing improvements in streets, sidewalks, lighting, and general environment (flowers, walkways).

I had the honor to tutor two of Sheikh Omar’s sons and feel strongly that the RAK leaders are dedicated, enthusiastic, and realistic as they strive to develop RAK’s potential. I do, however, encourage them to continue to be skeptical of those who would take advantage of their goodness and trust.

My work with the Ras Al Khaimah International Airport gave me insight into RAK’s potential as a flight destination. There have certainly been “growing” pains with both the airport and airline . . . but to give credit where credit is due, they don’t give up

 It is hard to explain to my friends in Canada (I returned a year ago) the speed of change in the UAE and RAK in particular. I took thousands of pictures, posted some on Google, and shared them with my family and friends in Canada. I have to explain to them now, however, that what they see in my pictures will not accurately reflect the RAK of 2012.

On a personal note (to underscore the “community” of RAK), I was fortunate to meet, work with, teach, and (quite wonderfully) become “a brother and uncle” to a number of Muslim ex-pat families. A Jordanian family living in Ras Al Khaimah brought me into their home (if the appropriate sense of that phrase with a Muslim family) and I helped their daughters with their English.

One daughter conducted (free) five of my Communication workshops for both professional and youth groups. She is now in university in Jordan. She received a big bouquet of flowers after her first workshop, and my old MacBook Pro when she completed the five workshops. My friendship with her, her three sisters, parents, and brother I consider to be one of the cherished benefits of my RAK stay.

One of my sponsors is a Emirati national. She works for a bank. Her father and brother were instrumental in solving some of my challenges. Another ex-pat family from Palestine brought me into their family, worked with me on a business start-up, and introduced me to Iftar! 

I enjoyed getting to know many Indian ex-pats. I attended School student performances and graduations, and for a brief four days, was basketball coach for a group of tremendous high students. (I was 58 at the time and keeping up with them was “good” exercise!)

I also was more than fortunate in getting to know ex-pats from India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Malaysia, every GCC country and many from Africa, Europe and North American. 

Ras Al Khaimah is a good place to visit, to live, to raise and to educate children. It is not just a tourist destination. This makes RAK more than just a name on the map. I am proud to recommend RAK as a Holiday Destination from Canada (for the winter months!) although I think their might be value in having a week in Spain, before coming the UAE so as to decrease the effect of a 7 to 8 hour jet lag.

Overall, despite some challenges, I regard my time in RAK as one of the highlights of my life and I support, encourage, and will follow the city’s progress.


Tom Pattillo