Wael Al Sayegh is an uprising star in the skies of Dubai. He is a blend of many qualities, the owner of AlGhaf – intercultural intelligence consulting firm-, a poet, a publisher, an expert in martial arts, and much more. The last month’s issue included the first part in the interview, which talked about Wael’s background, personal life, and about his start. In this month’s issue, the second part of the interview, we discuss AlGhaf in details, the meaning of Intercultural intelligence, and the potential future for AlGhaf.
Interviewed by Iman Ben Chaibah
- Why did you choose the name “Al Ghaf” for your intercultural intelligence consultancy?
Al-Ghaf is one of the domestic trees that grow in the UAE’s tough desert. I have always been fascinated by how AlGhaf’s roots go as deep as 30 meters down the ground to find water and it can live for around 300 years. Even after it dies, it still serves the community with its wood, which is known as the best firewood by any camper you ask.
Metaphysically, this tree represents the model of a warrior to me. Whenever things get difficult in running the business, with having no support or resources, I would just remember the tree and how it does not complain. It just digs further till it finds water, so I fight. It constantly gives me good energy; that is why I named it that.
- AlGhaf consultancy is mainly about intercultural intelligence. What is this discipline about?
Intercultural intelligence (ICI) is the science of dealing with people from different cultures and ways of thinking. This research-developed science was collaborated with Marco Blankenburg, Director of the Dubai-based KnowledgeWorkx. As an example, ICI allows you to pass the Abaya and Kandoora (The national UAE dress codes) and work directly with the person underneath. The quicker you can tap into the person’s culture and all the dimensions that exist there, the quicker you can really work with them genuinely.
- Where does AlGhaf stand in terms of trade licenses?
AlGhaf holds a professional HR consulting license in addition to a book publishing and distribution license. I currently publish my poetry books through the latter license.
- How do you get organizations’ buy-in into AlGhaf services?
We show them the different levels of ICI and we inspect with them their business models. From there, many organizations would already know where their weakness is and would request the complimenting services for it.
The economic crisis was one of the main eye-openers for organizations; they became aware of certain losses and realized they need to cater for them.
One of the ICI potential examples we present for organizations is the example of international placements. 30% of international placements fail. Not because the placements failed or are not good, instead, it is because they could not adapt to the new culture they were placed in. This leads them to either terminate their contract or not renew it, which requires the company to invest again in a new placement with all the comprised costs.
- How does a typical AlGhaf ICI consultancy proceed?
We offer a workshop with a mixture of training, consulting, and coaching. The workshop can take 1-3 days depending on the organization’s requirements, the level of business incorporation, and the level of the staff attending the workshop. We take the ICI into a very scientific method by passing the knowledge on so it is fully internalized and then it comes out as their own.
- Do you think ICI embracement differs between countries and generations?
Just like math and sports, some people are naturally good at ICI while some are not.
In general, our generation embraced ICI more because it is a necessity; especially at this time in the highly multicultural UAE. When you work in UAE’s private sector, more than likely, Emiratis are very few and you are dealing with many different cultures. You are forced to develop ICI to survive and succeed in your life.
- What does ICI give you?
I am an Emirati, born and raised in Scotland, married to a South African, and I live in the UAE. I live and breathe ICI. It gives me the ability to learn from every different culture there is. It gives me the attitude to be humble.
- Where do you see AlGhaf going?
The next stage is to merge the consultancy license with KnowledgeWorkx to allow taking the ICI training to an international level. As for AlGhaf and its publishing license, we are looking into expanding it to a full fledge publishing house in which we encourage the craft of writing, creating content that is then distributed through any channel whether printed or digital. It would incorporate all sorts of content, e.g. the translated work for Geoff Thompson, the new uprising poets and authors, and take all the goodness of life and share it.
- What would you like to leave behind as an advice?
The only thing I would like to add is what Geoff has taught me: there is no growth in comfort. So embrace the discomfort; you need to be out of your depth. If you are in a class where you are the top person, find another class because this one is not scaring you anymore. Many people would reach to the top, then they stay, they get addicted to being the top person, and then all of a sudden, any new thing is a threat. You become a big fish in a small pond. I choose to always be a little fish in a big ocean because that is where I grow and it is uncomfortable, but I am constantly training myself to get used to this discomfort again and again.
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