Here We Start

Iman Ben Chaibah (@ImanBenChaibah)

Iman Ben Chaibah (@ImanBenChaibah)

Iman Ben Chaibah, founder of Sail Publishing, a digital publishing house for online magazines and ebooks, and editor in chief of the Emirati Sail Magazine, an online magazine about community and culture written in English by Emirati columnists. Iman is a multi award winner in digital publishing, entrepreneurship, and literature. Iman has also completed the Leadership Strategies in Magazine Media Course in Yale University. Besides her work in publishing, she also lectures in Canadian University in Dubai.
Iman Ben Chaibah (@ImanBenChaibah)

Dear Sail Readers,

As we publish our 16th issue, many of you have already started your summer holidays and are travelling across the globe. Summer is always a good time to start fresh and new. Some of our columnists as well are away in holidays and couldn’t contribute this month, we hope all of you, our readers and our columnists, are enjoying your holidays and come back fresher than ever.

Joining Sail team from this month is Moadh Bukhash, he is already known for his blog “The Mind’s Eye” in which he writes on different topics of his interest, and reflects upon them in his own way. Moadh joins us to bring on board some of his socio-philosophical reflections on different matters, definitely a valuable addition to the magazine, which we hope you will enjoy.

Also in this issue, we have a special contribution from one of our board members: Aida AlBusaidi. Aida is a communications specialist, one of the most known Emirati Master of Ceremonies, and is a regular columnist at “The National”.

So this issue includes:

  • Special Contribution: Aida AlBusaidi reflects on a recent trip she has taken with the “Journey Through Change” (JTC) group, and the self-discovery she found along the way.
  • Community Talk: Khalid Al Ameri discusses a pro-active approach to personal & professional development in the corporate world.
  • Just Another Undergrad: Fatma Bujsaim writes about breaks and how everyone needs a break every once in a while and summer is the best time to do so.
  • Living Through the Eyes of Art: Hamda AlHashemi ponders on how some things must be said out loud while other things must be kept private. But how do we know what to say, and when to say it?
  • Society of Tomorrow: Mohamed AlJunaibi explains that network gaming cafes have experienced the boom and gloom of the overall UAE economy. It is 2011, and it is making a comeback! With the continual enhancements within the communication world, gaming cafes have now become online social cafes. While a blessing to many, it also has a dark side as well.
  • The Mind’s Eye: Moadh Bukhash explores the fundamental role women play in our lives; he explores the three main roles they play: the mother, the wife/partner, and the daughter.
  • To The Point: In light of the recent events in the Arab world and the criticism that has been witnessed in the media, Mohammed Kazim suggests what can be done to improve the current socio-political systems of the GCC and maintain stability, development, and welfare. The author stresses the role of both the citizens and those who manage their affairs.

July 2011 – The 16th issue:
Here We Start
Special ContributionCommunity TalkJust Another Undergrad
Living Through the Eyes of ArtSociety of TomorrowThe Mind’s EyeTo The Point

With warm regards,
Iman Ben Chaibah
Editor in Chief

 

Journey Through Change, Finding Myself

Aida AlBusaidy (@AidaAlBusaidy)

Aida AlBusaidy (@AidaAlBusaidy)

Developmental Editor.
Aida has more than a decade experience in the communications, and mastering ceremonies field, she worked in private and public sectors, and now heads the Stakeholder Communications in Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing in Dubai. Aida was a columnist in few of the local newspapers, a TV co-host of a community talk show, and cofounded with friends a community platform: “Promise Of A Generation”.
Aida AlBusaidy (@AidaAlBusaidy)

Latest posts by Aida AlBusaidy (@AidaAlBusaidy) (see all)

 

Most of us pass through different stages in our lives wondering who we are, what we are doing, what is our purpose in life. You will never have one definitive answer, and no one person will jump up and say I have a revelation and this is my calling.

Over time, your environment, your community, and you especially will change. It is a part of growing but sometimes, you wonder, when do I ever have the time or the place to sit and reflect on the last year or five years. Do you not ask yourself how did I really feel about that person or that situation? Where will I go from now? Am I doing the right thing?

If someone was to ask me my inner most feelings, I would probably frown and change the subject or lie. I know it is a bit strange being a public figure. But most public figures want to hold on to that one element of privacy, our deepest thoughts and feelings. I think I get scared or shun away asking myself questions too and so I pile up the work and social calendar to justify that yes, my existence does mean something and I am here to show it to the world.

Of course answering questions relating to your emotions is hard and there are countless ways to do it from exercising, to visiting a counselor and so on, but I had the pleasure and honor of discovering Journey through Change (JTC). A company launched by Hala Kazim (known as mama Hala to many), a renowned female Emirati who has committed herself to social work and helping the community through her book club, her counseling, and through adventure. She has got her hands full with being a wife, mother to five boys, a grandma, but through her social calling, Emirati women found a way to discover new things through the adventure club.

That is where my inspiration to find myself came about. You see, our culture is not one where you can self discover. You may sit and reflect, but society, family; peers are always reigning on your parade, telling you what is right and wrong for you.

The adventure part is not only travelling, which I love, but it was travelling the unconventional way for most Khaleeji women. This is not your bring your high heels and make up kit type of trip. It is getting you out of your comfort zone from your air conditioned rooms and fancy cars to hike.

The trips test your physical and mental capacity, and you begin thinking about things that were never in your radar. I know you are wondering how is that possible. Well, when you work in the city or in my case commute, you think about work, the commute, which one of your friends you forgot to call, what to have for lunch. They all seem important, but take yourself out of that environment and place yourself in one where the only things surrounding you are trees and more trees.

The trails are easy at times but muddy and slippery at others. The only voices you hear are the ones of members of your hiking group and at times they are silent too, pondering on things that are important to them.

Till date, I have attended both of the trips organized by JTC; both covered two different countries, trails and even people. My first one was challenging because I thought so hard what I wanted to think about so I came out of it with two very good friends, toner body, and a new country I had conquered experiencing.

My second trip was more soul enriching, I went with an open mind. I did not go in with my troubles, instead, I went in with the knowledge of my first trip and waiting to see what are the things I had not paid attention to.

Many a times, I take on more than I can handle but I always tell myself, I am young today, free, I have so much to offer and I forget that the world wants to give back to me in appreciation. I found my solace in my once a year trips. And I do recommend trying it out if you do have the will and financial means. Remember it is never too late to ask questions or get the answers, as long as you get it.

July 2011 – The 16th issue:
Here We Start
Special ContributionCommunity TalkJust Another Undergrad
Living Through the Eyes of ArtSociety of TomorrowThe Mind’s EyeTo The Point

 

Entering Your First Job Like An All You Can Eat Buffet

Khaled Al Ameri (@KhalidAlAmeri)

Khaled Al Ameri (@KhalidAlAmeri)

Emirati. Columnist. MBA @StanfordBiz. On a journey to make the world more beautiful. Khalid aspires to generate healthy discussions, spark positive change surrounding social issues that affect our everyday lives, and more importantly how we can improve and develop as a society to a better tomorrow.
Khaled Al Ameri (@KhalidAlAmeri)

Latest posts by Khaled Al Ameri (@KhalidAlAmeri) (see all)

By Khalid Al Ameri (@KhalidAlAmeri)

There is something special about starting your first job, you are excited but nervous at the same time, and you do not know what to expect or whom you are going to meet.  In fact, on average, all you really know about the company is through your own research online, the interview with the HR manager, and asking around town what it is like to work there.

Another common theme amongst newbies, myself included particularly when I first started, is that we all tend to paint a pretty picture of what it is like to work in a big company.  Imagining where you see yourself in the not too distant future is common practice, big meetings, big office, big team reporting to you, and so on.  Furthermore, with our leadership putting a great emphasis on developing high level of Emirati talents, fast, one cannot help but let the imagination flow. And if you will dream, might as well dream big.

Now turning those dreams into reality can be broken down into two important components, first being the corporate culture and second ‘You’, your attitude, your work ethics, and your hunger for knowledge.  Now I believe the later is far more important, because if someone has the right attitude it is only a matter of time before things fall into place and you end up where you are meant to be.

Just last week I was asked by the HR team to give a personalized presentation to our new batch of Emirati joiners, I was to present to them on what they can expect when they finish up their training.  Now to me, this was a daunting task, one cannot possibly speak for seventeen different directors and 500 plus employees on what it would be like to work with or for them.  Anyone can talk about a company’s culture and its approach to business, but trying to describe how a certain employee’s experience will be, you are then getting pretty specific.

After a week of late night research, discussions with friends in different organizations, and plenty of caffeine; there seemed to be a consistent theme, which stood out amongst new Emirati executives.  Their concerns boiled down to three things: lack of personal development plans, career paths, and on the job training.

So instead of presenting the corporate newbies and my future colleagues with what they could expect in their new roles, I decided it would be a perfect opportunity to deliver a message on how to approach and get the best out of their day to day work.

Now, for the million-dollar question: how should a young Emirati entering the workforce approach his or her job in the corporate world? My answer, like an ‘All You Can Eat Buffet’.

Now that we have gotten the weird looks and chuckles out of the way, bear with me for a minute and think about it.  If you have been to an all you can eat buffet, you will notice that when you walk into the restaurant, you are shown your table, given a plate, and pointed in the direction of the mouth watering buffet.  You can grab as much food as you want as many times as you want, as long as you do it yourself, because nobody is going to serve you.

In my opinion, going to an all you can eat buffet is pretty much the same as a day on the job for a fresh graduate, you are shown your desk, given a laptop and pointed in the direction of your managers.  Now this is where the confusion happens, a lot of fresh graduates will sit at their desks for days on end with the belief that it is the manager’s full time job to train them, an a-la-carte service if you will, which sorry to say, is not the case.  Managers have responsibilities & deliverables of their own, they should certainly be there for you every time you get up to ask a question or learn about a specific task, but they are definitely not there to serve you, are you starting to see the connection?

Taking the theme of TEDxAjman 2011, we need to see a MindShift in young Emiratis’ entering the work force; they need to pave their own futures and development plans regardless of whether or not there is a specific career development program in their organization.

In any organization, there is a wealth of expertise available at your fingertips, or a few feet down the corridor, use it.  Develop a work plan, ask for specific tasks that interest you, and discuss issues relevant to the business with your direct and indirect managers.  This is how you build experience, by getting up of your desk and seeking development rather than waiting for it be served to you on a silver platter.

Human resources expert Susan Heathfield wrote in one of her articles “You own your career path plan. No one will ever care as much as you do” and that is the critical message to the next generation of young executives.  The responsibility to become a leader rests for the most part with you, so get up and knock on your managers’ door for a challenging task, and don’t be afraid to get up for seconds.

July 2011 – The 16th issue:
Here We Start
Special ContributionCommunity TalkJust Another Undergrad
Living Through the Eyes of ArtSociety of TomorrowThe Mind’s EyeTo The Point

 

Taking a Break

Fatma Bujsaim (@FatmaBujsaim)

Senior Editor. Ex- Column: Just Another Undergrad

After graduating with a Bachelor degree in International Studies and a minor in converged media, Fatma still finds herself hungry for knowledge, which led to her enrolling in a postgraduate program. Her passion for both reading and writing has made her extend her stay in Sail eMagazine so that she can learn & develop her skills. When not buried in her books and novels, Fatma is found on tennis courts or in a classroom learning a new language.
She wrote her previous column: “Just another undergrad” hoping she can give what she didn’t have when she was a freshman: comfort and guidance, and also bring back memories to all those graduates out there. She wonders if things are going to be the same after graduation.

Latest posts by Fatma Bujsaim (@FatmaBujsaim) (see all)

By Fatma Bujsaim (@FatmaBujsaim)

Spring, winter, Eid and summer break, are all holidays that most of us look forward to throughout the year. However, summer break has always been different (to me at least). It marks the end of an academic year for students, and it means a very long holiday.

Summer break is special. To start with, it means sun-lovers get to tan most of the day, book-lovers can finally catch up on some intensive reading. Also, Dubai-an’s have the summer surprises with all the different activities and discounts in the shopping malls.

A break is when a person takes time off from whatever he/she does: a getaway or a holiday. People, especially workaholics, every now and then need to take breaks from the things they do, whether it was for a day or two, or for a week & more.

Summer break is one of the most important holidays because it is the longest, and to many people: the most rewarding, because they get to travel and leave all their worries behind them. When travelling, people tend to unleash their inner-self and unconsciously try to have fun to the fullest knowing that this experience has an expiry date and it will not last forever; with that, every moment is cherished.

People can still leave everything behind by shutting off their brains from everything work/academic-related, and this is a skill people learn by practice and persistence. Blocking ones mind and thoughts can be a privilege at times and not always a dilemma like mentioned in one of my previous articles.

Taking this long break is possibly one of the most refreshing things a person could do, especially after a long time of hard work and stress. People come back stronger, motivated, energized, and refreshed. They are more focused and their minds are clearer which means the work-production will be better and more consistent.

As a student, if I do not have this long holiday, I would seriously be depressed and my mood would be messed up because of all the continuous work I will have to finish. The summer break is simply my savior from all the stress and my gateway to have a social life again.

Not everyone has the privilege of traveling or having a summer, but people can still find ways and time to take a break from everything, such as the weekend, or an annual leave. What a person does on his break is completely up to him/her and the outcome is his/her own responsibility. So be wise with how you spend your holiday and try to make the best of it, whether it was for a day or for three months. People need to take a break, and it is undeniable that they need it both physically and mentally.

July 2011 – The 16th issue:
Here We Start
Special ContributionCommunity TalkJust Another Undergrad
Living Through the Eyes of ArtSociety of TomorrowThe Mind’s EyeTo The Point

 

Asking the 5 W’s: Who, What, When, Where, and How to Understand the Truth

Hamda Al Hashemi (@Hamda_alhashemi)

Column: Art of Living 101. Previously as: Living Through The Eyes of Art
Hamda AlHashemi is a 20 something year old interior design graduate, and an SZHP employee. She appreciates art, food, psychology and culture. For her, Arabic calligraphy is music for the eyes; beautiful and calming. She thrives to become an entrepreneur of her own furniture line and aims to get her Phd on the long run. Hamda’s articles revolve around how our psychological thoughts influence our actions, and how to use them to our advantage.

Latest posts by Hamda Al Hashemi (@Hamda_alhashemi) (see all)

By Hamda AlHashemi (@Hamda_AlHashemi)

We live in a time where the UAE has become one of the most essential contributors in the world of contemporary art. And that can be used as a great tool to tell and show the world more about our religion, our culture, and what we do to contribute to the world as a whole. But the question here is, should we show them everything? Or should we maintain a good image of our country, while solving our problems in private?

A while ago, the UAE Pavilion Venice Biennale was the talk amongst all artists. Many Emirati artists participated such as HH Lateefa Bint Maktoum, Reem al Al Ghaith, and Abdulla AlSaadi. These three artists were chosen as the representatives of the UAE in this international event. They had a chance to show people who knew barely anything about us, who we are and what we do.

In a previous article I had written, I spoke about an art piece by Reem Al Ghaith, Dubai: What’s Left of My Land. And I have mentioned how elaborate it was, and how we as Emiratis can really relate to it. But the question that concerns me is whether or not this was the right piece for the right audience.

When you meet someone for the first time you would not go ahead and say, “Hi my name is Hamda, and I have issues with this and that.” Even if we had a problem, no matter how simple, we should not go ahead telling everyone about it. First sit with yourself, study the problem, think about how you can solve it, and try to implement the possible solutions. Talking about a problem will just make it bigger.

Another thing is that a first impression can never be changed. Even though first impression does not mean everything, it is still of vital importance. And no matter how much we criticize it, most people are judgmental. My concern was that by looking at that artwork, the audience would probably think so many things about the UAE, but would any of it positive?

But then again, there is the matter of freedom of expression. We live in a world where everything is being communicated freely and openly. So if I want to say something then I might as well do. There is an Arabic quote that says “He who is quiet when it comes to what is right, is a silent devil.” Does keeping quiet about certain things mean that we are in denial? And does speaking out loud about them mean that we are addressing them in our own way.

Not knowing the process that it takes us getting from A to B, means that we do not understand the entire situation. How we tell a story is crucial to those listening, every word, every tone, and every detail, will draw a different stroke in their imagination. We have to choose the right time and place, and be aware of whether we are sending our message as accurately as possible.

Most of the time, it is hard to decide what is right and wrong. Listening to the different opinions of different people does not make it easier either. But we must try to perceive the truth as accurately as possible. And I must say that this is something I learned while writing this article, I learned to dig deeper before criticizing a situation. As for what to say and what not to say, we must really study the factors: who, what, when, where, and how, before acting.  And with that the road to realizing the right thing becomes clearer.

July 2011 – The 16th issue:
Here We Start
Special ContributionCommunity TalkJust Another Undergrad
Living Through the Eyes of ArtSociety of TomorrowThe Mind’s EyeTo The Point

 

Internet Café’s and Our Youth

Mohamed Al Jneibi (@maljunaibi)

Mohamed, an IT Professional with a background in web development, database administration, technical support, and project management. His work includes enhancing corporate systems and designs, and further enhancing current business strategies and processes.
Mohamed enjoys reading literature and political commentary, with a love for Sci-Fi reading and writing. He’s also a big Formula 1 fan, and also heads the Mercedes GP UAE Fan Club based in Abu Dhabi.

Latest posts by Mohamed Al Jneibi (@maljunaibi) (see all)

By Mohamed AlJunaibi (@maljunaibi)

Back in 2001, I was attending college in Abu Dhabi, to later become your average “IT guy”. And I will have to admit, it was a great time for me. I loved studying back then, because of mainly 2 things; I got to own my own laptop, and was doing something I had always loved doing, and that was to program software.

While in college, a network game came out that was to revolutionize the computer gaming community in the UAE. It was called ‘Counter Strike’. The game was a simple shooting game where groups of people get together to form 2 teams, and literally kill each other, or win objectives like hiding bombs, saving hostages and so on.

I had been playing some Role-Playing (RPG) games in the days of Bulletin Board Systems (BBS), my real network gaming experience started with a game called: ‘Quake’ and it pretty much introduced me to what was soon to be the future of online-gaming.

During the span of one year, “network gaming” cafes started to spring out in various parts of town. These cafes literally only had one or two games, but everyone came to play that ‘Counter Strike.


Here are some rough numbers: A cafe would normally charge on average between 5 to 8 AED an hour. Multiplied with approximately 30-40 machines (depending on location), and you can be making an easy 200 to 300 hundred dirhams within an hour (on fully booked days). One days earnings can be around 2400 AED (assuming the lowest charge of 5 AED per hour).

That would get you 72,000 AED a month. Not a bad deal for a business. According to some statistics, by year 2006 there were approximately 600 registered internet cafes in the UAE. *

People started to form groups, tournaments started, and people started to realize the potential of the game, and its appeal to youth. The smarter cafes started to allow players to order cafeteria food, and served soda to the players who would on average play for 2-3 hours a day. The more hardcore players would spend 5-8 hours playing the games on hand. Cafés would also have a membership system, where subscribers would put cash credit to their accounts, and the more you put in, the more free hours are given.

My addiction, I have to admit, was a strategy game called: Command and Conquer (Generals). One of my more business-minded friends later decided to make his own place, a café called “Sniper Café”. It was a café paying homage to the game that connected all of our friends together, Counter Strike. While this was innocent fun in the beginning, the years went by when I started to realize that for some people, it was a form of escapism from day to day realities.

In the span of 5 years, two of our friends were diagnosed with diabetes. Another friend of mine later divorced and lost a custody battle for his child, due to the negligent nature of his role as a parent. Sniper Café later closed, as the console markets started to get really interesting with the introduction of the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. Players were beginning to play at home, and places like Sniper Café were becoming ghosts of a network gaming boom that did not last long.

Recently during this year, I was invited by close friends to join them at one of the big and last remaining internet cafes in Abu Dhabi. I knew that they still had games like Counter Strike and Generals. But I was surprised to find youth, not only playing online and network games, but to also see social media sites, movies, TV Series and other forms of entertainment in store for them. Some of the customers would stay all night playing games, surfing social media sites, and keeping in touch via communication tools like Skype. This was a major change from the more innocent days of Sniper Café!

People not only have the burden of battling the possible high risk of addiction to the games they play, but also maintain a social life and chat via Skype, Facebook and other mediums. The unhealthy lifestyle and dark ambience within these cafes are quite reminiscent of a typical cyber punk novel. You have people sitting down with their headsets, and with an eerie silence surrounding them. They are glued to their screens, multi-tasking away, and giving the occasional sign of life (a giggle or a laugh).

I sometimes wonder why the numbers of diabetes cases are going up, the social issues within society, and the continued degradation of many youth in fully understanding the cultural and moral obligations they would normally be raised with. Do not get me wrong; I am ok with these cafes, but as long as they are not the only area for me to turn to.

My issue is how many of these cafes offer distractions more than they do entertainment. Would not it be great if these cafes attracted under aged chain smokers, and offer them self-help videos?

Wouldn’t it be nice if instead of having the full seasons’ of Jersey Shore (and they do!), they would have few seasons of American Inventor, or even, dare I say, The Apprentice?

When thinking about this, I am brought back to a line from the Generals game that I still play with good friends and work colleagues. When being attacked by outside forces, your advisor would shout at you: “General! Our land is being attacked!” If only I could replace the word “Land” with “Youth”.

The Women in Our Lives

Moadh Bukhash (@MoadhBukhash)

Moadh Bukhash (@MoadhBukhash)

A brand manager by day and a ‘wannabe’ philosopher by night, Moadh graduated from the American University in Dubai with a degree in Marketing. All about logical discourse and self improvement, his aim is to be a 21st century iconoclast. Though born and raised in Dubai, Moadh aims to develop and nurture global identities built around shared humanistic values. A writer of his own blog, which bears the column’s name, Moadh’s ultimate ambition is to be the spark of a positive change in any individuals who come across his words.
Moadh Bukhash (@MoadhBukhash)

Latest posts by Moadh Bukhash (@MoadhBukhash) (see all)

By Moadh Bukhash (@MoadhBukhash)

From the day we are born, providing us nourishment, love and care, to the day we meet the one that makes all others pale in comparison, to the day we have one of our own to pass on our wisdom and adoration; women play a pivotal role in shaping our societies, a role that can never be overlooked or swept under the rug.

The mother who carried our weight for nine long months, taking every measure to ensure that we are well nourished, carefully handled, and well taken care of. We never witnessed the struggles before we came out to the light of day, but what sacrifices our mothers have taken for us to be here are immeasurable. It is from that day on that we can see what our mothers’ fine touches did to shape us into who we are today, truly being our first and foremost education. Onwards to our youthful years where our mothers were there to teach us about social context, manners, right and wrong, all the while showering us with love to give us confidence in ourselves. On to our adult years, where they act as our personal advisers, blessing us with their knowledge and life experiences to make sure we do not make an incorrect step forward, but of course never forgetting to remind us why it would be a wrong step. We are but a piece of our mothers, born out of them to come into this world equipped with their guidance and unconditional love to reach our own goals and fight for our own ambitions.

The wife, partner, lover, or whatever you would refer to her as, that person that comes in to whisk you away, to make you forget all the experiences of your past, and throw away all other possibilities in the future. The person you most confide in, and most care about their opinion of you, the life partner that will be by your side till the very end. What can we say about our other halves? Through thick and thin, they stay by our side, picking us up when the world turns against us, and cheering us on when things go our way. They give us the greatest gift of all, the opportunity to pass on our legacy, to build a family based on our own values, rules, and principles; they give us the gift of having unconditional love to another human being. The gift of seeing your own flesh and blood grow into what we hope them to be. There are few things that are as beautiful as having that someone by your side, through it all.

And of course, the daughter. Is there any affection and a love so true than that we have for our daughters? While we would have our sons follow through a certain path, our daughters show us that our path can take a softer approach, keeping us in line but with a gentler touch. Our daughters are our symbols of beauty, of innocence, conversely we are their windows of comparison; every person they come in contact with are to be compared against us, all traits good and bad. Until the day we have to give them away, turning us into their fortresses of normality, of comfort; one that they can always turn to, one that will always be there in their hour of need.

I am reminded of a late artist that said “since we all came from a woman, got our name from a woman, and our game from a woman. I wonder why we take from women… do we hate our women?” What we need to recognize is the role women play in our lives, from the first breath to the last; they are by our side, sticking it out with us, all the while with a smile.

July 2011 – The 16th issue:
Here We Start
Special ContributionCommunity TalkJust Another Undergrad
Living Through the Eyes of ArtSociety of TomorrowThe Mind’s EyeTo The Point

 

Voicing Your Opinion as a Citizen

Mohammed Kazim (@MAKazim)

Mohammed Kazim (@MAKazim)

Mohammed, an Emirati involved in healthcare business development, comes with a background in biomedical & clinical engineering, technology management, finance, and business setup related project management. Mohammed has a keen interest in relevant social, religious, economic, and cultural affairs.
Mohammed’s bi-monthly column aims to openly and honestly target issues around the native culture, society, religion, economy, and policy that have resulted as a consequence of the constantly changing demographics of the region. The column is characterized by a point-like articulate approach that gives the reader a comprehensive understanding of the discussed issues.
Mohammed Kazim (@MAKazim)

Latest posts by Mohammed Kazim (@MAKazim) (see all)

By Mohammed Kazim (@MAKazim)

Although politics has never been my cup of tea, there have been few incidents over the past few weeks that made me feel obliged to address an issue of relevance to our region. In light of the current events in the Arab world, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries have witnessed many different opinions arise on the need for social and political reform. Mainly driven by global media, these opinions seemed to lack an important element since they all brought forth ideas that have been designed for peoples and places other than ours. These ideas, I believe, could be detrimental to our nations’ stability, development, and overall welfare.

So what can be done to address this? The ruling families of the GCC region have all in one way or another responded by forms of generous stimulus packages (increased salaries, increased benefits, subsidies, education scholarships, and increases in budgets for healthcare, education, and services). Albeit, a wonderful short term solution for earning citizens’ loyalty, in the long run this could affect the GCC’s development and ability to compete internationally while still not targeting the main issues. While many reasons exist for the spread of ideas that are not tailored to our dynamics, in my opinion, the main reason is the reduced involvement of GCC citizens’ in managing their affairs. As with every nation, certain policies or political decisions can act against the interests of a few. In the absence of involvement in these decisions, certain groups may feel left out.

In the past, elected tribe leaders would make sure that citizens’ concerns are communicated clearly to the ruling families through clear and simple access routes. However, with the development of society and the detachment of families from the larger tribal structure, that tribal system may have became slightly inefficient.  Not all information is accurately captured and conveyed to the ruling parties. In addition, due to the lack of a structured opinion voicing system that is clearly defined as a citizen’s right, many citizens are hesitant to voice their concerns. This could be because of fear, pride, social norms of modesty, and many more reasons.

I believe that the system previously in place may still fit the current GCC societies provided certain factors are tailored to the newly evolved social structures of the region and that the citizens take a more responsible approach in conveying their concerns. The following 2 points are brief suggestions.

First, GCC countries could begin institutionalizing congregational structures into official bodies that represent the people in certain localities rather than tribal affiliations (i.e. areas within cities such as Jumeirah, Adliya, Olaya, etc). The representatives of these bodies do not necessarily have to be elected by the people and can be appointed by the ruling parties. However, they should be responsible and accountable for conveying the concerns of people within their areas. GCC Citizens need to have access to these official bodies defined as a right that can be practiced should they desire to and they should be educated in matters pertaining to this right. This is currently being done at a less organized level. Some GCC countries have begun hosting radio talk shows that manage the daily affairs and act as a body for conflict resolution. Other GCC countries have established publically elected bodies but access sometimes is still restricted or difficult.

Second, GCC citizens need to be civil and maintain some basic principles in conveying their concerns to the people who manage their affairs. Some principles are so basic and generic and are even defined as Islamic principles such as: adherence to the governing law, respect and diligence while conveying information, offering criticism and advice secretly and with respect rather than publicly, and having patience. Furthermore, I believe GCC citizens should try and make the best of the current channels available to them and take a more pro-active approach rather than ridicule or complain aimlessly.

In addition, I believe that public figures and religious scholars can facilitate the creation of a handbook of guidelines that explain the manner of ideal communication, and advice people on the correct channels to voice their concerns.

In summary, although I am not a political expert, I have offered my observations based on my keen interest on society.  I believe that if GCC countries allow citizens to have the right to voice their concerns through efficient institutions by locality and GCC citizens take a more responsible approach in doing so, many concerns will be heard and addressed if possible. This would reduce the amount of open-ended bad-mouthing or extreme foreign opinions from arising in society and in turn would maintain our nations’ stability, development, and overall welfare.

July 2011 – The 16th issue:
Here We Start
Special ContributionCommunity TalkJust Another Undergrad
Living Through the Eyes of ArtSociety of TomorrowThe Mind’s EyeTo The Point