Sail eMagazine’s 2nd Anniversary – Mark The Date: 03.03.2012

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)

Sail eMagazine is honored to invite you all to our 2nd year anniversary celebration. The magazine will host an event, which will include a discussion panel and a Q&A session with Sail team, and will conclude with a networking session between the attendees and the team.

  • Venue: The Pavilion Downtown Dubai
  • Date: 03.03.2012
  • Time: 6:00 PM
  • RSVP : RSVP@SailEMagazine.com

Sail eMagazine’s 2nd Anniversary – Mark This Date 03.03.2012

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)

Join Sail Team in our 2nd year anniversary, as we celebrate with our readers the milestones we have reached, the ideas we have expressed & discussed, and as we step forward for many new issues to be published.

Watch this space as we announce more details about the event and its agenda.

* RSVP your attendance to our anniversary by emailing RSVP@SailEMagazine.com

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,

Today, we are one issue away from marking our second year anniversary for launching Sail eMagazine. To honor this mark, we will be hosting an event to celebrate Sail team, our readers and our beloved fans. The event will take place during the beginning of the first week of March, 2012; more details will be shared along this month. Do make sure you subscribe with us to get the updates by email, and you can also follow us on our twitter and facebook accounts to stay updated with our news.

We would love to see you at the event, which will include a discussion forum with our team members about their columns, contributions and to know more about them. Our fans will be able to communicate directly with Sail team and discuss their thoughts with them regarding old and future contributions. Looking forward to see you there!

Here is the brief about our 23rd issue – February, 2012:

  • Art of Living 101: Hamda AlHashemi writes about life situations becoming an optical illusion, and how it is usually because of us and the way we think.
  • Beyond Inspiration: AlAnoud AlMadhi exhibits why mending our weaknesses make us weaker and how can our passion make us stronger.
  • First Years Last Forever: Ayesha AlJanahi expresses the importance of bilingual nurseries and the impact they have on our children.
  • Scenes from Our Lives: Rawan Albina wonders about the importance of year 2012, and how we all can deal with the changes.
  • Society of Tomorrow: Mohammed AlJunaibi explains in his unique way what PIPA & SOPA really mean, and the story behind them.
  • The Mind’s Eye: Moadh Bukhash takes a longer perspective to count a few intriguing changes to our lives, and how they will fundamentally change the way we live our lives.
  • To The Point: Mohammed Kazim describes the implications of improving a nation’s service that if known beforehand would have saved the responsible parties a lot of criticism.
  • Words, Observations, and Ramblings: Reem Abdalla interviews the creators of PeetaPlanet, a show about two ex-corporate Emirati executives, turned social-restaurateurs, turned modern-day globe-trotting Bedouins.

 

23rd Issue – February 2012
Here We Start – Art of Living 101Beyond Inspiration
First Years Last Forever
Scenes from Our LivesSociety of Tomorrow
The Mind’s Eye
To The PointWords, Observations, and Ramblings

 

Warm Regards,
Iman Ben Chaibah
Editor in Chief

 

Cognitive Optical Illusions, Differences in Interpreting Reality

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)

You know that moment when different people tell you the same story but there is a different version every time you hear it? Is it because they are making it up, or are they lying about it? Sometimes words can play the effect of optical illusion; every person has a different way of thinking, therefore we each comprehend situations in our own way.  The mixture of personal thoughts, circumstances, and the people involved might be misleading.

According to Wikipedia, optical illusion is characterized by visually perceived images that differ from objective reality. There are three main types: physical, literal, and cognitive. Cognitive optical illusion is probably the one that reflects the ideas that I will discuss most in this article; it is the result of an individual’s unconscious mind.

We have all probably wondered about that scene in a movie when a therapist shows his patient a paper with black and white shapes. The reason why they do that sort of therapy is to analyze the thoughts, characteristics, and nature of the patient. It allows the therapist to understand the mentality of his patient and how to deal with him/her.

Sometimes you may say something very nice to a friend with the best of intentions, but they might completely misunderstand you and feel insulted. There are many possible reasons for your words being misinterpreted; maybe that friend was in a bad mood and took everything negatively, maybe it is a habit of them to take everything personally. It could be that you expressed it in a wrong way.

(2007, Skulls Illusion, Unknown Artist)

That situation is very similar to the concept of optical illusion. We might all look at the same image but I might see it as a wolf and you might see it as a butterfly. The way we interpret that image is a hint of what is going on in our unconscious mind.  Happy thoughts reflect cheerful interpretations, and vise versa.

Jim Jeffords, former U.S senator, once said, “I do not know anyone in the public eye who has not made a mistake and said something in a manner that does not truly reflect their intentions. “ Even our best intentions can be misunderstood. And the same goes for others; we might be misapprehending a lot of their words and actions.

The only way to solve that is to try our best to be less judgmental and give others a chance to communicate with us thoroughly. We need to listen to their words and visualize their actions objectively. Our emotions and mentality frequently gets in our way and blurs the truth.

Abu Baker AlSiddiq, one of the Rashidun Caliphates, said a short phrase that sums up the entire article, “Your intentions count in your actions.” As long as you honestly mean well, then your actions should show that. There are people who will always be skeptical of what is behind everything you do or say, but there is no need to take them seriously or give them the attention they crave for. Instead, keep proving them wrong and no matter how skeptical they are, the important thing is that you know deep inside that you mean well.

 

 23rd Issue – February 2012
Here We Start
– Art of Living 101 – Beyond Inspiration
First Years Last Forever
Scenes from Our LivesSociety of Tomorrow
The Mind’s Eye
To The PointWords, Observations, and Ramblings

 

Ignoring Your Weaknesses & Working on Your Stengths

AlAnoud AlMadhi (@aam_alanoud )

Column: Beyond Inspiration
Founder of @BetweenTheSips -a social media initiative that moderates social conversations. Alanoud’s passion is public speaking and designing infographics, reading and researching.
Through “Beyond Inspiration”, Alanoud aims to share personal experiences, struggles, and aha moments that can spark a flame within the reader to reach their full potential.

Latest posts by AlAnoud AlMadhi (@aam_alanoud ) (see all)

By AlAnoud AlMadhi (@ALANOUD_auh)

Illustration by Dubai Abulhoul (@DubaiAbulhoul)

When I handed my parents my report card, they were not very thrilled. Although I had A’s and only one B+, it was the grade I got in math that caught their eye. It was a big fat devilish C. Numbers were just never my cup of tea!

After the event, my dad made sure I intensely focused on math so he bought me several math books, got me a math tutor, and asked my school’s math teacher to grant me the attention and practice I needed to excel in the subject.

Even though I realized the importance of math, I could only feel weaker every time I solved an arithmetic problem; even if I had done it correctly.

In many occasions, our flaws stand out more than our fortitudes and so we are often asked to fix these defects. Having been in these situations several times, we grow up believing that whatever weakness we have should be mended. So, we have programmed ourselves to focus on our deficiencies, ponder on them, and find ways to bend ourselves into turning them into strengths; a process which takes a whole lot of time, greatly exerted efforts, and in the end, leaves us drained.

That being said, the unspoken pleasant truth is that the secret of being better is not in repairing our shortcomings but in playing to our strengths.

It is through spotting our natural talents, realizing our true passions, and building up our strengths that we can shove peoples’ focus away from our flaws and be fulfilled.

So what are those strengths and how can you find them? There are several online tests that analyze your personality and give you a list of fortes. But honestly, these tests can only tell you so much. No one but you can pinpoint what strengths you have.

You can, nevertheless, use such tests as guides for you to find them. I would advise you to use my favorite strength tests: “StrengthsFinder” by Tom Rath and Gallup Center and “StandOut” by Marcus Buckingham.

In their books, Rath and Buckingham mention two paramount points. Tom Rath stated “…talent is one of the ingredients in the [StrengthsFinder] formula” while Buckingham mentioned that “Passions are the building blocks of [strengths]”.

Keep in mind that just because you are good at something, does not mean it is your strength. You must be good at that thing and feel strong about it as you do it. For instance, in that report card of mine, I aced geography, but studying it was torture to me.

You already know from a past article that my talent was the natural ability of speaking in public and so public speaking became my passion.

The reason I knew it was my passion was because of the emotions I had before, during, and after that activity. That is, I was looking forward to speaking, felt driven while I spoke, and was later fulfilled and strong when I had done it.

Practicing your strength is just like falling in love. When you love someone unconditionally, you would do the hard and impossible to make them happy. However, you would not be feeling the pain of that process nor the hardships of the efforts you make in it. It is just a thrill to you.

According to Buckingham, after knowing your talent and your passion, the step to transforming them into strength is by making that passion more specific and then practicing it over and over again.

For example, if my passion was “public speaking”, a more specific idea of it would be “inspirational speaking”. Next, I will need to dig deeper so I might say: “inspirational speaking to the youth”. In the end, an even more specific idea could be “inspirational speaking to the youth about success stories”. After realizing my talent, discovering my passion, and finding a more precise meaning of the latter, I will have to practice it time and again. Only then could it be my strength.

Now I realize this could be hard work but if you thought about it, investing time and effort to excel in something and be happy with yourself is way more advantageous and fulfilling than contemplating and spilling your energy on something you can be no more than “average” at.

I am not saying we should never look into our weaknesses. It is essential to have an appropriate level of knowledge and skill in certain areas such as math and technology. However, it would be a shame to devote our time on perfecting something that we can only be neutral at.

You must realize you can never transform ice into fire yet you can always let that ray of light in you burst into flames.

My second report card came back with an A in mathematics but it was at the expense of getting 2 B+’s more than I had in the last report.

Do not leave your talents untapped. Find what you love and do it!

 

23rd Issue – February 2012
Here We Start
Art of Living 101 – Beyond Inspiration
First Years Last Forever
Scenes from Our LivesSociety of Tomorrow
The Mind’s Eye
To The PointWords, Observations, and Ramblings

 

The Need for Improving the Qualifications of Childcare Teachers in the UAE

Ayesha AlJanahi (@_AyeshaAlJanahi)

Ayesha AlJanahi (@_AyeshaAlJanahi)

Column: The First Years Last Forever
A loving mother of a son who has changed her life and put it into perspective. Ayesha is a senior social media specialist, a Global Leader for young children in the Arab region, and a writer in few Arabic publications. Her column is written in collaboration with the Arabian Child organization, and offers inspiration and an in-depth exploration of early childhood development.
Ayesha AlJanahi (@_AyeshaAlJanahi)

Latest posts by Ayesha AlJanahi (@_AyeshaAlJanahi) (see all)

By Ayesha AlJanaji (@_AyeshaAlJanahi)

Illustration by Mariam ARMS (@MariamARMS)

“Young children soak up knowledge about their world with the eagerness of thirsty sponges”. Although they may not be able to make sense of a lot of the information due to their cognitive complexities, all information is taken in and registered in their subconscious.   Therefore, teachers who choose to work with young children must be prepared for a career with lifelong learning to be able to support children to reach their fullest potential.

Children in the early years are very interesting and appealing but they are also very sensitive and vulnerable. Every experience the child has and every word we say counts because it affects their growth and well-being. It is true that parents are the child’s first teachers but a teacher of young children has enormous impact because the growth of the child in the classroom is often concrete and more visible.

We need more qualified Emirati and foreigner teachers and coaches in our childcare centres to help create strategic approaches that foster children’s development. “Surprisingly, 85% of childcare center teaching staffs that are in direct communication with children are not qualified.

A qualified early childhood teacher can be described as someone with a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education with a yearly minimum of 30 hours of professional development training, or a teaching assistant

To cover the outstanding practice, teachers need to be committed to students and their learning, treating them equitably while recognizing their individual differences. Teachers can observe them working and playing, interacting socially, engaging themselves physically and gaining cognitive knowledge.

Commonly, children can be moody or calm, enthusiastic or disinterested, happily obedient or strongly independent and sometimes very sweet. Sometimes young children seem to be unable to understand adults’ point of view and this may add to our frustration. They are in constant motion but they get tired quickly. It takes a multi-tasking genius to be able to understand children and be flexible enough to adapt and provide the best learning experiences to the child.

Children need to have a variety of experiences in order to reach their full potential and this is sometimes difficult to achieve especially for inefficient teachers who lack child development knowledge. “According to recent figures quoted by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) in a report titled Early Childhood Education and Care in Dubai, fewer than 5 per cent of Emirati children under the age of 4 are enrolled in nurseries”.

Some of the Emirati parents want their children to go to a nursery where both social and English skills are strengthened. They do not have any problem with multicultural nurseries. However, they worry that both culture and Arabic language will be an alien subject to their children when they grow. They stressed on the importance of introducing Arabic as the main language and give it priority.

Besides, they highlighted the need to get them exposed to our cultural values. Research shows that if we want our children to have a strong foundation for language, culture and heritage, we must start in their earliest years of life.

The goal of putting emphasis on bilingual education can be fulfilled by introducing both Emirati and foreigner qualified teachers. Children need to grow around consistent positive relationships and creative environments that will support them through their life development.

Although university students participate in practical work experience in childcare centres, many Emirati graduates do not work in childcare centres. We need to prepare both Emirati and foreigner early childhood workforce by increasing their understanding on early childhood education.

They must have knowledge of physical, social, emotional and cognitive development. They also need to take into account the culture, history and community values in children’s development and learning which will help them to plan programs to engage children in meaningful learning and assess their progress.

Teachers can prepare children to be fluent in both Arabic and English without losing out on one or the other since both of them are essentially needed. As Amjad Ezat, Principal of Dubai National School, said “The real balance right now is not between English and Arabic, but between having students fluent enough in English to enable their success at universities and in future careers, and fluent enough in Arabic to help preserve the language and culture”.

Written by Ayesha Al Janahi and supported by Arabian Child organization. Visit www.arabianchild.org for more information about early childhood education in the United Arab Emirates.  

 

23rd Issue – February 2012
Here We Start
Art of Living 101Beyond Inspiration
First Years Last Forever – Scenes from Our LivesSociety of Tomorrow
The Mind’s Eye
To The PointWords, Observations, and Ramblings

 

2012: The End of the World As We Know It

Rawan Albina (@RawanAlbina)

Rawan, CPCC, ACC, is a Professional Certified Coach, owner of Leap Coaching & Training whose life’s mission is to help women achieve their dreams.
Her strongly positive nature and calm demeanor enables her to gently draw out a person’s full potential as she helps them get in touch with their passions, find their purpose and LEAP into a truly fulfilling and extraordinary life.
Women who are at a crossroads in life, young women ‘Entreprenettes’ and teenagers have all found a strong guide in Rawan who has helped them discover the life skills needed to begin the new phases in their life with confidence.

Latest posts by Rawan Albina (@RawanAlbina) (see all)

By Rawan Albina (@RawanAlbina)

Illustration by Dubai Abulhoul (@DubaiAbulhoul)

Everybody has been talking about 2012 for a few years now. They even made a movie out of it so that they can really depict what the end of the world will look like just in case our imagination was lacking. Some people were scared and some could not care less.

The fact is that a few of the most ancient civilizations predicted some kind of an ending in 2012. The Mayan calendar for instance ends in 2012. But does this mean we should be terrified?

Now of course since 2012 started and nothing happened so far, there is more hope in the air. We, as human beings, are really good at forgetting so I am guessing most of us are back to normal, all snugly and warm again in the comfort of our routine and daily life.

Whether or not people around the world are suggesting about 2012 is true or not is not the subject of this piece. I would really like for my words today to reach your hearts wherever you are and appeal to the intuitive, humanistic side of you rather than your logical or scientific sense.

As Elvis once sang, “life is a stage where each one of us plays a part”. So let me start with this question: which part are you playing in the world today?

I believe that we are all born with a life purpose. We are God’s instruments, born in this day and age to accomplish something and make this world a better place for the generations to come. We have been through a very long trial and error phase and the message here is that the world has reached a zero tolerance level when it comes to errors. It is true that we are humans after all and we do make mistakes. It is through trial and error that we learn and grow; not by getting it right the first time. Sometimes we forget about these lessons but we should not.

Oppression, war, anger and bitterness must be replaced by freedom, peace, harmony and love. The world as we know it must end for the positive changes to happen. People are tired of playing the same old dangerous games and are not willing to be led in silence like sheep anymore. We all have a voice and people everywhere are realising the power of using that voice. Our voice is a very influential tool; we just need to connect to it and find the best way to project it. We do not have to take part in a war or start a revolution to make a change. Remember the butterfly effect: the wave of change can be started by something as small as the fluttering of the wings of a butterfly.

2012 is all about change. As Ghandi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world”; do not wait for someone else to take charge of your life. Now is the time for each one of us to step up to the challenge. Live on purpose and start using your voice before it is too late. Yes, it is the end of the world, but only the end of the world as we have known it until today! A new balanced world is waiting to be born and your contribution can make all the difference.

 

23rd Issue – February 2012
Here We Start
Art of Living 101Beyond Inspiration
First Years Last Forever
– Scenes from Our Lives – Society of Tomorrow
The Mind’s Eye
To The PointWords, Observations, and Ramblings

 

Laws of the Internet: What are SOPA and PIPA?

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)

Illustration by Dubai Abulhoul (@DubaiAbulhoul)

This January, and the opening month of 2012, the internet became (once again) the area for discussion, debate and even conflict. The topics of internet censorship and protection of intellectual properties came crashing together at the very mention of two bills that were proposed to the US Senate. They were the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protection of Intellectual Property Act (PIPA).

Simply put, SOPA is a bill that would grant creators and owners of intellectual properties (IP’s) a tremendous amount of power over the way their content is handled. This includes movie studios and other sources of IP to be able to use law enforcement authorities to issue court orders and can have a sentence of up to 5 years in jail for streaming of copyright material via various Internet means.

The whole aim for SOPA is to prevent and destroy websites that have been known to be “safe harbours” to various illicit activities violating and infringing on copyrighted material.

When discussing the sister bill PIPA, it follows the same line as SOPA but also puts in place focus on foreign websites that infringe, distribute and violate copyright with the assistance of a court order (in rem) to transfer back ownership to the person raising the complaint. PIPA is a step towards allowing the US in taking legal and law enforcement actions outside its borders with the assistance of the US Justice Department.

The two bills (SOPA and PIPA) have caused a lot of anger to many websites, activists, and in general a large population of people who feel that these are steps towards a regulated internet that would later become a tool for governments to be able to further control on what topics or subjects can be “searched” and which items go to a filtering or blacklist somewhere.

A lot of people in the UAE have also raised concern on the whole fiasco surrounding SOPA and PIPA. But truth of the matter is that we (in the UAE) already use a regulated form of internet. The issue is primarily the two pieces of law (SOPA and PIPA) that are now taking the formal processes in order to have them eventually voted into law. While this is a tremendous change to the way the Internet will be governed, it “technically” has not much weight within the UAE and the already existing set of cyber laws in place.

SOPA and PIPA are laws that are filled with many ambiguous portions. The laws show an attempt by many media groups (and the usual Hollywood studios) to reduce the losses of the current entertainment industry. Let us face it, the entertainment business has not been able to maximise on the existing set of technologies that have made illegal trading of TV shows, movies, and series so easy.

People like to be entertained. I recall when movies would be released and we would wait a good 2 to 6 months before the movie would actually be in the region.

This was because in the early days, film distributions happened via the regional distribution mechanisms. Distribution companies would get the rights to distribute and show a movie to a particular region (ex: Europe / Asia / Middle East) only once certain profits and earnings have been secured in the North American market (usually).

But with the globalisation that had taken over many developing / progressing countries, distribution companies and studios have realised that release dates of some of their movies be best done globally. This mind shift was very significant since it made entertainment companies wake up to a failing business model that the film industry had in place.

Today, technology has changed. And much of the entertainment industries’ failure is to do with their overall inability to catch up to the various new methods in distribution of content.

When comparing two industries, the video game industry (in comparison with the film industry) had been able to use the current distribution methods on the Internet to their advantage with sales and profits from video games now competing with the music and film industries. It even surpassed both industries in 2005 and 2007[i].

So the whole fuss is really a technology issue, the majority in the entertainment industry have been unable to do two primary things:

1)   Utilise the current set of technologies to their advantage

2)   Have a working business model to cope with the technologies available

While people may think that Wikipedia, reddit and other sites have already proven their points, it is still an interesting thing to watch since on January 20th, the SOPA/PIPA bills have been pushed to February for further discussion. This came on the same day when the hacker group of Anonymous brought down the websites of the US FBI, Justice Department, US Patent Office, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), and others in a show of opposition towards the legalisation.

A sign of things to come? Only time will tell.



[i] http://vgsales.wikia.com/wiki/Video_game_industry  (Comparison with other forms of entertainment)

 

23rd Issue – February 2012
Here We Start
Art of Living 101Beyond Inspiration
First Years Last Forever
Scenes from Our Lives – Society of Tomorrow
The Mind’s Eye
To The PointWords, Observations, and Ramblings

 

Do You Realize How Pivotal the Time We Live in is?

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)

Illustration by Mariam ARMS (@MariamARMS)

Now that the banners have been taken down, the party hats taken off the heads, the confetti cleaned up, and the fireworks have gone quiet, I felt it a good time for us to take a step back and realize what a pivotal time it is we exist in. Not in the 2012 sense, or the short term sense, but in a much larger view within our own humanity. Now there must be a hundred ways we can take a look back to see the larger view – I have picked but a few that I find quite intriguing.

One of the most transformative periods that our species have gone through is the change from agricultural to industrial, and add to that consumerism and you have got yourself a transformational formula that has quite literally changed the planet in a mere century or two. Natural resources, in their limited nature, have become the gem of the jewelers; each scrambling for any limited resource with a dollar value attached to it. This has caused us to see a host of environmental and planetary issues rise up due to our everlasting need to consume more and more. And while I do admit that there is merit in the Carlin-ean view of it that is to turn a nonchalant eye to it, there is no doubt that the impact we have had on our surroundings in the past 200 years has been both unprecedented and massive.

Singularity, a powerful transformation that is exciting, intriguing, and to some writers; the thing of novels, when machine becomes smarter than man. Between genetic engineering, direct-human-brain-interfaces, artificial intelligence, and a host of other science advancements that are leading us in that direction, what most intrigues me is how that will affect our own interaction with technology. Will it no longer be a thing of function but one of necessity? Will technology become the teacher and we the students? Just how far can artificial intelligence go, assuming it can continuously teach itself bigger and better things? It is all so fascinating, and to think it is predicted to be less than 20 years away. (Book reference: ‘The Singularity is Near’ by Raymond Kurzweil)

My favorite current fascination is one that we can recognize as being new age, and in a sense being the embodiment of our times: cities. Cities that are fast moving, fast producing, and even faster consuming. Not sure if this is 100% true, not even sure where I heard it, but I was told that the largest current animal migration on earth is the migration of human beings to cities. Resulting in odd statistics like consuming drinkable water 17 times faster than it can be replenished, the emergence of >1 cars-per-person as a phenomenon, the thinning down of family structures into a nuclear structure; it all makes for a nice cup of coffee and the balcony and some very interesting subjects.

I find that taking a step away and looking at things in a broader view has a humbling effect. It allows us to understand the larger meaning, to not fret the smaller annoyances or aggravations that we encounter in our daily lives. It allows us to see things in a long term perspective, both in the past and in the future. It allows us to look at things through a 4-billion-year-old lens rather than 25 or 45. But most of all, it allows our thoughts to have no borders.

23rd Issue – February 2012
Here We Start
Art of Living 101Beyond Inspiration
First Years Last Forever
Scenes from Our LivesSociety of Tomorrow
The Mind’s Eye – To The PointWords, Observations, and Ramblings

 

Implications of Improving a Nation’s Services, 3 Crucial Elements of Improvement

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)

Illustration by Mariam ARMS (@MariamARMS)

As the Arab world began to see reform last year and new legislative and authoritative parties came into the picture, significant budgets were allocated towards the improvement of services. These services include medical benefits, educational standards, access to better platforms for employment, and an overall increase in the quality of life for citizens. Consequently, teams and task forces were created within executive authorities to employ these budgets into sustainable efforts that quickly and strategically benefit the nation.

What surprises me with all of this is that the expectations of the leading parties who allocated these budgets were not managed appropriately let alone managed at all. Coming from a “yes” culture, the signals sent from the executive authorities to the leaders of these nations painted a picture of ultimate success with no challenges and best of all the achievement of the goals in a very unrealistic time frame. As the reality becomes more apparent, these executive authorities are losing credibility, getting their budgets slashed, and being criticized for over-spending.

I believe many executive authorities could have avoided that by managing the expectations of all stakeholders about the implications of improving a nation’s services through 3 crucial elements.

The first implication is an increased cost of service as a result of quality improvement. In order to improve a service, it is crucial that the entire supply chain of the service is improved. This means the necessity to employ talented and experienced personnel and retain them. This also means the need to buy better quality inputs whether they are superior supplies (such as education material or medical consumables) or advanced systems for more efficient processing of information. All of this comes at an additional cost that cannot be benchmarked with the local market for performance. Hence, these services, if not subsidized, require a higher pricing structure in order to be sustainable. This cost implication of service improvement should be obvious but nevertheless new services are constantly critiqued for being overpriced.

The second implication is that any change that aims to improve services will require a significant amount of time. Usually, analysts would argue using their models that are based on linear growth assumptions, that time required for service improvement is only dependent on the activation of the service and they would ignore all cultural elements of adapting that change. To maneuver through the bureaucracy present in the old inefficient services requires a lot of time especially given that the improved services would discredit the current system. This only adds force to the resistance the improvements would be faced with making its creation more troublesome and as a result needing more time. Therefore, it is necessary for the stakeholders to understand that an improvement of service can only go as far as the infrastructure it is built on. Hence, requiring even more time!

The third implication for improving a nation’s services is that it will only succeed if all the other decision makers’ interests are aligned via the highest authoritative power (for example the ruler of the country). It is crucial that all the different players in making a service improvement are incentivized the same way and maybe even penalized for slowing things down. One successful example is the quick implementation of an e-government service for Dubai Government entities. Although this implication may seem very typical, it is surprising how often different authoritative bodies act against the interest of one another.

In summary, the Arab World today is trying its best to cultivate its operations through the mobilization of executive authorities with strategic projects that aim to improve the respective nations’ services. These executive authorities have recently been under scrutiny due to the inability to deliver as promised. I believe this dilemma could have been avoided by initially ensuring the authoritative parties understood that improved services require higher spending, more time, and everybody’s buy in.

Wouldn’t you want to know this information before making promises to a loved one or embarking on a new project like building a home?

 23rd Issue – February 2012
Here We Start
Art of Living 101Beyond Inspiration
First Years Last Forever
Scenes from Our LivesSociety of Tomorrow
The Mind’s Eye
– To The Point – Words, Observations, and Ramblings