Here We Start – Issue #30

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)
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Dear Sail Readers,

As we publish our September 2012 issue, most of our readers are now coming back from their holidays as we are ending the summer season, we hope you all have enjoyed your holidays if you had it during this summer, and we hope you are back and refreshed to pick up where you’ve left from everything and from reading Sail eMagazine.

Here is a thought to ponder upon, we are entering the last third of the 2012, some of us are starting a new academic year, some are striving to achieve the remaining unchecked goals of 2012, and some are already on their way planning 2013. Which one of those are you? Or do you see yourself fitting in more than one?

In this issue, most of our columnists have expressed in a way or another that we all have the power to drive our fate by how we look at things and how we act on them. Read along our issue, and we hope you also can find your way to drive your own fate through what Sail team shared.

The content of September 2012 – Issue #30:

  • Art of Living: Hamda AlHashemi expresses how all of our personalities are different in the same way
  • Beyond Inspiration: AlAnoud AlMadhi explains the importance of giving and how the purity of giving can be empowering
  • Rebel with A Reason: Dubai Abulhoul highlights the power our thoughts have on our daily lives
  • The Mind’s Eye: Moadh Bukhash explores the silver lining that comes along with large corporations entering a market that was occupied by small businesses
  • To The Point: Mohammed Kazim describes the blessing of stability in our daily lives as a factor that leads to advancement of society and business. He also lists the elements that help make successful regulation.

Enjoy the reads and illustrations!

Warm Regards,
Iman Ben Chaibah
Editor in Chief

Judging People through Psychology, Body Features, & IQ Tests

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.

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Being in a position where I have to meet different people on a daily basis is always something that elevates my level of curiosity when it comes to their different personalities. Sometimes, I get the impression that someone is talented, wise or even a genius. When at other times, I have the opposite intuition about someone else. It got me thinking about how or if our personalities are relevant to our anatomy and to our psych. With that, I came across some very interesting findings.

The first thing I started wondering about was how nature and nurture impact our personalities. Are we born to be the people we are? Is it in our genetic make up? Or does life shape us into who we are? Interestingly enough, it turns out that personalities are a combination of both. We are, in fact, born with certain genes that manipulate our individuality. But at the same time, different situations can bring out different personality traits in us.

There is a phenomenon in social psychology that is known as the fundamental attribution error, which basically describes our tendency to demean the situational influences while judging the behavior of others. We all seem to be delightful people when we are calm and relaxed but when things get difficult and we are put under pressure, we tend to behave irrationally and violently. That situation does not completely define who we are; it simply reveals part of who we are.

To elaborate more on the fact that the environment or situations that influences ones’ personal traits, I’d like for you to imagine a person who is out on a late night with a large group of friends. Wouldn’t we all consider that person to be outgoing and social? The circumstances at hand are what encouraged that trait to be dominant at that specific time. But if we saw that person working at the office the next day, our impression of him/her would be that he/she is serious and formal person.

Artwork by the Ukrainian artist: Elena Vizerskaya (KaSSandrA)

What is interesting is that psychologists try to measure the personality of an individual through a self-report questionnaire. The readability of the results varies depending on the results of the questionnaire when given to a large group of people. From the outcome, they come up with norms for each personality and define the traits. But the test remains somewhat inefficient since people taking the test tend to have a leniency towards a phenomena referred to as “social desirability” since no one really feels comfortable revealing to a stranger that they are lazy, temperamental, judgmental, or insecure.

We’ve all judged someone based on the way their body features are. Believe it or not, in most situations, our judgment makes sense! In 2009, a study by Justin Carre at Brock University presented photographs of different men to a large group of participants. They were asked to estimate the level of violence of these men based on their facial features. The results were efficient where the participants identified men with wide and long faces as most violent. Turns out that men with such features have a higher level of testosterone in their system, making them more violent.

Also in another study, it showed that men with brown eyes tend to be more dominant than men with blue eyes since the Pax6 gene that has to do with the eye color is linked with tissue growth both in the iris and the brain.

More importantly is the IQ test. The IQ test (Intelligence Quotient) which we all know as the test that measures “how smart we are”, is something that I personally consider a disaster. First of all, the IQ test measures intelligence based on questions that lack a creative and empathetic side. It also varies based on the individual’s educational background and motivation at the time that they take the test. In 1932, 27 states in America performed the IQ test on selected segment of the population, which resulted in a law that permits sterilizing people considered feeble-minded to stop their genes from spreading. Over 60,000 people were sterilized in America and 400,000 in Germany.

Going through all of these findings made me realize that we shouldn’t judge ourselves or feel discouraged based on some tests that lack accuracy. Although some of these facts make sense, we must make sure that they don’t have a dominant impact on our decisions or the way we think.

The Empowerment of Giving

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.

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Illustration by Fatma AlHashemi (@F_Fotography)

Dr. Robert Cialdini, a well-renowned psychologist and author of the bestseller book “Influence” says: “One of the first things that we learn as citizens … is the principle of Reciprocation; the one that says ‘I am obligated to give back to you the form of behavior that you first give to me.’”

What Cialdini is highlighting here is the importance of appreciation, gratitude, and giving back in return of a favor or a gift; all of which could be simply translated as our obligation of saying “Thank You.”

Appreciation is a vital element to the society’s progress and it is an act that is widely spread but, unfortunately, is coming to a decrease. The word “Thank You” has become too heavy on the tongue and the recipient of a favor or a gift has grown too proud to be grateful.

The giving I’m talking about could be as simple as getting someone a glass of water to dedicating our time, talent, or money to a person, a group of people, or an organization. I believe you would agree with me that those actions require thanks from the recipient’s side but what you and I could have missed is the fact that it requires the purity of our intention as much as it does the purity of the action.

Having said that, I do not wish to focus on the recipient’s obligation to thank, but on the giver’s intention to give because we have no control over the person we give, but we have total control over ourselves, our attitudes, and reactions towards the recipient’s manners or lack thereof.

Some might argue that we could easily ask the recipient to appreciate us by letting them know how much we are in need of their pat on the back or could give them a lesson in politeness by telling them that a “Thank You” is a must. However, the consequences of those reactions would have the following results: Namely, the recipient could neglect our need, doubt the purity of our action, or give us a thank you, a non-genuine one. Although there is a possibility that we’ll get what we need, it is obvious that none of those possibilities are self-empowering.

I believe you remember some of the events taken place in Ramadan; the inspirational efforts of our youth in giving their time and resources to some members of the community.

I do not believe those volunteers would mind or be soar if no one patted them on the back and thanked them. Go ask them, and they would agree with me because, you see, their intention was so pure and the result that came out of their action was too abundant to be topped by a compliment.

Giving is good for your soul and health. It gives you a feeling of majesty and comfort; a luxury that is only enjoyed by kings. Expecting something in return, waiting for a reward, or seeking a favor out of it only contaminates the purity of the act.

Yes, it is true that we need to be appreciated at work for a job well done to keep us going and give us confidence, but there will be times when we would not get it. And it is at those times when we need to be empowered. So, let us have an intention that does not include receiving appreciation, because the true long-lasting empowerment comes out from within while a trembling short-term one is established through someone or something outside our system.

There are many things in this world that you need to seek and run after but appreciation is not one of them. If we would go back to Cialdini’s quote we can now understand a deeper meaning; “appreciation will come to you in its own form”, so never disempower yourself by demanding it. And as a local saying goes: “Do good, and throw it in the sea (forget about it)”.

A Positive State Of Mind

Dubai Abulhoul (@DubaiAbulhoul)

Dubai is an Emirati girl with a passion for all things art. Her number one passion was to find a place between Emarati artists and filmmakers , and her dream turned into reality in 2008 , when she was officially named as the Middle East’s Youngest Director at the age of 11.

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Illustration by Fatma AlHashemi (@F_Fotography)

Oftentimes, I have lost myself in the perils of my own mind, and sometimes I succeed in escaping. I’ve always believed that as a human being, I’ve been created for a purpose and my life is of meaning to the outer world. Each and every one of us has been designed to fill a slot in this big place we call life but we more than often take ourselves for granted.

Around three years ago, I stumbled upon a book called ‘The Secret’ by Rhonda Byrne. I found the concept of the book to be very intriguing. It basically highlights the power of positive thinking and how each and every individual ‘attracts’ whatever he or she is thinking about. It doesn’t come from a ‘wishful thinking’ perspective, but rather approaches readers in a motivational and somewhat moving way. Personally, I’ve always believed that we are responsible for every single thing that enters and exits our lives, but I also don’t deny the external factors’ roles in our lives. I also don’t believe in coincidences or timing. There is no such thing as ‘wrong timing’. Every single thing that happens in our lives has been precisely placed to cater a greater purpose.

We often underestimate the power of our minds and the power of positive thinking. I’d bring up the subject of ‘The Secret’ every once in while on my Twitter page and, as always, I’d get mixed reviews on the matter. What fascinated me the most about ‘The Secret’ is that the concepts the author was introducing were mentioned in the Quran. We’ve always been taught that if we believe in the good, we’ll find it, and if we believe in the bad, we’ll find that too. Take a moment to examine your life and your surroundings. If you look back at yourself a few years ago, you’d find yourself in a place where nothing made sense.

Today, and because you were strong enough to believe in tomorrow, most of yesterday’s mysteries are now clearer.  Personally, I apply the concept of ‘The Secret’ in my daily life. It may not be possible for one to be positive every single moment of everyday, but it’s vital for you to know that it’s your birthright to be happy. I’ve shifted into a more positive aura and, because of that, I look forward to what tomorrow brings. We let external factors play a role in the scenario of our own lives and we attach our happiness to people and things when really, only we can free ourselves. Only we can make ourselves happy.

We let words, facts, and people put us down and every time we take a moment to listen, we get pulled farther away from our slot and purpose. Is life not but a journey of self-discovery? No matter how many times you try to explain yourself to any person in the world, he or she can never understand you fully. No one but God can understand you and no one but yourself has the power to free your mind. That, I guarantee.

Positive Impacts of Large Corporations on Small Businesses

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)

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Illustration by Fatma AlHashemi (@F_Fotography)

During my time in business school, a common topic of discussion was around the threat to small businesses posed by multimillion organizations moving into the market. The threats, for example, can be centered around an ability of the larger organizations to offer similar or higher levels of service at equal or lower rates than small businesses, due to economies of scale, indirectly forcing small businesses into taking up and solely focusing on niche segments of any industry. That type of impact can marginalize a small business’ potential for growth and stunt its ability to grow in the long term. On the other hand, every problem brings with it a silver lining; big businesses can in times indirectly aid a small business both on a human resource level, as well as through the transfer of best-in-class knowledge.

A few friends and I own and run Contender Mixed Martial Arts Center in Dubai, a facility dedicated to spreading the sport of MMA among other combat sports in the UAE and the region. Through working in the field, we have many types of customers coming across our center, ranging from those who pick the sport as a hobby, an alternative to gym work, and others who treat it as a current or potential career working day in and day out to improve their abilities and techniques to a competitive level. In turn, as a service provider, Contender MMA must be able to provide the best training environment and coaches to effectively cater to the different types of customers.

The first piece of the puzzle is being able to find the right people to give the training. Unlike regular training regimes, martial arts like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or Boxing require a coach with vast experience and a keen skill in transferring those techniques to students. This is perhaps the hardest hurdle to cross as a small business in this field. An interesting outcome from big businesses moving to the UAE, like Fitness First, is their ability to import top talents from around the world to come and work in the country. While, at first, this presents competitors with a disadvantage; after a while, like most jobs, people leave their posts in search of an alternative.­­ Having already brought those talents over to the country, the cost of their recruitment for a small business is significantly reduced allowing the salaries and related benefits to be uplifted at the cost (or rather opportunity) of not having to pay for travel and settling expenses. Naturally, that allows smaller businesses to have a number of world class coaches that have top certifications and can be used to make a valuable offering to the business’ audiences.

Another impact that large corporations can have on an industry previously dominated by small businesses is the impact on soft skills. Through bringing world class services that have been tried and tested in mature markets, the standards that are set by the large corporations in a maturing or growing industry can revolutionize the way a small business runs its operations. Ranging from the level of customer service offered, the quality of outward and inward communications, and the values presented to current and potential clients; all factors are automatically upgraded. As a result, natural selection will weed out the businesses that don’t raise their standards and reward those who do. This process creates a better experience and an improved value proposition to the market, with the customer being the biggest beneficiary.

While we can’t fault the arguments against big corporations and the detrimental effect they potentially have on small businesses, a small business owner has the ability to be more flexible than a large corporation and through being flexible, it can find the opportunities within a bad situation that can help it survive and thrive.

3 Main Elements of Creating Effective Rules & Regulations

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)

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After a month of focused worship and prayers, day and night, I had the chance to reflect on many matters that are currently happening in the world and in our societies. One of the greatest factors that I identified as a blessing of Allah on us is stability in all its forms. The stability we have in politics, in business, and mainly in our lives. The lack of chaos, for the most part, is a catalyst to advancement of society and business through giving each of their aspects the space to advance without any inhibition or impedance.

That said, there are many different factors contributing towards stability, which include the generous and wise leadership, sufficient growth opportunities, appropriate laws and regulation, and enforcement of these regulations. However, I would like to specifically focus on laws and regulation in the realm of business as well as society. The reason for my emphasis on laws and regulations is that they pave the path for stability through providing justice to all parties and ensuring that everybody’s best interest is looked after. This, in my opinion after the Grace of Allah, led to the widespread acceptance of Islam during the Era of the Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allah be Upon Him). As a result, Islamic empires thrived when this was successful and deteriorated when this was tampered with.

In order to be effective, I believe that regulation needs three main supporting elements: a just enforcement system, alignment of incentives of all stakeholders, and most importantly, preservation of context.

First, it is no surprise that a just enforcement system is the first prerequisite to a successful regulatory system. Rules and guidelines without an enforcing body are usually not effective unless we assume that societies are self-policing. For example, having a law that prevents theft together with an enforcement system that imprisons thieves would be more effective than just having a law that prevents theft. In addition, I believe justice must be preserved in the entire process to result in stability in the society. Many examples of fair policing are evident throughout Islamic history and specifically in the era of the second Caliph of Islam, Omar ibn Al Khattab, when policing became an official profession.

Second, there needs to be alignment of interests of all stakeholders for rules and regulations to contribute towards stability. A rule that requires adapting or compliance (usually at a financial or physical cost) will seldom be adhered to if it does not align all stakeholders’ interests. The transparent alignment of interests through active involvement of all stakeholders in policy making allows stakeholders to see the value in the additional effort (or cost) and as a result leads to compliance.

“…and consult them in affairs (of moment). Then, when thou hast Taken a decision put thy trust in Allah. For Allah loves those who put their trust (in Him)“ -The Holy Quran (3:159)

Third and most important, effective regulation requires preservation of context.  What do I mean by this? Rules, put simply, are a discrete way to regulate an infinite or continuous reality. They are usually constructed in a generic manner for a specific purpose or objective. There are an infinite number of cases that can be prone to any specific rule. Due to this very nature of rules, it is natural that there will always be exceptions. These exceptions should be welcomed so long as the context of the regulation is preserved.

For example, murder in light of self-defense has a very different interpretation than murder for the sake of theft.

That said, I have realized time and time again that in today’s world, we tend to focus more on the rule than on the context of the situation. This phenomenon, if persistent, can disturb stability and can counteract it to make rules the most dangerous part of society by nullifying the two preceding conditions of effective regulation.

In summary, one of the greatest bounties of Allah upon us today is stability. In my opinion, one of the major factors that protects stability in our lives is the existence of rules and regulations. Effective rules and regulations, I believe, can be achieved through three main elements: a just enforcement system, alignment of interests of all stakeholders, and preservation of context.

The next time we are in a situation confronted with policy making, whether it be at a department level, a company level, or a state level, let’s keep these factors in mind for better, effective, and stable outcomes.