A Day as a @CareemUAE Driver

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)

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Article in brief: the author takes us through his personal journey of becoming a taxi driver for a day with Careem, how the community perceived it, and what he got out of it.

Khalid Al Ameri holding his #RideWithKhalid sign at Careem offices

Khalid Al Ameri holding his #RideWithKhalid sign at Careem offices

Managing Culture 

I remember when I first tweeted that I was becoming a taxi driver, a family member called me literally 10 seconds after I hit the tweet button. “Khalid! You’re becoming a taxi driver?!” she exclaimed in a mix of what seemed like shock to start with but then transitioned into a sense of helplessness. She hadn’t read the poster that said I was only going to be driving a taxi for one day. When I realized that, I continued the conversation under that narrative, “Yes, why do you seem so surprised?” I responded.

I first got the idea to become a taxi driver for a day when I interviewed a Careem driver during my Careem trip (Careem is a chauffeur driven car booking service). He had a strong sense of confidence and a belief that working for Careem is an important step to bringing his dreams to life. To him, Careem promoted personal development and instilled a sense of pride within their drivers for the work they do. To me, it all seemed a little too good to be true, so I thought why not try it out.

My goal was to get a taste of the experience, an understanding of the type of person it takes to become a Careem driver, and how I would feel to be treated by the company and passengers throughout the process.

Most Emiratis will tell you that there is a negative cultural stigma associated with jobs where a majority of the workers have traditionally been low skilled labor, such as construction workers, cleaners, and yes, even taxi drivers. The discovery of oil ushered in an era that saw Emiratis move away from hands-on hard labor (pearl diving, trading, agriculture, and building) to behind-the-desk labor which is now associated with success regardless of the role or daily tasks. It seems we have forgotten that only one or two generations back Emiratis were the ones doing all that hard labor.

The cultural stigma surrounding my experience of becoming a taxi driver seemed to extend beyond my own community. When I first got into the Careem offices to train and register myself, a South Asian Careem captain (captains are what they call their drivers) asked me what I was doing there, when I told him I was becoming a driver, he asked “Are you allowed to do that?” What’s funny about his question was at first I thought it was from a legal perspective, so I simply replied that I had a legal driving license and was fit for employment. He then clarified his question “No, I mean will people allow you?”

Even though many may not share his perception nowadays, it is somewhat worrying that a person working in the industry believes you might be doing something wrong or offensive towards your community based on the job you are holding. I have always believed in the value of honest work and that no work is below anyone. I guess that is something we are starting to learn as more and more of us take on non-traditional careers, where starting from the bottom becomes the norm, and believing that what we contribute counts more than the title on our business card.

Getting Prepared

When I arrived at the Careem offices, I was welcomed by the manager and led into a conference room to be trained, and to develop a strong understanding of the Careem values and technology before being allowed to pick up passengers.

The training was straight to the point. What was interesting was how the values they entrusted in us as captains were also values that make us better human beings: greet and welcome passengers, provide them with water, be courteous and turn down the radio, take care of your car and yourself, and make sure you are always presentable. I loved how easy the values were to embed into my life, and the simple reality is, if you are a good human being with a driving license, you will make the perfect Careem captain.

The technology they use is seamless; I was taught how to accept new passengers and how to keep the passengers and the head office informed about my whereabouts. The key here was for me as the captain to remove all elements of worry from the passenger. Passengers normally worry when they don’t know what’s going on in a situation, when they are not being informed. But the beauty of the technology used by Careem is that passengers can track where the driver (captain) is, call him/her, get a clear understanding of how long it will take the driver to reach, and how long it will take the driver to drop the passengers at their destination. It’s beautiful.

Upon completion of my training, I was awarded my certificate and the trainer looked me in the eyes and said “Welcome, you are now a Careem captain”. I could see how he was instilling a sense of pride in me, which I felt wholeheartedly. They could have just as easily checked my license, ensured I was fit to drive, and pointed me to the car. Probably the best way to sum up the training and orientation was I felt human, that I was treated with respect, and in the grand scheme of things, that I mattered.

Khalid Al Ameri getting in his Careem car for his work-shift

Khalid Al Ameri getting in his Careem car for his work-shift

Being A Captain

When I first got in the car to pick up my first passenger, I felt really nervous, which I assume is natural on the first day of any job. What I noticed however, was that once I started driving that feeling went away, I guess because the nature of the job requires you to focus on several things: the road, your GPS, and getting where you need to be. In a sense, I didn’t have time to be stressed.

My feelings started to change when I picked up my first passenger, and I finally got into my element. From opening the door and welcoming them to their ride, greeting and confirming their names (I didn’t want to be halfway across town only to realize I had the wrong passenger), to talking with them – it seemed to break down the social barriers, we were equals even though I was the one technically working for them at the time.

Almost every passenger I picked up had something positive to say about being driven around by an Emirati. They said their cab ride had essentially become an experience rather than a task of simply getting where they need to be. The thing I loved the most about being a Careem captain was talking with the passengers. They mentioned several times they felt they were learning something about the UAE, and at the same time, I felt proud that I was getting an opportunity to share Emirati stories with people who very likely never engaged with the Emirati community. Imagine in that one cab ride you can change perceptions and thoughts one may have from the media and stereotypes; it was now my chance to at least try to show them the true Emirati essence, straight from the heart.

As I continued to drive throughout the day, I actually forgot I was being a driver, since Careem cars are regular cars with tinted windows and the latest technology, so throughout the trips I felt less exposed than I expected. I do realize the nature of the car probably played a big role in how I felt; at the end of the day, this wasn’t a marked taxi car with a sign on top of the roof. Perhaps it would have felt different driving in a marked taxi; it’s more likely that I would have gotten a lot more stares every time I stopped at a traffic light.

When I think about creating change in a society, especially when it comes to matters that are surrounded by cultural stigma, I feel it’s sometimes best to take things slow and with a softer approach. That is why I feel companies such as Careem could play a big role in shifting cultural perceptions on certain industries. The work is the same (you are still a taxi or chauffer driver at the end of the day), but the look and feel is completely different. In part, this was the idea I wanted to spread amongst the people of the UAE, an idea that I hope is a stepping stone for Emiratis to enter more nontraditional jobs.

The End

By the end of the day, I had had a total of 5 passengers in my car, 3 separate rides over the course of a 4-hour shift, and it was awesome. Now many may say that this was only a one day experience and it is different when you have to do this day in and day out. I agree and for obvious reasons, I didn’t get much of an idea on the salary and if it could sustain a life for a driver and her or his family. These are all points I take note of and feel are very important in creating a true and deeper understanding of the job.

You know how you work on a project for months and finally get the approval and that happy sense of achievement? Well, I felt little sparks of that after dropping each passenger off, getting a stronger sense of pride for the work and seeing how satisfied and more knowledgeable passengers were about the Emirati community.

It’s interesting how the definition of Careem (Kareem) is to be generous and giving. I find that when we give a part of ourselves to the service of others we become closer as a community. I guess my lesson at the end of the day is that meaningful work comes in all shapes and forms, but what matters at the end of the day is being treated with generosity and sharing that generosity with others, regardless of what you do for a living.

There are times where we all have to question our perceptions of people and the work they do; when you see someone in a suit what do you think of them versus someone in orange overalls? When you see someone being driven in a Rolls Royce what you do think of them versus someone driven in a taxi to their destination? We tend to judge people based purely on their line of work without actually getting to know anything about them. The important thing to remember as one passenger said is that we are all human, we all have hopes and dreams, and I doubt any of our dreams would change if we had a different job tomorrow.


This article is sponsored by Careem.

Mani-Pedis and a Diaper Change

Bahar Al Awadhi (@bahargpedram)

Bahar Al Awadhi (@bahargpedram)

Column Name: The Words Within
Bahar is a recruiter by profession, an aspiring writer by night, and a mom of toddler twins. She has an unending thirst for learning, as she completed her BComm in Canada, an MA in Dubai, and continues to develop herself with reading and research.
With her column, she shares her journey as she grows and learns more about this crazy beautiful world we live in.
Bahar Al Awadhi (@bahargpedram)

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Article in Brief: The author writes about the risks of instilling superficiality in children by encouraging them to indulge in spa treats and designer outfits.

Artwork by Amna Al Saleh (@Tepingi)

Artwork by Amna Al Saleh (@Tepingi)

Back in the day, children would run around in the sand, play ball, and have tea parties with their dolls. For today’s children, this is apparently something outdated. We now have spas for children to get pampered and be “stress-free” and relaxed. Imagine my surprise when I was searching for children’s play areas in Dubai, and I came across a spa menu with massages, facials, and mani/pedis for them instead. I found a spa dedicated for children with options such as “Posh Pampering Package” for the “VIP”. You can now even throw a spa party for your child to enjoy with their friends on birthdays.

Another phenomenon is the increase in babies and children’s accounts or pages on social media by their parents or families. It is understandable if people do so to keep account of their children’s growth and share this with their friends and family. However, there are others who proudly post photos of their children dressed like adults, and girls carrying designer bags and being labelled as young divas. With this trend, it seems as though children are being used as an accessory to boost people’s superficial need for public attention. In today’s world of selfies and social acceptance, are people using their kids for self-gratification?

By placing so much importance on looks and designer outfits, these stylish children are being raised to be superficial and materialistic, while we should be teaching them the real values in life. The danger arises when such actions become so normal that others feel the need to choose between either following this trend or being left behind. My daughter turns two this month and I already have people around me telling me to buy her a purse, or asking why I don’t accessorize her outfit with jewelry. My answer is that she is just a toddler and doesn’t need a purse or jewelry hanging in her way as she runs around and climbs things, as she should be doing at this age.

Children learn through what they see, and it is natural that little girls would mimic their mothers as they dress up or wear make up to go out. They will be exposed to this and playing dress up at home is completely fine and can even encourage creativity. My daughter notices my lipstick or nail polish and likes wearing my shoes, but I still dress her at a befitting age, and try to focus on giving her space for creative play, story-telling, and other things that children should be doing instead.

An occasional salon visit with mom may not be so harmful, but placing too much focus on appearance and public display can bring about self-esteem issues in the future for these little children. Making spa rituals a part of their life at such a young age can only take away from their childhood. Children shouldn’t be thinking about being accepted on social media and worried about how many “likes” they can get.

Children should be allowed to let loose, run wild, and get dirty. Dubai’s summers may be too hot to go outside, but there are enough indoor play areas available that provide your children with creativity, fun, and free play, without having to resort to taking them to spas. These children will eventually grow up and will have to face the responsibilities of life, so in the meantime, why can’t we just let our kids be kids? There is no need to rush our children to become adults, when they can use this time in their lives to hop, skip, and make a mess of things, while they still can.


References:

Shine On With Serums

Deema Al Mheiri (@deedeee_)

Deema is a Visual Artist who expresses herself through different mediums that vary from paint to cosmetics. Just like a palette, experimenting with products is key to a colorful canvas. Her column is a collection of tried and tested beauty tips and tricks of the trade that will assist in emphasizing your beautiful features.

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Article in brief: The author explores two serum products that will add shine to your hair and skin.

Artwork by Marwah Fuad (Twitter: @marwah_f1, Instagram: @ElMeem_Artistry)

Artwork by Marwah Fuad (Twitter: @marwah_f1, Instagram: @ElMeem_Artistry)

Oil based products such as hair serums or face oils are especially good for combating dryness, but the key to using such products is to keep in mind that less is sometimes more in terms of the amount.

Most people believe that hair serums are greasy and weigh the hair down. For a long time, I believed that too, until I tried the “Matrix Oil wonders- Egyptian Hibiscus Oil”. Not only does it add incredible shine to the hair, it also protects it from styling tools and environmental factors, which in our case would be our oh-so bright sun.

Serums work better when applied on damp hair focusing mainly on the ends of the hair while avoiding the scalp. Spread a small amount on the palm of your hands and evenly coat your hair, as this will ensure maximum protection. Adding hair serum to your hair routine promotes healthier locks in the long run. Apart from all the benefits of serums this one has a great scent, which is an important make-or-break factor for some. It works well with both colored and non-colored hair.

Matrix- Oil Wonders Egyptian Hibiscus Color Care Oil

Matrix- Oil Wonders Egyptian Hibiscus Color Care Oil

Bia & Ule is an environmentally friendly company that specializes in creating natural skin care products. The “forty winks” beauty oil has become a staple in my night regimen; it is an intensive face oil treatment that is especially needed for dull looking skin. This treatment is packed with ingredients such as Argan, Calendula, Jojoba and pure essentials oils and it is suitable for all skin types. It is particularly useful for when you want radiant skin, and all you need to achieve that is 3-4 drops on clean, damp skin in the evening to brighten up your complexion.

Bia & Ule- Forty Winks Nourishing & Healing Rose Maroc Beauty Oil 25 ml, AED 230 Visit online page: http://www.biaandule.com/forty-winks Instagram: @BIAANDULE

Bia & Ule- Forty Winks Nourishing & Healing Rose Maroc Beauty Oil
Instagram: @BIAANDULE

The cause of dry skin and hair could be a combination of many reasons such as our weather, our diet, genetics, and lack of hydration. A quick non-make up solution to that can be the addition of a filter to water taps as it reduces all the unnecessary chemicals that we are often exposed to.


References:

Understanding the Value of Food and Overcoming Food Wastage

Shurooq AlBanna (@Shuroooq)

Shurooq AlBanna (@Shuroooq)

Column: A Moment of Contemplation
Shurooq, an Emarati from Dubai, has been on a journey of self-discovery ever since she shifted career from Science to humanitarian where she found joy. Her interests include traveling and foreign films. Shurooq’s column is influenced by those distinctive moments that give a deeper perspective on life.
Shurooq AlBanna (@Shuroooq)

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Article in brief: we do not have to remain in the food wastage crisis but we can take small steps towards a solution.

Artwork by Aalaa Albastaki (Instagram:@lalaa_albastaki, Twitter: @AalaaAlbastaki)

Artwork by Aalaa Albastaki (Instagram:@lalaa_albastaki, Twitter: @AalaaAlbastaki)

We were taught as children not to waste food. Our mothers reprimanded us by saying: “Finish your food. Starving people dream of having your dinner”. If such a message is ingrained in us, why do we not live by it nowadays?

Picture this common scenario: A small group of three or four get together in a restaurant. They order almost everything off the menu. They pick at their plates and take photos for their social media accounts. Most of the dishes will remain untouched. More often than not, nobody will ask to take away the leftovers, and the restaurant will dispose any uneaten food.

I have seen this scenario way too often and was unaffected by this growing trend until one morning when I happened to be at a local breakfast place.

After a delicious meal, a waitress began clearing our table, and took the untouched fresh breadbasket and tossed it in the bin right in front of us. That was an eye opener for me. At the back of our heads, we all know that extra food will be thrown away by the restaurant behind closed doors. However, as long as we don’t see it, it is easier to deal with it. It is one thing to read about food being wasted, and it is completely different thing to witness it. I got irritated by the incident. Had I seen this coming, I would have asked them to pack the breadbasket for me.

According to the UNEP (United Nations Environment Program), 1.3 billion tons of food go wasted every year[*]. At the same time, there are so many efforts trying to curb this issue. Even influential television shows such as ‘Khawater’ bring this issue of food wastage up year after year in an attempt to bring about change.

But in a society of excessiveness and conspicuous consumption, many are undaunted by the idea of hunger and starvation. To some, rumbling tummies are only experienced during Ramadan. So what can be done about it?

One solution is to encourage changing habits by first influencing the mindset. People will only stop wasting food once they start valuing it. The way I see it, change starts at home. We would benefit in the long term by re-educating mothers and raising awareness about wasting food in schools.

This is how I changed my habits. During a work trip to a remote village in Ghana, I encountered a child selling fruits on the street. I decided to buy a mango from him and started eating it only to notice the eyes that were on me. I remembered my mother’s words and how we tossed away food that others would be delighted to eat. From that moment on, I started appreciating every bite. This in turn made me order less in restaurants, or take the leftovers home. Other societies have advanced by creating a culture of leftover recipes. This is worth considering.

In the old days, we shared our food with our neighbors. We never looked at food as simply nutrition but as a blessing and a privilege. In order to prevent food wastage, we do not have to abandon eating out. We simply have to raise awareness and value food by doing small meaningful adjustments such as ordering less food at restaurants and taking home the leftovers.


[*] http://www.unep.org/wed/theme/food.asp

Communication from Talking to Texting

Mozah Al Samahi (@_mozah)

Mozah Al Samahi (@_mozah)

Eager learner with two academic achievements: Bachelors in Management(AUS) & Masters in International Business (Brunel University, London). Mozah is an insightful motivated individual who enjoys spreading her thoughts out loud by being a spontaneous wanderer in life’s journey. Her columns are based on the changing issues facing the Emirati society especially the youth. She is an adventurous who is eager to spread positivity and creativity. Mozah doesn’t believe in the word “impossible”.
Mozah Al Samahi (@_mozah)

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Article in brief: verbal communication is at a threat of disappearing as a result of strong attachments to mobile phones.

Artwork by Dana AlAttar (@DanaAlAttar)

Artwork by Dana AlAttar (@DanaAlAttar)

Mobile technology developments have affected our lives both positively and negatively. However, I would like to touch upon a particular downside of mobile technology, i.e., its capability of killing direct communication between all of us today. I began noticing that most of the time when I sit with my friends, family, or colleagues, everyone is on their mobile phones. Regardless of their age or interests, everyone is hooked to his or her phone and deeply engaged with some form of social media. Cellular technology has indeed developed significantly since it was first introduced in the 70’s, but in my opinion, there is limited capacity for personal interaction because of technology. I miss having conversations with people who appreciate the meaning of communication.

In a world filled with instant messages, tweets and video content messages, are we communicating any better? Is it really hard to let go of the technology that sits in the palm of our hands for more than 12 hours a day? Can we manage to control our addiction to virtual interactions? I’m not saying we should cut back on using the internet or communicating through the internet, instead, I’m saying we should at least respect each other when we go out, have long unforgettable conversations, laughs, and a memorable time.

The other day I was sitting in a café reading a book. I couldn’t help but notice the people sitting on the tables around me hooked on their phones, no one is talking or interacting, sounds are buried, and eyes are focused solely on the screen. It was disturbing, and my heart ached at first, seeing what has become of society. I’m not against technology at all, rather I’m upset that it’s slowly sucking the soul out of our time with family and friends. It seems like something we can’t escape away from.

Today, I can almost always guarantee that at least one person is holding a conversation with another individual using their phone. A conversation could take place face to face, but we can’t be certain that everyone is paying full attention, or that it contains much depth. With a focus on conversations through technology, it is harder to maintain our relationships with those physically near us. Unfortunately, this trend will continue as technology advances and we move further into the digital age. We are losing our humanity through losing our interests outside of the Internet world.

I agree that technology does indeed make our lives better, but it is not making us any better in terms of verbal communication. I am sure there are people out there who are not as attached to their phones as others, and can perfectly manage and control the level of mobile engagement and have great social interaction when with their family or friends. But for those who can’t, I do suggest that the next time you head to a gathering you try to keep your phone away and enjoy the moment with the loved ones. Perhaps if you are the hostess you could politely gather all the phones and put them away for a period of time. At the end of the day, the beauty of a social gathering inspires us to be alive, joyful, and thankful.

Mourning Sheikh Rashid Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum

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)

Rashed mbr

Dubai’s ruler’s court announced today morning the official mourning of Sheikh Rashid Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the eldest son of HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

The official announcement from the ruler’s court has declared the cause of death to be a heart attack at the young age of 34 years old.

The funeral prayer will be held today after Al Maghrib prayer in Za’abeel mosque, and the burial will be in Um Hurair cemetery.

The official mourning period in Dubai will be of 3 days starting from today, in which the flags will be held at half-mast on Dubai’s governmental organizations and authorities, and the media channels will respectfully air Quran recitation aside of the news. It’s advised in this sensitive time as a sign of respect to avoid loud music, and delay any celebrations.

We pray God will accept Sheikh Rashid’s soul in his heavens with forgiveness and mercy.

Go Set A Watchman: Prequel or Sequel?

Maitha Almuhairi (@Maithani)

Maitha Almuhairi (@Maithani)

Column: Pocket Full of Books
An avid reader, Maitha has always dreamt of being a recognized novelist and poet. For the last decade she focused on HR as a career, which has taken her away from her dream, but it’s never too late. Her column Pocket full of Books focuses on book reviews and doesn’t necessarily focus on a specific genre.
Maitha Almuhairi (@Maithani)

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Article in brief: the author gives us her review about Harper Lee’s newly published book “Go Set A Watchman”, and why the agrees with the reviews already published about it.

Front cover of Go Set A Watchman

Front cover of Go Set A Watchman

The literary world went into frenzy upon the announcement of the discovery of the manuscript. Harper Lee’s Go Set A Watchman is considered to be a sequel to her To Kill A Mockingbird. However, it is actually the first draft that had brought To Kill A Mockingbird to life. Ever since its publication in July 2015 Go Set A Watchman has been fuelling the debate of whether it deserved to be published or not.

The novel is written in third person narrative. It still follows the story of Scout who now goes by her real name Jean-Louis Finch. The setting of Go Set A Watchman takes place twenty years after the events of To Kill A Mockingbird, where Jean-Louis Finch now lives in New York.

“Not the question of whether snot-nosed niggers will go to school with your children or ride the front of the bus…” – Atticus Finch

Her father Atticus Finch, the hero of To Kill A Mockingbird, is now a seventy-two years old man. As the novel progresses Atticus reveals himself to be a racist and a bigot, which is the complete opposite of what his character was in To Kill A Mockingbird. Harper Lee portrayed him to be a hero, readers have admired for his integrity in standing up for a black man who was wrongly accused of rape. When it comes to this, I believe Atticus Finch has never been the great honourable man we think he was. Since To Kill A Mockingbird was written through the perspective of a six-year-old, maybe that’s only how Jean-Louis saw her father, but not how he really was.

“The one human being she had ever fully and wholeheartedly trust had failed her; the only man she had ever known to whom she could point and say with expert knowledge, “He is a gentleman, in his heart he is a gentleman,” Had betrayed her, publicly, grossly, and shamelessly.”

Like its preceding piece, this novel discussed the theme of racism too. But this time, the author portrayed Atticus Finch to be outwardly racist who believes black people should not be allowed to have civil rights just yet. “Now think about this, what would happen if all the Negroes in the south were suddenly given full civil rights? I’ll tell you. There’d be another Reconstruction. Would you want your state governments run by people who don’t know how to run’em? Do you want this town run by-now wait a minute- Willoughby’s a crook, we know that, but do you know of any Negro who knows as much as Willoughby? Zeebo’d probably be Mayor of Maycomb. Would you want someone of Zeebo’s capability to handle the town’s money? We’re outnumbered, you know?”-Atticus Finch.

The novel has also seemed to go around the theme of sexism and this appears at the beginning of the novel when Henry Clinton, Jean-Louis’s alleged suitor, advises her on how to behave around men in order to seem pleasant. “Hold your tongue. Don’t argue with a man, especially when you know you can beat him. Smile a lot. Make him feel big. Tell him how wonderful he is, and wait on him” –Henry Clinton.

I need to be honest and add my voice to those who believe Go Set A Watchman should not have been published. I did not like this novel or its characters. Throughout the novel none of the characters developed and they all seemed one-dimensional. I have found them to be unmemorable and underdeveloped. The book left me confused and at times I avoided my reading times because I was not enjoying it as much as To Kill A Mockingbird, this made me wonder why this piece wasn’t as well edited as Harper Lee’s first novel. I now understand why Harper Lee’s agent discarded this piece, and can sympathise with that decision.

Separating Work from Home

Sidiqa Sohail (@sid_90)

Sidiqa Sohail (@sid_90)

Column: Musings of An Entrepreneur

Sidiqa is 25 years old and is half-Emirati and half-Pakistani. She has a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the American University of Sharjah and a Master’s degree in Conflict Prevention, Sustainable Peace, and Security from the University of Durham in the UK. Sidiqa owns and manages the boutique-café concept store “Spontiphoria” in Wasl Square, Jumeirah.
Sidiqa Sohail (@sid_90)

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Article in brief: the author discusses the importance of making a clear distinction between home and work when starting up a small business.

Artwork by Farah Al Balooshi (Instagram: @SenoritaFarah, Twitter: @FarahAlBalooshi)

Artwork by Farah Al Balooshi (Instagram: @SenoritaFarah, Twitter: @FarahAlBalooshi)

It’s so easy for your small business to take over your life. In fact, as I mentioned in a couple of earlier articles, for a long while, when it starts up, it is your life. Your business is also your baby and you become fiercely protective of it. In light of that, it’s extremely easy to always be working; in the business, on the business, and for the business. If you don’t pay attention, your work will spill over into your personal life and will take over what should be your prioritized free time. That’s where the trouble begins.

Owning a business is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it grants you the “flexible schedule” so many people covet. But on the other hand, it becomes your life and work responsibilities never end once before it’s 6pm. When I first opened Spontiphoria, I noticed that the “flexible work schedule” everyone seems to envy in business owners isn’t really all what it seems. My work responsibilities took over my life and structured my day- on many instances in the early days, I had no control over how my day was planned. I was constantly on call dealing with initial crises and teething issues. Now that systems have been in place a while, things are finally less frantic and hectic and I do get to experience some of that flexibility. The best thing about it is obviously working during the hours that I want and at a location that I choose. However, that could also be trouble.

Because I run a small business and I make up the accounting, marketing, purchasing, managing the “departments” involved in running it, my office is me. I take my office wherever I can and if I can squeeze in a couple of hours of work on a lazy Friday afternoon, then I do that. If it’s 10pm and I’m not that sleepy yet, why shouldn’t I spend that time being productive and getting a head-start on next week’s tasks? It’s so easy to get caught up in all your entrepreneurial responsibilities that the line between work and home becomes increasingly blurred. But then, once in a while you will have that moment of external clarity, and you will wonder if working so much is really worth it when you’re not doing the simple things in life you really enjoy. What are you waiting for? If you keep putting it off till next month or next year, it will never happen. Live in the moment and be aware.

It is so important to be mindful and to realize when you are working on what should otherwise be “leisure time”. Despite the fact that productivity and success are defined by how many hours you’ve worked, leisure time is necessary and it’s healthy both for you and your business.

No matter how difficult it may be, try to set working hours for yourself. Have a cut-off point. If it’s 7pm and all you want to do is read a book and curl up on the couch, then do that! There’s nothing that can’t wait till tomorrow. A new day and a fresh outlook works wonders for productivity. Try to set boundaries and stick to them. Incentivize yourself to do so. When you make the decision that you only have till a certain hour to finish today’s tasks, it will also help you be more efficient in your work because you will be working towards that target.

The first few months of a business are extremely exhausting but also rewarding. As such, implementing such a work/life balance will not be that easy in the beginning. But have a structure from the outset and consistently try to reach it. When you cross that bridge when things are stabilized and running by themselves then adopting a proper work schedule (even if it’s from home) will be easier to do.

Eco-Friendly Fashion Makes Its Mark

Reem Al Suwaidi (@LumeiRee)

Reem Al Suwaidi (@LumeiRee)

Column: Habillez-Moi (which means “dress me” in French)
Reem is a fashion fanatic. She used her talents of critiquing to start a blog called “We Voice Fashion” along with a partner that shares her views on the world of fashion and design. Through her column, she likes to explore fashion in a philosophical way at times.
http://wevoicefashion.com
Reem Al Suwaidi (@LumeiRee)

Article in brief: author observes the growing impact of eco-friendly fashion.

Picture on quality of products from H&M

Picture on quality of products from H&M

With the mounting awareness of global warming, the fashion industry took its own stand for sustainability. For example, brands are formulating new ways of design by incorporating recycled materials into their garments. The designers combined effort is characterized by their willingness to “go green”, but for some it’s a marketing attempt to attract eco-friendly consumers.

Consumers that follow trends may commit to the movement and join in for the sake of ­the hype, motivating corporations and brands alike to fabricate sustainable products. For some brands, production of such goods is not considered as a sincere move from the management, with most of them being pressured into manufacturing them. Despite this fact, is it profitable for such brands to offer these products that publicize energy-preserving garments?

In terms of profitability, many designers have maximized revenue due to their eco-friendly garments. A prime example is Stella McCartney, who has made a name for herself in the industry in the past decade or so for successfully manufacturing products that are vegan and cruelty-free, even going as far as avoiding real leather. For bags, McCartney uses faux-leather and does not include PVC in any of her designs.

Stella McCartney's bags from their website

Stella McCartney’s bags from their website

According to Kering Group, the process of making actual leather can greatly damage the environment including forests, while also intensifying the usage of water, cotton, and heavy metal in order to make designer bags. Not to mention the unethical ways of creating exotic bags, which mostly require skinning animals including crocodiles, snakes, and African ostriches. Most of the time, brands face ethical issues resulting from the ways in which the bags are created.

Recently Hermès encountered legal problems from acclaimed actress Jane Birkin, in which she asked the French brand to rename the “Birkin” bag, which was named after her. Following the release of a PETA documentary in which the organization explores how crocodiles were savagely butchered in order to make these bags, the actress refused to be associated with this item, which maximized Hermès’ profits.

Accordingly, Swedish retailer H&M released two collections titled the “Conscious Collection” that was aimed at producing clothes that were produced ethically and in no way harmed the environment. With the assistance from Ever Manifesto founders Elizabeth von Guttman and Alexia Niedzielski, H&M was not only able to create a sustainable collection, but clothes that were fashionable and immediately sold out upon sale.

H&M had accomplished this by collecting 7,600 tones of garments that were not wanted by customers i.e. almost 38 million shirts. It took 8,500 liters (2,245 gallons) of water to raise 1 kg (2.2 pounds) of cotton lint; this is estimated by The World Wildlife Fund to make one pair of blue jeans. The price-point was also considerably reasonable (taking into account its exclusivity), ranging from AED 65.93 to AED 2016.48.

In addition, another worldwide fashion retailer that took part in the movement, Armani Jeans, have been experimenting with incorporating eco fabrics into design since the mid 90’s. Their first eco project was the process of recycling denim, which was new to people and the jeans were displayed at the Science and Technology Museum of Milan, the first of its kind. During the same year Armani Jeans integrated new materials into their line using 60% recycled wool, cross-dyed cotton, and introduced hemp eco washes.

In the end it comes down to how the products are made, and whether it’s goodwill oozing from designers or just another way to maximize profit. Either way – it’s a milestone for fashion and its designers, and a positive note for our planet. Sometimes, faux can be as good as the real thing.


References:

Ride with @CareemUAE and @KhalidAlAmeri (#RideWithKhalid)

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)

Article in brief: everything you need to know about #RideWithKhalid day.

TW_RIDEWITHKHALID_4_

As some of you may have noticed from our social media accounts, we’ve partnered with our writer Khalid Al Ameri to showcase Careem in a whole new way, and to shed light on the chauffeuring experience from an Emirati angle for many reasons that will be shared soon through Khalid’s writings.

For those who may not know about Careem, Careem is an Emirati based company that provides chauffeur driven car services which can be booked through the convenience of mobile apps, web, and through the phone. The service is provided 24/7, and you can either request a chauffeur to pick you up right away, or at a later specified time by you.

Though Careem has started in the UAE, it has expanded its reach to most GCC countries, and to Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco, and also in Pakistan.

So what have we been done with Careem? Khalid has spent a day at their premises, interviewed all the departments to understand their corporate culture better and everything they do. He then spent the rest of the day chauffeuring in a Careem car, picking up some customers and dropping them to their destinations, while interviewing them along the way with fun discussions.

This has been picked up by The National newspaper and they’ve covered it on the day we announced it here. And also, one of the customers that Khalid has picked up as a Careem chauffeur was Fida Chaaban, the editor in chief of Entrepreneur Middle East magazine:

We will be sharing soon a video that summarizes the entire experience, and Khalid will also be reflecting on the experience and write a couple of articles on Careem from a corporate perspective as well as from a chauffeur perspective. Stay tuned and follow our social media accounts to stay updated about this.