Outsourced Parenting

Omar Al Owais (@OMSAlowais)

Omar Al Owais (@OMSAlowais)

Omar is an International Relations Student at the American University of Sharjah, with a passion towards politics and a devotion towards the rhythmic arts of poetry and prose.
Omar Al Owais (@OMSAlowais)

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Reading Time: 6 minutes

The author discusses the implications of household help’s increased role in our children’s lives.

Artwork by Hayat AlHassan (@HayatAlH)

Artwork by Hayat AlHassan (@HayatAlH)

A husband and his wife walk in the shopping center, behind them walk their three toddlers, Salem, Saif, and Maryam, and two housemaids, Mary and Jane. Saif was playfully running behind them, often coming in the way of passersby. Salem was walking alone, preoccupied with his world. He walks with a runny nose and wet streams of tears on his cheeks. Mary was on the phone the entire time. With urbanization and modernization in the United Arab Emirates came a new family structure to cope with the demands of the modern parent, which somewhat correlates with the customs of the UAE.

A study by Rabaa Al Sumaiti, a bilingual inspector at the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), suggests that young children in the UAE can spend between 30 and 70 hours per week in the care of domestic staff, which is longer than what most children spend in institutional childcare in the United States or Europe. Such exposure to people outside the family circle could lead to grave consequences for children’s maternal attachment, leading to emotional tensions when nannies finish their contracts and leave the home (Almazroui, 2014). The dependence of Emirati households on household help to raise children has occurred as a result of the conflict that exists between outdated social standards and current day norms.

The modern UAE society places significant emphasis on marriage, and it is often a rushed decision, stemming from the wife and husband’s desire to start a new chapter in life, and the pride many parents assume on the marriage of their children. As a result, there is an apparent lack of awareness about such responsibilities in married lives. While the chapter that follows marriage is childbearing, the preparation and knowledge don’t meet expectations. Children are brought into this world by parents who aren’t aware of the skills that will help them survive this world.

There are 70% more Emirati women who have higher education diplomas than men (Ridge, 2011). Women alone have contributed USD 3.4 billion to the UAE economy, according to Raja Al Gurg, president of the Dubai Businesswomen Council and the managing director of Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group (Glass, 2007). Women’s social advancement has contributed to shifting the family structure in the UAE, as traditionally, mothers play the bigger role in the raising of children. However, with current day ambitions, the responsibilities of women have multiplied tenfold, and as such, many parental responsibilities are outsourced, as now, both mothers and fathers are working.

The “outsourcing of parental responsibilities” has resulted in many negative outcomes. It contributed to the creation of two binaries; neglect and overindulgence, both of which exist as a result of insufficient parental involvement in the present child’s early years (Sultan, 2008). Additionally, it caused the development of awkward social norms among the children; a state of confusion between the behavior of the household help and the expected behavior or traits in this society. Parents are held at blame for the language deficiencies and behavioral changes of their kids, which can be a result of an overbearing reliance on household help for raising them, most of who come from different social and language backgrounds.

A survey was conducted by myself on 41 respondents, a majority of whom were Emirati mothers above the age of 30. They were asked about their reflections on any impacts, whether positive or negative, of their children’s interactions with the household help. A majority expressed their concern over their children’s deteriorating language skills, as Arabic is not the first language of many of the household help. The respondents noticed behavior in their children that the parents disapproved of, often because those actions contradicted the teachings this society was built upon. Some mothers feel concerned about the reliance on housemaids being passed down to the children, in which they misplace trust in people they have no formal connection with at such a young age, as well as overindulging by taking advantage of their position as the employer’s children.

The presence of housemaids in households, however, is not an entirely negative aspect. It has helped relieve working mothers of household chores and posed as a stress reliever from the busy lifestyle many of the country’s working mothers lead. Their presence allowed the mothers to rewind and attend to family-related duties more often.

While modernization is necessary, sustaining future generations with proper upbringing is equally important. There are more female Emiratis with higher education qualifications than male Emiratis. Additionally, Emirati women contribute to USD 3.4 billion to the UAE economy. Therefore, reassuming previous family structures in which the father is the sole breadwinner, and the mother is responsible for raising children hinders equality and sustainable economic growth in the country. Child-raising should be a shared responsibility between the mother and father. In such a setting, the child will receive the necessary care and attention from both parents, the parents will maintain a more even balance between their work lives and family lives, and minimal external sources of help will be required, whether from housemaids or grandparents and in-laws. Additionally, it is imperative to introduce more nurseries in workplaces. Even if the child is not with his parents for the duration of their working hours, they are in an immediate environment, which can be debated to be safer or at least more reassuring for the child than being left alone at home with the help. It is important to note that to meet social development, equal attention should be paid to sustain future generations to their full potential.


Almazroui, A. (2014). Parents must be more involved in children’s lives | The National. Thenational.ae. Retrieved 17 November 2015, from http://www.thenational.ae/thenationalconversation/comment/parents-must-be-more-involved-in-childrens-lives

Glass, A. (2007). Working women contribute US$3.4bn to the UAE’s economy. Arabian Business. Retrieved 16 November 2015, from http://www.arabianbusiness.com/working-women-contribute-us-3-4bn-the-uae-s-economy-157854.html

Ridge, N. (2011). Why women graduates outnumber men in the UAE. Gulfnews.com. Retrieved 23 November 2015, from http://gulfnews.com/gn-focus/why-women-graduates-outnumber-men-in-the-uae-1.790849

Sultan, A. (2008). A maid is not a mother, even if the children turn to her first | The National. Thenational.ae. Retrieved 11 November 2015, from http://www.thenational.ae/thenationalconversation/comment/a-maid-is-not-a-mother-even-if-the-children-turn-to-her-first

Enlighten Yourself, One Book at a Time

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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Reading Time: 5 minutes

The author discusses the declaration of 2016 as the Year of Reading by the UAE leaders and the hope that this will bring forth.

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

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

Our visionary leaders have done it again. With the belief that a nation can only prosper through the knowledge and wisdom of its people, the UAE President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and the Vice President, Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, have mandated that 2016 be the “Year of Reading”. This time, it is not about having the biggest and the best that money can buy, but rather the brightest minds that can impact the country and drive society to a better future.

This is in a bid to encourage the citizens and residents of the UAE to spend more time in reading and appreciating books. The Arab Thought Foundation has released alarming figures of how little time is spent reading in the Arab world. It has claimed that an Arab child’s average reading rate per year is only 6 minutes, while in the West it is 12,000 minutes. To counteract the potential threat of declining intellect in the Arab world, our leaders in the UAE established the “Year of Reading”.

Our leaders recognize the importance of reading and how this needs to be revived again amongst our children and future generations to come. They have, therefore, taken this upon themselves to spread the message nationwide. This is now trending all across social media, with the hashtag “Year of Reading” and “UAE Reads” (عام القراءة). As with all things on social media, this may be another phenomenon that quickly catches on as people jump on the bandwagon, but the hope is that some will see beyond this “trend” and actually become genuine drivers of this goal.

In a time where social media has given rise to regular people to become “influencers”, some without any real justification, it is great to have a chance for book lovers to also get a voice and be heard. Today’s generation may be all about the latest technology, and being immersed in tablets and video games, but the world of books is also not far behind. The book scene has also evolved for the “modern” users by being available on various online platforms, such as the Kindle and Kobo. Book lovers may argue over their preference of traditional paperback versus online books, but that is a debate for another day. Whichever platform you prefer, a book is still a book and provides the same value and learning opportunity.

Reading is not only a form of entertainment, but a door to knowledge and greater understanding of the world. Reading provides access to information that you may not normally have at hand. It can help bridge gaps between different cultures and religion by promoting tolerance and understanding. Research has also shown that reading fiction can build empathy as readers learn to understand the feelings and thoughts of others. Readers get to place themselves in various shoes and see life from a different perspective. Reading is also beneficial to one’s personal health, not only can it reduce stress, but it also improves memory and concentration, as well as encourage mental stimulation.

I hope that the “Year of Reading” does take precedence, especially with schools and parents, as they hold the key to raising a generation of book lovers. Schools should incorporate books and storytelling across all ages in a fun and interactive way, and allow students to have access to various genres to ensure that everyone can find a book they are interested in. Book clubs and discussions should be regular occurrences to encourage critical thinking.

Parents should also devote time every day with their children and read them stories. This does not only encourage children to love the art of reading, but also provides an opportunity for bonding. Children can learn social skills, morals, and all about the world around them as they tend to soak up information that is presented to them. Books and storytelling are great ways for children to enjoy and learn valuable lessons as they grow up. Imagine a world of possibilities with just 30 minutes of reading to your children every day.

The “Year of Reading” is already on the go with various initiatives already approved by our leaders, such as competitions to encourage reading, the donation of books, the building of new libraries, and many others. This can only bring us hope that the UAE is on its way to a brighter future, through intellect, knowledge, and open minds.


Don’t Settle For Comfort, Settle For Happiness

Shamma Aldabal (@ShammaMD)

Shamma Aldabal (@ShammaMD)

Column: 12 Lessons
Shamma holds a Masters Degree in Human Rights and a BA in International Affairs. She currently works as an instructor at Zayed University. Having volunteered with people with disability for more than 10 years, she devotes her career and free time to work closely with vulnerable groups to create a visible impact in society. Having interests in philosophy, human psyche, sociology, and literature her column “12 Lessons” will focus on issues that we face as a part of the trial and error process that is life.
Shamma Aldabal (@ShammaMD)

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

Many of us are chained in aspects of our lives that make us unhappy, and we do it for all the wrong reasons.

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

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

How often do we hear people complain about their job? How often do we hear people unhappy in their marriages? How often do we hear people ranting about their unhappiness?

I have always wondered why the same people keep complaining about the same thing over and over again (I am guilty of this sometimes). There seems to be a pattern though with some people where they never seem to snap out of the miserable situation they are in. And most of the time it’s because people settle for what they think they deserve. Meaning that they CAN improve their situations but they choose not to.

Generally speaking, people are terrified of change so they rarely tend to leave the comfort of their job, home, or marriage; whilst coming up with numerous reasons to their complacency. Several times this happens because we do not know our own self worth or have low self esteem, making us think that what we have is what we deserve.

“I rather spend every Sunday of my life hanging off a cliff to rescue someone than spend one more time sitting in a pew next to hypocrites that talk about what they will do to better themselves and the world when they get around to it.” ― Shannon L. Alder

Why does this happen then? Why do we keep complaining when the solution is right in front of us?


People are unwilling to accept the challenge of change because they don’t want to leave the stability they are so used to; they have become numb in the movement of their own lives. Some can’t because fear overwhelms them and paralyzes their ability to take action. If you assess the situation you are in, is their anything in your life that makes you unhappy? Anything at all? If there is, then you need to have the courage to change it. There are numerous opportunities out there; all you need to do is look. You might alter things in your life and still be unhappy. Then change it again, until you find yourself in a situation where you are personally satisfied and fulfilled with all aspects of your life.

Never settle for mediocre just because it’s the easiest or fastest option. I do acknowledge that adjusting your life to new opportunities is difficult but that’s the beauty of it. After you see the fruits of your labor will you admit that such a transformation was the best thing that ever happened.

If you don’t know what you want, you’ll never find it.
If you don’t know what you deserve, you’ll always settle for less.
You will wander aimlessly, uncomfortably numb in your comfort zone, wondering how life has ended up here.
― Rob Liano

Discussing Books: Mama Hessa’s Mice by Saud AlSanousi #YouTube

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: 1 minute

We’re starting a video book discussion series to be the equivalent of a virtual book club, and to bring book discussions on a new platform and spark curiosity about those books.
This episode is discussing Saud AlSanousi’s latest book: Mama Hessa’s Mice (Grandma Hessa’s Mice), which sets places in Kuwait between 1985 till 2020 predicting how will things be if certain sectarian thoughts remained among the community.
The discussion was with Hend Saeed (Arabic Programme Manager in Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature), Yara Mirdad (Competitions Manager in Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature), & Iman Ben Chaibah (founder of Sail Publishing and Editor in chief of Sail Magazine).
Please note, the author will be having a session on this book during the Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature, on Friday 11th March, 2016 at 7 PM. Make sure you get your tickets in advance!

Multilinguilism: A Means to A More Fruitful Life

Omar Albeshr (@ASRomar10)

Omar Albeshr (@ASRomar10)

Omar, an Emirati from Abu Dhabi, holds a degree in Avionics Engineering, currently works in tourism. He hopes one day he would publish his novels and his poetry book. His column is an exploration with a message, about the origins of words, terms, phrases and the stories behind them.
Omar Albeshr (@ASRomar10)

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Reading Time: 4 minutes

The author explores how learning a new language can help us change our mindsets and live more in the present.

Artwork by Hayat AlHassan (@HayatAlH)

Artwork by Hayat AlHassan (@HayatAlH)

Most of us speak 2 languages or more, so how does this affect the way we think? Does it create a conflict within us, or do the two languages or more work in a perfect harmony? As we saw in my previous article, the language we speak can affect the way we see the world around us. It can influence our way of thinking, our behavior and our personality. So let us explore what happens when we speak another language, and how this adds to the mix.

A study shows that people will answer differently depending on what language the question is asked in. Japanese-English speakers were asked to complete the following sentence: “When my wishes conflict with my family…”. A participant wrote in Japanese: “…It’s a time of a great unhappiness.” When the same participant was asked to complete the same sentence in English, they wrote: “…I do what I want.”

A study by Yale Business School analyzed data from 76 countries; the study focused on general habits such as, smoking, exercising, general health and saving money. They found out that in countries where the majority of the people spoke languages without a future tense, people were 30% more likely to make better health and money decisions. Because in these languages they see their lives as a whole, not as a timeline, and they live better and can acquire better wealth. Unlike the English language, for example, where the future seems like a place in the distance, so the decisions tend to swing towards the betterment of now rather than the distant off future.

So according to that study, it would be a very good investment if you learn another language, one of those weak future tense languages, like Mandarin, Finnish, Estonian or German.

Plus, it’s actually very helpful to think in your non-native language anyway. A study shows that people will often make the right decision when asked difficult or tricky questions, simply because it I will give you more time to think because it’s not your go-to language. More time to think before you blurt your answer is always a wise choice.

The languages you speak have direct influence over your personality. A lot of people can notice that their personality would change depending on which language they speak. This has many reasons, but one of those is that when you speak a language you try to emulate very often the culture of the people who speak the language. I, for example, will use more hand gesturing when trying to speak Italian simply because Italians do that. To sound more authentic you try to copy the posture and body language of native speakers. People have even mentioned that some language might make them more or less polite.

Daniel Everett was a Christian American on a missionary trip to a small tribe deep in the Amazon jungle, and he found out after staying awhile with the Pirahã tribe that they did not need his teachings or lessons. Even though they lived a very primitive life, where people still died of malaria, they were deliriously happy. He found out after years of being there, where he actually abandoned his faith and mission, that people of Pirahã lived in the here and now all the time. They never spoke about the past or the future; they only spoke about the present. Their language has 3 vowels and 8 consonants, they have no words for color, no comparatives, and no numbers. Their sentences are short and straight to the point. Everett believes that language played a huge part in making the Pirahã people happy.

So different situations would call for you to use a different tool from your arsenal, and think of language as one of those tools that could help you too. The more languages you know, the better decisions you will be able to make.

10 Q&A With Inspirational Women of the UAE – Atheer Bin Shakar (@Atheer_aShaker)

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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Reading Time: 4 minutes

Atheer bin Shaker is 26 years old and has a Bachelor’s degree in Integrated Media from Zayed University. She is a Leadership & Self Actualization student in Cornell University in New York and is the Senior Presenter and Producer at Al Oula Radio. Atheer is also a volunteer at Noor Dubai Foundation.

Atheer Bin Shakar

Atheer Bin Shakar

  1. Why did you choose what you ended up doing?

I felt like I wanted to be a part of a change towards the better in our society. I’m good at communicating with others, so I thought media is a field that I might be good at.

  1. How did your path ultimately lead to what you currently do?

By chance. I thought I was stuck in a job that made me miserable, until I realized it was up to me to turn my life around, and I chose to be in the field of media.

  1. What challenges did you face?

At first I was lost, I didn’t know which direction to take when it came to the media coverage I wanted to be part of. So, I tried everything I could; crime, adventure, humanitarian work, etc. What stayed with me was that I want to make people feel happy and think more positively. And so, I switched from TV to radio. I currently work in Al Oula. Our main focus is preserving our Emirati heritage dating back 7,000 years ago, in addition to being the voice of the youth. Basically, what I do is create a link between past and present, and work towards the future.

  1. What mistakes did you learn the most from?

Listening to the nasty thangs people had to say. “What makes you think people will change?” “Why aren’t you working for fame?” “You can’t do that… you will never succeed”, etc. These types of remarks and questions only made me sink deeper into my bubble. One day though, after a talk with my dad, may he rest in peace, all of my worries were gone from one simple question my dad said to me: “Why do you care about what others think? Believe in what you do, and move forward.”

  1. What personality traits do you believe helped you get to where you are?

Being open minded, at least I think so. I try my very best not to judge ever. And being social.

  1. Why do you love what you do?

When someone tells me: “Thank you, I never realized this certain thing until you said it”. That means the world to me.

  1. What is your vision for the future?

My vision is to hopefully be an inspirational speaker, specializing in self-actualization. We’ve got so much potential in ourselves; we just have to know the keys.

  1. Tell us a little background about your journey, unexpected twists, and how you dealt with adversity.

I think my journey had a lot of unexpected twists. I went to ZU by chance, just because my best friends went there. I then discovered a love for media that I didn’t know I had. After working as an event planner for about 2 years, I went on to work for the news for 4 years, jumped off a plane, was hugging a lion while I spoke to the camera, and travelled to places I never knew existed for humanitarian reports that changed my life. I later suddenly found myself being called upon by another goal, that involved being a part of preserving our beautiful country’s history, and so here I am, learning about my home and spreading the word through newfound knowledge, spreading the positive word in process.

  1. Advice for other women

Be kind to yourself, be kind to one another. Don’t be mean to yourself, and treat yourself as kindly as you would a person you love so deeply.

  1. Insight through your experience.

Try first, never judge. And listen, listen, truly listen, before you speak (I’m still working on that).

6 Lessons I Learned from The World Government Summit (#WorldGovSummit)

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: 6 minutes

With the World Government Summit for 2016 concluding, what are the main lessons learned after this summit, whether from the new UAE cabinet, or with all the new science discoveries in technology and robotics and what potentially they could mean for us?

A shot from the World Government Summit Venue for 2016

A shot from the World Government Summit Venue for 2016

  1. The need for tolerance minister if we want to be the next House of Wisdom

Many know the Islamic Golden Era through the House of Wisdom (بيت الحكمة). The legendary House of Wisdom was formed in Baghdad by Haroun AlRashid in the Abbasid era, and was the hub for every intellect from around the world to come to and learn from. With the movement at its time to translate from all the world’s schools of thoughts into Arabic and then build on it, that era witnessed the birth of a large number of science inventions and discoveries that are until today used as a reference by all scholars, whether in mathematics, medicine, chemistry, physics, astrology and so on.

What differentiated that Islamic era from where we are today is tolerance to all creeds, cultures, and races. People from around the world with their different creeds would come to the House of Wisdom to learn and to share their knowledge. They were never discriminated against or treated any differently just because they were from a different origin or believed in something other than Islam. This tolerance is exactly what Islam was founded upon.

So if any country wants to become the incubator of the next House of Wisdom with all it brings from knowledge and innovation fostering, then tolerance is the key, and it must be a core value in that country.

Although UAE is already known for its tolerance and being a home for more than 200 different nationalities as residents, to appoint a Minister of State whose entire role revolves around ensuring tolerance, this will set the right foundation to make the UAE the next incubator for the House of Wisdom, and become the birth place of all future scientific discoveries, inventions, and innovations.

  1. Silicon Valley started thanks to the US government investments in tech during the Cold War

Many people often wonder how the Silicon Valley was formed, what helped it become what it is, and how a country could replicate that model. But most people look at it as a private sector formed model with nothing to do with the government, while its existence has everything to do with the government.

For any industry to form and thrive, the infrastructure must be built and scientific discoveries that lead to this industry must prove successful and operational, so an entire industry can be built on it. Two years after World War II had ended, a Cold War started between the US and the Soviet Union that lasted over the course of a little more than 4 decades, between 1947 till 1991. During that war, scientific discoveries were accelerating in the US to ensure they protect themselves and were leading in this war. The discoveries and inventions’ list is incredibly long but here are some: transistors, hard disk drives, videotape, computers as we know them today, the Internet, servers, mainframes, space ships, mobile phones, and so on.

Having all those discoveries directly funded by the government ensured they were operationally successful and proven for the public. This allowed Silicon Valley to build on a proven successful industry, and invite investments from the private sector into it to help it reach where it is today.

  1. What Minister of State for Happiness really means

Many think that the Minister of State for Happiness is about making people smile all the time; while partially true, it’s not exactly that simple. The happiness measurement here is closer to what some understand as consumer or customer satisfaction. And so, the Minister of State for Happiness is responsible for ensuring that every process, procedure, and public facing service from the government is engineered in the most human convenient way, rather than having some of them, sometimes, not only inconvenient, but requiring so much back and forth, leading to frustration and unsatisfaction about the states things are in. So the Minister of State for Happiness is appointed to change all that and ensure everything is done to the utmost convenience of the end user and the public.

  1. The UAE is definitely heading towards science and technology

The UAE now has a very clear agenda and direction towards fostering science and technology, and making them part of our DNA. This is evident with the UAE for Good awards that were given just before the World Government Summit for the best drones and robotics built for the betterment of human kind. The focus is also proven again through the establishment of the Museum of the Future Foundation, which includes inventions, and works with other institutes across the world to develop and advance technologies and inventions (click here for a tour in the museum). And finally, the agenda of the World Government Summit was very clearly focused on building a better foundation and understanding of what the future will be like, and the importance of science and future technologies such as robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) for society.

  1. Longer life expectancy and what it implies

With the advancement in science in improving healthy lifestyles, and with the alternative human organs thanks to robotics and AI, life expectancy is now longer than it was in the past, and not only is it longer, it’s even healthier. The current life expectancy is now 80 years old, and is only expected to be extended further and further in the future. Not only will this extend our lives, but it will change how we look at aging and health care when we age, it will change retirement ages, it will change career paths, whereas people will likely be having different full career paths in their lives as opposed to one. It will be a whole new world.

  1. Climate change is real

Climate change is more real than ever with every passing day. Last December we witnessed the largest UN conference aimed to address the climate change issues in Paris: 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, known as Conference of the Parties 21 (COP21). The UN members discussed the current status and what changes and new rules have to be placed to ensure carbon emission percentages and global warming are kept at bay. Obviously the question will always remain whether those decisions and promises are met or not. But the truth remains, climate change has caused the past years to become hotter every year, with more droughts, floods, and typhoons affecting countries all over the world. So climate change definitely needs to be addressed as soon as possible, and so the UAE has taken a step forward by appointing a Minister of Climate Change and Environment, in the hope that the UAE can play a vital role in managing its own climate change and also contribute to the world’s efforts in that domain.

What I Know For Sure About Shamma Al Mazrui, Our Minister of State for Youth Affairs and President of the Youth Council

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: 3 minutes

Who is Shamma Al Mazrui, and what do we know about her? The author shares her personal experience and knowledge about our newly appointed Minister of State for Youth Affairs and President of the Youth Council.

Picture of Shamma posted by HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid on his Twitter Account

Picture of Shamma posted by HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid on his Twitter Account

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai has just announced today on his twitter account the new UAE cabinet, and has announced the appointment of Shamma Al Mazrui as the Minister of State for Youth Affairs and President of the Youth Council. Not many had the pleasure of knowing Shamma, and because I had, I feel obliged to share with everyone why I believe her appointment as the Youth Minister is in its right place.

I first met Shamma as a fellow delegate to the Academy of Achievement in the US, back in September 2014. The UAE embassy in the US has nominated us along with few more high achieving Emirati youth to be part of this amazing Achievement Summit in San Francisco. The other UAE delegates that year were: Amal Al Agroobi (film director), Hafsa Al Habsi, Khalifa Al Jaziri (founder of e-Home), Reem Al Marzouqi (granted a patent in the US for designing a car that can be driven without hands), and Saud Al Nuwais (founder of Gold Cleats). We were joined by amazing set of achievers from across the world, and talk sessionss were given to us by a number of Nobel laureates and winners of other awards in all industries.

Shamma at the time had just finished her undergraduate studies from NYU, and was just awarded the well-esteemed Rhodes scholarship to attend Oxford University and study an MA in Public Diplomacy.

We spent about 3 days in the summit of intense back-to-back talks, networking sessions, and we had our own time together as a group. In this short time I got to know how brave she is, she would go and talk with different politicians and actually carry long conversations comfortably with them. I got to know how sweet-hearted and genuine she is by the way she carries her self, interested in everyone’s conversation and story, and cares for everyone’s well being. I also got to know how smart she is, and how she believes in preparation always. I clearly remember her saying: anyone can get a Rhodes scholarship only if they get the right training and mentorship in how to handle themselves in the shortlisting interviews, little did she know that not everyone was as well informed and prepared as she was.

I am extremely happy with her appointment, and I know in my heart that she deserves it well and will excel in it.

Be The Right Role Model For Your Children

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)

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Parents who can better handle conflicts and go through a healthy separation process are more able to model life positively to their children because they did not destroy the family by separating, but they had separated because the family relationship became unhappy and unstable.

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

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

“Conflict and stress in the home pose a serious threat to children’s emotional, psychological, and physical well-being, especially if the conflict and stress is continuous or chronic.”

Every marriage is unique and whether we manage to keep the relationship alive over tough times or end the relationship, we all have gone through story of love and loss that we learn from and basically shape the person we are today.

“Sara loved her father so much, but from about age nine she started to pray that he would leave because when he stays the conflict between her parents continues”.

Some relationships have lots of conflicts, which can be so tiring and frustrating not only on the couple but also on the children. Parents should know that no matter how they hide their anger and arguments, children always know and can feel the resentment between the parents which can be very depressing. Some conflicts can have a negative impact on children for a lifetime, which can end in them having souring relationships of their own in later stages of their life. But why would parents stay together in a marriage that is not working? Many explain that some parents tolerate the pain, disrespect and selfishness from the partner for the sake of their children and they don’t want to separate the family.

Over 40 years of research, psychologist John Gottman identified five types of conflict between couples that are more likely to lead the relationship to continue or split up. In the avoidant conflict type, couples are not emotionally expressive and always try to avoid arguments because they focus on compatibility and in finding out things that can make them live together, ignoring the differences. The second type of conflict is volatile and a person with such behaviour has no secrets and everyone knows it. They fight passionately and love to debate and believe that honesty and connection are highly important in any relationship. It is true that jealously in such a relationship can cause friction but it has lots of humour and fun. If the conflict type between couples are validating, they are likely to be positive and take time to understand the partner’s point of view and sometimes they can go dissatisfied on some topics, but they usually choose their battles and the partner can always back down.

These three conflict types can be good and can end up having happy and stable relationship but the other two conflict types, which are hostile and hostile-detached, can be very toxic and most probably can lead the couples to split up. When we talk about hostile couples, that means one is avoider and the other is validator. Usually the validator highlights and talks about the issues where the avoider doesn’t want to because they hate to be trapped in a circle of conflict. The validator always sees the partner as uncaring and the avoider looks at the partner as needy and negative. This relationship contains lots of criticism and blaming and usually the avoider partner wishes that the other accepts them the way they are. According to the hostile-detached conflict, one is validator and the other is volatile which is considered a toxic combination. The validator will tolerate the conflict to a certain stage but the volatile will have a blazing row and won’t stop blowing up until the partner accepts or gives the silent treatment. This relationship drains the couples of energy and it is not a healthy relationship to be in.

Sadly when children under the age of ten see their parents in open conflict, they tend to blame themselves and as they get older they might become more isolated from one or both parents. Some might develop behaviour problems like disobedience, bullying or acting out, and in other cases would suffer from grades deterioration.

When children watch or hear such conflicts in the home, they may experience increased emotional or behavioural difficulties, and they may also have traumatic stress reactions (such as sleep disturbances, intensified startle reactions, or constant worry about danger). Children may also imitate and learn modelled behaviour. Exposure to extreme violence may desensitize children towards aggressive behaviour and aggression can become a ‘norm’. Even a 3 months old child can be distressed from loud noises, vivid visual images and emotional feelings of the parents when they are around their parents. This can have an effect on the parent/child bond and the baby will fear exploration and will have a decreased motivation to play, thus affecting their character, brain, social and emotional development.

The biggest long-term loss comes from what the parents have instilled in children during childhood, is modelled years later in the 26-year-old mother tackling the conflicts with her husband by shouting at her partner, or a husband handling the conflict by bullying his wife. They don’t know a better way to handle family conflicts because that is what they have experienced and saw their parents do.

Parents should believe that the damage of separation is not whether the parents are together or not, but how well they deal with the conflict. If parents’ separation gives them space to better parenting with mutual respect, the children will be better off than when their parents were together.

In later stages of adulthood, children of parents who were divorced can draw a model that says you don’t have to go down with a sinking ship. Their parents did not destroy the family by separating, but they separated because the family had a problem and needed to tackle it by separating. So would you want your children to stay in a toxic and unhappy marriage? Be careful about what you model.

Written in collaboration with Arabian Child organization. Visit www.arabianchild.org for more information about early childhood education in the United Arab Emirates.

Big Data or Big Brother?

Yasser Hareb (@YasserHareb)

Yasser Hareb (@YasserHareb)

Emirati author and social commentator.
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What is Big Data, how are we contributing to it’s growth, and how is it affecting our lives?

A new concept called “Big Data” emerged about three years ago, referring to the huge amounts of data aggregated in the databases of giant companies, such as Facebook, Amazon, Google, etc. The size and complexity of such datasets poses challenges to traditional capture, processing and analysis techniques.

As noted by Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google, when addressing the audience at the Techonomy conference in 2010, “Every two days we create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization up until 2003.”

The rapid increase in the amount of generated data necessitated a novel approach to its management. This has led to the concept of big data, as well as the creation of a number of new technologies that can be used not only to store and organize data, but also search, analyze, classify, understand and employ it intelligently. Today, Facebook has access to information about a significant portion of society that we couldn’t have imagined anyone would know about individuals without them having explicitly shared it with someone. In the recent past, websites could produce a report on our character by analyzing our list of friends, messages, posts, and pages we subscribe to. Now, all that is required for a much more in-depth profile is for a user to slow down scrolling at certain parts of a post or a piece of news, without even having to press on any links, for the underlying software to pick up on that and infer that such category of posts and news is of interest to this individual. Such information is complied and analyzed for any visible patterns, resulting in a comprehensive profile of a large number of individuals. Most social media websites have now developed their proprietary methods for interpreting our daily habits, preferences, and beliefs. While these rely on complex algorithms, they still to a large extent utilize the history of our browsing habits.

Upon conducting a comprehensive study on one of the increasing number of dating websites currently available at the global level, a Big Data analyst stated that the results revealed shocking and frightening patterns in the personal data collection activities. He noted that our online activities provide a window into our private lives, which we believe are safe from prying eyes. Without us being aware, companies can use our search patterns and communication to reveal who we truly are, even though we feel safe and anonymous behind the screens of our computers and phones. In stating this, the analyst was not referring to secret online affairs, as those have become easy to find out long time ago. In fact, he aimed to highlight that advanced technologies are now so sophisticated that they are capable of inferring human character from the analysis of a relatively limited data set. Those technologies allow companies to understand thinking patterns and the values users believe in with an unprecedented high level of precision.

Alarmingly, the Big Data analyst reported that a significant proportion of modern societies, that are generally not perceived as racist, do show racist tendencies online. Evidence obtained through this extensive analysis indicated that people who, in their everyday lives, claim to respect others and human rights, in their online conduct often exhibit certain levels of racism and superiority to anyone different from them. Supporting this claim is the finding pertaining to the US-based dating website that was the focus of the study, were black subscribers on average generated quarter the attention white people received. Similarly, black users did not browse the profiles of white people, and would rarely be members of the same chat groups. Individuals of other races also tend to communicate with those in the same group, even though all users of this dating website are listed as American citizens! Clearly, our behaviors in physical spaces are distinct from those we exhibit behind closed doors, indicating that companies paying attention to online consumer behavior patterns are on the right track. Evidence suggests that one’s affinity toward a certain product depends to a large extent on the color and perceived characteristics of the person marketing the product in the advertisement. In response, as a means of attracting a much broader consumer base, many companies have removed the human element from their commercials.

Cynics believe that life is fake, and even honest people are not really genuine, as no one can tell the truth all the time. There are also those that believe wearing masks is a normal behavior, as is lying and hypocrisy. These views are justified by claims that one cannot progress in life without resorting to those means. Whatever your convictions are, rest assured that you never really know what others think and believe, and maybe it is better not to know.