Allowing a Business to Grow

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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In this article, the author shares some thoughts as she tries to work towards expanding her business.

Artwork by Hayat AlHassan (@HayatAlH)

Artwork by Hayat AlHassan (@HayatAlH)

The title of this article might be a bit confusing. You might be wondering- why would we not allow our business to grow in the first place? That’s a good question because it’s a very subconscious process that prevents a business from developing and growing. Running a business to eventually grow on its own means detaching yourself from being an integral part of the systems and processes. In this article, I talk about some of the ways we subconsciously suppress our business’s growth and what steps we can take to counterattack that. In essence, expansion cannot happen until systems and processes are in place and until the business can function on a day-to-day basis without you.

In a small business that is started by one individual, the early days and even the first couple of years are characterized by you and your business somehow being one. As the business is your brainchild, you channel all your ideas and systems into it and naturally as the days progress these business systems (such as order-taking methods, accounting, client tracking), become an automatic process to you. The side effect, however, is that these processes become so heavily dependent on you that relinquishing control over them is a long-winded process, which could hinder the expansion process.

Expanding your business will naturally require the addition of more staff to your operations but before that happens it is important to first have a “shadow” staff member already in your team. That staff member should be responsible for shadowing you and learning the ropes so that the processes become more automated. Having that staff member with you from before the expansion-conception stages take place is vital. The training process will be a natural one over time where the systems and processes can refine themselves through trial and error.

Second, and speaking of systems and processes, it is important to establish clear guidelines for your business’s systems and processes. The best way to do this is to basically develop a “recipe book” of everything entailed in running your business. It is not a training handbook but a list of every process that takes place in your business, such as mundane individual tasks like tallying credit card receipts, with clear and explicit instructions for how to go about each task. That way, it can be passed on to the shadow staff member who will then be able to better handle running the daily intricacies of the business.

This is a gradual process and the aim is to reach the point where things should function almost automatically without you needing to be there to actively make that happen. That doesn’t in any way mean not to be directly involved in the business. It is simply a way for the basic functions of your business to be independent of you- leaving you to simply oversee, and subsequently spend most of your time focusing on the expansion process.

The Growth and Ascent of Fashion Bloggers

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)

The rise of digital influencers in fashion, and how they grew to take this big role they currently uphold.

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

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

It was on Susie Lau’s blog “Style Bubble” that I had my first view of a fashion blogger who frequently posted what she wore (she took pictures of herself using a professional camera facing a mirror), wrote notes on designer collections and whatever else was occurring in the industry itself. A fascinating thing it was, to solely check what one person thought of a garment or a new designer who just launched his/her collection. Later on, I began following other personal-style blogs such as Man Repeller and The Blonde Salad.

Before discovering the vast world of fashion blogging, it was the newest issue of Vogue that I anxiously had to pick up from a bookstore or a newsstand to know what was happening in the industry, and to view editorials that were far too out of my reach yet still inspiring. However, since discovering the world of fashion blogging, my attention began to steer away from the magazines that I used to read and onto fashion blogs. What was it about fashion bloggers that made people (myself included) utterly fixated on them?

Visual.ly (2011) reports that fashion blogging has increased in several countries around the world, analyzing 550+ fashion blogs in 31 different countries. For example, in North America, the total number of fashion blogs today rounds up to 921,000 blogs, of which 38% is editorial content, 33% is personal style, 21% is DIY (Do It Yourself), and the remaining 7% is street style. The figures seem to be increasing every year, with new fashion bloggers aiming for the ranks. Bloggers have increasing influence over the industry, more than fashion magazines, due to the hundreds of hits on their websites and the thousands of followers on social media.

There are several ways in which bloggers have dominated the fashion industry. First of all is their influence, which is currently widespread. Melanie Doncus of The Feed claims that Katherine Finney (The Budget Fashionista) was one of the first fashion bloggers to be invited to New York Fashion Week. “Not only are the fashion bloggers filling the front row at fashion week, but they’re also gracing the covers of popular magazines, becoming the faces of global brands, starring in ad campaigns and scoring publishing deals,” says Doncus. The better their style, the more followers they gain. For example, Leandra Medine of The Man Repeller posted her outfit later in 2013 declaring that this would be the “next trend”, wearing a midi skirt over jeans. Eventually, fashion-insiders such as Yasmin Sewell began adopting the sensational trend that Medine had founded.

Fashion bloggers developed so briskly that they have attracted more than just readers. A few years ago designer advertisements were spotted mostly in fashion magazines, but now fashion bloggers have more requests for advertising than magazines do. Advertisements on blogs became a free source of publicity – instead of having to pay thousands for a one-page advertisement in a magazine, brands could pay bloggers the same price and get more publicity than magazines could provide. Whether it was an up and coming designer looking to get exposed or an old fashion house wanting to renew its image, fashion bloggers were what they opted for when it came to ads. It was also a way for bloggers to “monetize” their blogs. Steven Kurutz of the NY Times states in his article Fashion Bloggers, Posted and Represented that fashion bloggers can now make four-figure sums from collaborating or dealing with brands.

Another reason why fashion bloggers are essential to the industry is due to the fact that they are quicker in reporting information occurring in the fashion industry than fashion magazines. The first mention of news is spread by the bloggers through their social media accounts like Twitter and Facebook. Meanwhile, the magazines have to write about it in the next issue, which might be published after a certain amount of time. For example, when designer Nicolas Ghesquiere left his 15-year old position at Balenciaga as the Creative Designer, all the top fashion bloggers immediately announced the news on their Instagram and Twitter accounts before everyone else. They were also the first to reveal his new job as the Creative Designer of Louis Vuitton. The sooner they uncover significant events that happen in the industry that not everyone has access to, the more their status and popularity increases.

One of the main reasons they’re significant is that fashion bloggers are considered to be “real people”, hence, it is easier for their audience to relate to them than relating to a model in a photoshoot. Photo-shoots are less realistic and feature expensive clothes, so readers are less interested in them. However, a blogger can mix and match high-street brands with low-priced pieces making it look more applicable to their audience.

In conclusion, fashion bloggers are now viewed as important as editors in the fashion industry, since they are significant in terms of influence, effectiveness and rapidity. Although they have been known to be impactful in the industry, several famous figures have come to label them as conceited and unknowledgeable. In my opinion, fashion bloggers have a large following because of what they’ve accomplished and how far they’ve come in a short time span.


Reference:

Game of Tongues (#GameOfThrones)

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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The author sheds light on invented languages used in Film and TV.

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

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

After watching the first few episodes of the popular HBO show Game of Thrones (GOT), I would sense how intricate the Dothraki language is, as several scenes are spoken entirely in Dothraki with English subtitles. From hearing the characters speaking it, you can tell that this language actually has a fully developed grammar and a comprehensive vocabulary. Such languages are called conlangs or Invented Languages.

David Peterson is the creator of the Dothraki language, and he also serves as a dialect coach on the set of the show. He was brought on by the creators of GOT to build upon the few words of Dothraki that are in the series of successful novels A Song of Ice and Fire written by George R.R. Martin. Dothraki is not the only conlang that is spoken in Game of Thrones. Valyrian is another language that is regularly spoken in the Game of Thrones books.

Creating languages for movies or TV wasn’t always this well developed. Back in the 60’s, movies showed actors speaking gibberish. The first time a conlanger was called upon to create a new and fully developed language for show business was for “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock” which was created by linguist Marc Okrand. He created the language that the people of Klingon spoke. The language became very popular among Trekkies (fans of Star Trek) that the language of Klingon has its own dictionary, Monopoly game, and even a published translation of Hamlet. This was led by the “Klingon Language Institute”

There is also Lord of The Rings, which introduced many languages of Middle Earth, like High-elven and Grey-elven, which were all created by J. R. R. Tolkien himself. Tolkien even used the languages to write and recite poetry.

We also know about the Na’vi language, as James Cameron the director and creator of Avatar enlisted Dr. Paul Frommer, a linguist from the University of Southern California, to create the language for his blue-skinned population of Pandora.

Whether it’s a real language or a conlang, the same is true for both; if people like how the language sounds, they will learn it and would want to speak it. That is why a lot of conventions occur where people who speak the same conlang will convene and celebrate their love for a particular language.

The use of invented languages came about because the creators of these successful franchises wanted audiences to be immersed in these sci-fi worlds they created. If they used an existing language it would jolt the viewers back into the real world.

In a lot of movies, the reason might be political as they don’t want to mark villains of the movie or TV show to be from a certain country. The use of any language by the “bad people” might cause a political headache. In the movie “The Terminal” for example, Tom Hanks pretends to be from a country called “Krakozhia”, which doesn’t exist. Viktor (Tom’s character) spoke Krakozhian, which was made up for the movie, derived from Bulgarian.

Languages are obviously not just created for movies and TV. The Esperanto language, for example, was created a century ago to be an alternative second language spoken by everyone. It was aimed to be the language of the future, a common language that everyone could share. This did not go as planned by the creator of the language. While many countries were on board, Esperanto is only spoken by 2 million people.

The creators of Game of Thrones actually held a contest for conlangers as to who can come up with the best language for the show. Mr. Peterson won that honor and he created the Dothraki language. It was a challenge at first because he had to build on the 30 or so words that were already in the novels written by Mr. Martin. But he managed to do it whilst staying true to the rules that were set within the novels.

Dothraki relies on subject-verb-object structure and no linking verb. What’s spoken on the show is only a fraction of what Mr. Peterson has created, as the developed Dothraki language has over 3000 words already and is expanding.

I personally appreciate and applaud creations such as these movies or TV shows for treating their audiences as smart individuals who deserve the best. I would’ve myself thanked the linguist of the Dothraki language for his creation but as viewers of the show might recall from the first episode: “There is no word for thank you in Dothraki.”

Stuck in Space: A Book Review on The Martian

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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Reviewing Any Weir’s best selling novel: The Martian, with its different science fiction elements and some of its human behavioral elements.

The book cover of The Martian

The book cover of The Martian

The Martian by Andy Weir is a bestselling novel with a movie adaptation that left the world in awe of Mark Watney, the main character who by misfortune is left on Mars and finds himself trapped by his team in a life and death nightmare. His story is an epic story of survival. The novel is like a science fiction “The Swiss Family Robinson”, which takes place in space rather than a deserted island. Mark Watney’s story of survival isn’t about the survival per se, but it focuses on the “how to”. The intimate reader/character relationship begins when Mark Watney starts recording his methods of survival by “creating food” through establishing a farming environment rather than trying to look for one, which obviously is an impossibility considering him being stranded on Mars, and making water through combining oxygen and hydrogen together. Another reason behind the intimacy between the character and readers is Mark Watney’s ability to being sarcastic during catastrophe.

The idea behind the novel was to focus on the future and how it will look like once the world is able to travel freely to Mars. Weir has succeeded in making this look more realistic than most of the science fiction pieces that seemed to focus on space traveling, and this is because he does not use flying cars and such as a science fictional element. This actually adds a realistic touch to the novel. Mark Watney does not solve his problems using laser beams and high-tech. The trip to Mars did not take hours, but months. This on its own puts The Martian on a pedestal in the world of contemporary science-fiction. Mark Watney has an unforgettable voice and gives himself the chance to laugh it out even in the midst of his disastrous survival.

I have personally struggled with the scientific details that went on and on for chapters, but let’s face it, The Martian is a piece that is targeted to nerds as its main audience. This novel was not probably targeting those, such as myself, with an attention span of a goldfish when it comes to science.

The Martian is far from perfect. There are some things that I found strange and to me, that’s where the gaps are. Mark Watney was left stranded on an alien planet quite literally. However, he did not seem to show any signs of loneliness. There were no sentiments towards the life he left back on earth. As a reader, I would assume that someone in his circumstances would, at least, leave his family a message –considering the time he spent on Mars all by himself-. Shouldn’t he, at least, show signs of a breakdown? Shouldn’t he have panic attacks every now and then? No matter how level-headed Mark Watney is, I would, at least, expect him to address the fact that he’s millions and millions of miles away from home and his death may be inevitable. Another issue for me was the way he found the solutions to his issues so easily. It did make me feel like those solutions were written before the obstacles were even presented in the book.

This however does not mean the novel was not great. It was a bit confusing, but it was still fun to read. The themes of the novel were great, one of which was survival. Humans care about each other and this was addressed in the novel so strongly. Everything is significant in the cycle of life. This was represented in Watney’s ability to grow potatoes out of nothing, quite literally. Whether you love this book or hate it, there is no denying that it deserves to be on every best-selling list out there.

One IN: One OUT

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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Having struggled for many years to keep my closet neat, I finally found a solution that worked best for me.

Artwork by Dana AlAttar (twitter: @DanaAlAttar, instagram: @madewithlove.dxb)

Artwork by Dana AlAttar (twitter: @DanaAlAttar, instagram: @madewithlove.dxb)

“I have too many clothes”, I blurted out, shocking my circle of friends. My statement baffled them. What kind of modern day woman complains about owning too many clothes? Society more often hears: “I have nothing to wear.”

Do not misunderstand me. As a woman, I enjoyed my fair share of shopping sprees. However, I reached a state of realization that I have too many clothes. What bothered me the most were my closets that resembled Aladdin’s Cave of Wonders, filled with neon, shimmer, leathers and vintage items, most with the tags still attached to them. Some clothes were worn once or twice and sent to the darkness of my closets never to see sunlight again. Nobody dared to enter my personal closet realm as it was guarded, not by a tiger spirit, but by a daunting excess of items.

With time, my overflowing closets expanded in to the next room until my belongings filled all but a few shelves that I kept for my non-judgmental husband.

Like many women, I went through several seasonal closet cleanouts only to fall back into old habits. Self-help articles about ‘cleaning out your closet’ gave me instantaneous results, but nothing long-term. This got me frustrated every time I realized I had completely forgotten about a purchase that was now out of season.

However, a discussion with a friend of mine brought to my attention a deeper issue: the bad habit of clothes hoarding. I kept so many clothes that no longer fit me because of the sentimental value and the specific memories attached to them. Believe it or not, I still kept the yellow tulle puff dress I wore on my 3rd birthday. I did not understand why I cluttered clothes and had no interest in delving down that emotional road, but I did realize one thing: many items had to get the axe from my closets.

Realizing an issue is the first step to resolving it. What I needed next was an action plan or useful tips to overcome the ‘common’ futile decluttering technique.

The simple solution came to me in 2014, the day I asked my mother to buy me three new Eid jalabiyas from ‘Freej Almerar’. To my surprise, she refused and said she will only buy me three new jalabiyas once I donated three of my own. Upon her insistence, I was forced to give away three old jalabiyas.

Back then, it seemed counter-intuitive to donate something perfectly wearable. Then again, looking back, I realize it was the initial donation that led to my current super-organized closet situation. My closet nowadays is too organized that I get asked by my close friends to work my magic on theirs. This was all because my wise mother taught me, indirectly, the one in one out rule: for every one item that enters my closet, another one must exit. And even though I developed other ‘good’ habits over the past 2 years regarding organizing my closets, nothing worked as good as (one in: one out).

The UAE Fights Brain Drain

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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The author writes about how the UAE has developed into a hub for talent and the measures taken to ensure retention of high-achieving Emiratis.

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

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

Brain drain is the term used to define the movement or emigration of skilled and talented individuals that leave their home countries, usually lesser developed, to seek opportunities abroad in pursuit of an improved quality of life.

The United Arab Emirates is one such country and is a major hub for talented individuals in neighboring regions and beyond who wish to start a new life here. With the UAE’s booming economy and high standard of living, the brain regain isn’t only limited to attracting skilled labour from lesser-developed countries, but also from well-developed countries.

In 2014, His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai, published an article on LinkedIn that talked about this phenomenon with the view that talent is driven towards countries that foster an environment of growth and achievement. That is what the UAE has been doing over the years and this has resulted in an influx of talent, or simply brain regain.

Sheikh Mohammad also emphasized that people have a right to choose where they wish to live, and where they feel they have the most to gain. This is true for everyone and is also true for Emiratis. While we are privileged to live in a country where we have support and guidance from our government, many high achieving Emiratis still choose to live abroad to broaden their horizons and gain international exposure.

As the number of Emirati students pursuing higher education in countries such as the US or UK increases, so does the possibility that some may not want to return. Their qualifications can open doors to international companies where their skills may be in demand. There are indeed many Emiratis who choose to spend a few years working abroad in a bid to gain knowledge and credibility, and are then able to bring back their valuable expertise and contribute more effectively to the development of the country. This is certainly a positive approach as this is how the UAE will continue to grow and prosper.

The UAE has been proactive in ensuring that it does not become a victim of brain drain; however, long-term measures need to be in place to retain the Emirati talent for the future of this country.

Emiratization strategies are one such way in which retention of Emiratis is pursued. Apart from providing job opportunities, many entities have been investing in building this pool of talent. For example, various government companies across the UAE provide scholarships to high achievers enabling them to pursue their education in leading universities across the world, with monthly stipends, and in return, ask that the sponsored student return to the UAE and join their workforce. This is a great way of ensuring that the new generation is given the tools to develop themselves and bring back their talent to serve in this country.

Similarly, there was an initiative launched by a leading recruitment portal, Monster.com, to support the Emiratization vision of companies. Their initiative was named “Return2Home” and was targeted towards expat Emiratis in a bid to attract them to opportunities available in the UAE.

We are fortunate to live in a country where its citizens are regarded as valuable investments. Emiratis today can pursue any career, through scholarships, leadership programs, entrepreneurial support, and other initiatives that are available to the high achievers seeking these opportunities. The doors are wide open and the possibilities are endless.

Yet, the main way to ensure avoidance of brain drain is to instil a desire of wanting to give back. We need to recognize the opportunities we have been given, without feeling a sense of entitlement, and want to give back to this society that has provided us with so much. In the words of His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashed, “To make this work, we must believe in people. Human beings – their ideas, innovations, dreams and connections – are the capital of the future. In this sense, the “brain regain” is not so much an achievement in itself as it is a leading indicator of development, because where great minds go today, great things will happen tomorrow.”


References:

His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum (2014). “The Brain Regain”. LinkedIn. Retrieved March 2016. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20141022060126-356778396-the-brain-regain?trk=mp-reader-card

Mental Health Stigma in the UAE

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.
https://omaralowais.wordpress.com
Omar Al Owais (@OMSAlowais)

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Are mental health issues prevalent in the UAE? How are they combatted? Omar Al Owais discovers.

Artwork by Amna Al Saleh (@Tepingi)

Artwork by Amna Al Saleh (@Tepingi)

Fatima has excelled academically all her life. She graduated from high school and undergraduate school with honors, got married at 21, and is currently pursuing postgraduate studies while balancing raising her daughter with her husband, and attending to the needs of her demanding managerial post.

The reason why she has excessive makeup on is not to attract attention, but rather to deviate attention from the black bags under her eyes. Her smiles and laughter are merely out of obligatory nature; she forgot the sensation of having her laughter fill the room. She has been seeing a healer once a week ever since she gave birth to her two-year-old daughter, however, after two years, her emotions of distress, depression, insomnia and loneliness persist.

While there are no official statistics in the UAE, it is estimated that men to women depression ratio is 1:2. 10-15% of women in the UAE are depressed in comparison to 5-10% of men (Chowdhury, 2011). Untreated depression causes excessive/ lack of sleep, irritability, feelings of worthlessness, chronic aches and pain, sudden weight gain or loss, fatigue and suicidal thoughts (Nazario, 2014). Seeking professional help in the incidence of psychological problems should be considered as a priority because they are often the result of multilateral factors; therefore, the social stigma of professional help should be eliminated.

It is prevalent in this society to firstly seek the counseling of religious clerks (healers) whenever a person suffers from depression or consecutive failings in life. Culturally, it’s often attributed to hasad (the evil eye) or the work of sorcerers. It is rare to consider these conditions as mental disorders due to the negative connotations surrounding the mentally ill. Moreover, professional help from legitimate psychiatrists is often considered as the last resort; it is not sought unless the problem persists. However, by that time itself, without direct psychiatric attention, the condition will severely develop and its implications will be more complicated to heal, consequently making the healing process more complicated.

The result of this reluctance leaves devastating impacts on most aspects of the patient’s life; not affecting just him, but those around him as well. Postponing professional treatment means that for a longer period, one’s family and friends will not be surrounded by the same person they have always known. This will also mean the person will miss out on various opportunities, whether educational, social, or vocational. It will decrease the person’s productivity rates as they are unable to fully invest their mind into their tasks. This will not only complicate him mentally but physically as well. The development of mental illnesses results in chronic migraines and stomach pain, as well as biological changes in the brain.

There is solid evidence from the hadith (traditions containing sayings of the Prophet (PBUH)) that failings in spiritual life and being given the evil eye do result in prolonged periods of sadness and consistent shortcomings in life. Abu Hurayrah has narrated from the Prophet Muhammad PBUH that: “Whenever a Muslim is afflicted by illness, continuous pain, anxiety, grief, injury or by a thorn with which he is pricked. Allah causes this to be atonement for his sins.” It is deeply rooted in Islamic belief that suffering comes to either elevate one’s place in heaven or as a test for patience to decrease one’s sins (Pathan,2009). Nevertheless, it is deeply rooted in Islamic belief that there is a cure for every illness, and as such, one must visit healers as a preventive measure; seeking professional help is of the utmost importance.

In conclusion, it can be said that the stigma surrounding psychological attention to mental conditions is deep rooted within the Emirati society, thus multiplying the implications of the condition on the patient and his surroundings. Additionally, while depression may be the result of evil spirits, Islamic thought encourages getting professional help. The negative stigma in the Arab world associated with treating depression does more harm than good. In order to eliminate this stigma, awareness campaigns can be implemented to the public, and psychiatrists must be present in all educational and work environments to help maintain mental well-being.

The Changes in AUSMUN 2016 Edition (@AUS_ModelUN)

The author provides an overview of the conference this year, with some of the main changes in direction that happened in it.

Artwork by Amna Al Saleh (@Tepingi)

Artwork by Amna Al Saleh (@Tepingi)

MUN (model of United Nations) is an educational simulation created for people to benefit from across the globe, with a vision to unite and find creative and innovative solutions to current global issues. The participants, who are also known as delegates, are given specific countries to represent in a specific committee. Each committee in MUN has either one or two topics, which are discussed and negotiated in their committee. The main objective of each delegate is to engage in finding solutions to the problem his/her committee is addressing.

MUN delegates have the opportunity to enhance their public speaking skills, increase their knowledge about political issues, and develop their own view of the UN. The simulation of the UN is another way of making young adults get out of their comfort zone and learn the reasons that underlie the behavior of certain countries.

This year, AUS (American University in Sharjah) held the biggest MUN in the history of AUSMUN by having more than 550 students, from the UAE and abroad, to replicate what happens in the UN world. During this year, several ideas were introduced to the conference; the first one is having the Security Council based on the UN4MUN approach. The major difference between UN4MUN and MUN is having the delegates reach consensus. One of the main reasons this idea was introduced is because it’s the most accurate simulation of the UN. Moreover, due to the exponential growth of this conference, having doubled its size in two years time, AUSMUN decided to introduce double delegations – randomly assigned – across various committees. Such simulations allow for further team-building and reaching consensus.

Additionally, one’s ability to find common ground with like-minded co-delegates reflects diplomacy and excellent negotiation skills. This was one of the few steps that AUSMUN had to take to get a better insight of what to expect in future events since the conference is growing and the numbers are doubling.

The delegates left the conference with a significantly improved understanding of international relations and organizations. AUSMUN is hoping to replicate that remarkable feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction each year.

Written by AlJawhara Al Juwaied, International Studies student at American University of Sharjah (AUS).


To register, or know more, please access our website AUSMUN.org

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Ship of the Desert

Abdulla Alwahedi (@Alwahedi)

Abdulla Alwahedi (@Alwahedi)

Column: Emirati Reflections
Abdulla holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and a Master’s in Business Administration. His abstract passion for history and literature with a hint of photography adds to his noble enduring quality. Abdulla enjoys visiting museums, art exhibitions and likes to spend his spare time in the outdoors. His column “Emirati Reflections” is a mixture of stories from the past and insights of the present, which blend together and formulate his understanding of the UAE’s culture.
Abdulla Alwahedi (@Alwahedi)

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The author urges decision makers in the UAE to pay more attention to camels and identify new investment opportunities which will make use of the large number of camels in the country.

Artwork by Dana AlAttar (twitter: @DanaAlAttar, instagram: @madewithlove.dxb)

Artwork by Dana AlAttar (twitter: @DanaAlAttar, Instagram: @madewithlove.dxb)

A typical Hollywood movie would normally depict life in old Arabia by showing a man wearing a Ghutra, traveling on his camels through a vast empty desert. The same approach was used in educational documentaries about Arabia. To some extent the camel and the desert were a true representation of old Arabia. This practice continued even after the discovery of oil and the modernization of Middle Eastern countries, including the UAE.

One of the famous pictures in the UAE is of the late Sheikh Shakhbout bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the Ruler of Abu Dhabi between 1928 and 1966. The picture was taken in 1961 near Al Hosn Palace. In the picture the Sheikh is sitting on a carpet with a falcon on his hand. Beside him was an Um Al Sheif oil rig model and in the background were camels and the empty desert. It could be a coincidence that the camels were in the background, but I would imagine that the photographer wanted them to be there to tell the viewers that new wealth didn’t change the people in Arabia and their way of life.

There is an eternal relationship between bedouins and camels. Camels played a vital role in wars, transportation, and were and still are considered a source of wealth. In addition, camels’ milk and meat provided the necessary means of living in the harsh desert environment. Therefore, the Bedouins paid attention to their camels and learned through time how to breed them and take care of them.

Conflicts between tribes would occur from time over the ownership of camels. Arab history has many examples of such conflicts including the famous 40 years war between two large Arab tribes named Taghlib and Baker.

Unfortunately, in recent years, the importance of camels has started to diminish due to the modernization of societies and the change in our lifestyles. However, this hasn’t affected the relationship between the Bedouins and their camels. The special relationship still exists, although breeding camels has become more of a hobby.

Nowadays, camels are mainly used for racing. Annually, camel racing takes place during the winter months in different racetracks across the country. In addition, the government organizes camel festivals in Abu Dhabi and Dubai and has established multiple veterinaries across the country in order to meet the increasing demand for camel care.

In my opinion, there are other opportunities that could be explored in order to make better use of the camels. There is an increasing demand for camel’s milk and meat due to their beneficial healthy properties. There is also a need for research centers that specializes in camel breeding. The UAE could assume a vital role in the region by establishing a regulated camel market which can eventually become the hub for camel trading in the region.

Camels, the ships of the desert, played a vital role in our culture and they deserve to be taken care of. If not for their commercial value, it should be for their cultural and historical value.

The Evolution of Movie Franchises

Jessica Foreman

Jessica Foreman

Jessica Foreman is a Durham University graduate specialising in business and lifestyle based writing. She has developed her skills on projects surrounding The British Broadcasting Company, and running a print and online based magazine whilst at university. She is currently looking towards starting her Masters in Mobile and Personal Communications as well as broadening her horizons through travelling.
Jessica Foreman

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It’s tempting to think of movie franchises as relatively new, but in one form or another they’ve been a staple of filmmaking for years. Think of basic examples such as the ‘Carry On’ films – basically the same characters re-appearing in different situations – and that’s the basis for a franchise. There’s more to it than that of course as franchises also tell an ongoing story and develop characters, but the general idea is the same; films in an easily recognisable grouping. Big studios have realized the long-term potential of such franchises and have evolved these into money-making machines.

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Mini franchises and developments

There’s some debate as to what one might call a franchise as opposed to simply a succession sequels. For example, ‘The Godfather’ might be considered a mini-franchise with the elements of a known brand, mostly the same characters re-appearing and developing and a story being told, yet it’s possible to watch the films in a different order or miss one or more out.

Is ‘Jaws’ a franchise? Seemingly a one-off initially, several follow ups were made but it doesn’t have the coherent feel of an ‘intended’ franchise. Did the makers of the original ‘Jurassic Park’ intend it to become a franchise – especially since there were long gaps (over a decade) between releases? Perhaps it became a franchise by accident?

What did George Lucas have in mind when he made the original ‘Star Wars’ film back in 1977? Did he envisage the longevity the franchise now has and, as this run down by indices trading company IG shows, huge commercial success?

Larger franchises

It’s clear ‘Harry Potter’ was planned as a franchise – not least because of the number of books to draw from – and the all-important merchandising opportunities it provided. The ‘Star Wars’ franchise is developing from being a straightforward sequel (or prequel) progression to including spin-off films such as 2016’s ‘Star Wars: Rogue One’. It’s probably fair to say studios have become better at spotting what made the accidental ‘organic’ franchises successful over a long period and have been able to plan how to develop these traits from the outset.

Marvelling at Marvel

Disney subsidiary Marvel Studios could arguably be dubbed the ‘kings of the franchise model’. With strong superhero characters and a carefully orchestrated cycle of releases, the filmmaker operates the franchise model very successfully with admirable efficiency.

The main ‘Avengers’ series alternates with others such as ‘Iron Man’ under the general ‘Marvel Cinematic Universe’ umbrella. This way regular releases can be made without overdoing any one series. They are evolving this model by blending in the various series to the point where it could become one long franchise telling a unified story, yet with ‘standalone’ titles released as at present.

It’s clearly a model that is informing parent Disney’s future plans for its ‘Star Wars’ franchise – acquired in 2012 and kicked off with the first hugely successful release ‘The Force Awakens’ – and is set to add even more value to the famous filmmaker.

DC stepping into the arena

Marvel’s rivals in the superhero comic world, DC, are about to take it on in superhero films with its ‘Batman v Superman’ release featuring characters such as Wonder Woman which will go on to take major roles in related films.

DC is owned by Warner Bros, which has its own franchise successes to point to such as mega hit ‘Harry Potter’, clearly sees a route to franchise success by benchmarking itself with its old adversary.

Brand recognition

Overall, film franchises – just like in business terms – are a lot to do with brand recognition. Marvel carefully controls its films to the point where some new directors feel a little constricted by the studio’s formulaic approach, but it knows what its fans like and is happy to serve it up. Studios understand what franchises are, how to create and cultivate them and how they can deliver financial success over a long period.