The topics of women’s rights, protection against domestic violence, abuse and sexual harassment are no longer strangers to the Saudi media. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, both international and local studies reflect a very appalling image about Saudi society in that regard.
In the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Index, Saudi Arabia ranked 131 out of 135 in (2012), and according to a survey by the Saudi National Family Safety Program, husbands commit 65 percent of domestic violence cases, and 88.5 percent of those surveyed believe that victims need some sort of protection by the government.
If we make a survey about the most underappreciated professions ever, it would not surprise me to see nursing on the top of the list.
Add that to the distorted image of nurses we have in the local culture, and you should stand up and salute any Saudi, male or female, who decided to pursue nursing as a profession (check out my Arab News article about the same topic).
Hopefully, this should all disappear as the society grows more open to change, to see its own sons and daughters directly participating in its renaissance.
here is a message from them, from the Angels of mercy:
Yesterday marked the first week anniversary of my LASIK operation. I still have a blurry vision and unannounced tears, but I am glad I finally done it.
Say bye bye to eyeglasses!
I have been a friend to eyeglasses for more than 20 years. It is a tough decision to let them go I have to admit. I still look for them the first thing in the morning, and I still reach to remove them whenever I bow for a pray.
The surprising thing is that I was totally against this sight correction operation few months ago. My logic was simple, I only have a pair of eyes, why should I play with them? why take the risk?
Do not ask me what happened, I just decided to go through with the whole thing. A sense of adventure was born, a need to change strived.
Maybe it was not fear all that time, maybe it was the lack of that sense of change and adventure!
Now that I did it, you can too. Let me tell you why:
- No more hunting campaigns: When you just take them off, put them down, and you totally forget where you left them? It is frustration in its purest forms. You will be bouncing around in the house, from a room to another, from a table to a stand, mostly with no luck. And that when the hunting campaign starts. The whole family is recruited to look for the missing item. I can listen to my wife and kids shouting ‘bathroom: clear, bedroom clear’ as they go on their mission. They say the first 48 hours are the most critical in the cases of missing persons, and I say the first 5 min are the most critical in the cases of missing glasses. And just when the hope of soldiers is fading away, comes the shout of relief “I found it, I found it, here in the kitchen.” So after the exhausting 5 min of glasses-hunt, no one would actually care to ask “how did the glasses reach the kitchen anyway?” As we all know, some questions are better left unanswered!
It’s fashion, stupid: if shoes are only made to keep your feet out of dirt, and watches are made to tell the time, then glasses are made to make your sight better. You and I both know that this is not true. Shoes, watches, and glasses are all fashion statements, characteristics used to define your personality. We could argue about which secret organization was behind all this fashion extravaganza, but it is a fact now, glasses are part of your brand. That’s why it takes time, efforts, and money to maintain it. So on one hand, no more worries about how fashionable your frame is, and on the other hand, a new world of sunglasses is opened for you. As you know, your choices were limited. You needed to choose a frame that can be modified. Not anymore; you can now walk in any glasses shop, pick the sunglasses you like, and walk out with your head held high. The king, with the new sunglasses, just left the building.
Before I leave you here I have to thank Dr. Mohamed Hantera for his graciousness and warm personality. It was a piece of cake, Doc. And I would also like to thank the assistant who led me through the whole check ups before the operation, and the nurses who pronounce my name in a funny way
Here are a couple of videos of Dr. Hantera explaining the operation; if the above points weren’t able to convience you to take it, maybe he can.
“And once you expose yourself to art, there is lovely combination of memories and pleasant feelings that rush into your system. Apparently, art has an effect on us all, an effect that makes us more human.”
This is an article about art, and its magical influence on us, on a deeper level. My latest, on Arab News.
Why expatriates come to Saudi Arabia, live for years, and go back without much of memories about the country, with cultural ties, or social relations … That’s what I am discussing in my latest Arab News article.
It is the viral news of the hour; Saudi regulators are thinking of banning the online communication services of Skype, Viper, and Whatsapp!
Expectedly, first reactions are all about discontent, anger, and series of jokes and hashtags on Twitter. It is an attack on the freedom of speech, a lot said. Saudis are dying to play the big brother role; they want to control, to spy on, and to monitor their citizens’ innocent human interactions. And something like that would not pass without a touch from conspiracy theorists; telecom companies should be behind all of this, of course they do not want these free services to slash a piece at their profits!
But maybe we need to step back for a second and try to give it some thoughts … are the security concerns surrounding these services totally baseless? Or they have some merits?
Flash news, Saudi Arabia is not the first country in the universe to voice concerns about these services, a lot of governments, east and west, already did. Fears of misuse were always lurking in the dark; drug and human traffickers, pedophiles, and terrorists are on the top of list of suspects!
It is easy, and it is free. You could open an account and start firing messages or having conference calls in seconds. Of course you could be a mother checking on your son who is studying in another country, a lover bleeding a poem to your girlfriend through the cyber space, or you could be a drug dealer closing a deal on an upcoming shipment. That is why the FBI coined the term “going dark” whenever talking about suspects using these services. They just disappear, swim in a void, and become harder to trace.
Skype, for instance, was known to be the impenetrable online service. Its encryption was hard to break. Of course when suspicions started to appear, governments stepped in to find a solution. They eventually forced Skype to ease its security measures to allow governmental monitoring whenever needed. An industry official commented on Microsoft, who bought Skype in 2011, saying that “Microsoft has approached the issue with tremendous sensitivity and a canny awareness of what the issues would be,” the issue he is referring to in here is the governmental ability to monitor Skype.
Whatsapp, on the other hand, is known for its weak privacy and security measures. Hijacking Whatsapp accounts is considered as a field training for aspiring hackers (check here for some highlights). And lately, Whatsapp came under scrutiny by Canadian and Dutch data protection authorities over allegations of users’ privacy violations!
The long story short, in my opinion, governments have the right to take certain measures to protect their citizens from the probable misuse of these service! Of course that does not mean breaching the privacy of everyone! There must be a whole judicial system to take care of that!
So why all this uproar in the Saudi case? I think it is in the way the news was reported. This is a typical mistake of Saudi authorities. Most of them do not know how to approach the public with their decisions. In this particular case, the decision was reported, marketed if you wish, as a way to monitor instead of protect, a way to breach privacy instead of saving it!
If such measures should be taken to fight crimes, I cannot find a reason to be threatened by them.
In management, like in any other walk of life, the ideal case rarely, or hardly, matches the reality. To reach the exemplary state, although impossible most of the times, there are always gaps to be filled, challenges to be dealt with, and problems to be solved.
The attitude we choose to face these challenges with is the factor of determining success or failure.
Western management mostly choose to pursue the ideal state, to try the theory, to challenge it, move it around and play with it in an attempt to reach success. That’s why they show a lot of respect to management as a science. That’s why management there is vibrant, alive, and changing!
Saudi managerial style, on the other side, mostly choose to ignore ideals, they are comforted by the idea that ideals are hard to reach, and it is waste of time and energy even to try. That’s why most Saudi managers believe that the science of management belongs to books; it is not applicable in real life!
Do you know now why most of our organizations suffer from a chaotic business culture? It is all about the attitude.
According to this press release from the Director of traffic department in Tabuk; Saher, the roads monitoring system, has helped reducing the traffic accidents in the Kingdom by 37%!
My reaction to this is … I hope!
Being a driver on the Saudi streets for more than 12 years, honestly, I sensed no difference after the introduction of Saher. The roads are still a mess, craziness everywhere; sticking to a lane is near impossible around here, speeding between Saher cameras and in back streets is the norm, roundabouts … ohh do not get me started!
Actually, according to another Director of traffic department, Zuhair Sharaf form Madinah, fatalities on the Saudi roads in 2011 outnumbered the victims of violence in Iraq for the same year!
Therefore, we better admit that there are many factors jeopardizing safety on our roads, speeding is not the problem, it is only part of it. A new approach to driving and road laws is needed. The whole image of the traffic department needs to be elevated. Learn from others, adapt and be creative. Start awareness at a young age, demand high driving knowledge and skills of those employed to drive in the country, redesign your procedures and tests to award driving permits, make sure the rules are applied on all fair and square, talk to drivers and hear from them, relate to them.
Tweetups, in my understanding, are meetings organized by a group of Tweeps coming from the same city or country to connect, to meet up in real life after being following each other in the cyber one. They usually meet in a coffee house, or, if they feel like pampering themselves, they meet in a restaurant. It is meant to be a social gathering, nothing else.
But a Tweetup in the Ritz-Carlton, that is new!
That was the gathering named ‘Saudi Tweeps.’ Technically, it is not even a Tweetup, it is more of a conference. I have seen some photos, and the speakers arrangement on the stage reminded me of Davos economical forum! Add that to the fact that it was sponsored by a charitable organization (that is owned by a governmental official), and you just feel like there is something behind the scene.
Honestly, I do not have a problem with a Twitter conference of some sort. I mean, why not! The topics presented in the conference were not new; using social media to grow personal and business brands, using Twitter as a platform to entrepreneurial ideas, the freedom of speech and censorship are all popular and widely discussed topics. In essence, there is no problem to gather and talk about Twitter.
My dispute with the conference comes in the way it was presented. Those are not the best Saudi Tweeps there is! And when we say best, we may need to agree first, best in what exactly? Experiencing Twitter comes in multiple flavors. It is not all about politics, businesses, and collecting followers. Still in the core, for a lot of users, it is nothing but a way to communicate, a channel to babble to the universe.
Moreover, the shadows of governmental support discredited the conference. It looked like it was mainly organized to deliver certain messages on behalf of the government. I cannot totally agree with such conspiracy-soaked-claims, but I can understand where they’re coming from. The governmental umbrella may not dictate what you have to say, but it would definitely allow, or reject, certain views of being publicly discussed.