Category Archives: General Management

Understanding the True Spirit of Ramadan – Arab News

via maple/ related to Arab News

via maple/ related to Arab News

A Canadian Muslim friend, let’s call him “M,” spent the last Ramadan in Saudi Arabia — his first-ever Ramadan in the Kingdom. It was a different experience; he would not label it as good or bad, “it was just different,” he insists.

The first jolt of surprise came when his office announced the new working hours during the holy month. He did see that coming, as a Muslim back home, he is used to fasting the long daylight hours during the Canadian summer days. Why an eight hours shift was reduced to six was beyond his comprehension! He tried his peers and subordinates first, the only common reaction he got from all of them was the sheer surprise directed at the question itself: “Of course the working hours should be cut, it is Ramadan my friend!” 
Most of his colleagues responded not noticing that they were only paraphrasing his question into an answer. When he pressed further, he got diverse answers from “We would be exhausted without food and water and tea all day long, man!” to “Of course to get more time dedicated to worshiping and reciting Qur’an.”

Being the practical person he is, such answers did not cut it for him, what exhaustion they were talking about? He would understand if their job required any kind of fieldwork, but it was nothing but air-conditioned offices and cushioned chairs. Getting more time to worship, why not thinking about doing their jobs as a way of worshipping nonetheless? So he decided to go to the management. Of course he would not try to question the cultural norms of the country. He knows how sensitive such matters are. Nonetheless, he wanted to talk business. Many of the deadlines and projects he committed to deliver would be impacted by such changes and he would like to define some priorities. The director’s response was, “No, all targets stay, no compromises!” 



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Greatness is in Thinking Beyond Making Money – Arab News

via David Castillo Dominici/ related to Arab News

via David Castillo Dominici/ related to Arab News

In the world of business there is a never-ending debate revolving around the ultimate question, the heart and soul of any strategy, i.e. why are we doing this?

Every organization or business concern pursues a purpose by launching its products in the market or by offering various services to its clients. What is that purpose? The first answer that comes to one’s mind is: Profit. As a matter of fact, profit is the crucial factor that justifies investment of efforts and resources. And naturally, the outcome of those efforts should be attractive enough to the owners or investors to continue with whatever they are doing.

Profit may be one of the goals of any business concern or organization but not the sole purpose. If we study the history of huge companies or organizations, we would find that money alone was never the driving force behind them that helped them transform into great and unique and more than profitable concerns.

At the beginning of this month, Tim Cook, Apple CEO, demonstrated an example of what truly makes a company unique and special. During the company’s annual stockholder meeting, Cook, the otherwise cool and soft-spoken person lost his temper during the Q&A session of the event. A think tank known as the National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR) was pushing for a shareholder’s proposal that would have dictated Apple to disclose costs associated with its sustainability and green programs and to be transparent about its participation in what NCPPR called “certain trade associations and business organizations promoting the amorphous concept of environmental sustainability.”



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FB-WhatsApp Deal: Questions Remain Unanswered – Arab News


via adamr/ related to Arab News

Although the year is still in the beginning, Facebook buying WhatsApp for $19 billion could easily pass as the news of the year. The giant social media network is acquiring one of the prominent stars in the field.

There are so many bewildering aspects to the deal; primarily, the huge purchasing value, and the $19 billion question … why?
Big deals are not strange in the social media industry, but this come as the biggest of them all. MySpace was bought by News Corporation back in 2005 for $580 million.

Google did it in 2006 and bought Youtube for $1.65 billion. Facebook itself did it recently when it bough Instagram for $1 billion.
A lot of commentators in the industry are calling it “a crazy deal.” There is even a Tumblr feed listing a number of things that are cheaper than WhatsApp. For examples, a colony on Mars would cost around $6 billion, adopting all homeless animals in the US would cost only $1.2 billion, or even better, vaccinating every kid in the world against measles would cost around $3 billion.



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Global Corruption Barometer 2013; It is Still A Long Way Ahead

via scottchan/

via scottchan/

Corruption is everywhere; that’s the result of the Global Corruption Barometer 2013 report published by the society of Transparency International. 114,000 respondents from 107 countries took part in this large survey to measure how corruption affects people lives around the world.

The results are truly repulsive; you would think the world would be doing much better in the days of globalization and social networks based communication, it does not. More than one out of four respondents have paid a bribe during last year; it is either you pay, or you will be prevented from getting the service you are entitled to.

Here are some of the key findings of the report:

  • Surprisingly, institutions entrusted to protect people are scoring high in bribery levels. 31% of respondents reported paying a bribe to police, 24% to judicial system.
  • Majority of people do not believe that governments are doing enough to fight corruptions.
  • Almost two out of three believe that personal connections could help you get things done when they shouldn’t (yes, you’ve guessed it right, it is Wasta).
  • 54% believe that governments are administrated in a way that favors certain powerful groups rather than all citizens.

It comes as no surprise that the Arab world is performing badly in the survey, that despite the claims that the unrest currently sweeping the region can be traced back to fighting corrupted governments and abusive use of power. All the countries affected by the so called ‘Arab Spring’ are scoring higher levels of corruption compared to two years ago, around the time most of the events started to unfold.

Let’s take examples:

–          Egypt

  • 37% believe that corruption has increased in the past two years.
  • 28% believe that the country is administrated in favor of big influencers.
  • Only 5% believe that the government is doing what it takes to fight corruption.
  • 72% believe that political parties are corrupt/extremely corrupt.
  • 80% consider the media to be corrupt/extremely corrupt.
  • 65% believe that the judicial system is corrupt/extremely corrupt.
  • 38% have paid a bribe to police.
  • 21% have paid a bribe to medical service.

–          Tunisia

  • 61% believe that corruption has increased in the past two years.
  • 20% believe that the country is administrated in favor of big influencers.
  • Only 11% believe that the government is doing what it takes to fight corruption.
  • 66% believe that political parties are corrupt/extremely corrupt.
  • 53% consider the media to be corrupt/extremely corrupt.
  • 56% believe that the judicial system is corrupt/extremely corrupt.
  • 43% have paid a bribe to police.
  • 38% have paid a bribe to medical service.


Saudi Arabia takes no part in the report; either data could not be collected, or could not be verified.


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It is All About the Attitude

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.


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This is what we want from the New Airlines

via Atsawintarangkul

via Atsawintarangkul

It is good to have two more aviation companies in the market, not particularly because they are Qatar Airways and Gulf Air, a Lalaland Airways would be sufficient; it is just because we have choices beside Saudi Airlines.

And let me be clear here, we do not hate Saudia, OK may be some of us do, the company insisted on putting us all down the dumps for so long. It has always acted as an arrogant patient who refuses his doctors’ advises without any apparent justifications. Saudia is, unfortunately, a classical example of a good company gone bad, very bad.

Despite all this, it is not the time to be jumping for joy yet. The licenses have just been awarded and the image is yet far from clear. At the moment, there are tremendous differences between the licensed companies. Saudia, as we said, is bad, very bad. NAS, a low cost carrier, nothing special, it has not been able to build a group of loyalists. Gulf Air, honestly, it was a surprise seeing this company wining the license, shadows of bankruptcy have always been hovering over its head! Qatar Airways, the five stars airlines of 2011 & 2012, I wonder if they will keep the same level of service in the local market, between me and you, I doubt it!

How are these companies going to compete? Will the government keep supporting Saudia especially in fuel prices? There are a lot of questions, yet few answers.

Anyhow, let’s be positive, these are the things I am expecting from the new airlines:

–          Smile: Your staff, ground and air crews, should understand this: smiling does not make you a bad person. Yeah, it is obvious I know, but let me tell you, we have had enough of frowny faces. You cannot compete with the current operators in frowning even if you want to, they have gone pro!

–          Serve us like you mean it: Flash news, you do not do us any favor by allowing us to board a plane and fly, we did pay for the trip from our own pockets you know. So ask your ground staff to be helpful and friendly, your air crew to stop doing faces whenever someone asks for a cup of water.

–          Be on time: I know that this may sounds surprising and all, but there are Saudis who actually care about their time. If the take off is at 9:00, you better not start boarding at 8:55??

–          Say no to ‘wasta’: No, I do not need to know anyone working in your company to book a seat for me nor to confirm my flight.  I need no one sending me to a supervisor shouting in a walkie-talkie and have no time to address my problem. I have booked a ticket, chosen my seat online, I better find the reservation and find the seat. And no, I will not change my window-seat because some woman happens to be sitting next to me, last time I checked, I do not bite!


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The Trains of Holy Lands


To put it in the fewest words possible, something wrong happened to the trains of the holy lands in Makkah. No confirmed news yet about what actually happened and what was the cause of the problem. As usual, the truth is wavering between TV screens and official comments that are all revolving around the word ‘successful’ (check this one out, in Arabic) and those talking about a disastrous organization and control (check out these couple of tweets)

Hajj is, not doubt, a tremendous challenge in crowd management. Millions of people need to move, to be fed, to be secured within a few kilometers radius. While it is hard to discredit the country’s huge efforts in facilitating the event and making it as effortless as possible, such news ruin the whole scene and steal the spot light from whatever achievements might actually taken place. That’s how the media world works, shortcomings find its way to the light faster than achievements, especially when there is no transparency.  Operating train lines should not be a hassle no matter what. There are no excuses; the huge number and the limited area do not qualify as ones. The Shinjuku station in Tokyo, Japan, for example, was used by an average of 3.64 million passengers per day back in 2007. I wonder if we ever approached those countries to ask for advices, consultants, and help. There is no harm in doing so, you know!

The Prince of Makkah has formed an investigation committee which I hope would share its findings with the public. And I hope the results won’t be a bunch of blames flying around. In project management, these are called ‘lessons learned,’ and they better to be transformed into solutions to prevent such failures in the future.


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Broken Promises


You can promise and not deliver once and they may forget, twice, and they may forgive, but on the third time, you absolutely lose all your credibility.

This is virtually true everywhere, in all situations, but it intensifies in workplaces. I mean, you could do such a thing as a parent, a spouse, but you would still have enough emotional credits in the banks of those around you to forget, forgive, and move on; that’s hardly the case in the business world.

Throughout my career, I have heard so many promises, so many dreams of a better tomorrow; the number of those promises actualized is shameful. Most companies have two faces; the one facing the public, and it’s usually showing that everything is perfect, management is working hard to make a difference, to move the whole society forward, and to make its employees’ lives better. And there is the face of reality, where organizational politics are dominating.

Organizations, and leaders, with two faces and so many broken promises are the ones lacking true values, the ones that cannot look beyond the bottom line, the profit!


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Cyber wars: How dangerous are they? – Arab News

What do you about cyberwar, and how serious it could be? Check out my latest article on Arab News.


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Violence in the workplace: Why does it happen? – Arab News

What causes violence in erupt in the workplace? This is what I am trying to dsciuss in my latest Arab News article

Enjoy …


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