Beware of Hoax Messages on Social Media! – Arab News

17 Dec
Photo via David Castillo Dominici/ - Nothing to do with Arab News

Photo via David Castillo Dominici/ – Nothing to do with Arab News

When the phone peeped with that distinguished tone announcing the arrival of a new message on WhatsApp, I rushed to read it, and it went like this: “Please read and forward; A researcher in the United States has discovered a new type of cancer. This cancer is caused by Silver Nitro Oxide and it is the silver layer you scratch off with your nails when you buy a new recharging card. The particles of this substance goes under your nails and it end up causing you a skin cancer.”

There are a number of options you can take in a situation like that; you can believe and spread it, and in that case, you may never buy a recharge card again along with the hundreds who received your forward. And there is the other option; finding the truth.

The message above is a hoax. The matter we scratch off recharge cards has nothing to do with Silver Nitro Oxide, it is made of a specialized latex ink.



Gulf Union: Oman’s Refusal calls for Soul-Searching – Arab News

16 Dec

Over the reports of a Gulf Union cooking in the oven, Oman made it loud and clear: We are not part of this.

Citizens of the GCC countries, particularly Saudis, are in a state of shock and bewilderment over the Omani response. Many believe that Oman has the right to choose whatever is in its larger interest. However, there are some who are in a state of denial, as they did not expect such a response from their otherwise quiet neighbor.

Interestingly, both sides agree on one point at least that Oman is different; it is Omanis and not us who need to change and cope with that change.

I wonder if someone considered that it maybe “us” who are different, maybe not only from Oman but from the rest of the Gulf countries. We may share with them the common lineaments of culture, history, heritage, language, and social ties, but once you dig deeper, differences start to surface. The beat of life and the wheel of society run differently among the Gulf countries. And maybe this is the main reason as to why the GCC has failed in meeting high expectations of many since its very inception. One has to admit, we (GCC members) are similar, but not the same.


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Should We Censor YouTube? – Arab News

10 Dec

The popular video sharing website has helped countless Saudis project their talents to the world, and become rising social stars and entrepreneurial icons.

The power of YouTube and its potential to unleash different talents are some of the reasons behind its growing popularity in the Kingdom, which is why when a government official mentioned the possibility of “supervising YouTube,” Saudis rushed to express their discontent.

Some would argue that the free spirited environment of YouTube, with its minimal rules and policies is the secret ingredient of its popularity. Whether you record yourself with a phone camera, or appear in a professionally produced show, you’re a few clicks away from being published; no approvals acquired, no paper work to fill, no censoring body to report to.

It is a no surprise then that Saudi Arabia ranks amongst the top in terms of YouTube views per capita. Some data shows that there are around 190 million views per day as well as Saudi channels with more than 200,000 subscribers, and videos watched more than 4 million times each.


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Winning Contests is Not Enough – Arab News

09 Dec

A few days ago, my Twitter feed went ablaze with news about a Saudi girl who won a mental arithmetic competition in Malaysia. It is a competition organized by the UCMAS (Universal Concepts of Mental Arithmetic Systems) and it happens that the school where this girl, Shahd Al-Ahmadi, is studying uses UCMAS techniques to foster its students love for science and mathematics.

And while researching the topic, I stumbled upon several other scientific and innovative events where Saudi young boys and girls shined and clinched top positions. One of such events is the First Lego League for the youth between 9 to 16 years. The event is held every year and a new challenge is announced, which usually revolves around a real world problem and teams from all over the globe are invited to participate by providing innovative solutions to the problem. Interestingly, there is a branch of this organization in the Kingdom and different Saudi teams had made it to the finals.


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Take it easy! Social Media is a hard nut to crack – Arab News

03 Dec

A couple of weeks ago, the Ministry of Justice decided to sue three lawyers over some tweets it considered insulting to the ministry. Last week, an educational institution warned its students that those writing about it on any social media channel will be fined.

Clearly, the relationship between the social media networks and a lot of our organizations is in trouble.

Since the social media networks started to gain popularity a few years ago, public and private organizations, around the globe, started to get worried. Managements of these organizations found themselves facing unprecedented challenges. Along with their fears over their confidential information, they felt that their reputation was also on the line.



When Can We Host the Expo? – Arab News

02 Dec

Our miraculous neighbor, geographically small, gigantic in personality and ambitions, Dubai, has just secured a permanent position in history after winning the bid to host the World Expo 2020.

Any unbiased observer would be thrilled by the fact that Dubai has won the bid. An unknown country in the recent past has transformed into a rising star in the world of business and tourism and a tiny dot of luxury and novelty in the Middle East. As Saudis, we share with the world the same sense of joy and excitement, if not more, and along with it, a healthy dose of jealousy. And a question pops up in our minds … when can WE do it?

It is about the country’s image, the brand name, the historical chance, and above all, proving to yourself and the whole world that you have what it takes to climb the ladder of civilization.
There is a long history behind World Expos, and to win the chance to host it, you need to show and prove that you have the best of what a city could offer at the time of selection. Despite the fact that the first known event to be called the World Expo was held in London in 1851, the tradition of international expositions goes back to France in the middle of the nineteenth century. The first generation of expos was meant to bring countries of the world together so they can share, show, and maybe brag about their industrial products. The telephone was presented in Philadelphia Expo, 1876, and the Eiffel Tower was the center of attention at the Paris expo, 1889.



Rain — the chief quality inspector – Arab News

25 Nov

Few hours of rain is enough to strip naked the truth, to uncover the core problems disguised under layers of decor and elegance, to cut to the chase and face the ugly reality; our civic infrastructure is fragile.

We have seen this happening the last couple of weeks, in Hail, Riyadh, and Dammam; bridges collapsed, underpasses drowned, and ceilings leaking water in multibillion riyals buildings. It is not a surprise then that Saudis have a special name for rain now; the chief quality inspector.



Moment of Truth for the Saudi Economy – Arab News

11 Nov

The amnesty period is over and it is the moment of truth not only for the expatriates who have not been able to rectify their status but also for the officials involved in regulating the market and above all for the Saudi economy.

It is not a secret that the decision to regulate the Saudi labor market has been challenged in each and every phase of its execution. Challenged by those profiting from the chaotic market with its low prices, low-quality personnel, and challenged by those fearing the chaotic aftermath of rectifying a situation so bad that it needed a precise surgical intervention.


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More Electricity Providers Please! – Arab News

05 Nov

I heard a story, which Google could not help me confirm, about a power blackout in Sweden. The story goes like this: The inhabitants of a small town in Sweden were surprised by a power cut late at night. I say surprised, and maybe shocked, because power cuts are unimaginable in Sweden.


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So Simple Yet So Disruptive; Virgin Airlines Safety Video

30 Oct

Have you ever been on an airplane? Are you familiar with those before take off boring minutes? Now let me ask you this … Do you remember the safety instructions video and flight attendants demonstrating them live in the middle of the airplane? I know … me neither!

I have to admit that I’ve always felt that it is a bit awkward for the flight attendants to show those instructions while NO ONE is paying attention. It somehow feels like an actor performing in an empty theater; It feels sad! That does not mean the instructions themselves are pointless, they are important, but they are just … boring!

Virgin America wants to change this …

The video is brilliant, and it will definitely go viral.

The idea itself is not new, giving safety instructions in a-not-so-familiar/formal-way has been done before (there has been singing and there has been dancing) but Virgin is taking it to the next level, ‘jazzing it up,’ as USA TODAY put it.

The video is innovative and adding to the brand in so many ways; it is going viral so brand exposure, it is new and catchy so associating the brand with innovative services, it is all hip, music and dancing, so making the brand attractive to the young.

At the bottom of all this, there is … change; when something is done for so long in the same way, it becomes customary, part of the routine that no one is paying attention to, so these kinds of ideas, so simple as they may seem, are the ideas powerful enough to change the status quo, to get attention and add value to the brand equity.

It won’t surprise me if more airlines got on board and started making their own videos.

I wonder how Saudi Airlines video will look like?!

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