Hats off to Egypt
Every time I travel to Egypt, I make sure that the top priority on my agenda is touristic and cultural. After completing the business meetings, I rush to visit the pyramids, which dazzle me every time with their grandeur and the magic of their civilization. Whenever I look at the pyramids, I can almost hear the sounds and noise of the ancient Egyptian engineers and workers bringing these huge stones from southern Egypt and stacking them on top of each other with legendary skill
Read More Hats off to Egypt
For us, no challenge is big enough
While many countries around the world are still suffering from the repercussions of COVID-19, Bahrain is proving day after day that it is a country of organized institutions and strong capabilities due to the wisdom and vision of its king, may God protect him. This is further augmented by the support of a crown prince and prime minister who takes every effort to elevate his country to the ranks of developed nations all reinforced by a people loyal to their leadership
Read More Formula 1
Dubai… good to be back
The world is changing while Corona is still surrounding us. Many countries are left behind waiting for a miracle to bring relief after suffering from disease and hunger. Some countries have world-class leaders who have managed to control the situation and preserve the security and safety of their people. Thanks to their wisdom and foresight, they were able to overcome the pandemic and emerge stronger from it
Read More Dubai – En
Bahrain on right path to success
The will to undertake reform and self-confidence in our homegrown abilities are among the main pillars of the kingdom’s development strategies, plans, and processes.
This determination and confidence were apparent in the directives of His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince Prime Minister, and Economic Development Board (EDB) chairman, when he chaired a recent meeting of the EDB.
Read More Bahrain on right path to success
Get off our backs
The United States of America always establishes itself as a global policeman that uses its concepts and understanding of organizing states, groups, human rights, and political, social, and cultural systems, then divides countries into black and white lists according to its special criteria. The fluctuation of Washington’s relations with Riyadh during the last decade is nothing but a product of this American policy pursued by Democratic presidents in particular, while Saudi foreign policy has remained firm and established over years
Read More Get off our back (2)
Back to square one
How painful it is to see the number of new cases of COVID-19 rising at an unprecedented rate. “Team Bahrain”, under the leadership of His Highness the Crown Prince and Prime Minister, is doing the impossible to protect citizens and residents from the threat of the pandemic. It is taking enormous measures that have won the attention and respect of many countries and organizations around the world, including WHO itself
Read More Back to square one
America’s First Love
Israel is America’s first and last love; and Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Bahrain made the right move by opening effective political channels of communication with Israel, in a pre-emptive vision that has now proven its rightness. The countries of the region no longer have any option to preserve their security in the face of the Iranian threat except to reach an agreement and include themselves in any new nuclear agreement between the United States and Iran.
Read More first love
Hope Probe, unprecedented achievement
How beautiful it is to be part of a world in which the rulers and people of the country compete to achieve qualitative achievements that the nations can be proud of. The best example of this is the unprecedented Emirati achievement in sending the Hope Probe to Mars. The Emirates, and all of us as Arabs, are deservedly proud of such an achievement. It sends a civilized message to the world, and is an assurance that Arabs are not only able to contribute to the efforts of scientific progress but also to lead these efforts
Read More Hope Probe
Woman is half the present and all the future
Perhaps Bahrain is one of the few countries in the world that has a rich and distinguished experience in the field of supporting women.
This experience is based on two factors. First, the confidence of His Majesty King Hamad in the innate ability of Bahraini women to achieve, give, and contribute to the development of themselves, their families, and their country. Second, the existence of the Supreme Council for Women headed by Her Royal Highness Princess Sabeeka bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa, wife of the King. This institution has, over two decades, managed to build a comprehensive support system for women to help them make a quantum leap in their careers.
A person may view the map of the world and not notice the existence of Bahrain due to its small geographical area. Some of you may get stressed as you explain to an American or Australian friend about Bahrain, that it’s a modern country with ancient roots governed by a constitution that has an enlightened monarchy and wise leaders. Nevertheless, Bahrain is one of the countries that fascinates everyone with its charm and the kindness of its people
Read More Happy Bahrain
Stay tuned for my new book
Despite my constant preoccupation with managing various projects and my businesses, like any businessman with diverse investments in more than one sector and in many countries, a while ago I decided to devote a small part of my time to writing a book. This is mainly a review of my life path from the time of my youth through the university and then my career. In many chapters of the book, I focused on my work in the advertising industry for more than thirty years
Read More Stay tuned for my new book
New Year’s Gift
I was very pleased to learn about all the directives of His Royal Highness, the Crown Prince and Prime Minister, on starting operations at the new Bahrain International Airport terminal on January 28. I cannot wait to travel through this airport, whose pictures and videos impressed me. I am optimistic about the qualitative leap that this project will make in terms of transportation, tourism, economy, and development as a whole, especially as it is considered the largest logistical project of its kind in Bahrain over the last twenty years
Read More New Year gift
Some believe that it is the end of the world. There are wars, crises, political unrest, economic hardship, severe climate variations, and natural disasters. All of this culminated in an unprecedented microscopic virus that swept the world, killed killed over a million, and disrupted large sectors in every sense of the word
Read More God’s blessings
White angels in front rows
In his book, ‘A Life in Administration,’ Dr Ghazi Al Gosaibi, harshly criticised the work of the ministry of Saudi Arabia, calling it a “holocaust of ministers.” This was based on what he experienced as the Minister of Health in KSA. Moreover, he related how much it exhausted him both mentally and physically, in addition to bringing him criticism and trouble. In fact, he said, it almost constituted a major setback in his otherwise very successful academic and professional career, during which he had led many major institutions and bodies, including the Ministry of Electricity
Read More White angels in front rows
My language, my identity, my good luck
The occasion of the “UN Arabic Language Day” recently passed. I don’t think many Arabs paid attention to it, as they are engaged in issues other than their language, although this is what truly represents one of the most significant reasons for their survival as a nation and a solid foundation on which to restore their glory and their civilizational and cultural role for the present and future of humanity
Read More My language, my identity, my good luck
The commitment of merchants and businessmen to fulfill their obligations to each other, remains the solid firm rule in the world of business. This holds true no matter how developed the judicial system of settling commercial disputes, or how strict the forms of contracts, documents, and guarantees in business transactions. This is the basic rule of business stability, which is a protective shield for society from the cycle of judicial disputes, personal quarrels, delays in the implementation of business and projects, and the consequent economic and social damage
Read More Business Reputation
America? Nothing changes
The faces in America change, but foreign political orientations remain the same. Even under contradictory presidents such as George W. Bush, who was fond of waging wars, and the hesitant Barack Obama, American constants remain the same. Foremost among these is the interest of America in managing the world as its sole policeman, with superior military, technological, and economic power, and of course the protection of Israel
Read More America Nothing changes
Education is the best path
Since my childhood, I believed in the importance of education in forging my future. That was my mother’s advice to me, may God have mercy on her soul, when she realized that she was dying of cancer, she said to me, “Akram, do whatever you desire, but never give up on your school and your education.” I followed her advice which forms the foundation of all my achievements
Read More Education
Opportunity to revive tourism sector
Through my work in the tourism and hospitality sector in the Kingdom of Bahrain over the past twenty years, I can say that this sector witnessed growth, development, and prosperity, and achieved good performance rates that rose year after year. These observations are based on indicators such as the annually increasing number of tourists, the increase of their duration of stay in the Kingdom, and their spending levels. In addition, we have seen an increasing number of tourist facilities and diversity in their services
Read More Tourism sector
The Blessing of Stability
The monarchies are considered more stable systems at a time when the republics of all forms suffer from frequent violent shocks. The process of national economic, social, and cultural development cannot continue sustainably except in the light of stable political systems
Read More The Blessing of Stability
!Those who accept the shame
In the seventies of the last century, by chance I met the former Secretary of State of the United States of America, and the architect of the past American foreign policy and maybe also the present policy, Henry Kissinger. I saw him in the lobby of a luxury hotel in Morocco with his wife. I rushed towards him and asked him directly: “Why are you doing this to my country Lebanon? Why do you let it drown in the furnace of a destructible civil war? You, sir, are happy with burning Lebanon and do your best to keep this fire on. Shame on you
Read MoreThose who accept the shame
?Is fear killing us
Life taught me not to be afraid, this is not just bold rhetoric, because I always knew that the cost of adventure and courage would be high. I believe that it is not more significant than the cost of fear, and clinical death in the darkness
To some extent, I do not pay much attention to the matter of death, and I achieve what I can to enjoy every moment and day of my life. I yearn eagerly for another day when I do good and continue to interact with people around me at work, my family circle and add to my list of acquaintances or new friends. I thank God every day for the blessing of health and life, and I consider every extra day in my life a gift from the Almighty
Read More Fear is killing us
Return to the path of peace
War records the history of mankind, not peace. As for periods of peace and prosperity, they are nothing but a ‘warrior’s rest.’ Wars constantly reconstruct the form of the political, economic, social, and cultural world, and conflicts and revolutions are just other forms of war. Moreover, the book The Art of War written by Sun Tzu in the sixth century BC, inspires the world by its instructions to this day. French President Emmanuel Macron’s talk about the necessity of confronting Islamism or radical Islam and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s response to it is an extension of the long centuries of the ‘clash of civilisations’. This phrase was chosen by Samuel Huntington’s as the title of his acclaimed book
Read More Return to the path of peace
Corruption is more destructive
Bahrain is doing a great job in fighting corruption in its diverse forms. This is done through many qualitative initiatives, including the Ministry of the Interior’s efforts represented by the General Directorate of Anti-Corruption and Economic and Electronic Security. The Ministry also conducts many awareness campaigns such as the anti-corruption hotline “Nazaha”, that encourages citizens and residents to report any suspicions of corruption, and also through the report of the National Audit Office, which is considered a fearless and honest disclosure of any defect in any government entity
Read More Corruption is more destructive
His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa’s keynote speech, during the inauguration of the third session of the fifth legislative term, was exceptional and inspiring. Its attention to minor details that aim to provide a better life for his people and to draw clear milestones for a comprehensive national revival plan, were impressive and much-needed. At the same time, His Majesty turned away from politics and disputes and focused on our lives and future, proving once again that he is the voice of reason and wisdom; he steers our ship calmly, and ushers us to safety, no matter how high the waves
Read More Constructive Speech
Escaping the bottleneck
As I followed the news of war raging between Armenia and Azerbaijan, it captured my attention that the people in both countries back their leadership and army, even many citizens volunteered for war. I wondered if it’s possible for us to witness the people of any Arab country from our rundown states gather around their leadership and army in case they had to face external aggression. But I suspect that won’t happen, especially since we disagree on everything: on national constants, civic rights, the military, and loyalty
Read More Escaping the bottleneck clean
Shame on us
Everyone had different explanations for the interest and recent visits of French President Emmanuel Macron to Lebanon. Some of them said that this was because of his love for Lebanon and a genuine desire from Mother France to support Lebanon. Some said that the visit was to achieve personal interests and boost his own popularity and electoral gains. Some of them put it in the category of economic, political, colonial, religious, or even sectarian interests
Read More Shame on us
We must affirm the compelling importance of continuing to adhere to the precautionary measures against COVID-19, no matter what happens. Suppose we are not afraid for our health, in that case, we should do this for the sake of the health of those around us, and in respect and appreciation for the efforts performed by #TeamBahrain to tackle the pandemic under the leadership of His Highness the Crown Prince. We must follow these measures for the sake of the sacrifices of the medical and health personnel and all workers on the front lines to protect our dear kingdom from this unprecedented health ordeal
Read More Oh, Corona!
Give peace a chance
When I was a high school student in the sixties of the last century, I was the leader of a scouting squad in my school. On one occasion I gave a speech to the students about the Israeli occupation of Palestine. The Arab and Islamic nation was boiling and Nasser ignited the enthusiasm of the masses with his fiery speeches. The war with Israel seemed to us like a short picnic to throw the Zionists into the sea after they dared and disgraced the nation’s honour.
Read More Give peace a chance
The Arabian Sea
Perhaps it’s our right as an Arab nation to name the Mediterranean Sea the “Arabian Sea” since nine Arab countries overlook it, similar to the name of “The Arabian Gulf”, which is overlooked by six Arab Gulf states. And we should all defend our right to the goods that pass through the Mediterranean Sea as a trade route, a reservoir of fortune, and a lake of peace.
Read More The Arabian Sea
In early September, we returned as business owners from an extended vacation granted to us by the government when it graciously decided, at the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in February this year, to bear many financial burdens for our business. These included the postponement of bank instalments, payment of salaries for our Bahraini employees, EWA, labour market fees, and many others
Read More Realistic optimist
The International Tribunal for Lebanon has ruled and established that the person who assassinated Rafiq Hariri is Salim Ayyash, a member of Hezbollah. Therefore, it was not Israel that was responsible for the assassination of Rafik Hariri, and there was no Israeli drone hovering over his convoy at the time of his assassination, as the leader of the Hezbollah militia, Hassan Nasrallah had said. Hezbollah must now hand him over to justice unless they are preparing him for other assassinations or, are they afraid of exposing Hezbollah’s roles in previous assassinations? Or, are they worried about undermining the confidence of Ayyash’s colleagues in the assassination squads
Read More Chained Justice
Fact and Fiction
Some of my colleagues sent me messages and tweeted about opposing the normalization of relations between the UAE and Israel. I was surprised that they did so, despite the fact that most of them are successful businessmen who are well aware that truth and facts are one thing and fiction is quite another
Read More Fact and Fiction
Lebanon regains its Arab identity
How happy I was last week when I listened to the affirmation of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa, may God preserve him, that the Kingdom of Bahrain stands by the Lebanese people, and assured them of solidarity in the tragic circumstances that occurred after the explosion in the Beirut port. I was moved by his speech in which he said that the Lebanese community in Bahrain are in their second homeland. I was also glad to see how His Majesty, and His Highness Sheikh Nasser, tirelessly pursued the valuable efforts made by the Royal Humanitarian Foundation in Lebanon.
Read More Lebanon regains its Arab identity
?Will this loud explosion awaken your consciences
I offer my condolences to myself, the Lebanese, the whole world and to the victims and injured of the explosion in the port of Beirut. I thank all the brothers and friends in Bahrain and around the world who called to check on me, my family, and my people in Beirut; we are fine. My son, Kareem’s house, located 15 kms away from the port, was severely damaged. The 20 McDonald’s branches that we own in Beirut were damaged to varying degrees, as were the Promoseven offices
!I’m happy … yet sad
Perhaps the most wonderful ministry created in the Arab world so far is the Ministry of Happiness in the United Arab Emirates. Whereas all other ministries aim to serve the citizen and his welfare, the Ministry of Happiness and its indicators, assess the extent of the success of the government’s various systems and institutions in achieving people’s happiness.
Read More I’m happy … yet sad!
?When will we wake up
I was amazed when I learnt that my wealthy friend was looking for a job for his 21-year-old son, so I advised him to employ his son in one of his companies or give him a decent capital to establish his own business. His response was decisive and convincing to me; he said that he does not want to spoil his son, but instead wants him to ascend the ladder of practical life from scratch; just as he had done so that his son can experience the meaning of earning his own money and learn the value of things
Read More When will we wake up clean RS
When will we learn to share
A recent video depicts the Renaissance Dam crisis; an Ethiopian woman holds a jug and pours water into two small cups, saying that her country is in control. At the same time, the Egyptians reacted by posting several videos on the Internet; one of them suggests that the dam is not invulnerable to attack
Read More When will we learn to share
Killing the Golden Chicken
The tale goes that a farmer, on discovering that one of his chickens laid a golden egg every morning, was overcome with unbelievable happiness. He impatiently awaited each dawn to collect his next golden egg
Read More Killing the Golden Chicken
Learning to swim from YouTube
The news that caught my attention last week was that US President Donald Trump signed an executive order instructing the federal government to choose federal employees based on their skills instead of university degrees
Read More Learning to swim from YouTube!
Turkish and Iranian projects… Opposite sides of the same coin
What do foreigners demand from our Arab land? Was it not enough for them to loot and rob us of our resources? Are they not yet satisfied with the blood of our children that was shed on our lands? Shouldn’t they pity us for our inability to resist them, and let us live peacefully with our children? Or do they think that we are used to submission and humiliation? As our prominent poet Al-Mutanabbi said, Whoever accepts humiliation deserves more… as the wound will not afflict a lifeless body
Raging waves make skilled sailors
Everything starts small and then grows big, except for challenges and calamities. They start big and then get smaller. This happens either on their own or by us using our stock of wisdom, patience, and habituation, and our ability to make the right decisions at the personal and professional level
Read More Raging waves make skilled sailors
Lebanese can’t breathe
The civilized western world is rising now, defying discrimination in a continuous movement, sparked by the death of George Floyd under the knee of an American Police officer! It is never acceptable to trample the dignity of any human being because of his colour, race, gender, or religion
Read More Lebanese can’t breathe
My university… my sorrow
Oh, the residence of my youth! My years of unbridled passion and unrestrained life; love and marriage, fellowships and friendships, science, knowledge and skill, and the confident leap towards life. Oh, my days at the American University of Beirut
Read More My university… my sorrow
The dilemma of illegal labour
Looking comprehensively at the prevailing muddle of illegal labour in Bahrain, the narratives and opinions that address it, I find this illegal labour matter fundamentally like any other resources like oil, water and geographical location. Either we have to invest in it intelligently and prudently envisioning sustainable development, if however, we leave it untouched, it could be potentially dangerous for our economy
Read More The dilemma of illegal labour
Eid through the eyes of my granddaughter
In a remote video call with my ten-year-old granddaughter, I asked her, “What are you going to do on Eid? “she answered innocently, “I will call and see my friends on the screen, but I will be unable to hug them, to eat with them, or to run and play with them, I am extremely depressed
Read More Eid through the eyes of my granddaughter
My story with Yusuf Islam
Businessmen encounter many compelling stories and meaningful lessons as they pave their challenging and tedious way towards launching and expanding businesses. Years pass, and they forget their financial achievements, but these stories remain fresh in their minds. One of these is how I purchased “Yusuf Islam’s” house in London
Read More My story with Yusuf Islam
Hope and Work
In the eighties of the last century, Kuwait Airways was one of our most important clients in Kuwait. We provided them with advertising and public relations services through our company “Fortune Promoseven”, but after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in the year 1990, the chairman of the company called me stressing that he has a fleet of aircraft outside Kuwait’s airports and out of work. He asked me to figure out a solution along with him to improve this situation
Read More Hope and Work
“Envied he who has a goat headrest in Lebanon”
“Envied he who has a goat headrest in Lebanon” – a translation of a Lebanese proverb I’m sure known to all
Where is the Arab Rothschild
I believe that the most important event in Jewish history, following the birth of Judaism as a heavenly religion, is the emergence of the Rothschild family. This is the family that drives politics and global economy, ignites and extinguishes wars around the world, imposes its rules on the most powerful governmental systems, controls minds, demography, and the future. It controls in one way or another everything on this planet and it does so behind the scenes, out of the spotlight, without anyone knowing much detail about it
Read More Where is the Arab Rothschild
People worthy of respect
When American billionaire announced his resignation from his position as Chairman of Microsoft Corporation, I was surprised. He had founded this corporation and built it into the largest IT and software company in the world. And he did it all to dedicate his time to his charitable activities and projects which operate around the world
Read More People worthy of respect
After the flood
Poor and rich, black and white, believers and non-believers, people of all colours and looks, are facing probably the largest tsunami of our lifetimes. An outside power dawned on us and forced a new reality. Whether it happens every hundred years or not and whether it’s expected or not, it’s still a reality and we are all affected in the same way
Read More After the flood
Exceptional laws are needed
The Coronavirus “COVID- 19” pandemic has affected all aspects of life around the world, especially economies and businesses. God only knows when this nightmare will end and the economy will recover, and our lives will return to normal
Read More Exceptional laws are needed
Our priorities as human beings
Mankind may have desperately needed a shock like “coronavirus” to return to its consciousness, its rationalization, and its awareness of the reality of its unity. It needed to be reminded of its common destiny regardless of ethnic, cultural, religious, professional and financial differences. And now it is important for us to learn this lesson, especially those of us who survive this coronavirus crisis, that we shouldn’t go back to disputes, discord and a preponderance of personal interest
Read More Our priorities as human beings
Be ambitious, not greedy
In crises, challenges increase for businessmen and companies, while shallow, reckless, risky, greedy, stupid, corrupt, and those with little administrative experience fall, and those with bad luck, all fall down. This is what we began to notice in the business community about a year ago when economic challenges increased, and it is expected to increase in frequency more quickly with the coronavirus crisis, the recession, falling of stocks, and declining of oil prices
Read More Be ambitious, not greedy
World Coronavirus Scare
Will we open our eyes tomorrow at the end of this nightmare called “Coronavirus”? Or will this virus continue to exacerbate our fears and its negative impact on our way of life, on our health, economic, political and social world? Our world, which is about three months after the outbreak of this virus, is already witnessing coronavirus scare
Read More World Coronavirus Scare
The Class of Covid-19
The corona virus, or more accurately Covid 19, has imparted some valuable lessons to us as people, societies, governments and countries. The ordeal has reminded us of our ability to benefit from harsh lessons, this is what distinguishes us as human beings. We draw lessons from the past and monitor the present to chart a better future
Read More The Class of Covid-19
Bahrain’s effective security system
No grace exceeds the grace of security and safety, and God Almighty has favored the grace of security over the grace of subsistence in the Quran noble verse it says, “And remember Abraham said: “My Lord, make this a secure city and provide its people with fruits”. Every day that passes and we see what the situation is like in countries such as Libya, Syria and Iraq. And we thank God the Almighty countless times for the blessing of the security and safety that we live in
Read More Bahrain’s effective security system
Bahrain team against Corona
My interest was aroused by His Highness the Crown Prince’s visit to the operating room of the National Team to tackle the Corona Virus (Covid 19) at His Highness’ Training Center at BDF Hospital. While doing so, he once again confirmed the long-held commitment of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, may God protect and preserve him, to every citizen of Bahrain, as expressed in the idea that what touches one citizen or resident in this land affects the entire country
Read More Bahrain team against Corona
A golden future
In the latter part of my life, I started a regular routine of morning exercises. When I enjoy that tremendous sense of health and happiness that follows my exercise session, I look back in regret at that stage of my life when I didn’t focus more on exercise because I was so busy with work. I didn’t realise then that the opposite was true. If you want to accomplish more work during the working day, it is important to dedicate that morning time to exercise. If you want to enjoy life more, you need to exercise more
Read more A golden future
It’s all about teamwork
I recently read a report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) warning about the depletion of Bahrain’s wealth in the year 2024, that is, after less than three years. At the same time, I saw with my own eyes, during our recent visit to Italy, accompanied by His Highness the Crown Prince, how the “Bahrain team” works to sustain growth in this country for the next 30 years at least
To read more it’s all about teamwork
Bahrain team in Italy
A fruitful visit on all levels and by all measures by His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Premier, to the Republic of Italy. The delegation, chaired by His Highness, included a team of government officials and businessmen. I was deeply honoured to be part of the ‘Bahrain Team’ which included in its membership all the distinguished proponents working for the welfare, well-being and prosperity of Bahrain
Read More Bahrain team in Italy –
Another lesson from China
As soon as I wrote my article last week entitled “The Chinese giant” in which I talked about the greatness of this country as it makes its way to the top of the world, news has emerged about the cases of the new strain of the Corona virus in Wuhan, China, which has posed a great challenge and a new test of China’s ability to deal with this type of emergency
Read more Another lesson from China
The Chinese Giant
Every day we learn new lessons from China, this giant country that is gigantic in every way: from its historical and cultural heritage, ethnic and cultural diversity, to population, and industrial production. Watch this giant as it makes its way patiently and steadfastly towards the top of the world.
Read More The Chinese Giant
What is the secret of happiness
Despite the progress we have made in psychology, sociology, philosophy, biology, industrial intelligence, and other fields, man is still lost in assessing his own potential. He constantly looks for something that gives his life meaning. He believes that this may be in academic or professional success, money, prestige, and authority; or in satisfying basic desires, consuming energy, and the days of his life, constantly seeking more
Read More What is the secret of happiness
The twenty-sixth Alayam Cultural Book Festival confirms that literature and knowledge are alive and well. The younger generations are keen to read, be informed, and thirst for the latest books from Arab and international publishing houses, and that Bahrain is a cultural centre worthy of respect
Read More Book Festival
With the end of each year, we start with an “account inventory” process on a personal level. In our memories, we review the tape of the memories of the year gone by and the most important events that we went through. We smile while we think of the achievements we have accomplished and the challenges we have overcome, and we feel sorry for those loved ones whom we have lost, but by the end we thank God that we can still plan for a year to come, and continue working to achieve the goals we have set for ourselves
Read More Weclome 2020
Saudi Aramco goes global
Saudi Arabia remains the fulcrum and the backbone of the Gulf and the region, and perhaps the world, and I have always said that there is no Arab house that isn’t directly or indirectly affected by the Saudi economic movement; and this has a knock-on effect on many homes in Pakistan, India, the Philippines and Bangladesh, even in Britain and the US itself
Read More Saudi Aramco goes global
Young people didn’t disappoint me
Whenever I look at the uprising of Iraqi and Lebanese youth, I realize that the new Arab generation has been liberated from the clutches of sectarian, racial and ethnic, forces. This generation is fully and realistically aware of its status and potential, they have charted a clear path for the future of their countries away from any kind of quotas and corruption.
Read More Young people didn’t disappoint me
Our National Celebrations
We really deserve to celebrate Bahrain’s National Day and the anniversary of the Accession of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa to the Throne.
We celebrate both our National Day, and the democratic path that we are following, which was launched by the King within the framework of the reform project of His Majesty. This is done despite all the challenges, which are constantly evolving.
Read More Our National Celebrations-
Bahrain and the Expo and Me
I’m so delighted to know that the Kingdom of Bahrain has started organising its pavilion for Expo 2020 Dubai. I am really excited and looking forward to visiting this pavilion next year, walking around its 2,000-metre and looking at Bahrain’s cultural and civilizational potential. I am excited at the prospect of exploring the unique design of the pavilion that reflects the structural, natural, and urban characteristics of Bahrain, as well as the diverse and intersecting threads of Bahraini society and its integration with the urban fabric of the Island.
Read More Bahrain and the Expo and Me
War and Economy
Since the dawn of history, till now, communities, peoples, and nations have struggled for wealth; be it land, spoils, natural resources, or markets, except us, the Arabs. We are often fighting, and shedding each other’s blood, in defence of sect and belief, seeking revenge, showing manhood and humiliating others!
Read More War and Economy
Down with the militias
The sectarian militias in Lebanon, Iraq, and Yemen have proved their failure to provide the people with decent living conditions. It is an extension of the Iranian regime that has plunged its people into hunger and poverty while promising them that they would liberate Jerusalem and have a victory over the Great Satan!
Read More.. Down with the militias rs
Let me dream
I dreamed that I woke up to a world other than the miserable one we see now. I dreamed that we were all more loving, less aggressive. I dreamed that man has become more receptive to his fellow man, and that human beings are putting their hands together to build a better future for humanity
Read More… Let me dream
The interest of the country first and foremost
One of the instructions provided by flight attendants on each flight is that if the pressure inside the cabin decreases for one reason or another, the oxygen masks will hang from the ceiling. At that moment, as a passenger with his children, put that mask on your nose first, then on the noses of your children. But does it make sense to save myself before my children? Yes, this is about a logical and rational solution, because if you do not save yourself you will not be able to save your children.
Protest in Lebanon
I do not know whether I was happy or unfortunate that I was in Lebanon when the protest started. In fact, I never expected that it would continue and spread and pick up this momentum.
Read More Protest in Lebanon
The bank wins and the trader loses!
We are pleased that most Bahraini banks are reporting an average annual profit rate of 10-15%, but these profits are threatened with reversals if banks do not relax their lending restrictions on companies and individuals.
Read More The bank wins… trader loses rs
The Favor shall be returned
Since the Amwaj Gateway project was put up for auction, I thought of it a lot, and I think many other investors have also done so. Then I started contacting friends in order to form an alliance or dealers to buy this wonderful project, but unfortunately I could not convince them and break their reluctance
Read More The Favor shall be returned
“Burial is the way to honor the dead”
US president Donald Trump’s official recognition of the Golan Heights as Israel’s sovereign land is illegal and contradicts international rules governing borders of countries and relationships among neighboring countries. On December 6, 2017, he announced the US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and maybe he will terminate the Palestinian sovereignty in the Palestinian territories by the end of his presidency.
Read More Burial is the way to honor the dead
The protest wave has been rising in France by the so-called “yellow jackets” in protest against the deteriorating economic situation in general. It is a sign of the futility of French President Emmanuel Macron’s solutions to tax cuts for the poor and new packages of support
Read More Pre-explosion
Renowned businessman condemns terrorist attack at New Zealand mosques
Miknas: Extremists will not be able to eliminate those who are different from them
Manama, Bahrain: Renowned businessman, Akram Miknas, has condemned the terror attack on the two Christchurch mosques in New Zealand, which resulted in the death of 50 people to date
The attack was carried out by a 28-year-old Australian man, Brenton Harris Tarrant, who opened fire on the worshippers at the mosque. “A great responsibility is placed on all men of thought, religion, culture and even businessmen to immunize our societies from extremist terrorist ideology, which works to exclude others and eliminate diversity instead of celebrating it,” said Mr. Miknas
Read More Statement for publishing
?Why do they hate us
We are all used to Iranian hostility towards the Arab world. However, in recent months it came as a surprise how hostile Turkish policies have been. Putting aside the circumstances of the tragic death of Jamal Khashoggi; it was disturbing to see the way that lurid details, rumours and obvious falsehoods were leaked by the authorities, one mouthful at a time, in a calculated manner for doing maximum reputational damage to Saudi Arabia and its allies
Read More Why do they hate us
?Why don’t we trust each other
Who is Matthew Hedges? If we listen to the British story he is an academic who was conducting research in the UAE. If we listen to the Emirati media he is a self-confessed British spy. In any case, after being given a life sentence by an Emirati court, just a few days later he was heading home following a storm in the British media and a pardon from the Emir
Read More Why don_t we trust each other
Why taxes may be a blessing not a curse
No nation on earth has ever expressed happiness at the imposition of taxes. Yet throughout history it is the imposition of taxes which have allowed nations to be established in the first place
Going back into pre-history, in order for societies to be created out of clusters of farmers, nomads and hunters, some means of systematically collecting revenue was always necessary
Read More Why taxes may be a blessing not a curse
Teachers should be better-paid than judges
When will we pay teachers and lecturers more than we pay ministers, judges and bankers? Who should be paid most: The judge, or the educator who helped create that judge
When we undervalue education, the result is that our workforce falls short and as a nation we fail to be the best we can be
Read More Teachers should be better
Why did the Oslo accords not get their Hollywood ending
Exactly 25 years ago, I remember a sense of huge optimism and excitement following the signing of the Oslo accords. However, this optimism was experienced less during my visits to Cairo, Beirut and Riyadh. Rather it was during visits to London, New York and Paris. Across the Western world there was a perception that the problems facing the Middle East had all been solved
The bloody endgame in Syria
The forces of Assad and his allies are gathering for a massive campaign against Idlib. After regime victories in Aleppo, Damascus suburbs and the south, it is obvious which side is winning (thanks to massive foreign support). However, the battle for Idlib promises to be a chillingly different order of magnitude altogether
Read more The bloody endgame in Syria
?Will we thrive together – or perish together
A group of us were sitting together a few days ago having an intense discussion about Syria and how the world should be responding to Bashar al-Assad’s imminent liquidation of the rebels, when one associate who’d been silent for many minutes suddenly burst out: “You know that none of this actually matters, because the ice caps are melting, we’re poisoning the atmosphere, and the whole world is about to get roasted by runaway global warming!”
The city may be lost – but the idea remains
What do ancient cities like Istanbul, Jerusalem, Cordoba and Toledo have in common? They all have complex histories as capitals for a range of faiths and peoples. Awe-inspiring Christian churches were converted into grand mosques or vice versa; Jewish, Catholic, Orthodox and Muslim communities supplanted each other, coexisted and traded with one other
Hatred of diversity – Hatred of humanity
The Muslim Brotherhood, since its beginnings in twentieth century Egypt, began as an Islamist movement for religious and political reform, but mutated into almost all the strands of extremism which we see around us today – even Khomeinism arose out of this same ideology that the political fate of the Muslim world should be in the hands of the clergy
Read More Hatred of diversity – Hatred of humanity
People and numbers
In our current digital age, is there anything abnormal in preferring to engage with a flesh and blood human being, rather than a machine? This thought struck me recently when, during my stay in London, I tried to open an HSBC bank account. In Bahrain I enjoy an excellent relationship with this bank going back many years; their staff know me and it often feels like a visit to see old friends, rather than a business chore
Read More People and numbers
British Government at war with itself over Brexit
My summer weeks London are always a fascinating opportunity to test the political and social temperature. For the past two summers I discovered a United Kingdom torn apart by the Brexit debate. I’d prepared myself to return this summer and find that everything had been amicably finalized in preparation for an orderly departure from the EU, on schedule in 2019
Protecting Bahrain’s vulnerable workers
In states across the GCC over past decades, the issue of protecting expatriate workers has always been something which has caused me concern. We see South Asian workers struggling with building roads and critical infrastructure during the hottest hours of the day, we are all aware of incidents where vulnerable foreign citizens have been subject to abuse or even violence, and it isn’t rare to hear of cases where workers endure all of this without even getting paid for months.
Read More Protecting Bahrain_s vulnerable workers
Trumpian policies on Korea & trade playing into Chinese hands
In recent weeks two of President Trump’s overseas initiatives have garnered global attention: His outreach to North Korea; and new packages of trade tariffs, largely directed against China. The big question is whether these two far-reaching initiatives are mutually-incompatible.
Read More Trumpian policies on Korea
?When will we stop lauding the leaders of failure
We Arabs have a strong natural inclination to put sentiment before logic and fantasies before reality. We are inspired and unified by rabble-rousing speeches, yet swiftly dispersed by the slightest show of force. We love bellicose demagogues, even when they march us into hell. Are we so different from those pre-Islamic Arabs who, by some accounts, moulded idols out of piles of dates, which could be worshipped as a deity, but which they wouldn’t hesitate to eat when they became hungry
How to benefit from Bahrain’s new sources of natural wealth
There are many reasons for believing that Bahrain is specially blessed by God. At the outset of the 1930s Bahrain’s economy collapsed; the Japanese had discovered how to produce artificially cultured pearls and suddenly the source of income which the islands depended on almost entirely collapsed overnight.
Read More How to benefit from Bahrain
?Peace now – or much much later
A week ago the world was captivated by images of the North and South Korean leaders smiling and joking, while promising an agreement which would put an end to a war which commenced long before many of us were born.
Read More Peace now
This world of posturing strongmen will impoverish us all
Following a succession of political crises, everybody is talking about a new Cold War between Russia and the West; not as a danger to try and avoid, but as a reality which is already with us. We also have escalating tensions between China and America, as both sides escalate the rhetoric and the punitive actions in a trade war between the two sides.
Solving the world’s problems is child’s play
There is something massively inspiring in seeing hundreds of thousands of young people joining rallies in cities across America in defiance of their leadership’s failure to draft sensible legislation preventing anybody from simply walking into a shop and purchasing weapons of war.
?Who declares war against their closest allies
Putting aside all the complex economic arguments; what is the principle reason why any state doesn’t unilaterally impose trade barriers on all its imports? Because this is one of the quickest ways of losing friends and allies around the world.
?Terrorizing your employees – or cultivating them
I recall once spending a few hours at the workplace of a business associate. This CEO seemed to spend his time exhaustively micromanaging his staff and spying on what each person was doing with the aim of catching them out. When he encountered the slightest shortcoming, he would bawl and holler at the poor employee responsible in front of all their colleagues.
?Is democracy in danger
The world has been unnerved by reports that China may change its constitution to allow President Xi Jinping to remain in power beyond 2023 – and possibly for life. This follows President Putin running rings around the Russian constitution to stay in power as long as he likes.
Read More Is democracy in danger
!Easy money – future pain
Often the worst kind of leaders are those who try to do exactly what the public wants them to do. It is very easy to be a popular leader for a short time; one simply has to open up the doors of the state treasury and shower money upon your supporters and their favourite projects.
Read more.. Easy money
Compassion not vilification towards those seeking refuge
If you thought that many European nations had adopted a mean and inhuman approach in preventing refugees from finding safe and welcoming locations for their families – there is one country which took an even more hostile stance towards immigration. Israel’s leaders engaged in a campaign of incitement and demonization against thousands of African refugees who succeeded in crossing into this country’s borders; describing them as “infiltrators” and “criminals” and preparing to evict all of them
Our tourism potential is recognized again – but why do we struggle to recruit the best Bahrainis
Two news stories in particular caught my attention in recent days: The first was the fantastic news that Muharraq had been recognized as the Arab world’s capital of Islamic culture. The second was a more disappointing report about the very low number of Bahrainis employed in the tourism sector.
Read More.. Our tourism potential is recognized again
?Egypt at a crossroads: What path for 2018
At the outset of 2018, Egypt stands at a crossroads. On one hand the IMF predicts a respectable growth rate of 4.5% for the coming year; while a series of hard-hitting reforms, like subsidy cuts and currency devaluation have demonstrated a readiness to address economic challenges. On the other hand Egypt faces massive challenges: Continuing instability in Sinai; high unemployment; and concerns from investors about the nation’s future course.
Read More Egypt at a crossroads
Putting the nation first
For many decades we became accustomed to Saudi Arabia as the nation which didn’t appear to change, even when massive transformations were buffeting the region from all directions. We became comfortable with the same leading faces, similar approaches to key policies and the reliable ability to invest its oil wealth in massive infrastructure and development projects. We in the GCC looked to Saudi Arabia for stability, predictability and dependability.
Read More.. Putting the nation first
?Did we lose Jerusalem because we failed to tell our story
Immediately after President Trump’s announcement recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, he was endorsed by Binyamin Netanyahu who stated that “for 3,000 years, Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish people, established by King David”. This version of history is taken for granted by much of the world, on the assumption that the modern state of Israel is simply a remaking of a historic state established by the Jewish people across all of Palestine.
A world of disintegrating borders
It is difficult for academics sitting in comfortable offices in the West to imagine the world without the familiar borders and the undisturbed patchwork of states we find on our world maps. However, this familiar worldview is dissolving before our eyes
Read more A world of disintegrating borders
How climate change brings down mighty civilizations – a lesson from ancient Egypt
There are many theories about how the great civilization of ancient Egypt came to an end. Some theories talk about invasions by neighbouring powers; some theories highlight crises of political succession leading to war and instability; some theorists simply suggest that all civilizations eventually grow old, weak, corrupt and victims of their own success
A new vision for the Arab world’s revival
There was a time when I thought I lost hope in the Arab revival. Yesterday, listening to Prince Mohammed Bin Salman made me change my mind totally
I started my life as a marketing communication man and was dreaming most of the time. Thank God, I had the positive energy and the determination to see most of my dreams come true. Prince Salman is not only a thinker but a thinker who dreams a lot… a visionary. He’s got determination and executive powers to make the dreams come true
Read More A new vision for the Arab world
!Whose Parliament? – Our Parliament
Moaning about MP could almost be described as a national pastime
I had someone in my office the other day who spent half an hour bending my ear about the failures of deputies; how they’re all overpaid, never achieve anything, and as a result are simply a burden on the Bahraini public
Read More Whose Parliament
Trump throws tribal US politicians into confusion
You may have noticed me writing several times during the 2016 US electoral cycle, criticizing Donald Trump’s populist right-wing agenda which attacked Muslims and minorities and demonized other nationalities
However, I also expressed my opinion that as a businessman, and as someone whose political views evolved considerably over the years – Donald Trump may come to surprise us all by becoming a very different president to the pledges of his candidacy
How should the Arab world respond when the Kurds demand a divorce
How should we respond concerning the Kurdish aspiration for a referendum on independence? Instinctively as proud Arabs, our first reaction is to demand that under no circumstances should such a referendum be allowed. Now and forever, the Kurdish regions are an integral part of Iraq and the Arab world – and any moves towards self-governance should be vigorously opposed
?Best in the world – but how can Bahrain be even better
Bahrain has just been rated as the favourite country in the world for expats to live. Just think about this for a minute. We scored higher than most European countries which often like to portray themselves as infinitely superior to our parts of the world. We scored higher than locations like Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan which often style themselves as business hubs where foreigners go to get rich
Is Bahraini business ready to benefit from Saudi privatization
Many Western business publications are becoming excited about the planned phase of privatization which Saudi Arabia is about to embark on. Experts are predicting that privatization of many sectors of the Saudi economy could dwarf similar privatization processes which Europe and other parts of the world went through during the 1980s and 90s
Broadcasting unity – or division
While I was travelling abroad recently, I had occasion to watch several minutes of Al-Jazeera TV – which proved to be a depressing few minutes of my life which I wished I could take back. The reports I saw were entirely devoted to GCC disunity, and the “campaign against Al-Jazeera”, with repeated slights against the Emirates, which the reporter seemed to believe were a principle cause of all the region’s problems
Read more.. Broadcasting unity – or division
Letting the genie out of the bottle
It is disconcerting to see how rapidly things have changed in America under the new Trump Administration. The worst fears of many were realized in recent days when there was violence at a major demonstration by far-right groups. The extreme right is not a new phenomenon, but in America it has normally been confined to the political margins. To see demonstrators carrying Nazi flags and racist banners along the streets of major US cities is a terrifying sight
Read More.. Letting the genie out of the bottle
?A cure for suicide
A new worldwide study has shown a massive 100% increase in suicide levels in the Middle East over 25 years, compared with only modest changes in most other parts of the world.
Read More A cure for suicide
Lesson from Latin America
It is often said that the road of good intentions leads to hell. This is particularly the case when naïve, rash and idealistic individuals decide to take up arms against their governments
The nation which doesn’t know where it’s going
A year ago when I was in the UK, this nation had just definitively decided that it wanted to leave the European Union. Twelve months later, Great Britain appears to be a country which doesn’t know what it wants
Why we all need a holiday
I often find that I didn’t know how much I needed a holiday until after my holiday actually begins. We like to think that our bodies and minds can continue operating at optimum efficiency indefinitely. Yet, whether we admit it or not; after working long hours, day after day, we eventually get to the point where we’re not a lot of use to anyone
Read More.. Why we all need a holiday
Normality in Lebanon – from one crisis to the next
I spent a few days last week in my native Lebanon. To me these are always occasions to check the political and social pulse of my fragile country. This nation continually appears to be limping from one crisis to the next. In fact my visit coincided with the resolution of a crisis which has been brewing for several months; the passing of an elections law, paving the way for parliamentary elections in the coming months.
An Eid that we deserve
There is a sense of achievement when we reach the end of Ramadan, having fasted for the full month and purged our bodies of all that we inflicted on them during the other eleven months of the year: A month of self-discipline for the greater glory of our creator.
Read more.. An Eid that we deserve
As Daesh disintegrates – the vultures circle
When any empire starts to weaken, it doesn’t take long for rivals to gather around (former friends and enemies alike), in a competition over who will be first to stab it in the back and steal its lands. The victorious powers which fought Hitler may have shared a common cause right up until the moment when tanks rolled into Berlin; but within months, America, the Europeans and the Russians were squabbling over the spoils of war. Stalin of course was the most ruthless and took most of Eastern Europe for himself
From the dust we came and to the dust we shall return
In too many parts of the Arab world, we’re so busy killing each other that we’re hardly aware of the most serious threats our region faces
War is capable of killing hundreds of thousands of people – yet the challenges I’m thinking of could make this region impossible to live in for anyone
Ungodly acts in the name of religion
A recent CNN documentary asked whether Israel was turning into an Iran-style religious state. The programme portrayed Jerusalem’s ultra-Orthodox minority using violence, threats and institutional influence to enforce its own narrow interpretation of religious law on all segments of society; including segregation of men and women, outlawing activity on the Sabbath and banning cultural activities considered to be incompatible with Jewish law.
Read more.. Ungodly acts in the name of religion
After hardship comes ease
When Saudi Arabia sneezes, the rest of the GCC catches a cold. The reverse of this truism is that when Saudi Arabia flourishes, the other Gulf nations bathe in its success.
This is why it should be a cause of celebration for all of us that Saudi Arabia is reversing its austerity measures of the last two years and restoring the pay and benefits of public sector workers to previous levels. This is a timely reminder that Saudi Arabia and the other GCC leaderships’ priorities are their citizens. As circumstances allow, the benefits flowing into the state purse are used effectively for the good of GCC citizens.
Read More.. After hardship comes ease
Power brings responsibility
Among the many surprising outcomes of Donald Trump’s decision to bomb a Syrian regime airbase was the near-universal praise he received from those people considered to be his political enemies – the Democratic Party, neo-con Republicans and the liberal media. In fact the most vocal condemnation came from the entity which Trump has been criticized for being too close too – Putin’s Russia.
Read More.. Power brings responsibility
Daesh may be dead – but new Daeshs are sprouting
The dominant news story these days is about how Daesh is being crushed in Mosul and parts of Syria. Military experts tell us that by later this year Daesh may not be in control of any significant parts of territory and the movement may have been completely crushed. So why does this not feel like the end
Somebody asked me recently whether I believed that our difficulties with extremist groups like Daesh reflected a problem of religion. “No,” I said: “It’s a problem of agriculture.” Whatever did I mean
Read More Daesh may be dead
The new dark ages
How tragic would it be if the Arab world was to tear itself apart for decades and millions of people were killed, in order to relearn a lesson which others had discovered through comparable brutality over 300 years ago?
The Thirty Years War in Europe pitted brother against brother and nation against nation. We may struggle to comprehend the theological subtleties which caused Europeans to zealously murder each other, but many aspects of this war appear intimately familiar to us: The bloodshed was fueled and perpetuated by outside powers
Read More.. The new dark ages
I have to admit to being puzzled as to the exact circumstances which led to Denmark, the Netherlands and Turkey threatening each other, banning each other’s ministers from their countries, and Turkey accusing the Dutch of fascism and acting like a “banana republic”
However, this spat is symptomatic of a wider phenomenon we’re seeing around the world – of a failure of diplomacy to be diplomatic
Read More Undiplomatic diplomacy
Waging war upon identities
I’m hearing growing numbers of people expressing frustration at the labels of Sunni and Shia, as if this somehow defines who we are. Or why the people of a particular village or district should be looked at in a particular manner, because they come from one sect or another
Read More waging-war-upon-identities
Oh Crown Prince – our future prosperity is in your hands
At a time when the dominant tendency around the world appears to be towards isolation and barriers, Bahrain’s Crown Prince, Shaikh Salman Bin-Hamad Al Khalifa is setting a very different example
The headline messages from his recent visit to Saudi Arabia were all about opening up and facilitating trade and investment, not just bilaterally between our two nations but at the level of the GCC and globally
Challenge ourselves – and live longer
Do we have a vision for where we want to be in ten years’ time? If we don’t, then ten years’ later we’ll probably find ourselves in exactly the same place
This is perhaps obvious advice for a 16-year-old who is making their first steps in the wider world and beginning to think about their professional and personal future
Read more.. challenge-ourselves-and-live-longer
?Isolationism – or stupidity
Isolating ourselves from the world’s problems is very tempting as a political strategy
Our country on its own cannot take in all of Syria’s refugees; it cannot put an end to poverty in Africa; and our leaders cannot on their own broker peace between all the conflicting parties in the region. If we tried to unilaterally take on such projects our borders would be swamped, our resources exhausted and our finances drained. So wouldn’t it be futile to try
The vicious circle of protectionism
There are many indications that after decades of progress towards an open global economy; the world is sleepwalking backwards towards protectionism and trade barriers. This would be a catastrophe for all of us
One of the most dangerous things about protectionism is that when one country starts behaving in a protectionist manner, every other country tends to follow behind in a vicious circle. If India imposed a 10% tax on goods from China; the obvious way for China to retaliate would be to impose a 20% tax on Indian imports. Before long, other countries get dragged into this escalating trade war and everybody suffers
Thank you Mr. Trump
There has been something of a tendency to ‘misunderestimate’ Donald Trump. However, I have it on very good authority that he’s a visionary genius who holds the best interests of the Arab world close to his heart. I can already hear the expressions of doubt and disbelief – so let me share what I know
I have in my possession an exclusive transcript of a recent strategic planning session by Trump and his team, during which this great businessman declared: “It troubles me that the Arab world is in such a divided and miserable state, particularly as this sorry situation is largely due to the mistakes of my predecessors. What can we do to reunite the Arabs
Read More… thank-you-mr-trump
!Slicing up the cake – Nothing left over for the public
I love Lebanon as the country which brought me into the world, educated me and gave me my first opportunities in life. However, so much of what I hold in my heart about Lebanon – the progressive, dynamic, deeply-cultured and rapidly developing nation – is a memory which is only meaningful to people of my generation
?Are you protected from the coming attack
It’s tempting to look at the Russian hacking scandal around the US elections and laugh. It certainly provides a sadistic level of entertainment to see President-Elect Trump squirming in the face of overwhelming intelligence evidence that he owes some quantity of his elections victory to President Putin and the activities of hundreds of Russian hackers, fake-news sites and online trolls
However, there are two sides to this issue: If America with its enormously complex electronic security; sophisticated intelligence apparatuses; and years of experience in dealing with cyber-crime could this easily be compromised – then who is safe
?Can money buy reputation
Social media and modern communications have transformed the world into a small marketplace where all ways of buying and selling of every imaginable kind of product and service are available
Now Amazon is talking about floating warehouses and delivery by drone; erasing yet another barrier to supply, demand and distribution. In an environment of intense competition between companies and states for profits and revenues, we have seen numerous geographical barriers to investment fall away
However, none of this has succeeded in removing an ageless commercial value: The reputational capital of the trader himself
True weakness and strength come from within
The people I admire most are those who display strength in the face of adversity. I can’t help but feel humility when I’ve sat alongside a friend who knows they are dying of cancer, yet they still have the strength of character to laugh and see the positive in life; while fighting the disease which is killing them with every fibre in their body
It is easy to struggle for something when we know we can win: To battle for what is right when the situation seems hopeless – this is what makes us great
Read More.. true-weakness-and-strength-come-from-within
?Do we lost Aleppo
There are many parties we can blame for the slaughter and destruction which took place in Aleppo; not just in the last few days, but in the last five years
Many humanitarian catastrophes take us by surprise – Aleppo was the opposite; the collapse of eastern Aleppo to Russian, Iranian and Syrian regime forces has been playing out before our eyes for a long time and yet the world did nothing. We did nothing
Read More.. do-we-lost-aleppo
?“Playing” politics – or “doing” politics
Let me take the opportunity to congratulate all of us. I believe that anywhere in the world, the National Day is an important occasion for uniting people across the divides of class, sect, ethnicity and ideology. This is something nobody should take for granted
In these difficult times, when the region and the world seem to have turned themselves upside-down and inside-out; those of us who live in such an oasis of stability need to occasionally be reminded of the blessings which we enjoy. If over the coming days we feel inclined to moan about the difficulty of our own lives, let’s just share a thought for the people of Aleppo, Mosul, Benghazi and Sanaa
The media is only as lazy as we allow it to be
It can be intensely frustrating when the media dumbs down news stories for us. Do they doubt our ability to understand complex foreign affairs issues? – Or is it that the journalists themselves haven’t taken the time to properly get their heads around the issues
I am thinking in particular of news reports this week concerning the referendum in Italy and the presidential election in Austria. Watching the cable networks, it is perhaps a surprise to find that both of these different countries get lumped together for us within the same report. It’s even odder that news channels discuss these developments entirely in terms of Donald Trump and the British exit from the EU
A lesson from Ibn Khaldoun
It is often very obvious that economists are not historians. Over previous decades economists took it for granted that if politicians left the markets alone, then the markets would continue to grow – presumably into infinity
Since the 2008 crash there’s been a more cautious attitude of the need for greater regulation and efforts to stimulate growth. However, there’s still an underlying complacency that – despite bumps in the road – growth is natural and inevitable
A world of ungoverned spaces
We have lived through an era of strong nation states and clear borders; where failed states like Somalia were the exception not the rule. When Iraq invaded Kuwait, the “civilized” world united to restore Kuwait’s sovereignty. When Yugoslavia dissolved, it was simply a matter of time before successor states emerged and took their seats at the UN
Rediscovering the Arab nation
When I consider the greatest dangers facing our world today, my primary worry is not with Islam and religion
Islam is much bigger than the tiny disputes between Sunni and Shia – or between Maliki, Shafi’i and perhaps Wahhabi – or even between “moderates” and “extremists”. My underlying fear is for the Arabs and for Arabism
When dictatorship arises from democracy
Once upon a time, there was a nation which despite its great military might as a world power, had suffered humiliating setbacks overseas. Despite having been seen as an economic miracle in the recent past, citizens had experienced the psychological shock of unemployment, market collapse and runaway inflation. These traumatic events undermined confidence in political elites and the democratic process itself
Where is the Arab world in the battle for Mosul
We watch reports about the fighting around Mosul as if these are events distantly removed from our lives. News bulletins focus on the Peshmerga, Iran-backed militias, US special forces and speculation about whether Turkey could get involved
But who knows or cares what the Arab position is; not least because there is no serious Arab stance on developments in Iraq
Recognition for Bahrain’s political system
I read with interest a recent Al-Wasat interview with Waad Secretary General Reza al-Mousawi which indicated that parts of the opposition no longer supported the principle of an elected Government. A day later – after a storm of criticism from his associates – I read Al-Mousawi’s clarification, which said that at the current time the priority should be “civil peace,” not trying to enforce radical political change
As someone who has made a career out of advertising, I’m fascinated by the way that public opinion is shaped and attitudes are influenced. Thus, I’m very interested in why historically liberal nations like those of Western Europe have seen such a rapid recent rise in extreme right-wing movements and populist demagogues, a trend that we’ve also witnessed in the US and elsewhere
Defending Bahrain’s “family friendly” status
Bahrain has always scored very highly in global polls as a family-friendly destination where people enjoy coming to live and work. In fact, Bahrain usually comes top of the GCC and Arab world in such criteria. A recent survey by HSBC rated Bahrain as one of the top 10 countries for where expats prefer to live
How productive are you
President Kennedy famously said: “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country”
It is difficult to visualize that the work we do makes a tangible contribution to the success of our nation, but at the end of the day our national productivity is no more than the sum of all of our combined efforts
Putting human rights in perspective
Nothing in the world makes me happier than another human being. I love people; good and bad. When they’re good, they fill me. When they’re bad, they instigate in me the desire to make them better. Therefore my appreciation and respect for human rights commissions is immense. What could be more praise-worthy than organizations dedicated to fighting for the rights of fellow human beings
Road map for prosperity
The Crown Prince’s speech at the 2016 Bahrain Government Forum earlier this week came at an important moment for assessing where Bahrain’s economy is now; while setting out the road map for the way forward
The surprise visitor
Not long ago the ruler of Dubai turned up for a surprise visit to a number of government ministries first thing in the morning. He was surprised and dismayed to arrive in the first office and find it deserted. However, the pattern continued and office after office which the Emir visited were all empty
Local Emirati newspapers published images of the Emir standing alone amidst dozens of empty desks. To add insult to injury, on the walls next to him was his own official photo looking down and inspecting this complete lack of activity in the great offices of state
A source of national pride – Or shame
Before we get carried away with global warming, holes in the ozone layer and the green movement at a global level, I would like to make a plea that we give more attention to putting our own local Bahraini environment in order
As a nation of so many islands, the sea is central to everything we do. The sea is our great asset for fish stocks, tourism and trade – but it also risks being our greatest flaw, if we fail to look after and manage our sea waters and coastlines
Cutting the baby in two
Muslims, Christians and Jews all look back to King Solomon as a model for wisdom and justice – and with good reason
We are told that two women once came before Solomon, both claiming that a baby was theirs. In the household from which they came, one infant had died and another remained healthy. Both women argued at length that the living baby was theirs
More.. Cutting the baby in two
After the oil crisis: What next
We hear the GCC breath a collective sigh of relief as oil prices in recent months slowly move back in an upwards direction. The crisis is over
However, we know that this isn’t the full story. It’s clear that there’s no likelihood of oil going back to its early 2014 price levels and the consequences of the last two years have left our economy in a nervous and uncertain state
Here in Bahrain the Government weathered the crisis by subsidy reform and slashing wasteful spending, but also by borrowing to unprecedented levels
More After the oil crisis
A mindset for failure
I frequently despair when I task an employee with doing something a bit different and they shrug their shoulders and say: “I’ll try, but I’m not a natural designer” or “I’m not a natural researcher”. In effect, already they’ve given me their excuse for failure and not putting their heart and soul into the project
I can distinctly remember a language teacher looking in frustration at my homework and saying: “It’s clear you’re not a natural linguist”. As a child we take these things to heart and don’t challenge them. Years later I found myself wondering why I had no self-belief when it came to learning languages and I realized that I could still hear the voices of these teachers in the back of my mind telling me what I couldn’t do
President Trump – A sobering prospect for the Arab world
Wherever we are in the world at the moment, it is impossible to avoid being bombarded with information about the US elections. Everything that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are doing and saying is exhaustively analyzed; every tiny flicker in the polls is seized on and evaluated in tedious detail
It feels that we know far more about what is going on in the US elections than we know about events in our own country. Yet these are elections happening in a faraway nation; we won’t be voting and there is no way we can affect the outcome
More… President Trump
Can Daesh be responsible for everything
Following the terrorist attack in Nice in southern France which killed 84 individuals, many French people took to the social media to ridicule Daesh’s claim that the perpetrator, Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, was “one of the soldiers of the Islamic State”. After all, how was a terrorist group based in Raqqa in Syria supposed to have contributed to an attack which consisted of driving a lorry into a crowd of people
On Twitter, French people jokingly made false claims of ISIS responsibility for France’s defeat in Euro 2016, for the emergence of Donald Trump and for Brexit; along with more frivolous claims like socks going missing from the washing machine
Whatever happened to five year plans
I recently asked an old colleague and fellow businessman whether he still made use of five year plans. He raised his eyes to the ceiling and said that he’d be lucky if he could cobble together a five week plan
Given the volatile state of affairs in the Middle East there is a tendency for the best strategies to be violently blown off course by major events
Knowing that we don’t know
I have a renewed admiration for journalists! Over the past year or more, one of the most challenging tasks of my week has been coming up with a 700-word article befitting of Al-Ayam newspaper
In many cases these articles are driven by events: When a dozen major news stories flash by in the course of a week it is impossible to discuss everything and I’m often in the frustrating position that I write an article on a Monday, and by the time I come to read the published piece on a Saturday events have moved on so fast that I’m left with a feeling of frustration at everything I could have included but never got a chance
Nationalism in all but name
I spoke to many people who felt a rush of excitement about the announcement of the Saudi-Egypt project for a bridge between the two nations, which was unveiled during King Salman’s visit to Cairo this April. To many of us, the symbolic and practical implications go far beyond this being yet another mega-infrastructure project.
The understated announcements surrounding this enhanced relationship left everything to the imagination. There was no proclamation that this is the most massive resynchronization of the Arab nation in years – we were left to join the dots and reach our own conclusions.
More.. Nationalism in all but name
A unified Arab strategy
It was a widespread belief among many of the early Zionist leaders like Chaim Weizmann and David Ben-Gurion that the only way for the Israeli state to survive amidst so many hostile neighbours was by dividing the Palestinian and Arab states up into tiny and weak cantons. If they could only know how successfully their vision would turn out today
God only knows how many statelets and micro-caliphates Syria and Iraq are divided up into today. Lebanon may not be territorially divided, but politically and socially, it is as divided as it’s ever been. As for the Palestinians – they’re all but forgotten by an Arab world consumed by its divisions and crises
More.. A unified Arab strategy
When democracy votes against its own interests
What happens when in free and fair elections a majority of people vote for something which is manifestly against their own best interests?
Economists, politicians, academics and businessmen have spent the last month warning the British people that the consequences of the UK withdrawing from the EU will be catastrophic – and yet a majority of Britons have chosen to leave.
Separation between religion and politics
Allow me to be a lone voice in stating my belief that the closure of Al-Wefaq wasn’t directed against Al-Wefaq per se, rather this step can be seen in the context of wider moves to separate religion and politics – moves which didn’t even start in Bahrain
Across the whole region since around 2013 we have seen measures being taken against the Muslim Brotherhood and affiliated groups, as a political Islamic movement with transnational objectives and which has consistently made use of the mosque and pulpit for political gain. The UAE and Egypt have been particularly energetic in outlawing the movement and cracking down on prominent members
Religious revolutions always devour their creator
It has always been the case that those who try to exploit religion for political ends usually end up getting burnt by the inferno which they themselves ignited
Newly-declassified American documents disclose the extent of secret American negotiations with Ayatollah Khomeini while he was still in Paris, before sweeping to power in the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The documents show that President Carter’s Administration had given up on the Shah and saw the best route to maintaining their influence was convincing the Shah’s military to accept the return of Khomeini, hoping that more moderate figures around him would allow for a smooth transition
Ignored at home – celebrated abroad
Why is it that some of our most incredibly talented and exceptional figures were only able to make a success of themselves after leaving the Arab world behind?
In a previous article I discussed Michel Temer, the son of Lebanese emigrants who has just been sworn in as President of Brazil. There are a range of other figures I could single out such as Carlos Slim Helu, the Mexican business magnate who has been rated as one of the richest men in the world – also of Lebanese descent.
Rizq Allah ‘ala haik ayyam
As a result of the complex political crisis in Brazil, which led to the impeachment and suspension of President Dilma Rousseff – former Vice President Michel Temer last week was approved as Interim President of Brazil – one of the world’s largest developing economies.
Why should I care? Michel Temer’s ancestral home is Lebanon – from my maternal family’s home region of Al-Kura to be precise. Temer, a 75-year-old law professor, is proud of his origins and is a regular visitor to Lebanon and his family’s home village of Btaaboura, where he has a street named after him.
More.. Rizq Allah ‘ala haik ayyam
Innovation for Bahrain’s tourism success
The tourism sector is currently one of the most exciting segments of the Bahrain economy to be working in. Indeed, last year hotels and restaurants constituted the fastest-growing sector of the economy – growing by 7.3% in 2015. Arrivals to the Kingdom also soared by 8% to around 14.5 million.
?Celebrating or eliminating God’s diversity
I often despair of those who profess to be most devoted to their faith yet reject many of the most wondrous and distinctive aspects of God’s creation
We are blessed with a world which is rich and vibrant in its diversity of cultures, languages, beliefs and nations. There is nothing more distasteful than the belief that this infinite variety we see everywhere in our world and amongst the peoples who inhabit it, is simply a mistake which must be corrected
Winning battles – Losing wars
We may wonder how in Afghanistan, Russia could win so many battles, but ultimately lose the war. Meanwhile in Vietnam, America dropped more bombs during 1967 than in all of World War II, destroying half of Vietnam’s rainforests and killing around 1.5 million Vietnamese. With a monthly war chest of $2 billion against one of the poorest nations on earth, this was one of the most asymmetrical wars in history. Yet the US lost because their overwhelming use of force united the whole Vietnamese nation against them.
Supporting reform and sidelining its dishonest opponents
I have always held our Justice Minister Khalid Bin-Ali Al Khalifa to be one of the most outstanding figures within Bahrain’s leadership. However, he recently grew in my estimation as he stood in front of Parliament patiently and articulately arguing to MPs why they should not vote against vital legislation for consolidating the rights of women in Bahrain.
Protecting democracy from itself
Let’s be very clear: Americans as a nation are not stupid. Or to put this another way: Americans don’t possess statistically higher levels of stupidity than many other nations!
So how do we explain Donald Trump? Someone with the articulacy and worldview of the average 14-year old; and who’s views most people around the world find completely distasteful – yet many fear will become the Republican Party’s presidential nominee – if not the next US President.
Taking education seriously
Bahrain has the oldest public education system in the Arabian Gulf, with modern schools dating back to the early years of the twentieth century, along with being the first Gulf state to open girls’ schools.
Because Bahrain was first in the region to discover oil, it was also the first to invest heavily in education, giving Bahrain by the middle of the last century a highly progressive climate relative to its neighbours.
More.. Taking education seriously
When the Church tries to capture the State
The year 1077 witnessed some of the most decisive events in the Middle Ages for dictating the balance of power in Europe.
This took the form of a superpower standoff between the Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV and the Pope. Both believed themselves to be the mightiest figure in Europe with the power to appoint and dismiss officials and bishops as they pleased.
When oppressed minorities become the oppressors
It often strikes me that many of the most strident critics of Israeli policy are often Jews themselves; including both certain groups of ultra-Orthodox Jews who refuse to go to Israel because they reject the very principle of a Jewish state; and secular left-wing Israelis involved in documenting settlement expansion and speaking out about acts of violence by extremist settlers.
Reclaiming Lebanon’s Arab identity
Over the past couple of weeks it has been constantly playing on my mind as to the rights and wrongs of GCC nations withdrawing financial support to Lebanon; particularly with these states taking clear steps to disengage themselves from Lebanon, including warnings to GCC nationals to leave.
Let’s be very clear, Lebanon has always been one of the brightest lights of the Arab world. For such a tiny state, it has played a central role in the region’s modern history; producing an astonishing array of philosophers, artists, poets, writers, musicians and many of the greatest and most creative minds of the region.
Our primary loyalties
We have seen during the ongoing US elections the degree to which candidates are obsessed with absolute loyalty to their nation. Any candidate who was born or reared overseas, or whose statements of national devotion aren’t sufficiently passionate, finds their Americanos subject to question.
Anyone who goes further and declares admiration or affiliation for another country or nation can quickly find themselves being accused of being a traitor. Even Donald Trump quickly discovered that declaring his admiration for the leader of North Korea didn’t win him votes!
More.. Our primary loyalties
Setting Parliament on the right path
We perhaps feel a collective sense of national shame when with each passing day the local press gleefully picks over the latest scandal facing our MPs; whether they are fighting amongst themselves, going to war against the Shura Council, legislating against tattoos or submitting proposals which even they must realize have no chance of implementation.
Now that picking holes in our MPs has become a national pastime, we should perhaps ask ourselves how and why we arrived at this situation. This is crucial given the central role we expect Parliament to play in His Majesty the King’s reform process.
Halting the brain drain
A recent study has shown that 95% of Arab students who study abroad do not return to their home countries after graduation. Yes, you did read that correctly – ninety-five percent! – Think for a moment what a shockingly high and damning statistic that is.
Should we blame our children for not wishing to return to the country and culture where they were born and raised?
More.. Halting the brain drain
Poverty is the mother of invention
I firmly believe that those of us in society who are hungriest to succeed are those who know what it means to be hungry.
Many of the most driven entrepreneurs who I have come across in the private sector do not come from wealthy backgrounds; but seek prosperity and success because they have experienced the crushing grind of poverty.
Lesson from the Phoenicians
According to the great Greek historians – Herodotus, Pliny and Strabo – the original homeland of the Phoenician people was ancient Dilmun.
The fog of ancient history prevents us from knowing for certain how close these two peoples were, but I like to speculate that there were indeed intimate ties between these two great trading powers.
!Tweet first – think later
The writer Mark Twain once observed that a lie can travel halfway around the world before truth has chance to put his boots on. In the age of social media, this is no exaggeration.
The unpredictable and unscrutinized nature of the social media has created an environment which entails high levels of responsibility from individual users in what they write. Unfortunately, there are vast differences in how people exercise that responsibility.
More.. Tweet first – think later!
The Saudi beehive
From my office in Bahrain, I have always enjoyed watching developments in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia at close hand.
Few other states anywhere in the world enjoy similar levels of activity, as mighty cities, industrial zones and mega-projects arise out of nowhere. It is in this respect that Saudi Arabia frequently reminds me of the beehive.
More.. The Saudi beehive
An Islamic Republic built on shaky foundations
In 2009 after an astonishing elections campaign, reformist candidate Mir-Hossain Mousavi looked set to win the Iranian presidential elections by a wide margin. We all know what happened next: The elections results were rigged; mass protests were bloodily suppressed and dozens of protestors were killed, imprisoned and subjected to torture
?Who will our neighbours be in 2016
It has always been my practice to take an hour to reflect at the end of each year, looking back and looking forward into the year to come. If nothing else, this is time spent pondering both success and failure, in order to take valuable lessons forward into the New Year.
Looking back at the traumatic events which pummeled the region over the last twelve months gives me a renewed understanding of the Arabic expression “al-jar qabl al-dar” [the neighbour before the house].
Defending freedoms for Bahraini women
One of the central pillars of Bahrain’s international reputation is rooted in the Kingdom’s progressive attitude towards the empowerment of women.
Over the past 15 years His Majesty King Hamad has taken the nation a huge distance in entrusting women with strong roles in all areas of Bahrain’s society. This ambitious programme is rooted in King Hamad’s National Action Charter which views men and women as equal partners in taking this Kingdom forward.
Preachers of hatred – in Syria & America
One of the first things a child learns when they begin to study science is that every action has an equal and opposite reaction.
History and politics teach us that every action usually provokes an even stronger reaction. Witness – for example – the storm in a teacup between Turkey and Russia, in which a relatively minor incident provokes the two strongmen – Putin and Erdogan – to engage in an escalating trial of strength, which will ultimately damage both sides.
Condemning evil and promoting good
Hardly a day goes by at the moment without news of a terrorist attack in Europe, America, or closer to home. Many of these are claimed by individuals or entities linked to Daesh.
Such attacks are once again giving rise to claims from prominent figures who should know better, that all Muslims are terrorist sympathizers and that the Islamic faith is directly to blame for inspiring attacks.
Why I write
Over recent months, many friends have asked me – as a successful businessman and creative society member – why on earth are you involving yourself in politics?
They are of course responding to my regular articles appearing in Al-Ayam newspaper which first started appearing earlier this year, and which have been about anything from regional politics, to domestic issues, to the challenges facing the economy, to moral and social issues.
More.. Why I write
Big decisions & their impact on the public
One thing you learn after spending many years making big decisions; is that even when you make the right decision, you also have to prepare for the negative consequences.
Politicians often refuse to publically recognize this: They implement measures which affect thousands of people and claim that everyone will be better off. In reality – for every far-reaching decision you make – there will inevitably be winners and losers.
What does Daish want?
Why has Daish repeatedly targeted Paris for its vicious and inhuman attacks? We’ve heard all the justifications about offensive cartoons and France’s involvement in bombing campaigns against Daish. But similar charges could be laid against almost any other Western nation.
More.. What does Daish want
Rediscovering a lost identity
When the Lebanese Interior Minister Nohad Machnouk was recently in Bahrain, he gave an excellent presentation, which I attended, on the subject of the virtues of Arab identity.
Now, any reference to Arab identity and Arab nationalism initially sound horribly outdated, a throwback to the 1950s. We can’t approach the concept without immediately thinking of Gamal Abdel Nasser – both his meteoric rise, and the eclipsing of his regional standing after the disastrous Six Day War with Israel.
Peace makes money – wars cost money
Economists frequently tie themselves up in knots purveying different economic models for what allows countries to flourish. However, the number one prerequisite for allowing a country to prosper is so simple that it does not require economists to explain it to us – that is; the avoidance of conflict.
More.. Peace makes money
!At work – but not working
It pains me to say this, but too often when I am looking to recruit high caliber staff, I am forced to look for candidates outside the GCC and the Arab world.
It isn’t that we don’t have the numbers. There are large numbers of young Bahrainis and Arabs with a broad range of qualifications filling up the jobs market.
A common mistake is the perception that this is all about pay levels; if we could just ensure that foreigners were given the same wages as locals, then unemployment would disappear – Sadly, this is wrong.
More.. At work – but not working!
Empowering women for Bahrain’s economic prosperity
As employers in this country we fail to give enough thought and attention to what women have to offer in the workplace. By having a working-environment dominated by men, we rob ourselves of a whole spectrum of skill sets, ideas, attitudes and life experiences.
By having an office where 50% of the population is unrepresented, the business world loses out on the very perspectives which can help us succeed.
?Russia – friend or foe
There are many in the Gulf and Middle East region who have looked to Russia as a potential friend and ally – as a fellow oil producing nation; a counterweight to Western meddling; and a superpower which aspires to have a global role.
Yet despite this, time after time we find Russia adopting positions and taking sides which we as laymen struggle to comprehend and which raise questions about Russia’s intentions.
More.. Russia – friend or foe
Embracing the choices we make – A recipe for success
A university professor once told me that life is a series of intersections, any of which we can decide to take. However, the majority of people never take such a decision in the first place. They continue going round and round on the roundabout of everyday life, not knowing which course to follow with their lives – and perhaps not giving it too much thought.
Syria refugee crisis – brave leadership required
The confused and panicked reaction of various European nations to the Syrian refugee crisis brings to mind an image of headless chickens running about in all directions.
During my time spent in Europe over the summer, I was shocked by the hostile and often racist tenor of much of the media coverage of this issue. There was often an ability to distinguish between Syrians fleeing from unimaginable horrors; and economic migrants with completely different motivations and aspirations.
Lessons for Bahrain from the Chinese stock market crisis
There were times over weeks where serious economic journalists were speculating about the collapse of global capitalism. The occasion for this of course was the spectacular plunge in the Chinese stock market, which caused panic in other markets around the world. We in Bahrain were also directly affected as these events led to yet another fall in the oil prices.
This is a painful illustration of how – whether we like it or not – we are all part of a globalized economy. It is also obvious that economies which try and isolate themselves cannot succeed. North Korea is perhaps the best example of how economic isolation leads to a chronically weak economy and dire living standards.
?What has sustainability got to do with advertising
It is often taken for granted that the universe of advertising and marketing is value-free. This couldn’t be more wrong.
All advertising implicitly conveys some kind of value system, even if it is the fizzy drinks lowest-common-denominator of “Forget your problems, drink this and be happy”.
So when you advertise your product, you are also selling a worldview and influencing your customers accordingly. If much advertising conveys a consumerist, hedonistic ethos; can advertising also get across an environmentally sound and socially-responsible message without turning off its audience?
Talking to customers – Not talking at them
When I say that today we live in a global village I perhaps should apologize for stating an overused cliché. However, too often we fail to grasp the full implications of this.
Nothing is local in the age of the social media. A private event in the most remote location can be photographed and circulated around the world in seconds.
More.. Talking to customers
?Carving up the budgetary cake – or investing for the future
At the time of the parliamentary elections in Bahrain late last year, it seemed that all candidates wanted to talk about was how they would provide windfall cash handouts to their constituents:
Wage rises, housing support, unemployment insurance, payments to those with special needs, retirement benefits, subsidies on basic goods, anti-inflation payments and a hundred other initiatives for handing out Government money to citizens.
Recognizing efforts to serve the public
I’ve always tended to be wary about dealing with government departments; having repeatedly come across the attitude that they are either too busy to give attention to my investment opportunities and project plans – or they simply can’t be bothered.
However, over the past six months I am pleased to report a massive change in my experiences of dealing with ministries. Allow me to give a few examples
Time to wake up
The parts of our body have a bewildering array of different functions. These various organs unite and work in harmony in order to combat a disease or foreign organism. This is very much the case when the body is struck by some form of cancer.
Terrorism resembles cancer in that it is generated from the body itself, but slowly destroys the body which has created it.
More.. Time to wake up
Why revolutions fail
The early months after the 1789 French Revolution seemed like a great success. A new elected Parliament was in control, the upcoming French middle classes had an increasing say in the country’s affairs and the Declaration of the Rights of Man remains a key text for those studying the history of human rights.
However, the events of the years that followed turned France into a by-word for extremism, bloodshed, terror, regicide, despotism and political turmoil.
More.. Why revolutions fail
Keeping politics in the family
We live in the age of political families and dynasties. In America in the 1960s there were the Kennedys; today we have the prospect that the next US election will be between a Clinton and a Bush. In Britain two Miliband brothers contested for leadership of the Labour party; in France there has been a bitter struggle between Jean-Marie Le Pen and his daughter for dominance of the far right. This trend is even more obvious in South Asia, where subsequent generations of the Bhutto and Gandhi family have been dominant in politics for decades.
Swimming with the tide – Why you should give it a try
Where does a lifetime of swimming against the current get you?
- Usually a substantial distance in the opposite of the direction you wanted to travel!
Many of us are strong-minded and have no intention of being “part of the herd”. It is considered a desirable masculine trait to resist and fight against the prevailing current.
Personalities who turn the art of swimming against the tide into an end in itself are celebrated. Audiences applaud film heroes who take on the establishment. As if opposing authority is a virtue in itself.
Extremism breeds extremism
We are told that over 60 nations are part of the fight against ISIS and that they have conducted however-many-thousand airstrikes. This is supposed to give us confidence that ISIS will shortly be defeated. But ISIS operates according to very different rules and principles:
Newton’s third law of motion is that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. A restatement of that law with regard to Daish could perhaps be: Violence produces violence. Extremism produces extremism. Hatred gives rise to more hatred.
More.. Extremism breeds extremism
Do we really want to turn the clocks back?
I would like to relate a story I heard about the late King Faisal. Sadly, I have never been able to confirm whether it is more than an urban legend, but I always found it too good a story to reject out of hand.
It is well known that there was uproar when King Faisal introduced television to Saudi Arabia in 1965. According to the tale I heard, a coalition of hardliners soon took matters into their own hands and tried to demolish a TV mast in Jeddah.
The King was informed of the disturbances and was understandably concerned at the outbreak of unrest. He summoned the trouble-makers from Jeddah to his new residence in Riyadh.
Protect Bahraini businesses from the evils of protectionism
It was refreshing to hear the statements made by his Excellency, the Industry and Trade Minister Zayid al-Zayani rejecting protectionism and preferential treatment for Bahraini businesses.
It is the easiest thing in the world for a Government to falsely support the business community with all kinds of subsidies, benefits and support. However, every time this approach has been adopted, anywhere in the world, the effect has been to kill local businesses with kindness. This is because such false support creates uncompetitive and fundamentally unprofitable businesses, which simply wither away when the going gets tough.
Where do our loyalties lie?
When our backs are against the wall, we human beings tend to be essentially very selfish in our priorities: Our first thoughts are for the wellbeing of ourselves and our families – then our close friends and our immediate community. After that, we may spare a thought for our town – and only as a distant last place we consider our nation or wider regional identities.
Who are the people we identify with? Without doubt, we consider ourselves as close to those we share a history and a language with. In a wider sense, we also identify with those with who we share a religion and national heritage.
More.. Where do our loyalties lie
The wisdom of change in Saudi Arabia
As conditions around us change with bewilderingly rapidity in our age of information technology, quality becomes ever more important than quantity. Thus, in contemporary warfare, it is less about the number of troops you have on the ground and more about the technology you have in place and the strategies to make best use of it.
In this context, it is manifestly obvious that Saudi Arabia has no hegemonic or territorial ambitions for intervening in Yemen or other regional states. It seeks to impose no ideology, vision or way of life.
How can the Formula 1 benefit you?
The Formula 1 is a hugely important event for Bahrain, taking into account both the economic benefits and the event’s role in showcasing Bahrain. The Grand Prix truly puts Bahrain on the map.
However, it still disappoints me that many Bahrainis don’t fully appreciate the significance of the Formula 1 and the festivities around the racing itself. This lack of recognition means that we are missing several tricks in fully exploiting this annual event to maximally serve our national interest –and our own private interests.
The Grand Prix, doesn’t just bring a large quantity of visitors – it brings in a high quality of international tourist. The stereotypical F1 tourist is wealthy, an experienced traveller, has discerning tastes when it comes to hotels, catering and leisure time and comes ready to spend their money.
Making our society work – a lesson from the lions
I remember being deeply affected by the story of the older male lion who leaves the pride after being deposed from his position by younger, stronger males. Once deposed, the lifespan of elderly lions can be very short; lacking the support of other lions for hunting; often sustaining wounds when coming into contact with other prides – and some simply making their way up the mountainside, establishing their home on a rocky outcrop and seeing out their remaining time.
Luckily for us, our society has a very different attitude towards our own elderly lions. We believe that those who have spent their lives working and raising their families have a right to a dignified retirement. Our own elderly are often seen as the most valued members of society for our experience, knowledge and wisdom. We can applaud the recent initiative of His Majesty the King for ensuring that elderly widows are equally prioritized for housing and services.
Making our society work – a lesson from the bees
To me, the morning call from the Mosque of “Haya lil-falah” is an instruction for me to get out and make something of the day – to make each day a productive and successful encounter with the world – and to play a small part in helping make our nation progress.
Not enough people pick up on the fact that Islam is the religion of work and industry. I am told that the Quran uses the words fi’al and ‘amal (the Arabic words for work) a combined 469 times and the scriptures teach us that squandering time in unproductive and non-beneficial work is the manifestation of lack of faith and of unbelief. To use your time in productive work is nothing short of practicing your Muslim faith.
Calling for public servants who really serve the public
Not a day goes past without us reading in the newspapers how the Government is prioritizing speeding up housing projects in order to provide affordable homes for Bahrainis. Citizens and politicians are all in agreement, the housing issue is our number one priority.
So what happens when I pick up the phone to speak to a ministry official for an appointment to discuss the implications of the new regulations for a large project I am proceeding with, to provide homes for over one thousand low income families?
Without diversity we cease to be a society
Let me start by asking readers to excuse me for being different and for my differing views. It sometimes feels that in our society today we need to take permission from the fundamentalist thought police who desire a veto over our thoughts, words and actions.
Let me take an example from nature: There are forests around the world where only a single kind of tree is cultivated for timber. Most other species cannot survive because of the lack of biodiversity, so the soil is barren and requires immense quantities of fertilizer to stave off biological collapse. What a mind-numbingly boring and repetitive environment this must be!
Reject the brutal theocrats of Daish and chose life
Bahrain’s Crown Prince is right to challenge the lazy terminology of “war on terror”, which serves to obscure the shared objectives of confronting those who commit atrocities in the name of religion.
In his widely acclaimed speech at the IISS Manama Dialogue last year and once again in his Telegraph article, Prince Salman has passionately argued that we need to have a genuine understanding of the challenge we face, before we can hope to successfully defeat the so-called “Islamic State” and those who fabricate religious justifications for acts of savage barbarity.