The UAE: A Miracle that’s meant to be. (UAE 41st National Day Blog Post)
Growing up in the UAE had certainly been an exciting time, and today, it continues to be as exciting
as ever for the newer generation of Emiratis. I’m writing this blog post today
to not only express my pleasure and appreciation of the continuing work and
efforts our country continues to extend to its citizens and residents alike,
but I also feel the need to help advise and inform younger Emiratis of their
unique situation today.
Where are we and where have we come from? Well, there’s no
question that 41 years ago to this day, the UAE was a far different place. A
young and ambitious nation that
primarily focused on rising it’s people up to live with only the best standards
that was deserving of its people. Emiratis came from a long line of struggle
and difficulties in the earlier days prior to the country’s foundation. Our
people endured and lived in poverty while the rest of the world progressed.
Along came Sheikh Zayed and the founding fathers of the
nation, and the movement of opportunities and enlightenment began. 41 years to
this day, Emiratis came together to build a country that would that later found
itself leading the region and the world in various ventures. These opportunities
all came from one very simple mindset. A mindset that Zayed (God rest his soul)
instilled amongst all. It was that the every Emarti deserved the best their country
could give to them. In turn, the people gave back their love, hard
work and dedication to this land. A land blessed by God, and with its
blessings Zayed and the founding fathers enabled both their own people and the
people of many nations.
The UAE’s success today is just as important to many
other aspiring young nations. It is a testament to what wise leadership and visionary
direction can do towards the overall empowerment and development of a nation’s
41 years ago who would’ve thought that UAE would’ve become important to various industries
like aerospace, or launched their own satellites into space? Or been able
to establish an internationally recognized oil and gas energy sector, to our implementing
of a model safe and peaceful nuclear energy program? (A program I am proud to be a member of)
It’s been an incredible start to the country’s renaissance.
Today, young Emiratis are now more able, entitled and privileged to become a part of this ever
growing story. They will continue to carry the mantel of their forefathers into
the dynamic future ahead. With the seeds of success already bearing fruition,
and with the continued leadership of UAE’s Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan,
there’s no stopping the Emarati youth of today in achieving their utmost all.
Today, we celebrate the fruit of our achievements together,
and like many years before, Emirati men, women and children celebrate alongside
their patriotic residents in remembering these achievements together.
It is very difficult to describe this incredible story of the UAE.
To call it a success is sometimes an understatement. When people ask
me what do I think of the Emirates’ story of success, I usually reply by saying:
It’s a miracle that was intended to happen for all to see.
Happy 41st UAE National Day to all.
- Mohamed Al Jneibi (Dec 2nd 2012)
2011: A Bitter Sweet Year
Today, on 31st of December 2011, I’ve been given the chance to look back at a year which had meant much to me.
2011, was a year that had rocked me emotionally. Both personally, and socially. Like many had witnessed the events that had unraveled over the year, the “Arab Spring” as it had been called, I had concluded that the massive changes affecting various areas of the region were in fact a sign of things to come. And it lived to the hype.
My year started in a small apartment in Singapore. In January, my father had started his cancer treatment in Singapore, and with no satellite systems in the building with Al Jazeera, I managed (as always) to set up my laptop to have had the broadcast live, as my father and I watched intensely and late into the night the events unfolding.
As strange as it may seem, I honestly felt that those events had in some (however small) way of actually helping my father’s recovery during his treatment. The initial happiness and joy of the people of Tunisia and Egypt, with the sacrifices made, it was very different.
(Note: he is doing great and alhamdulla been clear for a year now).
My father had frequented Egypt many times during his life, and had always loved the Egyptian spirit and people. To see them finally take matters into their own hands, that was truly special. It was my time in Singapore and the events unfolding that had helped influence my article : Welcome to Arabia 2.0.
My father’s cancer was an emotional trauma to me and my family. It was quite a difficult time. I had already cursed 2011, and thought that it was the worst year already. In the midst of the negativity, it was the company of some people that had helped me get through all this. My father is a positive and a “happy go lucky” kind of individual, never had he expressed any form of depression. He simply inspired me and others around him to be positive, and to live normally. It was a year where I realized how blessed I had been to have come across other families and individuals facing the cancer fight.
I managed to have joined another family, one that I am truly blessed to be apart of. They are lead by a woman that is more than inspirational. And the entire team is just pure blessing. The Positive Cancer team can be reached via twitter: @positivecancer and website: http://www.positivecancer.ae/ and expect a lot this 2012 from our family.
2011, had made me lose some friends too. During my difficult times, I managed to have seen “friends” who rather than help lift me up in my difficult times, instead provided me with more difficulties. I’ve passed their test with flying colors.
To them, this world I lived in was too real for them, and so with no hatred or anger, I just let it slide. I have nothing against anyone, and I certainly pray that no one had anything against me.
I’m not a fan of this new years resolution business. I do intend to “settle down” eventually this year (it’s been in the plans for 5 years, but no luck).
2012 (God willing) will be a year where I will continue to do major work in writing comedy…I’ve got a couple of nice surprises on the way…so you can expect it to be interesting indeed.
This year (2011) had given me the chance to make some new friends, and they’re too many to name…but generally if you’re my pal on twitter …I’d like to extend a big thank you for being there for me.
2011 was bitter in the beginning and as it progressed, the sweeter side of it started to show. I can only pray for this positiveness to continue into the new year, and for us to have more nicer moments to talk about.
This blog entry is dedicated to some special people and friends currently either undergoing treatment or in post treatment phase. You are in my heart and prayers every day.
(يَـٰٓأَيُّہَا ٱلنَّاسُ قَدۡ جَآءَتۡكُم مَّوۡعِظَةٌ۬ مِّن رَّبِّڪُمۡ وَشِفَآءٌ۬ لِّمَا فِى ٱلصُّدُورِ وَهُدً۬ى وَرَحۡمَةٌ۬ لِّلۡمُؤۡمِنِينَ (٥٧)
( قُلۡ بِفَضۡلِ ٱللَّهِ وَبِرَحۡمَتِهِۦ فَبِذَٲلِكَ فَلۡيَفۡرَحُواْ هُوَ خَيۡرٌ۬ مِّمَّا يَجۡمَعُونَ (٥٨)
“There has come unto you an exhortation from your Lord, a healing for that which is in your breasts, a guidance and mercy for the believers.
Say: In the bounty of Allah and in His mercy: therein let them rejoice. It is better than what they hoard.”
( Surah Yunus (10) : 57-58 )
I pray that you all have a blessed 2012 ahead.
Happy New Year.
The UAE at 40: It wasn’t easy.
A few days ago, I had met up with a good friend of mine at the nearby coffee shop in my neighborhood. Bu Sultan was his name, and he was man near his 60’s and someone I had the utmost respect for. A decorated and pioneering fighter pilot for the UAE Air force, he had his fair share of stories to tell during the early days of the UAE. If we’re not talking about current events, we would most probably be talking about the usual topics; sports, cars, technology and everything in between.
What made this particular meeting special was the amount of reflection he had in the midst of the UAE’s 40th anniversary. We discussed the path the UAE had paved for itself, and the highlights of the federation that was formed in 1971. He took a pause and had a moment of deep thought. At that point he was staring at something, like it was a day dream he was having.
“It wasn’t easy.” He then said.
“What wasn’t easy Bu Sultan?” I asked.
“The federation….people have this idea that Zayed had it easy after ’71. Far from it, it was some of the most difficult times for us.”
Bu Sultan was a man who had met and worked with the founding father of the UAE. In fact, he himself came from the oasis city of Al Ain.
“When our country was founded, there were attempts by some neighbours to stop the UAE from being formally recognized by the Arab league and the United Nations. Can you imagine that?”
My father had told me stories, but it was something that many people just didn’t wrap their heads around.
He then continued: “Heck, even the borders. That wasn’t easy too. They kept making problems for Zayed with the borders. It took a lot out of him, he would only sleep around 3-4 hours every day, and then after Fajr prayer, he’s out to solve the issues of the day. He was always working, and planning. Thinking and remembering, remembering what some villager had complained to him about the other day.”
This recollection was to me very valuable. It was an oral and candid depiction of a time in our history that is sometimes overlooked. The early days of the federation, the union that was supposed to bring the emirates together. It wasn’t a walk in the park. They were difficult times.
I then proceeded to ask: “What do you think made Zayed continue?”
He stopped and thought about it.
Then calmly replies: “His faith. He firmly believed that Allah had given him an obligation to keep. I always believed that Allah had brought Zayed to us for a reason, there simply was no other person who had the internal motivation and fire inside of him to bring together tribes, regions and people together in the manner that he did. He was a Bedouin man, and a man of his word. He remembered your face, even after 20 years. That’s just the way he was.”
Bu Sultan had a lot to be proud of. He’s obviously seen much more than I can remember in my entire lifetime. 40 years may be small to some, but great to others. Especially when we chart the inception of the United Arab Emirates to the modern day nation it has become.
There’s a lot to talk about in the UAE, even more so in recent days. Politically, we’ve had many local thinkers and intellectuals (some of whom I’ve had the honour of meeting with) discuss the role of citizenry in the UAE. To be more blunt, the topic of political development and democratization of the institution that had served the nation for 40 years.
While the thought of democracy may conjure up various archetypes in the minds of many, it is often an accepted fact that there is no universally agreed definition of the term. One general rule is the fact that democracies ensure that all citizens in front of the law are considered equal. The rule of law is probably the single most determining factor of any democracy. Its adherence, equal, fair and unbiased implementation to all citizens is the cornerstone of any sovereign nation.
Nations can only succeed when it’s institutions of government gives its citizens the chance to steer their nation to the direction of the greater good. No one seems to acknowledge that within the UAE, Emaratis do go and speak freely with the leadership on their current frustrations, ambitions, praises and hopes. This is our town hall meeting. We just call it a majlis.
I’d look at democracy as a state of being, and not in the shape of a standard or benchmark, since at times when considered as either can in fact be misleading and not actually reflective of the process occurring. Successful democratic systems (of involved citizenry) tend to be the ones that have steadily formed from local or earlier forms of government, where there was an actual evolutionary process where citizenry evolved to full suffrage. I only look at post colonial Africa as an example of how wrong things went when people expected democracy to take in the shape of former European colonial states. I can point to other closer examples, but it is quite early to comment.
In a country, where Emaratis are a minority, and where voices might otherwise be drowned in important ongoing global discussions (and debates) in matters pertaining to their own country. Do not be surprised to see a display of unilateral love expressed for the system and its leadership. It is a system that has not failed us. We are after all a small group of people. In a collective manner, we all acknowledge the fortune of being a part of the UAE story or at least the overwhelming majority does.
We don’t ask for praise, but we do seek respect. We don’t ask for others to judge us, but we do judge ourselves. In a region which had seen 7 wars, an oil embargo, 4 revolutions, a few insurgencies and other significant events, the UAE had been and continues to remain a beacon of stability, peace and prosperity. No one knows this better than its citizens.
Today, the federation is constantly evolving, and adapting. It’s taking the time it needs to become better. While many speak of change, it is ultimately the Emarati who will determine the path in which this nation takes. The leadership can only provide us their continued support in ensuring that we help the nation in achieving the prosperous vision laid down by Sheikh Zayed and the founding fathers.
As someone who had proudly represented the UAE on many occasions, I can tell you that we have much to be proud of.
HTC Causing a sensation with Beats (And no I’m not joking!)
Everyone remembers their first HTC phone… right?
Well, I do at least. It was in the form of a wonderful telephone running Windows CE OS on it.
The only thing was… it wasn’t actually called HTC. You and I knew it was iMate! It was supposed to have been that really amazing phone from the Scotland. One nice little fact was that this Scottish company actually used a Taiwanese company to develop the hardware for its long development line of windows based iMate phones. That company was called: HTC.
With growing success, HTC then decided to go ahead with their own line of phones, and slowly disconnected from 2006, with iMate basically developing their own headsets.So started the success story for HTC a company that focused their development on the newly developed Android OS (From Google), and started to move away the Windows platform they’ve depended on in the past.
With the HTC Hero and later releases, the company began to develop their own unique look to Android. It was properly named: “HTC Sense”. This basically made a lovely interface of the usually boring Android look.
Android phones come in all shapes and sizes. Samsung has its own version of the OS. So does Acer, and Sony Ericsson. But what makes the HTC phone special. It’s quite simple: the HTC Sense interface, and attention to some important details.
Hence, I present to you: the HTC Sensation XE, a lovely piece of machinery packing a strong 1.5 GHz not single, but dual core CPU and the extra detail here in this model is the lovely Beats (by Dr. Dre) audio setup. The first major smart phone to do so.
Screen resolution goes to a 540 x 960 qHD. While not LED like the Samsung Galaxy S2, it’s still quite a bright and clear image portrayed within the HTC Sense interface.
Expect to be seeing this lovely piece of machinery by the end of the September 2011, and should be available all across the GCC and Asia.
Who should buy this: Basically, people who have an understanding of the Android platform, or are looking for a phone to try out Android, and see what’s all the fuss about (the old Apple v/s Google Android argument).
One of the amazing features you’ll always get with an HTC Android phone is the interface…it is stunning and awesome to use. I still believe with the amazing time I have with my current Samsun Galaxy S2, the interfaces for HTC have always been an attraction. With the qHD screen from HTC and high quality sound from Beats…makes a great phone to double up as an MP3 player with alot more to add in the whole mix. But this if you’re ready to experience something totally new, and hip. You will stand from the crowd, that’s for sure.
Here’s some interesting trivia:
Do you know where the international iMate company headquarters is based in?
Answer: It’s based in Dubai, UAE! (Interesting…I didn’t even know that!)
Originally Published September 20, 2011 ForKhaleejesque Online Magazine (http://www.khaleejesque.com/)
Guest Blogging for “Life Style / Tech” column
A Time To Remember
In my article this month, I would like to take the opportunity to wish fellow readers happy and blessed Eid greetings extended from my side to you. While it may be a little off from the usual tech areas I have been accustomed to writing in Sail eMagazine, it is important to note that a month of Ramadan has now passed and it was during this time where I and many Muslims used the month to further spiritually reflect and connect to our closest members of family and friends. It is a truly unique month.
Ramadan is usually a reflective month for many people. With food and water out of the equation during our more routine part of our day to day lives, we begin to reach a level of selflessness and overall abstinence of materialism. This brings about a phase of awareness within our overall surroundings. We have more time to think and ponder deeply and ask about the things that we would consider important to our daily lives; An inner solace and chance to re-affirm close ties to family and friends during this month of contemplation.
Ramadan, quite simply, is the most important month for many Muslims.
The Eid Al Fitr holiday is a time when we celebrate our accomplishments and return our thanks and gratitude to the All Mighty. It is a chance to celebrate one’s achievement of fasting during the holy month and close attainment to God.
It is also a time for children to be children and to celebrate their childhood on this beautiful day with their families and friends. Remembering this, it is also important to note that this is (and should always be) the time to extend our happiness to the less fortunate in society. Through both mandatory alms (zakat) and voluntary alms (sadaqa), we work to ensure that our happiness is shared with those who need it most.
This Eid, one cause (of the many out there) that matters the most is the starvation and drought in Somalia. Many people around the world (Muslim and non-Muslim) have taken the initiative in raising the funds to help those who are currently suffering.
I would like to end this month’s article with ways to help in making a huge difference to people’s lives.
You can donate either through your local Red Crescent or to a charity house.
With technology being the usual theme of my articles, it may be a good idea to check some of the websites and social media campaigns helping those in need. Likewise, various search engines (Google and others) are also good places to start this search in ways of helping others. Here are just few examples you can start with:
- Fellow Bloggers (@Emaratist and fellow Sail Magazine colleague and school mate @IamShaima):http://www.emaratist.com/help-somalia/
- Red Crescent Society (UAE): http://www.rcuae.ae/Pages/Default.aspx
- World Food Program: https://wfp.org/donate/hornofafrica?gclid=CJKF18ao1qoCFYF_6wodSUZM6w
- Hidaya Foundation: https://donation.hidaya.org/donation.aspx?projectId=135&gclid=COyD58io1qoCFct56wod93Iu8g
- British Based: Global Giving: http://www.globalgiving.co.uk/pr/8500/proj8493a.html?
Wishing you all, a happy and prosperous holiday.
Originally Published September 1, 2011 For Sail e Magazine (www.sailemagazine.com)
As part of the “Society of Tomorrow” column
Wow! How Did They Know That?
It was a long day, and an even longer week. A typical lazy burnt out Thursday at home, from a long week of work. I thought that I would give myself a break, and put on a movie whilst giving one of my favorite pizza spots a call to order for some good weekend junk. After passing a series of phone-automated selections, I finally got to hear the restaurant staff answer the phone. I was not in the most attentive state of mind, all I was thinking was getting my Hawaiian pizza (yes I like Pineapples in my Pizza!) and have my TV channels on the ready.
What started as a simple order for one type of pizza, turned out to be a thoroughly detailed investigation on my previous orders, my likes and dislikes and whether I was willing to try out some of their new items on offer. Now, within the context of the food and hospitality industry, we can probably accept some aspects of it. Generally, companies using this approach would most probably be also using dedicated systems commonly referred as a CRM or a Customer Relationship Management system.
Basically, you are providing a company additional (value added) information about yourself with links to the various transaction information for them to be able to use your information to better forecast (or guess) what you (the customer) would like to have.
Adding other demographical information (age, gender, emirate you live in, and others) to the CRM provides companies with the ability to specifically pinpoint segments of consumers with potential marketing focuses. This is where much of the emails you do not read (i.e.: Spam) and phone text messages come into play.
But how much of your information would you allow for companies to have? And even more important, how is this information being managed?
Is this properly regulated?
These questions later crossed my mind, when I began to realize how much consumer information was in circulation within the various commercial sectors of the country.
A concept that is seldom heard within the consumer-sphere, but well known within many leading organizations is data mining. It is also properly termed as “knowledge discovery”. This is when you have large repositories of data and information that is later run through various “data mining” tools that dig into the data stores, and gather information based on possibilities. Going back to the Pizza Place, it could be a slightly more complex question like:
“Who is more likely to come and order in Pizza Place the more recent menu items of the month? While also keeping the side of coleslaw and soda that they always like to have.”
With data mining, companies would be able to get a list of individuals and percentages of likelihood next to their names.
But as a consumer, would you be ok with organizations being able to have your information analyzed?
How would you like it if they link up your information to your friends and family?
Large companies utilize a marketing directory exchange system, where certain organizations send your information to other companies selling other products (maybe you liked the Pizza, but you should also try their new sister chain of ice-cream products too!). And in reality, after few years, consumer and demographical information is sold and re-sold to smaller and more desperate companies trying to tap into the market.
Now how about that? You think removing your name from certain email lists, or phone directories would do any good, by that time your information would have been already circulating in other unknown parts of the marketing information directory.
I would like to start to see UAE consumer rights advocates (who are doing a good job) to specifically look at the customer information management models of various industries. Maybe through proper steps, we can setup a set of information guidelines for organizations taking in such information from customers (such a structure already exists within the telecom sector in the UAE).
Maybe a similar (yet smaller in scale) approach can be adopted for other commercial entities, if not already. And to have a way for various commerce offices within the emirates to actually ensure that there are no malpractices or illegal distribution of customer information to 3rd parties.
Do not you just hate getting phone calls from some central or sub Saharan African country claiming to have the power to get rid of some magic spell that was casted, while also having your name on some land and money inheritance list of a dead general?!
(Ok that was a strange example, but you get the picture.) Chances were that your phone number was part of a marketing directory that was resold to a 3rd party.
By being better-informed consumers, we can make the right choices in how we provide our information to commercial entities. Do not be afraid to opt out of mailing and calling lists.
It is ok to be on the mailing list of some of your favorite brands, but before signing up, have a good look and read up their privacy policies, and do not ever be afraid to ask what they are doing with your personal information. After all, it is your right.
Originally Published August 1, 2011 For Sail e Magazine (www.sailemagazine.com)
As part of the “Society of Tomorrow” column