Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Advertisers Stretching the Truth Too Far?

In Dubai this week there are 2 good examples of companies using their advertising in a questionable fashion.

In one case a huge electronics company has said, "if you cannot find it in the store it is yours for free!"

Yea, right, only on some things! NEVER SAID THAT IN THE RADIO ADS.

How about a car for 975, an ALTIMA!

Yea sure...

Why are advertisers not being held to account for misleading the public with what they say or do not say?

The short and sweet answer is that they, companies are simply doing what they can!

Creating the truth is what companies do and as one caller said business is war! So you do what you have to do to win!

If you are concerned in Dubai the Economic Department has a consumer protection number

One caller said the above number was not too helpful, you be the judge.

Why is the IIA not helping to set up an industry fueled code of conduct? Maybe spin of an advertising standards council?

Why as consumers are we not talking about offenders in the ad industry?

Why, Why, Why?

Monday, May 28, 2007

May 29---morality and Dubai!

OK so in Dubai, in the UAE, if you give a fellow motorist the FINGER even if it is becasue your life might have been in danger you could be fined, jailed or deported!

Some say this is petty!

BUT the finger is a moral insult in the UAE, as is showing the bottom of your feet.

BUT does the finger warrant the police being called?

And if you give the finger to a person who is driving dangerously should they be fined as well?

And what if a national gives the finger?

How can we have morality on one hand and progressive development on the other?


How do we deal with this? In a country that is on the cutting edge of so many things?



Please would you circulate this, it will make others more aware of the what can happen and what you should do.

Coming home one night, a vehicle came up behind me in the fast lane on Emirates road, flashing his lights. I indicated and tried to move into the slower middle lane but the car overtook me on the inside lane - narrowly missing me. I had to swerve badly to avoid an accident. I was furious and pulled a one finger sign at him.

The car immediately slowed up and would not let me pass. We both pulled over on the hard shoulder and got out of our cars. He told me he was a police man and asked why I had pulled a sign at him. The man was dressed in plain clothes and was driving a civilian (unmarked) car with another male passenger. I didn't believe that he was a police man and asked to see ID. This made him very angry and he declared that he wanted to take me to court. I apologized again and again but it was very clear that he wanted 'justice' as I had obviously offended him deeply. He had risked both our lives and those in cars around us, and I was totally amazed at his fixation on the emotional trauma my middle finger had caused him.

We waited on the side of the road for nearly an hour for a police patrol car to come by and eventually I agreed to follow him to Jebel Ali police station. The man spoke to me in English but when we arrived at the station he only spoke Arabic to the other officers. There was no translator and I was threatened with being thrown in jail if I did not sign a statement written in Arabic, obviously admitting guilt. I was advised by the policeman that should I speak to the British consulate or a solicitor that this would make the situation worse for me. My passport was taken and only then was I allowed to leave.

The next day, on consulting a lawyer, it was explained to me that this was a very common occurrence in Dubai and that I had nothing to worry about and that a fine of around AED 2000 was the usual penalty. However four months down the line, one appeal later and I have been sentenced to a 4 week jail sentence and immediate deportation.

My wife is heavily pregnant and our first child is due in 6 weeks time. I would more than likely miss the birth and my wife could be left stranded unable to travel back to the UK whilst I am deported. Not only is the punishment handed out by the Dubai courts, in our opinion, incongruous with the crime it is actually threatening the safety and well being of our family to be.

Whilst Dubai has so much to offer and we have enjoyed living here and learning about different cultures, we are confused as to why on one hand Dubai portrays itself as a welcoming, investor friendly country, yet at the same time non-locals can be treated in this way. Sure I made a mistake, and whilst I appreciate Arab law and culture is different and ignorance is no excuse, surely some leniency should be shown in that it was done in reaction to a near death experience, and it was my first offence I have ever committed.

I can't help but feel that should I have been dishonest at the outset and denied everything this issue would have gone away and it seems sad that we live in an environment which promotes this. I was entirely compliant with the Dubai prosecuting process and as a result have paid the price.

Things everyone should remember;

1. Get a lawyers number in your mobile – you never know when you will need to make this very important call.

2. Make sure the lawyer is present and a translator is made available to you before you talk or sign anything. This is your right even if you are told that it is not by an authority figure.

3. Do not sign anything until the British Embassy or a similar body have translated the statement.

4. If you know an influential local, get them involved as soon as possible, any help is better than no help at all.

I am a Director at a reputable sustainable building design company, working on the next generation of Dubai's skyline. My firm's presence here in the Middle East contributes positively to Dubai's environment and affects directly how people live and work here. It is a shame this relationship has been broken over such an insignificant incident.

May 28----Do we need a University today?

So, how useful is a university today?

Some say it is vital to the development of a society.

Others suggest that maybe the life of the University has changed!

Maybe what we need are training schools and less of the grand thought place?

How do we attach value to a university education?

Many suggest that the value is there and it comes over time.

I am not so sure.

We talked to people who have gone to University as well as to people who have not and they all come to their own conclusions!

One of the callers suggested that he is a success and dropped out of university. GREAT!

But this caller now wants to go back to University becasue he feels that he let his side of the bargin down.

Maybe what we need is a new type of University?

Maybe we just need to leave things well alone!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

May 27 South Africa!

Read the post under the AIESEC post!

Sorry it was started on Tuesday last week!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

May 23---AIESEC

Youth, INNOVATION, leadership do the youth stand a chance today?

AIESEC that operates out of 800 universities world wide might be the answer.

So why is it not on the lips of every business person?

Why is AIESEC not on the lips of every student at University today?


What does it offer?

Innovative approaches to leadership and self discovery!

And best off all the organization is really an NGO based on the idea of driving change.

So what do they really do besides party? Uhhh you know what? I am still not really sure.

I do know that they help organize seminars, one is happening this weekend in Dubai.

But I cannot help but wonder why, with all the power the group has via youth it is not reinventing the wheel?

Why has AIESEC not tied into the business lecture pool?

Tom Peters was here where was AIESEC?


AIESEC does some great things BUT is it more than a mirror of a flawed business world, a world we all enter?

That I am not so sure.

None the less AIESEC does offer a way to prepare for and at the least know what to expect when you hit the ground after University and that is very important!

May 27----SOUTH AFRICA go home?

25 years of people running from South Africa is beginning to take its toll!

For 2 years there has been the SOUTH AFRICA HOMECOMING REVOLUTION.

Do people want to go back?

Some of the BLOGS on the subject suggest that there is a lot of optimism on the part of the organizers and maybe that is not the real story!

We will see!

Well one side of the conversation said it was simply not safe to live in South Africa today!

So what stops people from leaving? MEANS!

Others said South Africans have a duty to go home and make change!

But what about those who say we only live once THUS we need to do the best for us?

What about those that say the world is full of expats so South Africa is not really any different!

What about the 1 in 7 people with aids?



Can South Africa really get its nationals to return?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

May 22 Innovation in Dubai from 2 guys on the ground.

Julian Ford Director of Marketing and Business Development and Harvey Klyce MD of Al Futtaim Technology joined me to talk about Innovation 10 days after the IIR Management Innovation FORUM.

Both men would seem to think that innovation is taking place in the workplace.

Both men talk about the team and the conversations that take place and the holistic environment that should make things work.

I am not convinced.

What about the freak on staff?

What about throwing out the old way/current way and reinventing the whole thing?

The answer? We are not the family in the family business.

OK point well taken.

So where does that leave us?

Maybe we need more networking between ideas and the implementation of off the wall means of doing things?
A bold new design center at Stanford.
Maybe we need a d-school approach?

Maybe we need a Seth Godin mentality?

Maybe we need more than we know?

What about the 30 book MBA in entrepreneurship?

These guys sure had some great ideas BUT can they take it past the balance sheet?

We will see!

Monday, May 21, 2007

May 21--- Change it all Thomas Style.

Thomas Lundgren chief of the coloured socks and the FUNKMIESTER of the One talked about why the world is all screwed up.


Think a total lack of Uhhhh duhhhh...


oh and...

Bad RULES! That people continue to follow like sheep to the slaughter.

And of course because Thomas owns the ONE he can do what ever he wants.

Hmmm... how to net get too bored once you have made the concept work is a huge issue and Thomas has tackled that one head on.

Coloured socks.

Or maybe see how far you can push the world towards actually caring.

OK we care, the dirt cares but what about the nameless, faceless governments and commercial entities?

Exactly someone needs to take a bit more responsibility.

OK a lot more!

Curious what others say about Thomas?

But some might say it is easy to talk big when you are big... and I don't think Thomas needs to lose weight.

The reality is you have to go with your gut and at some point trust you!

I sure wish my students would listen to Thomas and maybe try to do 1% of what he suggests.

Have passion for what you believe and start the IDEAVIRUS!

Here are my 3 favorite slides from the 'THOMAS SHOW'!

Mental note to IIR---they brought us the innovation forum!

Tom Peters is great BUT here is a guy doing Peters and the rest of the gang of merry speakers, maybe you should have Thomas on stage talking to the theory from the angle of someone who knows? Asking questions from a pink chair maybe?

And bring James along for good measure.

Imagine measuring success by emotion per square meter?

Time that we all took a little more charge of our lives and didn't allow big business to call the shots, unless they are doing it with love! Yea maybe if it snows in the empty quarter that will happen...

But Thomas is leading the way, sure hope the crowd follows...

Sunday, May 20, 2007

May 20th---expectation of Arab World

Tonight we are going to talk about two ideas that are seemingly unrelated but very related!

1st is the idea that the Arab world is predicated on oppression.

This idea was advanced in a recent editorial in the Gulf News by a political scientist at UAE University.

2nd the benefit of a $10 billion foundation to improve literacy in the Arab World!

Maybe the two are more related than meets the eye?

The general view over the evening is that this is a great thing for the UAE and the region.

BUT the how it is rolled out will tell all!

Can a new system really be implanted when there is skepticism at large about western interests?

Will education change political ideals?

Is democracy what the world needs?

The reality is nothing can happen over night so we need to be patient but have very high expectations!

A good question is will the foundation aim its efforts at Arabs or the huge expat population that also lives in the region?

One thing if for sure there are more questions than answers at this point...

Stay tuned to this space!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

May 16--- social responsibility of the media?

Does the media and those who work in it have a responsibility to the consuming public?

Or is the media just a business like any other that pays lip service to responsibility?

Peter made an excellent point, that the medai has a far way to go.

The issues of truth needs to be at the top of any to do list.

FREEDOM is a must.

But others did feel that the meass media int he UAE was doing a good job and was not corrupted by the business cycle yet.

Big question, how does it really help to know what is going on anyway?

MEDIA WISE is an organization that has a view on this.

Social Responsibility and the Media Prepared by Mike Jempson, Director of The MediaWise Trust for the All-Party Social Responsibility Group House of Commons, 12 January 2006

Clearly this is a massive over simplification, but from the MO evidence she identified a crisis of public confidence in journalism “that has a financial impact on news media, as evidenced in the continuing decline of newspaper circulation and readership. But it also points to the apparent inability of mass media to serve their ideal role in a democratic society; that of creating an informed public.”


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

May 15 Social Responsibility of Government!

Does a government by default need to be thinking about its social responsibility?

Does a government have a social responsibility outside of i ts boarders?

Tonight we talk about government and social responsibility!

Social responsibility means developing and implementing strong frameworks and regulations that outline specific compliance mechanisms and a coherent set of rewards and penalties...

So do we want more or less state intervention?

Part of the problem is who will foot the bill for government social responsibility? And why, in the case of the UAE would we expect any social responsibility when residents do not pay into the government via taxes which tend to fund socially responsible activities such as health care, education ...

Another problem with social responsibility on the part of the government is the total lack of any sense of urgency!

So why shouldn't the government offload its responsibility to the private sector?

Call it concessions, call it what you like business tends to do it better and there is no place for the state in business SO let them to it and simply ensure the rule are adhered to.

Social responsibility on the part of the government comes down to your perspective!

We will see.

Monday, May 14, 2007

May 14----social responsibility of the corporation

Is there anything called corporate social responsibility today?

ALCAN aluminum in Canada seems to be thinking beyond the balance sheet, so they say, give the JAMESCAST a listen!

But as many said is the UAE ready for CSR?

And how is it that people are imported from organizations with CSR ideals and they are lost when they land in the UAE?

Ray had the answer!

The answer is simply there cannot be activism with respect to CSR without political activism.

Faye suggested that it all comes down to passion and this was echoed by Wendy.

Maybe we need to be more demanding of our corporations!

Maybe we need to bring more activism to our education?

Maybe we need to live for small achievements that can build on each other?


Sunday, May 13, 2007

may 13----social responsibility

This evening is the 1st of a four part conversation on social responsibility.

We start today with youth.

What are the responsibilities of youth today?

Do they have any?

Are the expectations too low?

Maliha suggested that the youth of today are very isolationist in their thinking.

Daniel suggested that maybe the issue is the youth of today being misled! Misled by the environment they live in.


Parents are setting the wrong models for the youth of today to follow.


Maybe what we really need is a youth centres NGO through which schools and other organizations can channel their efforts.

What it all comes down to is balance and maybe we are off balance in the way we allocate our time and energy.

Hmmm... a lot of food for thought.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

May 9th---hope in the face of uncertainty.

Victoria Owen the co-host of the 9-12 show called Speak Easy on Dubai Eye discovered last week that she had a growth in her brain!


It had to be removed!

What would your reaction be if you knew that tomorrow your head would be entered and you may never be the same?

Some said live each day like it is your last.

Others said put your house in order, really, clean.

I think I would talk to all my friends and hug and hold my family...

A good friend Jeff Price said that strength comes from inside in those events.

What would you do?

Listen to a conversation between Nannette and Vix, it is amazing!

Share your story!

Maybe we can find hope and lessons from each other?

Others said it all comes down to faith!


Tuesday, May 08, 2007

May 8--- what are we doing with our knowledge?

Ok we have amazing conferences.

We have examples of amazing ideas around us.

We have people doing amazing projects.

So how are we taking these great things and making them common practice?

I wonder if we simply are not?

Why go?


Last night when asked are we innovative the answers were all over the map!

Some say we have the wrong attitude and need to change it to be more innovative. Maybe.

Others say it is the system.

Government departments are too old school.

Trade permits... too much hassle.

And then there is the question of seed funds.

Maybe we need more small business development managers!

Maybe we need things tilted in favour of you and I!

Are you innovative?

Why not?

Monday, May 07, 2007


Sue Hodge and Liz Loadwick from Beacon education join me.

What is special needs education?

removing barriers
Special educational needs — What does it mean?

The term 'special educational needs' has a legal definition. Children with special educational needs all have learning difficulties or disabilities that make it harder for them to learn or access education than most children of the same age. These children may need extra or different help from that given to other children of the same age.

So where are we in the UAE?

Do we care?

YES and no.

Some schools are telling the clients to go someplace else.

Some schools are simply jacking up fees.

Some schools have it right.

Beacon Education seems to be one of those education providers that is at the least talking a good story.

And as Sue Hodge said if you want to find out more about what you can do or how to find support call her and she will set you on the track.

04-288-6270 Uptown School

But what about teaching assistants in any class shouldn't they be mandatory?

A class of 24 kids and one teacher?

Sure there is a cost but are the children not worth it?

Some say a good teacher can handle the crowd... why are we reducing teachers to crowd control when we could make their job more effective.

The job?

Chief inspiration officers.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

May 6--- RTA/POLICE/Responsibility?

Who exactly is responsible for road safety?


The RTA?

Dubai Police?

The general feeling OF CALLERS LAST NIGHT WAS:

1. people in Dubai simply do not care enough
2. maybe we could benefit form a driving test before we are given a permit in Dubai if we come from another country! Any Country.
4. are expected to pay we need to be seeing the results of the service and the payment
5. ASK users of the system for suggestions
6. traffic is an issue for the entire UAE there needs to be coordination
7. The RTA and the Police need to work together and STOP pointing fingers
8. any lessons to be learned from other places?
9. maybe, just maybe it isn't all that bad.

Give the podcast a listen.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

May2----responsibility do we have any

OK we, our governments,our business, you and I go all over the world and do things.

How long are we responsible for our actions?

If things go wrong are we responsible?

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


Hugo Charvez in Venezuela is opting out of the IMF and World Bank!


Is this an issue?

A left leaning government with oil money saying that GW Bush can "Bite Me" seems to be the start of a new global power play.

Or is it just words?