The benefits of training IN the market: the case of Dubai

Downtown DubaiRecently, I went to Dubai (United Arab Emirates, UAE) for a training on behalf of KIT Intercultural Professionals. A full day training for an arriving expat couple from the Netherlands to prepare for their assignment in the UAE.

They specifically requested to be trained in their new country of residence, post arrival. On the day of the training, they had been there for nearly three weeks.

I noticed some clear advantages of training IN the market, when compared to training pre arrival. Lees verder

Platform for art from the Middle East: Ananasa

Heritage Tray smallI celebrate International Women’s Day 2014 by interviewing a passionate lady, working from Dubai. Her name is Zaina Kanaan. With her sister Rania, she set up started when these two sisters wanted to expose the hidden beauty of the Middle East to the world.

Founded in 2011, is an online marketplace that enables artisans, artists and designers in the Middle East to sell their creations worldwide with no barriers.

I had the privilege to interview Zaina about and the future of this growing marketplace.

Can you tell me what triggered the idea to start

One of the co-founders (Zaina) is an emerging painter. When I moved to Dubai from Montreal, I found it very difficult to get into galleries because the scene was for the established artist. Therefore, initially my co-founder and myself decided to start a website to sell my art. However, after we started to speak to so many aspiring artisana’s who are artists, fashion designers, home crafters and bag makers we learnt that there are so many people like me. Looking for a platform to sell their work, get recognized and reach the entire world with no boundaries. There is so much beauty in the Middle East that is often not shown or reached. Ananasa’s is a platform to represent the beauty of the Middle East and shed light on all these aspiring artisana who wish to make a living of something they love.Lees verder

Visit to the UAE Women’s Museum in Dubai

Painting Khawla Al Marri at Womens Museum2A recent visit to Dubai brought me to the UAE Women’s Museum. It’s located in Bait al Banat (‘Girls house’) in Deira, the older part of Dubai. I had been following them on Twitter for a while and it was on my list to visit. It’s an inspiring place to visit. Let me tell you why I think so.

The museum was established by mrs Rafia Ghubash, an Emirati professor. Besides preserving the history of women in the UAE, she wants to break down stereotypes about women. The general vision here in the West tends to be that women in the Arab world are in a second rate position. I know better, and this museum visualises this.Lees verder

Saudi Princess Pushes for Women’s Rights

Watching this video on YouTube made me happier by the minute!

It’s a wonderful interview with Saudi Princess Ameerah al Taweel, wife of billionaire investor Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal. In this talk with Forbes, she vies for Saudi women’s rights, including the right to drive. The interview is at least 2 years old, but her strong message still stands. One big challenge has been met: the first Saudi law firm opened recently.

“We are not backward, we are no second class. Maybe the rules are backward”

“Just open your eyes and you will see how powerful women in the Middle East are.”


Flexibility is key in the UAE

Sheikh Zayed-roadA recent visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE, consisting of Abu Dhabi, Dubai and 5 more Emirates) made it clear to me once more. Flexibility is key to be succesful in business in the UAE.

During my visit, my programme changed on a day-to-day basis. Sometimes because the other party involved had to reschedule. At other times because one appointment lead to another, that needed to be squeezed in. No harm done. Even better: these changes might generate opportunities. It wouldn’t be the first time that such a last- minute- meeting proves to be the most valuable.Lees verder

What’s not being said…Communication in the Arab World

Business Middle East2The Dutch are known for their outspoken way of communication. They are even called ‘blunt’ at times. What a difference with the Arab World! Let’s have a closer look at this region.

The Arab world includes 22 countries and about 400 million people. It’s a large region, with distinct differences. Oil wealth versus economies in deep trouble, heavely populated countries versus scarcely populated ones, (nearly) mono- religious versus multi- religious countries.
However, when it comes to culture, there are things we can mention in general terms. One of them is that Arabs are eloquent and hospitable people. And relationship is of utmost importance. Building a relationship takes time and efforts. Lees verder

The first Saudi woman who…

Raha Moharrak- Mount EverestRecently, we have seen the media full with messages about Saudi women breaking boundaries. What does this mean?

Raha Moharrak was the first Saudi woman to climb the Mount Everest. She reached the top of the world in May 2013 as part of the ‘Arabs with Altitude’ expedition. Read more about this achievement here.

Then there is Haifa al-Mansour, director of ‘Wadjda’, a lovely movie about a ten-year old girl who dreams about a bicycle. Read more about ‘Wadjda’ or listen to this podcast interview with Haifa al- Mansour, the first Saudi female director of a full feature film.

In London 2012, the first ever Saudi women – Sarah Attar (800 m) and Wodjan Shaherkani (judo) – were sent off to the Olympics. Shaherkani’s presence was unsure when her father objected to her not wearing the hijab. The International Judo Federation ultimately decided that she could wear a special sportshijab. Read more about these sportswomen here.

Is this a trend developing?

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Gangnam style adopted by the Arab World

The YouTube hit ‘Gangnam Style’, by Korean singer PSY, also hits the Arab world. It is heard in cities throughout the region, including Sanaa (Yemen), as Your Middle East contributor Adam Baron reported last December.

Many local artists were inspired by PSY and created their own version of this hit song. The original tune parodies the lifestyle of rich Koreans. The Arab versions target local habits and way of life, in different forms and styles. Some examples include:

– Egyptian Style. Egyptians have a name to maintain as funny people. Well done with this ‘Hobba Egyptian Style’. It’s a hilarious insight into the elite of Egypt; sushi, jazz, Facebook, Twitter and laptops.

– Saudi Style. It features a sarcastic depiction of the phenomenon known in the Saudi society as “the guy in undershirt and thobe pants.” This expression refers to young men who wear white undershirts and thobe pants which look more like undergarments. Click here for a detailed account of this phenomenon.

– Moroccan Style. This is a video parody by a group of Moroccans, ‘singing’ the official song.

 Algerian Style. Animation style video and singing about the European lifestyle some Algerians like to pursue.

Many more can be found on YouTube. Some are professional, some funnier than others, but there is enough to enjoy! As Adam Baron stated in his piece on Gangnam Style in Sanaa “what unites us is ultimately more powerful than what divides us. Regardless of culture, religion or language, people are largely after the same things.”

For the past few months, that has clearly been Gangnam Style and the uniting effect of this global phenomenon is obvious. Thank you PSY!

Deze post schreef ik voor Your Middle East, een internationale website over de regio.

Comedy and Satire on the Syrian crisis and regime

Top Goon

Finger puppets targeting the situation in Syria and the Assad regime with witty dark humour, that’s ‘Top Goon: Diaries of a Little Dictator’. The Syrian group of artists ‘Masasit Mati’ created this web-based series that uses comedy and satire to lampoon President Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian regime’s response to the popular uprising in the country. The series of 6-minute shows first aired on YouTube in November 2011 and quickly became a hit, both in Syria and the rest of the world.

The power of Top Goon is in the combination of dark humour and sharp words, something not accepted in ‘real’ life in Syria. The artists perform a courageous and dangerous job by creating the series.Lees verder

Interview voor Your Middle East over Saudische kunst

Yellow_Cow_Ahmed_MaterMet interesse volg ik de internationale website Your Middle East. Het is een mooie mix van politiek, economie en cultuur. Op een oproep voor bijdragen heb ik gereageerd. Vervolgens trok ik er een aantal weken geleden voor het eerst in mijn leven op uit als journalist. Bestemming was het Greenbox Museum voor hedendaagse Saudische kunst, in Amsterdam. Ik schreef al eerder over dit museum op mijn blog.

Het resultaat -waar ik heel trots op ben- kan je bekijken op Your Middle East, en hieronder. Een paar highlights:

“Saudi’s have the position to influence, since they have this central position in Islam. Art is a universal language, but it is talking about different issues in different countries and there are different ways to express.”

“You don’t need to paint a nude woman to make good art and get a message across.”

Enjoy reading en laat me weten wat je ervan vindt!


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