Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Do Malaysians shower before going to bed?

Less than half of Malaysians hit the showers before they turn in for the day.

According to a recent survey conducted by CloveTWO.com and Kosmo! newspaper, only 44% shower right before going to bed.

Still, while showering before bedtime is important, it's absolutely crucial that antibacterial soap/shower gel – such as Lifebuoy's antibacterial soap - is used.

When showering, extra attention should be given to areas of the body where most people neglect, such as the back, behind ones ears and ankles, and between the toes – all bacteria-prone spots.

And why is it important to shower just right before bedtime? Well, simply because everyone, whatever their age, are constantly exposed to bacteria; at school, in the garden, at the office etc.

Then of course there's the little forgotten fact that the bed itself makes for the perfect breeding ground for all sorts of microorganisms. Dead skin cells, perspiration, the body's natural oils etc all contribute to making your bed the ideal harborage for bacteria, dust mites, and bed bugs. All these could lead to a wide range of health problems.

Showering in the morning, before the activities of the day, is also recommended. It freshens up the body, removing the build-up of bacteria during the night, and of course, perks you up to start the day.

For those with sensitive skin who are prone to skin irritation that leads to scratching, showering twice a day - in the morning and night - is absolutely vital.

To help us and other Malaysians know more about Malaysians' hygiene practices and how it affects our health, please do continue to support our Hygiene Awareness Poll and vote for Question 3 on CloveTWO.com.

Rain, hail or shine in Dubai nowadays

The country has been witnessing rough and unstable weather conditions since last week with all the emirates witnessing showers and thunderstorms.

Emirates such as Fujairah and Al Ain have been one among the worst affected with the weather conditions rendering people homeless too.

On Monday, the capital and other emirates including Dubai witnessed moderate to heavy rainfall in the afternoon. Rains continued till late evening in the capital causing traffic snarls in many places in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

The Met department in the capital has predicted more rains and thunderstorms during the night and today (Tuesday) morning in different parts of the country.

The unstable weather conditions have been caused due to upper air mass and low pressure in the atmosphere associated with cold air and moisture coming from the Indian Ocean, the centre said.

Forecasting rain, hail or shine

Clive Stevens

  • Last Updated: March 28. 2009 8:30AM UAE / March 28. 2009 4:30AM GMT

Sitting in the transit lounge of Bahrain airport on my way back to Dubai, I overheard a conversation between two businessmen waiting for their flight. “Weather forecasting in this part of the world must be one of the easiest jobs going,” said one. “Hot and sunny with blue skies every day.”

Unable to resist, I leant forward and introduced myself. “I am that weatherman and it is definitely one of the best jobs in the world.” They were both somewhat taken aback.

As the past few days have shown, however, the job of the weather forecaster can have its moments. And this is a better time than most to offer an insight into how we weathermen of the UAE function, especially under pressure.

Stormy weather is not that unusual at this time of year but to have it forecast to extend over four or five days is. High winds and thunderstorms have been sweeping across the UAE, making conditions dangerous in places. On Thursday three labourers died when the roof was blown off the warehouse they were building and a wall collapsed on them. Crosswinds of more than 100kph have caused difficulties for planes coming in to land, trees have been uprooted, roads flooded and large hailstones have battered cars.

In fact, this has been a rather extreme year for UAE so far. In January, 10cm of snow fell on the Jebel Jais mountain of Ras al Khaimah and temperatures dropped well below zero. It was only the second time snow had been recorded there.

The following month temperatures reached 37°C, the highest for a February day since records began. And now we are cowering under stormy skies. Such extreme weather events, however, are not anything sinister and they are not necessarily proof of global warming. They are just random yet explicable fluctuations in weather patterns.

This is a particularly changeable time of year – the transition between winter and summer. March and April can be volatile. For example, temperatures were 37°C on Wednesday and 27°C on Thursday.

Southerly winds from the Empty Quarter bring hot weather but winds from the north are naturally cooler at this time of year. As the air near the surface heats up more quickly than the air at higher altitudes, the atmosphere will become unstable – in just the same way as a boiling kettle. The warm, humid air rises and meets the cold air, the moisture condenses to cloud and the result is thunderstorms and hail. That’s what has been happening over the past few days.

Having worked at the Dubai International Airport Met Office off and on for 30 years, I have lived through several extreme weather events.

On April 30 1980 a massive sandstorm raged all day. It had formed in the Empty Quarter and travelled towards the coast. During the early evening an extremely violent thunderstorm developed over the sea, sucking in all the energy around it. At around 8pm it came in from the sea and cut across Dubai. Surface wind speeds gusted to 120kph at the airport. The centre of the storm crossed the Dubai-to-Sharjah road near Al Mullah Plaza. Cars were blown over and rolled off the road into the desert under its force. Several hundred sheep corralled outside in open pens were reported killed by that hailstorm. It was a miracle that no person was killed.

In the late 1970s another memorable storm struck Dubai airport during the night. The next day we had a call from the harbourmaster at Port Rashid asking if we had received any reports of a tornado. We hadn’t, we told him. The reason he had asked, he said, was that an anemometer at the port had shown a wind-speed reading of 120 knots (in excess of 200kph) just before it disintegrated. More astonishingly was the fate of two 13m fully-loaded sea containers that had been left stacked by the perimeter fence.

The next morning the top one was lying on the other side of the fence. It appeared the wind had somehow lifted it up in the air and blown it over without damaging the fence. Now that looks like a tornado.

Fog is a year-round problem. Just over a year ago a blanket of thick fog formed on the highway between Abu Dhabi and Dubai during the early morning rush hour. In what became known as Fog Tuesday, four people were killed, 350 injured and 20 cars caught fire amid the mass of wreckage. I remember a similar crash in the late 70s, on the Dubai to Sharjah road, which in those days was two lanes each way with no central barrier. Cars were diving off the road to avoid the 140-car pile-up.

My pet theory is that fog is closely associated with the natural boundaries of the UAE. It forms along the coastal region when moist air from the sea is blown inland and cools over the desert under clear night skies. It provides a valuable source of water in an arid region and helps plants to survive and has so helped define the habitable areas.

I graduated in meteorology and physics from Reading University in southern England in 1971. One of our lecturers told us that it might appear odd to study the two subjects together but that it would not be a prudent move to study meteorology on its own. When we were coming to the end of the course we found out what he was getting at. Only one student out of our year managed to get an interview at the British Met Office – and he was already working there.

However, I soon landed a job in Jamaica forecasting for the government at Kingston International Airport.

When I started in Dubai in 1976, the airport had only five check-in desks compared to the three terminal buildings today. In those days the only instrument we had was a Stevenson screen, a white box with slats that acted as a mini weather station. It contained wet and dry thermometers, a barometer, an anemometer to measure wind speeds and a couple of other instruments.

Now we work in a modern office at Terminal One of Dubai International Airport behind banks of computers monitoring fantastically sophisticated instruments, displaying satellite pictures and rainfall on radar screens and running incredibly complex computer models. These models produce forecast charts for up to 10 days in advance and are reasonably reliable forecasts for five days ahead.

In the early days, we had time to take calls from the public. I remember one man ringing in to ask when will the rain would stop because he wanted to clean his bicycle. On another occasion a woman rang saying her daughter was getting married in six weeks and asking would it rain? I said we only did five-day forecasts. Unperturbed, she asked if I could give her a forecast for April 16 to April 21, the date of her daughter’s wedding. I had to tell her it didn’t work like that.

Now, calls from the public would be a distraction from our core responsibilities, although we do have a recorded forecast, which people can access by ringing 04 216 2218. They can also register for forecasts on our website for a fee. A lot of companies, organisations and government bodies do this.

Services to aviation make up about 95 per cent of our work, with Emirates Airlines being our biggest user. We provide compulsory documentation for departing aircraft. A terminal aerodrome forecast tells the pilot what weather conditions he will meet when he prepares to land – wind speed, visibility, cloud cover below 1,600m and whether there are thunderstorms in the area.

Pilots also need to know jet stream wind speeds because a head or tail wind can dramatically affect flight times and the amount of fuel used.

There is a vast array of sophisticated sensors around the airfield to provide incoming pilots with critical real-time information. In the past year, Dubai Met Office has obtained a wind profiler, which measures wind speeds and direction at various heights.

Another instrument profiles temperatures at different heights. Heat can reduce engine performance so the pilot of a heavily laden aircraft will need to know if a surface temperature of 20°C raises to 30°C at 200m as this could affect his ability to climb. The runway is also lined with visual range equipment so the pilot can know from how far he will be able to see the runway lighting.

In terms of the sophistication of its meteorolgical equipment, Dubai International Airport is probably one of the best in the world.

So although it may be blue skies and sunshine most days, the weathermen of Dubai do perform a vitally important job that combines practical science, sophisticated technology and a passion for the ever-changing mysteries of the weather. Through it we contribute to all your safety by helping ensure efficient air traffic services at Dubai International Airport.

Clive Stevens is a forecaster at the Dubai International Airport Met Office

Learn From Malaysia's Diversity

Take Malaysia. There, Islam is very present in the public sphere, but there is a recognition that non-Muslims are also part of the public consciousness. It is hard to get around that fact with such a large non-Muslim minority. Malay Muslims are neighbours with Christians of different denominations, Buddhists, Hindus and others. They rub shoulders with Chinese, Indians and people from all over the world: it is quite possibly the most multicultural society in the Muslim world.

When you grow up looking diversity in the face

Hisham Hellyer

Anyone who has been in Abu Dhabi for long has met the proverbial “international school brat”. They’re similar to “army brats” who have had the blessing (or misfortune, depending on how you look at it) to be born in one place and raised in several others, usually thousands of miles apart.

I am one of those. I was born in Abu Dhabi back when you could drive from one side of the island to the other in about 15 minutes, but I managed to go to five different schools in three countries.

The most upheaval my father went through was probably going to a boarding school, which was still not far from his home in Sussex. That experience is no longer the norm, owing to modernity and globalisation. Many more people today are forced to look diversity in the face because of the massive movement of peoples.

But in some places, people have been looking at diversity for generations. In the Arab world, Egypt is one of the great examples. Alexandria used to be a hodgepodge of Greeks, Italians, Sephardic Jews and many others, in addition to the present-day mix of Muslims and Christians, including Copts, Catholics and Protestants. All of them were Egyptians and spoke Arabic as their common national tongue – but each group had a complicated and complex narrative.

It’s a type of multiculturalism I find interesting. As a Briton I am constantly reminded of how much tension there is in the British and wider European public sphere regarding the word “multiculturalism”. Its basic premise of respecting diversity is seldom questioned, but many of the details are. As I study the Muslim world, I find many examples of multiculturalism existing in a much more relaxed setting.

Take Malaysia. There, Islam is very present in the public sphere, but there is a recognition that non-Muslims are also part of the public consciousness. It is hard to get around that fact with such a large non-Muslim minority. Malay Muslims are neighbours with Christians of different denominations, Buddhists, Hindus and others. They rub shoulders with Chinese, Indians and people from all over the world: it is quite possibly the most multicultural society in the Muslim world.

I was in Kuala Lumpur during Ramadan last year, and the multicultural Muslim society that Malaysia is could be seen very clearly. Many Malays, being Muslim, were fasting. Many other Malaysians, being non-Muslim, were not. The cafes and restaurants were not shut down, and there was another sight that I had never seen during Ramadan in any other part of the Muslim world – iftar bazaars.

I am not talking about the massive iftar banquets that characterise many of the five-star hotels. There are whole streets in Kuala Lumpur where people set up stalls with food cooked in front of patrons – Malay food, Indian food, Chinese food – all for the breaking of the fast.

But it is not an exclusively Muslim affair. Yes, it is on the occasion of the Islamic month of fasting, which is, to be sure, an entirely Muslim affair. In other contexts, you can read in historical texts of non-Muslims who partook in the rituals of Islam (and indeed, some can still be found today), but they are not so much becoming part of the ritual, as the ritual is becoming part of them.

But the patrons at these stalls? They were both Muslims and non-Muslims of all kinds and types. The mosque was in the background of the street I visited. But everyone seemed to be very comfortable; the pious, the non-pious, the Muslim, the non-Muslim.

My short stay in Malaysia allowed me to see mosques on one street, Hindu temples on another, and churches up the road. No one really seems to be particularly bothered. Even in the heavily Muslim Malay state of Kelantan, where an Islamist party governs, Buddhist temples are cared for and respected.

Now, Malaysia is no paradise of intercultural or inter-religious relations – there are certainly tensions. But the sign of a healthy society is not the absence of tensions, it is the ability to deal with such tensions without showing disrespect towards anyone or any community.

Recently a countryman of mine, Siddique Khan, the MP for the London suburb of Tooting, issued a document called Fairness, not Favours: How to reconnect with British Muslims. In it, he notes how there are still gaps between this minority and the majority in the UK, and tries to chart a course between them. The issues about how to deal with multiculturalism are frankly key to many European countries today. Britain has been doing better than many of our cousins on the European continent, I would maintain, but perhaps we can also learn lessons from elsewhere in the world. Malaysia has my vote.

Dr H A Hellyer is director of the Visionary Consultants Group and Fellow of the University of Warwick’s Centre for Research in Ethnic Relations

Monday, March 30, 2009

Why are we in Dubai so fat?

It is one of the most enduring of UAE myths: the ‘Dubai stone’, where those who move to Dubai pile on the pounds due to an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise and an immersion into the service culture so beloved in the region.

While there are no statistics to back up these claims, the transitory nature of expatriates here making such assertions unreliable, there is concrete data about the poor health of UAE nationals.

In the most recent World Health Organisation (WHO) study, the UAE was ranked as the eighteenth most overweight nation in the world. If you take the South Pacific island nations off the list, the UAE comes in at number ten.

The statistics are startling: 68 percent of those 15 years and above being overweight or obese. In the same study it was calculated that 70.8 percent of UAE men over 30 years and 77.8 percent of UAE women over 30 years were at an unhealthy weight. In the Middle East, only Kuwait ranks higher in the global obesity rates. So just why are we so fat?

Moderation is clearly not a Dubai trait. This is a city where it takes 20 minutes to get through to a bank, but less than a minute to call, and order, a fast food delivery. In a city of haves and have-nots, bad dietary choices are the one common denominator: from the calorie-laden brunches that take place every Friday to the street-side stalls selling fatty, buttery food, Dubai is a city that loves to eat, and eat a lot.

And it seems a city whose rapid growth has been as pronounced on the city’s waistlines as it has on its skyline. According to Peta Picton, a nutrionist at the Dubai Physiotherapy Clinic, this growth is part of the problem. “Locals have gone from a healthy traditional diet to a western diet with more fats and sugar intake.” As the city has gotten bigger, so the option of walking has shrunk. “Unlike the west, where you can do things like walk your kids to school or to the corner store, it’s not possible with the heat and distances in Dubai.”

The WHO backs up Picton’s view, citing a shift in dietary trends and a decrease in physical activity as the main reasons for the UAE’s growing obesity problem. This is an issue that affects everyone — a 2005 study from the Ministry of Health revealing that 20 percent of children in the UAE are at risk of being overweight.

This is a real issue — and ads targeting children are commonplace in the UAE market. Ugar Sugar Works (USW), an Indian-based sugar manufacturer, has recently launched a boat-shaped sugar product — Filmu Shakkar — that the company claims can be used as “energising candies for children”. “It’s sugar in a different shape,” says Picton. She felt it was a major concern that it was being marketed at children. “As a mother myself, obviously, I wouldn’t encourage my kids to eat sugar as a snack.” Niraj Shirgaokar, USW’s vice-president justifies marketing it as candy. “It’s not only sugar, it’s got a good amount of glucose which is used for having [sic] energy.” Glucose is a form of monosaccharide (or simple sugar) and is used it as a source of energy but it is however, still sugar. “The parents have to decide how much of it to give, too much will be obviously bad because it’s sugar but it’s just like any chocolate or candy, it’s for the parents to decide the amounts” says Shirgaokar.

The role of parents is crucial, and not just in terms of filtering out questionable marketing campaigns. Dr Rajendra Joshi, a pediatrician with the Prime Healthcare Group says 20 percent of UAE children are obese and another 30 percent are at risk. He believes parents have a defining role to play in whether their children are obese or not. “The risks of obesity start during pregnancy and expectant mothers should not gain excessive weight. After delivery, children who are on a scheduled feeding of every two to three hours develop higher fat cells and tend to be overweight later in life.”

He attributes obesity to genetics, poor diet and lack of exercise. “Children born to obese parents are at double the risk of being obese. I’ve been in Dubai for more than ten years. Babies who were brought to me at that ten years ago because they weren’t gaining weight are now very overweight children,” he says.

A lack of awareness campaigns for healthy eating in the UAE the world is another contributing factor according to Picton, however the country is slowly beginning to create such initiatives. Dr Joshi feels most school cafeterias sell too much junk food to students.

A study will be carried out this spring in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and will be extended across the emirate and then nationwide in the autumn. A sample of 320 students — half male and half female — will keep food diaries recording everything they consume. The results will be utilised when forming the foundation of a national anti-obesity strategy. This is a hopeful beginning to curb obesity here.

For now, Dubai is still ignoring the health risks involved with weightgain and obesity. USW has already made deals in the UAE with Spinneys, Geant Hypermarket, United Hypermarket, Ansar Mall, Union Co-operative Society and Hyper Panda. By 2010-2011, the company expects their sugar production to exceed 20,000 tons per day. It’s a case of supply and demand — if the company can profit from such high production numbers, people are well on their way to eating themselves into a sugary grave.

Fittingly, for a city that lives the fast food life, the measures taken to offset weight gain are often equally quick. Dr Faruq Badiuddin, a consultant surgeon at Dubai’s Wellness Medical Centre performs weight loss surgeries. “Obesity is global now. The Middle East has taken over the west in terms of incidences of obesity,” he says. Out of the four surgeries offered, the most popular is laparoscopic gastric banding. A band is placed around the top portion of the stomach using laparoscopy to make the patient feel full after a small amount of food. The surgery is one and a half to two hours long. After a day in the hospital, “patients are usually up and about after about a week, doing whatever they normally do,” says Dr Faruq.

After surgery, patients are on a liquid diet for two weeks, slowly re-introducing solids. It takes about a month before they are back on regular food. An emerging favourite surgery is the Laparoscopic Sleeve Gastrectomy, otherwise known as Gastric Stapling.

Dr Faruq sees all types of people. The most common reasons patients seek his help are risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, arthritis, sleep apnea, psychological problems, the socio-cultural impact of being obese and discrimination in employment opportunities. Being overweight is not just a superficial issue. In 2002, 66 percent of deaths in the UAE were related to chronic diseases. Of these, 38 percent were from cardiovascular disease and three percent from diabetes. Both of these chronic ailments are linked with overweight and obesity. A study by the American Heart Association shows that 75 percent of hypertension is directly attributed to obesity. Being on the plump side can also lead to cancers such as endometrial, breast and colon. Patients “must meet the criteria for surgery [if risk of being overweight outweigh the risks of surgery] and then they must deserve the surgery,” comments Faruq.

Services such as Dr Faruq’s look set to gain popularity in the coming years if the WHO statistics turn out to be accurate. It predicts that by 2015, 78 percent of UAE men and 81 percent of women will be overweight. It’s a bleak prediction and one that is set to become reality unless the UAE takes as much interest in its waistline as it does in its skyline.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Hail storm in Dubai

Heavy storm lashes Dubai on Wednesday night

Watch the video as Dubai is lashed by heavy rain as a storm moves across the UAE on Wednesday night.

Related link: Heavy downpours hit the emirates

Dynasty to rule Malaysian Politics

The recent United Malay National Organisation's elections had resulted the emerging of political dynasties....the sons an son-in-law of former PMs and soon-to-be former PM made into the new leadership echelon.
From left: Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi at the 59th Umno General Assembly at PWTC on Saturday. - NORAFIFI EHSAN / THE STAR - 28 March, 2009

This phenomenon is not unique in the South Asia...and we are now following this 'culture'! The peace plan uniting Tun Mahathir- Tun Abdullah- Tun Razak-Tun Hussien Onn's clans will be a force to reckon with...awesome for United Malay National Organisation's CHANGE or BE CHANGED!

Guillermo Munro/Gulf News

Dynasty overshadows South Asia's politics

By Kuldip Nayar, Special to Gulf News
Published: March 28, 2009, 23:03

India's Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma has said that there is no vacancy for the post of prime minister. He means that Manmohan Singh is the Congress Party's prime minister. His purpose is to close the controversy over who will be the next Congress candidate. But Sharma is too junior in the party hierarchy to be taken seriously. Such declarations have to come from Sonia Gandhi, who heads the party or, for that matter, controls it tightly.

The love for dynasty is the bane of South Asia. Pakistan has Bilawal, the grandson of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and son of Benazir Bhutto. Shaikh Hasina, the daughter of Shaikh Mujib-ur Rehman, father of Bangladesh, has emerged as the tallest leader. Her son is not yet in the picture but who knows when he will come to the fore.

None thought of Rahul Gandhi even two years ago. The blatant manner in which Sonia has gone about inducting her son as the Congress's key general secretary does not delude anybody. She makes it clear that Rahul will inherit her mantle. The official organ of the Congress, Sandesh, says in its latest issue that Rahul Gandhi is capable enough to be the next prime minister.

Sonia has allowed party members to sing praises of Rahul, whose tenure in the Congress is so short that the number of months can be counted on fingers.

Still more unfortunate is the way in which the party has caved in to adopt Rahul. There are posters all over the country, carrying a large picture of only Rahul, with the slogan: Vote Congress.

Not long ago, the posters also had the pictures of Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi. What was a formality has been dropped. I saw such posters when I visited Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra recently.

Those who have followed Indian politics will testify that the Congress has been playing the dynastic card unashamedly for the past four decades.

Jawaharlal Nehru made his daughter, Indira Gandhi, the Congress president, when she was around 38, the same age as Rahul. Nehru wanted Indira to succeed him and, as former prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri told me, she was all the time in his mind. But Nehru could not supersede tall freedom fighters on the scene.

When it came to Indira choosing her successor, she did not think twice. She chose the younger one, Sanjay, and put him in charge of the government after imposing the Emergency (1975-77).

When he died in an air crash, she took no time in selecting Rajiv, who during Sanjay's lifetime, was considered a political novice and kept out of any discussion on politics. He too was first made the Congress general secretary.

The Congress members are so cravenly attached to the dynasty that they know their place when any of its members steps in. Rahul is the one who has been chosen to stomp the country for electioneering. It is an open secret that he has a lot to do with the selection of candidates for the Lok Sabha election.

He is pushing out the old, weathered Congressmen in the name of youth. Manmohan Singh is nowhere in the picture. How can the candidates be loyal to him when Sonia and Rahul nominate them?

Yet all this may take the party nowhere. The Congress is no way near winning 272 seats in the 545-member Lok Sabha to get a majority on its own. They party may find it hard to retain even its present strength, 153.

Things are not favourable. The Congress has shrunk in space. It has had no adjustment of seats either in Uttar Pradesh or Bihar. The two states have 120 seats in the Lok Sabha - Uttar Pradesh having 80 and Bihar 40.

After pitching its demand high, the Congress has come down to make up with Sharad Pawar's National Congress Party in Maharashtra, stormy petrel Mamata Banerjee in West Bengal and the charge-sheeted Shibu Soren in Jharkhand.

The Congress may gain in Kerala at the expense of the Communists and to some extent in West Bengal, again eating into the Communist strength. But then the Communists are the Congress's natural ally. However unhappy they are with the Congress over the nuclear deal with America, they may have no option except to support Sonia when the Bharatiya Janata Party's L.K. Advani looks like forming the government.

Running India is not a child's play. But how do you convince the Congressmen who believe that anyone from the Nehru dynasty is their only saviour?

We, in South Asia, no doubt, love democracy. But we also have an obsession for the maharajas (kings) and the nawabs. (Muslim nobles). Even when they are not there, their children get our instinctive esteem. That is the reason why the region, however poor and backward, has had no revolution.

Democratic elections too see the power passing from one set of civil society members to another. The teeming millions are too dazzled or too suppressed to think of becoming rulers.

Kuldip Nayar is a former Indian high commissioner to the UK and a former Rajya Sabha member.

The world's most powerful Arabs

Power 100 - 2009

Power, influence, success, inspiration…you name it, they have it.
Yes, it’s that time of the year again, the publication of the Arabian Business Power List – our special guide to the world’s 100 most influential Arabs.
So who is in this year’s list? Topping the tree for the fifth year in succession is HRH Prince Alwaleed, once again not just the world’s richest Arab, but in our view the world’s most influential Arab.

A hundred places below him, propping up the Power 100, is the Freej cartoonist taking the region by storm, Mohammed Harib.

Between them is a variety of names from all walks of life – media, fashion, business, sports, science, academics – even charity work. These are the people who have made the biggest impact on a global scale.

This year sees a record 52 new entries, with the highest newcomer straight in at No.3, Muntadhar Al Zaidi.

The Iraqi journalist found international stardom in December last year by hurling his shoes at President Bush.

He may be serving 3 years behind bars for the incident, but that hasn’t stopped the Al Zaidi global phenomena – from street protests around the globe in support of him, to computer games, shoe sales, songs being written about him, a movie in the making and even a marriage proposal, Zaidi has clearly been one of the most influential Arabs of the past decade.

Also making the top 5 for the first time is Hydra CEO Dr Sulaiman Al Fahim, climbing to No.4 thanks to his TV show “The Hydra Executives” and his purchase of Manchester City Football Club.

It means that with both Dr Fahim and Al Zaidi in the upper echelons of the list, two of our top five are under 35 years old – a clear sign that the younger generation is taking over when it comes to power.

Al Zaidi is one of a remarkable five new entries in this year’s top ten. Straight in at No.6 is the Palestinian theatre director Amir Nizar Zuabi, who’s play “Alive From Palestine: Stories Under Occupation” has been a sell out in the US, and earned rave reviews in London and Edinburgh.

The best-selling author Mohammed Al Aryan is one place behind him, while in eighth place is Dr Mohamed Nedal Alchaar. His work on accounting standards for Islamic finance have had a massive global impact on the business world. And in tenth place is Fayez Al Maliki, the star of the first Saudi movie to be screened in the Kingdom for 30 years.

This year’s list features 23 entries from media and arts, three from science and medicine and two from the field of charity. The highest female newcomer is at No.11, the Kuwaiti television presenter Fawzieh Al Dorai.

As always, we should stress that the list is not scientific but entirely subjective.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Beza antara Kelab UMNO Mesir Dan PMRAM di Mesir

Sewaktu berada di Mesir selama 10 hari sempena cuti panjang Hari Raya Qurban lalu, saya menetap di perumahan siswa Malaysia, iaitu asrama Pahang. Pengalaman menarik untuk bersama ramai siswa/i Malaysia yang bakal menjadi ulamak.

Sempat juga untuk membeli cenderahati di kedai Persekutuan Melayu Republik Arab Mesir (PMRAM) sebuah NGO yang berusia 80 tahun. NGO yang menjaga kebajikan siswa/i Melayu di Mesir tanpa berpihak kepada percaturan politik Malaysia, bermakna tidak dapat dikuasai oleh United Malay National Organisation, yang mendakwa menjadi parti terbesar Melayu di dunia.

Sememangnya ada banyak perbedaan ketara dan gila antara Kelab UMNO Mesir dan PMRAM. Kelab UMNO tentunya bersifat rasis, sempit ideologi dan sekadar untuk menghabiskan wang, walau mereka ini juga dibawah pengajian Islam.

Menurut Nasir Zakaria yang baru ke Mesir dalam misi ke Gaza,

Pada tahun 1956, tercatat sejarah perjuangan anak Melayu demi pertahankan Mesir; tanah tempat mereka merantau. Seramai 65 orang mahasiswa Azhar berkorban nyawa pertahan Mesir dari serangan tiga penjuru iaitu Perancis, British dan Israil. Mereka menyertai anggota Pertahanan Awam. Banyak yang tidak mampu terlibat di dalam peperangan menyumbang di dalam bentuk lain.

Ia mengundang penghargaan dan rasa terhutang budi Kerajaan Mesir lantas menganugerahkan sebidang tanah kepada PMRAM. Gerannya diserahkan dengan disaksikan oleh Tan Sri Wan Mokhtar Ahmad yang ketika itu ialah Presiden PMRAM yang dikenali sebagai Persekutuan Melayu Mesir. Kerajaan Malaysia meluluskan peruntukan membina asrama dengan pertukaran hakmilik berlaku di atas pemilikan tanah itu. Perjanjian demi perjanjian ditandatangani, akhirnya PMRAM tidak lagi ada kuasa di ARMA. Ia satu sejarah hitam. PMRAM yang berjasa hanya dalam bentuk kenangan. Kerajaan Malaysia seolah sudah berfatwa qat’i. Tiada lagi rundingan.

Saya mendengar sendiri pelbagai masalah para siswa yang tidak mendapat biasiswa atau pinjaman kerajaan dalam mengharung kehidupan di Mesir. Sedangkan duit zakat yang berjumlah jutaan ringgit setiap tahun tidak sampai kepada siswa/i yang layak dan berhak.

Salah seorang yang saya temui dan menjadi pemandu pelancung ke Alexandria, ada berkata, lebih kurang begini:
Kami telah berusaha apa sahaja untuk mendapatkan bantuan, terutama dari duit zakat kerajaan negeri. Menulis surat rayuan, termasuk kepada badan korporat. Semuanya tidak dilayan.
Apabila kami mengadu kepada badan kebajikan kerajaan di Mesir, kami dikatakan sentiasa menyalahkan kerajaan dan dianggap memihak kepada parti pembangkang.
Tiada tindakan dilakukan walau aduan dan rayuan dibuat. Malah ada ramai pegawai yang dihantar ke sini buat bisnes dengan menggunakan tenaga siswa/i. Mereka kaya raya, ramai siswa/i terutama pelajar jurusan agama papa kedana. Kalau dibuat siasatan, banyak penyelewengan berlaku.
Mungkin masin mulut staf-staf yang dibayar oleh duit rakyat ke Mesir, memang kami balik jadi pembangkang!
Sewaktu lawatan Pak Lah ke Mesir, bulan November 2007, PMRAM telah menghantar memorandum, antara kandungannya:-

1. Isu Pengajian Mahasiswa Malaysia di Universiti Al-Azhar
2. Isu Kelemahan Penguasaan Bahasa Arab
3. Mempelbagaikan Sumber Bantuan Kewangan Kepada Mahasiswa Al-Azhar
4. Memohon Kebenaran Untuk Kembali Beroperasi Di Pejabat Asal PMRAM
5. Menambah Produk Bacaan Ilmiah
6. Meningkatkan Kebajikan Golongan Saudara Baru
7. Membasmi Masalah Sosial
8. Meluaskan Jaringan Sektor Pekerjaan Di Kalangan Graduan Pengajian Islam

Dan teka apa yang diminta oleh Kelab UMNO Mesir (dari lebah.wordpress.com)?

Ini berbeza pula dengan peranan Kelab UMNO Mesir yang hanya minta “pembaikan tandas” sahaja di premis Kelab UMNO Kaherah,secara jelas telah mengabaikan kebajikan-kebajikan dan permasalahan mahasiswa mesir semasa majlis bersama Dato` Shafie Apdal yang diiringi bersama Yang Berhormat Datuk Dr Adham Baba dan rombongan semasa pertemuan dengan ahli Kelab UMNO Mesir pada 23 November 2007 lepas.

Penulis berpendapat, ahli Kelab UMNO adalah masih ditahap yang tidak matang kerana maklumat yang diterima bahawa tandas tersebut baru saja dibaikpulih tahun lepas yang telah mendapat peruntukan juga dari Datuk Shahrizat Binti Abdul Jalil .

Persoalannya bagaimana sudah rosak ? Duit lesap ke ? Siapa yang merosakkannya? Terlalu banyakkah orang menggunakan tandas tersebut ? Sehingga kini penulis masih tidak faham apakah kebajikan yang dilaungkan oleh Kelab UMNO Mesir untuk mahasiswa Mesir. Telah lama penulis mendapatkan maklumat setiap kali tetamu VIP datang bertandang ke Kelab UMNO Mesir mereka ini memohon peruntukan dari segi prasarana Kelab saja…setiap kali pertukaran sessi Pengerusi Kelab mereka akan mohon baikpulih,komputer dsb..kebajikan untuk pelajar bagaimana ? adakah tidak pandai menguruskan perkakasan2 yang tersedia ada..atau wang yang sering lesap ? kerana suara ahli yang melantik exco-exco kelab umno mesir bahkan muktamar tahunan pun tiada…bagaimana..tiada tokoh ke atau pengecut ! macam tiada matlamat je !

Friday, March 27, 2009

The stupidiest amongst The Morons of United Malay National Organisation Delegates

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi delivering his last speech
as Umno president at the Umno General Assembly at PWTC, Thursday. - 26 March, 2009

After reading through those motions by most United Malay National Organisation's delegates in the assembly, I list some of the stupidiest here:-
  • Overseas Umno clubs representative Wan Md Hazlin Hassan called on the government to ban the Egypt-based Malay students organisation PMRAM as it was dominated by the opposition. Wan Hazlin urged that PMRAM must be banned and the scholarships of students who join PMRAM must be revoked
    Read why UMNO club hates PMRAM so much HERE
  • Selangor delegate Ismail Tijo meanwhile alleged that the Malays have never been treated this bad especially by the federal opposition led by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. "They insulted the Malays as is if we have no dignity left. And then there is Anwar Ibrahim who wants to make the status of the Malays the same as others," said Ismail referring to Pakatan Rakyat campaign platform, Ketuanan Rakyat (People's Supremacy)
  • Puteri Umno representative Mazlina Lazim told delegates that the government must ensure Umno loyalists are given positions in government-linked-companies (GLCs). "If Umno doesn't help Umno members who else would do that," she said.
  • Umno Youth delegate Nor Said Nayan, Langkawi, Kedah said that Pakatan Rakyat is an illegal coalition as it is not registered. We must from now on not use the term ‘Pakatan’ and the media should stop giving them free publicity.
  • Musa Sheikh Fadzir, Bukit Mertajam, Penang : When others question our religion, our special rights, who defends the Malays? Us, Umno. But when we try to defend ourselves, our leader gets a three-year suspension (referring to Ahmad Ismail).

    People always say don’t play money politics. But this is a political organisation. If we don’t have money, how are we supposed to come to this AGM in Kuala Lumpur?

    “Those days, an application for a taxi permit would require the endorsement of an Umno branch or division chief. If the branches and divisions are strong, then Umno will be strong again.”

  • Hasnoor Sidang Hussin, Bukit Katil, Malacca said high-ranking appointments in government-linked companies and higher learning institutions should be reserved for Umno members.

    “So, just like the president said about returning Umno to its roots, let’s bring Umno back to its glory days where we controlled everything.” He cited the example of UiTM vice chancellor Datuk Seri Ibrahim Abu Shah who was a party loyalist.

    Musa’s call was also echoed by a Malacca delegate, Datuk Hasnoor Husin, who also urged the government to ensure that only Umno loyalists be appointed to senior positions in public universities.

    “Please make sure the faculty members are all Umno men, and the same goes for other civil servants,” said Hasnoor.

  • “The soft approach is not going to cut it. We should try and take the hard approach next on the opposition,” said Mohd Afendi Yusof, a Youth delegate from Kelantan.
  • “He can promise you everything, he can even promise you the front and the back,” said Zaidi in an apparent insinuation to Anwar’s sodomy case.

    “The biggest mistake we ever did was to free Anwar (from jail),” he added and was accompanied by stomps from the floor.

Social Contract and Myths

During the United Malay National Organisation's assembly, there is one phrase that always echoes the moronic state of minds those who keep talking about Malay rights and ketuanan Melayu.

Social Contract.

I know little about social contract and its history, esp on when the contract was signed and when the contract was imposed. Is there such social contract document being archived somewhere?

Our current generations are being repeatedly reminded about social contract as it is the most sacred document, like never question the Malay rights and Malay rulers. Why can't we? We can question to know about the way this social contract was determined to understand its concept or spirit blah blah.

A lot of us, question about the poor implementation of the policies or action by ruling parties' which formed the government of the day. The United Malay National Organisation politicians have hijacked these affirmative actions to enrich themselves and families, when we question about their misdeeds, the best defence they have is, do not question the social contract....like they are as sacred as the sacred cows.

This whole article below can be read at THE SOCIAL CONTRACT – correcting the misconceptions

The Social Contract is not Cast in Stone

As pointed out above, Locke argues that the social contract is a living document and its terms may be renegotiated as and when the needs arise. Rawl on the other hand posits that we, as human beings, are reasonable only to the extent that we are able to achieve an end together within a set of specific regulatory principles. Thus, by no means a social contract is an unmovable object. As society evolves, generations and consequently values and cultures change, internal and external dynamics would redefine the society’s priorities and needs. It follows that the social contract would change and vary in order to achieve newer objectives and ends.

Thus in India, we would now see the practice of suttee, where a surviving widow would be burned alongside her husband’s body, being outlawed. Slavery in the United States and other parts of the world become a practice which is frowned upon. Gay marriages are now permitted, even in Singapore. Such is the power of time and progress.

The Federal Constitution for example, had never contained provisions for the New Economic Policy or a new education policy. In the aftermath of May 13th 1969 however, the NEP was introduced out of societal necessities as well as, probably, political necessity. Thus a new social contract was born. What about the new education policy, where the English took a back seat, as opposed to the pre-Merdeka policy where a certain degree of emphasis was given to the English language? Wasn’t that a change to the social contract?

The Federal Constitution is, to my mind, the social contract between the people of Malaysia and the State or Government. But it has been amended countless time to suit the needs of the society (although one could present a really substantive argument that it was amended for political expediency on countless occasions). The Judiciary for example, in whom was imbued judicial power in the original Federal Constitution (and thus the original social contract), was later deprived of judicial powers save and except provided for by the Parliament through yet another amendment of the Federal Constitution. Wasn’t that a change to our social contract?

Hishamuddin talked about the actions of some parties who dare to belittle our Royal institution. With respect, that is almost hypocrisy. Under the original social contract, the Malay Rulers cannot be sued in any Court. No legal action may be brought against any of the Rulers. Mahathir Mohammad’s regime amended the Federal Constitution to allow the Rulers to be sued in a special Court. Many of us would have read the recent suit by a bank against one of the Malay Rulers. Wasn’t that a change to our social contract? How about the necessity for Royal assent to a bill of law before that bill could legally become law? Originally that was the position. But again, the Federal Constitution was amended to do away with such requirement. Wasn’t that yet another change to the social contract?

Hishamuddin and his ilk should realise that nobody is questioning the rights of the Malays and the status of Islam as enshrined in the Federal Constitution. What is being questioned is the implementation of the Government’s affirmative policy. There are obvious differences between the two. In any event, the social contract, as proven above, has been varied and changed on countless occasions, by none other than the BN Government itself. Of course, the BN Government would argue that those changes were necessary for the betterment of the society as a whole.

Why then, when anybody other than the BN leaders stand up to raise a question on the social contract, or when he or she would even dare to suggest a discussion on, let alone a change to the social contract, he or she would be deemed arrogant, or in Hishamuddin’s own words, “sombong, angkuh dan bongkak”?

Iraqi shoe thrower is world’s 3rd most powerful Arab

We have now most powerful politicians in United Malay National Organisation. Money had talked and walked....meanwhile, we have who's who in the list of most powerful Arabs.

Iraqi shoe thrower is world’s 3rd most powerful Arab

The Iraqi journalist who hurled a shoe at President George W Bush has been named as the world’s third most powerful Arab, in a list to be published by Arabian Business.

The annual Power 100 guide to the world’s most influential Arabs places Muntadar Al Zaidi as the highest new entry in this year’s list.

Al Zaidi is currently serving a three year jail term in Iraq following the shoe throwing incident last December.

The Power 100 list says Al Zaidi has “inspired, influenced and angered millions around the world”.

Story continues below

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Ten realty hotspots that still make investment sense

Northern Tuscany in Italy is increasingly accessible. (AFP)

Bricks and mortar still remain an attractive long-term investment, offering a sense of security that stock markets cannot provide in today's economic environment, according to Knight Frank and Citi Private Bank's 2009 Wealth Report.

Even cash deposits look out of favour, as investors question the safety of their money and banks slash interest rates. Following are the worldwide locations and sectors that should make sound investments for the future.

Emerging London locations

The weakness of sterling, combined with significant price falls, means London is very attractive to international buyers. Up-and-coming areas with additional growth potential include Fitzrovia, to the east of Marylebone. It may lack the historic and architectural integrity of areas further west but it makes up for this with a more varied selection of properties.

"Neighbouring Bloomsbury is already famous for its leafy appearance and elegant architecture, as well as the British Museum. Bedford Square is often cited as the best preserved of all London's Georgian squares. The vast regeneration programme planned for King's Cross is likely to make this area far more attractive to prime buyers. Already, the opening of the high-speed Eurostar link at St Pancras has improved the image of the area," said Liam Bailey, Head of Residential Research, Knight Frank.

US vacation and resort areas

"Over the next one to three years, I believe there will be opportunities in vacation and resort areas for real estate and investment vehicles like real estate investment trusts (Reits). As values rise, these areas generally trail primary home regions, but they are also usually the first area to give back value when prices decline," said Michael McPartland, Head of Residential Real Estate Lending, Citi Private Bank.

"The euphoria of the past few years led to a lot of over-building within the sector. The inventory exists, and much of it was created during a real estate bull cycle. This inventory will need to be reabsorbed, and the basic fundamentals remain that made these areas attractive to begin with. We are also beginning to see many experienced real estate funds acquiring properties. These funds are likely to begin to show profits over the next five years, assuming that the desire for inventory and capital constraints loosen," McPartland said.


According to Georgina Richards, Caribbean Desk, Knight Frank, the term "flight to quality" is one being used above all others at present, and it is more applicable in the Caribbean.

"We have seen increasing interest in up-and-coming islands, but over the past few months this has retracted to focus yet again on Barbados. Buyers appreciate its consistent track record, even in uncertain markets, thanks to a stable government, good infrastructure, a developed economy and accessibility. "

Virgin Atlantic is expanding its routes from Manchester to Barbados, property transfer tax has been reduced to 2.5 per cent and foreign exchange controls have been lifted. "I would invest in either a beachfront property or well-maintained themed development offering an array of facilities and security. Three-bedroom townhouses in a waterfront development in St James are available for $1.7 million (Dh6.24m)," Richards said.

Moscow and regional centres

"Moscow is the place where everyone from Russia and the CIS would like a base. There is a lack of development opportunities in the inner city centre, and many developers have been affected by the crisis. I believe that in 12-18 months' time the shortage of quality stock will be really felt. Among regional cities, Kaliningrad and Astrakhan will be interesting for residential property investment due to their strategic locations as major sea ports on the Baltic and Black seas," Elena Norton, Russian and CIS Desk, Knight Frank, said.

"I would definitely start looking for opportunities now, taking advantage of the global economic turmoil. The Moscow market will be the first to recover, with most growth towards the end of 2010. Here, $5m will buy an apartment that will hold its value and appreciate over the short and medium term. The level of regional investment will be about $1-2m," Norton said.

Prime marina developments

"Demand remains for high-quality property linked to desirable facilities, such as marina-based residential projects. Porto Montenegro, a regenerated port on the Bay of Kotor, offers attractive surroundings and 650 berths, including 130 for boats," said James Price, Head of International Residential Development, Knight Frank.

Northern Tuscany and Bordeaux

"An improvement in infrastructure means that northern Tuscany in Italy is increasingly accessible and the area to the north of Lucca, the Garfagnana Valley, is undoubtedly well worth considering as an alternative to the more traditional areas in the south. The area to the north of Lazio also has potential, as a new international airport at Viterbo is scheduled for completion next year," said Paul Humphreys, European Desk, Knight Frank.

"In France, Bordeaux is undergoing something of a renaissance, and we are expecting to see increased Chinese interest in the area's vineyards following Hong Kong's abolition of import tax on wine. In all of these areas, an expenditure of between €500,000 (Dh2.4m) and €2m will give buyers some excellent options to choose from. The growth period over which property should be purchased and held is at least five years."

Distressed property

"The US and the UK have an abundance of distressed real estate – in many cases distressed not because of the locations or tenants, but due to their capital structures. I believe there will be opportunities to buy debt on these properties at a deep discount to par in future years. There may not be growth for a number of years to come, but the high volume of distressed property will outweigh available capital, which should result in some attractive returns," said Roger Orf, Head of International Investment, Citi Property Investors.

"Asian property continues to decline in value, but the underlying economies remain strong. Real estate historically has appreciated in tandem with a country's GDP. China and India are likely to economically outperform most countries and this presents an opportunity to buy assets cheaply as well as participate in these countries' strong ongoing underlying economic fundamentals."

Luxury penthouse apartments

"Penthouse apartments in the best buildings in key city centres and resorts will retain their popularity. The wealthy are short of time and forever trying to simplify their lives, and fully managed lock-up-and-leave properties are ideal," said Patrick Dring, Head of International Residential, Knight Frank.

"If I were an investor, I'd start looking now and select at least two locations in different parts of the world and different currencies. If I were a lifestyle purchaser then clearly the location will be driven by factors other than pure investment returns. Different locations are in different stages of the property cycle right now, but Paris has displayed considerable resilience in recent years and is still benefiting from the Eurostar link to London. Monaco has seen some of the froth come off prices and London now looks good value. Buying property in these markets, which perform consistently well, will always make sense," he added.

European Reits

"The opacity of direct property values is reflected in the confusion and sharp write-downs of net asset value expectations in the quoted sector. For institutional investors, whose performance is benchmarked quarterly, property stocks are a risky selection at the moment. However, for private investors who take a long-term view, some of the shares look interesting," said Harry Stokes, Real Estate Analyst, Citi Investment Research EMEA . "Real estate is a long-term investment, and the introduction of Reits was intended to allow private investors the opportunity to access income streams of the direct market via liquid, quoted companies.


Although Brazil is a popular tourist destination, it remains in the emerging market category for second-home buyers. There are few developments of quality, though several are planned. Nonetheless, Brazil has considerable untapped potential and offers many attractive features.

"The country boasts more ecological diversity than any other, its economy has performed well in recent years and it is expecting a considerable boost following the discovery of what is believed to be the world's largest offshore oil field," Nicholas Barnes, Head of International Residential Research, Knight Frank, said.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Do you know who is in the highest position in the World?

President Barack Obama?


UN Secretary General?


Pope Benedict?


Wonder No Longer...

Babu Sassi, a fearless young man from southern India is the cult hero of Dubai 's army of construction workers.

Known as the "Indian on the top of the world", Babu is the crane operator at the world's tallest building , the 819-meter Burj Dubai. His office, the cramped crane cab perched on top of the Burj, is also his home. Apparently it takes too long to come down to the ground each day to make it worthwhile. When the building is completed, its elevators will be the world's fastest.

Stories about his daily dalliance with death are discussed in revered terms by Dubai 's workers. Some say he has been up there for more than a year, others whisper that he's paid 30,000 dirhams ($8,168) a month compared with the average wage of 800 dirhams a month. All agree he's worth it.

Babu Sassi, a fearless young man from southern India is the cult hero of Dubai 's army of construction workers.

Known as the "Indian on the top of the world", Babu is the crane operator at the world's tallest building , the 819-meter Burj Dubai. His office, the cramped crane cab perched on top of the Burj, is also his home. Apparently it takes too long to come down to the ground each day to make it worthwhile. When the building is completed, its elevators will be the world's fastest.

Stories about his daily dalliance with death are discussed in revered terms by Dubai 's workers. Some say he has been up there for more than a year, others whisper that he's paid 30,000 dirhams ($8,168) a month compared with the average wage of 800 dirhams a month. All agree he's worth it.

Perhimpunan Derhaka

Perhimpunan dari kandang lembu

Sedawa dan kentut bercampur-baur

Bau tahi korupsi memenuhi ruang

Perut-perut besar buncit kekenyangan

Mulut-mulut buaya Pemuda meleleh

Para nenek dan puteri berdangdut

Bersatu menyanyikan lagu buffalo soldier

Woy yoy yoy, woy yoy-yoy yoy,
Woy yoy yoy yoy, yoy yoy-yoy yoy!

Perhimpunan angguk-angguk

Datang mendengar dan tersengguk

Wakil-wakil terhibur mengisi poket

Ketawa, mengemis, melolong-lolong

Menjaja dan melelong ketuanan bangsa

50 tahun menjadi tuan dan hamba

Berkhidmat sebagai buffalo soldier

Woy yoy yoy, woy yoy-yoy yoy,
Woy yoy yoy yoy, yoy yoy-yoy yoy!

Perhimpunan derhaka sekadar pesta

Berganti kepimpinan suaka puaka

Gamat semangat mengangkat keris

Bersama tradisi tikam-menikam

Semeriah demokrasi politik wang

Berubah slogan pun tetap rebah

Dulu, kini dan selamanya

Bersetia meneruskan buffalo soldier

Woy yoy yoy, woy yoy-yoy yoy,
Woy yoy yoy yoy, yoy yoy-yoy yoy!

Dubai, UAE
25 Mac 2009

Najib Tun Razak bersama pemimpin ketiga-tiga sayap parti (dari hadapan, kiri) Ketua Pergerakan Pemuda, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein, Ketua Pergerakan Wanita Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz dan Ketua Pergerakan Puteri Datuk Noraini Ahmad (duduk) melaungkan 'Hidup Melayu' pada majlis perasmian persidangan serentak perwakilan Wanita, Pemuda dan Puteri di Dewan Merdeka, Pusat Dagangan Dunia Putra malam tadi. Turut hadir Setiausaha Agung umno, Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor. – utusan

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Global hunt for talent will intensify in the long term

The current turmoil has some positive effects on the talented, skillful, resourceful and smart employees. It is better to have one staff with multi-skilled and experience than several staff who may clueless on other things beside their own fields....depending on the company's targets and bottom-line, it is worth to retain the talents and ride the downturn with more confidence to survive.

Global hunt for talent will intensify in the long term, say experts

The war for talent may have taken a back seat in recent months due to the ongoing economic crisis but will creep up again once things get back to normal levels and we witness growth. The battle for talent will stay with us and it will be not just among companies but also among countries and region as we progress ahead, say experts.

According to Philip Anderson, Insead Professor of Entrepreneurship: "The global war for the very best talent will intensify over time, even though in the short-run during this economic crisis it is more of a buyer's market for talent."

Agrees Siobhan O'Reilly, Recruitment Manager of BAC Middle East. "In the past few years the regional recruitment market was very much characterised in terms of a 'war for talent' as growing companies competed for skilled personnel. In a rapidly growing regional economy, good candidates were normally in a strong negotiating position and would often be able to 'pick and choose'. That dynamic has of course shifted dramatically in the past six months: employers are now in the driving seat and will remain so in the near term."

"In the long-term, most industries will continue to shift towards business models where companies offer solutions to their customers, not just products. Even in a basic industry such as aluminium production, customers expect their suppliers to provide them with a host of value-added services, not just metal at the cheapest price. Talent is essential when it comes to providing such services. The very best people are much more creative and effective in finding and delivering solutions for customers," Anderson told Emirates Business while explaining the reasons behind the fight for human talent.

According to Tomas McGarvey, Corporate Commercial Recruitment Specialist, Pathway Legal Middle East, it is [the fight for human talent] not a battle. "There is a plethora of enviable talent available, the trick is to have the mechanisms, resource and know-how to be able to identify and source this talent. Ultimately specialist agencies with a focus on vertical markets will always have a competitive advantage and will be best placed to find talent," he says.

As far as the UAE and the GCC is concerned, experts believe that talent will continue to flow here. "On the supply side, the UAE has made great investments in education and management development, which will help Emiratis become more competitive in the future. Many Emiratis benefit from going abroad for education or work experience before returning to the UAE. This makes them cosmopolitan people, able to work with partners from many different cultures, which is a huge advantage, although significantly more men than women benefit from this opportunity at the present time," says Anderson.

"On the demand side, the UAE remains an attractive place for foreign talent and will become even more attractive as cultural institutions such as the Guggenheim and Louvre continue to develop. Educated and energetic Emiratis should have no problem finding exciting local jobs, because a commitment to Emiratisation in both public and private sectors means the demand for them will exceed the supply for years to come. At Insead, we often work with Emiratis who have significant positions of responsibility at least 10 years before people their age would have high-level jobs in the West or Asia," he says.

O'Reilly believes that there is long-term optimism in regard to the region's ability to attract talent. "The region is continuing to invest in infrastructure and the tax-free environment is obviously attractive to many people, especially if the cost of living continues to moderate," he says.

"However, it is difficult to make precise predictions on the severity of the 'war for talent' as regional and international macroeconomic trends will be a key factor. If the GCC experiences an economic recovery before other parts of the world, it will obviously be in a stronger position to attract talent to the region."

"[Another] key question is how many professionals will leave the region if they are unable to secure employment. This will have an impact when recovery sets in and growth begins to accelerate again, as if a significant number of people leave, the market balance could shift very suddenly to one of candidate shortage," adds O'Reilly.

Anderson believes there will be no shortage of skilled labour. "The problem is more that good people will always have many alternatives and will go elsewhere if they are not happy. The two most important things a company can do to become the employer of choice are to ensure that each person has at least one supervisor who truly listens and cares, and to provide growth and development opportunities," he says.

According to him, a lot of responsibility lies on the shoulders of people who are in senior positions. "People usually quit bosses, not companies. The leadership and interpersonal abilities of front line supervisors is the single most important factor, and top-level executives must ensure that anyone who is responsible for leading people is a good listener who takes a personal interest in the employees under his or her care."

"Skilled labour looks for competitive pay, but as long as a company's compensation is in line with the rest of its sector, employees stay when they feel themselves growing and developing. Companies that build the capabilities of their people and then give them challenging work that exploits those new capabilities will attract and retain the best,' he says.

Companies also need to provide a long-term incentive plan for employees to stay, regular reviews and performance appraisals and provide targeted incentives for existing staff to leverage off each other and transfer and train each other with their respective core competencies and skills, adds McGarvey. "Also, it is better to hire one high-end individual than two or three average people; it is more cost effective, easier to manage, and there is a direct chain of accountability, something that is arguably lacking in many organisations," he adds.

Besides good compensation and work satisfaction, training and development should also be an important part of a company's strategy to overcome the shortage of skilled labour in the future, opines O'Reilly.

"Training and development will obviously be essential. This will need to be allied with a clear compensation and benefits strategy and constant efforts to create a positive working environment."

Moreover, a company should strengthen its talent acquisition strategy and integrate talent acquisition management into the company's overall growth plan to tackle this problem. "It's as important as air is to breathing. The more a company's growth depends on providing value-added services both to existing customers and new ones, the more people matter.

"The biggest constraint on growth when a company is scaling up is an inability to find enough good people. Companies that wait until they achieve fast growth to weave a talent acquisition strategy into their planning process will find it's too late; you have to plan ahead to ensure that people don't become the factor that constrains your ability to grow profitably," says Anderson.

Agrees O'Reilly: "At the moment talent acquisition has dropped down the list of priorities for most organisations and this is likely to remain the case until economic recovery sets in. However, it is increasingly recognised that effective talent management and talent acquisition are essential requirements for long-term success."

"It is crucial. For any growth to be successful it is imperative that those involved continue to be high-quality individuals. This needs to be equally considered when planning for growth. An ever-increasing percentage of our clients view us as their in-house recruitment team," adds McGarvey.

"We are on site with them at least once a week, have an understanding of the history, ethos and future direction of the company, clarity and transparency on budgets, constraints and operational risks. We can then provide reactive and pro-active recruitment and retention solutions; share market intelligence to deal with operational risk before it becomes an issue. This partnership approach has proven value-added for all parties involved," he explains while sharing his company's experiences with its clients.

Besides, companies will require new ways of thinking about employment and much more flexible arrangements to attract the best talent. "There is no doubt that moving forward we need to consider new ways of thinking, everything evolves. I think a more results-focused approach is needed. This allows tangible successes and makes it easier to address problem areas. From a recruitment perspective, agencies need to be able to represent companies in best light – as if they were an extension of the client's arm. Therefore, the more we know about the company, management, reporting lines, work culture, office environment, and context and timeframes behind vacancies coming about – the more we can be effective. Our clients have fed back to us very positive feedback on our retained solutions, which guarantees a positive outcome and mutual commitment for a small initial outlay," says McGarvey.

This may not be the norm at the moment when we are witnessing an employer's market but is expected to change as normalcy returns to the market, say experts.

"At the moment the labour market situation means that companies do not really feel the need to be particularly flexible. In the future this issue will really be determined by the supply and demand equation in the labour market: is the balance of power with candidates or companies?" adds O'Reilly.

Anderson also sees more flexible arrangements in the future but for different reasons. "Many Emirati men are quite concerned at the impact that high-powered jobs have on their families. The family remains centrally important in Arab culture, so Emiratis are quite likely to favour employees who give them challenging careers that have enough flexibility to ensure that good employees are also good spouses, parents and children to their own aging parents."

"However, talented women prefer firms that allow them to balance family obligations with work. Women face great pressure to be good mothers, and they feel a strong duty to remain the emotional core of their families. Companies that help them preserve their identity and family values will be much more competitive in attracting skilled people,' he adds.

Shuchita Kapur