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Support expectations

If one buys a car and it is clearly understood that it will be serviced at a cost, why should anyone expect that the garage is indebted to you unconditionally for the remainder of the life of the product free of charge? Even if that help is “just asking a question about a technical part of the engine?”

Complaint dept - customer support

Stupid situation isn’t it? People just simply fully understand and expect and are happy enough to pay to get their car fixed. Some garages might even charge a flat daily rate for the car just being on their premises and customers don’t complain too much about this and pay for the service, even if grudgingly. It is simply understood.

So how come some people expect that a company would provide them unlimited free support for buying a gadget for BD100 or 300 or even 5,000? Why do they assume that buying that product also gives them the right to assume that they have actually bought the whole organisation which should be at their beck and call? Why do they get so aggrieved when they are presented with an invoice for services rendered and not only abjectly refuse to pay it, but immediately cut their relationship with your company “because you hurt their feelings and tried to take advantage of them“!

Excuse me?

Listen, when you buy a product there is a specific warranty period, normally limited in that it is the buyer’s responsibility to return the product to the factory to be repaired and returned to them at their expense on completion of fault investigation and repair. If one needs more then that service then an agreement is entered into between the vendor and the customer where terms are agreed as well as charges for the duration of that agreement. There is nothing for free, and services cost money sometimes in excess of the physical value of the product itself.

As much as we strive to help our customers we need to recoup the costs involved in support services at least and also make a profit which may be reapplied within the business to allow it to grow so that these services are upgraded and continue to be rendered in the future. If you do receive that service free of charge occasionally, at least have the humility to say thank you.

Businesses are not charities, support costs money and if you buy a product you do not buy the person or the organisation that sold you that product too.

Deal with it!

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Fishing, in numbers

Bahrain and the sea

People can’t really measure the impact of the fishing industry’s destruction in this country because they don’t particularly know the numbers, nor – most probably – do they have a direct contact with those affected to actually know the levels involved.

Enter a report released today by the Oxford Business Group to put things in perspective:

Bahrain is still a net exporter of seafood, with the overseas trade worth an estimated $1.35m in 2005, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s International Trade Centre (ITC). However, this was well down on the $13m export total for the year before, a direct result of the collapse of shrimp stocks in the waters around the kingdom. Shrimp and shellfish exports fell from $11m in 2004 to just $95,000 in just 12 months, ITC figures showed.

One of the main threats to Bahrain’s shrinking fish stocks is the fall out from expansion, both of the economy and of the country itself. Dredging to deepen shipping access routes around Bahrain’s islands and reclamation projects to extend the amount of waterfront land available for development have affected some of the ecosystem.

Does it make sense now? Do you see how 4,000 fishermen’s families are suffering because of this desperate situation?

Help is at hand, though, but only because of the local press, Al-Wasat Newspaper specifically, highlighting these issues. Since they first published the picture of those hundreds of dead fish washed up on the shores of Tubli bay and subsequently followed up on that issue, did the government actually wake up and try to do something about this devastating situation.

Now, as the OBG report states, the government is considering compensating those fishermen whose livelihood has been affected by the environmental impact of dredging, development and waste treatment by the end of this year. They are – thankfully – also considering creating new artificial reefs to encourage fish to breed and hopefully compensate those that have been driven from what was a very rich environment in Tubli bay.

Let us also hope that with the concerted combined efforts of the press and the environmentalists to highlight the degradation of the environment and present their findings in an appropriate way so that people understand the impending danger in a tangible way and for us to then adopt these issues at a grass roots level which will definitely force the government and law makers to put in place legislation and plans to rescue our rather limited environment.

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Kudos GPIC too!

The GoodNews™ continues!

GPIC arranged during the first half of this year attendance by its employees of several training courses in Bahrain and abroad, in addition to organising many courses at its Training Centre and GPIC Club, at a total cost of around $1m.

GPIC - receiving awards

In recognition of GPIC’s achievements for providing decent living conditions for its employees and efforts to improve their living conditions, the company recently received the Dubai International Awards for Best Practices in Improvement of Living Conditions 2006.

The award is supervised by the Dubai Municipality and the UN Human Settlements Programme.

Sixteen employees were promoted in various departments and seven new employees joined the company following the completion of their training programmes, raising the level of Bahrainisation to 82pc.

In addition, there are 57 trainees who are involved in intensive training programmes which will raise the Bahrainisation level to 92pc when the trainees take over their new jobs in the near future, said Mr Jawahery.

GPIC also recently received the international occupational safety and health award from the Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents UK for the second time and after winning the Oil and Gas Sector Award from the same Society for three successive years.

In addition, GPIC received the GCC Award for the Best Environmental Achievements in 2005 and 2006.
GDN – 18 July, ’07

GPIC has always been known for its support of the environment and probably is the company which wilfully and comprehensively subscribes to a sustained CSR principle. Well done!

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Kudos Batelco

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Batelco donate donates millions of dinars each year to a variety of community causes.

Since the beginning of the year, it has contributed over BD3m to various projects which include BD100,000 to Al Rahma Centre, BD450,000 to Al Noor Charity Association, BD800,000 to support Batelco Care Centre for Family Violence Cases and BD700,000 to complete its commitment, totaling BD1.5m, to the King Hamad Schools of the Future project.

“Batelco is more than pleased to continue offering support to the community we live in and work in; it is our way of saying thank you for their loyalty to us over the years,” said Shaikh Hamad
GDN – 18 July, ’07

Well done Batelco. That is 3/52.3 = 5.7% of your half-year profit or 3/136.4 = 2.2% of your gross revenue. Appreciable figures regardless of which metric and most definitely amplified by the projects it has financed and it is those people who will immediately see the contribution’s benefits.

I hope more companies follow this lead.

I hope too that these revenues prove that the lower the price of a good service, the more people will flock to you to buy that service, so it’s time once again for your to reduce the ADSL tariffs, increase speeds and scrap that bandwidth limitation. You can do it!

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Mine is bigger!

The race for the tallest building has never abated, I don’t think, since man started building abodes, but now it is just getting silly:

But Burj Dubai may not hold the record for long. Another Dubai skyscraper, Al Burj, is slated to begin this year with a rumoured height of 1.2 kilometres. More tentatively, two other kilometre-tall towers are planned in the region: the 1001-metre Mubarak al-Kabeer in Kuwait and a 1022-metre tower in Manama, Bahrain.

World tallest buildings
click for larger

We don’t even have the infrastructure to handle the cars on the roads – and by “we” I include all the Arab countries – and we are lacking in just about every other necessary infrastructural and health and safety not to mention human rights and political representation – oh for God’s sake, let’s forget all of those intangibles for a minute, do we just have the fire-fighting and emergency capabilities to deal with such heights? Or should we presume that the fire and emergency services are going to wait downstairs until the mitigating circumstance just disappears before intervention?

God help those who are in the taller buildings in Bahrain. And doubly so for those in the tallest ones.

Somehow I think the priorities are bit screwed up in our countries.

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Young Bahraini Entrepreneurs

Guys, can you suggest some names of young Bahraini entrepreneurs that I might interview? I would appreciate it if you would provide me their contact details if you don’t mind too, if you don’t, then a name and why you would nominate a person should be enough for me to start my research.

The targets whom I require should be between 18 – 40 and own their own successful businesses, both young men and women are required.

This is partly for my work within the Young Businessmen Committee at the Chamber and partly personal as I would interview and publish their interviews here or on Bahraini.TV and possibly syndicate them elsewhere too.

Much appreciate your help, thanks.

Update [email protected]: I just added a forum at Mahmood Talk billed as Entrepreneurial Pursuits — The business of finding solutions to problems, and profiting from it at the same time! Share your war stories and business ideas here.

Please visit and contribute if you would.

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Tiësto who?

Shady outfits can damage a country’s reputation faster and more thoroughly than almost anything else, especially if it a promised top-rating event, tickets sold and people arrive from all over the Gulf specifically for that event end up being shafted.

DJ Tiesto

Tickets were sold by someone called Ayman Al-Hamad who supposedly owns an outfit called B&D Entertainment and roped a lot of people in selling tickets to be part of DJ Tiësto‘s show in Bahrain. I don’t know and have never heard of this DJ before, but I am reliably informed that he is currently ranked #1 in the world. Tickets were priced up to BD100 and drinks – even water – was sold for up to BD12 per bottle (for something that normally is sold for BD0.100, you can count the criminal uplift – actually usury – yourself), but the world-famous DJ never showed up, much to the chagrin of his fans.

The DJ turned out to be smart too, as he refused to make an appearance unless he is fully paid before doing so. He smelt the shit, I think, and demanded his pay before hand. The money was not forthcoming; hence, he refused to budget from his position.

The so called “businessman” was caught running away in the early hours of the morning by the Causeway police with a reported BD25,000 in his possession. Rumour has it that he actually stashed hundreds of thousands of Dinars from the proceeds of ticket sales for this event.

Abadi, the Lebanese blogger in Bahrain has the full story here and apart from the full anger felt by the poor guy, it demonstrates the damage this Ayman guy has done to this country and the DJ’s fans. I hope that now this prick will be stripped completely off his holdings, refund the money (including costs) in full to the hapless victims and he never again be allowed to go into business in Bahrain. Jail is far too good a place for him and his like. This is a total breach of contract and confidence.

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Interdependencies

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I found this really sad:

An Indian man, who had life-saving brain surgery at the Salmaniya Medical Complex (SMC), has gone missing, it was revealed yesterday.

The guy most probably needs further medical attention but because his stay in Bahrain has become illegal and he obviously continues to want to live and work here (maybe doesn’t have a choice but to do so) and as he knew that the hospital administration is required to hand over illegal aliens to the authorities, he chose to escape, even in his condition.

This is just sad and demonstrates the desperation that migrant workers get to in this country. Look at the current vehemently opposed law which requires outdoors workers to down tools for several hours at mid-day, although the construction barons oppose this law because they are looking after their bottom lines, it appears that some of the workers themselves are against this law because they will lose on the opportunity to earn some overtime pay.

These labourers generally cost contractors around BD1 (US$2.65) per day – this includes their pay, accommodation, sustenance, clothing and even end of service annuities and travel back to their countries. A large contractor I know – who employes some 6,000 of these labourers (the figure above was from him) – suggested that the forced siesta in July and August translates into additional costs which would lead to “huge losses for the country”. I think that statement is a gross over-exageration, but I agree with his suggestion that the forced break should have been based on the apparent temperatures rather than specific months in the year; otherwise, he argues, that all outdoors workers should have been included in the ban, including the police, drivers, etc.

That is just one example of the migrant workers’ suffering. The government has stepped in to protect them and naturally it found some resistance. I am not sure whether the government also considered the lost earning opportunities to the very people they are trying to protect, though.

On the positive side, this situation actually sets a long needed precedent, inadvertently – I grant you, but a good precedent – in that if laws were left to the business owners, they generally will take care of themselves first and foremost and some will do whatever is required to ensure a fatter bottom line at the expense of his or her employees. Therefore, standards must be set by governments which should encourage businesses to rise to a new level, then move the bar still higher and get them to catch up once again. This, if managed correctly, can improve our country’s competitive and efficiency standards which will be good for everyone.

What pushes government to put up these standards is either the community or a requirement to abide by international treaties and external pressures. Evidence of this is present aplenty, especially in the last few years. Look at the public outcry in the various environmental and political issues it have faced, in each one of those situations the government has had to respond by generally bending to the pressure and making good moves to respond to the demands.

The government now should continue to raise the bar and encourage businesses and the community to rise to the challenge. How it does that must be through complete transparency and accountability and the insurance that it will only select contractors based on non-traditional metrics like employee care, environmental and social responsibility. This will of course mean that the government itself will cease to base its contract award decisions on the lowest bidder principle and will accept that the cost of its contracts will necessarily be increased. That increase will only be justified (and encouraged!) if the company invests some of its profits back into its employees benefit programs as well as within the community.

The knock on effect of these programs are manifold; one of their benefits is situations like Mr. Arumugam’s would start to disappear.

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Bahrain 2030, according to SOM

Khalid Muharraqi continues to create breathtaking images in digital media; one of his recent forays is the creation of a series of conceptual images for Skidmore, Owing and Merril of what Bahrain could look like in 2030, just 23 years from now.

Bahrain 2030 Master Plan by SOM

Click on both links provided above to view the raw images in the first, and the finished in the second.

I just hope that they will fix the transport infrastructure (oh, and electricity and water and sewage and emergency services, etc) by then so that we can truly enjoy the future.

And if you have any money lying around that you don’t immediately need, buy property. Land will be more valuable than gold pretty soon.

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The GCC Currency Yoyo

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I’m confused. Are we (as the GCC) going to have a single currency come 2010 or won’t we?

Our PM is adamant that we will:

ولكن،هناك لغط داخل منظومة مجلس التعاون حيال الوحدة النقدية.. ما هو موقف مملكة البحرين من العملة الخليجية الموحدة؟

** على الجميع أن يدرك أن دول مجلس التعاون الخليجي، كيان واحد والتكامل هو خيارنا الاستراتيجي أمام هذه المتغيرات التي تعصف بالعالم، وللتعامل مع المستقبل الذي تؤكد إرهاصاته دائماً، ضرورة إيجاد كيانات مشتركة موحدة قوية تستطيع أن تواكب الكيانات المماثلة.
وقد اتفقت دول المجلس على عدد من المعايير المالية الضرورية باتجاه اعتماد العملة الموحدة في ,2010 ونعتقد أن إعلان بعض الدول الخليجية عدم الانضمام إلى تلك الوحدة في الموعد المقرر أو ضرورة مراجعة الخطط المتعلقة بها، لن يعطل قيام وحدة نقدية خليجية بشكل أو آخر كما هو مقرر وصولاً إلى المستوى المأمول.
أما عن موقف مملكة البحرين، فلدينا التزام كامل بقرارات مجلس التعاون، والبحرين سبّاقة دائماً في تفعيل الإجراءات الرامية إلى تحقيق التكامل الخليجي في مختلف المجالات
الوقت

While the head of the Central Bank in the Emirates says otherwise:

Gulf states will defer the introduction of a single currency until after a common market is created in 2010, U.A.E. central bank governor Sultan Bin Nasser al-Suwaidi said.

“Our monetary union consists of three stages, but they don’t have to be implemented at the same time,” al-Suwaidi told reporters today in Basel, Switzerland, where he’s attending a meeting of central bankers from around the world. Stages one and two “will be completed by 2010. Stage three, which is the unified currency, we will defer it until we have the common market working to our satisfaction.”
Bloomberg

So which is it?

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