Tag Archives Miscellany

Why family businesses fail

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For an enterprise to survive, they need to get the best there is and trust them, even if they are from outside their gene-poolGoogle this and you will find that the common denominator is that no matter how big a family gets, if they just depend on their own gene-pool, they are bound to fail. In the larger scheme of things, families – even good ones – can and do produce morons.

They fail, because they disregard everyone’s advice and put those morons in places of authority – just because they are family members.

The second reason you will find in your search, is that because they stuff their kith and kin in their boards so much that they dilute their board’s effectively, resulting in weak infrastructure that directly affects decision making.

Those who survive, on the other hand, are inevitably led by those who have the required cojones to stand up to familial and peer pressures and follow their longer term vision resolutely, without succumbing to mediocre decisions made for momentary or egotistical gains.

You will find that those people have no fear in sharing their authority and trusting even “outsiders” to run their show based on ability, rather than proximity of blood-lines.


Loving Failure

“Loss of face” is the single most damaging facet of Arab existence. Because of it, wars have been waged, egos tormented and even dishonour exhumed from the most unlikely crevasses of our psyche.

We cannot be seen to fail.


Yet, how are we to progress if we refuse to recognise that in order to succeed we must embrace failure?

Is this why, then, we are at the dire straits we find ourselves in? No original output for centuries. The only contribution we have is the creation of a cult of death and an invitation to regress 1500 years to a bygone era we romantically hold as golden? Refusing to understand that its patina has long lost its luster, not because of the ideals propagated then, but by the insular interpretation currently applied. Un-challenged by our intelligentsia and the masses alike for fear of reprisals by the self-styled righteous few?

It is high time that we disassociate ourselves from old ideals. From this church of stagnation. And push forth with new ideas and embrace failure. Without which no success could ever come forth.

Currently, the prerequisites are all in place: internal economic growth, a rapidly changing political climate and the inherent acceptance of competitive politics all contribute to this opportunity.

Are we good enough to grab hold of the monster’s tail and tame it to our whims? Or shall we continue in the quagmire of tensions that distance us from concentrating on the real issues which we must resolve or just simply accept to go forth?

All of this resolutely contributes to our regression in this modern age. To progress, we need to embrace change and never fear revolutionary interpretations or our situations.

We need to rise above the status quo.

The rest of the world are not our enemies.

They are just frustrated at our obstinacy.


Bahrain fourth richest in the Arab world

According to The Peninsula newspaper quoting the Qatar National Bank, the current rich-ranking in the Arab world goes like this:

The country’s per capita income is projected to hit a whopping $63,262 (QR230,000) this year as per estimates issued by Qatar National Bank (QNB), which in turn was quoting figures given by the General Secretariat for Development Planning (GSDP).

The $63,262 figure is all the more eye-catching considering per capita income was around $40,000 as recently as 2004.

The UAE trailed Qatar by some distance with an estimated $42,427 in per capita income. Kuwait was the third-richest followed by Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Oman. Outside the GGC region, the pace-setters were Libya, Algeria, Lebanon and Jordan.

Qatar’s GDP is set to grow by another 16% this year according to the report.

At a glance then, we surpass both Saudi and Oman! Right on. Seeing the various huge projects on the island certainly gives credence to these numbers; the story though is much more complex, I should imagine. For instance, the vast majority of projects announced and in progress in Bahrain promise revenues not to be seen by the normal Bahraini on the street. In fact, judging by the new census statistics by the august CIO which puts the number of souls on these islands to more than a million [translation], the first time in history, and which state that half of the population are actually foreign workers, then it doesn’t take an Einstein to determine that a huge chunk of that money being created gets sent abroad, while the even larger chunks of profits are pocketed by very very few people at the top of the pyramid.

True, it should be easy to make money in this burgeoning environment. The fact remains; however, that we are not equal regardless of the level of tenacity and creativity we possess. Even if we are fortunate enough to make some money, judging by the astronomic property prices and the ever rising cost of living, it is only a select few who will be able to afford even a moderately sized comfortable accommodation; thus, by definition, shrinking the middle class even further.

So being the fourth richest of 22 countries and very highly ranked in the world as well, is not an indication of contentment. In fact, the widening gap between the rich and the poor coupled with the shrinking middle class will continue to sustain the feelings of resentment between these layers as we have already been experiencing over the last few years.

I think that the only way to redress the balance is for the government itself to take a real initiative in which it promotes inclusiveness and fairness in the distribution of wealth. Without societal justice as a basis, conflicts and demonstrations will unfortunately become the norm.


Scorned by a friend, championed by the enemy?

There must have been quite a run on dental surgeries over the last couple of days which continues today and possibly for a few days to come. The reason is not a sudden national oral hygiene awareness, but a condition borne of gnashed teeth to the point of shattering!

King Hamad meets Ahmedinejad

Why I hear you ask? Well, Ahmedinejad was Bahrain’s Santa yesterday. Yes, I know, his timing has always been off a bit, it’s still a few weeks until the presents are opened, but he came bearing very welcome gifts nonetheless, ones that the whole nation – especially the government and business community – has afforded them a huge sigh of relief. Bahrain, no thanks to our familial-tied Qatar, will now have guaranteed access to up to 2 billion cubic feet of gas a day to run its power stations which subsequently will directly shore the burgeoning plethora of energy-hungry projects; hence, one could say that Iran – much to the chagrin of even some parliamentarians and rabid anti-Iran personages – will have a direct hand in Bahrain’s future growth.

There must have been quite a run on dental surgeries

But, will that now translate into a recognition that Iran will have much more political influence over decisions made in this country? I would say very probably. After all, one doesn’t bite the hand that feeds. One hopes; however, that influence is somewhat tempered with a modicum of good sense and neighbourliness.

Much like the Iranian nuclear ambitions, I don’t particularly know where the fallouts of this agreement will take us. I am willing to give it a chance and a good measure of the benefit of doubt as I would assume that the architects of such vital agreement are a bunch of cool and calculating business heads rather than ones who are given to believe their own rhetoric. But then it could also be purely political in which the price paid could well be the US Navy is sent packing! But let’s just assume that it’s all business first and all other considerations second.

will that now translate into a recognition that Iran will have much more political influence over decisions made in this country?

You’re more than welcome Father Ahmedinejad and thanks for the prezzies. They are much appreciated. You should have stayed and chilled with us a bit. Maybe now that business is once again firmly established between our so far estranged countries, this minnow will dampen a bit of your fire to the better of all concerned.

It is indeed business which is the catalyst of rapprochement, rather than the naturally divisive worlds of religions and politics.


Inspiration: Pangea Day

Thanks once again to our Bahraini expatriate (who has been hobnobbing with the stars and be speaking on the same platform as politicians like Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama, moderating sessions at an influential blogging conference, asked to take the place of an important and inspirational personality as Shirin Ebadi and be a panellist alongside Nicholas Kristof in a completely new and long awaited guise of optimism, a no longer Silly Bahraini Girl has uncovered a rather inspirational and inspiring movement to effect world peace and strengthen global tolerance, understanding and compassion between peoples through the mediums of film and the internet:

That movement, is Pangea Day.

Thanks Amira.

Get involved.



high resolution video here on Stage6

Thoughts on belonging and patriotism and their relationship with a person’s locale.

Though I recognise that there are other aspects to consider – which you are more than welcome to discuss here – and are just as valid, my thinking is that a person cannot get that feeling of “belonging” unless he has an appreciation for his environs and its history.

This was supposed to have been uploaded yesterday, as is traditional with my Friday Video, but unfortunately Batelco prevented me of doing so due to their unreasonable “broadband” limitations.


Branding Bahrain

This is a very exciting day for me today. I’m sitting with the cream of society (Qassim Haddad is to my left, along with Steve Harrison of the British Embassy and Martin Whitaker from the BIC and Dina Kasrawi of the EDB to my right at the same table, that should give you an idea of how good this is) in a workshop at the luscious Banyan Tree Desert Resort in a workshop about branding Bahrain and its future… Our Bahrain is the emphasis of the brand in portraying the need for the whole country to have a shared vision, and selling it to the outside world is very much a collective effort.

Needless to say, I shall update you with more details later..

Any ideas?

Branding Bahrain keynote speech


Preparing for Ramadhan

It’s only a few more days before the holy month of Ramadhan is once again upon us. I wish you all a fulfilling and spiritual time for the advent of this month.

Ramadhan cycle

Generally though, as far as my observation of the traditions we have in Bahrain are concerned, it will once again become the month of gluttony, wasted enterprise, lethargy and living like bats: sleeping all day and essentially partying all night. Generally.

Some, however, take this opportunity by the horns and use it to cleanse themselves physically and spiritually. Others get caught up in hording foodstuffs and traders use the opportunity to once again cash in.

The government, on the other hand, recurrently finds itself surprised that it can’t provide enough meat to a hording public, giving the impression that mis-planning is quite endemic and that having an exclusive importer of meat is not really a good idea but simply trudges on year upon year with no change in the offing to offer a solution to this problem.

A friend remarked the other day that he finds Bahrainis quite strange; he said that “The Bahraini trait must be PANIC!” I asked why? He said: “Well, they always get caught out and get surprised that schools are about to start so they panic buy at the last minute all the supplies their children need forgetting that they had the whole summer to do so; they get surprised that Ramadhan is so close and they go out and sweep all foodstuffs from markets regardless of their actual need and never plan for it, doing so once again at the last minute resulting in unnecessary acute supply shortages; and lastly, the Ministry of Electricity always gets surprised that summer has actually started and people’s demand for electricity has increased!”

I must say that I tend to agree with his assessments.

Why people can’t just treat Ramadhan as just another month physically but invest it in spiritually is beyond me. It has become nothing more than a trade event commercialised to fleece people who happily throw their limited amount of cash away and then grumble that they don’t have enough while their uneaten and thrown out food could quite easily feed every hungry person in the world.

Ramadhan Kareem everyone!


Missed opportunities

Tell me something guys, if you were in a down-and-out situation and someone offered you a lifeline would you take it?

Of course you would, as most sane human beings. But if the situation is complicated with a sense of self-importance, of too much ego or with any of the plethora of psychological aberrations then even if you do take that lifeline, most would soon go into a usual self -destruct mode.

That’s unfortunately what seemed to what happened to Amor Setter. A person who is mired in debt, unpaid bills, theft of monies due to staff amongst other unsavoury things, given a lifeline to start a much needed film school in Bahrain with an almost iron-clad assurance of making money, has flushed this genuine opportunity and now – typically – is blaming everyone for not only the venture’s failure but herself.

The story, my friends, is that a Bahraini investor named Hijris Al-Shirawi has identified an opportunity to start a film school in Bahrain, especially that he already owns and operates a related media company, but as he recognised his own limitations, sought to employ people to run it for him and through his own research he thought that the best candidates to staff his venture with were available in South Africa. Through his research he fell upon a company offering training very similar to what he wanted to offer back home and found that its principal appeared to have all the right qualifications, so he set up a meeting to discuss the venture with it’s owner, Amor Setter.

Amour Elliot-Setter - wannabe film-maker

The results of that meeting is that Amor Setter agreed to relocate to Bahrain to offer the same courses in Hijris’ new school on the premise that a partnership between Amor and Hijris might be considered in time should the business blossom and become self-supporting. In the interim, both prospective partners will pay out of their own pockets for their expenses. Hijris has agreed, as a matter of good faith, to pay for the transport of Amor’s equipment to Bahrain in order for them to be used in the new school. As it transpired, Hijris not only paid for the transport of her equipment, but also for whole wardrobes full of personal effects which more than doubled the initial agreed costs. That should have rung the warning bells in Hijris’ mind quite audibly on its own, unfortunately due to his naivety he let it slide.

That lapse of judgement resulted in him being mercilessly being taken advantage of: he ultimately rented and paid for her villa, car hire and various other expenses over the next 2 – 3 months, the last of which was a demand for him to pay for an exclusive membership in the Novotel resort, hair, manicures, pocket money for a young son in South Africa, school fees and various other just as fantastic demands.