Thursday, December 31, 2009

YES.... WE SHALL

One more day left and 2009 will be over, it is not just another year gone by, but the end of the first decade of the 21st Century. We are at the dawn of another decade and another year, 2010.

2009 has been a bad year for a lot of people, a year of uncertainty for most of us. A year that brought the best and the worst in all of us including corporate bodies. Companies that had to let go people, some acted generously with good end of service benefits, help in trying to find work and assisted in visa arrangements. Others acted pettily not only with people that were let go but also with people that stayed to run their business.

2010 is a year of recovery on all aspects. The global economy is said to be improving and green shoots may turn into fledgling branches. More importantly it is a year of recovery for each and every one of us.

We need to look forward to a better tomorrow, to a tomorrow that we help shape and not lie down and hope for the best. The future is not in our control but we can help make it better for ourselves and those around us, family, friends and strangers. We have to be proactive and forthcoming and if something does not work or someone wants to be petty and obstructive, just move on and leave them behind. Yes, move on, way outside our comfort zone.

It is no more Yes We Can...... it is Yes We Shall

Wishing you all a Happy and Prosperous 2010, Live Long and Prosperous


Monday, December 28, 2009

They WON

Well the TSA has imposed new draconian measures, this time not on ground but on board.

1. Passengers must remain in seats beginning 1 hour prior to arrival at destination.
2. Passenger access to carry-on baggage is prohibited beginning 1 hour prior to arrival
at destination.
3. Disable aircraft-integrated passenger communications systems and services (phone,
internet access services, live television programming, global positioning systems)
prior to boarding and during all phases of flight.
4. While over U.S. airspace, flight crew may not make any announcement to passengers
concerning flight path or position over cities or landmarks.
5. Passengers may not have any blankets, pillows, or personal belongings on the lap
beginning 1 hour prior to arrival at destination.

It is rumored that these measures will be removed by year end. Knowing the TSA it probably will take longer. Is this the TSA deflecting attention from its failure. I mean the guy's father told the USA Embassy in Lagos, his son is up to no good.

I am all for security screening on ground, no matter how stringent or thorough or how long it takes. They are designed to make us feel safe when we board an aircraft.

Now the TSA wants the travelling public to sit still in what amounts to sensory deprivation, mass solitary confinement in a flying tube at 40,000 ft. for 8 to 12 hours. Why not just ground all flights and save us all the trouble. So we will all travel to Mexico or Canada and drive into the USA.

The day the TSA has instated these measures they have acknowledged that the war was lost, THEY HAVE WON.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Flying American

Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous 2010

This last week has been weird and exciting. For the first time in 20 years I have decided to fly with a USA Legacy carrier on an international flight (Last time was 1990 from JFK to LAX with TWA).

I flew American Airlines (AA) from Dubai to Detroit.

Well, the first flight was DXB to LHR a code share with their One World Partner British Airways (BA), I suppose we all know about their Flight Attendants' call for a strike over the Christmas/New Year season and the ensuing drama. I fly with BA several times a year, but that was different. The crew were very professional, courteous, poker face, fake smiles and cool, well more like cold, lucky it was a night flight and I slept.

Then came AA, now I am used to American Eagle Flights between Chicago and Detroit, commuter aircraft, very short and very informal. AA at LHR were friendly, my boarding passes issued and sent on my way to their Admiral's Club. I liked their lounge in LHR the layout was nice, much better than BA's T5 lounges. The one in Chicago was great but other than a voucher for a free bottle of water everything else is chargeable.

Now AA must have a great profiling software for additional security screening. In the last 8 months I got profiled twice for extra screening, I suppose a Jordanian, residing in the USA traveling back and forth to Dubai does raise some concerns to somebody in AA, so you get a bunch of SSSS typed on your boarding pass. In Detroit the TSA made sure I understood that it was "my airline requested extra screening", in LHR the security personnel told me SSSS was for special, I actually laughed. I don't mind it.

I love travelling in B777, it is a great aircraft and the Business seat on AA is so complicated, they have a video clip on how to use it, pretty cool. The entertainment system is not as extensive as BA's just a few movies, but I loved their Audio especially the Classical Music.

The food was not bad, imaginative and tasty (Chicken on a bed of couscous with tomato sauce, not bad for a Legacy Airline) and the chocolate ice cream was divine, I was impressed.

The crew was professional and aloof. The Purser told us not to leave our designated zones, congregate around toilets and not to approach the galleys and she meant it. WOW.... very clinical almost surgical, of course the Captain's announcement to us that if we see something unusual, it is probably unusual and tell your FA.

All in all, it was a great Atlantic crossing, surprisingly


Thursday, December 24, 2009

GLORIA

It is Christmas Eve and my friends in UAE and Jordan must be getting down to some serious get togethers, while us in the western hemisphere are still running around doing last minute shopping (between bouts of jet lag napping).

So, what did you get for Christmas? Were you good, must be or Santa would not visit. It is nice to get presents, makes us feel good and appreciated.

Well Christmas is about giving? right? Sure, it is about giving to family and friends, giving love and friendship. It is about getting together (physically or virtually, does not matter) with family, friends and acquaintances and showing them you care.

It is about being kind, being forgiving and willing to start all over again. Yes, about telling people that all is good, forgiven and forgotten.

It is about living to that angelic hymn "Gloria in excelsis Deo et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis (Glory be to God on high and in earth peace,and goodwill towards men)"

Yesss, Goodwill towards men (and women), life is too short, so Merry Christmas

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Reflections

End of the year, a time for reflection. A time of remembrance of loved ones, those who are with us or far away and those who have left us but their memory and love remains in our heart.

It is a time to take stock of our actions and/or inactions of the previous 12 months. A time for looking inward and really have a hard and honest look at our inner selves. Are we proud of what we have achieved? Are we proud of the person we have become? Can we look ourselves in the eye every morning and like what we see? No deception, no self delusion but the real us.

Time, to chart our path for the future or try to write down our wish lists. Resolutions are made only to be discarded in a few weeks. However deep down we know what we want or think we know the path to follow. A mixture of hope, apprehension, uncertainty, fear and confusion. And, if we are lucky we have someone special to share with.

Ahh, that special time of the year where hope and happiness coexist side by side with apprehension and sadness.

May the LORD bless you and all your family and friends and keep you healthy, wealthy and above all loving and happy.

1 Goal

1 Goal (click here to learn more) Education For All.

In 2000, 164 governments signed the UN Millennium Development Goals, 2 of the 8 goals addressed ending poverty through education;

  • To ensure that all boys and girls complete primary schooling by 2015
  • To make sure that girls have the opportunity for education at all levels by 2015

1 Goal is part of a large global initiative, The Class of 2015, aimed at mobilising support to ensure world leaders keep their promise for 2015.

FIFA joined the Class of 2015 with the promise to leverage the 2010 World Cup Audience in South Africa to have a lasting Legacy on Education in Africa and the World.

Sixteen Billion Dollars are needed annually to achieve the goals of the Class of 2015, a drop in the bucket compared to what governments spent on the bailout of the Banking Sector.

Education is a basic human right that no child should be deprived from. The cost of education is negligible when compared to defence spending or bail out outlays. Yet, governments to their own and their people's detriment are hesitant to commit funds especially in hard times. The empowerment of women and their contribution to the world economy and culture will be only realised through education.

So, go to the 1 Goal website http://www.1-goal.org/about-us.php and join the movement, blog about it and tell your friends. Together will achieve the goals of The Class of 2015

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Walk The Talk

Every CEO of every organisation in the world will tell you how great they treat their employees. Claims that will not withstand a one hour scrutiny of their HR departments' policies and procedures or they way these policies and procedures are administered. Statements made for public consumption.

I always maintained that an airline, more than any other business in the world, is about people. It is never about airplanes or assets. It is the employees and how they interact together and with the passengers. A work ethic that every work group in the organisation is equally important and that an employee once trained is trusted to do what, in his best judgement, is right for the company's best interest at a given situation.

Very few airlines or organisations really "Walk the Talk".

One that shines is Southwest Airlines (SWA), 35000 happy employees (mostly unionised) who helped SWA carry 101.9 million passengers in 2008 (in 2008, the second carrier was AA at 92.772 million passengers) on board 544 B737 narrow body aircraft (AA has 608 including a large portion being wide bodies). More so, 2008 marked the 36th consecutive year of profitability at SWA since its inception on 18 June 1971. Pretty impressive, huh.

What is really impressive, is to hear Ms Colleen Barrett, President of Southwest Airlines talk about the employees being the highest priority and that she spends 85% of her time delivering "proactive customer service to the employees" (click here to hear Colleen Barrett on "Servant Leadership" from KnowledgeAtWharton) and if everyone else does their job right you have success.

WOW, 85% of the President's time delivering "proactive customer service to the employees", go figure. And darn it, it works very well at and for what is definitely the most successful airline in the world.

That is really Walking the Talk.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Finally, She Flew

Finally, the Dreamliner flew, a little late, but it flew. On December 15th 2009 the B787 Dreamliner had its first flight. The aircraft is almost an all composites aircraft and Boeing had design issues and workload issues, the B747-8 the latest variant of the venerable B747 has still to fly.

Boeing had to delay the first flight 6 times in the last 2 years until they got the right fix. Airlines were unhappy about the delays, but then the Recession hit and it was not all that bad, considering there were discussions about compensations.

The B787 has leading edge technologies (click here for details) incorporated in the design. However, the most important feature is the composite content of the aircraft, which has caused some of the delays. An almost all composite aircraft poses problems in maintainability and repairabilty of the structure. This requires development of new repairs and specialised training.

The coming few months of flight testing will be prove the new technologies and it should be very interesting .

Finally, she flew, Boeing has always been known to design beautiful airplanes and the Dreamliner follows this tradition very sleek lines and performance and handling that matches it.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Deliveries

Since 2005 I was involved in about twelve and a half (12.5) deliveries, aircraft deliveries that is. The bulk happened at Airbus at their Toulouse facility. I enjoy Toulouse, such a historic place with a young population, full of university students. Great countryside and not too bad weather.

Three other deliveries happened in Barcelona. Definitely one of my favorite places. The place brims with diversity, from people to architecture to food. A place where the sea meets the mountains, the old meets and coexists with the new.

However, 2009 brought in new deliveries in terms of type; from commercial to VIP and at totally new locations.

Two EMBRAER Legacy 600s from Sao Jose Dos Campos in Brazil. A city that lies in the middle of rolling green hills and beautiful countryside. An aircraft delivery is an aircraft delivery is an aircraft delivery, what changes in a VIP interior is the emphasis on the quality of the cabin. No big deal, well actually it is a big deal, it looks at a totally different level of comfort and quality.

Finally, this brings us to the HALF delivery, it is a green aircraft!
Noooo, nothing to do with the environment, it is green because it has no interior installed. The final acceptance will be performed after completion of the interior installation. This one happened to be in Hamburg. This is my first visit to Hamburg, the city architecture is diverse and so is the landscape, rivers, canals, lakes and the sea. At this time Hamburg is in a festive mood with Christmas just round the corner. The Christmas Market, an open market, was crowded in spite of the rain and a Sunday evening. Gluehweine (hot wine punch) and generous portions of sausages and ham sandwiches seemed to be the favorites of the crowd. Christmas trees were all over the city including the container terminal at the Port of Hamburg.

Deliveries are highly technical and contractual events but that should in no way detract from enjoying the cultural aspects of cities like Toulouse, Barcelona, Sao Jose Dos Campos and Hamburg.

Friday, December 4, 2009

This That and The Other

The last 10 days or so have been very bizarre. A long holiday the start of which coincided with Thanksgiving. Two holidays, Eid al Adha and Thanksgiving, two occasions for men and women to give thanks for the bounties God has given us.

It all started the evening before the holidays when Dubai World announced it wants to defer 60 Billion USD in debt for six months, the greatest faux pas in PR history. WOW, what were you thinking Dubai, by the time the holidays are over, all will be forgotten and life resumes normally. Well, the world freaked, a story like that and no one available for comment, not even the janitor, for 10 days. It did not help that Dubai disowned its off spring. As expected Dubai bashing restarted in the western press in earnest, stories like the city built on the sand, which assets Dubai will lose to Abu Dhabi but the best one was this crisis would derail the world economic recovery. Huh, 60 Billion USD in deferment will derail the world, what about the trillions lost and others spent for the bail out all over the world, get real people. Eventually cooler heads prevailed and the world settled down in anticipation.

All that while, the UAE celebrated the 38th anniversary of the union. A celebration which was nothing like the previous 13 I witnessed here. Emaraties expressed so much pride in their country, union and culture, a real coming of age.

Of course I did not get 10 days of holidays, private sector you know, The three days between Eid and National days were so full and hectic having to cope with the introduction of 2 new aircraft types in 6 months.

Of course it was not all work work, on National Day we had a Tweetup at Wild Peeta, great company, great fun and so diverse.

All in all a fun week or so, but really weird, freaky weird.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

National Day

Tomorrow December 2, 2009 marks the 38th National Day of The United Arab Emirates (UAE). The only true and successful union in the Arab World. The result of the Vision of Sheikh Zayed of Abu Dhabi and Sheikh Rashed of Dubai (may they rest in peace) that forged a federal union of seven emirates known at the time as the trucial states. A vision that transformed a desert into one of the most dynamic and visionary countries in the world.

I arrived to the UAE in 1996 at the time of the 25th anniversary and was fortunate enough to witness and experience and may be contribute in a small way to its development. The change in the last 13 years was staggering and amazing. A vision so powerful, it galvanised Emaratis and Expatriates alike.

The UAE is a country that is tolerant towards religion, life styles and most expatriates' idiosyncrasies. This tolerance provides an environment that promotes a very comfortable life style, which is rarely found in any other country, just ask any expatriate that has returned home.

It is a tribute to the Rulers and Emaraties who along with millions of expatriates, have sustained, nurtured and developed the original vision that created this great nation.

Finally, thank you to all Emaraties for making us feel welcome and at home, in spite of our diverse life styles.

Wishing you all a Happy National Day

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Hopenhagen

The people of the world are awaiting the World's Leaders meeting for the UN Climate Change Conference December 07 - 18 at Copenhagen. Great expectations are pinned on this conference but most think it will not amount to much.

Hopenhagen "When People Lead, Leaders Follow is a movement, a moment and a chance at a new beginning." It is a movement of people across the world telling our leaders that we demand change. Change that will provide a better future for the planet and its inhabitants. It is a demand for a greener economy. It is a change powered by us, the people.

Scientists and Politicians are still debating whether climate change is caused by mother nature or is induced by human activity. At least, we all agree that there is a climate change. A climate change that may threaten the way of life we are used to. Even if this climate change is a natural thing, is it that wrong to help ma nature to reduce it.

Charity starts at home. We all can contribute to the well being of the planet from energy saver light bulbs, car pools or even walking, to recycling and using recyclable material. This is not sufficient, what we need is a green revolution, government intervention to stimulate a move towards a greener economy. This intervention should be in the form of incentives to stimulate innovation in greener technology, tax credits for individuals that install solar power panels or insulate and reduce the carbon foot print of their homes and in the form of taxes on services that involve carbon emissions to ensure that alternative energy forms are given the chance to reach competitive and sustainable levels.

Oh, I can hear the loud screams of conservatives against taxes and government intervention that will affect our lives in the immediate future. We need to look at the long term at the sustainability of the standards of living we enjoy and would aspire to continue enjoying.

Change was never easy and people will resist change even when they know it is good for them. But change we must if we want our children and grand children to have a clean environment and a habitable planet.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

THANKSGIVING

This Thursday is Thanksgiving in the USA and the start of the rites leading to Eid Al Adha (The festival of Sacrifice) and the end of the Pilgrimage to Mecca by Muslims.

It is an occasion for us to collectively and individually give thanks to the Lord for his graces and gifts throughout the past year. The last 12 months have been very difficult for the whole world. A global recession is not an easy thing to cope with, for those who have lost their jobs and means of livelihood goes our prayers. Even for those who did not lose their jobs it has been a stressful time of uncertainty.

For me on a personal level it has been a stressful time professionally with being involved in a start up airline in such a recession and dealing with people, who may mean well, but have no idea of what they are involved in.

I am sure all of us have things to be thankful for, the love and support of our families and friends, our health and that of our beloved ones, for the ability to maintain friendships and make new ones, for being able to contribute in a small way to the improvement of the planet or an act of kindness that improves some one's life in this world, and many many others.

My sincere wishes to all for Eid and Thanksgiving regardless of religion or nationality, it is time to celebrate.

Live Long and Prosper





Thursday, November 19, 2009

Dubai Air Show #dxb09

First of all I am writing this blog from my Blackberry, a first for me, so if it looks awful blame it on technology.

It is the last day of the Dubai Air Show #dxb09. It has been a hectic week for all of us. It has been a show that had been different than previous ones, it still had aviation professionals hurriedly going from one stand or chalet to another, looking for, following up or concluding business.

The first noticeable thing is the lack of mega commercial aircraft orders, so what, it is a recession and I see no reason why the region should bail out the industry again. A refreshing thing actually happened, we got to hear about all the equipment and services contracts that used to be drowned by mega aircraft orders, a reminder that the industry is more than a few aircraft manufacturers.


The other thing is the use of social media to cover the event, a thrilling experience which I am priviliged to have taken a tiny tiny minute part in along with giants like Flightglobal and @flightblogger, @runwaygirl, @mtargettuk and many others. We had probably the first Tweetup in an International Air Show.

For me, other than business meetings, it was an opportunity to meet friends and coleagues that I have not seen in many years. The real highlight and thrill was the making of new friends, ones that I followed and networked with on Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media. They became real live and fun people to be around.

It reminded me that an Air Show is not all business. It is about fun and enjoying one's friends company around something we all feel passionately about, aircraft and aviation.

#dxb09 has been a fun experience enriched with friends old and new, so, keep well guys and be good.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Dubai Air Show 2009 Tweetup

True to Tweeples or Twitteratis (take your pick) while tweeting on #dxb09 it was spontaneously agreed to have a Tweetup on Monday at 2:30 pm under the Qatar Airways B777. All sponsored by Flightglobal.

Well, we had a Tweetup, well maybe a mini or some would say micro. At the time under the shadow of the QR B777 and during the Flying Displays, we all connected the Flightglobal Team , those who were not tied up blogging.

The roll call included @stefanthepilot @inflightcuisine @sumudu @tangosix @obsalah @runwaygirl @mtargettuk @spetrovic and a few more. It was great to meet the team behind Flightglobal easily the most extensively visited aviation news website.

The highlight was the introduction of @stefanthepilot to all of us, quite a character. Well @stephanthepilot is a pilot action figure (. Honestly, I was surprised, never thought of an action figure, chalk one for the Flightglobal team.

We had a few pics and red T shirts (click here), we chatted, of course over the roar of fighters using their after burners (something only persons in aviation will do, normal people will go indoors).

It was great fun and I enjoyed it, the highlight of the day

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Dubai Air Show, the Twitter Experience

This is the first day of the Dubai Air Show and guess what, I was not there. However, I had a different Air Show experience, a social media coverage of the Air Show #dxb09. Sure, it is not the same as being there experiencing the buzz and excitement, but nevertheless this is my first experience of whether social media works in a venue that I am familiar with (my 7th air show).

Keeping an open mind, I followed the events as they unfolded and yes it was still exciting. Best thing is Breaking News, I actually got to hear about events, equipment orders and aircraft developments as they were actually being announced. Even the flying displays were reported by @flightglobal.

Credit has to go to @flightblogger and @RunwayGirl among many others for bringing about this experience.

It certainly was interesting, tomorrow will get to meet all those tweeples responsible for keeping us in the know

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Dubai Air Show

Sunday the 15th of November the Dubai Air Show 2009 will officially start. It promises to be the highlight of an otherwise very grim year for aviation for many reasons;
1. The number of exhibitors have increased over those of 2007.
2. It is held in an area that has bucked the trend and is actually shows growth.
3. As always people are intrigued to hear what Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways have to
order.
4. The first show held when Social Media is so popular and the ability to catch up through
Twitter and Facebook, great fun.

For first timers Dubai Air Show is an awesome event, with all these aircraft on static display or the 2 hours of flying displays. It fills me with awe every time I watch, even though some o them are the same routines from previous shows. The exhibition halls that house all these big, famous and not so big and famous that make up aviation, all under one roof, so accessible and so friendly and easy to talk to is an inspiration.

For me personally, it is a time of catching up with friends, yes old friends. The ones I thought I lost track of, somehow we all surface again at air shows. Time to check on families and careers; where they were and where are they heading.

It is a time of feeling proud of being part of an industry that refuses to be beaten or put down by recession, terror or politics. An industry that innovates its way out of trouble and never gives up.

In a region where aviation is at the leading edge of technology and all its innovation and creativity.

In a region that showed the world that "yes we can" through 9/11 and all its persisting conflicts, SARS, Avian Flu, H1N1 and recession.

In the course of the coming week I will blog and share events and feelings, I am so looking forward to it.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Why are they hated?

About three years back Zeina (my eldest daughter) called me from MSU and asked me "why are Human Resources (HR) professionals hated?" Huh, well she was taking this course and she had to write a couple of paragraphs. I gave her a few ideas and some thoughts at the time.

Well, three years later a change of jobs and a deep recession, my views have not changed much, that only emphasized in my mind that it takes a special kind of talent to be a great HR professional.

Not all HR are hated, most are pretty good. I think it all depends on how the Senior Management views employees. If they are regarded as valuable assets that have to be nurtured and developed, then invariably HR is viewed more favourably. However if the employees are viewed as people who need to be controlled and kept in their place, then HR could shine or be at its worst.

Having said that their are two categories of HR, those who consider themselves the advocates and protectors of the employees rights within the organisation and those who are the hatchet men of the big boss.

It takes a person of great moral strength to stand up to top management bullying and demand just solutions. Most people will go with the flow and tell you, we are just an employee.

But then you get the HR manager who is a real devious politician, that lies to employees with a straight face and gives all the text book answers, the real slimy and sleazy character. The boss's real hit man, the one that embodies hypocrisy and a real talent for lying.

The short answer, they are hated because they are perceived as the people who implement management policies employees do not like.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

VIOLINS

I was never a great musician, as a matter of fact I am awful. Mom insisted that I take music lessons. So I joined the Jordan Music Conservatory. I actually learnt to read notes but could never convert them into tunes in my head. Needless to say, I had an attempt at the Clarinet for a year and then the Accordion the next year. After which mom just gave up, what a relief.

However, one instrument I particularly hated, was the Violin. Oh that sad, moaning and whining sound, used to to drive me insane and straight to sleep.

Until one day I heard Vanessa Mae and her awesome Violin playing The Devil's Trill and the Matrix Reloaded Mix. The Violin became my favorite instrument and it opened up a whole new world of musical celebration ranging from The Hip Hop Violinist and Michael Flately Dueling Violins and many many others.

It is no more the whining and moaning sound, it is the sound of celebrating life.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Diversity

Mona, Rebellious Arab Girl , posted a blog entitled Open your minds to the possibilities, which discussed open mindedness. A worthy discussion point of something the world seems to lack.

When one lives in the Gulf or a new adopted country like the USA or Canada, one is exposed to diversity whether one likes it or not. One can live in a closed community, but the moment one steps outside his home, it hits. It comes in different shapes, colours and sounds and it can be intimidating and overwhelming.

Keeping an open mind diminishes fears and eases the transition.

Yes, transition to a wonderful world of multiple cultures, friendships, tolerance and acceptance. A world of enriching experiences. Kids seem to cope with it better than adults, they have no prejudices except when those are instilled by parents. Acceptance of different ethnic and religious groups does not detract from ours, on the contrary it enriches it.

Needless to say this is not a situation faced by expatriates and immigrants only, it is becoming a fact of life. With the globalisation of business and the growth of multinationals and outsourcing, almost everyone in this world is exposed to diversity.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Autumn

I grew up in Jordan and Autumn was not the colourful season, Spring was the great colourful season. I went to college in Southern California (LA) and there was not an Autumn country either. Then of course the UAE where Autumn is remembered for the cooling down of the weather.

There is nothing like a North American Autumn. My first one was in 1977, I graduated and my sister was going to Bryn Mawr. The whole family was in Philadelphia, it was late September and for the first time I saw the colours of Autumn, such an overwhelming cacophony (I like this word, I know it has to do with sound and not sure it is the right one) of colours.

There were the few remaining greens but then the yellows, browns, oranges, reds and everything in between. I was so thrilled, it has left an everlasting impression, even though I am a colour blue person.

It was not until we moved to Michigan in 2004 that I had the time to take in all these colours, I remember walking with my son from school one after noon, a distance of no more than a mile and a half, and we collected more than 20 leaves of different shades and colours. Imagine, all of that in a mile and half.

Nothing compares to Fall in Michigan it is an experience in the beauty of nature, a true feast for the eyes.

Monday, October 26, 2009

In Memory

This is dedicated in memory of the courageous crew of SD2241 that steered the aircraft away from residential areas. May the rest in peace and God's mercy be upon them.

I first came in contact with her in 1990 when she was 21 years old. ST-AKW operated for the Sudan Air Force flying relief supplies into Juba (the capital of Southern Sudan and the province of Central Equatoria).

It arrived into Royal Jordanian Engineering and Maintenance Base for Heavy Maintenance (D Check) a few months before the first Gulf War. This B707-300C was worked hard transporting humanitarian supplies and it was in need of serious maintenance work. Work started on the check after the beginning of the war and lasted for months, after which she became a frequent visitor to Amman for routine maintenance work (C Checks) with the other B707-300C of Sudan Airways.

It was only after eight (8) years and during my work with Air Arabia at Sharjah Airport that I had glimpses of her and her sister ST-AFB as they came to the cargo terminal. It felt like meeting old friends.

An aircraft crash is a very tragic and sad event. The loss affects not only the families of those directly involved but also those who are associated in one way or another with the crew and the aircraft.

Our prayers go to the crew and their families and a farewell to ST-AKW (2/69-10/09) you have served well and long.

NB Airline Industry review has compiled A Photographic Farewell of the A/C

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Replacement of Dubai

On a radio business talk show, a question was asked on which city will replace Dubai. Would it be Doha or Abu Dhabi? The answer was very diplomatic, but then I don't have to be diplomatic.

The short answer is not in a million years.

What about all that oil money? Precisely because of the oil wealth Dubai will not be replaced. What every one forgets, Dubai is not towers and malls or amusement parks. Dubai is an idea, a vision and a life style that became a reality not only with money but with the hard work and innovation of Emaraties and expatriates alike, who bought in the vision and dream.

Other cities will copy the parts of Dubai which are money related. They may have higher towers or bigger malls. What they will not have is the dream and the vision that produced the life style and quality of life that is cherished and makes Dubai what it is now, irreplaceable.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Commercials

Two radio commercials drew my attention since I get to hear them on and on that I find very amusing.

1. Emirates Airlines, it goes something like that and I paraphrase, why have a midnight snack when you can have an on demand gourmet dinner, fly Emirates First Class. Duh, really Emirates is that for me the poor economy class passenger luring him to fly First Class. WOW guys that will be the most expensive meal ever, somewhere in the tune of $5000 to $6000 depending where you are going.

2. Sun and Sand well apparently they have the sports wear to "MULTI GENDER" customers I thought there were Two (2) genders in this world. I am interested to know what other genders they have in mind.

multi- A prefix that means "many" or "much,"

Enough said, just remember there are people who listen to the Radio and actually hear what you are saying.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Road Worrier

For those who are smiling, no I did not misspell worrier. What worries me on the road is the lack of discipline coupled with a total misunderstanding of the concept of "endangering traffic" and "average speed" within the driving community here. I am not going to discuss discipline or lack thereof here, whoever has used the roads here can attest to that.

Endangering traffic and average speed are coupled together. Endangering traffic is when one drives at a higher or lower speed than the prevailing average speed on the road. So the lil ole lady in Phoenix driving her 1969 Chevy Impala at 25 mph when every one is driving at 55 mph is actually endangering traffic just as the macho guy doing 75 mph.

The notion, that most drivers have here, is we own the road.

One finds the guy that drives at 120 kph on the second lane down Shaikh Zayed Road when everybody else is averaging 140 kph and then wandering why everybody is passing him on either side and giving him the evil eye. But what is worse are those who think they are F1 drivers on a speed track doing far more than 140 kph, head lights flashing, riding your bumper while you are having nightmares of what will happen if you have to brake for any reason.

It makes me wonder if these people have any idea of the consequences of their actions. Having a driver's license is like having a permit for a big ass projectile.

Safe driving people and God Bless




Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Place That Does

I was never a great fan of Dubai. Having lived in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for almost 14 years, I always thought Dubai was artificial and ostentatious, not the best place to raise kids.

For the last year or so I have to drive across Dubai almost on daily basis. There is nothing like driving across Dubai in the early morning, very light traffic and easy driving, it gives one the opportunity to look at all these towers and reflect on how things were several years back.

Dubai, or to be more exact the Rulers of Dubai, had a vision and that vision evolves and changes year on year. That vision puts Dubai in a league of its own, not only within the UAE but globally. What differentiates Dubai is the will to implement that vision and realise it, at a time far richer and larger countries did not have the will. When Dubai started building the Metro a few years back, I could never figure why the rail went up and down instead of a simpler straight line, last year I saw overpasses being built over where the metro line dips. A vision so detailed that was designed a few years back and only being finalised now with such precision.

The recession has not been very kind to Dubai, but in a way it was needed to provide a reality check of what has become a totally changed Dubai which has lost its sense of balance. What is painful is the negative press that attacked Dubai and the UAE. Some of it is justified and is being addressed by amending existing laws or passing new ones. It is the hypocrisy of a lot of the authors of these articles that really angers me, why was it OK when Dubai was boom city and now it is all wrong.

Dubai is The Place That Does. Dubai is a place with a VISION, but more importantly a place that goes forth and delivers on that vision as planned and on time (well a few months late sometimes but better late than never).

Am I a greater fan of Dubai, well I am less critical of the place and sometimes I think it is actually cool. It is a privilege to be in The Place That Does.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Art of Cooking

In Arab Culture food figures out in all occasions and celebrations. It is central in weddings, births and death. It is probably the single measure of one'e generosity. Arab will share their food no matter how little it is. And, unlike other cultures we cook for almost double the number of invitees.

After my blog about Wild Peeta my wife commented on Facebook
" Randa Khoury After I read you blog about the fusion shawerma,I am expecting you to write about my cuisine!!!!!! hahahahahah" Well, who am I to disappoint her.

I am blessed to marry a woman who is multi talented. She enjoys painting on glass, silk and canvas using different media and of course she has great patience (having married me). Above all, she certainly enjoys the art of cooking. Not only the normal day to day run of the mill meals like Mahshi (any thing that is stuffed marrow, squash, carrots etc) , Malfouf (rolled cabbages), Vine leaves, Kibbeh (ground meat with Burghul -cracked wheat) and all the other Yakhnie (stews) and pastries, etc..

She specialises in those old almost lost and forgotten recipes that your grand mother and great grand mother used to cook, the ones your doctor warns you against, yea and I mean Kourash and Fawaregh (stuffed intestines similar to haggis) and lamb's tongues, heads and rijlain (feet), stuffed lamb and Dal'a (Lamb ribs and sides). On top of that she made the meanest and tastiest Cheese cake among other cakes and cookies.

These were the meals for Christmas, New Year and Easter and whenever requested by friends and family who we gladly accommodated.

So Bon Apetite


PS For a list of Arabic Cooking Terms refer to http://www.goodcooking.com/midedef.htm

Friday, October 2, 2009

No One Wins Alone

No One Wins Alone, such a true statement but not so simple. Everyone says success has many fathers/mothers and failure is an orphan. So where do we get all these people to support and help ?

They could be close family members who usually give unconditional support unless you have the envious and jealous variety, otherwise one has to assemble a team for support regardless of whether it is a professional or personal goal. Considering that most people want to be winners by their own right, and do not see the value of supporting anyone. Confusion reigns, all these conflicting desires and ambitions.

People including family have to be convinced that the only way they can win is through you. One has to show leadership and team building abilities, that applies to everybody in any position in life or in an organisation and not necessarily to CEOs and Senior management. One has to nurture and support back, being supported and being a supporter are not mutually exclusive.

Winning is about leadership and team building, about sharing a vision and a dream and most of all being attentive and supportive to the needs of one's supporting team.

Then everyone is a winner

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Wild Peeta

Two young Emarati brothers Mohamed Younes Parham Al Awadhi & Peyman Younes Parham Al Awadhi, who forgo corporate life with multi nationals in pursuit of a dream and through Twitter managed to get the UAE Twitter community to share in their dream.

They wanted to take Shawarma (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shawarma), a popular and traditional Arab fast food (a wrap of shaved chicken or lamb meat served with Tahineh (sesame sauce) and pickles, to the next step.

Wild Peeta http://www.wildpeeta.com/ was conceived along with Fusion Shawarma.
I have eaten shawarma almost all my life but Fusion Shawarma, shawarma with a kick and secret sauce served at a Quick Service Restaurant (QSR). So what? well they tweeted about it and as they progressed setting up the business and the QSR we all got involved. The whole twitter community had the chance to comment and influence the menu, the price, the furniture. We shared their frustrations and disappointments as they battled and dealt with bureaucracy and suppliers.

So, until they sort out their last bureaucratic problem they have a pre soft opening. They are open for a chat and to test their stuff on you. Having been with them on their journey as an observer I went out on a Lazy Friday http://oussamastake.blogspot.com/2009/09/lazy-friday.html and visited. Mohamed is the most gracious host and them guys brew a mean cup of coffee, strong as it should be. The place is colourful and eye pleasing and although small is full of innovation. I am no catering expert, (I have done my share of Quality audits of airline catering facilities) and that facility is professionally set up, separate wash basins, separate work stations with colour coded boards and knives, electronic filters (for smell), high speed meat cutters and the most efficient use of space I have seen.

Of course, Fusion Shawarma came up but they had to throw the last curve ball, Tea infused juices, go figure. I and a lot of people are so excited about Wild Peeta and we have not seen, smelled or tasted a morsel.

They have, through Twitter, created a brand and a following way ahead of their opening day. I wish them success.

So if you are in Dubai call me and will go together and have a kick ass Shawarma.







Lazy Friday

There is nothing like a holiday, jet lag and the flu to take your mind off blogging and other social media venues. Having survived all of this, it is time to get back to blogging.

Fridays (the weekend here) are normally easy going days that entail watching TV, social media,
e-mails, reading and napping, not necessarily in this order. Real strenuous activities. This Friday was different, I met one of my twitter friends; cool. You never think how much 140 character tweets can do. It was like meeting an old friend, in a way he is, we been on twitter tweeting (not necessarily to each other) for several months, there was no ice to break, no barriers to be removed. We talked about issues normally reserved for bestest ( a lil hyperbole here) friends.

If I ever doubted the power of social media, this Friday evening dispelled all this. Not bad for a lazy day

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The World's Favorite Airline

The World's Favorite Airline, who else but British Airways and it is still my favorite airline.
That was true when it was an innovative and efficient airline and lead the industry in setting standards.
Now that tough times have hit, it is fraying at the edges and really getting tattered. I fly with BA home to Detroit from Dubai at least 3 times a year, and I like the multi stops flight because it breaks up a long flight in manageable 7 hours segments. I enjoy the lounge in T5 its naturally well lighted, comfortable and wi-fi connected.

However, off late things have changed at BA.
  • I still pay the same price for my tickets I did the previous 2 years and the surcharge is the same as when fuel prices were double ($145 a barrel).
  • The staff are still courteous but are a little distracted, abrupt and indifferent.
  • The cabin Crew smile but you rarely see them going through the cabin except during the service. All you hear is chatting and laughter in the galley
  • Equipment has been downgraded from B777 (my favorite airplane) to squeaky B767.
  • Automatic upgrades to Business are a thing of the past, I dare not ask for one because all I got was an abrupt no or quoted a price and no you can not use your miles.
  • The food service quality and quantity has deteriorated a little
True to its legacy roots and to stem losses, BA turns and starts putting restrictions on bags for economy. The darlings (First and Business) of the airline having abandoned it, the economy class passenger is the one that feels the pain.

What happened to the innovative management approach that made The World's Favorite Airline or is that a Good Times management style only, come on BA you can do better

Tattered or not BA is still my favorite airline and worthy of my support.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

9/11

My thoughts to the families of all who were lost on board the aircraft, on the ground and all those who risked their lives to rescue people in the rubble. They are remembered every time an aircraft takes off and lands safely.

I was working late at the office (+8 EST) when my wife called to tell me an aircraft hit one of the World Trade Center towers. My first thought was it must be a small General Aviation aircraft. I frantically tried to get CNN breaking news but with no success. I tried to phone my cousin who lives in NYC but with no luck. Then my wife called again to tell me about the second aircraft and the collapse of both towers. I just could not believe what she said. On the way home I listened to the radio and one of the stations was carrying a live commentary of the unfolding horror.

That day touched us in several ways for my sister in law's cousin was in the WTC when it collapsed.

9/11 heralded a new era for aviation, a profession that i am passionate about, a loss of innocence. For me Aviation was a means of bringing people together, of bringing joy, happiness and peace to people. Sure we had our share of hijacking and security problems but never on that scale.

9/11 started a new era of rigorous security regimes, a totally different way of looking at Aviation. I have to admit, at the beginning I hated all these extra security measures, they tended to take the fun out of travelling. By time it became second nature to all of us in the profession. It became a reality as well as a necessity. I know a lot of people still complain about going through security and I realise a lot of mistakes were committed and a lot of lessons learnt were applied and things are being done better, more professionally and in a more friendly manner.

9/11 should not have happened, but it did. One painful and tragic lesson, a wake up call to all of us of the potential destruction that can be inflicted. Aviation professionals all over the world are working diligently to ensure that 9/11 never happens again.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Education II

Today, Tuesday 8th of September 2009 President Obama addressed school children including my youngest (a 10th Grader) with a message that created so much controversy. Dogmatic people who felt that government is interfering in their life, parents who are scared that the President will instill socialist dogma in their children within 10 minutes and parents who want to delude themselves that they can protect their children from the big bad world instead of preparing them to face it. However, it is every parent's prerogative to ensure his child is raised the way he wants.

The White House have put Obama's remarks on the White House web site 24 hours ahead so parents could rest assured of what is the message. http://www.whitehouse.gov/MediaResources/PreparedSchoolRemarks/

So what was that potentially scared all these parents, a universal message that not only applies to the USA but to every child in every country.

"Every single one of you has something to offer" and it is your responsibility to discover your potential, and whatever it is you want to achieve will require an EDUCATION.

"If you quit on school – you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country. " Certainly, the children are the future of this world and of every country on this planet.

"......people succeeded because they understand that you can’t let your failures define you – you have to let them teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently next time." Yes, learn from your mistakes, try harder and ask for help from your parents and your teachers or your peers. In management people are taught to celebrate failure because this is the mechanism for learning and continuous improvement.

This is not socialism this is social responsibility.

Every country requires a revamping of its existing education systems, although in varying degrees, but the education system depends on its end users the SCHOOL CHILDREN, the most important stake holder in the system which everyone seems to discount.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Education

Almost everybody in almost every country complains of the level of Education our children are getting. We tend to compare them with what we had when we where in school. However, life has changed and technology is so far developed, that it boggles the mind of most my generation.

The impact of technology especially Computers and their applications have transformed the way we do business. What has not transformed is our education systems and more importantly those who are supposed to run and administer them.

There is a generational gap which is aggravated by a greater technology gap. How do we expect our children to be ready for the world and embrace and deal with the diversity and speed that characterises the modern world.

I remember, when I was young having a Pen Pal, we used to correspond by mail, it took weeks.
Now you don't need to even need to e-mail them any more, our children can have a real time chat with them, follow their news and activities on a variety of social media applications.

Hours of doing research at the library is replaced by seconds on google, my favorite phrase is "google it" and children are doing just that. It opens a universe we have never dreamt off even in our wildest dreams.

So, we have young men and women who grew with technology and its associated speed and diversity having to deal with parents and bosses who are totally oblivious and are not even willing to deal with technology. They in turn, and this is where the tragedy lies, have to deal with Education System(s) that are barely acknowledging computers and their applications.

Most governments pay lip service to modernising their curricula and they way they educate and teach. Then they wonder why we are producing young men and women who are disgruntled, unhappy and sometimes radicalised.

As parents we bear part of the responsibility by not forcing Education as an overriding issue. It is the future of nations lie there. It is an issue of national security, without healthy and well educated future generations, external threats become irrelevant for the internal issues are more disturbing. I am not advocting that nations, God forbid stop defense spending, but at least let us look rationally at our Education System(s) and fix them.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Running scared

It is relatively easy to be successful and somewhat innovative when the economy is booming and life is good so to speak. As the world entered in its deepest recession in decades what made companies successful just lost is relevance, it just became the recipe for disaster. All of sudden these buoyant and confident, and sometimes over confident and damn outright cocky executives, are no longer sure of how to react. They know they have to be more cost effective and more efficient. The product has to be tailored to meet new customer realities.

So, enter first gut reaction, we need to save on expenses, OK so far so good. So please make sure you vet your office related bills and pay for all your personal calls or else we will charge you for the whole bill, and please reduce the use of stationary, and we just go from cost effective to cheap on all non technical purchases. Basically, we went petty.

Then, next gut reaction, no more hiring, full stop end of story, but we need this person for a function that will increase productivity or efficiency. Sorry, no hiring, gotta save buddy.

All of a sudden, they wonder why staff is demoralised, easy it is the prevailing economic malaise, nah more like the prevailing scared and petty once over confident executives. Staff can smell fear guys.

Economic downturns are awful and not a pretty sight but remember cost cutting is subject to the law of diminishing returns and revenue enhancement the sky is the limit. You need cost cutting, efficiency and productivity increase then ask the experts.... duh....... yep you got it champ, ask your employees. Oh you forgot they were part of success and you thought they were coming on your ride. Involve your staff, they know their work, they know what, where and how to give you real savings, real productivity and efficiency.

They also have a stake in making the company thrive, harness their energy. Treat them right and the will Billy Ocean sings "When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going" http://bit.ly/1DS8jZ



Thursday, August 20, 2009

Lexus-itis

LEXUS-ITIS a temporary condition that afflicts otherwise sweet people while driving a Lexus

OK, OK, I know that a Lexus may not be relevant but I am sure you suffer of a similar affliction with a different car. So, bear with me

Where I live and work a Lexus, all models, is a very popular car, and since I commute daily I get to see a lot of cars. Well, my friends, I see a lot of Lexus cars on the road and they all have one thing in common. They will not overtake you, they will tailgate you, flash their lights at you and even honk at you until you get out of their face. It seems in the owners manual it is written, thou shall not overtake. They see that either side are blocked, but they insist.

I am sure these are sweet people but just beware once they are behind the wheel of a Lexus

The other affliction is the Hummer Wannabe, those are the Toyota FJ drivers, they think they own the road, and the make Lexus-itis look like the common cold, enough said.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The New Norm

I heard this term "THE NEW NORM" on a business talk show and it refers to life after recovery from the current global recession. The New Norm what a scary reality, you mean life is not going to be the same a few months in the future?! duh.... what do you think?

A lot has changed, organisations and even countries were stripped of their civilised exterior, that thin veneer of civility to reveal an ugly and scared entity lurking below. Foreclosures by the thousands, not even willing to negotiate a payment plan, putting people off on the street, out of a job, the number of times I heard how we are a good neighbours, socially responsible and community oriented, all went down the drain, reacting like scared wounded animals.

Yes, after this recession there will be "The New Norm" but what kind of norm is it going to be?

Is it a civilised and benign norm or a more austere, harsh and insensitive norm. Will we have learnt our lessons? Will we forget and forgive? There is a big divide, a huge credibility and trust problem between people and institutions. Those who lost their life savings, retirement funds, their hard earned money after a life time of toiling, will they ever manage, their lives have been transformed permanently.

Life will continue, regardless of "The New Norm" but the scars for some of us will be too deep to heal quickly. Will they live in a bitter world? For some of us, the lucky ones who have weathered the storm with minimal damage, "The New Norm" might not be that much different from the old one, but we better learn from this life lesson.

I hope "The New Norm" will be a kinder and more humane norm but who knows.............




Monday, August 17, 2009

Just Culture

I am not getting all technical here, I just believe this is a cool thing that we all should embrace and not only as it relates to Aviation Safety, but to other aspects of our personal or professional life. It is a good means of opening communication channels within the organisation.

Just Culture is an aviation safety culture that fosters openness and encourages people to report safety concerns as a part of a continuous improvement process. It promotes a non-punitive culture whereas people come forward and report their errors or safety concerns. However non punitive does not mean getting off free. It also assumes that the organization and management may have created situations that lead to unsafe practices and problems.

Just Culture looks at four (4) types of behaviours: Human Error; Negligent Conduct, Reckless Conduct and Wilful Violations. Once an error is reported an investigation to determine the root cause by looking at all probable causes whether they are personal, procedural or organisational.
If the violation was other than human error, then management has to look at some form of personal coaching or even taking punitive action.

The above is a very quick overview of Just Culture and probably a shallow one.

Just Culture is part of the Safety Management System (SMS) that is currently being mandated as a civil aviation regulation across the globe.

Be safe and enjoy



Saturday, August 15, 2009

On the Balcony

As Summer inches on and friends and family leave (physically) on vacation.
I find myself lounging on the Balcony (well not literally). Social Media has provided us with a Balcony to sit back and watch life unfolding in front of us, giving us the option to just stay back or jump in and participate.

Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and others give us this luxury. Sometimes it is enough to just lazily monitor tweets, blogs and other entries watching life unfolding and yet allows us, at a whim or moment's notice, to jump in and participate. Allowing us to help out a friend with a problem, to discuss current affairs and breaking news or simply gossip and have a virtual visit sharing our latest news and activities with friends regardless of time and place.

Social Media will never and should not replace the intimacy and warmth of physical interaction with people. In a way we are lucky to have this opportunity and facility as long as we keep it in perspective.

Lounging on the Balcony watching the river of life lazily unfolding or examining the rapids as life boils over is a real luxury and privilege.

A sign of the times


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Angels in the Sky

Summer holidays are almost over and by now most of us have flown and came back home. We also swapped our horror and war stories of how terrible the service on board the aircraft was or said our few kind words about how helpful the Cabin Crew/Flight Attendant(s) were.

Well, have you ever wondered why are these young (or in some cases not so young) women and men on board the flight. For most of us, they are here to do the service, and be there for our every little request. Try again, these are highly trained people, they spend five weeks doing initial training in Safety and Security Procedures, First Aid and Fire Fighting among other subject and then have periodic training to stay current.

Their main purpose in life is to make sure that the passengers remain safe and secured and finally well served with a smile.

So next time you travel don't bring on board carry on luggage that weighs more than your checked baggage and expect them to lift it for you (there is a reason why not, if one hurts their back and have to be offloaded passengers may have to be offloaded to stay within the rule of 50 passengers per Cabin Crew/Flight Attendant);
or sneak to the toilet for a cigarette and set smoke alarms or God forbid start a fire;
or horse around and be unruly (trust me they will restrain you)

Try to make their life a little easier and they will do their best to keep you safe and secure and mostly happy.

They are your Angels in the Sky.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Roots or Hydroponics

The majority of people are fortunate or unfortunate (depends on your point of view) to remain in their country and some of them in the city they were born, for them the question of roots, ties and belonging invariably never comes up or is questioned. However, for the few who leave for work or immigrate and become global citizens experiencing different cultures, these are real issues and pose serious questions.

So, where do you call home? where do you set roots? what makes a place home?

For starters with modern technology you are only physically remote, with social media, chat lines, video, Internet and the many other IT and technology wonders, you probably know more than your family and friends of what is going on there. And, if you happen to live within a couple of hours away there is nothing to stop you from flying in every other weekend.

On the other hand you are working and living in a country you can not call your own but a lot of the younger generations who were born there know no other. For them this is home, they grew up there. it is these generations that probably will have the most difficulty in setting roots, for what they think of as home is only a guest house and what is a vacation spot is home.

So do we need to set roots or can we be like "hydroponics" requiring only a suitable medium to grow, flourish and contribute, easily relocatable as long as our web enabling tools are with us.
Are we looking at a new brand of citizens that we can truly call "Citizens of the World"

Honestly, I don't know. On a personal level may be I am into hydroponics but for sure at certain times it sure feels good to have roots.

Sign of the times.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Bars

Ok Ok Nooo it is not an invitation to a cool drink or a salad, it is about the Standards we set for ourselves or others set for us.

Ms. Masarat Daud, describes herself on Twitter as a "Non-conformist. Indian girl-child. Producer of talk radio in Dubai. Defying stereotypes, working for rural empowerment in Rajasthan, India. BarCamper!" spent the last few weeks in India, when she first got there her aim was "When I came here a mth back, the only thing on my list were: conduct 8-day Academy, start library & grant a scholarship. Little did I know."

And when she left she achieved "Two rounds of 8-day Academy (50 ppl), sponsored a child's edcn for a year, paid for 3-month English courses for two, [ctd.]" and "Achieved (2): Started a library, visited settlements in Jaipur, got books for a second library in a different village."

All her friends on Twitter followed her progress with pride and support as she tweeted in real time.

She is an inspiration to all of us regardless of gender, ethnicity or age and when I tweeted telling her she raised the BAR for all of us her answer was "@obsalah There's no bar. Each of us contribute within our own perimiters, limited by our circumstances."

Setting the BAR is a a function of expectation by others and ourselves. Parents and Bosses among a few other set bars (targets) for us to meet and achieve as we progress through life and they define our succes or failure in life.

However, her tweet made me pause and think; the toughest BARs are the ones we set for ourselves. But it takes someone like Masarat to remind us and motivate us by showing us what can be done when we are motivated and push the BAR to higher levels not only improving the community but positively affecting our friends and colleagues and most importantly ourselves.

Kudos Masarat, you have been an inspiration to all of us.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Double Standards

Double Standards, who among us have not voiced these accusations against parents, spouses and or bosses. We all had damn good reasons, didn't we. I never gave it a second thought, until I started giving Quality Awareness courses and found out that we wallow in Double Standards.
How so, in Aviation just as in other critical industries; Quality, Safety and Security are not nice things to have, they are core values, they are culture and should be second nature. We should breathe, think and live these values. (This is the party line)
Back to reality, in Quality there is a need for continuous improvement and we have that nice Plan, Do, Check, ACT (PDCA for short) process. In our personal life PDCA is intuitive, we plan to go some place, we start the journey (do) we find a problem we change our route (act) and then check again to see if there is another problem until we reach our destination. And we do that for every thing we do.
The other intuitive aspect is Risk Assessment, in our personal lives (unless we are distracted or doped) we run a quick risk assessment and mitigate the risk for every thing we do, be it crossing the street, driving, playing or cooking you name it.

So why don't we use it in our professional life, the standard answer is we are too busy with work, duh. Really, too busy to improve or be safe. Why is it when it comes to our personal issues we perform certain things and when it comes to work we don't even think of these things; Simple DOUBLE STANDARDS.

So please before you start accusing people of double standards, have an inward look at yourself.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Walking on Hot Coals

Literally walking on hot coals, have you done it, chances are you did not; will you do it, chances are a big NOOOO. Well I did along with a large percentage of Air Arabia staff as part of a motivational outing. Actually it is not that daunting except for the waiver/disclaimer the organisers make you sign (that scares the hell of everybody).

So why do it, because it focuses the mind and make you look straight ahead at your target. The feeling you get after you have walked on these hot coals is tremendous, it is like you have conquered the world and there is nothing that you can not do.

I personally felt exhilaration and was very focused and generally happy, anyway it lasted for a few weeks until life and work caught up with me. Seriously, this helped bonding among staff, it almost became a rallying cry, " you guys walked on hot coals so what is a little competition" and damn, did it work!!!

OK OK I will tell how it is done, I think it is a stretch of 4 to 5 meters of hot coal, at one end you dip your feet in cold water, look ahead concentrate and move with big strides, no running or looking down at your feet. By the time you cross the water has almost evaporated.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Anniversaries

Anniversaries are milestones and vista points on the ever changing and bumpy road map of life. They are occasions to celebrate life (life together), to celebrate the joy, the love and yes sometimes the sad moments of life. It is time to celebrate with life partners, with family what makes one and with friends, the bonds that tie us together, the things we take for granted and then forget about to our own detriment. Anniversaries are the time to slow down and catch our breath as life overwhelms and pushes us around. They are times for us to look back and if we are lucky draw life lessons from our mistakes.
But, most importantly the time to affirm our love and commitments to our loved ones and look ahead to the future and resolve on how to continue together on this bumpy road we call life.

And in case anyone thinks I am a stick in the mud, yes have a great party to manifest our joy.

To those who are celebrating, Happy Anniversaries, may GOD bless us all.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Simplicity

"Simplicity is the ultimate in sophistication" Leonardo Da Vinci

A motto I tried to live by navigating through life both on the personal and professional levels.
As if life is not complicated enough to have people make it more complex. It seems a lot of people thrive on complex relationships and solutions and then complain how tough things are and how they just can not cope.
Life and work are full with complex and simple problems but these problems do not require complex solutions all the time. A lot of problems can be reduced into several simpler issues with definitely simple, easy to implement and efficient solutions (similar to distributed computing a few years back).
I am not advocating oversimplification of life or work but at least let us attempt not to overly complicate it.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

On Being Green

There is a debate raging in a LinkedIn Group "GREEN" in response to the question "Is Man-Made Global Warming Real? - The Number of Skeptics is Swelling - Many Scientists Beg to Differ..."

Well, the group members comments (almost 340 and counting) approximated real life with people feeling strongly about the subject from both sides of the divide and some middle of the road positions. What surprised me most is the amount of raw emotions displayed by what is supposed to be a bunch of cool and level headed executives.

I suppose Mama Nature deserves passionate reactions but those ranged from derision, ridicule, delusion and a few others.

All this passion and raw emotions made me think where do I fit in all this, do my contribution to Mama Nature's well being stops at buying energy efficient lights, weather proofing of the house or giving up a few degrees of comfort at home by lowering or raising the thermostat. Is being Green stops there. Well. uhum it is a start I suppose.

Realistically, man made or otherwise the planet is stressed, rain forests are depleted, strip mining is taking its toll, bio diversity is slowly being reduced, let alone gas emissions and pollutants are on the rise. This is not somebody else's problem, this is every body's problem.

What we need is to translate what we know and/or believe at the intellectual level to a more practical level to actions and contributions, easier said and done. I certainly don't have an answer but hopefully I will get there. Once I know I will tell all, honestly






Monday, July 27, 2009

Flashbacks

This short trip to Amman on the week end of the 24th has a special significance. It is the first time that I travel through Sharjah with Air Arabia since I have left almost 10 months ago. I can travel without having to see things through the eyes of Manager QA (like duh, get real once one always one).
Having friends in high places I got to use the HALA service at Sharjah International Airport. The airport upgrade completed, going through it was great, just whizzed through and the new First and Business Lounges were a joy, spacious, well lighted and well run. And yes, everybody SMILED.
Having travelled with the Service/Legacy airlines in the last 10 months, it was refreshing to see the young cabin crew of Air Arabia (mostly in their 20s) perform their duties by the book, brought back memories. The interaction between cabin crew and passengers during the service, almost like a souk, the one you only see on a low cost carrier, none of that chicken or beef and plop comes the tray.
It was such a joy to observe the cabin crew smiling and confidently handle the passengers, typical to Amman flight, with infants and toddlers by the dozen. I have known most of them from the day they joined, green and raw and seeing them perform as seasoned professionals, confident and smiling made me very happy.
I had such uneventful flights, even mother nature smiled upon us barely any turbulence.

Thank you guys for being so efficient and so human, you made me so proud

Life is about people some we know, others we wish we did know

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Transitions

Life is about Transitions and how we handle and react to them. Looking back (with 20/20 hind sight) I don't think I was ready for any of the many transitions in my life whether personal or professional. Some I eased into like adulthood and others took me by storm like parenthood. Professionally, my transitions have been mixed but all great fun.
It is these transitions that shape, transform and polish/tarnish our characters, turns us into what we are now.
The most important transitions have been professional but they had the greatest impact on my personal life. These are the transitions that came with failures and successes, advancement and set back, that eventually crystallised my beliefs, core values and my passions in life. With them came the realisation that life (personal and professional) is all about People and not the technical aspects of a profession.
My passion for aviation transcends airplanes and the technical aspects of flying, into the people that make it happen, into the quality and safety aspects of the profession and industry, into the global human interaction that makes a 2 hours or a 15 hours flight a safe and great experience both in the air and on the ground and from its beginning until its end.

After all, life is all about people as we transition through it

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Airports and Emotions

This is an old blog, but with most of us travelling I think it is very relevant

Airports for me present mixed emotions.Traveling back to see my family fills me with joy and anticipation, going back after being with my family I am filled with a tinge of saddness.
Going on business there is always that excitement of what to come, how would it go, what kind of adventure awaits me. I enjoy observing people and wondering what is behind the smile or the tears, transiting an airport gives that sense of detachment of being alone randomly observing people, sometimes not more than for a few seconds but always in awe of the human capacity for joy, love, saddness, loneliness and many other emotions that pass by so fast.
And when I am bored I watch how well or bad services are provided to customers by motivated and disinterested staff. I watch the ability of people to totally ignore their customers who are a few feet about them. Airports are learning experiences mostly about me then the multi national multitudes

Oussama's Take

Well finally I created my own blog, wow never thought it will happen, but we are here. It took a while to make up my mind on what will I blog about, and I am still not sure. I think a balance between the soft and personal (family and friends) and my other passion aviation and what is related to it.
Your comments and feedback will help me along the way I am still a novice at this and I will always learn a new thing. Most of all please feel at home and post your own blogs here.

After all life is about people

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