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.

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