On the way back from my first Arabic Class, I was lulled into a contemplative state by my Taxi driver’s mix CD smooth hits from the early Eighties.
“If ever you’re in my arms again, THIS TIME I’LL looove you forever.”
I was trying to put together all the pieces of the puzzle I’ve gotten a hold of thus far. Every day I get another factoid that I try to add to make the full picture. Here’s a small sample.
(Warning: Any lazy college students who find this buried in the internet should not use any of these as a reference. I can promise I haven’t fact checked one of them.)
1. The Unemployment rate for Emiratis if 45%. The vast majority are Emiratis are unemployed by choice.
2. The average net worth of an Emirati is 17 million dollars.
3. Over-sensitively to porn can impede your entertainment choices. Do you really need to cut out the peck on the cheek in the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants?
4. One of the key elements of a contract agreement with an Emirati company is the “Emiratization” Plan. This entails how the international company plans to hire and employ nationals.
5. The average productive hours per year budgeted for each American worker if 1850. The average productive hours for an Emirati worker are 1100.
6. 80% of the people in the UAE are from another country. Almost all of the taxi drivers, waiters, retail salesman, and nail salon attendants I’ve met have families and children at home. In many instances, they can return to their home country for years.
7. Arabs love their children. Seriously. The first world I learned in Arabic here is “Jahel”. From my understanding its used like the terms “hunny” or “sweetheart” to small children. The direct translation “one who does not know.” Children under the age of 5 are let to roam free and are never punished severely.
8. Many plans and schedules made by Emirati and other international company are initially unsuccessful due to a culture class of expectations. It is advised for American companies should triple their initial timelines and forecasts.
9. The second best thing I’m glad I have at my disposal is Skype loaded on my computer. The best thing I have is disposal income.
10. BMWs have week air-conditioning systems yet it doesn’t stop anyone from buying the car.
11. I wish I had brought more DVDs, CDs, skirts, Arabic languages CDs, decent beer, pictures of my friends and family, and my friends and family. I wish I had left half my clothes, half my shoes, and any expectations about the UAE.
Last the NV launched and announced it new company name. The executive team set up a all hands meeting with all the local employees to introduce themselves to their new employee and present their vision. As would be expected, this didn’t go as smoothly as planned. The new local employees were trepidatious of what the affects would be on them. As luck would have it, this is the third buyout these employees have experienced in 3 years. At today’s All hands meeting with all the American employees, George led a frank discussion of what each group had discovered during their early stages of investigation. The challenges the NV had inherited were numerable. Lack of standard work processes, too much documentations and bureaucracy when you didn’t need it, and not enough documentation when you did, disgruntled employees, low moral… and the list continued. After about an hour of “they do this” and “they don’t do that,” George, the head of customer service, made a good point.
“As of Thursday there is no more “they.” It is now “us.” We need to integrate.”
Integration is key to any new organization’s success. Even internally between the groups at the NV, this is an on-going challenge. George took the issue head on at the All Hands today.
“We can’t keep acting like silos. There is no hand-off. If you need input from another group, set-up a meeting. If we can’t intergrate with ourselves, how will we do it with the rest company?”
This rule apply not only to business. I have also taken this lessen to heart in other aspects of my life here as an expat. I try to take all the facts and information I gather each day and see how they fit. And in the end, I try to figure out where I fit in the puzzle too.