Fires in Dubai

There’s been a great deal of talk about fires recently- the Grenfell Tower in Kensington Borough, London and now the appropriately named Torch Tower in Dubai.

I know the building well, since I passed it most days and it was down the road from our office. Not an outstanding building, just a tall one.  And one where the rental price was high- fully furnished, good facilities (but that’s the norm in Dubai)- which was about 20,000 dirhams a month (USD 5,400 a month) for rent. Some of the people have moved back in, according to reports.

It was the second time it had caught alight within two years. It’s the external cladding that is to blame evidently. I interviewed the CEO

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Documentary making: what to do

 

I came to documentary making from a journalistic background. This is a little unusual because most people come to it from a cinema-graphic background. I learned about videoing, sort up, about what cameras work, and what cameras don’t, mic-ing up, and editing- at least from a voyeuristic perspective.

 Briefly, I returned from the Middle East in February 2014, where I was head of a news service in Middle East and Africa. I knew that part of the world far better than I knew any other, so I wanted to produce something that used my knowledge of that area. That was difficult, not only because of the censorship laws operating in the region, which would have meant not filming there, but, as I found it later, any documentary had to be based in New Zealand and have a NZ perspective.

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Competition to host the Taliban

 I continue to argue that the feud between Qatar and the other Gulf Arab States- mainly the UAE and Saudi- is economic rather than political. The fact that Qatar is wealthier than either Saudi or the UAE, because of gas, and that it has worked hard to carve out a foreign policy that is distinct from the other Gulf countries- it has been accused of punching above its weight- has not gone down well with Saudi or the UAE.

All of these countries can be accused of either encouraging or supporting terrorist groups at some point, to some extent. It’s a well known secret that a number of the world leaders have ended up in Dubai or Abu Dhabi.

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UNWRA: healthcare and education

This article has been written as part of a research project that I'm undertaking on behalf of and in conjunction with the Canterbury Refugee Resettlement and Resource Centre (CRRRC). The research will come out in September. 

A case study of UNWRA working with Palestinian refugees

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27% think Trump will serve a full term

Between reading about the pros and cons of Brexit and the political intrigue at the West Wing it’s hard to know what’s more interesting. As far as I’m concerned, they both are. This time though I’ll stick to a survey about President Trump that came out four days ago. Even though the article focuses on the negative- that is only 27% of Americans think that Trump will serve a full term- the positive, from a Trump perspective, is that 27% of Americans think he will serve the full term.

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It's all about real life relationships

I’m always curious about how journalism, communication and PR come together. The point at which they merge is all about relationships. You need to foster good relationships to become a good journalist, a good communicator or a PR professional. This is especially true of personal branding: authenticity and spontaneity matter.

 Hence, this article by public relations professional, Stephen Waddington, made me nod in agreement. Yes, it’s always better to have a meeting face-to-face and in person. Social media can never be a replacement for a face-to-face meeting.

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NZ Super Fund receives A+ rating from UNPRI

I’ve spent a lot of time following, and writing, about private equity. It was especially important to do this when I was focused on mergers and acquisitions in the Middle East. Now that I’m back in New Zealand I follow what is going on here, although the market is necessarily much smaller. Below is an update on New Zealand’s Super Fund, NZ’s sovereign wealth fund, and how it has performed on the world stage.

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Why you don't need a personal brand

Increasingly, we're hearing about the importance of personal branding. It shapes who we are and how other people see us, supposedly. It's hard finding a personal brand. But now we are told that we are better not to have a personal brand. People do not have a brand, says Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook. This is what she said, as recorded by the BBC.

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Dubai has many sides

I’m always intrigued to read about foreigners getting into trouble in Dubai. It must be easy to think that the emirate is so “Western”. On the surface, it is. Go beneath it, it is not.

 This article about an unmarried couple having consensual sex in the UAE is shocking by Western standards. It is true. The UAE has strict laws. But it’s not nearly as cut and dry as this story might suggest.

 In the first instance, the couple did not have sex in Dubai; it was Sharjah, an adjoining emirate, which has adopted Saudi rules. There is no way anybody would have allowed any hanky panky there.

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The Qatar-Saudi row: what about the animals?

Perhaps an unintended consequence of the row between Qatar and Saudi Arabia (and its allies) is the impact on the animals. Sheep and camels owned by Qataris are grazing on Saudi land, an area known as the Empty Quarter. It is the largest contiguous stand desert in the world. Qatar officials estimate that 15,000 camels and 10,000 sheep have already crossed the border. Some animals are dying, getting stuck at the border between the two countries where there is insufficient food and drink, according to the UK’s The Telegraph.

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The Qatar row: news hacking?

The diplomatic row between Qatar and Saudi Arabia and its allies, such as the UAE, shows no signs of abating. The latest story to come out is that the UAE is accused of hacking Qatar state media, an accusation that the UAE obviously denies.

Having been a journalist in the region for 8.5 years, I am fully aware that neither country is known for its propensity to be kind to journalists, and governments of both countries are prepared to become involved in the editorial process.

It is likely that this diplomatic argument is not only about “terrorism”. All countries involved are accused of that. It could be about money too; who has the most and will it continue? The falling oil price is not helping; meanwhile liquified petroleum gas (LPG) prices upon which Qatar is reliant are remaining steady.

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GCC businesses aren't prepared for VAT

The falling price of oil is not good for GCC economies, but this can’t be any real surprise? The question now is how this problem is going to be resolved in a region where there has been little attempt to diversify the economies?

Dubai, which has never been an oil-producing emirate, started to diversify earlier than other countries in the region. In this respect, the emirate has been very successful. Logistics is now the driving force behind the Dubai economy; tourism is probably number two. However, the emirate is still dependent on Abu Dhabi for its oil revenue.

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The impact of PR on consumer brand perception

There’s a lot of talk at the moment about how media and PR impact on brand, particularly politicians. Even though this study doesn’t look at politicians, the study can be translated to other fields. A recent study shows how it might be.

Measuring the Impact of PR on Consumer Brand Perception

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Digital journalism: why it's important

 

Journalism is about story telling, whether it is by words, by diagrams or by pictures, such as video. The latter is relatively new and many of us, like me, didn’t learn with video. This article that appeared on Mediashift explains how digital journalism has helped us.

What Educators Should Understand About Code and Journalism

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Why collaboration matters

Newsrooms are still far less digital than classrooms, a point that this article makes clear. Reading it, I found this finding that everyone ought to take a more collaborative approach one of the most interesting.The collaborative approach is key and the various points of view lead to positive changes.” Live presentation skills are also more important than ever.

 

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The Gulf crisis and more

The Gulf crisis –that is Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain imposing a land, sea and air blockade against Qatar is likely to be ongoing. Kuwait and Oman are remaining neutral, which is typically the case. Saudi Arabia and its allies cut ties with Qatar on June 5 and have accused it of funding terrorism- an accusation that Qatar denies. They later issued a 13-point list of demands, among them being the closure of the news network Al Jazeera, that have been rejected by Qatar.

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Personal branding: what to do

So many of us are trying to create our own personal brand, but are we successful? Are there particular steps we ought to be following?

 Here is an article by the Institute of Public Relations that outlines seven steps. Are you achieving them? What can you do differently?

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Julia Gillard reflects on Trump's mental health and her own anxiety when PM

I’m posting this article after attending a lecture tonight by Dr Mark J Miller, lecturer in immigration, refugees, trade policy among other things, at the University of Delaware. Of course, Donald Trump and his views towards immigration came up again and again, inevitably. Yes, we know they are extreme. Is it because he believes them, is playing to a certain audience, or is he just being reactionary? He’s probably taking on a a bit of all three. Or is it because his behaviour is abnormal.

Someone who clearly thinks this might be the case is Julia Gillard, former Australian Prime Minister. She is now chair of the mental health organisation, Beyondblue. Here is what she thinks.

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Worldwide push to eradicate AVEs: AMEC

We've recently become a member of AMEC, because we believe that measurement and evaluation of the media and PR is very important. Companies need to know a great deal more how effective their media and PR campaigns are. One of the areas we are specialising in is tourism. A different methodology will have to be used for hotels and hospitality than for restaurants and adventure activities for example.

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Will King Salman abdicate?

Last week saw the reshuffle of the ruling family in Saudi Arabia, something that many observers expected to happen a couple of years ago. By Western standards, the hope, and expectation, is that the country will become more open and transparent, with a respect for human rights. For some in Saudi, there might be the same expectations, for others there may be not. The views across the Kingdom differ widely.

A couple of years ago when I was attending a conference in Riyadh (wearing the abbaya, but not the head gear) one presenter, who argued that Saudi Arabia should allow more women to join the work force, said “women are no less moral than men”.  It's a comment I have never forgotten.

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