Getting real with Riyadh

I thought this article was very interesting (not that I agreed with all of it) explaining the very complicated relationship between Washington DC and Riyadh. There is always the risk of oversimplifying the relationship but I think this article does a good job of avoiding that trap. It also explains the somewhat fraught relationship between Iran and the Gulf States. Such is the complications of the relationship between the Gulf States and Iran, even my friend (who has always kept his counsel on the subject of Iran) talked about the "mad country next door that may do something at any time". Whether this is true or not, probably doesn't matter as long as people believe it will happen.

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Tradition meets modernity- camel racing

I recently had the opportunity to go to camel racing in Dubai, way out on the Dubai-Al Ain Highway- not far from the Outlet Mall. While I lived in Dubai (for 8.5 years) I had wanted to attend these races but at the time women could not attend, and then there was all the performance about the use of child male jockeys, which, for a time, seemed to stop camel racing altogether- or at least it was never advertised. There was certainly no stadium, as there is now, and visitors weren't encouraged to attend.

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The future of augmented journalism

I've been a party to a fair bit of discussion recently about artificial intelligence (AI). Most of it seems to be about AI in manufacturing and urban contexts, and there seems not to be much in the context of publishing. Therefore, i was surprised when I came across this article which puts AI into the context of the media.

Report: How artificial intelligence will impact journalism

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Saudi Arabia Lifts Oil Market

Here are some thoughts about Saudi Arabia's energy policy, and Tesla. 

Saudi Arabia Lifts Oil Market With Support for Renewing Production Agreement

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Two visions for the future of media

This article made me think about the future of journalism, especially since it mentioned the Financial Times Group, a former employer in the Middle East and owner of the newswire service, Mergermarket, which I headed up in MENA. Journalism cannot survive on charity; a loyal customer base is necessary and the most profitable way for an owner is for the publication (digital or hard copy) to be subscription based. What will be the media's future?

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PR is a snap: how brands are using Snapchat

I'm in Dubai right now, attending a conference, and revisiting places I frequented when I lived here. Here's one of the iconic sites
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How tolerant are you?

I gave a talk recently at Toastmasters, in Queenstown, New Zealand, about my experience travelling to the West Bank and my time in Bethlehem. What I found interesting is that even in a place as supposedly “tolerant” as New Zealand, the audience response is still subdued as regards Palestine, and way more “moved” by what happens to and in Israel. Admittedly, I was wearing a hijab or a headscarf.

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Future Proof - A Podcast

Measurement, a capabilities framework, mental health, the CIPR at 70 and #PRfest, are all among the topics discussed on the latest #FuturePRoof podcast.

Sarah Hall and Stephen Waddington  recorded a new edition of the #FuturePRoof podcast this week. Here's what you'll learn.

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Defeating the Islamic State: A war mired in contradictions

This author regularly sends me articles, many of which are very interesting in that they are written from an academic rather than a journalistic perspective. In this case, he writes about the Kurdish plight and the conflict Turkey has dealing with this group, which I think the government hates more than IS. As a consequence, the US is also conflicted. And Saudi Arabia continues to focus on destroying Iran rather than any threat from a Sunni terrorist group, such as IS.

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What it is like as a woman in Saudi Arabia

After having lived in the UAE for some years I’m frequently asked if it is hard for women. It wasn’t. No, it is not like Saudi Arabia. Women do not have to be fully covered- although it can help if you do. They have to be modestly dressed though. And they don’t have to deal with the restrictions that they do in Saudi Arabia.

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Trump Russia Dossier Decoded: Yes, There Really Was A Massive Oil Deal

Further investigation into the Trump's link to Russia shows that this connection is not imagination. I was in Dubai when I was working on the proposed Glencore and BHP Billiton transaction. I learned a lot, especially about the involvement of the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) in Glencore. Recently, to Putin's pleasure, Glencore and QIA took a 19.5% stake in Russia's Rosneft.  Grant Stern found out the following information.

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Independence had better happen before Brexit, if at all

Like many people, I've been keeping an eye as to what will happen with Brexit. I admit to having a vested interest, with a house outside central London, in Turnham Green. The exchange rate between the New Zealand dollar and the British pound has fallen astronomically - from 3.5 in the pounds heyday to 1.75 now. What a difference? What does this say about Brexit, if at all? Is it any wonder if the Scots vote for independence and to stay in the EU? But it is all about the timing. And how to get it right?

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Trump won’t allow you to use iPads or laptops on certain airlines. Here’s why

Today, a ban was imposed on travelers carrying laptops and other large electronic items as cabin luggage on direct flights into America and the UK, mainly on airlines from the Gulf Arab countries. This is an interesting, but not unexpected, development. After having covered the aviation sector in the Middle East for a number of years (while at Khaleej Times and then Mergermarket) this ban is probably a long time coming.

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White, Irish and Undocumented

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Any debate about illegal immigrants in America often focuses on black and Mexican illegals. But there are many Irish who are illegal too, but they have the benefit of being white. This article, that first appeared in CNN, highlights some of the challenges that  Irish immigrants are facing.
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The Anti-Cairo

I came across this article today and it fascinated me. What? Building another city to rival Cairo?  How is this possible? What is the government up to? I had so many questions and didn't really understand what's happening. Maybe you will too. Here is the article

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Donald Trump is a "true friend" of Saudi, says Deputy Crown Prince

We know the animosity between Iran and Saudi Arabia, Shia versus Sunni. This article that appeared in the UK"s Independent newspaper the other day illustrates how wide the hatred between the two countries has become- or is the "cosiness" between Saudi Arabia and the USA?

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NZ Superfund CEO wins Business Achievement Award

It’s good to know that the organisation for New Zealand’s Techweek ‘17, which will run from 6-14 May 2017 is moving ahead. A week of events bringing together bright minds to tackle global issues with local ingenuity. Head to Techweek‘17 to meet like-minded people, discover new opportunities, and learn about the latest and most exciting technologies that are changing the shape of the near future, according to Techweek’s website.

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EU says it's legal to ban women wearing headscarves at work.

The EU decision comes as countries across Europe are grappling with how to accommodate huge numbers of migrants, many from predominantly Muslim countries. AP
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A Japanese ad agency invented an AI Creative Director

Recently, I've been reading about Artificial Intelligence (AI) and how we can exploit it in different fields such as education. Therefore, I was very interested when I came across this article that talks about AI and the advertising industry. How uncomfortable would you feel if AI was preferred to a human?

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Iran: making the most of it

Recently I was elected president of Queenstown Travel Club and at the first meet up of the year we learned all about Iran. Here is what the speakers said.

Jon and Robyn Bitchero talked about their experiences in Iran when they spoke at the Queenstown Travel Club, which met on 27 February. They pointed out how different Iran is from the way it is portrayed in the media. Referred too in the ancient world as Persia, it conjures up romance, great food and great living. In contrast, the country Iran often conjures up visions of burqa wearing women (which is often not the case), tyranny and evil. Yet it is the same country.

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