Talking Heads: an exhibition exploring culture and gender

For any body in Christchurch who wants to go to an art exhibition please go on 25 August.

17 August 2017: Two Christchurch artists are exhibiting their work from Friday 25 August until August 31, at Next Gallery in Christchurch. It will be an exhibition of portraiture, but with a difference.

Self-portraits by at least 80 participants will be on display, many by Fine Art students from Banaras Hindu University.  Consequently, it will be a kind of dialogue between New Zealand and Asia and will highlight the differences in gender and culture between the two regions and communities. Over time, the exhibition will include other countries, with the intention of encouraging further dialogue between communities.

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Damac and CEO, Hussein Sajwani

I was amused to read this article in the the UK’s Daily Mail today. Billionaire? When I interviewed Hussein Sajwani a few years ago, he was still CEO of Damac, the Middle East’s largest private developer, but certainly not a billionaire. I also understand that at that time, the property developer had had some financial problems, and the Dubai Government helped out. Damac has always been a property developer that was too big to fail. Imagine what damage could be done to Dubai’s reputation.

When I was back in Dubai recently, Damac was advertising Trump villas, as well as his golf course. Clearly, local investors are not investing as Damac would have hoped so it is now looking further afield for investors.

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NZ Super Fund reduces risk in carbon assets

This press release came across my desk today. It shows that the NZ Super Fund is reducing its investment in firms emitting greenhouse gases. Perhaps other funds around the world will follow.

NZ Super Fund shifts passive equities to low-carbon

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Self-publishing- does it work?

Like many people. I've thought of self publishing. Somehow, it didn't appeal. Maybe it was because Penguin, which was part of Pearson, was in the same building in London. I think I'm now converted; I'm sure self-publishing is the way to go. Here are the reasons why.

Not so long ago, there weren’t many resources available that would enable an author to self-publish their writing. As the technology emerged, so did a stigma. It was thought that you only self-published if your book wasn’t good enough to be picked up by a publishing house.

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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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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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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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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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What does Trump mean for journalism?

I find everything about President Donald Trump fascinating. The fact that he has yellow hair and is in government and is so bad at it; the fact that he is so good at demonising the media- "fake news versus real news" is a case in point- and that he lies so well. The closest I've got to that is when someone (in Dubai) refused to be taped (I presume because it's easier to contradict what the other person has said when the interview is not recorded). So I was fascinated when I read this article about why Trump supporters are not as 'simple" as we like to think; they are often sophisticated. Take a look at the article below and see what you think. Maybe you can write something similar for your country.

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Will the boom in the Arab Gulf continue?

Working in the Arab Gulf for 8.5 years, most of the time surrounded by Indian, Pakistani and Philipino workers, I've become accustomed to some of the difficulties of working in the region principally poor living conditions, low pay, and the heat. I know someone who was so poorly paid that he was scarcely able to send money back to his family in India, even though he had been in his position for 30 years.  His monthly income was about US$300 per month, if that. Of course, I raised the matter with management, which was not the thing to do. That is the way to get into trouble. I ended up being pulled up on the road while in a car, but that only proved to be a close shave.

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