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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When there is so much going on, do you know what to write?

For the last few days I’ve been thinking about what I want to write next since there’s been so much happening in the world. From the terrorism acts in Manchester and London Bridge, the senseless killings in Iran, the Grenfell tower fire in West London, to the recent van running over a group of Muslims in North London- exactly where I used to visit a friend regularly, as it happens - the virtual lockdown of Qatar by the UAE, Saudi, Bahrain, Egypt, Mauratania and the Maldives and the forest fire in Portugal.

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#FuturePRoof: Leaders speak out on value of public relations

Why should companies engage in public relations, or even better, engage a public relations professional to communicate their message to the wider public?

Sarah Hall, is at the PR Festival in Edinburgh to explain why. Sarah is also instigator of the #FutureProof Project- a compilation of stories related to communication written by leading PR practitioners.

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Why great leaders are great communicators

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Is the media too negative about Trump?

Media coverage of President Trump has rarely been positive. But is it surprising when Trump has never been nice about the media. In any case, it is not the media's role to be nice. It is incumbent upon the media to probe, ask questions- even hard ones- to analyse and even to criticise. I thought this article in "The Washington Post" summed up the role of the journalist well.

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The Gulf crisis and what it means for journalism in the region

The Gulf Arab crisis has prompted me to think about how it will affect journalism in the region. This is because I was a journalist based in Dubai for 8.5 years, first on a national newspaper, Khaleej Times, and then head of a newswire service, Mergermarket,that focused on mergers and acquisitions across North Africa and the Middle East.

 During that time, particularly in the latter years, I used to fly to Doha in Qatar a great deal, mainly on FlyDubai- a low cost airline that started in 2008. Emirates Airline supported the airline in its early stages. Consequently with no flights currently between the UAE and Qatar I would not have been able to do my job.

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Accessing the right information in crisis situations can be crucial

This article appeared in the last newsletter distributed by the Canterbury Refugee and Resettlement and Resource Centre (CRRC)- formerly the Canterbury Refugee Council. In this article Lucia Dore and Melisande Middleton, founder of the Center for Internet & Media Ethics (CIME), discuss how information flows matter in crisis situations, even in small, far away countries like New Zealand.

During the civil war in Afghanistan (1989-92) Iran opened its borders to refugees but not many people knew about this, cites an Afghan familiar with the situation. “Many people fled to there and sought safe haven and temporary education for their kids. Many didn’t hear about it and stayed and I know many people who lost their loved ones because they didn’t know that Iran had finally opened the border.”

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The FT drives traffic using What’sApp

Social media is deemed to be the driver behind business growth these days, and this is perhaps more true of publishing companies than most.

 What is seldom spoken about is the use of What’sApp as a social media tool to drive traffic.   However, it seems to be particularly successful for the Financial Times (FT) anyway.

 I was part of this organisation for a few years while I lived in the Middle East so I wonder if the FT will use, or is using, WhatsApp to drive traffic in its publishing business which comprises magazines such as The Banker and Fdi?

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"Write what you know" is not good writing advice

Reading this article by author, Kate Southwood, was a revelation. So often we are told that it's critical that any budding author ought to write about what he/she knows. In this article, this myth is dispelled. It’s important to use what you know, and manipulate it when necessary, she says. I think it’s a good piece of advice, especially if we don’t want to write an autobiography.

You’ve heard it before: Write what you know. I wonder what you think of that, because, frankly, I don’t think much. I’ve been known to pooh-pooh it as well-meaning but ultimately second-rate advice. It’s reassuring to hear, and probably reassuring to say, but I believe it misdirects beginning writers and costs them time. It cost me time. If I could tap myself on the shoulder—my younger self, setting out across seven states to start my MFA—I’d say, “Be careful with that one; it’s not what you think.”

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The Manchester attack: social media versus mass media

Even though I live nowhere near Manchester, we can still get infinite coverage of the terrorist attack in that city. (I live in Queenstown, New Zealand actually). It is inarguable that this was a horrific act, carried out by contemptible people. Nonetheless, we know this happens every day in places such as Syria and Yemen. And the way in which  the Western media covers such an attack probably plays into the hands of the terrorists. According to the author of the article below, social media is way ahead of the mass media and has covered this attack more discreetly.

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Global Communications Report Predicts Convergence of Marketing and Public Relations

The convergence of marketing and PR is often discussed, and the recent AMEC meeting in Bangkok was no exception. Some continue to argue the two are distinct skill sets while others maintain the two are converging. The findings from USC Annenberg’s 2017 Global Communications Report predicts the latter.

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Fake news vs real news: what to do about it

“Trust is more important than truth.”

 According to those who took part in a discussion “Fake News versus Real News at Amec’s Global Summit in Bangkok, this is typically the case in a “fake news” world.

 So what can journalists do about it? We can stop using the term “fake news”; we can ignore surveys which can be biased or tweaked towards certain results; we must always strive to retain balance in a story; we must be careful on social media because much fake news is a result of social media; and we should attribute to a comment to social media, such as“according to” a Twitter account rather than to a particular person”.

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Teaching data journalism in developing countries

Data journalism is a term that is used to refer to the increased role that numerical data has in journalism. It brings together computing, technology, statistics and journalism. It is a relatively new term and has become more important as technology and computing has grown. It was just part of investigative journalism before.

The extent to which data journalism is applied is cultural. But it is not just impacted by what is written but how data and statistics are gathered in the first place. This is what this article explains.


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Can you avoid being scammed?

 Nowadays there are so many scams and it seems some are difficult to avoid. I have been a victim of an e-commerce con, which has gone on for about three years now. Clearly, I’m not the only one as Forbes magazine has outlined (see below). Unfortunately, it was not until I had parted with my money – twice- one for an upgrade, that I finally realised I had been scammed. Duhhh..

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NZ Finance Minister dismisses visitors' tax

New Zealand finance Minister, Steven Joyce, confirmed his reluctance to impose a visitor levy on tourists because visitor numbers may not remain at the current level, he said. He was speaking at a lunch on April 28 2017, hosted by the Queenstown Chamber of Commerce.

 He noted that tourist numbers in New Zealand were only a small percentage of tourist numbers worldwide - although they might seem big to us.

 However, it was important for the government to invest in infrastructure, to make things happen, he said, particularly in a place like Queenstown given that it is a tourist mecca.

 He also spoke about the need to mobilise private capital and utilise that when necessary.

 At the end of April, Joyce announced that he would be allocating $11 billion over the next four years to infrastructure in the May Budget, up from $4 billion. Some of these projects are already underway such as the Kapiti Expressway and the new City Rail Link (CRL) in Auckland.

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NZ Super Fund among global leader in climate change

Private equity in New Zealand is lead by the country's sovereign wealth fund. The annual SWF conference was held in Auckland last November. Here is a link. IFSWF Conference: where should sovereign wealth funds invest?

The New Zealand Superannuation Fund has achieved a AAA rating in its listing of top international asset managers in the most recent Global Climate Index report, and ranks at 15, in its list of top international} asset managers.

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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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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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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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