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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I left my son in a kingdom of men

I read this article published in The Washington Post with a great deal of interest. I’ve a Saudi friend who tells me that the issue of women driving is more to do with business and economics rather than religion. If women are banned from driving it keeps businesses like chauffeurs, limousines and taxis profitable. If women drive, these firms would get far less business.

I also know a Westerner who married a Saudi, and can’t get a visa to go to that country. The marriage took place in a non-Arab country, under British law, so it is not deemed valid, as far as the Saudis are concerned. It’s just as well there are no children involved.

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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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Qatar row: Economic impact threatens food, flights and football

I’m more than a little bit curious abut how this latest row between the Arab Gulf States will pan out. Will there be a military standoff between Qatar and the other Gulf States and Egypt? Will all nations suffer because of this? Given that Qatar is punching above its weight, and its threatening the supremacy of Dubai in the region - with its developing financial system, strong and growing airline, and a world-class news network- I can’t help but think that this row with Qatar has more to do with the economic threat it poses to the UAE than with ideology.

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Hackers leak emails from UAE ambassador to US

It has been known for some time that the UAE, along with the some of other Gulf countries, have been forming a closer bond with Israel, as a buffer to Iran. This article from the Qatar-based Al Jazeera confirms this.

 It also shows how the UAE is increasingly concerned about the strength of Qatar, especially as a financial centre. Qatar also has different political alignments from those of the UAE and Saudi Arabia, which this article highlights.

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Interest rates in New Zealand will remain low

Governor of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, Graeme Wheeler, confirmed that interest rates would remain low for the “foreseeable future”. He was speaking at a business lunch in Queenstown on Friday 2 June.

“I don’t think we will see high inflation in the global economy for a long time,” he said, noting that the Reserve Bank had cut interest rates seven times since mid-2015.

 Interest rates in New Zealand stand at an historic low. While mortgage interest rates are about 2.2 per cent the official cash rate is 1.75 per cent. This is high when compared to Europe, which is about 0.5 per cent or less, Wheeler said.

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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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Jacob Zuma and Dubai

The UAE, Dubai in particular, is frequently in the news and it’s not always for good things. If we read the UK’s “Daily Mail” there are often stories about people who are imprisoned because they are caught kissing in public for example. While all the stories are undoubtedly true, it shows how knowing the rules matter; when you live in a city-state like Dubai, Abu Dhabi or Sharjah, you soon learn that the rules are much stricter than they appear for a tourist passing through.

 Foreign dignitaries frequently touch down in the country. President Trump has given his name to a building and a golf course in Dubai developed by the emirate’s DAMAC but he is unlikely to stay for very long.

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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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Iran's Rouhani denounces US' Middle East Ignorance

It’s with considerable interest that I watch President Trump’s tour of the Middle East, predominantly Saudi Arabia and Israel, the two strongest allies of the US in the region.

These two countries might be different when it comes to religion but they are opposed to the same thing- Iran- and it is that common ground that binds them together.

 Saudi Arabia loves Trump, as does the UAE, where I spent time again recently. While Trump has business dealings in Dubai, with Damac, a large real estate developer, he also has close ties with Saudi Arabia. The arms deal signed with the largest Muslim state in the region is worth $110 billion, which mean that war in the region will go on and on. It is in the US interests to ensure that it does.

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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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Rivals H&F and TPG vye for Fairfax

Australia’s Fairfax, which controls many of the newspapers across New Zealand, may have had its proposed merger with New Zealand Media and Entertainment (NZME) rejected but it appears to have other options. One of them is to be taken over either by New York-based private equity firm Hellman & Friedman (H&F) or by a consortium led by TPG.

Merger and acquisition newswire service, Mergermarket (which was then owned by the Financial Times Group) was sold in 2013 to private equity firm, BC Parners, for GBP 382 million. (Since then another sale is being sought, according to reports).

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Does the chaotic news cycle inform us the way it should?

I read the article below that appeared in The Washington Post and thought this was a good reflection of how people feel about the media almost everywhere. What should they believe and what should they not believe?

All over the world, people seem to have become bored with much of traditional media, saying that most of what they read is “fake news”.

However, here is usually some truth in all that is reported, whether it is embellished or not. If people choose not to believe the news, there is little that can be done. That is increasingly the case.

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