|Raising money for the Red Cresent (and pretending to be Messi)|
|Poets waiting to start|
|Saeed thanking people for attending|
|Volunteers counting the votes|
|Ahmed accepting his prize|
|Khalaf accepting his prize|
|The poets and organisers|
|The Floating Villa against an Abu Dhabi skyline|
This blogpost is based on the field trip and report written by Ahmed Al Bloushi, Jasem Al Shehhi and Salem Al Yammahi, three of the first men to graduate from Zayed University.
I remember the first class I heard that some of my students actually go into the mountains and collect honey - following the bees trail from the water source to the hive - it sounded so exciting and really like a treasure hunt. I remember that feeling when I used to go "hunting" mushrooms (Pine and Chantrel)with my brother (yes, skipping school might have been involved). Then I heard that one bottle of honey can cost over 1,000 dhs and that it was used for medicine and not for toast - and I knew I had to learn more.
So, given the awesome students I am blessed to teach, I was given the opportunity to learn more about the ancient art/trade/vocation/industry that so many of my boys from Fujairah and RAK know so much about -
|All photos in this report taken by Obaid Al Zaabi|
After a tea break with traditional bread - honey and liquified butter (yes, as delicious as it sounds) we went to the reserve. Mr. Ali told the students (in Arabic - they translated the important bits to me and wrote a great report) that he got the idea for creating a preserve in 1986 as urban development began to encroach on the traditional honey grounds - destroying the flowers, trees and grasses that bees need to make their honey. The land was allocated for the reserve in 1988 and is still protected today.
|Egyptian bee going into hive|
Honey from the boxed hives is still delicious (and not inexpensive as it is still local, and all hand collected in small batches) - I bought some of course and it has helped soothe my throat on many occasions.
The really expensive, rare and most precious honey comes from local bees, often from hives they have formed in caves.
|Mr. Ali holding the "hive" in his hands & yes I held it too :)|
|First males to graduate from ZU, Mr. Ali and his friends in the mountains of Dibba, Fujairah|
Strategy in the UAE in action - it is all around us and we need to learn and study traditions and traditional industries to develop a theory for here - thank you boys - it was a wonderful experience and I will always remember it!
Using some smile and courage (long story, but something I teach to all my students from day one) one of my students decided that we should have traditional food - and so he called Mr. Khaled Hurriyah to see if he could talk to the class about his experiences as a cook and as a football fan. Now Mr Khaled is famous - he has cooked for everyone who is anyone in the UAE - he has been on TV and he made time in his busy day to talk to my students about his passion - cooking. Forty years ago, the story has it, he was a policeman, but decided to follow his dream and open a restaurant cooking traditional food. And become the best, hands-on cook-owner-manager he could. He still personally trains his cooks and staff and demands from them what he demands from himself - hardwork, dedication and passion for excellence.
Last Sunday my Strategy class organised a trip to the Sharjah Zoo (http://www.breedingcentresharjah.com/Wildlife%20Centre.html):
Not only does the Wildlife Centre house the world's largest collection of Arabian wildlife but it is also the only zoological park in the Middle East to be completely indoors. Making it perfect for a day out, regardless of the weather.
The Wildlife Centre has been divided up into various sections, each dedicated to a group of species including reptiles, invertebrates, birds, nocturnal animals, ungulates and large carnivores.
To say it was AWESOME does not begin to describe what I saw - and honestly, I felt like I was in North America it was set up so well inside (ok - they need a gift shop to sell stuffed TOY animals and puzzles and games and t-shirts, and they had a super affordable canteen, but other than that it was like something back home).
Everything inside this huge building is from the region - every bug, reptile, bird, fish, small animals and large animals - roamed or swam or crawled here - there were no polar bears or pandas in sight. The large animals are outside free to roam and look well cared for and needless to say I was happy the jackals were on the other side of the window!
But what about strategy? Well, the Centre (not the part we saw) is part of the BCEAW which is all about strategy and R&D and sustaining a rich wildlife heritage.
The BCEAW was purpose built for breeding the regionally endangered wildlife, but it also serves as a base for research into all the mammal, reptile, freshwater fish, amphibians and invertebrates species which inhabit the Arabian Peninsula. The BCEAW is also headquarters of the Captive Breeding Program for the, Critically Endangered, Arabian Leopard. (http://www.breedingcentresharjah.com/Home.html)
The only way to preserve the past and to preserve wildlife is to understand it, do research, and breed animals - and teach new generations of Emiratis (and ex-pats and tourists) about this glorious heritage.
It is about sustainable tourism and cultural tourism and about the wonders of discovery :)
I can't wait until October when my 4 year old nephew will visit - I want to see his eyes when he sees the little animal that sings "I like to move it- move it". And see the birds and the cheetahs and the ... well, go visit and you will see what I mean!
The article is by Ayesha Almazroui and she writes of the cultural boundaries women have when working outside the home - and how some women have been innovative within those boundaries, and how some have seen the boundaries as restrictions to break free of...
We always have choices when we have boundaries, and I am NOT one for pushing the limits and always err on the side of caution (just ask my students) - but I have also been one who expressed my "Connieness" within boundaries. I worked for eight years in a uniform (with a degree in History - Canadian and History of Science there were no other options). There was a rule to wear black shoes, so I wore Doc Martins, but there was no rule on shoe laces so I wore bright red plaid ones. My boss told me they weren't allowed (also helped that he was dumb and I had memorised the collective aggreement) - yet he soon realised he couldn't stop me short of changing the collective aggreement to ban coloured shoelaces.
Now, I know that each and every Emirati expresses their individuality with their abayas and kandoras- the stiching, the cut, the fabric, the colour, the use of contrasting fabric for the girls - and I know that the "boundary" of the National dress allows for absolute freedom of expression - it might be subtle, but I am able to appreciate that individuality everyday.
The boundaries that some women have as to their choice of workplaces is similar - they are still able to express themselves and feel fulfilled when they are innovative. Whether it be negotiating for that appropriate workplace, starting a homebased business, becoming a writer, starting a home based tutoring "space" to teach reading and writing to older women - organising sessions with older women for their sisters and cousins, to hear stories from the past and learn the older traditions.
There are always ways to be innovative within boundaries - there are always ways to contribute to soceity and find fulfillment that do not involve money changing hands. I advise my male students - many who would prefer their future wives do not work outside the home - to let their wives be innovative, let them feel they have an identity of their own definition - be creative with her to find something acceptable to all.
To my female students who worry about not being able to work outside the home I advise them to find their talents and express them through positive action - my Mom would hold craft sessions with the neighbourhood children and volunteered to come into our primary classes to teach crafts -
Boundaries are there - it's a fact - it is not about fair or not fair - it is about what is, instead of using energy complaining, use that energy to be creative and as a source of inspiration - it will create less conflicts at home and within yourself and you might just have fun :)
How do you find out about strategy in the UAE? Well, you could read some of the blog posts below this one, or you could read Abu Dhabi 2030 - or any of the other strategic plans (outlined in the post on youth entrepreneurship). But really it is about what is the path that will lead to the vision of the UAE as articulated in the founding of the country a little over 40 years ago - when you see it you will know.
Those of us who aren't photographers can buy the prints - which will be exhibited in the firt week of June. I get first dibs of course, but no discounts :) Good luck all and if you have questions put them in comments and I will answer.
Here is a painting by one of the student organisers, Rashid Al Bloushi - this is an example of the type of image they are looking for (if you are able to explain in a few sentances what strategy it represents).
Here are the rules (written by the students):
I would like to thank the managers who provided my students with advice and Ms. Taiba Hussain, an instructor at Zayed University and a PhD Candidate at King's College, London, for her invaluable data analysis and collaboration. Sometimes the best strategy we can take is listening to the wisdom of others (and actually following their advice).
1. Be Affectionate
2. Rearch your targets
3. Have patience and be determined
The Chairman is HE Khaldoon al-Mubarak, who is also the CEO of Mubadala. After they bought the team, they quickly brought in a new coach, bought high profile players and somehow magic seemed to happen. Now any fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs will tell you that lots of money invested in expensive players does not buy championships... but buying the right mix does.
I had planned to show HE Khaldoon's interview today in class (http://www.mcfc.co.uk/)- to have a discussion about the changing strategy of hte Club - from short term "buying" a championship to long-term player development with the Etihad Academy. Then walking into the class, the video of the game was playing, there was cake and coke and it was a celebration - we ate cake, watched the goal, watched the chanting - watched the interview - and then talked strategy.
My boys know more about football than you can imagine - who, when, where, why - they just didn't realise that a well managed team has to follow a strategy - and that we, as students and researchers, can learn from that strategy to apply it in different situations.