Monday, August 30, 2010

The blindingly obvious

MacNabb puts it succinctly...

"I interviewed prominent Emirati businessman Ali Al Bawardi some years ago and recall being struck at the time by his assertion that all too often, businesses here invested in the place over the people - throwing up world class infrastructure but then bringing in cheap, unqualified and under-empowered people to operate that infrastructure, often with poor management to oversee them. Result: world class infrastructure that doesn't work very well."

This reflects precisely my experience in the Sandlands, in respect of the television channels with which I was associated. The latest, greatest gear... but operated operated by sad, lost Muppets. 

1 comment:

nzm said...

We could see this happening in the time that we were there. When the costs of living in the UAE started to get too extreme, overseas Head Offices started recalling their expensive (salary+house+school-fees+health benefits+insurance etc) western executives back to homebase, and replacing them with lower-paid "administrators" - the latter from the Indian sub-continent, with Filipino office staff.

The only reason that the UAE offices are kept running is so that the companies can channel their offshore (out of UAE) financials through them, tax-free, and keep their intellectual property in the U.A.E. The profits and legal security gained more than outweighs the costs of keeping non-performing UAE branches open and, for the overseas companies, it doesn't matter if the local UAE offices are actually being effective and profitable in the local market.

Forgive my racial stereotyping, but that's what we saw happening. In the Dubai Internet City, by the end of 2006, it was a struggle to see any western (white) people in the complex - or many Arab/Emirati people for that matter, other than the DIC office staff. The support businesses (restaurants, Starbucks etc) started to close, because there weren't enough higher paid people left to provide them with any steady business. It became more common to see people picnicking in the grounds with home-made meals.