Tag: Middle East
on Feb.05, 2011, under the last days of Rome…
Back in the days of “sir, and ma’m” ….
In May, 1968 more than 11 million people in France protested the government, causing the economy of France to basically stop.
Some reports I have read state that more than 25% of the workforce protested de Gaulle’s conservative government.
What would have happened if the President of the United States at the time had gone on TV telling the world he wanted de Gaulle, (a strategic alley to America) to step down?
President Johnson didn’t get involved.
Ultimately, the protests in France “encouraged” the government to change, but the leader did not immediately, walk away.
This past week, estimated 1 – 2 million people have been/are protesting against Mubarak in Egypt.
Egypt is a country of 80 million people.
Although most readers know this, I will re-point it out anyways: Egypt is America and Israel’s biggest strategic partner in the region. Egypt is probably the only sudo-friend Israel has in the Middle East.
… I think everyone understands whoever Egypt’s democracy elects will not be a friend to Israel, and he (surely) will not be a puppet to the west.
Therefore, I don’t understand the Oprah Winfrey-style of leadership coming from Obama — it’s like he is trying to please everyone; trying to look like a nice guy when he tells the world: “I want to see immediate transition…”
…even my 7 year old daughter understands “immediate transition” in Egypt is impossible, not to mention dangerous for the rest of the world.
Trying to please everyone; trying to be liked by everyone….Oprah Winfrey leadership to be continued tomorrow…
That R.E.M. song is playing in the background…..
on Nov.15, 2010, under other
I am not a baseball fan.
However, several years ago, Larry Lucchino, the CEO of the Boston Red Sox promoted Theo Epstein, a 28 year old with nearly, no management experience to be the General Manager of the club – the youngest General Manager in Major League Baseball’s history.
The Boston Red Sox had not won the world series in 80+ years … and promoting a 28 year old with no management experience was extremely, controversial.
I was intrigued.
Imagine being 28 years old and being in charge of the 2nd most valuable baseball franchise in Major League Baseball.
The pressure must have been incredible – having the entire sport, the media, the other management, and an entire city – all watching and questioning your every move.
So from that day, the Boston Red Sox became my favorite team – and I followed Theo and the Red Sox with great interest.
2 years later, the Boston Red Sox won the World Series.
3 years after that win, the Red Sox won the World Series again.
A brilliant success story.
Larry Lucchino didn’t care about Theo’s age; he didn’t care about Theo’s lack of management experience – he chose Theo Epstein because he believed Theo was the best man for the job.
Yesterday, I promoted Robin Titus, a 25 year old with relatively, no management experience to be the General Manager of the Middle East and Africa.
Robin has been the number one salesman at naseba for the past 5 years. The past two years, he has been involved helping the producers develop the product, as well as working with marketing to expand our marketing machine.
Although he will have the experienced, senior management support in ensuring his development, and success, he is now the boss responsible for developing/leading/managing our Dubai office which has 43 people; and in charge of developing and expanding our Middle East and Africa business.
I don’t care if Robin doesn’t have a MBA.
I don’t care if he doesn’t have a wealth of management experience.
I don’t care if he is only 25 years old.
Robin Titus has something that age, experience, and no school can teach — he is driven.
If you work in sales, or want more information on Robin Titus this is worth reading: http://www.scottragsdale.com/?p=2709
on Jan.26, 2010, under my travels
I am going to post several pictures of this trip because the photos speak much better than any of my words…
For those who are interested in seeing more pictures of my trip to Yemen, later this week I will post our trip photos on my facebook and in the photo section of this blog.
People who are close to me know that I am big into battling “misinformation” or “exaggeration” in the media, especially when it comes to the Middle East and the Arab world. This post on my trip to Yemen is another example. Yes, some areas in the north of Yemen are dangerous for foreigners, but these sites are in the north and the tourist sites have all been closed.
However, Sana’a, the capital of Yemen and the UNESCO protected old town in Sana’a can be argued is as safe or safer than some areas of LA, Chicago, DC, London, Paris, etc.
The purpose of this post is not to try and fight the misinformation, or try and convince you Yemen is safe to visit– but importantly, keep reminding everyone about the amazing world out there….try and not let fear prevent you from experiencing it, especially the Middle East.
Romain, my brother-in-law, and I go on a trip each year with the focus of the trip on adventure.
We started this ritual in 2008 when we toured Lebanon. On that trip we drove all the way from Beirut to south Lebanon upto 400 meters from the border of Israel (I made a post on that trip) … I wanted to go to Rwanda this year, but Romain said “Yemen would be a cooler story” …
The flight to Sana’a, the capital of Yemen was an easy 2 hour Emirates airline flight from Dubai. Because of the 1 hour time difference, we left Saturday morning at 6:00am and arrived to Sana’a at 7:00 am.
On the flight, I was surprised and somewhat disappointed to see at least 10 other westerners….
We sat at the exit row and the stewardess, a talkative Australian sat facing us on the takeoff and landing … she asked me “why are you going to Yemen?” And I replied, “for sightseeing.”
She said, “yea right…” and obviously, did not understand our interest in visiting Yemen.
It was quick and easy to get our visas upon arrival and within 20 minutes of landing, we were out of the airport and in the car with our driver, a big burly, efficient man named Ibrahim.
The drive to our hotel, the Movenpick lasted maybe 15 minutes — We quickly, checked in and left straight away to start our tour without even going to our room….we had just two full days in Yemen and we did not want to waste even one minute.
Throughout the day, everyone was warm and friendly; we never once felt any anger from anyone and soon forgot we were in a country which CNN and most of the western media considers dangerous and hostile.
The afternoon we drove an hour outside Sana’a to Wadi Dhar and one of the most spectacular sites I have ever visited, a palace built on a rock called the “Dar Al Hajar.” I should point out, although I would rate this experience up there with my visit to the great wall, Petra, even the pyramids …. we saw no other tourists the entire day.
The Dar Al Hajar is a palace built on and inside a massive rock. With the risk of sounding melodramatic, “remarkable” … “incredible” does not adequately describe this place. We walked all over Wadi Dhar, I even went for my 45 minute run which I had to do for my IM training … we took many photos and talked with the local people. Everyone was warm and friendly, and several of them thanked us for visiting Yemen.
We then drove to Bait Baws, the old Jewish settlement which stood for centuries (pictured below) This massive village was completely deserted and we walked freely, through this incredible maze like site and did not see any other tourists.
Most of the men chew something called “ghat” … they call it “Yemen whiskey.”
We reluctantly tried some, but only to please a group of men who invited us into the guard tower they sat. Both of us did not like the taste.
Around 6pm, our driver dropped us off at the gate entrance to the old city of Sana’a, a walled in city protected by UNESCO. This gate and walled in city dates back 700+ years. Two young men came up and started to speak in English to us and became our guides through the old town.
Absolutely, incredible … walking around tiny back alley streets at night without street lights in Yemen…
We went through “Suq al-Milh” the Souk (the market) and saw everything on sale, from Donkeys, chickens, lamb, spices, fruit, silver, tobacco, honey, blacksmith goods, just to name a few.
We even stopped in an area of the old town with several small hole in the wall restaurants and ate dinner (pictured below). We did not see any other westerners and nearly no women.
Around 10pm, the two young guides, Saleem and Maher took us to what is considered the nicest hotel in the old town of Sana’a, (Burj al salam). When we entered the gorgeous hotel, Romain and I looked at each other with regret because we had not stayed at this hotel.
Romain smoked shi-sha on the roof balcony, I enjoyed a great cigar … and we sat quietly, both thinking about how gorgeous everything was…
The next day was the most exciting.
Sunday – we woke up at 4 am and flew to the Hadramaut region of Yemen (I dont know the name of the city we flew to) We wanted to visit “Shibam” which is called “the Manhattan of the desert” and has been a UNESCO protected site since 1983
To visit the Hadramaut region, one of Yemen’s most famous historical sites we had to have approval from the government which our travel agent in Yemen got for us.
The flight was easy and safe. Upon arrival, we did not have to go through customs and we were out of the airport within minutes of landing.
We were met at the airport by our driver as well as a truck of 6 soldiers all carrying AK-47s, our body guards for the day. We had three sets of guards for the day who changed at each check point. We had a truck of 9 guards plus a guard sitting in our truck on the long drive through the desert.
I will not go into all the various sites we visited … but I want to point out our body guards really took great care of us, always ensuring they went into sites before us, and one stood guard behind us and in front …. they really went out of their way to ensure our visit was safe and enjoyable.
We had to drive 5 hours through Hadramaut and Wadi Dhan … driving through oasis like valleys, mountains and flat desert plans. Gorgeous.
Writing about “body guards” protecting us and driving with us, in my opinion distorts the reality of our experience because we never felt in danger; we were never scared and I am confident had we been on our own, we would have been ok.
We stopped at a road side cafe where Romain ate fresh chicken. I stuck to my vegan diet and only ate a small portion of cooked rice.
We flew back to Sana’a from a different airport which was near the Indian Ocean… stunning.
The low cost airline (Felix Air, like easyjet inexpensive open seating, similar to a bus) was great – both the planes were brand new and very efficient.
We arrived back to our hotel around 9pm, went for a swim in the massive swimming pool at the movenpick and then went to sleep … our flight back to Dubai was at 10am the following day, and we organized to have Ibrahim pick us up at 6:15 and drive us to the old town of Sana’a so we could walk around for a couple hours before we went to the airport.
Monday morning, we arrived to the old town by 6:30am, met our two guides and walked around the town which was slowly waking up … we went to the hotel, burj al salam to have breakfast and coffee.
The open terrace on the roof of this hotel overlooks the old town as well as Sana’a, and the view is exceptional. After quietly enjoying strong coffee and a cigar, we walked through the souk back to the entrance of the gate where our driver was waiting to take us to the airport.
I think Yemen was the 85th country I have visited, and I sincerely consider this trip to be one of the most exciting, memorable experiences of my life.
What made this trip so fantastic and memorable was the Yemeni people. Very few people asked us for money, many turned my money away when I tried to ”tip” them for a service. More people than I can remember came up and thanked us for coming to visit their country.
I was told by someone that Prophet Mohamed referred to the Yemeni people as “the most gentle of all.”
For anyone planning a trip to Sana’a … I highly recommend the Burj Al Salam. (the Movenpick is a 5 star western style hotel and very nice, but the Burj al Salam is in the middle of the old town with extraordinary views over the old town and Sana’a)
Our travel agent “Al Mamoom International Tours” was exceptional (+967712593688) they went out of their way to ensure we had a safe and enjoyable trip. A special thanks to Beatrice, the Italian woman who heads up this company who took great care of us. Beatrice has lived in Yemen for more than 5 years.
on Dec.31, 2008, under searching for John Galt...
This afternoon my wife and youngest daughter went back to Dubai. I have business in Rome early next week so I decided to extend my time at our home in La Turbie and work at our Monaco office for another week.
La Turbie is a small village directly above Monaco, and we are at the very top of this part of the Riviera. Our house has a large 6 x 3 meter window in the living room which gives a view of Italy, France and direct view over Monaco, and the med. sea.
I am not allowed to smoke cigars in the house, but considering I am home alone, I am breaking this rule and enjoying my cigar as I lay on my couch with the inspiring view in front of me… trying not to think about the hellish disaster in Gaza right now.
One of my 2009 goals is to read at least 50 books in 2009. This goal starts today and I am reading, Palestine Peace Not Apartheid by Jimmy Carter.
I admit when it comes to the Palestinian Israeli conflict, I am naive. I do not fully understand the far right religious politics (on both sides) of the overall conflict with regard to land rights.
However, in my opinion, if you treat a people like animals, giving them only very limited access to the bare essentials for survival such as water, food and fuel; you take away their hope, and ultimately you create a nation of angry, desperate people with nothing to lose.
Without question, Hamas by launching missles into Israel has caused more harm to their people than they have good. But I also believe the abhorently, aggressive actions by Israel is creating a hundred thousand times more enemies to the nation of Israel than they are friends.
Although CNN, abcnews, fox or other main stream US news are not mentioning this point on their news programs– America is the only government in the world that is currently giving Israel unwavering support in the slaughter which is happening right now in Gaza. Unbelievable. Every major nation in the world, including UK, France, Germany, Russia, China, Japan …. including the United Nations (everyone except USA) has come out condeming Israel incessant attacks.
French news as well as BBC is reporting that even humanitarian aid is not being allowed into Gaza. Think about this for one second: There is no electricity, no running water, no food, no medical supplies, sewage system has been destroyed… an absolute, unimaginable hell on earth.
How does Israel think that their crushing, destroying, and humiliating 2.1 million Palestinians in Gaza makes the world safer for Israel?
My French wife did not understand why I began yesterdays blog with a short, documented proof of how no one can refer to me as anti-semitic. She told me I don’t need to justify myself to anyone, its my blog. But as I explained in yesterdays blog, I explained to her …. No one can question or challenge Israel without running the grave risk of being called anti-semitic, esp. in America. Please read yesterdays blog, if you have not already.
2009 begins in about 6 hours for me…. and I can’t help but sadly wonder where this slaughter is going to lead next.
“The bible says that when the first blood was shed among His children, God asked Cain, the slayer, “Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, “I know not. Am I my brother’s keeper? And the Lord said, “What hast thou done? The voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground. And now art thou cursed.” (genesis 4:9-11)
“The blood of Abraham, God’s father of the chosen, still flows in the veins of Arabs, Jews, and Christians, and too much of it has been spilled in grasping for the inheritance of the revered patriarch in the Middle East. The spilled blood in the Holy Land still cries out to God – an anguished cry for peace.” Jimmy Carter
on Dec.16, 2008, under searching for John Galt...
Our communication and marketing team launched a new blog format to make the blog more attractive and interactive.
We have added a tunes players with 10 songs … each song has some form of symbolic meaning for me. The player will be updated from time to time. The player will be set up where the music launches when the blog opens and continues to play the same song even when you look at different pages of the blog. If the player is not working today, it will be sorted asap.
The FND section is currently under construction, however, within a few days it will be updated.
The photo gallery includes pictures of different travels and adventures — this section will also be updated with more pictures and videos. Please note: no pictures of my material wealth are included in the gallary …
I am not posting the pictures of myself in exotic locations around the world to boast about how worldly I am – but much more importantly, to show my readers, esp. the ones in America, the world is not what we see on CNN.
Pictures of my travels through the Middle East and North Africa … Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon, and soon to be Oman and Iran will hopefully inspire the reader to not let the misinformation in the media prevent them from experiencing the world.
We want the blog to become more interactive, however, we will not post comments which add no value to the discussion, even if the comment is very positive about the blog or me personally. Please give your input or comment to the discussions, but ensure your comment adds something to the discussion.
Unlike other CEO blogs where the communications or marketing team writes the blog entries for the CEO, I write each entry myself. I travel nearly every week so sometimes there might be a few days between entries.
I write only when I have something to add to the discussion.
Lastly, the main purpose of my blog is to manage myself. If I am going to blog about staying positive – I must stay positive myself. If I am going to blog about making life happen – I must make my life happen.
However, as loyal readers have noticed, I am also fighting against dishonesty; misinformation; mediocrity; and negativity, all which are sweeping across the world like an uncontrolable virus.
I guess you can say….
I am searching for John Galt.