Omanisation must stretch to the very top of industry Reply

Omanisation must stretch to the very top of industry

 

Salim bin Nasser

Salim bin Nasser Al Hadhrami – DG Planning & Development – MOM

Times of Oman – March 31, 2014 – By Elham PourMohammadi

Muscat: Omanis should be in high-level positions in industry and the private sector needs to assist the Ministry of Manpower to achieve this, a senior official told the Times of Oman.

The Ministry of Manpower, along with some other government organisations, is making efforts to reduce the level of expatriates working in the private sector in Oman from its current level of 39 per cent of the total manpower to 33 per cent, said Salim bin Nasser Al Hadhrami, Director General of Planning and Development at the Manpower Ministry.

“Recently, the Ministry of Manpower announced some ministerial decisions to organise the job market with a focus on joint inspections in all governorates,” he said. “We have found cases where an individual owns several business entities where hundreds of expatriates are working but, unfortunately, there is no Omani working in these organisations,” Al Hadhrami said, adding that the ministry has decided not to deal with any organisation where there is no Omani, since March 1.

“Unfortunately, some people explained that Omanis will work in ordinary positions. But we did not mean that. We actually wanted Omanis to work at managerial and technical professions in big companies.”

The director general added that small- and medium-sized companies also have to be managed by Omanis who dedicate themselves to their businesses.

“We know that there is a special authority for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) which provides them all the support,” Al Hadhrami said, referring to the Public Authority for SME Development.

He added that the efforts of the ministry and related organisations are aimed at organising the job market. “We expect all the parties to cooperate with us to correct the situation. We all know that the private sector is a strategic partner. Therefore, we expect them to employ more Omanis.”

He also noted that there has been no announcement so far as to how many expatriates would be replaced with locals throughout the Omanisation process.

At current employment levels, the Times of Oman calculated that reducing the number of private sector expat workers from 39 per cent to 33 per cent would ultimately see approximately 100,000 roles being Omanised over time. That number could fluctuate though as the general employment pool rises as Oman continues to expand and grow. Ministry officials have consistently said there is no deadline to achieve that 33 per cent target.

To get in touch with the reporter: elham@timesofoman.com
Remarks – Fully Agree!
And what I always say the very same things in my books and columns!
Take Care!
Majid Al Suleimany

 

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The Disease of Jealousy and Envy! Reply

The Disease of Jealousy and Envy!

  • Looking The Other Way!
  • Not Appreciating Our Own!
  • Bad Hearts At Work!
  • Jealous and Envious People!
  • The Mafias!
  • The Old Guards!
  • The Old Guards & The Mafias – Unite!
  • So sad and tragic!
  • Open your eyes and see, open your ears and hear and open your mouth – and speak!

Sayings!

  • Say: I Take Refuge With The Lord Of The Dawn……  And From The Evil Of The Jealous As He Envies – (Surah 113:  Ayah  1-2…5)
  • Life cannot defeat a Writer who is in love with writing , for life itself is a Writer’s love until deathEdna Ferber
  • Simply calling yourself as wise men does not make you as such. People will judge you by your character and behavior only! – Famous
  • My Previous Article http://majidall.com/2013/11/28/not-recognising-and-valuing-our-own-writers/

The Prophet (SAW) warned against envy by comparing it to fire that completely burns the wood. He (SAW) said: “Beware of jealousy, for verily it destroys good deeds the way fire destroys wood.” [Abu Dawood] Hasaad (Jealousy / Envy) is a disease of the heart and it causes impurity to the heart, when Allah’s Messenger (SAW) was asked who are the best of people? He (SAW) replied: “the one with a clean heart and truthful tongue.” They asked: ‘We understand a truthful tongue, but what does a clean heart mean?’ he answered: ‘It is the heart of one that is pious, pure, and is free of sin, transgressions, hatred and Hasad.” [Ibn Majah]

An African President – just after Independence from the colonial masters – was ‘teasing’ his congregation that the local ‘mentality and outlook’ that anything good must be ‘British – English’ and anything bad local!

For example?

A big rooster (chicken) must be an ‘English Chicken’ – thus ‘English orange’ – English mango (!) etc.! But there was no ‘English Cockroach’ – ‘English scorpion’ etc. – these were only local ones!

There is also this issue that some elements – perhaps more because of their backgrounds or perhaps sources support – think that they ‘know everything!’ and that they are better than everyone else and that they have more rights too! These people will never change – until it is too late for them – and everybody else too for that matter!

Sad and Tragic!

NEED I SAY ANY MORE? Do Not think so!

Take Care!

By Majid Al Suleimany

My Previous Article http://majidall.com/2013/11/28/not-recognising-and-valuing-our-own-writers/

Some More Sayings! –

  • O ye who believe! Be steadfast in the cause of Allah, bearing witness in equity: and let not a people’s enmity incite you to act otherwise than with justice. Be always just, that is nearer to righteousness. And fear Allah, Surely Allah is aware of what you do – The Holy Quran – Ch.5: V.9
  • Help one another in righteousness and piety, but help not one another in sin and rancor: Fear Allah for Allah’s strict in punishmentReligious – The Holy Quran 5:2
  • An empty head is not really empty; it is stuffed with rubbish. Hence the difficulty of forcing anything into an empty head – Eric Hoffer
  • CA – Until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter!
  • God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference – Reinhold Niebuhr
  • If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead, either write things worth reading or do things worth the writing – Benjamin Franklin

Envy 1 Envy 2 Envy 3 Envy 4 Envy 5 Envy 6 Envy 7 Envy 8 Envy 9 Envy A

Images For Demonstration Purposes Only!

Do Not Give Up! Reply

Famous Failures!

Discouraged? See This!

Famous Failures

The Beatles were told – your music is too loud! It will NEVER take off!

Never Give Up 1 Never Give Up 2 Never Give Up 3 Never Give Up 4 Never Give Up A

Images Do Not Give Up! For Demonstration Purposes Only!

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MAJID AL SULEIMANY BOOKS – http://www.myownmajid.com  

It has not died .. Simply No one can kill it – except The Good Lord Only!

CERTAINLY NOT THE MAFIAS – NOR THE OLD GUARDS! WORKING TOGETHER TO BLOCK THE TRUTH – AND PREFER IT TO BE PUSHED UNDER THE CARPET!

A BLLODY SHAME _ WHERE WE ARE GOING NOW!!

ALLAH KAREEM _ GOD IS GREAT!

Take Care!

Majid Al Suleimany

Muscat – Oman – March 29th 2014.

Syria: The Battle Beyond 1

Syria: The Battle Beyond

Educated middle-class Syrian exiles share their thoughts on the revolution and their determination to return home.

Al Jazeera World Last updated: 19 Mar 2014 20:55

Syria The Battle Beyond

Double Click To Open

Three years ago, Syrians took to the streets   in protest against the government, and the resulting conflict has been longer   and more violent than anyone could have anticipated.

In this film, we follow the stories of Syrians   in exile who have all escaped the conflict with their lives.

The image the world often has of refugees is   of a downtrodden traveller or occupant of a squalid transit camp. But this   film is built around the experiences of educated, middle-class exiles of the   Syrian revolution – an academic, an artist, a playwright, a researcher, a   medical worker, and a women’s rights campaigner.

Now living in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, they   were all once activists in Syria. Some escaped to avoid arrest, others simply   fled the deteriorating situation.

All have individual stories – about being away   from home, missing their places of work and study, their neighbourhoods and   cafes. But they all have one thing in common – a fierce determination to   continue fighting for a ‘Free Syria’, each in their own way. They all believe   the war will ultimately end and that they will be able to go back to a free   country ruled by a democratically elected government.

In Syria: The Battle Beyond, we hear   their stories as they reflect on the struggles they face living in exile, and   their hopes of one day returning home.

Al Jazeera World can be seen each week at the following times GMT: Tuesday: 2000; Wednesday: 1200; Thursday:     0100; Friday: 0600; Saturday: 2000; Sunday: 1200; Monday: 0100; Tuesday: 0600.

Images – For Demonstration Purposes Only!

Syria 1 Syria 2 SYRIA-CONFLICT-EDUCATION Syria 4 Syria 5 Syria 6 Syria ASyria 8Syria 9 (1)Syria 9 (2)Syria 10

Images – For Demonstration Purposes Only!

Famous Expression

There is an East African expression that goes on like this –

Those with eyes are not told to look – those with ears to hear – and those with a mouth to speak!

An expression more near at home in Arabic goes like this –

There is no one so blind with eyes but cannot see – one so deaf with ears but cannot see – and one so dumb but with a mouth but cannot speak!

And the Romans old saying –

Those that the gods want to destroy make them not see, hear or speak!

Take Care!

By

Majid Al Suleimany

Time To Privatise The Oman Daily Observer! Reply

 

NEWS REPORT TODAY

 

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Quote – The government continues to march ahead with programmes to attract investments in various sectors, while at the same time trying to strengthen the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) for these two factors play a key role in generation of employment, and enhancement of value addition to the economy. This was stated by Dr Ali bin Masoud al Sunaidy, Minister of Commerce and Industry and Deputy Chairman of the Supreme Council for Planning, while speaking at the fourth edition of Oman Economic Forum, held under the auspices of Darwish bin Ismaeel al Balushi, Minister Responsible for Financial Affairs – Unquote!.

As an ex Omani Columnist, Writer and Author I would recommend to Our Leadership to seriously consider to PRIVATISE OMANISE The Oman Daily Observer.

This is the only way to increase efficiency, transparency and accountabilities! And backlogs and maladministration!

Also the cancerous cells of The Mafias and The Old Guards unending sagas!!

Sad – but THE TRUTH!

Loyal Faithful Citizen,

Majid bin Said bin Nasser bin Zahor Al Sulaimani

 

Be an Indian; But Not In India! The Real Story of The NRIs! Reply

Be an Indian; But Not In India! Real  Story of NRIs!

SAD BUT TRUE! *A MUST READ…*

*From an Indian to an Indian…*

BE AN INDIAN, BUT NOT IN NDIA!

Why do they succeed outside India? Do they do the same to the Locals in other countries??

From Yahoo – East African Circle – By Pradyuman Josh

*Forwarded as received. *

Received from an *NRI businessman’s’  Group* in India

NRI refers to Non-Residents of India

*VERY INTERESTING AND TRUE! *

This is worth your time. Who ever put this together, is no fool and has the right vision about India, makes sense and is an eye opener.

I remember Brits in our own country India before independence that when Indians use to address them ‘YES, SIR!’ and joining their hands and bowing to them, as if they (Indians) were servants and Brits ‘Masters’ in India. *Imagine being a servant in ones’ own country.*

What for? Because of the white skin, privileged masters? They used and abused Indians in their own country and reduced them ‘to being stupid, suppressed them and broke down their self-esteem way down and made themselves (Brits) the masters of the slaves.

No wonder Brit’s ruled the world with that attitude and took/made us fools!

India would have been freed from Britain if our ancestors had fought and revolted against the Brits as did the Americans in the USA in the 16th century. Remember ‘the Boston Tea Party’ and other historical events where people revolted and gained independence from the colonial powers?

*Thought Provoking reasoning:*

I would like to sum up our performance in the 20th century in one sentence. Indians have succeeded in countries ruled by whites, but failed in their own. This outcome would have astonished leaders of our independence movement. They declared Indians were kept down by white rule and could flourish only under self-rule.

This seemed self-evident. The harsh reality today is that Indians are succeeding brilliantly in countries ruled by whites, but failing miserably in India. They are flourishing in the USA, Canada, UK, Europe, far east, etc.

But those that stay in India are pulled down by an outrageous system that fails to reward merit or talent, fails to allow people and businesses to grow, and keeps real power with unfaithful leaders, corrupt politicians, and selfish assorted manipulators. Once Indians go to white-ruled countries, they soar and conquer summits once occupied only by whites.

Rono Dutta has become head of United Airlines, the biggest airline in the world with a Fleet size of 705 aircrafts and 381 destinations world wide. Had he stayed in India, he would have no chance to lead in the Indian Airlines.

Even if the top job there was given to him by some godfather, the corrupt, dominating politicians and trade unionists would have ensured that he could never run it like United Airlines. Vikram Pundit was head of Citigroup until recently, which operates Citibank, one of the largest banks in the world.

Rana Talwar has become head of Standard Chartered Bank, one of the biggest multinational banks in Britain, while still in his 40s. Had he been in India, he would perhaps be a local manager in the State Bank, taking orders from politicians to give loans to politically favored clients.

Lakhsmi Mittal has become the biggest steel baron in the world, with steel plants in the US, Kazakhstan, Germany, Mexico, Trinidad and Indonesia. Indias’ socialist policies reserved the domestic steel industry for the public sector. So Lakhsmi Mittal went to Indonesia to run his family’s first steel plant there. Once freed from the shackles of India, he conquered the world.

Subhash Chandra of Zee TV has become a global media king, one of the few to beat Rupert Murdoch. He could never have risen had he been limited to India, which decreed a TV monopoly for Indian gov’t company, Doordarshan. But technology came to his aid: satellite TV made it possible for him to
target India from Hong Kong. Once he escaped Indian rules and soil, he soared.

You may not have heard of 48-year old Gururaj Deshpande. His communications company, Sycamore, is currently valued by the US stock market at over US $30 billion, making him perhaps one of the richest Indians in the world. Had he remained in India, he would probably be a politician in the Department of  Telecommunications.

Arun Netravali has become president of Bell Labs, one of the biggest research and development centers in the world with 30,000 inventions and several Nobel Prizes to its credit. Had he been in India, he would probably be struggling in the middle cadre of Indian Telephone Industries. Silicon Valley alone contains over 100,000 Indian millionaires.

Indra Krishnamurthy Nooyi has been the CEO of  PepsiCo Inc. since 2006, a Fortune 500 company.

Sabeer Bhatia invented Hotmail and sold it to Microsoft for US $400 million.

Victor Menezes, born in Pune in 1949, was number two in Citibank until late last year.

Shailesh Mehta is CEO of Providian, a top US financial services company.

Also at or near the top are Rakesh Gangwal of US Air, Jamshd Wadia of Arthur Andersen, and
Aman Mehta of Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corp.

In Washington DC, the Indian CEO High Tech Council has no less than 200 members, all high tech-chiefs. While Indians have soared, India has been stagnated.

At its independence time, India was the most advanced of all colonies, with the best prospects.

Today with a GNP per head of $370, it occupies a lowly 177th position among 209 countries of the world. But poverty is by no means the only or main problem.

India ranks near the bottom in the United Nations’ Human Development Index, but high up in Transparency Internationals’ Corruption Index.

The politician-raj (rule) brought in by socialist policies is only one reason for Indias’ failure. The more sordid reason is the rule-based society we inherited from the British Raj, is in tatters today. Instead
money, muscle and influence matter the most.

At independence we were justly proud of our politicians. Today, we regard them as scoundrels and criminals. They have created a jungle of laws in the holy name of socialism, and used these to line their pockets and create patronage networks. No influential crook suffers. The Indian Mafias flourish unhindered because they have political links.

The sons of police officers, politicians, rich people believe they have a license to rape and kill and get away from being charged criminally or prosecuted. Talent cannot take you far amid such bad governance.

We are reverting to our ancient feudal system where no rules applied to the powerful ones. The British Raj brought in abstract concepts of justice for all, equality before the law. These were maintained in the early years of independence. But, sixty years later, citizens wail that India is a lawless land where no rules are obeyed.

I have heard of an IAS probationer at the Delhi training academy pointing out that in India before the British came, making money and distributing favors to relatives was not considered a perversion of power, it was the very rationale of power. A feudal official had a duty to enrich his family and caste.

Then the British came and imposed a new ethical code on officials. But, he asked, why should we continue to choose British customs over Indian ones now that we are independent?

The lack of transparent rules, properly enforced, is a major reason why talented Indians cannot rise in India. A second reason is the politician-raj, which remains intact despite supposed liberalization. But,
once talented Indians go to rule-based societies in the west, they take off. In those societies all people play by the same rules, all have freedom to innovate without being strangled by regulations.

This, then, is why Indians succeed in countries ruled by Non-Indians, and fail in their own.

*It is the saddest story of the century for Indians and India.

From Yahoo – East African Circle – By Pradyuman Joshi

NRI 5 NRI 4 NRI 3 NRI 1 NR 2 NRI 6 NRI A

Images For Demonstration Purposes Only!

3. Fwd: FW: SAD but TRUE. A MUST READ!!
Posted by: “Pradyuman Joshi” papla1860@gmail.com
Date: Sun Mar 16, 2014 7:57 am ((PDT))

Date: Sat, Mar 15, 2014 at 10:14 AM
Subject: INDIANS & INDIA: SAD but TRUE…

Reply – Blacklist Companies Not Just Punish Corrupt Officials! Reply

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Majid New (2)

March 17th, 2014

Dear Brother Saleh;

After Compliments;

Reference your article belowSunday Beat – Times of Oman – March 16, 2014

Saleh Al Shaibany – http://www.timesofoman.com/News/Article-31123.aspx.

As a matter of ethics, principles, transparencies, accountabilities and professionalism – I am fully with you here – and that is the reason for my posting it in my website here  at –

https://majidsn.com/2014/03/16/blacklist-companies-not-just-punish-corrupt-officials-saleh-al-shaibany/

However, if okay with you I would like to raise some points for your review and consideration – please – and with due respects, sincerity and apologies!

As you are aware, I used to have two columns ‘Between Us Only’ – before in The Oman Daily Observer – where if you remember I used to raise my points with you the coming Wednesdays on aspects ‘we agree to differ’ but with respects and adherence to one another’s viewpoints! Or in some cases, where we do agree but need to highlight some pertinent important points – as in this one case!

As you are also probably aware, I have written intensively on this particular topic of ‘Corruption’ in my columns and in my books also – see my columns websites here – www.majidall.com and www.majidwrite.com. Also my book site here at www.myownmajid.com – a search of the word corruption will reveal many such articles covered during my 13 years as a Columnist!

Frankly, I have met ‘corruption’ from the first day of working in that distant land – and even before I landed in Oman for the first time in 1972 from Tanzania. Our flight went through Karachi – and I met ‘bribery and corruption’ as even as a transit passenger – even as on ‘a refugee status’ – and returning home!

Also for your information in my job aspects in that oil company then at least in one of the jobs – I was handling over US Dollars 15 million per year – with full authority only my one signature to pay staff to OMR 15,000 and contractors to US Dollars 100,000 per one invoice! But I am dead certain I had not taken even one Baizas – as per my late Father’s preaching not to get involved in bribery and corruption – and try our level best to live ‘within our means’ – and to avoid excesses, artificiality, pretences and shallowness – devoid of pride, show-off and contempt of others. And treating others with respects and esteem – and in ‘live and let live’ approaches in life per se!

I must admit that even when I had my Consultancy there were many implied nuances for `bribery and corruption’ to get contracts – or keep them going – some were even direct with no ‘beating round the bush` syndromes – and ironically in one case an expatriate was asking me ‘how much I wanted to quote on stationery quotation’ – thinking that I was only working for the company as CEO – but not ‘smart and intelligent enough’ to run my own company!

Having all these now said – and putting all these things now behind in perspective and in consideration – I would like now to address some important pertinent points for your review and consideration – please!

Some of the people involved in the cases are ‘Top Guys’ who have full authority of how to spend the money under their control. Some of the budget are exhausitive and intensive – which you and I may consider high and huge – but for them is ‘peanuts’ in evaluation and comparison – especially if stretched out to a long period of time! There are so many instances of Miscellaneous that even the Auditors – even the External ones – would tend to pass through quickly in affirmation and checking!

You may find this funny anecdote now – but I found out that one of The Depot guy in my oil company in that distant land was using ‘snacks for office entertaintment’ as paying his Grocer for his food purchases – including strange purchases of ‘locks, ropes and bulbs’ for offices usages! – including stamps and stationery too!

Yes I fully do agree with you – but then perhaps we have seen too many films ‘where the Top Guys’ say – if you are caught you will be alone in this case – and we wash our hands off you! A recent film I saw was Agra – concerning American hostages during the Iranian Revolution times! It has been known to happen! And the way some of the businesses are run!

But it could also be that ‘even if they had suspicion’ these things were being played out ‘out of their view and sight’ – yes they may be aware – but perhaps throwing a finger of doubt into the equation – would they have known how far and deep the thing has gone in? Like the cancer cells attacking the body – but for all fits and purposes – looked all healthy and well from the outside and peering eyes!

There is an East African saying that the ‘homes hide a lot of secrets’ – skeletons in the closets (cupboards)! Similarly the same logic and theme could be applied to companies and departments one would imagine!

By the same logic that you use of people giving bribes – one could say the same should be said for those receiving bribes? If we go on this route – there are great consequences and repercussions for the great oil company which produces in my calculated guess of  90% of the income of the country! Imagine where we would be then!

Frankly, it is true that the Company has installed a lot of checks and balances to stem and wipe out corruption – with even HE Dr. Mohamed Al Rumhy – MOG – saying it was a ‘tough nut to crack’! It is really no excuse, blessing in disguise  or wishful thinking – but if you look at the alleged corruption like The Oil and Gas sector like in Nigeria – we are just peanuts – or ‘a storm in a tea cup’ – when it goes that high to Cabinet Ministers and The Central Bank too!

Corruption and bribery are cancerous cells that have spread all over the body – and like my late Father used to tell us – if your nose stinks – you do not go to cut it – but try to ‘keep it as clean as you possibly can get’!

The concrete steps have seriously started – and we should all remain strong in support and in adherence. In-fighting or finger pointing should be discouraged – and also ‘witch hunts’ and ‘ghost hunting’ escapades and scenarios!

At the bottom line too, we must not forget all those Omanis and others working for the companies if their lives came to a complete standstill in ending of operations of these companies – and the social impact and upheavals  that may arise!

Please accept Best Wishes and Regards,

With sincere and due apologies!

Your Friend and Brother Always,

Majid Al Suleimany

majid@mymajidwrite.com

majid@majidalsuleimany.com

malsuleimany@yahoo.com

majidalsulaimani@gmail.com

 

 

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Saudi officials shut down display at book fair Reply

Saudi officials shut down display at book fair

Summary 

At this year’s Riyadh International Book Fair, greatly anticipated by Saudi writers and intellectuals, a display by a new press run by Saudis out of Beirut was ransacked and shut down.

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Author Madawi Al-Rasheed

Posted March 13, 2014

A man shows a book by Saudi writer and poet Al-Rotayyan during the Riyadh Book Fair in Riyadh

A man shows a book by Saudi writer and poet Mohamed al-Rotayyan during the Riyadh Book Fair at the International Exhibition Center in Riyadh, March 9, 2013.  (photo by REUTERS/Faisal Al Nassar)

*** Author: Madawi Al-Rasheed – Al Monitor

Posted March 13, 2014

Saudi Arabia boasts about the annual Riyadh International Book Fair, where Saudis can explore a flourishing book market, meet authors and engage in intellectual discussion. Every year, however, the book fair is transformed from an intellectual market into something more resembling a battle for the hearts and minds of Saudis. The gathering has become an arena in which multiple actors want to assert their presence, control the event and dictate what Saudis should and should not read. During the 2014 book fair, this struggle resulted in visitors on March 7 posting photos online of the destruction inflicted the night before on the booth of the Arab Network for Research and Publishing, a relatively new press based in Beirut.

Many writers and readers look forward to the annual book event, which breaks up the monotony of intellectual life in the kingdom and allows them to enjoy a different kind of consumption. The government promotes the book fair under the auspices of the Ministry of Information, while security agents, accompanied by members of the Committee for Promoting Virtue and Prohibiting Vice, otherwise known as the religious police, search for books to confiscate and destroy. They also look for any signs of mingling between the sexes and flirtatious behavior deemed to undermine public order. 

A group of young Saudi intellectuals, including Judge Abdulaziz al-Qasim and the journalist Nawaf al-Qudaimi, established the Arab Network for Research and Publishing to promote books offering new perspectives on society, religion and politics.

As the press’ director, Qudaimi worked hard to create a significant collection of books written by Saudis and other Arabs, all presenting new interpretations of history and religious tradition with a view toward reconstructing consciousness and promoting an examination of past and current knowledge.

The press also translates books from other languages, primarily academic English books on Saudi Arabia and other countries. Days before the book fair, Qudaimi had begun to promote the press’ 2014 list, tweeting short promotional materials and summaries of the awaited titles. He was granted permission to display the publishing house’s collection in a designated corner at the Riyadh book fair.

The press’ books arrived and were displayed as expected. Qudaimi’s early publicity effort was so successful that a number of Saudis were looking forward to purchasing copies of their favorite volumes. They were disappointed, however, when they arrived to find the ransacking of the press’ display a day after the book fair opened its doors. Books and papers were scattered and thrown from the tables set up for their exhibition. Thus, the press was only able to display its collection for a very short time before being closed down.

Among Saudi liberals speculating about the reasons behind the raid, the majority prefer to blame the religious police, absolving the regime from any wrongdoing. This is an easy way out for them, because they would like to think of the regime as a bastion of enlightenment working against a tide of religious conservatism, bigotry and radicalization.

They have exhausted this myth, however, and instead live under the illusion that King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz is a reformer, working hard to open Saudi Arabia to new ideas and curb the influence of radical groups across the society. They cheered when a recent royal decree promised to punish radical groups and designate them as terrorists. The raid at the book fair affirms the myth’s collapse.

The raid not only proves that reform in Saudi Arabia is in short supply, but confirms that the regime is not serious about fighting terrorism. Freedom of expression is not by any means an unlimited right, but it is a precondition for open debate, including tackling the roots of violence. Without people being able to engage in free debate, read alternative interpretations and expose themselves to new ideas, the regime is fighting a lost cause. In fact, the raid proves that the government does not want to create the intellectual conditions for new ways of thinking and behaving.

The raided publications hardly contain any radical ideas, blasphemy or immoral material. In fact, several volumes deconstruct the roots of Wahhabi teachings, in particular those that would perpetuate repression at the personal and political levels, promote violence and suppress people’s rights. Many authors are critical of old Wahhabi teachings that promote rejection of democracy and civil and political rights.

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A tweet with a picture of the booth before and after (Twitter/ @Alqudaimi)

A common theme runs through many books in which some authors search for ways to free the Islamic tradition from the authority of religious scholars whose interpretations have become sacred, especially in Saudi Arabia. Rather than exporting Wahhabi ideas, these Saudi authors draw on the work of modernist scholars in North Africa and elsewhere to reconstruct Islamic interpretations suitable for modern society. Many volumes offer a serious critique of Islamists in Saudi Arabia, highlighting their shortcomings in preparing people for demanding their rights.

The book fair raid indicates that such a collection of books has been designated a threat to Saudi national security. The regime, however, cannot fight terrorism simply by arresting terrorists and criminalizing radical language that might incite violence. It should allow people to engage in alternative ways of emancipating themselves and freeing their conscience from the oppressive preaching that still dominates the country.

The regime knows very well, however, that this freedom is inevitably bound to sweep away the political repression that sustains, finances and nourishes those whose main objective is to control the hearts and minds of citizens. As a regime founded on a holy marriage with Wahhabism, one of the most rigid Islamic traditions, considered by some as Islam par excellence, it knows all too well that its survival is dependent on Wahhabism remaining a revered corpus of religious thought.

The Saudi regime is keen to prepare Saudis for the afterlife, but the raided books aim to prepare them for this life, hence they were targeted in a way that demonstrates how dangerous this perspective is viewed. Books that praise the pious rulers of the country, congratulate them on their development projects and commend their support of Islamic causes are well-guarded on the book fair’s shelves. Also those publications that teach one how to ablute during water shortages remain abundant, but those that prepare people to pursue their rights as citizens or deconstruct mythologized history are banned.

No historical or political change can be forthcoming without a paradigm shift that dismantles traditional ways of thinking and replaces them with new perspectives. The regime fears this shift and is determined to suppress its slow birth. The Saudi regime is fighting a losing battle in the age of new media, during which books can circulate in electronic form. Its raid only sparked curiosity and increased people’s determination to search for the destroyed publications online.

The iron curtain has already fallen, and Saudi authors are themselves the new archaeologists with sturdy trowels for excavating a fossilized body of religious and political thought. The famous 10th-century Arab poet Abu al-Tayib al-Mutanabi said that the sword is mightier than the pen, but weak and troubled regimes, such as the Saudis’, seem to fear the pen more than the sword

*** Dr. Madawi Al-Rasheed is a columnist for Al-Monitor and a visiting professor at the Middle East Centre at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She has written extensively about the Arabian Peninsula, Arab migration, globalization, religious trans-nationalism and gender. On Twitter: @MadawiDr

Blacklist companies, not just punish corrupt officials – Saleh Al Shaibany 1

Saleh Al Shaibany

Blacklist companies, not just punish corrupt officials –

Sunday Beat – Times of Oman – March 16, 2014

Saleh Al Shaibany

http://www.timesofoman.com/News/Article-31123.aspx

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  Sunday Beat: Oman   needs strict laws to combat corruption

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Real justice will not be done until companies whose senior   officials have been convicted on corruption charges are either blacklisted   for a number of years from bidding for the government tenders, or made to pay   heavy fines.

We should follow the regulations the rest of the world   does to make companies accountable for the actions of their employees   representing them.

The excuse that the board of directors cite by saying,   “we knew nothing about it”, does not wash when it is their job to   know about it. It defies logic when hundreds of thousands of rials disappear   in the company’s bank accounts and the chairman says “it escaped my   notice” or simply that “it was hidden from my view” and the   courts believe that statement. A CEO or a managing director will not   authorise the accountant to use the company’s money to bribe a government   official unless he has approval from someone in the board. There is always   that prior arrangement of “you go ahead with it but I will deny it if   you are caught” type of thing which means the bribe had the blessing   from the top.

For justice to go around a full 360 degrees instead of   doing a semi circle, the Oman Tender Board (OTB) must ban the bribing   companies for at least 10 years from any future activities. It is no excuse   that these companies, just because they employ hundreds of Omanis, should get   away with it. If they are allowed to bid again, then they should pay a fine   equivalent to the bid value of the contract in which they were accused of   offering bribe.

Otherwise, it will be morally wrong when one or two   employees, acting under certain instructions, should be made scapegoats for   something bigger than them without any consequences to the company   itself.

The shocking thing is that while the company is being   investigated for bribery charges, it is still in the running to win the next   contract of the project they had bid for prior to the court case. It is like   telling a school boy “don’t climb this tree again but you can climb the   other one at the back but make sure you don’t fall this time.”

Then there is a question of the auditing companies. How   does it escape their expert scrutiny when a large amount of cash was not   accountable for? If a company is listed in the Muscat Securities Market (MSM)   or in the case of a government organisation, surely the auditors must spot   any financial irregularities. If not, where are they looking?

To say that the financials are hidden from their full   scrutiny is again a lame excuse for not doing their job or simply taking for   granted that “all is well” when it is not, as we now find out. For   listed companies, it is the investors’ money that is used to bribe for   contracts where the board of directors are the trustees. It is not business   ethics, as one insider speculated. “Bribery money is the board of   directors’ way of increasing profits for their investors.”

What about the role of the State Financial and   Administrative Audit Institution when it comes to scrutinise the accounts of   the government’s organisations and their employees? We expect such an   institution with wide powers to put under the spotlight any financial   irregularity committed by officials, especially those at the very top, to act   decisively and timely to win the public’s confidence.

If we argue if we should make board of directors of   private companies responsible for their actions, then it makes perfect sense   to make heads of the ministries take responsibility for the spate of   corruption cases in their patches. If their response is that “we were   not aware of it”, then questions should be asked about their competence.   Somebody else should be appointed who will be “aware of it” when it   starts to happen again.

To sum it all up, corrupt companies should not simply   plead ignorance and blame it on their managers to survive to make money   another day. Similarly, heads of ministries cannot shrug their shoulders by   claiming lack of knowledge. It is part of their responsibility and the buck   stops with them. The time for cover-up has long passed. 

You can get in touch with the writer: saleh@timesofoman.com

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