As some of you might know, I’m co-authoring a book with my dear friend Nadim Issa on Financial Freedom that is due to be published soon.
The book is really focused on the MENA region and has been written in a way to provide insights, techniques, suggestions and ways to reach financial freedom taking into consideration the financial systems, banking system, legal structure, and culture in the MENA region.
I’m just going to share the “Preface” of the book below as a small teaser about the book, stay tuned as I will announce when it is officially launched.
Financial freedom is an aspiration to many, if not most, individuals around the globe, yet achieving it can be rather tricky, and challenging, and needs a lot of hard work, particularly in the MENA region. This book, written by two co-authors, Afif Tabsh and Nadim Issa, aims to provide readers with practical insights, information, and real-life examples of how to gain financial freedom in the MENA region.
The idea for this book came during the authors’ morning walks in Istanbul as they discussed ways to optimize their financial status after losing most of their savings and investments in Lebanon’s financial crisis. They realized that their experiences and observations of what is happening across the region could benefit many others in the MENA region. Their discussions and brainstorming sessions culminated in a new framework for the book, which will serve as a toolkit for anyone seeking financial freedom in the MENA region.
Throughout the following chapters, readers will learn how to gain financial freedom in the MENA region, focusing on the unique challenges and opportunities specific to the region. However, lessons learned, facts, and knowledge apply to everyone wherever they live, especially in third-world countries or developing countries. This differentiation is because many techniques, resources, options, policies, and regulations in countries like the US, UK, Canada, and most European countries do not apply in the rest of the world. Thus the authors focused on making this financial freedom book MENA-Centric in its approach rather than Western/US-Centric like most of the books and resources available on this topic.
The book covers various stages of life, from university to retirement and beyond, providing practical insights and advice for novice investors, entrepreneurs, and anyone with an ambition to succeed in the region. The word success in this book refers to people’s financial freedom and not their business success, career development, and impact on the community or any other metric.
The importance of this book at this point in time lies in the fact that despite the challenges that the world is witnessing, from hyperinflation to recessions and world health crises like covid19, the MENA region continues to show impressive growth, with many countries enjoying at least a 3% year-on-year GDP growth. This growth is fueled by significant government investments in infrastructure and high demographic development of more than 2% per year. With this in mind, the authors believe that anyone in the MENA region can achieve financial freedom with the proper knowledge, mindset, and resources that this book aims to provide.
With over 35 years of combined experience, Afif and Nadim offer a wealth of knowledge and practical insights that will help readers achieve their financial goals. They have tailored their advice to the unique challenges and opportunities of the MENA region, making this book an essential resource for anyone looking to gain financial freedom in this region.
The authors hope this book inspires, informs, and motivates you to achieve financial freedom in the MENA region. Enjoy and benefit from it!
I hope 2023 is treating you well and that it brings you a lot of health, wealth, and happiness! 😀
2022, just like its predecessors, has brought with it a plethora of challenges and hits on all of us. Challenges like changes in market needs, pricing schizophrenia, logistics limitations, fluctuating global situation, and last but not least, for me, a great loss on the personal level, have made this year a tough one to handle, to say the least. Nevertheless, at times pushing against the current, and other times riding it, alongside amazing, family, friends, partners and team members, has made it an outstanding year in terms of growth and expansion and the plans ahead are even more ambitious, so I would like to share with you some updates from my end on RPS MENA, JPC Ltd, RainMakers, and the Youssef Tabsh Foundation among other things I’m currently part of.
I have a lot to say to be honest, but I will try to keep it brief, insightful, and hopefully inspire you to be optimistic and to think of growth despite everything going on in the local, regional, and global arena.
Growth and success from my perspective are not accidental but intentional. They are a deliberate effort being put day-in and day-out by all those involved. Everyone ought to be doing all they can to keep on learning, testing things, trying new ideas, being hopeful in times of despair, daring to dream of things that do not exist yet, planning for 5 and 10 years ahead when we sometimes feel we can not anticipate what is going to happen next month, and yet putting everything we have into action to make things work. Do they always work? Definitely not always from the first time! We do mistakes; we might feel we’re failing or that things are not going as planned, but building feedback loops, rapidly adapting, and pushing forward is definitely bound to make things work in the end in the given context and resources.
Here are some highlights from my end for 2022.
As many of you already know, it has already been 5 years since RPS MENA, a research, consulting, and training firm headquartered in Beirut, was founded by my sister Ghina and myself and expanded to another office in Istanbul over a year ago. Over the past 5 years, we have been primarily focused on serving the development sector (NGOs, INGOs, UN, WorldBank, IFC, CSOs, Networks, Coalitions..), though we have had a fair share of private sector clients across industries and partnered/supported service providers and other organizations that work with them.
In 2022 we are glad to say that we’ve had yet another record-breaking year with more projects, more consultants engaged, more clients served, more consulting days put, more training days delivered, and more research projects implemented than any of the previous years. With that, we’ve expanded our team with 2 new team members and many more consultants and experts that we work with on a project basis, and we are now serving more countries than ever before, including Iraq, UAE, KSA, and Turkey.
Despite all the economic, social, and financial challenges impacting Lebanon, Turkey, and the region, we have invested in our steady growth, building internal infrastructure and proper systems, and most importantly in having on board the right team members and partners that we can build with and grow with for many years to come.
JPC Ltd is a peace-building and conflict transformation firm established in late 2022 in Cyprus by Jean-Paul and me, to serve the EMEA region. Though it was established just a few months ago, we have already attracted a considerable amount of talent to join our Talent Roster, we have applied to several new projects, met with potential clients, recruited a new team member to help us in Coordinating Projects, and we believe 2023 is going to be an eventful and exciting year.
As part of our knowledge-sharing ethos, we are organizing a free webinar, on February February 7, at 6:30 pm Beirut time, titled “Transforming Conflict: A Systemic Approach”. We would love it if you join us and if you know others who might be interested in the field of Peace Building, Conflict Analysis, Conflict Transformation, and the like, then this is definitely for them.
Rain Makers supports organizations (NGOs and others) to improve their opportunity identification, donor mapping, proposal success rates, and developing fundraising strategies and partnership-building capabilities with a participatory approach.
It is legally incorporated late 2022 in Istanbul, Turkey, serving all EMEA region, and is the brainchild of my friend Antoun Andrea and I, as a spin-off of services we used to offer separately through our different vehicles. Thus we decided to join forces, synergize and build something that can positively impact so many lives by helping organizations identify more grants, tenders, bids, and funding opportunities while we can also support them in developing those proposals to help them grow.
We did a soft launch in the last two months and are happy to say that we already got more than a handful of clients and partners that we are serving and the list is growing steadily.
If you are interested to know more, and see how we can help you fundraise, identify more opportunities, write better proposals, map donors and the like…then I invite you to register for our official Launching Webinar, taking place on February 15 at 11:00 am Beirut Time.
Last but not least, it has been a year since my father, Dr. Youssef Tabsh, passed away, and thus a year since we established the Youssef Tabsh Foundation. The Foundation focuses mostly on the causes that he used to be a passionate advocate and supporter of including Social Justice, Medical & Health Services Accessibility to All, and Pan-Arab Collaboration in education, culture, business, and economy among other avenues.
Accordingly, throughout the first year of its establishment, we focused on building its internal policies, procedures, governance, volunteer manuals, developing a way forward, strategy, and some high-level initiatives. In parallel to that, we kept his legacy of philanthropic giving under the three pillars mentioned above to various individuals, families, and organizations in need.
This year, we launched the Youssef Tabsh Foundation Financial Sustainability & Fundraising Support program for Medical & Health NGOs targeting 20 NGOs in the Arab nation. We received a considerably bigger number of applications than we expected and thus ended up expanding our program to cater to 38 organizations, almost doubling our target from the kick-start.
The aim of the program is to empower those NGOs on the best practices in Fundraising, Proposal Writing, and Opportunity Identification and coach them to develop their fundraising strategies to become more financially sustainable. Our belief is that it is better to teach others how to fish, than to give them a fish, and thus helping those NGOs develop the needed capacities or enhance their existing capacities in one way or another, would make a substantially bigger impact than any monetary donation we can offer as a foundation.
The program kicked off in January and will continue till end of April 2023.
To learn more about the foundation, you can check its website, and you can also connect to our social media pages where we will be posting more about the NGOs we’re supporting and announcing new programs and initiatives throughout the year.
Since my brain cannot rest and there is always something I want to learn, things I still want to do, I’ll share a few thoughts about things I’m working on, or others that are to be launched/announced in due time.
Publishing my first book: A friend of mine, and I are currently co-authoring a book which I’m very excited about, and planning to base several educational, coaching, and support programs on it. The full announcement and details will follow in due time.
WAAAUB Turkey Chapter: As some might know, I’ve relocated to Istanbul almost 1.5 years ago with my family, and since then I helped establish the AUB’s Alumni Chapter in Turkey that I currently serve as VP. Since then, I’m happy to say that we have been quite active with events, both online and face-to-face, and now the community has grown to more than 60 members in just a year. It’s always good to connect with Alumni from our Alma Mater and hoping 2023 will be even business, more active and more engaging to all involved..
Training, Job Opportunities & Scholarships: For those who have known me since my days in Aie Serve, Global Shapers and other youth-led NGos, I constantly try to share opportunities for free or paid training opportunities, new job opportunities, and scholarships whenever I find them. I see the offers and demand are increasing and happy to say that through Whatsap Communities, we are able to do that at a scale and ease we could never have thought of before. Communities are growing in the thousands and opportunities are plenty. Mostly Lebanon-specific, which is much needed. So for those interested in sharing opportunities, or to receive, drop me a message to add you to the appropriate Whatsapp Community or direct you to the different Social Media Pages/groups. Just be specific about what you have in mind.
Wrapping it Up
With all the above, I cannot be thankful enough for God’s innumerable gifts and for everyone who has contributed to the success of any of the above, whether through direct or indirect involvement.
I feel blessed every day working and collaborating with individuals that are profoundly good-willed, ethical, and professional. All in all, it makes working enjoyable and smooth, and with a high level of trust that together, we can achieve great things.
As a way of giving back, if you have ideas about something you want to implement, a new project, new business, or new initiative and you do not know how to start or want to discuss it with someone, I’d be happy to support you. Drop me a message and we’ll agree on a common time to do a quick Zoom call to help you out.
I often receive comic posts, Whatsapp messages and jokes about marriage, married couples, wife or husband related topics. It surprises me to see so much ridicule, making-fun of the other and rather un-inviting messages being perpetuated to non-married individuals and among married individuals. Yet at the same time, I don’t think any of those messages really deter anyone from getting married when they meet the right person, but they sure do give marriage a rather negative reputation.
Personally, I find it rather weird for why those messages exist in the first place. When two individuals who fall in love deeply, get married, and commit to live a life together as one family, raise children, go through life with the other, and yet they somehow end up ridiculing one another or sharing negative jokes about marriage?
I’ll take this opportunity on the night of my marriage anniversary to reach out to all those falling in love, to those planning to get married, or those recently married, to tell you that life only gets better together. Having the one you love and loves you back in your life, having your second half, having that unimaginable bond gives you a sense of serenity, peace of mind and deep joy that cannot really be compared.
For those who know me, know that I’ve been through a lot, had a busy life, met a lot of people, traveled, changed careers, volunteered in every way possible, had a truly fulfilling life. Yet non of that matches the joy of the day I got married, the joy of knowing that I’ll wake up every morning with the one person I love the most, knowing that I’ll be taken care off, pampered and loved back.
Marriage, for me at least, is like moving in with your best friend, who you feel really attracted to, enjoy spending time with, can to talk about anything and everything, can share dreams and aspirations, as well as fears and worries, can laugh, eat, drink, be foolish and be serious with. It’s that comfort zone where you know there is someone who depends on you and you can depend on, at all times and for all matters.
To those who are falling in love with someone, or contemplating whether you should marry the one you love, I’d say go for it! Treat them right, love them with all your heart, do anything and everything you can to make them happy…and just watch it multiply and come back to you in folds.
To those who are already married, share the good stories, share the good memories, share the beautiful side of a married life and let it perpetuate.
To my beautiful wife Joana, I’m blessed to have you in my life. Happy Anniversary! 🙂
It’s been a while since I wrote blog post, but I’m taking the occasion of recently turning 30 to reflect on what it means to me, where I stand in life now and my perspective on what is yet to come in the future.
To start, I’m glad to say it’s been hectic, rewarding, challenging, stressful at times but most importantly an enjoyable journey. Looking back at the last 10 years, I feel blessed to have been faced with many challenges, phases of life, career changes, love life changes, and I even lived abroad for a short while.
In the past 10 years, I’ve changed 4 jobs and had a complete career shift from IT into Management Consulting. In that period I’ve also earned 6 international certifications and a masters degree. I’ve establish multiple NGOs, elected to the Board in some, advised numerous others, trained more than a 1,000 youth and professionals alike, travelled to numerous countries, met some of the most inspiring people but most importantly married the love of my life and got a beautiful baby boy.
Now that I’m 30, I feel I’m at the nexus of life where I’m definitely more mature, experienced and knowledgeable than any of my previous years, but I’m also less interested in many things, less eager about proving myself here or there, less enticed by new adventures and definitely less willing to take risks.
Overall I feel more rooted in who I became, my family, my country, my friends, my network, my comfort zone in general. Yet 2 things I can’t seem to quench, my curiosity and my ambitions. I constantly feel restless to learn more and achieve more things in my life. In every avenue I take whether it being professional life, academic knowledge, volunteer work or personal/social life… I constantly am on the lookout for what is yet to come, what is next, what the future will bring.
This restlessness is sometimes a much needed fuel that keeps me going, to aspire for more impact and growth, to do more and learn more. Yet at times it somehow feels like a burning desire to take some unwarranted risks, to dedicate more time and effort in things that might not necessarily be in line with what is best at the moment, to dream of things that are not yet attainable nor practical.
One thing I know for sure is that my brain never stops pondering about the possibilities that lay ahead, the “what ifs”, the different ways I can be spending my time and effort. Sometimes I get that urge to just quit my job and break free from the never ending rat race and go freelance, do what I am passionate about, explore different options, establish some social enterprise or simply just hustle my way through life. Sometimes I feel like I want to take a whole quarter of un-paid leave and just spend time with my wife and baby, do some volunteer work, travel around different countries, experience new things that I have been wandering about.
Then reality check comes in and reminds me of all the pros and cons. It reminds me about the lifestyle I’ve put my self and my family in, about the responsibilities of being a husband and a father, about the potential of not being able to provide to my family the basic needs if things go south. The debate goes on for a while in my head, and usually this happens late at night while gazing out from my balcony to the view of the city, the sea and nature. I realize that the 3 of them are co-existing, balanced somehow, even though some take a toll on the other, but they co-exist and have found their equilibrium (though they are ever changing, they still stabilize somehow). So I remind myself of all that I’m doing lately, from work to volunteering to quality time with family and friends. It gets me to realize that the sea ought not take over the city and nature, nor the city to overtake the others, and balance is the key to sustainability. So I calm myself down and hold my horses from going irrational.
30 is an interesting age, a time in life where one is equipped to do much more than before, but also has many more guidelines and responsibilities. It’s exciting and calming at the same time. It allows me to reflect on the many things that have passed and been achieved, and the many more things that are yet to be done. It reminds me that 3 decades have passed, and God willing, I’d have many more yet to come, so there is still time to do a lot. It gives me the realization that the world doesn’t move as fast as I hope it would, things don’t change as rapidly as I’d like, achievements don’t come by as frequently as I desire, nevertheless there is time and patience is a virtue.
For now, I’m going to take it easy and enjoy the 30s, keep on dreaming and aspiring, keep on pushing for more and learning more while still ensuring that I’m well rooted and grounded, lest I leap into the realm of the unknown.
It’s been quite a long time since I wrote any posts on my blog, but there are certain things that can’t be kept silent for too long. This is a message of gratitude to an unsung hero.
I’d like you to meet Youssef Aziz,
a dear friend of mine, an activist, an a true unsung hero in several NGOs I’m engaged with.
This gentleman works behind the scenes, does double the effort than most, has the kindest of hearts and a brilliance that is rare to find.
Topping all of that, he is down to earth and a true believer in the values of the organizations he joins/founds/advises.
What triggered my post is the fact that this week…one of the dear NGOs to his heart, and mine, has been officially shut down. It wasn’t shut down by force or by external factors but by an unanimous Board decision, including Mr. Aziz. The choice was tough for all of us, but I know for a fact that it is by far the toughest on him than any of us.
In spite of all that, he’s been orchestrating the process, handing all the necessary documents and coordination to ensure a smooth and successful transitioning for the status of the organization.
But his efforts, input and value is not just about this NGO, but rather for the past 9 years I’ve known him in, he’s been the most trustworthy, consistent and resourceful individual in my volunteering experience.
So to you Youssef I want to say, your work shows when the organizations you’re involved in succeeds in whatever decisions it takes. To you I say, and bluntly, if it wasn’t for you, at least 4 NGOs that you and I know of/volunteer with/advised, wouldn’t have succeeded or existed. So what you’ve done, is setup the infrastructure for those NGOs to be built on, serve others and grow.
On my behalf, and undoubtedly on the behalf of many others, I say thank you for who you are, what you’ve done and what you continue to do day in day out.
Building on that, I went for the exam and became a certified PMP. In the mean time, the trainer who gave me the course, who eventually became a close and trusted friend, introduced me to the Managing Partner of CMCS. Few months later, they offered me a job at CMCS as a Consultant and that’s when I transitioned from IT into Consultancy.
3 years later, I managed to grow and develop at CMCS to become the Operations Manager in addition to having had the pleasure of delivering training courses of all kinds related to Project Management and Business Analysis, training being something I enjoy passionately. I’ve also managed to earn 3 other certifications (CBAP, PBA, GPM-b) and pursue my masters in Human Resources Management (MHRM) at AUB with a focus on Competency Models and Training Development.
This summer, and out of the blue, I got contacted by the HR of one of the big 5 consultancy firms asking me if I’m interested in joining their team based on my achievements and my LinkedIn profile.
So I went through the selection process and I’m proud to say that I’ve been given an offer, which I took. Therefore, I submitted my resignation from CMCS and will be heading off to this firm by the end of August.
This means I’m ending a beautiful journey in a company I’ve grown to love and respect its team, its professionalism and its achievements. It’s a hard decision to leave something you are doing well at, but at the same time, sometimes one got to think numerous steps ahead.
In addition to that, I’m not only transitioning out of CMCS, but I’m also leaving the country, which is a major career and life-style change. It’s a leap of faith, and I surely hope it’ll pay off in terms of career growth, more challenges and opening new doors.
I’m proud to say, as of September 1, 2015, I’ll be having a managerial position in the Advisory and Consultancy team at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in their Riyadh Office!
As a final note, I want to thank everyone who supported me in this journey of growth and I’m glad to have met everyone I worked with, partnered with, volunteered with and given a training to anywhere around the globe!
The World Economic Forum in Geneva, in collaboration with the Holy See (Pontifical Council for the Laity) and the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, convened young leaders in Rome to explore ways of overcoming social and economic exclusion. The meeting was organized to respond to the challenge Pope Francis posed: How do we create a new global mindset to overcome social and economic exclusion?. Thus the meeting was titled “Towards a New Global Mindset: Overcoming Social and Economic Exclusion.”
The meeting took place on November 18-19 and brought together around 80 leaders from the Forum’s Global Shapers, Young Global Leaders and Social Entrepreneurs communities, as well as representatives from the Holy See, senior business leaders and experts on inequality and social inclusion.
Participants had the opportunity to discuss the drivers of inequality and exclusion, contribute their experience and ideas in an interactive environment, explore innovations from the private and public sectors and civil society, all with the goal of finding new ways to foster more inclusive economies that are based on the principles of love and respect for all people.
Accordingly, a working paper was prepared and presented to Pope Francis on November 18th, after having an audience with the Pope in the Vatican. This was followed by an insider tour within the Vatican’s buildings and gardens and ended with a farewell lunch inside the Vatican at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, whose work was presented by Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, Chancellor of the Academy.
I was honored to be selected as one of the 40 Global Shapers attending this meeting from among 4,500+ Global Shapers around the world to participate in this event. As the Curator of the Global Shapers Beirut Hub, I was representing Lebanon in this meeting and presenting the perspective of both Youth and Civil Society.
Findings of the meeting and follow-up actions will be communicated in the coming months as they go through the necessary process inside the Vatican and the World Economic Forum.
With every single day passing by, I’m realizing the importance of having a good life balance as an essential component of a healthy existence on this planet.
By life balance, I mean a balance between all the things that try to fill our day including the following items:
Health & Sports
Now I can’t say I’ve found the perfect balance yet, but I definitely am way better off than a year or two ago, and I believe slow progress is way better than a stand-still.
My humble advice to you my dear reader is to actually identify your priorities from the above list (or maybe even add/remove some). Accordingly, based on your priorities, compare how you actually spend your time and energy with the priorities you set. If your priorities and reality seem to be well aligned, then I congratulate you for having your life balance. If not, then by now you know what you need to invest more of your time and energy on. It’s that simple! 🙂
As a closing note, I wish you the best of luck in finding your life balance but keep in mind it’s a road you stay on, not a destination you’d reach.
Now that we’ve embarked on 2014, and after spending some time reflecting on how everything went in 2013 in my life, I’d like to share some of the milestones and things that were important to me in 2013 and some of those that I have planned for 2014.
Over the years, I’ve learned that when we share and write what we have achieved, we value it more, and when we do the same for what we dream and plan of, we somehow become more psychologically motivated and committed to achieve it. So I do recommend you share the same, whether here as a comment on this blog posts or with your network somehow.
So here it goes:
·Read A Lot: Just a quick estimate, I read around 3 articles daily on topics of interest, each ranging from 1 to 5 pages. So if I take an average, I read about 1,000+ different topics in 2013 alone.
·Learned to Let Go: For someone like me who likes to stay on top of things and feeling in-control, it was a tough journey. But nevertheless, I did manage to let go of some personal relations, roles in NGOs and the actual need to be in-control of so many things.
·Spent More Quality Time: Yes, this was a key goal for me to have a more balanced life in 2013, and I am glad to say I truly value the quality time I spent with family, friends and loved ones.
·Traveled to New Places: In 2013 alone, I traveled to new cities I never visited before and are London, Oxford, Cappadocia, Mersin, Khartoum and Dubai.
·Slept More Daily: As of early December, I managed to sustain a 6~8 hour sleep per day (up from just 3~4 hours previously).
·Got Promoted: Through my work at CMCS Lebanon, I got promoted to the position of Deputy Operations Manager and will be starting my new role as of January 2014.
·Trained A Lot: Throughout 2013 I gave more than 10 training courses at AUB and others, while I’ve also introduced a new certificate based training course about Business Analysis called Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP) which I’m also the only certified professional in Lebanon till now.
NGOS & Volunteer Work:
·Transitioned Out of Aie Serve: For 7 years, I served as a co-founder and president of Aie Serve and it was about time to let a new leadership come in place and shine. So I’m proud to say that we successfully did an elections where a whole new Board was elected and I transitioned to become one of the organization’s Advisors.
·Revived Global Shapers Beirut Hub: In December, leaders of the Global Shapers Community from the World Economic Forum visited Beirut, and with their support and some Shapers in Beirut, I’m glad to say that I’m playing a role in reviving the previously dormant Beirut Hub. Thus 6 new Global Shapers were recruited in December.
·Partnered with CSR AL Ahli: Another highlight for me is making a partnership between Aie Serve and CSR Al Ahli Group to provide Mentors for CSR in Actionprogram to give Social Innovators who are working on serving the community the needed support to succeed.
·Coached, Mentored & Trained Youth: Throughout the year, I realized I enjoy and become full of energy when I am training or coaching or mentoring youth, and thus I spent hours and days with 10s of them in training workshops, meetings, sessions and retreats.
·Take Care of My Body: A healthy mind is in a healthy body they say, thus I’ll be focusing taking better care of my own body whether through sports, a healthier diet or just simply less stressful schedule.
·Sustain Balance: Keep on the sleeping habits, take more vacations and continue spending quality time in abundance.
·Keep Reading: With my current reading habits I guess I’m on the right track.
·Excel At Managing Operations: Now that my new role involves working in Operations Management, I’ll be going the extra mile to learn more about it and excel at it.
·Expand Training Regionally: Now that CMCS has some stellar training courses and workshops, it’s prime time to take them regionally in 2014.
·Start My Masters: I’ve got my eye on 2 Master Programs, and will be registering in one of them before the end of year if God wills. Eventually, it’s about time I proceed my academic growth after acquiring 3 professional certificates in the past 3 years which are PMP, CBAP and GPM-b.
NGOs & Volunteer Work:
·Support Aie Serve’s Growth & Sustainability: With a new Board in place and a Strategic Planning Retreat scheduled early January, I’ll be doing all I can to ensure the new Board and all Aie Servians continue their work properly, grow and enjoy the journey.
·Grow Global Shapers Beirut Hub: Now that we have a bigger team, January will be the month when the Hub will do their first event.
·Transition Out of More NGOs: New challenges arise every now and then and in 2014, I’ll make sure to take on some of those, but to do that, I’ll need to drop of some of the current load. In this context, I’ll be transitioning out of my role in PMI Lebanon Chapter and Alumni UNESCO Club.
·Building A Regional Network for Rule of Law: Through being a John Smith TrustFellow, I’ll be working with other fellows all around the region from Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Oman, and Bahrain, to build and institutionalize a network of chapters in each country to promote and work on rule of law.
That is about it for the time being, and I hope you enjoyed it and perhaps got inspired by a few things here and there.
I’d really like to get to know your reflections on 2013 and your plans for 2014! 🙂
Building on my humble knowledge, I get to have some observations and analysis of the world I live in. So here’s one for the day: Arabs won’t rise up anytime soon!
My aim here is not to push you to lose hope on Arabs progress, but rather trying to shed light on certain elements of why are the Arab nations still way behind in terms of technology, economy, civil-rights, and politics, just to name a few.
Yes, I’m an Arab and I sadly got to the conviction that Arabs won’t rise up anytime soon. If you observe how nations grew into world powers you will realize that most of them have two main factors in common: Institutionalization and care for public good. Apparently, those two factors are missing (either one or both) from almost all Arab countries!
We’re mostly an individualistic nation: a nation formed of hundreds of millions of individuals who want to shine individually rather than as a nation. Collaborating together for the common good in a well-structured and institutionalized manner is something perhaps beyond the short-term wins that those individuals perceive.
We dislike systems, processes, policies, procedures, long term goals and the common good when it contradicts with personal gain and hence we try to avoid them as much as we could! So if we can avoid filling a form, not follow a procedure, rule, or policy (or at least get away with it), take a shortcut, or go for a quick win, we’d will go for it.
Examples of what I mean here can be as small as not standing in line whenever there is a queue to not stopping on a red light or following the road signs. It can also be as major as politicians not acting as part of an institution with a system, but rather acting like heads of mafias, bending and changing the rules, the governmental institutions and policies to fit their own needs and desires. The bigger problem is not that they do it, but rather no one actually holds them accountable for what they do. Many people accept such a behavior and thus the issue exacerbates with time. Even with the so-called “Arab Spring” and the people rising to demand for their rights, the same thing was done all over again, “leaders” took charge and bent rules to fit them and their “group”.
Just to be fair, there are some positive deviants from the norm, like in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, where they actually plan years ahead, put systems and policy in place, and do proper enforcement and follow up. In Egypt, though millions go on demonstration, they leave the roads clean and ensure things are properly back in place.
Nevertheless, most of us are always chasing the quick wins, the individual recognitions, the shortcuts and the “what’s in it for me” attitude, at least for the time being. So in a nutshell, we’re mostly an individualistic nation, we produce endless shining stars but not a collaborative galaxy!
My recommendation would be to start learning the following, so we can perhaps start taking baby steps towards progress:
Willingness to learn, humbleness, and long term strategic planning from the Japanese
Willingness to put the nation before self, economic agility and discipline from the Chinese
Structuring and building systems, pragmatic thinking and financial wizardry from the Americans
Strength and value of team work and communal wellbeing from the Penguins
Perseverance, discipline and working as one from the Ants
I’m saying all of this not with a perspective of despair but rather a belief that everything is feasible and if we learn to change how we think and act, we can definitely do wonders.