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.
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In the following article I will try to extract the most notable lessons learned from my experience in the IT field for the past few years.
A quick overview for my dear readers who don’t know my background, I studied Computer Science(CMPS) at the American University of Beirut(AUB) while working at the Computing and Networking Services (CNS) on campus. Following my graduation I worked in IT development at a banking/financial institution while doing some free lance web-development and IT related consultancies.
Overall, I had my share of working on both hardware and software…and the lessons learned all fit in together and I will be pinpointing them as briefly as possible in the below lines:
- No problem is too complex. The key to success in this is to decompose the complexity of the issue into smaller manageable parts. Afterwards one only needs to resolve a group of simpler issues that fit in together.
- Automation is the key to ongoing growth and sustainability of many companies. This is due to the fact that any requested behavior can be mimicked and coded accordingly, with as many exceptions as needed, replacing the need for human interaction with machines.
- Technology is advancing faster than we expect. The rate at which technology is evolving allows for sophisticated solutions to be designed and implemented with growing speed and ease. What was nearly impossible 10 years ago can be developed in a week today.
- IT team leaders can make or break the company. One of the keys for successful IT teams is a team leader who knows how to leverage the expertise of the team, provide enough autonomy while still closely overseeing the work.
- Programming in multiple languages is becoming a must. Knowing one programming language …in our times…is no longer enough to keep with the pace of advancement and to develop the solutions the best fit the needs.
- GUI is king. Graphical user interface and packaging became as important as the actual functionality of the solutions requested as users demand the simplest and most intuitive tools they can have. People want eye-candy with minimal intellectual effort to use the applications.
In this context, and after checking the above with some of my friends and colleagues, the same lessons apply in most fields and I will definitely be taking those lessons with me in my consultancy and management work from now on.
I hope they help you in one way or another in your career…and I’m open for your comments and suggestions as always. 🙂