Monday, May 28, 2007

The Japanese Way

TOKYO, Japan (AP) -- Japan's agricultural minister died Monday after reportedly hanging himself just hours before he was to face questioning in parliament over a political scandal, officials said.

Japanese minister commits suicide -

Only if our politicians did the same, no one would be alive by now!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Haze of Wealth

KUWAIT: Sharing strong sentiments on the region at the 8th GCC Banking Conference, James Wolfensohn, Former World Bank President said, "I think the challenge is to take advantage of not the oil resources but of your people, don''t look through the haze of wealth; that is the subject I want to bring to your notice, and this is something I feel personally,"

The Daily Star - Kuwait Edition - Published by Alwatan.

Wolfensohn had interesting things to say at the conference. He pointed out that the biggest challenge facing the Middle East is developing its human resources and alluded to the negative effects of wealth in spoiling the youth and slowing development.

The former World Bank President found it strange how the region takes pride in projects in the trillions of dollars, while in Kuwait 90% of the workforce is employed by the government and incorporating a private company takes more than 450 days due to government bureaucracy, which is more than 10 times the average time it takes in developed countries. [Al-Qabas] He emphasized the need to liberalize the economy and improve education. I hope the audience was listening!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

KD Unchained

Good cartoon by Adil Al-Qallaf from his website about lifting the KD US Dollar peg.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Told You So

KUWAIT, May 20 (KUNA) -- After approval by the Cabinet in its session Sunday, the Kuwaiti Dinar's exchange rate against the US Dollar is to be based on a basket of main currencies, which was the previous system abandoned since January 5, 2003, said Governor of the Central Bank of Kuwait Sheikh Salem Abdelaziz Al-Sabah today.

Kuna siteStory pageKuwaiti Dinar exchange rate against USD based on b...5/20/2007

Just like many had predicted and as I mentioned in previous posts.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

How to Procrastinate

I have been procrastinating lately; here are top five ways to do so:

  1. Click on Next Blog>> link on the Navbar above.. Keep doing it.

  2. Change the color of your blog’s header box (in case you have not noticed I did, inspired by my much admired The Economist  I must admit).

  3. Wash the dust off your car after the sand storm.. do it again.

  4. Read all local newspapers which are popping up everyday. Do we really need all those newspapers in this digital age? Are they financially viable? It makes you wonder about the real motivation.

  5. Sing along: min 7obna laha.. Rather than appealing to peoples altruism to reduce consumption wouldn't it be more effective to appeal to their pockets and lift the subsidy on electricity and water?! With all due respect to the lovely girls and boys performing the song. 

Happy procrastination whatever it is that you are avoiding!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Mergers and Marriages

Daimler’s shareholders have been desperate for the divorce papers to be signed. The unhappy union should be a warning to others: compatibility matters in business as well as love, and a happy wedding day is not a guarantee of a happy marriage. / Comment & analysis / Editorial comment - Mergers, like marriages, fail without a meeting of minds.

As we see a rush of merger and acquisition (M&A) activity in the local market, it would be worthwhile to be reminded of the difficulty of making such transactions successful. It is said that mergers are triumph of hope over experience -the same applies to marriages some argue sarcastically. Despite experience that points to bleak outcomes, mergers continue in the hope of success. Such is the fate of Daimler Chrysler.

Daimler Chrysler tied the knot back in 1998 with a $36bn price tag for Chrysler. Few days ago this came to an end and the knot was untied at a price of $7.4bn. Separately some analysis shows that Daimler would not receive this amount and it will actually end up paying. This is a rude awakening to merger dreams. So before you tie the knot, business or otherwise, make sure you have a meeting of minds, without which mergers, like marriages, are doomed.



Sunday, May 13, 2007


I attended a presentation held at Kuwait Economic Society to introduce Toastmasters club. The presentation was given by club member Mr. Abdullah Al-Mahdi who did a wonderful job in introducing the concept. Basically Toastmasters club is made up of 20 to 30 people who meet once a week. During the meeting the members learn the skills of conducting meetings, give speeches and get evaluated.

So far there are few clubs in Kuwait but the number is growing through word of mouth. Joining requires a small fee as it is a non profit organization after all. It’s a great concept and it teaches valuable skills to communicate better and become more effective.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Politics of Oil

A study by PFC Energy, the respected consultancy, shows world oil supplies might well fall behind growing demand in the long term as political factors limit production capacity increases in key producing nations. / World - Politics and easy profits signal global oil crunch.

The study, as reported in the Financial Times, describes how key national oil companies, Kuwait’s is one of them, are not making proper investment to insure sufficient oil supplies in the future. This is due to either not seeing the need to make such investments with the windfall from current fields or political factors preventing entry of technologically advanced international oil companies.

The report lists Kuwait and Russia as stagnant producers, on the other hand lists Saudi Arabia as an expanding producer. The report points to the political infighting preventing entry of international oil companies to Kuwait.

When will the political infighting end to bring about desperately needed assistance from international companies to develop our oil fields? While it is ambitious for national oil companies to be compared with international oil companies, why isn’t Kuwait’s KPC up to the standards of other national oil companies such as Saudi’s Aramco? Important questions without answers.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Sacred Texts

We are living through an age when insistence on the literal truth of sacred texts (which zealots assume to be self-evident, and exclusive of all other truths) ranks high among the causes of conflict in the world. St Paul's adage that the “letter kills, but the spirit gives life” has never been more true. But when it is understood properly, the letter can also give life.

Sacred texts | Life-giving letters |

Saturday, May 05, 2007

How to Let Happiness Find You

But there is a final point that the long philosophical tradition of debate about happiness and the good life shows, and it is this: that the surest way to unhappiness is to try to pursue happiness directly. This is because happiness only ever comes as the outrider to other things that are in themselves independently fulfilling and rewarding.

Happiness is like the dot of light in a very dark room that you can only see out of the corner of your eye, but which vanishes when you look directly at it.

Instead of looking for happiness, therefore, one should look for achievement in a worthwhile field, or service to a noble cause, or the good of one's family or community, or the personal pleasure that comes from creative endeavour.

As surely as night follows day, happiness will attend success in any of these efforts. Learning the value of these things is what constitutes an education in happiness; applying the lessons thus learnt is what offers the best chance of finding it.

Telegraph newspaper online.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Swiss Democracy

The swiss are good at many things such as cheese, chocolates, watches, tourism and Roger Federer (pictured for tennis fans out there!). As I spend time in Switzerland on a business trip -well more like 'away from business' trip!– one oversighted aspect struck me which is Swiss democracy. Can you think of the name of the Swiss president (if there is one) or prime minister or any politician for that matter? Probably not. Neither can the Swiss. This is true democracy; power to the people while politicians remain nameless.

Take this story: a fellow arrives at the airport and asks the Swiss taxi driver to take him to the hotel. On the way he tries to make conversation with the driver. He asks about politics, the economy, and other issues. The driver did not know much and remained focused on the road. So the fellow having failed at the attempt to start a conversation started admiring the cleanliness of the car and driver until he arrived to his destination on time. Then it struck him: just few days ago he was on a trip to an Arab country. He remembered the bad shape the taxi he took there was in and the driver who was smoking endlessly. The driver talked endlessly too: from politics to economy to you name it.. he knew it all. While the Arab driver was busy smoking and talking he lost his way and our fellow arrived late to his destination! This is the difference between them and us: we know it all except where it matters which is knowing what we do and being good at it.