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The FT guff awards 9, January 2012

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Random.
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From the Financial Times.

The 2011 winners…

Sound and Fury Cup – ‘awarded each year to the chief executive who makes a public pronouncement signifying nothing.’

The runaway winner is Cisco’s John Chambers…”We will accelerate our leadership across our five priorities and compete to win in the core.”

Worst euphemism for firing people.

This goes to Nokia, which last year announced that 17,000 people were getting the chop or, as it put it, that its operations were being “managed for value”.

Most spurious use of percentages over 100 per cent.

Devin Wenig of Ebay… He said he was a mere “1,000 per cent committed” to his new job but added an explanation that craftily kept up the mathematical theme. “At this point in my career, a big platform, big brand, and global impact were all part of what I was solving for in prioritising opportunities.”

Worst job title.

Dirk Beeuwsaert is GDF Suez’s Executive Vice-President in charge of the Energy International Business line.

The most heroic attempt by a management consultant to overcomplicate matters.

A consultant at McKinsey who said: “The assessment was based on international methodology and on ground-truthing.”

Worst email sign-off

Shortlist of five: Toodle pip; All heart; Smiles; To your success; and (following a threatening message) Thanks and Bless. All should have prizes, but as I can only give one, I’m choosing “Smiles”, which is both bogus and contains a baffling use of the plural. How many mouths does the sender have?

2011 Golden Flannel Award for utter gibberish from a company that should know better.

The winner is Manpower Group, for describing itself thus: “Our $22 billion company creates unique time to value through a comprehensive suite of innovative solutions that help clients win in the Human Age.” Which makes me nostalgic for the Jurassic Age because I don’t think dinosaurs had any truck with innovative suites at all.

Hat tip: @rupertbu

KSA to test its international students for alcohol on their return? 9, January 2012

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Saudi Arabia.
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Likely striving for attention, a Saudi preacher has called for KSA students studying abroad to be tested for drugs and alcohol in their system on their return to the Kingdom at the airports.

While this will never happen and will join the long, growing and inventive list of utterances from KSA Imams/preachers, I find quite amusing the thought of who knows how many students in the UK and elsewhere hearing the news (down the pub) and panicking profoundly, if only for a short period of time.

And note how the preacher does not call for such tests to be run on nationals returning to KSA from Bahrain across the causeway; clearly, there aren’t enough jail cells in the whole Kingdom to cope with the undoubted ensuing avalanche of arrests and detentions.

Hat tip: Sultan Al Qasseimi

Tunisia & the benefits of hindsight 9, January 2012

Posted by thegulfblog.com in North Africa.
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Published in April 2010, many people have come across this book on Tunisia unerringly failing to discern the way things would go. The Arabist has highlighted perhaps the worst paragraph, its final conclusion:

Authoritarianism in Tunisia could prove to be very durable, and not simply because the government represses opponents. A majority of Tunisians may determine that the benefits of the status quo outweigh the individual and collective costs that a transition would require them to pay. In fact, the country’s history and its current balance of political forces make this the safer bet over the medium term. It does seem clear, though, that political change in Tunisia will not come about through some dramatic event that suddenly replaces the existing order with a new one. The stability–reform dialectic

Not for one second do I write this to sneer at this author. I would imagine that his book is fairly well grounded in history and approximated the best that social scientific predictive powers could do (can you tell which side of the Soc Soc/US v UK debate I am on?). But things happen, some of which simply defy prediction.

Similarly, I find myself defending the likes of David Held. While I don’t know the in-depth bits and pieces of the case, I don’t find the notion that Saif was always a despot bursting to get out and Held was a fool for being fooled particularly persuasive. Yes, there were a number of pointers that Saif was not a nice piece of work (to say the least) and for this reason alone, perhaps Held ought not have interacted with him. This, however, is a different question.

Specifically on the notion that Saif was ‘always’ likely to become some blood-thirsty dictator or some such notion, I’m not sold. I don’t think that it takes much imagination to foresee – minus the Arab Spring (!) – Saif eventually taking over from his delusional, vicious father and leading Libya on something of a more normal path (note I don’t say that he’d be a paragon of virtue and democracy).