Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Working hard in the Middle East

Yes, that's been me. 14-16 hour days (yes boo hoo all you strict 8 hour wage slaves, life's rough for you), interminable meetings which are 10% in English as the rest is Arabic, dealing with a public sector that works a 6 hour day, noticing a common thread among those I meet who are innovative and hard working, and those who are bureaucratic (those who are innovative and hard working have PCs on their desks, those who don't aren't - a rule that does not apply in the Western world). Reminding myself to always take toilet paper with me, as I am unsure why my bum should be wet with the basic bidet. Remembering that hotel food, even at a five star establishment, is at best average, at worst bizarrely awful (rolls with houmus and labnah, consistently overcooked fish). Not touching the tap water, but not knowing what water is used for the endless cups of tea offered. Remembering that Nescafe is code for diluted instant coffee with 3 or more teaspoons of sugar in it. Wondering why the same fruit and desserts sit exposed in the hotel room for the whole two weeks. Tolerating the rather common practice of smoking inside offices while meetings occur. Tolerating the very common practice of answering phone calls in the middle of meetings, and constant interruptions from virtually anyone - unless you are meeting the CEO or a Deputy.

However, appreciating that in Egypt (but not the UAE), the internet is wide open - unless, of course, you want to insult the President and ruling party. Also appreciating the relative secularism, which is seen in the diversity of TV, movie and internet content available (yet to encounter a blocked website - unlike the UAE where many are blocked). Perhaps the funniest point is how I found in a music store a boxed set of the racist 1970s UK comedy TV show "Mind Your Language"! You wont find that in the UK with much ease I suspect.

1 comment:

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