Posts

Showing posts with the label Jordan

The Re-Branding of Middle East Youth: Identities, Possibilities, Connectivities

Image
It’s a good sign when you don’t use much of your carefully planned PowerPoint slides when interacting with the youth. Had a wonderful discussion with an engaged and critical group of Language students at the University of Jordan on new technologies, business communication and culture as well as with a significant number of youth who attended the Leaders of Tomorrow event at the King Hussain Cultural Centre organized around this topic. Granted, many seemed to come from a privileged background with impeccable English and an international exposure. This by no means discounts their perspective. In fact, given my experience in India and the fact that I’m a product of such privilege, I’m acutely aware of that thin line between belongingness and responsibility that the fortunate feel towards their immediate surrounding versus the feeling of affinity towards that of afar. It is much too easy to become civically disengaged from our context and I’d even argue that much of the youth, be it in…

Does culture matter? Business practices across the Netherlands and Middle East

Image
A few months ago I was contacted by the Netherlands Institute of Beirut to see if I would be interested in talking about culture and business in the Middle East. This is part of their upcoming initiative to create bridges between the Middle East and the Netherlands, starting within an academic setting. Part of this commendable drive it seems to me is a response against this growing Islamophobia within Europe which is of course deeply troubling. What better way than to engage the youth across these borders in areas of common interest. I like the idea that instead of going there to be preachy about intercultural harmony and respect, that we choose a topic that the youth are genuinely engaged with and from there see how culture actually matters. So of course it’s of little surprise that the topic that youth in the Middle East seem to be interested in is that of business, social media and globalization. And for good reason. Like other young people across the globe, I believe they are mo…

Reforming higher ed in Jordan: politicking away

Image
Policy-making is political theatre. No doubt about it. That which is not behind closed doors is posturing. But rather than condemn posturing, we should try to understand it. After all, it serves a purpose. It makes public the intent to create buy-in as well as detect common resistances. Conferences oriented towards policy-making are hardly about making decisions then and there. It's about feeling the pulse, NOT of the generic public per se, but about key stakeholders in the game. So with this higher education reform conference in Amman that I was part of, ministers, deans, professors, private education consultants, ed publishers and others congregated for a period of 3 days to discuss key problems and solutions for higher ed reform. About 500 delegates including from Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and others in the region took part in this process. It was an impressive turn out of card touting and name dropping. It was true to form, a networking event.

All this should not surprise. Jor…

The Amman adventure begins...

Image
It’s like a James Bond film really: indoor palm trees, high ceilings, limestone walls, sheiks in long white robes helping themselves to a luxurious breakfast buffet at the Le Royal hotel; the chatty cab driver who tells me that he has friends everywhere and a Maltese girlfriend waiting for him at home. Military men with guns (well, not flowers obviously), guarding precious property…hang on, the property is the American University! Nothing invites students so enticingly as the nozzle of the gun. The only deviation from this sexy storyline is that we are here for a higher education reform conference. From exciting thriller to drama (or documentary perhaps), the term “education” has a way of sobering this momentum. This is a collaboration between Columbia Middle East Research Center and the Jordanian government. Columbia University, much like several universities in the US, is eager to gain an academic foothold in the Middle East and capture a new consumer base of young doe-eyed student…