What are we doing to prepare to compete with Machines in the workplace?

Humans vs Machines

“Former Citigroup chief executive Vikram Pandit said artificial intelligence, robotics and advancements in technology could cause banks
to shed 30 per cent of their work force over the coming five years.”

The burning question that’s on a growing number of employees as well as Job-seekers’ minds is: How can they adapt to this new reality where in addition to a slowdown in hiring across the globe and competition from other employees/jobseekers, they will now also have to compete with machines? And how can we ensure this transition takes into account the interest of people and community?

Click here to read more about this news

What other impact will the decision to allow women in Saudi Arabia to drive have?


Quick thoughts: The recent landmark decision to allow women in Saudi Arabia to drive may have a few other significant effects which are understated amidst all the joy:
1) More jobs for Saudi women. Ease of mobility will help more women access jobs. Also creation of new jobs for women which require a driving license as a criterion. This may also have an effect in increasing the quality of workforce and its competitiveness as Saudi men will now have to contend with not only Saudi women who are more qualified, academically than men (read the stats), but who can also drive

2) Potential loss of jobs: An estimated 1.3 million private chauffeurs or drivers might be impacted. Households or the govt. will have to find a way to make use of the ones who remain.

3) Efficiency: Saudi women and subsequently their families will be more efficient since they are more mobile now.

What are your thoughts?

What I learned about uncertain times

Pushing a Car

Let’s be honest, to many of us the picture above is how it feels like running your own business in 2017.

Almost everyone I’ve spoken to seems to be either worried or pessimistic when I ask them how their business is doing, or what is their general outlook of the market and economy.

However, it’s times like this when uncertainty and a rather negative sentiment is the order of the day in the business community is when I become more ‘bullish’ than ‘bearish’. Some people who I’ve shared my sense of optimism is look at me strangely, my friends think I’m a hopeless dreamer and members of my family think that I am a “lost case”.

If you ask me what do I think of myself, I’ll tell you that the black and white image of the mad scientist ‘Frankenstein’ standing over his crazy experiment which he has been obsessively working on day and night comes to mind.

But really, this attitude of mine was really inspired by a piece of advice I got in 2009 from a well-traveled and experienced British entrepreneur who was in his 60s. We had met in a breakfast forum in Dubai. The forum which brought together professionals from the corporate world, government and entrepreneurs like me addressed the business community’s concerns about the global financial downturn at that time.

The British entrepreneur was seated next to me. And when everyone left the table during the coffee-break we stayed back chatting. He then shared with me what he has learned throughout the decades. That during every economic downturn, depression, political instability or even conflict he has witnessed; there will be losers but there will as well definitely be WINNERS to emerge.

He asked me to look at times like this as an opportunity itself to capitalize on the opportunities that will emerge by listening to my customers, understanding what does the market really need, build a more solid foundation so that I eventually “come on top”.

I’ll be honest, this belief keeps me always busy planning, driven and always curious during the times I am confronted with uncertainty.

Ask yourself, what are you or your business working on to “come on top” during these times? What are you doing to serve your and your business’ ultimate purpose. Someone once said that “the questions you ask yourself will eventually determine the course of your future”

I’ll share in the comment section 3 things I’m working on to prepare myself and my business to come on top.

If you don’t mind sharing what you are doing or your thoughts, please do share in the comments section of this post so that the rest of us can benefit.

And oh yeah, this was originally an Instagram post. To get more posts like this, please follow @memoirs_of_emirati_headhunter


What Makes True Leadership?


I recently asked posted that question to my followers on LinkedIn, and the response was great! With so many people sharing in one word or sentence what they felt made ‘true leadership’.  Here are some of their answers:


“Servant of his/her people”

“Courage to stand alone”


“Daring to speak for the voiceless, and helping others to find their own truth” (This was one of my personal favorites)

“Leaving no-one behind, and leave a positive mark so we may never be gone…#Legacy (Another favorite, this one was on Instagram.  By the way, you can follow my posts on Instagram on @memoirs_of_emirati_headhunter)

I would love to hear your thoughts on what makes true leadership from your experience.

You see, I’ve noticed that It is quite common in our region to assume that ‘leadership’ is based on the title a person holds, or their family background, or their status in the community or even how much of noise they make through their PR activities. I believe REAL leadership is more than that.

So my question to you is; If you could describe in one word or sentence what ‘true leadership’ is, what would it be?

If you would like to read what some of my followers on LinkedIn thought, Click Here

I would love to hear from you.

P.S. Since we are on the subject of ‘Leadership’, I recently delivered an interesting workshop titled ’20 Lessons in Leadership from Dubai’s 46 Year Journey’ to a diverse group of department heads from different countries, and they loved it! The workshop was a combination of lessons in leadership, entrepreneurship as well as an introduction to the city’s culture and journey.

If you are interested in this workshop, feel free to drop me an email.

The Season of “Hanging in There”

Hanging In there

Whilst writing this post, I counted at least five concerned people I advised to “hang in there”, last week alone.

There was the young local lady who complained about being stuck in a job that has not offered her any kind of career growth in the last 6 years.  She was frustrated and confused by the lack of opportunities within her company, as well as the job market.  All I could tell her was “hang in there”.

Then there was the 50 something year old charming and articulate gentleman with around 30 years of experience in the private sector who was forced to take an early retirement. He believes he still has the energy and will to be a productive member of society.  Yet he is always confronted with the same response at every door he knocks on: he is either “overqualified” or is “too old”.  I told him as well, to “hang in there”, and that the right opportunity will present itself someday.

I spoke to a young and ambitious single Asian mother who travelled to Dubai seeking a “second chance” to build her life with her son.  It was clear she had been through a tough time and was frustrated that she couldn’t find any opportunities while here. There was not much time left till her visa expired. She feared that she would have to leave the country and go back to “nothing” as she put it.  The only words I could find to console her were “hang in there”.

I remember that in that same week I repeated those exact words to a senior European banker who has been laid off from his work after many years of service, a struggling entrepreneur I know personally, my young cousins who graduated a year ago and hopeful of landing dream careers which remain elusive to them and an uncle concerned about the future of his sons who have been searching for jobs for so long.

You will notice that I’ve referenced the nationality, age, gender or status of these individuals because I have come to learn from the many similar stories I’ve heard that regardless of the different backgrounds, ethnicity and status of people, we all share one powerful common denominator; the personal struggles each of us endure or have endured at some point of time, through our journey in life.

Some of these struggles are visible, while some are not.  If we could appreciate this denominator we share, I believe it would help us become more empathic, less envious and less judgmental towards other human beings.

People often ask me, “Talib, what do you think is going on in the market”?  My answer tends to be more philosophical than based on some economical or political analysis -which mind you have a history of being off the mark in so many occasions. My answer: “Nature is taking its course”. Just like it did during the global financial downturn in 2009, and during the various global crises every nation has faced throughout history.  Nothing is constant.  This cyclical nature of the market means that the businesses that will survive unscathed will be the ones that stand on a solid foundation and have put an effort to build a reputation of reliability and sincerity with its customer base and most importantly are flexible to change.

As for people like you & me who are caught in this cycle and are uncertain about what to do; I think the best short answer I can give you right now is the title of a song by Reggae superstar, Damien Marley: ‘Only the Strong Will Continue’. 

In the hot Arabian Peninsula, it is popularly known that the region only has two seasons; nine months of summer and at best three months of winter.  Many locals believe that the seasonal dust storms (at times known as Shamal) is considered a sign of the seasons changing. Even though people fear these winds and take shelter to avoid harm, they are perceived to be beneficial in many ways as they cleanse the air from harmful insects and microbes, and even support plant inoculation.  To me this is a befitting metaphor to ponder over during this summer of uncertainty.

I will leave you with this beautiful quote by French author and journalist Albert Camus:

“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”


P.S. If you are interested in learning what you can do during these uncertain times to increase your chances of succeeding in the UAE, follow my blog for my next post on the topic on: as well as follow me on Instagram @memoirs_of_emirati_headhunter for inspiration and advice in the areas of employability, entrepreneurship and leadership


The GCC needs its expat workforce

Labourers in uae

I recently read with interest an article by Saudi socio-political commentator Tariq A. Al Maeena titled ‘Saudi Arabia needs its expat workforce’.  As the title suggests, the truth is clear and simple; not only Saudi Arabia but the GCC as well do need their expat workforce.  The article also responds to another article published in a Saudi daily where the author warned that the army of expat workers

The article also responds to another article published in a Saudi daily where the author warned that the army of expat workers is a “timebomb” citing a recent incident involving disgruntled workers who were unpaid for months.  Truth be told, it is quite ironic that at times there seems to be more concern over the workers who are often the victims of broken promises and unfulfilled rights, rather than focusing on the employers, managers or even the unscrupulous recruitment agents.  These are the real culprits.

Another angle I believe needs to be addressed is the question of how can our governments ensure that the expatriate workforce -especially labor and blue collar – are enabled to live and work sustainably in the GCC countries. Yes, this means looking at everything from employees’ wages and incentives, insurance, addressing the high school fees in some of the GCC countries, rents, etc.

If we really aim to create a happy and competitive economy, we will need to address these and more.

What do you think can be done to make the GCC a sustainable place to work and live for expatriates?

To read the article by Tariq A. Al Maeena, click on the following link: Click here