Tunisia To Get New TV Channel Called Elyssa TV? Again With The Historic Names!

I just read that the Tunisian production company Cactus Prod has gone on as expected and filed to get the rights to launch a new television channel in Tunisia under the name: Elyssa TV.

If all goes as planned, broadcast tests for this new channel could start as early as this coming December 2009, with an official launch following early on in 2010.

Now, this is all great, after all I think it’s good to see more players enter the audiovisual market in Tunisia, maybe push the envelope a bit further, give viewers more options, and enrich the scene in one way or another.

What bugs me though is the name!
I went on a similar rant around 5 years ago when the name for Hannibal TV was announced, and here I am again, five years later, thinking the same thoughts.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m as proud a Tunisian as you’ll ever find, and our history is one that is very dear to me, it runs in our blood and defines a big part of who we are as a people, but I’m seriously fed up of every other business in Tunisia, from the neighborhood coffee shop, to travel agents, to the country’s first MVNO, to our TV channels to everything being named after Hannibal and Elyssa.

Come on, we can be more creative that that! Let’s stop living in the past!

Hannibal and Elyssa were great, they are a part of Tunisian history that will always shine throughout the ages, but we’ve overused their legacy; let them rest in their graves, and let us live in the present, let us create for the future.

It’s the same all around the Arab world too, not just in Tunisia, it’s as if we’re a nation clinging to the past, because it holds the only shiny points in our history that we can think of, instead of actually doing something to change the miserable state our nation is in, and building a better future.

Death & Numbers… People aren’t statistics!

This is something I’ve had bothering me for a while now, and that I’ve been wanting to write about for some time.

On the news, in newspapers, in conversations, everywhere; whenever there is an incident, war or whatever with deaths involved; numbers are pulled out… X number of people died here, Y number of people died there, more people died on this side than that, less people were lost than in some other incident… and they go on and on and on.
The bigger the numbers, the more tragic they display it to be, and the more they talk about it.

But what they’re actually doing with all this is just cheapening down human life to a set of meaningless numbers.

People aren’t statistics!

Every single death means that a person who was once a parent, a sibling, a child, a spouse, a lover has left this world, and left a group of people aching with broken hearts. To those people, it feels as though the whole world was lost, as if everyone is gone. To those people, in that moment, they don’t care how many other people died, or how their loss compares to someone elses, all they care about is that someone very dear to them is gone.

Some might think that sounds selfish for them to only think of their loss and not that of others, but whether we like it or not, that is basic human nature and totally understandable, when in a moment of grievance such as the death of a loved one, no one is in a spot where they can afford the luxury of selfless thinking. At moments like those, they hurt more than if all of humanity was lost because of some tremendous tragic disaster.

In the end what I guess I’m trying to say is that death is death; one death, one hundred deaths, thousands or even millions of deaths, all amount to the same thing: a tremendous amount of pain, a huge loss, and that to at least someone, somewhere, it feels as if the whole world came crashing down and took everything with it.

So instead of insensitively counting numbers and turning lost loved ones into just another numeral on a piece of paper, that we use to compare and evaluate loss, maybe we should accept death as an absolute constant value, and react to it as something that we should do everything we can to stop it from happening in vain.

RIP Michael Jackson, Legendary Musical Genius And King Of Pop

Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson, the legendary musical genius and king of pop has passed away at the age of 50 after suffering a fatal heart attack.

I learned the news this morning by accident while I was on IMDB looking for a review about a movie. While the site was redirecting me to the search results page, I saw the news on the right hand column, and I froze. I couldn’t believe it. It couldn’t be possible. Michael Jackson can’t just die like that!

Of course he’s not going to live forever and neither is any one of us; but he can’t just die like that!

Michael Jackson isn’t just anybody, he is a music legend by all standards, his songs were the soundtrack for a whole generation’s best moments growing up, his sound is as enjoyable and awesome today as it ever was.

I can’t remember one childhood or teenage memory of mine without a Michael Jackson song dominating the charts and breaking new ground with its musical style and its video going steps further than anyone else.

We went out for a drive a bit earlier and we played The Essential Michael Jackson album that was released a few years ago with some of his greatest hits, and a flood of memories came back to my wife and I, and it struck us how songs he wrote a decade or two ago still sound amazing, fresher and more creative than any song out there.

There never was, is or will be anyone like him; a perfect performer, entertainer and musical genius.

Everybody knew Michael Jackson, from all generations, in every little corner of the world. He was the ultimate celebrity.

Michael Jackson the man might have died, but Michael Jackson the legend will live forever through his music that will continue to entertain for generations, and will continue to be as fresh and exciting as it was the day it was released. He will live forever through the memories of a whole generation of people who grew up with his music, trying to moonwalk just like him, buying jackets and gloves like his, watching in endless admiration whenever he performed.

I was a fan, through his great days when everyone was crazy about him, and through the hard times when it felt like everyone turned against him and started calling him a freak. I am still a fan, and always will be. I enjoyed and still enjoy every single album he released. Michael Jackson and his music will always hold a special place in my heart and in my household.

To this day, it’s still eating me up from inside that I wasn’t able to attend his concert in Tunisia, that happened just days after I moved to Jordan in 1996. Now, I’ll never get the chance to ever see the King of Pop live, an experience of a lifetime.

Rest in peace Michael Jackson; We love you; you’ll always be remembered and missed.
The world has lost an irreplaceable King.

We Should Choose The Right Path, Not Just The Easy Path

It is easier to start wars than to end them. It is easier to blame others than to look inward; to see what is different about someone than to find the things we share. But we should choose the right path, not just the easy path. There is also one rule that lies at the heart of every religion – that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. This truth transcends nations and peoples – a belief that isn’t new; that isn’t black or white or brown; that isn’t Christian, or Muslim or Jew. It’s a belief that pulsed in the cradle of civilization, and that still beats in the heart of billions. It’s a faith in other people, and it’s what brought me here today.

Barack Obama, ‘A New Beginning‘ Speech in Cairo

Companies And Their Bureaucracies

Most companies build their bureaucratic rules to manage the small percentage of wrong people on the bus, which in turn drives awaythe right people on the bus, which increases the need for more bureaucracy to compensate for incompetence and lack of discipline, which then further drives the right people away, and so forth.

Jim CollinsGood To Great

On Motivation…

Spending time and energy to “motivate” people is a waste of effort. The real question is not “How do we motivate people?” If you have the right people, they will be self-motivated.
The key is to not de-motivate them.

Jim Collins, Good To Great

Tunisie Telecom To Launch BlackBerry In Tunisia At Last

Tunisie Telecom, Alcatel-Lucent and Research In Motion (RIM) have announced that Blackberry will finally be launched in Tunisia.

At launch, Tunisie Telecom will be offering its customers the BlackBerry Pearl 8100, BlackBerry Pearl 8120, BlackBerry Curve 8320, BlackBerry 8800 and BlackBerry Bold 9000 smartphones, as well as service on BlackBerry Enterprise Server and BlackBerry Internet Service.

According to the company, based on its distribution agreement with RIM, Alcatel-Lucent will take advantage of its strong local presence in the region to provide Tunisie Telecom the end-to-end implementation, launch and on-going support for delivering the solution to the market.

According to Tunisie Telecom’s site, the unlimited email and navigation plan is at 60 Dinars per month, which sounds pretty good. No details were provided on the site for how the devices themselves are priced.

More details about the available plans and prices are available here: Tunisie Telecom BlackBerry Solutions.

[Via: Trading Markets]

Enough With The ‘Online Advertising Is A Failure’ Talk

Between yesterday and today, I’ve read at least 3 posts/articles that talk about how online advertising is a failure, one of them on TechCrunch yesterday by a guest writer (Eric Clemons), one on the Economist, and another on MediaPost’s online video insider.

The latter focuses only on online video advertising, and it’s quite an interesting read, that raises some clearly valid points that are worth considering by anyone making a foray into online video advertising. I wouldn’t go as far as saying that online video advertising is dying as the writer has done; I think that it’s just still maturing, and needs a bit more time for it to fit in perfectly into the whole online advertising puzzle and get to where everyone wants it to be.

Anyway the first two articles I read just feel like they’re a blast from the past, it’s as if they were pulled out of the archives from back in 2001 after the dot com bubble burst and a bunch of online companies went down in flames.

In fact, it’s as if some people are blaming the woes some online companies are going through now because of the bad economic situation on the fact that online advertising is a failed model. As if everyone is doing perfectly ok, and it’s just internet companies that are having problems.

It strikes me how many people still don’t get it.
You’d think that by now, after all these years, more people would have seen the light and recognized that online advertising, when done right, is the most effective, most targeted, and most measurable form of advertising there ever was.

I mean, no matter how skeptic you are of online advertising, you can’t argue with the power of being able to target an ad at a specific person who perfectly fits the profile of your potential customer, and who is actually interested in what you have to offer, and then measure exactly how effective your campaign was and how much you made out of it.

It’s true that not everyone can rely on online advertising 100% as a revenue model to sustain their business, but that doesn’t make it any less important or effective as a model; all it means is that every internet business has to have its own combination of ways to generate revenue as part of their business model, which holds true for any type of business, not just online ones.

In the end of the day, if a bunch of restaurants fail and shut down, it doesn’t mean the model of selling food to people doesn’t work, it just means that those restaurants did something wrong: either choosing the wrong location, not marketing well, choosing the wrong type of food to serve, providing bad food or bad service or whatever other reason.

Tunisia To Get A New 50 Dinar Banknote

Ah so it seems we’ll be getting a new 50 Dinar banknote in Tunisia… (I know this news is about a week old, but I just found out about it.)

The Governor of Tunisia’s Central Bank (BCT), Taoufik Baccar, announced that the bank will issue a new 50 dinar banknote.

Baccar said that the new banknote will represent the literary scholar, Ibn Rachiq Al Kairouani, ten days following the launch of festivities celebrating Kairouan as Islamic Cultural Capital for 2009.

Mr Baccar who made the announcement during the international colloquium on “Numismatics and the history of money coins in Tunisia”, also said that the choice of the scholar to illustrate the banknote was in line with Tunisia’s rootedness in Arab Moslem sources.

Ibn Rachiq Al Kairouani (999-1063) who was born in Mhamdia near Tunis, was a poet, writer and literary critic. He is known for his magisterial “Al Umda”, a treatise of literary criticism in two volumes, written during the golden age of Arab culture.

There are currently three types of banknotes in circulation in Tunisia, ten dinar notes, twenty dinar notes and thirty dinar notes.

[Source: Tunisia Online News]

This actually makes monetary sense, especially with where prices are going; now if they’d only kill that damn stupid 30 Dinar note! I mean, what the hell were they thinking?! Someone must’ve been seriously drunk the day they came up with that.

It’s quite funny though how because Kairouan is the Islamic Cultural Capital this year, Tunisia is all of a sudden trying to revamp and present itself as a very Islamic country, very in touch with its Muslim roots and all, even inviting Sheikh Qaradawi (who has been very critical of Tunisia before) over.
It’s certainly very convincing, don’t you think? (Yeah right!)

The Problem Of Dubai: It’s Not A Melting Pot

I’ve been in Dubai for almost three months now (oh, how time flies by), and being the highly adaptable person I am, I have managed to fit in rather comfortably very quickly, and I have to say that I really like it here and am enjoying my time a lot.

One of the things I love about Dubai is how mixed it is, and how you get to meet people from all over the world every single day; That is always a great thing to me and a very enriching experience.
A friend of mine called it a World City (Global City) because of that, and I agree. 

There is another side to that coin though, which is behind the problem of Dubai. Unlike other global cities, Dubai is not a melting pot, and that’s where its problem lies.

If you take any of these other cities, you’ll find that the majority of people have moved there to settle down, build a life, invest in their future; and as a result of that they work hard, they blend in to the fabric of the multi-cultural society, they build strong personal relationships, they develop a sense of belonging, they care about the city, and the country, and they contribute to its growth and its cultural richness; because it is home to them, and their lives and those of their children are closely tied to it.

Dubai, on the other hand, is just considered a station by the majority of people living in it; they come here and they’ve already decided that it’s going to be only for a few years, and then they’ll be moving on to somewhere else, or back to their home countries. That means that they’re not as involved, they don’t develop a strong sense of belonging, they don’t really invest much into personal relationships, they never really care enough.

And that makes a world of difference, and everyone visiting Dubai feels it. Not everyone knows how to put it in words, but some of the things I’ve heard most, from before ever setting foot here, are that it feels ‘fake’, that it’s too materialistic, that it lacks identity …etc.

And why is it this way? Simply because it’s almost impossible for expats to be granted citizenship, and so sooner or later they’re going to have to leave, if not at their own free will, it’ll be because a point in time will come when they’re no longer allowed to stay.

And so people plan it in advance, they don’t let themselves get too attached, they don’t invest more personal effort than they have to, they don’t feel they have any obligations towards the city or the country, and their time is reduced to revolve around a main mission, which is in most cases acquiring money; which all explains the feeling visitors get.

Of course, I understand the point of view of the government here, and that opening the door to immigrants from all over the world, from different backgrounds, cultures and religions, will permanently affect the country in many ways; and of course it is a choice, and one where there is no absolutely right or wrong answer.

Personally, as with every other expat in Dubai, I know that I’ll be here for a few years only before I move on, but as with every other place I’ve lived in throughout my life, I’ll be blending in, I’ll be building friendships, I’ll be playing my role and contributing whatever I can, and I’ll be enjoying myself along the way.

Home to me is where my little family is, and where I lay my head down to sleep at night; and for these coming years, my home is Dubai.