Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My Lunch with the Lady Mayoress of London, Lady Lin Luder

I had a fabulous lunch on Sunday with the Lady Mayoress of London, Lady Lin Luder, and several influential women from the Kuwait community (Brits and Kuwaitis). It was held at Ricardo. I was the only American and it was quite an honor. I knew several of the ladies, but hadn’t seen them for quite a while, so it was great to catch up. (No, she didn't wear this at the lunch. I would have died of embarrassment for not being adequately dressed.)

I had to ask if I needed to take a course in how to curtsy prior to the day. I didn’t – I don’t know if I could have dealt with it – too much formality for me. I’m certain I would have done it wrong.

I didn't have to learn Briddish either! I have mastered that from being around friend from the UK (Scotland doesn't count!) long enough to understand them. (Ok, that is just a shout-out to all my American friends!)

Ignorant American

First of all, when my friend at the British Embassy (who shall remain nick-nameless for her own sake!) called me and told me about the Lady’s visit, I thought the woman’s name was “Mariss” – a name that I like. I thought it was pretty. But then, I immediately got off the phone and googled her (don’t laugh – I google everyone). I hate not being prepared.

But alas..... I am stupid. I should have brought my digital recorder. I wish I could remember everything that Lady Luder told us at the lunch. It was fascinating. I honestly didn’t want the lunch to end; I had such a great time.

Interesting factoids

Lord Mayor of London (from LINK): “During his year of office he travels the world as an ambassador for the business City, promoting it as the world's leading international financial centre and boosting the profile of British business at home and abroad. The Lord Mayor is well placed to establish valuable contacts both at diplomatic and top boardroom level. These contacts open up business opportunities in the City and help maintain London's position as the world's leading international financial centre.”

It takes 15 years to become Lord Mayor of London and there is extensive training involved.
You don’t have to be a male, but you retain the title of “Lord Mayor”.
A person must first be an Alderman to become Lord Mayor and are typically either lawyers or accountants.Lord Mayor of London is an elected position.
The role lasts for 1 year
Lord Mayor is not a salaried position.
During the 1 year tenure, the Lord and Lady (which would be hard to figure out if the Lord was a woman) live at the Mansion House.

The Lord and Lady are both asked to select charities
During their tenure they have no time for family events – too busy and are expected to be on duty throughout the year. Lady Luder said that she only has a few minutes once a week to check on her home, but once she’s there, she feels content as it is hers.
There has been a Lord Mayor of London ever since 1189.
The Lord Mayor’s Show is a procession (parade) held in November each year and has been the same journey for almost 800 years. I wanna goooo!
Get this – folks from our own US Civil War (although a Confederate) were invited to dine with the Mayor of London (an abolitionist). That’s deep. And now, we have a black president.

Lady Luder was delightful. I didn’t know what to expect but she was so approachable and down-to-Earth. She is obviously a diplomat, but I had a feeling that under her exterior, she is my kind of people. From one of the more colorful stories on Google, I would definitely say she is!

We asked Lady Luder what the best part was of being Lady Mayoress of London. She said, “Getting to see my husband in the golden cage.” I (and some of the other ladies from the giggles) believed that to mean the golden cage of marriage. Noooo…. The ceremonial golden cage of the Lord Mayors Show. Lady Luder said it is enormous and drawn by 8 horses.

Lin Luder formerly worked in IT at a New York law firm. She said that she and her husband will probably take 2 months off when the new Lord Mayor of London is sworn in (I don’t know if that is the appropriate term) and then go back to work.

Lord and Lady Luder were invited to attend a dinner with His Highness The Amir in the evening. What a wonderful job – even if it is tiring.

I continue to thank God for blessing me with the types of adventures He does; and for the types of interesting people I get to meet in my life.

A special word of thanks to my friend at the British Embassy (you know who you are) for inviting me. I wish there were many more like you in Kuwait! You are so positive and just a true pleasure to be around.

Victoria's Secret Coming to UAE

Oh… My…. God…… Victoria’s Secret is finally coming to the region. Wooooo hooooooooo! First stop is Dubai... c'moooon Kuwait!

You go, Mr. Mohammed Al-Shaya. You THA MAN!!!!

You know – just the other day, a visitor to Kuwait asked me what is the one thing that you would like to have in Kuwait that you don’t. That is a tuff question. Of course, my family, greenery, and alcohol (in that order). But to tell you the truth, we have almost all the material things – and more – that I want. I would love Target to come here, but that is just wishful thinking. I thought VS was a dream also.

I wonder how tha fuuuu they are going to market the store. Monster.com has a job opening for marketing manager in UAE. I think if I got the job (not that I would apply), I would be fired. That’s a difficult call. Their displays have shocked even open-minded folk in the US. I wonder how they are going to get around it.

GCC women always shop at Vicky's in the US. It is about time someone capitalized on the market.

I don't even like Dubai (sorry, but I don't), but I would be willing to go there for Victoria's Secret.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Pottery Barn is Coming to Kuwait!!!

Yippeeee! I love the Pottery Barn. I hope they really have the same merchandise that they do in the US.

A fantastic new brand is to join the Alshaya portfolio in 2010. We are recruiting now for Pottery Barn & Pottery Barn Kids.Doors open in UAE (March 2010) and Kuwait (May 2010).

Al-Shaya is taking over the world!

Degradation of Women's Summits in the Gulf

A Business Women's Summit (in one form or another) is held annually in the UAE. Annually, the Khaleej Times creates degrading stories or headlines related to the event; comparing the summit(s) to a recipe swap. As a professional business woman, this totally pisses me off.

Why is it that any time a group of women gather in the GCC, it is automatically assumed that it is a recipe swap or a children's event?

Please feel free to pass along to other women working (or not) in the Gulf who would not like to be objectified in this manner. We can only change perceptions by voicing our objections to this type of thing. Write to the author and/or Khaleej Times!

I can imagine that the women mentioned in the story might be a little angry also.

Here is the full story:

Women Leaders Share their Recipe for Success
Ahmed Shabaan 26 October 2009

Khaleej Times

DUBAI — More than 300 women leaders from the political and business fields from all over the world are participating in the first Women in Leadership (WIL) forum, which commenced in Dubai on Sunday.

The three-day event is being held under the patronage of Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, Wife of His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

The forum’s participants will share their experiences in leadership and strategies to deal with challenges during the session titled ‘Bridging the Gap’. They will attempt to address the misconception that the world has about women in the Middle East and discuss how cultural differences affected their daily business tasks.

Raja Easa Al Gurg, President, Dubai Business Women Council, said women across the UAE have taken on pivotal roles in the economic progress and sustainable development of the country, as has been witnessed in other sectors across various levels.

“Emirati women have emerged in high positions in the economy, politics and in various specialisations and in the process, have enhanced their own capacities, highlighted their own capabilities, refined their skills and worked hard to achieve their dreams of serving their homeland,” Al Gurg said.

Among the leading female personalities honoured on Sunday night have been trusted guides, influential mentors and strategic executives and have played a pivotal role in their companies’ success, adding to a career of extraordinary performance and 
exceptional results.
Dr Ayesha Mohammed Abdullah, CEO, Dubai Healthcare City, was named as the Leading Woman CEO.

Since her association with Dubai Healthcare City in 2004, Dr Ayesha Abdullah has emerged as a force to be reckoned with. The Leading Woman Chief Financial Officer (CFO) title was awarded to Dubai World CFO 
Maryam Sharaf.

Maryam Sharaf’s main responsibility with the group involves the preparation and maintenance of financial records, managing an effective system of internal financial control, investigation and advisory work in relation to internal and external financial statements, internal accounts, management records and statements, preparation and maintenance of financial records and internal and external financial reporting.

Maryam Sharaf has over 20 years of experience in the finance industry.

Fatima Al Jaber, COO, Al Jaber Group was chosen as the Leading Woman Chief Operating Officer (COO). In the context of the UAE, her accomplishments make her a pioneer. Before she joined the family business she was undersecretary for the Building Projects Sector in Abu Dhabi Municipality, a significant achievement for a woman in the UAE.

For Fatima to join the family business was not an easy decision. She worked hard to gain credibility and respect. As she evolved into the role of a leading member of the family and the business community at large, she is the one people turn to for advice and guidance.
On a daily basis Fatima manages the delicate balancing act between the rapidly paced work environment and the traditions of home and faith. Fatima also facilitates women’s access to financial services through Al Bashayer Investment Company.

Meanwhile, the forum is hosting the Traditional Arts Auction for raising money for charity organisations in the UAE and the United Kingdom. It has commissioned the internationally renowned luxury watch and jewellery firm Chopard to promote it.

Here is what the author, Mr. Ahmed Shaaban responded:

"Good morning

Thank you for your respectable feedback.

First, I would like to take the opportunity and extend my respect to all women, be they professional or not, as I do believe the whole world can not do without them, be they professional or not again.

Second, unless the event were important, I would not be interested in going and covering it.

Third, the whole story is full of appreciation and respect to all the women included and alike.

Fourth, though the title is not at all mine - it is the editorial desk's job - I would say the word 'recipe' used does not have any 'insulting' grounds. It is rather kind of simile. Your word 'disgusting' is even more and more offending.

Fifth, what is really wrong with recipes? I believe this is part of women's magical powers to be able to do many jobs at one time, starting from something they themselves really like. and so do men.

Last, I wish you accept my apology for any unintentional offence.

Thanks & regards

Ahmed Shaaban
Reporter / Translator
Khaleej Times"

So, then I wrote to Khaleej Times to tell them that they were being sexist.

This was my reaction to the November 2006 story on that year's women's summit in the Khaleej Times:
I picked up a copy of the Khaleej Times the other day and skimmed through the articles. I wasn’t really paying attention to headlines, but I hadn’t been able to make reservations at the Beach Rotana Hotel in Abu Dhabi as it was fully booked, so when their name was mentioned as hosting the 2006 Middle East and North African Businesswomen’s Summit, I stopped to read the article.

The headline read, “Hotels Curry Favour with Businesswomen” – which really has nothing to do with much of anything (I read it several times and have concluded that they are saying that hotels spice things up with businesswomen). The article basically says that the businesswomen enjoy the hotel services of food, hair styling, and make-up. It mentions nothing of what topics were covered in the Summit, nor their relation to the business world. It is a brief article which was written by two men and provides insight by an “overworked” hotel coiffeur.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Aramco Sued for death of beauty queen camel

I dare you to come up with creative comments. Dare you. Dare you. Double dare you.


Monday, October 19, 2009

What Desert Girl Wants for Christmas

I know it is a little early, but still... I can keep this in my purse. It is cute and convenient. I wonder if it comes in pink. I wonder if they have a version with crystals. OH - the possibilities!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

1 day plus 1 day plus 1 day equals.... two weeks, right?

I had a fantabulous time in DC for the convention. The weather was perfect, the convention went just right, and I got to hang with the fam. I also met a whole lot of new people. It was outstanding.

I visited a botanical garden with my mother one day and fed some enormous catfish and turtles. T’was amazing. It was such a nice day with my mommy. I miss her so much that I get weepy. I think she may come to visit me in February. I hope.

I managed to stretch a 3 day convention into 2 weeks. That worked out well. Ok, in the process, we made several good deals and I hope that one or two will hit and that I will be a Superstar (job security). That was my real goal. I’m very happy with the way things turned out.

Hey, look at how Agility pimped their booth (see photo). Fassssssscinating. So much for sexual harassment and the military, eh? What man's bright idea was that?

I got to go to one of my nephew’s football games. My sister wouldn’t let me embarrass the entire family. It saddened me, but out of respect for her, I didn’t scream like I usually do…. Well, ok, I got off one or two. Our entire bleacher section when painfully silent. I don’t care – I don’t know them.

Let me just say – again – how much I love the United flight to/from DC. They’re having a sale for 135 KD now. Awesome. I sleep the entire trip. Snoring? Do I care if I snore? I have no shame. It may feel like turbulence. It may sound like engines ripping apart. Do I care?

So then, so then, so then I got home and found out that the phucking gardener hadn’t watered my plants… the same plants that I have been nursing back to health all summer after he almost killed them back in the Spring. I am so mad! I got back and all the leaves were off the trees on my terrace and he had taken some kind of pruner to them. OMG! They were thin to begin with, but then dude goes after them like it is the Texas Chainsaw Massacre or something! He’s from Bangladesh and seems to hate me. Every time I see him, he scowls at me. I think it is because of my dog. You know – people from Bangladesh (male or female) believe that if a dog bites you, you get pregnant (with what – I don’t know). Anyways, I’m so mad, I’m so mad, I’m so mad! All my pretty trees are dead and I wish to batter him about the head with pots and pans (that’s my sister’s phrase – I can’t claim it).

The 2 stray cats (not mine) who live on the terrace, Paint and Petunia, are now pooping in my dog’s poop area. I think they’re doing it to make her angry. They can’t hiss at her anymore because I’ve taken the hose to them on more than one occasion. So, they stare her down and then poop. That’s so catty. Haaaaaaaaaaa!

I got an invitation to a Filipino friend’s home this weekend. The Man and I decided to do something different and actually venture off the sofa on a weekend night and go. She made a lot of food. He looked frightened (he’s not really good about trying new food things). I got him a plate of food with the same things that I ate. I explained to him later what ox tail stew is. He gagged like a little girl. Come ON! Bedouin dudes eat sheep heads and a little ox tail makes him gag? That’s just plain silly. What does he think is in hotdogs? I laughed until my stomach hurt. “Why didn’t you TELL me?! Why did you let me eat it?!” Dude! I ate it too. I said it was ox tail. When you hear “tail” anything, perhaps you should politely decline. Want a piece of tail, baby? (See, now I’m just crackin myself up again!).

This Wednesday night, there is supposed to be a meteor shower. Last night, I was up somewhere ungodly North of Kabd (like, I’m not kidding: half an hour plus past the 3rd traffic circle on 604) and I saw 4 shooting stars. I wish for what I usually wish for (can’t say – it won’t come true). It was so beauteous. I kinda wish I could be out there in desertland again on Wednesday night, but it is a work night. I’ll try.

Slaps moved into her new chateau this weekend. She bought a friend’s apartment contents which were in storage – something like 100 boxes. Way cool. She’s still going through them. She’s got a nice place – a lot quieter than where she was in the Sheikha Complex. It also doesn’t smell like poop. Maybe I should send the cats over there.

Right before I left, I sent Diana a nice e-mail explaining how I felt about the problem we had at the chalet. No response. Ok fine. Now I know where she stands with me.

Desert Girl say: Life is too short for poorly fitting panties or people who don’t really like you.