Microsoft and Emirates sign deal
UAE, Microsoft in historic partnership
By a staff reporter
28 January 2008
DUBAI — Microsoft Corporation joined hands with the Dubai Cares charity programme and the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation yesterday to spread the latest knowledge technology for education and research purposes in the Arab world.
The Dubai Cares-Microsoft Digital initiative was announced during a special signing ceremony attended by His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates.
The joint initiative will provide children with access to technology that will help develop the knowledge and skills necessary for students, teachers and communities within the next five years.
The programme is aimed at raising the level of computer literacy among school staff and parents in needy communities and help teachers foster a culture of innovation among students. The initiative will result in a dramatic increase in the availability of quality education and demonstrate how technology can enhance learning and improve educational systems in the least developed parts of the world.
In the first phase, Microsoft will help establish Learning Resource C|e|n|t|r|e|s |that |s|er|ve |as community based e-learning hubs for students, teachers and communities. The next phase will enable Dubai Cares and governments concerned to launch targeted PC campaigns that will ensure an effective learning environment with the relevant software, capacity development and educational curricula.
Microsoft founder Bill Gates met officials from the Dubai School of Government.
Microsoft will also soon partner with the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation to launch the Arab Education and Research Network, a first-ever knowledge portal in the Arab world.
Under an agreement signed between Gates and Mohammed Al Gergawi, Chairman of the Board of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation, it has been agreed that Microsoft will provide state-of-the-art technology platform for collaborative research and knowledge creation in the Arab world.
Microsoft will build the critical communications capabilities required for effective collaboration. These will include the latest knowledge sharing solutions, which will help develop an Arab Research Database and an extensive e-library.
Microsoft’s world leading communication platforms, online chat and discussion boards, newsletters, and sites for blogging and social networking will also form a core of the project.
This technology aims to boost the region’s capabilities and serve as a gateway to world-class knowledge, providing the right platform to encourage researchers and faculties contributing to the Arab knowledge development.
The platform will facilitate communication and the exchange of information and knowledge among professors, researchers and academic institutions. It will also help construct a foundation for a data bank of digital Arabic research to provide a backbone for the Foundation’s initiatives.
Microsoft in tie-up with EIA
By a staff reporter
ABU DHABI — Microsoft Corporation has entered into alliance with the Emirates Identity Authority (EIA) to enhance its technological capacity, besides providing developing human resources.
This was stated by Microsoft Corporation Chairman Bill Gates during his keynote address at the Government Leaders Forum here. The technological support to the Emirates Identity Authority (EID) would help it secure personal data, more secure than on paper, he said.
There are so many lawyers crammed into London's International Dispute Resolution Centre that there is almost no room for anyone else.
Seventy of them are taking part in the proceedings over how much Britain's banks should be allowed to charge customers for unauthorised overdrafts. For anyone interested in how the English Bar's biggest names perform, this is clearly the place.
My interest had been piqued by a reader's comment on my column three weeks ago about how many more lawyers than MBAs were running for US president. The reader said the cut-and-thrust of the courtroom was better preparation for the political hustings than the daily life of a chief executive, who does not get enough practice speaking.
Is this true? Chief executives make dozens of speeches a year and address small groups daily. As for the liveliness of the courtroom, I recall a school careers adviser warning those with lawyerly ambitions that if we pictured ourselves moving juries to tears with our eloquence, we were in for a disappointment. I have since spent enough tedious days reporting from court to vouch for the truth of this, but I thought I should take another look.
What I had forgotten about English courts is how much time is spent finding the right page. Mr Justice Andrew Smith wrestles with the files in front of him, searching for footnote 19. Where is it? "Page 13 of bundle E, my lord," says Iain Milligan QC, representing Barclays.
Another document defeats the judge entirely. "I'm sorry, I can't read this because of the photocopy. It's rather like when you go to the optician and you can't see anything," he says.
The others gaze on placidly. This does not seem the sort of experience that would win you the South Carolina primary, or even a seat on Bedfordshire County Council. Yet watching two sessions on consecutive days, I begin to see the reader's point. The judge interrupts the lawyers constantly with questions and demands for clarification - and not just about page numbers. The lawyers find their lines of argument disrupted, their grasp of the facts tested.
At one point, the judge asks: "What am I supposed to be doing here?" This is less a philosophical inquiry than an expression of irritation at how long each of the seven banks and one building society is taking to present its case. Richard Snowden QC, representing HSBC, the next lawyer on his feet, finds himself streamlining his arguments.
It is easy to see how, after years of this, a lawyer might find hecklers and political opponents easy stuff. The problem for chief executives, I suspect, is not that they do not make enough speeches but that when they do, no one answers back.
The results were on display at the World Economic Forum at Davos last week. I was not there, but one of the wonders of the internet is that you can watch the webcasts. Indeed, if you are interested in improving your oratory, you can listen to the masters, from Winston Churchill to Martin Luther King, on YouTube.
There are few Churchills or Kings in today's executive suites. The Davos interview with John Chambers, chief executive of Cisco, began by asking: "What does the annual meeting theme, the power of collaborative innovation, mean to your business?" and did not get any more exciting than that.
Listening to the lawyer-turned- politician Tony Blair on the same panel as his new employer, James Dimon, head of JPMorgan Chase, was like watching the new Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic warming up with a ballboy.
Perhaps it does not matter. Chief executives are there to do, not speak - to make decisions, conclude deals, damp down crises. And if they do not make it in politics, so what? Well, it might help if more of them did: Michael Bloomberg has been an impressive mayor of New York. Also, if you are going to speak on so many platforms, you may as well do it properly.
In an interview in the McKinsey Quarterly last November, Chip Heath, professor of organisational behaviour at Stanford business school, gives business speakers two useful pieces of advice: keep it simple and keep it concrete. He worked with an organisation that had eight core values. The lawyer-turned-politician Bill Clinton had one: "It's the economy, stupid", which worked - at least at the time.
Second, avoid abstract proclamations, such as "we put our customers first". A practical anecdote is more effective, such as the one Prof Heath says they tell at FedEx.
A driver discovered he had forgotten the key to one of the boxes from which he had to pick up packages. If he went back for the key, the packages would miss their flights. So he ripped the entire box from its moorings. Better to destroy the box than the customers' trust.
There are plenty of stories like that in business - more, I suspect, than there are in Bundle E.