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Sunday, October 22, 2006

Ramadan and the Free Zones

My father runs a (very) small shipping company in Jebel Ali. The shipments we process are meant to only have a brief stopover in Dubai before being disseminated through the CIS. Timing is crucial; delayed shipments mean furious customers, delayed payments and reduced orders.

Unfortunately, Ramadan has thrown a hefty spanner into the mix.

Coming on the back of a dry summer, for 30 days we've had to contend with customs officers who seem barely able to lift their stamps. Their painful sloth has held up every shipment we've done, causing delays of not hours but weeks. Not just us: anyone who does anything with cargo has to get that damn stamp, and Customs randomly packs up during the day to go have a kip somewhere, it leaves all of us (who are fasting as well) with nothing to do but wait for them to come back.

My solution? Either put into place overtime incentives, or employs customs in shifts, so that fresh staff continously arrive. Shipping is a round the clock, round the year job.

It leads to my other point - the impact of Ramadan on businesses. Sure, it's nice to say we can all get a month off, but from the point of view of an employer it's utterly disastrous for productivity. Listless workers who do jack shit in the morning and are too stuffed post iftar to do more than waddle to the loo occasionally. Rinse and repeat for thirty days.

The problem is, the world doesn't fast. If you deal exclusively with the local market, it doesn't affect you in the least, but we have to process orders from all over the globe and they dont give a rats ass if you've eaten or not. Our commitment to global trade ensures we pay a double penalty for adhering to local custom.

This is, in any case, the worst time of year. With GITEX winging its way in and global demand starting to pick up, we're going to fall behind even further. Is Ramadan incompatible with the modern business world? Quite possibly.

8 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem is not with Ramadan Marwan, its the people who fast and think its an excuse to be less efficient and productive.
From your post, I understand (correct me if I am wrong) that you are fasting too, but are able to be as productive as your non fasting days, therefore the expectation that the others should be the same is reasonable.
In the field of medicine (which I am in) whenever we are oncall (on duty 24 hours), we are expected to deliver as much as we do on our ordinary day, and we do, many times we will be in the middle of something and break our fast hours later.
I would be very careful if I was you to comment about "Is Ramadan incompatible with the modern business world? Quite possibly." I am (maybe you are too) and I know many others who fast during Ramadan, pray go to Taraweeh and yet not compramise the job.

8:10 PM  
Blogger marwan said...

Fair enough about point no.2. I don't see the point of one month of slobbitude, personally. But more importantly, you missed point no.1 about how my company is being held up by customs being lazy sods. My guys have to work longer hours to compensate for their laziness and that's unfair. Plus, foreign companies aren't really that willing to accept Ramadan as an excuse.

I think it's perfectly fair to wonder whether Ramadan is detrimental to a businessman, given that it impacts productivity so strongly. You can be the hardest worker in the world, but when you depend on people who can't hack it, all your efforts are in vain.

I don't fast, FYI. I am no longer a Muslim.

10:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I don't fast, FYI. I am no longer a Muslim." then why give us all headaches about your issues with using your left hand to wipe your behind or not.
And since you are not a muslim anymore and I assume not local, leave us to worry about our economy during Ramadan,if its still an issue with your company then "Ard Allah Was3ah", lots of ports out there who would love to have a hard working man with good english skills (no spelling mistakes). Congratulations for that.

1:45 AM  
Blogger marwan said...

Way to keep dodging my point. Who's this all? Some imaginary army who's got your back?

My tiny economy is part of your big one, so don't tell me to shove off. I pay great gobs of money to locals for the privilege of working here, so I have a concurrent right to see that my money is well spent. This job hasn't been given to me out of the goodness of your heart.

Left handers in Islam have ZERO to do with this discussion.

If your ports performance is shit, then all shipping companies pay the price. I've shown Ramadan has an undeniable effect on performance. I've also suggested solutions. What have you brought to the table, except the tired refrain of asking a critic to fuck off?

2:46 AM  
Blogger blogrosh said...

"then why give us all headaches about your issues with using your left hand to wipe your behind or not. And since you are not a muslim anymore and I assume not local, leave us to worry about our economy during Ramadan"

HL&H - surely, you don't mean that?

11:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"What have you brought to the table, except the tired refrain of asking a critic to fuck off?" I can't argue with a person of such class, and I havn't said you should fuck off. I clearly stated my opinion that the problem isn't Ramadan as much it is the individual.

Blogrosh, Yes, I do. Its muslims role to preach about the slacking that goes on in Ramadan. and what you have quoted is my response to a post at UAE community blog

1:57 PM  
Blogger marwan said...

Jesus Christ, how hard is this for you to understand?

Let me break down as simply as is possible for you - I ACCEPTED your point about Ramadan being difficult but WORKABLE for companies.

The point which I'm talking about, for the umpteenth time, is in the *Free Zone* when my company - and others - are forced to wait for a Go-Slow Customs.
What are we supposed to do, then? Your answer?

You're intent on making this some personal vendetta when I'm trying to discuss ways of *improving* the Free Zones to get around their one self-induced slack period. You haven't argued at all, you've been narrowly focused on assuming that I want to destroy Ramadan.

Absolutely LOL. What does it matter if I think Ramadan is irrelevant? Do you think that one person thinking differently can bring down an entire ideology? Although the Prophet might have something to say about that.

I don't appreciate you bringing you issues from this blog onto UAE Community. Your personal disagreement with me has no place on a public forum. Is that your idea of class*?

* - Class can go fuck itself with a broken bottle up the ass. I've never displayed pretensions of being a nobleman or an erudite sophisticate - one glance at my archives will illustrate that, quite well. I've been through enough hard knocks in my life to not care two figs about social niceties.

5:36 PM  
Blogger Jinn Tonic said...

A small group of us have a bi-Weekly live Internet chat show about Islam. This weekend (Satuday 15th, 9PM GMT) our episode will be entitled "Why I left Islam." We will be talking to people about what led them to apostatise.

If I am not mistaken you are an ex-Muslim aren't you? It would be great if you could join us on the day via Skype to let people know your reasons for apostatising. The show is watched by people of all religious inclinations, our aim is to encourage people to investigate Islam in a rational and objective way and I think hearing you talk could encourage that.

I hope you will accept my invitation. I look forward to hearing from you.

Pete
(The Jinn And Tonic Show)
thejinnandtonicshow@gmail.com

12:58 PM  

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