For Thursday – June 20th 2013.
Between Us Only!
‘Old Wine’ in New Bottles!
Before I start on today’s topic – I need to make some important pertinent points before I begin!
Firstly, I have tried my level best to avoid writing on this topic in order to give a chance and break to the new emerging enterprises in Islamic Banking. I thought to myself it is too early now to start to criticize and accuse – give the guys a break! A chance and an opportunity to do their thing – First and foremost! At the back of my head dawned the thought that people like always to criticize – and even our Great Prophet tried his best – but still was not able to succeed!
It also dawned on me that you simply cannot please everyone. If you try – you will end upsetting everyone instead. The great Lady Margaret Thatcher used to say – or to words that were similar – Those who sit on the fence get pelted by both sides! So you need to stick with one side – and hopefully pray that you have made the right choice! Admittedly business is business – first and foremost. And there has to be a framework and guidelines too for modus operandi.
I was also driven to remember my good relations with my Bank – and how they have assisted me greatly. A human being must always remember the good and kind things done to him – otherwise he is no longer a human being. Also one must learn to forgive the bad things and parts – even if it will be very difficult at first to forgive! But one must forgive too – even if the forgetting may take longer – or may not come out after all!
I had also contacted on my own some Banking Senior peoples I knew – and gave them what is the beef all about! What is eating people and upsetting people too! There was a column here written too by one who himself works in the Banking sector – so what I am going to say next gives credence and credibility too.
What is our main fundamental problem? Like in my article May 2003 – over 10 years ago – I said the very same things. We have good great ideas – but we fail miserably and dismally in implementation – and putting things into perspectives and in practices.
The usual jealousies and envies always crop in – plus being polarized, subjective – and not seeing the bigger picture – or thinking outside the box! The Shell International Company has a slogan for it – The Helicopter Quality! Seeing the picture from above – and you being detached from it! My usual M style here – just to divert a bit – my ex boss got very upset with me when I said that helicopters have the knack of crushing down – and if one knew what was keeping the helicopter flying – one would never go up in one!
Long time ago, when I wanted to start my Consultancy business – it was suggested to me to try one of The Youth Funds – but I was told that I was over 34 – so could not be considered! When I tried other places I was told I was over 50 – so could not be considered either! I wrote an article on this too – over 10 years ago – titled – Sorry Sir; You Are Over 50!
It talked of failing miserably in business – and as an Omani HR Professional trying to get a full time employment after that – and that too failing – and after opting for voluntary retirement at 50. Though you had over 10 to 15 years of still good needed experiences – and working capabilities – but nobody cared or bothered – you as being the local!
That is unless you sweetened the bitter pill a bit – by ‘sugar coating’ of saying you are ONLY looking for a Temporary or Project job! Though admittedly, there are still professional expatriates crossing seventy – and still working! It seems that once you are reaching 55 and as a local – it is better not to bother people – and just go with what you need for you – to the graveside and wait for your time to leave this world! Scrap and useless!
Admittedly, with the recent developments there has been seen some few areas of improvement. Like still allowing you the Credit Card at limited levels – unless you have solid collateral. Or some restricted facilities till in many cases to 60 years old – and some few to 65 – like the new Islamic Banking – but that too after much W and pleadings. After that age – the book is thrown at you – because it is believed you can drop dead at any minute – so take care my friend! Leave us alone!
No one knows how long we will live – or what is going to happen to us in the future! Long time ago, I signed a Bank Loan for a young Omani at 28 years old – 2 weeks later he died in a tragic road accident. He easily got a personal loan – and a large amount too – that I would never had dared to take at his age!
We are now again talking of SMEs – but there is this expression – once bitten twice shy! Frankly, at one time I had even considered to do very drastic things that would have disappointed everyone – even those that hate me – and treat me as an adversary. Only my upbringing – and family support – and few friends one had – and my Religious Beliefs had stopped me! It is terrible when you fail in business – and you have no W – that is why even today the idea of business again will never enter my head! Once bitten – twice shy!
The other day, I met this guy at the Social function. He was saying to me – Write about these things! And a friend on the side volunteered for me to write on ‘writing off citizens’ loans’ – until one cynic and sarcastic guy said – This will never happen! They may even prefer to count the money – and throw it in the sea’ – as our good Pakistanis like to say – than to give it to you! Why should people ever think like this?
Unless people really are pragmatic and wise to see the bigger picture – to be objective and see and think outside the box – you will excuse me by saying I will always remain sceptical and cynical of all the ‘New things and changes’ – because like I had said in The Land Rover Story –
All this is more due to the ‘red tape’ and the difficult bureaucratic policies and practices – many that are unethical and unprofessional too! Lack of patience, perseverance, compassion, humanity, feelings and understandings. Worse are even that everyone now is joining the league ‘to beat up and batter’ the poor local Omani investor in the market – especially if you have no money – and W! Imagine this was over 10 years ago when I wrote this!
The Policies and Procedures Manuals – many outdated and out of fashion – need to be revisited. The Financial Institutions and The Monitoring Bodies and Associations need to come in to keep abreast with the latest trends, traits, changes, outlooks and perspectives! And being more pragmatic, ethical, professional and compassionate!
God Gave us eyes to see; ears to hear and a mouth to speak also! The word Islam means Compassion too – and not everything in life is money – or can be counted!
May Allah God Guide us to The Right Path and Ways – Amin. Amen.
By Majid Al Suleimany