Saturday, August 27, 2011

Revolutions and Information Systems

The past ten years have provided us with several revolutions that have made it easier for us to understand the multiple stages of a revolution and the judgment of the degree of success of each revolution.  It started with Afghanistan with the toppling of Taliban.  Shortly after that, the Iraqi regime was toppled.  After that and quite recently, the whole Arab world has started with their revolutions.   As we speak today, we have witnessed the fall of three Arabic regimes (not including Iraq), the continuation of the revolution in a number of Arab countries and the failure of it in several others.  Doing a simple comparison, we can see a close relationship between revolutions and Information Systems.

In any respectful organization, the beating heart will be its core Information System.  In such an organization, the Information System, once is established, is difficult to replace without following the same stages of a revolution.  The first stage of both is the pregnancy stage.  This is where the initial group of people develop their understanding of what is wrong with the current political/information system and suggest a corrective action. 

The second stage is “giving birth” to the idea by staging demonstrations against the political systems and trying to get people on board in the case of information systems.  At this stage, the common public joins the demonstration and in the case of information systems, this will usually reach to mid management being convinced in the upgrade. 

Third and Fourth stage are interchangeable.  One is where the revolution gets support from external bodies.  This can be military, such as the case with Iraq and recently Libya, or political such as the case with Egypt.  This will map to higher management agreeing to the upgrade in Information Systems.  The second is when the current political system starts to lose its members to the revolution.  In comparison with Information Systems, this stage is depicted by the supporting team of the current core system place their focus on the new upgrade and one by one start abandoning the current system.

The fifth stage, and the stage of “no return”, is when the army defects the current political system.  In the past revolutions, we have had examples of the army joining ranks with the revolution and others where the army abandoned the political system (both by choice and force).  This is exemplified by setting the interfaces to the upgraded system.  Usually, in the case of Information Systems, this is where the main interface switches to the upgraded system.  In certain cases, the new core will have an upgrade that may replace a number of interfaces.  If this stage was successful you will know that the revolution was successful and as the case with Information Systems, it will take time for the new Political System to establish itself.

We have had multiple failed revolutions and, by looking at the set stages above, it is easy to define where they failed.  In the case of Saudi Arabia (The Revolution of Hunain), failure was at the second stage and that is to get the public’s support.  As for Bahrain, the revolution succeeded in gaining Bahraini pubic support, however, it failed to gain support from Bahraini officials and was attached by external forces.  Egypt managed to cross all stages (starting from stage two) in a very short period while in Libya it spanned the period of 6 months.  As mentioned above, we have had many examples from the Arab world of successful and failed revolutions, of which the transition between the different stages is clear.

I could easily tie between revolutions and Information System migrations as a result of my background.  Both start their pregnancy with the idea, and move to gain support from the directly impacted.  The next stage is gaining support from the visionaries and those supporting the current system.  The next stage is the defection of the systems main life line.  Once this happens, the current system starts to resign and tries to set an exit policy for itself.  

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Double Standard

During the first few days of Ramadan, King Abdullah issued a statement to the Syrian government to not prosecute people for practicing their basic freedoms of expressing their views.  The King continued his suggestions to the Syrian government of not practicing force to crush the demonstrations and give the people what they are asking for.  This has contradicted with how the body represented by the King has treated the demonstrations in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.  

Both Saudi and Bahrain’s demonstrations were peaceful demonstrations and did not request to topple the governments, unlike those in Syria.  The requirement of the demonstrators of the first was to simply free prisoners of opinions (those that showed an opinion that contradicted with the path of the government).  The second was a request of reform to the government (a non-major reform).   

To continue the oppression of the public’s freedom of speech, the Saudi authorities have ensured to imprison anyone who speaks his mind and criticizes their ruling.  A small example was the imprisonment of a Shi'ite cleric from the city of Hofuf last week because of his position against the government.   In addition to this, the authorities (in both cases) tried to limit media coverage as much as possible.  The cycle was then complete when the religious figures ensured to provide Islamic rulings against the demonstrations.

I wish for our “Legal Guardians” (Government) to stick by one standard.  If they wish to oppress their public, they should invite all else to follow suite.  However, if they wish to preach humanitarian values to the outside world, I wish they would start within their border first to set the right example.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Grand Conspiracy

As a man, I have many identities.  Whilst dressed in any one of those identities, there is always someone who is conspiring against me.  As a Muslim, the world is conspiring to wipe out my religion.  As an Arab the UK has conspired to wipe out my language and traditions.  As a Middle Eastern, the US is conspiring with Israel to ensure I am unaware of the borders of Palestine.  As a Saudi, the US is conspiring to rob me of my natural resources.   Being from the Eastern Province, the Government is plotting to steal my Oil.  As a Qatifi, the Wahabi movement is conspiring to rid the world of my culture and faith.  However I decide to look at it, there is always someone who is plotting against me to ensure my total failure and total loss.

The above is a simple snapshot of how the members of the common minority group evaluate their situation.  It may not follow the exact stages as stated above as the above relate to someone from the coastal city of Qatif.  By placing road blocks for progress, you will notice that the communities of the minorities fail to develop and as such, remain to be true “Ghettos”.   From these Ghettos, sometimes you get the exceptions that have decided to tear themselves away from the dilemma that the world is conspiring against them.  By doing so, they managed to focus on their personal goals and therefore are more likely to succeed then other members of their communities.

In essence a Ghetto to me is nothing more than a state of mind.  The mentality of the Ghetto is a mentality that allows the individual to place excuses outside the boarders of his own flaws to justify his failure.  This is usually done by blaming others for his failures and, in the case if there is no one to blame, blame it on the system that has been setup to make him fail.  In contrast, those who have attempted to outgrow their “Ghetto” mentality have managed to be extremely successful.  As a small example of this we can consider Barak Obama who managed to overcome two conspiracies when he became US President.  The first is him being from an African Heritage.  The Second is him being from an Islamic descent.   Another example from the realm of Saudi is Abduljaleel Alsaif who managed to overcome the general prejudice of the community, the dilemma of him being from Qatif and a Shiite to become a member of the Shura Council of Saudi Arabia, the advisory board to the Saudi King.

The above two examples show that a person can achieve a lot if he abandons the “Ghetto” mentality and attempts to grow himself beyond what his community is willing to offer.  There are many opportunities that a person can grasp if he explores beyond the borders of his own social circle and such opportunities can escalate the person’s financial as well as social stature.  Another way describe this action is simply “Thinking out of the Box”.  

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Worshiping the Past

“This is a people that have passed away; they shall have what they earned and you shall have what you earn, and you shall not be called upon to answer for what they did” {Quran, 2:134}.  God in the previous verse instructs us to focus on the here and now rather than the past.  He informs us in this verse that all we reap as Muslims as what we do for the present rather than weep for the past.  Yet when we visit Some Muslim communities, its public will focus primarily on the achievements of their forefathers.

When considering the backward communities, you will notice that the majority are living in the past, clinging to old tales of Heroism and progress while the rest of the world is developing and progressing.  If we look at the example of the US, a nation that is around 235 years old, we can see how this nation has developed, especially during the past century.  Maybe this was a direct result of the US not having any past history that it allowed it encouraged it to register itself in the modern history books and establish itself as a world leader.   In contrast, let us consider the situation of the nations of the Middle East.  This region has developed all sciences during the dark ages of Europe and it is truly proud of that achievement.  However, that pride did not allow the region  to sustain their scientific development and social growth.  For over a century the Middle East has been living in its dark ages while the west has been developing the sciences that the East has provided.

Looking at the Muslim Community, we have fine examples of those that have aimed to compete in the modern world, the samples of Malaysia aiming to be an industry giant, Dubai being the Middle East’s commercial hub and recently Turkey evolving their social system to compete with that of the West.  And we have examples of Nations that have been incapable of neither producing nor competing as a result of their grip on the past, to differences resulting from different interpretations of historical events.   A hold and grip on past events that has blinded them from their current situation.

At the end of the day, we as a community need to be competing at a global level to show our respect for our Islamic heritage.  We have all heard stories of old.  Stories of past success stories where the Islamic world was dominating the world through science, discovery and trade.  I guess that feels like a dream to me when considering the current situation of the vast Islamic community.