e-Ink/LCD idea. I should probably patent this idea but…

So I thought of this around 2 years ago but I finally decided to share this concept. I should probably patent it, but oh well, I can’t keep this great idea a secret from the world. (Note: If you’re a major company and want to take this idea, I’m easy to please!).

Basically take a tablet device with two layers. One is a typical LCD/OLED/Color display. The second layer is e-ink with a transparent background. When you want to use your iPad (for example) as a normal tablet device, the e-ink layer would be switched off and since it’s transparent, it would look like you’re using a normal iPad. When it’s time to read a book, the LCD would switch off and the e-ink layer would switch on giving you that nice ‘paper’ looking screen.

This would make reading better, save a great deal on battery, reduce eye-strain, and potential to use the LCD backlight as a backlight for the e-ink screen for night reading.

Anyway, just something that’s always been in my mind.

Big Fire in Villaggio

iLoveQatar received tweets, posts, and facebook messages about a fire in Villaggio. Follow @qatarnews and @dohanews on twitter. You can also visit the LIVE thread here: Breaking: Fire in Villaggio

 

Update: Video added by Muhammed Moslih

Smoking in Qatar

Who smokes?

It is not considered acceptable for Qatari women to smoke. Shisha (see below) is generally considered more acceptable, but most Qatari women still do not smoke Shisha in public. Not all Arabs share this view, and it is common to see Lebanese families enjoying a shisha together after a pleasant meal in Souq Waqif!

Attitude

Qatar has an active anti-smoking policy in place, and an anti-smoking unit at the Supreme Council of Health to enforce it. Surgeries and hospitals are festooned with posters and images and there are strict anti-smoking laws in place.

Laws and Regulations

It is illegal to smoke in enclosed public places such as malls and most restaurants and cafes. While the law has at time been openly flouted, more recently very hefty fines have been handed out to people breaking the law; in April 2010 $14,000 in fines were handed out.

It is, however, legal to smoke outside at cafes and restaurants, and with its sunny climate that means the restriction is not a huge problem for most of the year. In some restaurants there are also completely enclosed areas where smokers can enjoy their cigarettes.

Despite the regulations on public places, it remains legal to smoke in bars, and the bars are just as smoky as the pubs and nightclubs of the UK and America in the past.

Taxes and prices

Despite the anti-smoking stance taken by the government, prices remain low when compared to the UK or the US. A pack of 20 Marlboro in a local shop will set you back around 7 or 8 riyals or around $2.

Shisha

Shisha is the local name for the  hookah or water pipe, also known as hubbly bubbly or the  narghile. It is commonly thought to be safer than smoking, with smokers believing that the water strains the impurities out of the smoke. This belief has survived for centuries, with legend stating that the physician Hakim Abul Fath invented the device for the Emperor Akbar in order to render the Emporer’s smoking habit ‘harmless’.

Whether it is safe or not remains controversial. Some anti-smoking groups maintain that it many times worse than smoking, and that the tin foil used may add carcinogens to the mix. In addition, if not properly cleaned water pipes at cafes may harbour harmful bacteria which can be passed from customer to customer. However, websites like the Sacred Nargile maintain this is pseudo science, denying that Shisha is more harmful than cigarettes.

Electronic Cigarettes

Although electronic cigarettes are banned in neighbouring Saudi Arabia and the UAE, there does not seem to be a strong policy on them in Qatar. While you can not buy the devices directly in Qatar, ECigaretteDirect, a British electronic cigarette company, supply the electronic cigarette directly to Qatar via Aramex.

Marijuana

While it is available, Cannabis is illegal and usage or drug dealing will lead to a prison sentence. We strongly recommend that you do not use cannabis during your stay in Qatar.

Ramadan in a nutshell

nutshellIt’s Ramadan and you thought that you’d try fasting! (if you’ve never done it before). Perhaps you wanted to just learn a bit. Today’s lesson is all about the correct way to fast. OOoooooh, you say?

Fasting begins from sunrise and it’s time to eat during sundown. (You can find out times at the Ministry of Interiors website, Islamweb, or even receive free daily texts from Vodafone to find out.)

It’s purpose is to purify and to teach appreciation.
No bad words, no food, no water, no sexual thoughts (or actions), and no rudeness.

You’re supposed to be kind, gentle, pure, and appreciate the fact that you are lucky in life to have food and to think more about those who have less in life in order to be giving.

Once you’ve gone through that for the day, it’s time to eat! The cannon blasts into the sea (the boom sound signifies it is time to eat), don’t go gorging your face! You’re supposed to eat three dates. Wait 30-60 minutes and then start eating.

Why three dates? Because that’s what the prophet ate. A more scientific answer is that it is just enough in quantity to kick start your metabolism, has enough sugar to keep you going for a bit longer and out of that hunger phase, and just like pringles, one is not enough.

The QNB Story

73910-QNB_new_logoSo let me start this off by saying that I worked with a great team. I worked for a subsidiary of QNB. Independent (to an extent), challenging, and did I mention that there were great people to work with?

My issue is probably with the bank itself in ‘essence’. I cannot find fault with most people (note I said most). However since joining, there was always the feeling of confusion, no not from my end, but from QNB itself. Nobody really knew what they were doing completely; I talk about the people I interacted with of course and this post is only meant to highlight my experience.

What made the experience a bit sad was that QNB actually treated staff worse than customers. Now if the level of service given to customers is quite low, you can only imagine what staff get. No special rates, hardly any exceptions, processes are a bit more difficult and you have to pick up your account debit card 4 months after you apply in a leaky toilet under head office. Alright so I made the last one up, but that’s how it feels.

After quitting, I decided to take the professional route and stay a month in order to take care of the work left over and to ensure that the projects (and clients) that I had on my plate were completed and/or handed over professionally; after all, that is the right thing to do. Many Qataris simply leave the next day, but oh no, I had to let morals get in the way. It was a foolish mistake.

I had left to Japan when I had the lovely surprise of seeing that my cards were canceled. Yep, I had a month left, went on leave for a few days only to find that I couldn’t use my cards half way through. After returning to Qatar, I saw that I couldn’t use any of my cards! Calling up customer service was of no help because they simply said they didn’t know what the problem was.

So I waited a bit over a week and then finally decided that I didn’t want to have my money in a hidden account and went off to the main branch to set up a new account. They gave me a few papers to sign, signed them, and left with the card. Not bad, I get a debit card on the spot. The next few days didn’t go on too well since it took a while for it to link up to my online banking. It was a hassle, I had to create a new account and transfer funds, but it was over and done with. The end of the month came and my team gave me a nice lunch to say goodbye. That’s pretty nice.

Last pay and I’m out of there. Nope. No pay. Yep no pay for me. QNB didn’t put me on the pay roll. They told me that they would pay my salary 21 days after I quit. Wait what?! I have a mortgage to pay… I worked for a whole month for what? To get paid two months later? I tried called the AGM since he was a friend but he was on vacation for 3 weeks.

So I send off an email to a person I considered a friend at HR and ask him to please ‘help a brutha out man!’ He was always friendly to me, and in fact, he told me to call on him if I ever needed help. I explained the situation and got an reply “Isn’t this your signature”, with an attachment to an account cancellation form. The form was dated the 19th! They canceled my account BEFORE I signed that form. I was GIVEN that form when I created a new account! Plus canceling my original account is against policy! It should have been converted to a customer account… Guess they follow policy when it suits them.

I explained that to him and he cced in someone saying “please follow up”. Nice…. thanks Qatari bro. You really helped me out there. //end sarcasm. So the guy (who also works in QNB HR) goes an reactivates my old account… no I don’t want my old account reactivated… Just send my salary to the new one… No he can’t do that… So Saturday comes a long and I get a text that my account is 10+k overdrawn. What? Wasn’t my account reactivated so that I could get my salary and now I’m overdrawn?

The geniuses reactivated an empty account which automatically charged me an ‘empty account’ fee, then charged me some sort of interest, and then pulled out the mortgage. To make matters worse, the mortgage statement didn’t even reflect that! What the hell?!

So the office manager sends an email to HR on my behalf asking them to please sort this out. What does she get as a reply? “It’s a customer account now so it’s not our business. Let him go to main branch.”. What the F~~~~~ I don’t even want to waste a badword on them.

So now I have to go BACK to the main branch, get them to waive these fees and sort crap out. How nice of them! Who wants to bet I’ll be speaking to someone who either a) doesn’t care or b) ‘can’t do anything because it’s out of his hands’.

Moral? Sometimes you just can’t be too nice…  *sighs* No regrets from leaving a bank that couldn’t at least show me an inch of compassion. I guess I stayed as long as I did because of a few reasons, the CEO was an interesting person, one of the GM’s was a supporting individual, and I met some amazing staff at the bank. It’s thanks to them that I cannot say that all my time was a waste.

Note: Let there be no misunderstanding. My time in my line of work was great. I learned from my team, I managed to work on fantastic and amazingly huge transactions, and I was able to get a new understanding for the way the banking ‘game’ is played, it’s just that I wish things went a bit easier. We return to that classic sentence which is meant to be words of support but often get considered words of despair “Life’s not easy”.

Setting / Starting up a business in Qatar?

You’re searching high and low for how to start  up a business in Qatar?

I’ve had a lot of people ask me how to set up a business in Qatar so I now present you with a great quick guide!

Tadaaaa

business

Click here

Freedom of Expression

    Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which the Qatari Government is a signatory of states: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any medias and regardless of any frontiers.

    The Emiri Decision Number 86 of the year 2007 on the establishment of the Doha Free Information Centre marked yet another step towards establishing a State of rights and freedom of speech. The decision stipulated that the Centre be a non-profit organization, headquartered in Doha City, and have the authority to establish other affiliated centres inside and outside Qatar. It is worth mentioning that His Highness the Emir issued a decision in 1998 annulling the ministry of information, giving birth to a new era of freedom of speech where censorship was removed from local media.