x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

To tweet, or not to tweet? I'm with the Minister for Foreign Trade on that

Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, the UAE Minister for Foreign Trade, does not have a Twitter account, which I think is an eminently sensible decision.

Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, the UAE Minister for Foreign Trade, does not have a Twitter account, which I think is an eminently sensible decision.

I know a lot of very important people do tweet, and very successfully too. But after a brief dalliance with the little blue bird, I've largely given it up. I just couldn't trust myself not to tweet injudiciously or inappropriately.

So I have forsaken it. It was too time-consuming anyway.

Sheikha Lubna announced her Twitter-less status on a panel at the Sharjah Government Communication Forum held in the emirate's imposing Expo Hall this week. Her revelation drew some surprised gasps from the audience, many of them younger social media types for whom life without Twitter would obviously be intolerable.

I noticed lots of them tweeting Sheikha Lubna's revelation as soon as she made it.

They obviously thought her extrovert, modern persona would have made tweeting a must, but she was adamant.

"It's a personal decision," she insisted, pointing out that her ministry does tweet quite frequently.

Her decision is in contrast to a number of senior members of the ruling families of the UAE. Another panel member, Noura Al Kaabi, the chief executive of Abu Dhabi's free zone twofour54 and herself a prolific tweeter, took the audience through the tweeting styles of various senior figures in the UAE constellation, and fascinating it was too.

Ms Al Kaabi also drew the biggest round of applause of her panel session in response to a question about how government departments should respond to complaints about bad service.

"The customer is always right," she insisted, "even in the public sector". I imagine that was prolifically tweeted too.

 

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The moderator of that session, the TV presenter Turki Al Dakhil, decided to have some fun with one of the panelists, Gordon Johndroe, who was a press spokesman for the United States government under the then president George W Bush.

Mr Al Dakhil posed the question: "Is a spokesman somebody who puts cosmetics on a certain face but those cosmetics are just for show?"

I didn't really understand what he meant, and a look round the hall showed a number of other participants were similarly perplexed.

It must have been some kind of private joke though, because Mr Johndroe had a little snigger before deftly avoiding an answer with a typical bit of spin-doctor finesse.

Cosmetics? A certain face? Whatever could he have meant?

 

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I learn that there is life after a career in the Dubai Financial Services Authority, and quite interesting it can be.

Paul Koster, who took his leave as the chief executive of the DFSA last summer after a four-year span generally reckoned to have been a great success, has retained his connections with Dubai.

Mr Koster's management hallmark was the gentle art of persuasive consensus-building, and he is putting those skills to good use as an adviser to Abdullah Mohammed Saleh, the unassuming governor of the Dubai International Financial Centre.

That role will probably be less demanding than Mr Koster's other post-DFSA job, as the president of the body in charge of recapitalising Greece's bombed-out banking system.

The Greeks obviously feel that a softly spoken "neutral" like the Dutchman Mr Koster will be better at handling the tense refinancing talks with (mainly German) creditors.

 

fkane@thenational.ae