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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Festival of Thinkers 2011

Two years ago, I had the amazing chance to participate in wonderful event at my school called the Festival of Thinkers. Not only did I get to see some top minds speak, I was able to moderate discussions with some of them. This event is sponsored by the Higher Colleges of Technology and run every two years. The last one, in which I participated was well run as far as I was concerned and was planned by Abu Dhabi Men's College. The school sent out emails asking for volunteers and they got a number of people who willingly helped the VIPs around and made themselves available to ensure that everything went smoothly.

This year, the mails asking for volunteers never came. I had considered volunteering this year, but was kind of busy so never made any inquiries. Boy, did I luck out.

When Fidel Castro's son asks you to change his flight to Cuba, you do it.
About two weeks before the event, the mails were sent out telling people that they had to stand in a hotel lobby for 7 hours and direct guests to the right bus going to the right place. Little consideration was given to people's teaching schedule or their knowledge of Abu Dhabi. Those expected to direct the VIPs were not given the information they needed. They were put on the spot by people used to first class service and asked to change flights, and organize tours on short notice. To top it off, some teachers who were keen to be a part of the event and even requested to be a part of it weren't even asked. In the end, through no fault of the teachers, the dignitaries must have come away from the UAE with a fairly negative perception of the country.

What was the difference between this event and the last one two years ago? The last one was organized by the Abu Dhabi Men's College and this one by the Abu Dhabi Women's college. ADWC has a notoriously bad reputation for organization and taking into consideration outside obligations of those working for it. I feel that it is a shame that this event was so poorly run this year so as to give everyone involved a negative opinion of the Festival of Thinkers.

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