Tag Archives: NEOM

It started already

Even as we had seen all the plans regarding the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and their ultra-modern city of Neom, it was only last week when the geological studies were reported to have started for all the construction sites (at https://aawsat.com/english/home/article/1390921/neom-begins-environmental-geological-surveys-construction-sites). Yet the placement of Neom goes a lot further than most realise. It will also be the gateway to the planned King Salman bin Abdulaziz Bridge, which will take 3 years, span a total distance of 10 miles and it will connect Saudi Arabia directly to the Sinai, to be more precise the bridge will connect to the Sinai a little north of Sharm-El-Sheik, opening up all kind of economic benefits for Egypt. Tourism and connectivity via Sharm-El-Sheik international airport will be boosted to well over 200%, it would also allow Saudi Arabia to delay its airport and use the bridge more effectively. It opens up a lot more when we consider that the setting now opens up directly to Kiev, Istanbul, Bratislava, Budapest, Brussels Talinn, Riga, Vilnius, Warsaw, Kuwait, Bagdad, Cairo, Algiers, Sofia, Minsk, and not to forget all the places that Air Cairo lines to, which is a much larger list. When you consider that the construction is about to start on a city well over 500 billion, how much unschooled labour will there be a need for? Did anyone that math in the equation? That is before projects are delayed and hit snags. Yes, Sharm-El-Sheik will prosper and gain a massive amount of value, because in a tourist place like that these people can get the entertainment they are unlikely to see in Saudi Arabia.

There is an addition part in all this. The bridge will go via Tiran Island, I feel certain that a ramp to that place will be booming tourism as well. No matter how that fares, the first steps are now underway and when building starts, we will quickly see the overexcited steps from all kinds of companies trying to get in, because that 500 billion has to go somewhere, does it not? That is before some realise that having concrete facilities near Sharm-El-Sheik might be equally worthy of consideration, because when Neom is there, the shortages in Sharm-El-Sheik will become abundantly clear soon thereafter. When you see the issues in Sharm-El-Sheik, going back to 2015 and before, we get confronted with stories like ‘British passengers reveal Sharm airport staff are STILL taking cash to help them skip busy security queues despite bomb threat‘ (Daily Mail, November 5th 2015), as well as a few other sources, so as the economic footprint increases, the Egyptian government has to either increase their diligence, hire outside expertise or risk losing a lot of money in that entire process. Mainly because adding a few hotels to Neom will be much easier to consider than most realise and Saudi Arabia will be interested in setting a much larger tourism stage. Having a high tech city is one thing, having a truckload of consumers wanting to take some off it back home to show off is another matter on that very same coin.

In this we must also realise the size of Neom, the Neom site is large, large then anything ever seen before, it will stretch the western coastline to the proximity of Jordan, around 50 Km south of it, keeping it 75Km away from Eilat, giving Israel optional opportunities as well, I remember a Dutch guy who opened an ice factory in Eilat 40 years ago, the cubes for drinks, not the gelato. So there are options all over the place, all infrastructure needs that will not initially be available. Opportunities that some have no yet realised, all open for the investors who see the need for thousands of builders needing a watering hole, needing food and needing entertainment. This will enable places like the small city of Haql to experience a Gold Rush growth momentum.

From Haql to Hamid (where the bridge is likely to start) the distance is a mere 125Km, not the greatest road as it adds 10% to the trip, but the 392 will directly link to Saudi highway 5 getting you to Haql and that setting is merely a starter for plenty of other options. You see, when we consider that part, the bridge itself, when the final point gets a 4G tower, it would effectively cover Sharm-El-Sheik as well, I cannot say what the 5G coverage is as I do not have any reliable data on the range of such a tower. The same could be achieved from Tiran Island, covering the tourist spot and the southern part of Neom (based on 4G numbers).

No matter how it is all pushed, it has started, well, it started some time ago, but with the geological surveys a new chapter is starting, I reckon that when the first studies have been completed and accepted, the setting of concrete will not be far off. It is in this stage where we saw just a month ago (at https://neomsaudicity.net/), “Italian construction company Salini has announced plans to join NEOM project and expand into the Middle East, which includes project contracts in the Gulf, especially Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates“, and Salini is doing just fine. When we are given: “The company has also prequalified for the first phase of the $ 1 billion Avenues project, which is to be made up of two hotels, a shopping center, and an administrative building. It is part of 2,410 active projects in the Saudi Arabia since April, worth $ 190 billion“, we see that growth will be on the front bench of the board of directors of Salini Impregilo for years to come, which I expect will also come with additional growth projects in Sharm-El-Sheik. I reckon that this headway is the best news that Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte was seen in close to a decade, yet they are one of many, and all of them will be needing people, so as the billion dollar contracts are handed out, and when we consider the Business Insider headline: ‘a $500 billion mega-city that’s 33 times the size of New York City‘, how long will it take until these companies realise that there are deadlines and that they are understaffed? That’s not merely construction and engineering. How about all these Arkey systems, Autodesk and Autocad placements? What do you think will happen when the IT division shuts down for whatever reason and local IT support will be required? That is merely beyond the commonplace Office software, that part you can evade with cloud services and in a pinch rely on your Google account. CAD software and design software is another puppy and when the heat strikes the power falters and systems need ghosting and restoring, it will be all about local manpower and things will always go wrong at the wrong moment. So, when you score your billion dollar contract and the infrastructure takes a dive, how prepared are you? How strong are the infrastructure settings for replacing it all? So even as the Neom News site gave us in April “NEOM Announces first 6 Jobs“, we need to realise that they will need another 15,000 trained professionals in that location soon enough. I wonder where these people will go shopping for the shortage. There is every chance that some of them will rely on poaching soon thereafter, which optionally raise staff costing by 200%-500% (depending on expertise needed), at that point consider the other parts that every building, every mall and every infrastructure needs. Neom city will soon become one of the largest employer hotspots for the next decade.

 

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The politics of 5G technology

I was watching the news and all the announcements of the new iPhone series and it dawned on me that even as they are not just the most expensive phone, they are close to 400% the price of the top Huawei P20. So why is this now a massive price jump? It is not merely that it is a 512 GB Phone, or that is has 4GB RAM, or that it is IP68 dust and water resistance (maximum depth of 2 metres for up to 30 minutes). I think that Apple is changing the game. It is realising something different, It is also why I designed the ‘dumb’ smart devices for 5G.

You see, for better or for worse, I ask you the question: ‘What is this?’ You swill respond with it is a phone (or variant of it), it is a connection to everything, it is your personal assistant. No, it is none of those. It is important that you realise that this is now becoming your personal data server. When 5G enters your life it will be the foundation of you. You must realise it now, or lose your personal value very very fast; even as we are shown the political ‘BS’ on Telstra regarding Huawei, US telecom companies and other players. This is the vault all the players want. This is the setting of the next generation. Apple is cashing in on mere then just the price of a product. They are setting a stage that Huawei is already walking (slower in some regards, faster in others). This is the future and the Apple version of that future arrives within the next 7 days.

Google is on that path too. Its mint flavoured (or is that coloured?) is arriving in 4 weeks, they too are on the path of the future. That path is you and your personal data server. You better get used to that very quickly, you better realise that you, you yourself enabled all this. So even as we will not know the specifics of the new Pixel 3 XL, we all know that this too will be the personal data server, just like the Huawei P20 series, the Apple Xs series, the Samsung Galaxy and the Google Pixel 3. No longer merely phones, no longer merely the Spotify point. You see, the steps we have had with 4G are closing down, and the marketing changes. It is no longer ‘Fastest Mobile Broadband Network‘, it is no longer ‘Live More Internet‘ (which might be Ogilvy’s worst slogan), and it was never ‘Rethink Possible‘. It will be ‘Whatever you need, anywhere you need it‘. That is the foundation of 5G, anywhere you need it is going to be your cornerstone. It is in that part, when you have transplanted yourself in that new dimension you will get exposed to the change and the need to protect your personal data server wherever you are, because your personal data server (the next mobile phone) will become to some extent: “Your Identity”. Now you will need to consider getting it properly protected, because your data value is you and you need to realise that your mobile phone will have more processing and collection power than any server that was out 10 years ago, facilitating for you and 49 other employees. This personal data server will work for you, on your behalf and to your needs. This was why I came up with the protection layer of ‘dumb’ smart devices. No matter whether you go for IOS or Android, you will be your own cornerstone to social life, to entertainment, to business ventures and to your financial pathway. Consider what you are doing now on your phone. Your banking needs, your radio, your TV, your games, your appointments, your insurances and your investment and retirement portfolio. You do it all from your mobile phone and soon with block chain added to the data stream we are now moving towards a point of non-repudiation. In non-repudiation it means that you and only you could have done this. It is the one step above authentication; it is your future of accountability. At that point you cannot go to the judge stating you lost everything, because your phone got stolen. The easy path is getting removed; that is the future of whatever you want, anywhere you need it. Because only you could have wanted it and the new phones are about setting the stage enabling you and protecting you and foremost keeping your data safe, as long as you realise what you are doing.

So that got me thinking of the old Re-Flex hit: ‘The Politics of Dancing

We got the message, I heard it on the airwaves
the politicians are now DJ’s
the broadcast was spreading, Station to station
like an infection, across the nation

We see and hear it all as these settings evolve; politicians are becoming evangelists for places like Telstra, Vodafone and T-Mobile (to coin an example). The speed and radius of influence increased with every technology jump, three times in the last 10 years alone. Forever growing, ignoring borders and natural obstacles.

When we look at the refrain we see:

The politics of dancing, the politics of ooh feeling good
the politics of moving, aha, If this message’s understood

The setting of movement, dance and self-gratification, the fastest way to move the population in the direction they needed you to go in. You better realise this now and not too late.

You see, In Australia Telstra is the best example to look at. In 2016 they themselves set the stage with: “The Connected Government Program is Telstra’s premier thought leadership program for the public sector“. You did not think this was some philanthropic society, did you? This was the initial culling of those good for the in-crowd and those who are not. And I will also include “Dramatic economic, political, cultural and technology changes are creating opportunities and risks for growth, inclusion and sustainability that are making new demands on government and the public sector which require the ability to lead for innovation in conditions of volatile change, ambiguity and fragile trust“. This is all about growing the status quo for Telstra against whatever threatens it (Huawei is a nice example). Whatever they consider to be ‘innovative‘, I personally view it to be, ‘innovative at whatever speed Telstra can manage in an optimised setting of ROI and profit from whatever was deployed before‘. That is not the same is it?

So here we see the setting of 5G, you all want it and your personal data server will be the first choice that either enables of limits you. This is why Apple has upped the ante by a lot and until the answer of Google is ready, I am unwilling to make any choice other than Huawei, especially as it is at merely 25% the price of the new iPhone. 5G is optionally 2 years away for consumers at the facilitated speed of the new apps and protections; we see that this system needs to be at full force when the City Gates of Neom opens, because that will be the first fully fledged setting of a 5G environment giving you whatever you need anywhere you need it. Interactive information posts, shops that inform you 24:7, giving you the data you needed and showing you the products and offer sales and interactivity even when the shop keeper is asleep. All setting the stage for the explosive data growth you will be faced with and your personal data server is your link to all that. In this Google has the advantage as they solved three elemental parts in that essential need, added to that the marketing agents who specialised and focused on actual engagement. That is where you see the benefit of the next generation of data and visibility at the speed it needed to be at. This is not marketing through the eyes of their clients, this is marketing through the eyes of the respondents and how they envisioned it to be. A flexible setting set to the owner of the owner of the personal data server, not the approach towards that server as players like Telstra thought it needed to be, based on their metrics and their perception. Two distinct different ways and many marketeers and self-professed evangelists never understood that part, or learned it too late.

So yes, Re-flex was partially correct when they stated: ‘The politicians are now DJ’s‘, yet they did not forgot it, it was merely in a time when that option did not yet exist. Now there is no lack of choice and the owner of that personal data server can switch channels in the blink of an eye, an engagement opportunity lost as the focus of the evangelist (read: marketeer) was set to the wrong party. The owner who gets whatever they want, whenever they want it also gains the power to decide on what they want, any time they need or desire something, so making sure that there is engagement also gives the strength of retaining that person for a much longer time and in this game in 5G time is close to absolutely everything. It is the one where we start to realise that time is the essential unit of measure. It was there in the old days. CPU time set the stage of costing; it was there in the old phones, where the duration of a call was the unit of costing. Down the road it was trivialised in most places and set to zero, but it was never zero. Now we get to the next stage, yet now it is in the hands of the consumer, because the time of engagement is the sales funnel, so engagement becomes the stage for success. It is close to the end of mass marketing. It will be the stage of smart marketing. In that setting phishing becomes the new skeleton key and there is the first clear need to protect your personal data server and to protect the data it holds. A setting of consideration in 3G and 4G becomes a setting that is essential for anyone that wants to remain in the game in the next generation with a setting of continued value.

#40800SecondsTillMondayMorning

 

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Why would we care?

New York is all up in sixes and sevens, even as they aren’t really confused, some are not seeing the steps that are following and at this point giving $65 billion for 21st Century Fox is not seen in the proper light. You see, Comcast has figured something out, it did so a little late (an assumption), but there is no replacement for experience I reckon. Yet, they are still on time to make the changes and it seems that this is the path they will be walking on. So when we see ‘Comcast launches $65bn bid to steal Murdoch’s Fox away from Disney‘, there are actually two parties to consider. The first one is Disney. Do they realise what they are walking away from? Do they realise the value they are letting go? Perhaps they do and they have decided not to walk that path, which is perfectly valid. The second is the path that Comcast is implied to be walking on. Is it the path that they are planning to hike on, or are they merely setting the path for facilitation and selling it in 6-7 years for no less than 300% of what it is now? Both perfectly valid steps and I wonder which trajectory is planned, because the shift is going to be massive.

To get to this, I will have to admit my own weakness here, because we all have filters and ignoring them is not only folly, it tends to be an anchor that never allows us to go forward. You see, in my view the bulk of the media is a collection of prostitutes. They cater in the first to their shareholders, then there stakeholders and lastly their advertisers. After that, if there are no clashes, the audience is given consideration. That has been the cornerstone of the media for at least 15 years. Media revolves around circulation, revenue and visibility, whatever is left is ‘pro’ reader, this is why you see the public ‘appeal’ to be so emotionally smitten, because when it is about emotion, we look away, we ignore or we agree. That is the setting we all face. So when a step like this is taken, it will be about the shareholders, which grows when the proper stakeholders are found, which now leads to advertising and visibility. Yet, how is this a given and why does it matters? The bottom dollar will forever be profit. Now from a business sense that is not something to argue with, this world can only work on the foundation of profit, we get that, yet newspapers and journalism should be about proper informing the people, and when did that stop? Nearly every paper has investigative journalism, the how many part is more interesting. I personally belief that Andrew Jennings might be one of the last great investigative journalists. It is the other side of the coin that we see ignored, it is the one that matters. The BBC (at https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06tkl9d) gives us: “Reporter Andrew Jennings has been investigating corruption in world football for the past 15 years“, the question we should ask is how long and how many parties have tried to stop this from becoming public, and how long did it take Andrew Jennings to finally win and this is just ONE issue. How many do not see the light of day? We look at the Microsoft licensing corruption scandal and we think it is a small thing. It is not, it was a lot larger. Here I have a memory that I cannot prove, it was in the newspapers in the Netherlands. On one day there was a small piece regarding the Buma/Stemra and the setting of accountancy reports on the overuse of Microsoft licenses in governments and municipality buildings and something on large penalty fees (it would have been astronomical). Two days later another piece was given that the matter had been resolved. The question becomes was it really? I believe that someone at Microsoft figured out that this was the one moment where on a national level a shift to Linux would have been a logical step, something Microsoft feared very very much. Yet the papers were utterly silent on many levels and true investigation never took place and after the second part, some large emotional piece would have followed.

That is the issue that I have seen and we all have seen these events, we merely wiped it from our minds as other issues mattered more (which is valid). So I have no grate faith (pun intended) into the events of ‘exposure‘ from the media. Here it is not about that part, but the parts that are to come. Comcast has figured out a few things and 21st Century Fox is essential to that. To see that picture, we need to look at another one, so it is a little more transparent. It also shows where IBM, Google, Apple and some telecom companies are tinkering now.

To see this we need to look at this first image and see what there is, it is all tag based, all data and all via mobile and wireless communication. Consider these elements; over 90% of car owners will have them: ‘Smart Mobility, Smart Parking and Traffic priority‘. Now consider the people who are not homeless: ‘Smart grids, Utility management, hose management like smart fridges, smart TV and data based entertainment (Netflix)‘ and all those having smart house devices running on what is currently labelled as Domotics, it adds up to Megabytes of data per household per day. There will be a run on that data from large supermarket to Netflix providers. Now consider the mix between Comcast and 21 Century Fox. Breaking news, new products and new solutions to issues you do not even realise in matters of eHealth, road (traffic) management and the EU set 5G Joint-Declarations in 2015, with Japan, China, Korea and Brazil. The entire Neom setup in Saudi Arabia gives way that they will soon want to join all this, or whoever facilitates for the Middle East and Saudi Arabia will. In all this with all this technology, America is not mentioned, is that not a little too strange? Consider that the given 5G vision is to give ‘Full commercial 5G infrastructure deployment after 2020‘ (expected 2020-2023).

With a 740 million people deployed, and all that data, do you really think the US is not wanting a slice of data that is three times the American population? This is no longer about billions, this will be about trillions, data will become the new corporate and governmental currency and all the larger players want to be on board. So is Disney on the moral high path, or are the requirements just too far from their own business scope? It is perhaps a much older setting that we see when it is about consumer versus supplier. We all want to consume milk, yet most of us are not in a setting where we can be the supplier of milk, having a cow on the 14th floor of an apartment tends to be not too realistic in the end. We might think that it is early days, yet systems like that require large funds and years to get properly set towards the right approach for deployment and implementation. In this an American multinational mass media corporation would fit nicely in getting a chunk of that infrastructure resolved. consider a news media tagging all the watchers on data that passes them by and more importantly the data that they shy away from, it is a founding setting in growing a much larger AI, as every AI is founded on the data it has and more important the evolving data as interaction changes and in this 5G will have close to 20 times the options that 4G has now and in all this we will (for the most) merely blindly accept data used, given and ignored. We saw this earlier this year when we learned that “Facebook’s daily active user base in the U.S. and Canada fell for the first time ever in the fourth quarter, dropping to 184 million from 185 million in the previous quarter“, yet the quarter that followed the usage was back to 185 million users a day. So the people ended up being ‘very’ forgiving, it could be stated that they basically did not care. Knowing this setting where the bump on the largest social media data owner was a mere 0.5405%; how is this path anything but a winning path with an optional foundation of trillions in revenue? There is no way that the US, India, Russia and the commonwealth nations are not part of this. Perhaps not in some 5G Joint-Declarations, but they are there and the one thing Facebook clearly taught them was to be first, and that is what they are all fighting for. The question is who will set the stage by being ahead of schedule with the infrastructure in place and as I see it, Comcast is making an initial open move to get into this field right and quick. Did you think that Google was merely opening 6 data centres, each one large enough to service the European population for close to 10 years? And from the Wall Street journal we got: “Google’s parent company Alphabet is eyeing up a partnership with one of the world’s largest oil companies, Aramco, to aid in the erection of several data centres across the Middle Eastern kingdom“, if one should be large enough to service 2300% of the Saudi Arabian population for a decade, the word ‘several‘ should have been a clear indication that this is about something a lot larger. Did no one catch up on that small little detail?

In that case, I have a lovely bridge for sale, going cheap at $25 million with a great view of Balmain, first come, first serve, and all responsibilities will be transferred to you the new predilector at the moment of payment. #ASuckerIsBornEachMinute

Oh, and this is not me making some ‘this evil Google‘ statement, because they are not. Microsoft, IBM, and several others are all in that race; the AI is merely the front of something a lot larger. Especially when you realise that data in evolution (read: in real-time motion) is the foundation of its optional cognitive abilities. The data that is updated in real-time, that is the missing gem and 5G is the first setting where that is the set reality where it all becomes feasible.

So why would we care? We might not, but we should care because we are the foundation of all that IP and it will no longer be us. It gives value to the users and consumes, whilst those who are not are no longer deemed of any value, that is not the future, it is the near future and the founding steps for this becoming an actual reality is less than 60 months away.

In the end we might have merely cared too late, how is that for the obituary of any individual?

 

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Humble Pie

Merely a few hours ago, Bloomberg gave us ‘Iran Is Ready to Discuss Yemen Conflict with European Nations‘ (at https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-05-28/iran-says-ready-to-discuss-yemen-conflict-with-european-nations). You might think that this is a good thing, but it is not. Iran is caught in a two side war, just like I predicted in the previous 3 weeks. Just like that, they are willing to talk. They have suddenly realised that time was up and now they are grasping at any side that will be willing to facilitate for them at a price. It is linked to a few escalations on more than one side. Even as we read here: “Iran will be holding a new round of talks with Europe on the Yemen conflict, negotiations that have taken on greater significance as the sides try to salvage a nuclear agreement“, the start gives the goods, Iran wants to protect the nuclear agreement at all cost. Their high farting like sounds of political boasting is coming to an end, there was never any option and now they must concede on several sides. Even as one side is taken from them, they are willing to concede on the Yemen side as it was never going to be a realistic option and as Hezbollah has failed again and again in their pursuit of successful strikes on Saudi Arabia, none happened and now they need to find the one war they might actually have a chance of winning, it is the Nuclear agreement and even that will backfire soon enough. So when we read: ““Iran, like the EU, is unlikely to want to mix fate of the nuclear deal with that of talks on other issues,” said Aniseh Bassiri Tabrizi, a research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute in London. “At the same time, it is important for them to keep a channel of communication open with the EU, whatever happens on the nuclear deal, and the best dossier to do so is Yemen for them.”“, I tend not to be in agreement. You might think that it is all the same, but it is not. It is not about ‘whatever happens on the nuclear deal‘, it is about making sure that this agreement is salvaged, Iran overplayed its hand and now that there will be hell to pay, they need to find a way out, if only they can find the right greed and ego driven Europeans to make a quick deal, at that point the media can reflect on some victory, whilst there is no actual victory. You see, there is a second side that is part of this. Iran has figured out that the only interests that Russia has in Syria are Russian ones and in that picture there is no space for Iran, Israel has made that abundantly clear and as such Iran stands alone and with the hits that Israel has been making in Syria on Iranian troops and the strike last Thursday as well as the silence (or better stated lack of loud boasting) by the Syrian governments indicates that the absence of Iran is well liked, even though they are not willing to state it out loud. Syria wants to get the most out of the Russians and Iranians as it can get, which is perfectly fine, yet Iran is too much of an issue for Israel, after years of boasting and threatening, Israel decided to act; the political field was ripe for that. With both America and Saudi Arabia opposing Iran and Russia not really caring about Iran, Iran is in an unwinnable situation, the Iranian coffers drained by enabling Hezbollah as well as the actions in Syria have drained a large chunk of their reserves, Iran need to cut its losses and it is doing so with the gesture we see in the Bloomberg article, one of many to follow I reckon. That truth becomes a lot harsher when we see: “Chagai Tzuriel, director general of the Israeli ministry of intelligence, said he believed that Moscow realised that fighting between Iran and Israel could undermine gains made by Russia during the Syrian civil war“, we know that there is no hiding for Iran, they played the game as far as they could, now that option after option falls away, they are determined to hold on to the Nuclear agreement. This also opens the second stage for Israel; they can now more effectively take care of Hezbollah, now that there is an open season on Iran, Hezbollah can (hopefully permanently) be dealt with. In that regard there is no lack of either Israel or Saudi Arabia to hunt them down and without Iran that might well happen. For Russia it is not over, you see, the Jerusalem Post gives us “Lavrov’s comments are part of an understanding reached between Israel and Russia to keep Iranian and Hezbollah forces away from Syria’s border with Israel on the Golan Heights“, that sounds nice in theory, yet over the years Hezbollah has shown never to keep any agreement (when they were not out of ammunition), so there is a setting where it is very realistic that Hezbollah will do whatever it wants and puts Russia in a pickle, as such both sides agreeing to get rid of Hezbollah makes perfect sense as such Iran is really not willing to stay there as a piggy in the middle. In addition Russia stands to make a lot of plus points in the Saudi Arabia side of things, not just by pushing Iran away from where they are, but to push Hezbollah away from Syrian and Jordanian borders which gets them nice points at the Jordanian royal court as well. In all this there is actually not one part of Hezbollah that has any redeeming value at all, and the worst part is that Hezbollah knows this too (yet they do not care).

There is one additional side that Iran needs to worry about. As Saudi Arabia has given to Germany to be the aggrieved party in Germany’s support in favour of the nuclear deal for Iran is already costing Germany a lot, the German giants who were tenders on several projects for the Saudi government are seeing them being cut from consideration, with Neom and Vision 2030, both projects totaling in value at well over 800 billion, the German economy will take larger hits, other EU nations might find themselves in a setting where they have to choose to go for a really bad nuclear deal, whilst there is no evidence that it will result in a better position and good economic settings in the longer run (more then 3-5 years) whilst Saudi Arabia is growing a setting that is getting closer to a trillion dollars over 12 years, there is no way that Iran can rely on any level of serious support, not after all the stunts they played. Their actions made it impossible and their boasting made it close to intolerable. In addition with Iran cut in every way, Turkey will now need to realise that they played the game wrong in other ways as well. Even as some might cry over the Russians not getting the F-35 due to getting culled from the program, Russia sees a second option to not just sell Turkey missiles, they could optionally sell them the SU-57 as well, which will get Turkey a new loan agreement for a few billions and let’s face it America needs to test the F-35 anyway, whether they test their F-35 against a Sukhoi, does it matter whether a Russian or a Turk is flying it? (Howls of deriving laughter in the background)

You see, they are doing this whilst their currency is at an all-time low, some might think that it is a great time to buy, yet with their economy in shambles and there should be no chance of them ascending into the EU in the next few years, the setting of spending billions on a new Sukhoi squadron (perhaps even two) seems to be folly to me. Even as there is some good news (read: numbers) coming from Turkey, its unemployment rate is still a little over 10.5% and seems to be rising over the next quarter, surpassing Italy in unemployment statistics. It is there where we see another issue. This matters as there has been a link between Iran and Turkey, so as the pressure on several sides is on Turkey, the economic pressures might force Turkey to make any deal they can, even if they have to break connections to Iran, which would for the most isolate Iran at that point, an option that both Israel and Saudi Arabia would enjoy. Israel especially as Turkey was threatening Israel with all kinds of sanctions (source: Haaretz).

So as Turkey is imposing sanctions on those deciding to recognise the Armenian Holocaust, we see the active economic impact that Turkey faces by being in denial, not the worst day in many lives.

In this there is a reflection that must be noticed, In Al Arabiya, there was an article (at http://english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2018/05/25/Bitterness-confusion-among-Saudi-Arabia-s-foes.html), an opinion piece that matters. You see, the writer Abdullah bin Bijad Al-Otaibi (Twitter: @abdullahbjad) gives us “Enemies are upset and confused and the world is recalibrating its power equations so that each knows its place and capabilities. Also, so that each country can reflect on its policies and alliances through the power of politics, diplomacy, boycott and sanctions, as well as with the power of armies and weapons“, he is correct, President Donald Trump might have kicked it off with “America First“, it is a truth we have been forced to face for well over 5 years. It does not matter whether you are in the US, UK, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Australia, Canada or New Zealand. As citizens and politicians we have a duty to protect our national interests and set that as a first essential need. When we look from that angle we get to reflect on how bad Iran is, we cannot fault Turkey for taking its national interests first, yet they did it by not honouring the allies they had for decades and that sets the sliding acceptance (towards rejection) of Turkey in all this when you consider the events from 2001 onwards.

In this his view: “Big European companies are fleeing Iran at a fast pace and everyone who has dealt with Iran, whether banks or companies, are looking for a safe way out of any ties they have with Iran, its parties, militias and ideology. Everyone now accepts the facts about Iran’s crimes such as its sponsoring of terrorism, drug dealing and money laundering in the region and the world” is not incorrect, yet the issue is that this sets the stage on greed influencing the national interest in the stage of big business versus government, a setting that Europe, the US and the Commonwealth have had for the longest time. In addition there is now a small opposition from my side. I agree with part of his statement “They have done so through the Palestinian cause which they have, from Iran, Turkey, Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood, managed to exploit to serve their interests and fulfil their ambitions“, there is a side I cannot completely agree with (actually there is more than one side here). Not because I think he is wrong, but because there is data missing, data I never had access to, or was given by a reputable media source to the degree that there is enough shown to see it as an actual issue.

This is seen in the parties Iran and Qatar. Now, we accept the puppet game that Iran has played, we do not deny that in any way, but in the end Iran was merely playing the hand it had to show Iranian interest. We can agree that it was done badly, yet they did do this for mere national interest (or so they say). In the second part there is Qatar. I agree that there are questions, yet overall, I have not seen the evidence, the allegations going back to 2014 have been loud, yet the media and others have not given a clear path of evidence that gives light to the wrongful opposition by the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, we can agree that there are some terrorist financiers, that was never in question, yet Qatar seems to have tried all legal ways and did not get anywhere, in addition the US state document (at https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/258249.pdf) does not give the goods either, we are confronted with “Qatar is a partner in the Global Coalition to Counter the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and has provided significant support in facilitating critical U.S. military operations in the region. Terrorist activity historically has been low in Qatar“, this does not make Qatar innocent; it merely shows that without better and more data, they remain ‘not guilty‘, which is not the same. The document is 3 years old, yet there is no new information that truly sets Qatar in a bad light (for now). In addition we see that Qatar State Security is aggressive when it comes to monitoring internal extremist or terrorism-related activities. Interestingly enough, the players from ‘team’ Qatar State Security seem to have a much better handle on internal extremism and terrorism-related activities than most European countries, so there is that to consider as well. The second issue I had with the statement by Abdullah bin Bijad al-Otaibi is the reference to ‘the Palestinian cause‘, which is not wrong to make, yet for many of us, especially those outside of Saudi Arabia, Palestine or the Middle East, we no longer know what ‘the Palestinian cause‘ actually is. You see in its origin it is directly linked to the 1948 Palestinian exodus, yet the entire Palestinian cause seemed to have been presented, projected and covered by the media in almost any setting that covered news in Lebanon, Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza strip. The entire definition has shown to have shifted over the decades and I still believe that it is shifting, even today. In addition the fact that western media over the years seemed to have made ‘the Palestinian cause‘ and ‘hatred of Jews and the State of Israel‘ close to interchangeable does not help matters either.

All these issues matter as they are connected. that connection is also part of the problem and reason why I am partially in opposition, now, I am fully aware that my opposition is wrong, or better stated incorrect, yet I am like most sensible people, I rely on data, and data is either reliable or not and I tend to regard shifted data as not that reliable, which is why I had the cause for opposition.

So as we see that Iran is facing humble pie on several fronts, we need to realise that our views and more important the views we get from information we accept as reliable is also filtering the view we have, it might be correct, or wrong. In the end we do not know and restoring our filters by attending our national interests first is not the worst place to start, as a citizen we need to do that, because when we look to our nation, our national needs and attend to that, we ground ourselves and perhaps as the economic settings have shifted, so will the national need and that is OK, as long as we do not tend towards corporate greed and consider the needs of our neighbours, we might get through the bad times in a much better way than we thought. In the end it is not about serving Iran Humble Pie, which would be the right thing to do, we need to consider when we are rightfully served Humble Pie, will we eat it when we realise that we were wrong?

That includes us all and it includes me, I have never shied away from optionally being wrong. I merely reacted to the verifiable data that I was served and I made the best of it and tried to remain true to the data based views offered and I reflected on those insights, it is the best we can do in this modern world.

 

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Holding pattern

It feels like the world is in a holding pattern, it is awaiting events and there is no news on a few fronts. The first is on gaming; a little over two weeks remain until the E3 starts, which is when the actual (official) news is given. Part of me is sad, because there have been so many leaks that I fear we already know what is coming to the larger extent. In this I got confronted with more issues surrounding the Xbox One, and even as they proclaim it is going good, I am of the mind that good just is not it, it will not even be close to it. If the Business Insider is to be believed, there will be a lot more bad news coming to the Xbox One owners, the article (at https://www.businessinsider.com.au/playstation-4-vs-xbox-one-e3-2018-5) gives us “‘Crackdown 3’ is an exclusive Xbox One game, meaning it will work on the One X and One S“, implying that this is the first game that no longer supports the Xbox One. Pushing people into upgrading to new hardware? I see that as one more nail in the coffin called Xbox. The information (at https://www.xbox.com/en-AU/games/crackdown) is equally sketchy, yet that game cover does not have the HDR part, implying that there might be two editions, one for the Xbox One X and one for the normal Xbox, which would be very acceptable, implying that they are soft pushing people to upgrade their console which is a fair and acceptable business practice. I wanted to be certain and no misinform you, so far there is no real mention on it, yet there seems to be a version on HDR (implying Xbox One S and Xbox One X only), in addition one source had another box art, yet Amazon did not, neither did a few other shops, so this could become a very large issue close to Christmas as the latest (unconfirmed) issue is that release is planned for later this year.

The PlayStation has similar holding patters, we know the four larger titles and that is it on the exclusive front, implying that both will be a little more dependent on the makers like Bethesda, Ubisoft and EA to hold the candles for unexpected news. I am particularly interested in what Ubisoft brings. I think it was 2 years ago, when they truly hit a home run at the E3, in that time we all got overwhelmed by Ubisoft that had cleaned up its act. AC Origin exceeded everyone’s expectations (including mine) and playing on a much higher level the second time around had been fulfilling in a way I never expected. In addition, even as I kept a distance from Far Cry 5, it shows, that for those who wanted more of the same, it did satisfy, in addition its first actual setting towards open gameplay was a true evolution, so those who wanted ‘more of the same‘ got a lot more than they bargained for and that is a good thing. So we have no real idea what Ubisoft is bringing and that is good, knowing all the things that matter beforehand is not good, it takes away the WOW factor in announcements and I think the French know that. In that same setting we also look forward to Bethesda, who apart from last year tends to make homeruns, they focused on the VR setting last year and when you are not into that you tend to feel left out a little. So here’s hoping for this year. Most are hoping for a new Elder Scrolls (non-online) game announcement, which is a stretch and unlikely. I am still proud of having made an initial setting for Elder Scrolls VI: Restoration, but it seems that Bethesda had other ideas. Fair enough, it is their IP. Yet we recognise that Skyrim was 7 years ago from initial launch, we should give the cautious setting that it is time to WOW us with a new one, especially after 7 years. Fallout 4 is getting towards its 3rd anniversary, yet with the season pass giving us so much, we still feel decently satisfied for now. I personally feel that a Fallout 5 is at least 2 years away from a clear announcement and for those overwhelmed Fallout shelter can keep your blood flowing on mobile and a few other devices, the fact that it is free and no real purchase is needed just makes it an amazing extra. And that is all for the games section at present.

Rocket Men

There is a man, a Rocket Man, it is not the man in the song, not the quote from the movie; no, as we see (at https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/sm0392), we are given the US Treasury setting: “the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated five Iranian individuals who have provided ballistic missile-related technical expertise to Yemen’s Huthis, and who have transferred weapons not seen in Yemen prior to the current conflict“, the issue I have voiced for a while, again I have been proven correct, and even as the media at large was all about calling Saudi Arabia names and just blindly staring at the victims (which is not entirely wrong), we are treated to “Treasury is targeting five Iranian officials who are associated with the IRGC-QF and Iran’s ballistic missile programs. Their actions have enabled the Huthis to launch missiles at Saudi cities and oil infrastructure. They have also disrupted humanitarian aid efforts in Yemen, and threatened freedom of navigation in key regional waterways“. I agree to some extent with Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin, I do not think that he is entirely correct. To give understanding to my statement, we need to look at the 5 names.

Mahmud Bagheri Kazemabad and Mohammad Agha Ja’fari who were acting for or on behalf of the IRGC Aerospace Forces Al- Ghadir Missile Command. Javad Bordbar Shir Amin and Mehdi Azarpisheh who are members of a special forces unit of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards responsible for their extraterritorial operations, they report directly to the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei. In addition there is Sayyed Mohammad Ali Haddadnezhad Tehrani, who is allegedly providing, financial, material, technological or other support for, or goods or services in support of, the IRGC Research and Self-Sufficiency Jehad Organization. I use allegedly because without the clearance levels I cannot vet the final part of data there. I believe that Sayyed Mohammad Ali Haddadnezhad Tehrani has at least partially and most likely fully deployed Chinese walls to isolate him away from that, yet there are at least three names missing, these people are part of the training and deployment side of the missiles. It is my personal opinion that Javad Bordbar Shir Amin and Mehdi Azarpisheh could not have arranged that by themselves, they are without doubt involved, but on that level they had higher level help, not merely the smuggling of the missiles, the deployment, training and smuggling of the missiles is specific knowledge, it is very specialist knowledge and in that (at least) three names are missing. That mess is actually growing. It is seem in the first part in Bloomberg (at https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-05-23/doubts-emerge-at-eu-steps-to-counter-u-s-iran-sanctions-threat), in all this we see at the end “The commission is also looking at creating special purpose vehicles to allow transactions with Iran, the people said. The effectiveness may also depend on whether the U.S. treats them as a circumventing tool, one of the people said. “If in the end jobs will be lost in Germany, one has to ask whether this is the right thing to do,” German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said in a TV interview last week“, it is an issue! It is an issue, because mere open source intelligence and common sense gave me the inside view that have been proven correctly, the entire Iranian mess as we see now, whilst the people in the Bloomberg article are all about acting or is that not acting) because jobs are lost, whilst the entire missiles on the attacks on the Saudi civilian population is just ignored as well as the plight to the Yemeni civilian population because of the acting of Iran, the EU has a much bigger problem and it is time that the people start thinking this through. From my (an admitted optional flawed view) is that the Iranian mess started with Sayyid Ruhollah Mūsavi Khomeini and never stopped being an issue, which amounts to January 1st 1980 being the setting for the mess we are in now. I am willing to admit that if the US and UK had left Iran alone in the actions of 1953, we might not be in this mess, but that is too much water under the bridge, what is the setting is that the BBC (at http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-44230983) gives us Ayatollah Khamenei’s main conditions.

  • European powers should protect Iranian oil sales from the US sanctions and continue buying Iranian crude.
  • European banks should safeguard trade with Iran.
  • The UK, France and Germany should pledge not to seek negotiations on Iran’s ballistic missile programme and regional activities, both demanded by Washington.

The supreme leader said that if the three counties were unable to meet these demands, Iran would resume its enrichment of uranium. this translates to ‘do not interfere in Yemen‘, which is a regional activity, the fact that EU politics seems to be very willing to do that makes for more concern, in addition, when we look at the newspapers in the EU, we are left in the dark on several issues, which is also a concern. They are all focused on the Saudi attacks, the Yemen events, but not on the Iranian support setting for firing missiles into Saudi Arabia, that seems to be off limits and that is a massive issue as I personally see it.

So here to is the beginning of a holding pattern, an issue that is stretched over time, allowing for non-activity to rule the setting. Now, there is a twofold part, one is positive, because there is a partial setting where waiting the next move makes perfect sense, yet the numbers give us that thousands are getting exposed to Cholera and famine, not a combination you want to see, because at that stage, even with medical hep, the chances for surviving are not that great to begin with. Even as the people on Facebook are hiding behind “Stop the Saudi-led war on Yemen that kills civilians and destroys the country infrastructure“, the bulk of everyone remains in denial of Iran’s part in all this and the fact that Yemen is used as a stage to attack Saudi Arabia whilst Iran relies on ‘I know nothing‘ is a setting that is much worse because those are the people who the EU are trying to keep their business alive within a nuclear setting, whilst there have been clear indication that Uranium enrichment is an event that will be happening in Iran. Yes, that makes all the sense in the world (implies sarcasm).

The holding patterns cannot be fought, because acting is not always the best thing to do, yet the entire Yemeni situation started in March 2015, well over three years ago, so I think it is time for the EU to actually actively respond to the actions of Iran, they have had enough time and intelligence to act. Their non-actions at present should be regarded as beyond cowardice, cowardice to facilitate to those who need a deal, who need financial blessing (read: greed). To illustrate this, WikiLeaks gave us in 2007,

In any case, France is prepared to “go beyond” multilateral Iran sanctions. A/S O’Brien suggested that the GOF make public statements about the risks of doing business with Iran and the recent decisions of major European financial institutions to cut off Iranian business. France is currently developing new legislation to criminalize arms proliferation and proliferation finance, above and beyond its criminal penalties for violations of UNSCR 1737 and 1747. O’Brien passed GOF officials two Treasury non-papers on Iranian state-owned Bank Melli’s proliferation-related activities and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and IRGC-Qods Force’s extensive use of the Iranian state-owned banking network. Regarding private sector outreach, A/S O’Brien met with senior officials at Paris-based Banque Natixis to discuss the risks of doing business with Iran“, for the forgetful, that was when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was in office, so there had been a massive drive to get more ‘revenue’ for the Natixis board of directors. I guarantee you that it goes downhill from there, the settings we see are not great, it never was, yet the need for the EU to do something and not as a 27 nation block keep on sitting on their ignoranus was not what the people were signing up for. That evidence is seen at the UN (at https://www.un.org/press/en/2018/sc13225.doc.htm), in here we see “attacks against civilian targets in Saudi Arabia were unacceptable and raised concern over the Panel’s findings that Iran had provided short‑range missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles, in breach of paragraph 14 of resolution 2216 (2015).  Urging the Council to stand firm against such violations, he said that while the United Kingdom had sought to ensure a balanced and impartial text, it also had not shied away from calling out those who had violated international agreements“, in that, Russia hid behind “The Russian Federation’s representative, also speaking before the votes, said he could not support the United Kingdom‑sponsored draft, as he did not agree with its inclusion of unverified information. Assessing the Panel of Experts’ work in the manner mentioned in that draft was misguided“, so whenever a Russian firm approaches Saudi Arabia for a Neom or Vision 2030 project, we should make sure that the Saudi officials are reminded of the SC/13225 meeting on 26th February 2018. I should see if I can get an opportunity there too, my bank balance is really really low at present. So in the end we all act on economic needs, the only difference is that I am doing it upfront (making it no longer a reality), but if I can stay honest, why not the elected officials that make well over 3000% of what I end up with?

Is that not an interesting question too?

Have a great day!

 

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Business will be booming

There are all kinds of settings in the tech industry, some we like and some we like a lot less. It is the most visible in the mobile industry, the clear discriminatory setting there is almost unheard of. No matter what the reason is, a person for the most is iOS (Apple) minded, or they tend to go the way of the Android (Google, Huawei et al). There is for the most no in-between there. The reasons are as wide as the drops of water in a lake on a rainy day and for some these reasons make sense, or they do not. Yet we all tend to have them. I have been and remain an Android follower. I have nothing against apple. The initial setting was done by their marketing departments. Where Apple gave us: ‘You can do all these things and it is a phone too‘ and Android gave us: ‘This phone can do all kinds of things, some you will not have believed was even possible‘. I went the way of Android. You see, they are stating the same thing, yet Android focussed on a phone that can do other things. Apple went towards the things they could do, including being a phone. So from my point of view, I needed a phone, so I went the non-iOS way.

I know that in the end the difference is negligible, but it did matter. So it is a little over three years when I got myself (because it was a bargain) the Huawei P7. The difference from the previous phone (Motorola) was so distinct I became a Huawei fan overnight. Now that it is time to put that phone to bed and switch it off for the last time, I find myself clinging onto the idea that I need a new Huawei. Let me be clear, apart from my distinct non liking Samsung (a past issue I had with them), I do think that the other brands are decent too. Yet, when you have the option for a Google Pixel 2 XL, or a Huawei P20 close to $500 cheaper, what will you choose? Let’s also consider that the difference is almost nil, well it is not nil but the real differences do not stand out too much, not worth $500 as I see it. For me, if I get that phone, it will be a 300% improvement of what I have now and I am not dissatisfied with what I have, it merely has been acting up and after 3 years of working 24:7, that makes perfect sense. The little workhorse has earned its retirement. So when I started to look around, and I took a new look at the P20 and P20 pro, which is a $300 difference, I wondered why I would want the P20 pro for the usage I have. I have been able to do everything I needed with 2 GB RAM, so the 4 GB and  6GB RAM issue is not one I need to worry about. Both come with 128 GB storage, which is 800% more than I have now and even as I ran out of storage merely once, it did not worry me to any degree. The camera options are not the same, yet the PRO has an additional 40 MP camera option, which is slightly over the top need for someone who uses an EOS 1 Camera. The only issue is the battery, it is 3400 mAh versus 4000 mAh and I am not sure that this constitutes the value of $300 difference, not on my budget. More important, the P20 holds its own against the $1500 phones out there and when you consider the fact that it is 30% cheaper, what would you choose? This constitutes a difference that is well over a week’s rent for some people, so there is that to consider as well.

Yet, it is not about that part, it is that Huawei has seen the light of opportunity in both Saudi Arabia and Egypt, so when we see (at https://www.albawaba.com/business/pr/huawei-announces-%E2%80%98vip%E2%80%99-service-p20-pro-saudi-arabia-1135384), the fact that branding is getting momentum in the Middle East with their Huawei Consumer Business Group and their “a ‘VIP’ service for its customers in Saudi Arabia through its authorized service centres for any customer buys Huawei P20 Pro with Huawei KSA warranty”. Some call it marketing, which in all fairness it actually is, yet with 95 million people in Egypt and 33 million in the KSA, the market could be booming for Huawei, even as an Apple store is coming in 2019, the Apple SA store is pointing towards “Apple-designed outlets located within selected Apple resellers and other retail shops. Many are staffed with Apple-trained experts who can help you to find the right solution for you“, which is a perfectly valid and acceptable text. Yet, when you can consider an ‘outlet’ versus “Huawei has announced “Huawei Flex” which is a free drop off service in which customer can drop his device for service in more than 300 locations across kingdom for Huawei device under Saudi Arabia warranty to be send for Huawei Authorized service centre for warranty repair and return“, we see that Huawei is on the ball (I am not saying that Apple is not), but the service minded sales pitch is clearly there and as we see: “Pablo Ning, President of Huawei Consumer Business Group Saudi Arabia said: “The Kingdom is a strategic market for us, and this announcement reflects our commitment to doing business in the region. It is our effort to always cater to the specific needs of the markets we operate in. Recognising the needs of our loyal customers in the Kingdom, we are very pleased to announce these services and we are looking forward to announcing many more unique offers for them in the future”“, we see that even as we realise that too is a marketing setting, it also states that Huawei means business. With a chunk of a 125 million customer base, these two alone could drive sales even further in the Middle Eastern nations; in addition, the Huawei centre is rumoured to be coming to Neom, which could drive the brand even further. Even Forbes was recognising the growth Huawei had in 2017, even though we do take notice of the fact that anti-Chinese sentiments in the US barred the phone from the US markets, we need to realise that the planet is a lot bigger than the 325 million in the US. Also consider the fact that Huawei does a lot more than merely smartphones and the opening of the market that is a third of the US population matters, in addition the 740 million Europeans are now more than ever looking for a good deal. So the group of people who have the cash to go all out and get a phone $500 more expensive is shrinking fast. Yet Huawei is not out of the woods there either. It is up against Samsung and Samsung is doing a good job of gaining ground. In there we see that Apple is losing their footing, losing sales share in the UK, France and Spain. So even as some had growth, iOS was merely growing at 0.1%, against Android 2.8%, that is a massive difference, and Huawei is tinkering very effectively on these two markets. Although, I have to admit (speculatively) that the largest growth was due to the release of the Google Pixel family. Still Huawei remains in the fight of growth and its setting in the Middle East is as assertive as it gets. I reckon that if Pablo Ning pulls it off, he might be looking forward to his new apartment overlooking Chaoyang Park in Beijing. It is that extreme because the market share that Huawei has to grow is pretty astounding. You see, not everyone is looking towards the coolest marketed phone that most cannot normally afford, in the Middle East revenue is often set towards pragmatism and that is a setting that Marketing on a global basis tends to be unfocussed on. It is in this setting that mobile phones will gain traction in sales. So when we consider the progress that Huawei is making towards growth by going via the support and customer care path, or as Pablo Ning phrases it “the needs of our loyal customers in the Kingdom“, we see not some message on selling a phone like ‘iPhone X, Say hello to the future‘ with after that ‘Sales, Apple Authorized Resellers‘ or ‘Sales, Apple Authorized Resellers‘ but with ““Huawei Flex” which is a free drop off service in which customer can drop his device for service in more than 300 locations across kingdom for Huawei device under Saudi Arabia warranty to be send for Huawei Authorized service centre for warranty repair and return“, we see that Huawei means business. It is not about the initial sale, it is putting to bed any worry the consumer has afterwards and the Huawei version sells much stronger than the other messages and that is how commercial traction leaps forward making it market share gain. The lower sales threshold only speeds it up. In that we see that “aiming of strengthening its business base, its operations and customer service in the Kingdom“, is not just vital for growth of Huawei, the commitment of 5G in Saudi Arabia as it is at present, will only fuel the need for the Huawei smartphone (and smart phones in general); with its upcoming Huawei Mate 30 (Q3 2019) Huawei could give a further boost, as those buying today would be ready for a new phone just as the Mate 30 will be released and it will drive it a lot faster if it is both 4G and 5G enabled (which is not officially confirmed), so as Apple and others are looking to open a shop at that point, we will see that if (consider that it is an ‘if) Huawei kept its services and exceeded the expectations of the consumer, they will have a much larger advantage and as such Google might profit with their own Android phones on the coattails of Huawei. This is shown in another way too. Statista (at https://www.statista.com/statistics/271774/share-of-android-platforms-on-mobile-devices-with-android-os/) gives a view that takes some mulling. When we consider the Android market share, we see that the largest part is owned by Marshmallow (v6) and Nougat (v7), so that means that those who update now to Oreo (v8) will be most likely to update the moment 5G is out, those who delay more than 6 months are not likely, or better stated less likely to update more than once, so either they miss out on 5G or are in a much smaller segment (not serious smartphone users). So they use it as a phone and that is it, which is fair enough, because a phone is a phone and for that 5G is not essential. Yet when we consider that this group is almost 37%, there is an option for smartphone sales everywhere to evolve those users towards a more smartphone driven use of apps and data, yet what are these consumers made of? There is no data that I had at my disposal, yet finding out is actually a lot more important here. If we know what the consumer needs, we can see if there is a better solution in new hardware, not merely because of the security risk that older phones hold, the fact that smartphone functionality is optionally missed out on is basically a sales opportunity missed and when it affects an optional 37% slice of smartphones it starts to matter as that involves a serious amount of cash. Now we need to accept that it is not merely the phone, for the larger places like the island of Australia mobile data was until last year pretty expensive, so why upgrade when the data used will monthly kill your budget? to go from 15GB a month for $65 in 2016 to 200Gb for $70 in 2018 is actually a massive leap and not all places have made such changes, so not everyone is on board yet, but with 5G that will change by a lot, not only will they drive down the 4G data prices, but the mobile setting in places like Egypt and Saudi Arabia (outside of Cairo and Riyadh) will drive the need of people much larger. The fact that Egyptian TV outside of the large cities is not fabulous, for these people to suddenly get a clear reception of matches of Al Ahly SC or Zamalek SC could drive sales, so the larger the part of that 37% slice is actually found in the Middle East, the easier the upgrade sales will get; when we consider the joke (that is how I personally see the Vodafone Egypt site), as well as the clarity of http://www.egyptsim.com/, we see that there is still space to improve it all and Huawei is in an interesting place to make that happen. In addition, the Egyptsim site shows a setting that was almost the 2016 setting in Australia, so they are not that far behind, so when we see the evolution where the prices reflect 500% if what they offer now (which is what we can get in places like Australia nowadays), we see a more competitive setting where upgrading any smartphone will become the essential need of anyone wanting to use such amounts of bandwidth. Even a mere 50 GB at €15 could change the game, it will drive app use, phone use and more important, the need for phone upgrades and competitive phones will become more and more desired. This is shown in direct opposition to the anti-Huawei feelings that we see from America (at https://www.politico.eu/article/huawei-china-ghost-in-europe-telecom-machine/), a story from last January. So in all this when we see “The Chinese tech giant is banned from bidding for government contracts in the U.S. over concerns that its telecommunication equipment could be used for spying by Beijing“, that whilst it refers right next to it a story regarding ‘Mark Zuckerberg hearing: As it happened‘, in all this Huawei is a concern? As the US has not even got clear legislation on data and as we see the Facebook events, I can state that some people have their mindset in the wrong place. In addition, if we can believe the Daily Mail who gave us “Google caught using $580 million worth of Australians’ phone data to spy on them by monitoring their movements“, so in that, is Google getting government contracts? And if the second is true, why is there no outcry in that setting? Is it about the company, or where the revenue is going to? It is a multiple facetted setting of greed, technology and whose ego is the largest to present. How does that help the consumer who wants a good affordable phone, if the Google Pixel and Huawei phones offer the same thing, yet Huawei can do it 30% cheaper, why would we want the more expensive one, our privacy? Facebook gave that away and there is no actual act in place to thwart that, in addition, the US senate hearing gave more and more reluctance as we seem to get the impression that these senators do not even comprehend technology in its basic foundation. We merely have to look back at the moment with Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), who asks on: ‘how do you sustain a business model where users don’t pay for your services‘, the answer by Mark Zuckerberg was priceless: ‘Senator, we run ads!“. When we are confronted with such a level of what I regard to be ignorance towards business reality, that is the not party we should rely on when they state to us: “its telecommunication equipment could be used for spying by Beijing“, yet in that foundation, not one piece of evidence has been presented that this is actually the case. The “potential for secret ‘backdoors’” is astounding. Not one piece of evidence, not one setting that gives any level of reliability on ‘potential‘. I wonder how many of these gentlemen have been receiving calls from Cisco, Apple, IBM and other parties on their fear of China getting a slice of American business, or perhaps it is even more simple. With American firms the government of the USA can make tax deals, because the inability of paying invoices can always get bartered on a national level, not international. And there is where Huawei has its opportunity. As it grows its segments in both Europe and the Middle East it can potentially grow the services they offer as the reach of those services and in that light and the next level of growth towards 5G, we see that Huawei has a growing distinction against all competitors. It can offer a new price range, one that consumers have not had for the longest of times and it can place a setting where customer loyalty can grow towards Huawei as it offers something affordable, now when the providers think it is time, but when the consumers need them, which is always a war that works in favour of the consumer. It is a war of settings between optionally, actually, and eventually. The first one offering it has the benefit. Yet is Huawei ready to make that commitment? I do not know, yet should Huawei grace the settings and be announced as a participant of the new high tech city Neom, at that point you can be decently certain that Huawei will become a much larger player in the Middle East and from that, growth in Europe will be a near certainty. Business for Huawei will be booming and it all started by making high end mobiles an affordable item for those not in high paying jobs, or forced to get themselves chained to a two year contract with a telecom provider.

 

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Go with a smile

OK, I will be honest, this morning, I saw news pass by and it made me giggle. It was the title, I swear, the title was enough, because below the surface it is actually a serious matter, yet the writer/editor of Arab News gives us “‘Spy cell’ in Saudi Arabia sought foreign financing“. In my mind, I saw the image of two freshman at Berkeley University in California, walk into a wealth managing corporation like Rothschild’s and tell the CEO, that they found a way to overthrow the government and if they could please get some funding (at http://www.arabnews.com/node/1306306/saudi-arabia).

I know, you are giggling now too, but that is what they title left me with, yet it is actually a lot more serious. You see, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a monarchy. Like all monarchies there are set rules and regulations on what to do and more important what not to do. Anyone with a primary school education knows this, no rocket science involved.

Yet, below the title, under the image we see a caption that is very much a serious matter. With: “Saudi Arabia’s Presidency of the State Security arrested seven people for suspicious communication with foreign entities and actions against the state“, you see there are two elements in this the first is ‘suspicious communications‘, which is optionally an element, yet ‘actions against the state‘ is actually quite clear. The question is how it all fits together, and make no mistake, there is a clear setting that it applies to a hell of a lot more people than merely those in the KSA, so you better wake up fast.

The elements of worry are seen in the first paragraph. Here we see “sought to “incite strife by communicating with foreign entities hostile to the Kingdom and to establish a false legal organization, according to information received by Asharq Al-Awsat from informed sources“, it could impact a lot more people than you think. In light of the escalations of Vision 2030 as well as the setting in Neom, we are bound to get a few cowboys trying to strike it rich (I am definitely one of them), in a setting of a total amount of close to $800 billion, or $800,000,000,000, I too will happily try to pick up a few coins, I will as the non-greedy person that I am happily settle for 0.001% or $8,000,000. I have a weapon system, an idea to make an Iranian nuclear reactor do the runaway on its own operators (by using the principle of a snow globe), which is my way of telling Steven Walker from DARPA that his behavioural sciences degree is not that useful in a nuclear physicist setting (nyuk, nyuk, nyuk), no negativity on Steven Walker though, he is slightly smarter than most smart cookies, and in addition to the earlier two ‘solutions’, I also considered a solution that I thought up to solve the UK NHS issue, which actually has a lot more applications under 5G.

I am not digressing, you see, these idea’s all need funding, now there are a few players with ideas that are all good and proper and in the 11th hour one of the backers walks away (reason is irrelevant), so now this (young) upstart needs to fix things fast to get its fingers in the Saudi Arabian treasury till of Vision 2030/Neom. In this he reaches out and he finds an interesting backer and meets with an entrepreneur in Qatar, now we have close to the same setting as we just read. Qatar and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are not really on good terms. Now add a few emails that skates around the funding and we have a setting that might be seen by Saudi Arabia as a worry, when we consider that Qatar has its own ‘Smart Digital plan‘ for 2030 we get a setting that some people might consider selling their idea twice. It is not far-fetched and it is definitely on the minds of close to a dozen growth driven people in Silicon Valley. Now we have a very different ballgame and that is not even considering those people who have been working as 3rd party developers for places like Palantir; anyone of those developers when they approach both Saudi Arabia and Qatar might be seen as just such a transgressor.

We forget that each nation has its own set of rules and even as some think that they are ‘shielded’ as they are American or perhaps Commonwealth citizen, they better wake up fast and realise that in national interests, it is the nation where you are where you need to adhere to settings. This works in both directions. We see this with “Dr. Ibrahim Al-Nahas, member of Shoura Committee Council on Foreign Affairs, told Asharq Al-Awsat on Saturday that the Kingdom is capable of overcoming many security challenges due to the vigilance of its security apparatus“, I do not for one moment disagree with Dr. Ibrahim Al-Nahas, for the most merely due to a lack of data, yet what he optionally forgets is that this system is going to get tested more and more over the next 5 years from all the parties who are trying to get an option to what we should consider is the largest technological jackpot in the last 25 years. We have not seen the option to such opportunities since the beginning of Windows 95, so there will be a massive flock of cowboys trying to land a deal with numbers optionally up to 9 zeroes behind a number, so you better believe that thousands of ‘innovators’ will come with their idea of a lifetime, which could potentially swamp the security apparatus.

In case of the article, it is about seven people who have been active to facilitate by acts that are considered “hostile to Saudi Arabia, to receive financial support in exchange for continuing to incite trouble”, which seems to be a decently clear setting. Yet it will not always be that clear when we see “It said authorities detected coordinated activities by a group of people, who carried out organized work to violate the religious and national principles of the Kingdom“, in the setting as quoted, there are a number of issues, religious principles being the first one that carries weight, because most cowboys seem to forget that Saudi Arabia is a Muslim state, as such it acts on religious settings. That is also the case in America where they have the pledge of allegiance, which gives us “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God“, this is important, because many nations have something similar. So when someone noticed that McDonalds in Saudi Arabia advertised “We renew our allegiance and obedience for his royal highness, the servant of the two holy mosques, King Salman the son of Abdul Aziz Al Saud, and we support Amir Mohammed bin Salman, his son, to become Minister of Defence and Prime Minister and to be nominated as successor.  God give him wisdom and equip him to rule his kingdom. With peace and prosperity, McDonald’s“, in this the response by someone who appears to be a Canadian, we see “Ads in Saudi Arabia placed by @McDonalds pledging allegiance to the new crown prince….am I the only one that finds this totally bizarre?“, I think that he did nothing wrong, even as he thinks it is weird, but when you are so far removed from a true monarchy setting, you forget small things. I too when I was in my military time had to make the pledge of allegiance, which in my case was to pledge allegiance to the monarch, obedience to the law and subject to martial law  with: “Ik zweer trouw aan de Koningin, gehoorzaamheid aan de wetten en onderwerping aan de krijgstucht. Zo waarlijk helpe mij God Almachtig“. Even as martial law no longer applies to me, I still feel that my oath obliges me to come to the aid and protection of the Dutch royal family until my dying day. It is something we accept, it matters to us, to any monarchist. So it is the same in Saudi Arabia and you better believe that (roughly) 99.99992% of these citizens will comply and enforce that oath on all those (citizens) who think they need not do that.

I feel that global businesses forget about such settings and they are optionally shooting themselves in the foot by not educating their staff members when having to go to such places. It matters because we all make mistakes and there are transgressions which are usually forgiven (unless you make an error under paragraph 322(5) under UK immigration law, then you are truly screwed), yet when you make mistake after mistake, even unintentional, merely because you come from a very different environment, you could end up burning the brand you represent permanently in that nation, which might be a nice little challenge for Apple, Google and IBM to survive. Although IBM is more business strict, but the Apple and Google mindset might find it increasingly hard to adjust and that is where losses are made, really large losses I might add.

So even if you are laughing now on the ridiculous setting I am offering, you better realise that the law in not a funny matter in Saudi Arabia. It is set to be written as “Saudi Arabia is a state built on the foundations of justice and it enshrines the principal of equality for all before the law”, you better realise that within many nations there is a consideration on what defines ‘foundations of justice‘. According to some sources Saudi law in theory allows that the ruling of a death sentence is a real setting, now we can understand that we know not to commit murder, yet in that same setting Espionage and Treason also gets your head separated from your body just like in: ‘off with their heads!‘ (Quoting the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland), now in the technological setting that is happening at present in the beginning of the article, the involvement of Qatar (fictive example), treason and espionage are actual options now coming to the surface? Now we all know that being well prepared stops such things from happening, yet who knew that Adultery and Waging war on God are equally punishable? So when you think that you have a nice option for Saturday night in your hotel room, did you realise that if you live by ‘it doesn’t count in you are in another country‘, your future might end up a little more grim than when you got out of bed that morning? And that is even before we get to Waging war on God, which is an issue on several levels. You see unless you have a clerical mind, the dangers of waging war on God is an open field, you can be transgressing this unknowingly if you are a Christian and that is something one must be prepared for so that it can be avoided.

If I understood it correctly the ḥirabah is seen as ‘enemy of God‘. The reference is seen in verse 33 of Surah al-Ma’ida of the Qur’an. It sets punishment for “those who wage war against Allah and His Prophet and strive to spread disorder in the land“, yet ‘disorder in the land‘ is a much wider concept nowadays then when what it was in those ancient days. We see that wisdom when we look back to those days as ‘banditry in open country: a uniquely destabilizing threat to civil order in a pre-modern society’. You might think of it as folly, yet in those days when towns relied on commerce and traders, banditry could have far-fetching consequences for the entire town, perhaps even the region. You only have to look at the movie ‘Kingdom of Heaven‘ a Ridley Scott masterpiece to see what a massive destabilising factor the Christian knights and people tended to be in those days. They were basically whoring and pillaging whenever possible (basically every waking hour), and no one considers the impact that left the Muslim Arabic nations?

This all matters because when you are trying to tap into the wealth that Arabia as a whole is offering, you better know what you are in for, you better be prepared and you also better leave some of your values (or lack thereof) at home. The setting of this stage seems all too appealing, yet many nations have a clear legal directive and as I have been hearing some of the conversations around me, it seems to me that some have not considered the impact they are setting their perception, what they think is happening and what is perceived. So when I heard someone say “go there, smile a lot and make a fortune. It works in japan“. Now, I am not certain whether that would work in Japan to that degree, I am decently certain that they will lose a lot more than they bargained for when they are totally unprepared going to Saudi Arabia thinking that they strike gold with a mere presentation and a smile. Because the wrong presentation can easily be perceived and what you thought was a nice idea in the end brought chaos in the land, good luck setting up your defence at that point.

I believe that good business is always available in every nation; the wisdom is to comprehend the rules of that game in that nation and abide by them, not as best as you can, but completely. In the age of compromise I think the current generation is oblivious to that danger, they have been so used to go by ‘let’s compromise’, not everyone is willing to do that. In this considering John Braithwaite’s excellent work ‘Corporate Crime in the Pharmaceutical Industry‘, it is not about the pharmaceutical part, the issue is the setting of corporations. By the time that you have gotten to chapter 4 (fraud in the safety testing of drugs) or chapter 5 (criminal negligence in unsafe manufacturing of drugs), by that setting you will have seen close to a dozen issues that could perceive you as the party responsible for creating ‘disorder in the land‘. This is merely a academic setting, I am not an Saudi Attorney, I have no experience in practicing Muslim Law, but these were the questions that formed in my mind and In all this I see a clear element missing in all the presentations that passed my eyes, seeing them scrutinised in a setting of Islamic Law seems to be important, because the law in Saudi Arabia is not set in the Crimes Act, the Data Protection Act, the Human Rights Act or the Mental Capacity Act. It is set through the Quran and that is a very important distinction.

For the most, when people are going for the jackpot, they tend to be as prepared as possible, yet in all this, more than just a few have forgotten that it is not merely a presentation, they better be aware of the legal lay of the land, as well as the social and personal norms that are required in Saudi Arabia (as with every nation you want to do business), we seem to look at the EU where almost anything is valid and not illegal, as such they forget that there are places where that approach will not work.

Did I get all this from a mere reference to a Spy Cell in the Arab News? Well, not exactly! I had been looking at parts of this for a little while, merely because some settings require investigation on any level, and the more I had to dig into certain messages the more I was confronted with people quoting the Quran, which came to a focal point when I was confronted with ‘French Proposal to Change the Quran’, which was from early may this year in the Atlantic. Apart from the blasphemy that it represents, which passages from the Bible regarding slavery or women as servants of their husbands have been removed in the last 50 years?

Opposition of such views was given by Tareq Oubrou, the prominent French imam who oversees the Grand Mosque of Bordeaux. Here we see “the notion that anti-Semitism is built into Islam is “theologically false,” he added. As monotheistic “People of the Book,” Jews and Christians enjoy a special status in Islamic law. Historically, they were considered protected dhimmi communities, which meant they were allowed to practice their own religions, although they were subject to a tax and various indignities that symbolized their subordination to Muslims”, by the way, this was an act that Christians did to the Saracens in Italy (also seen in ‘Kingdom of Heaven’), so let’s not throw mud when we know that we have done the same thing.

In the end, wherever you go, feel free to go with a smile and be prepared for what you face, knowing the legal and religious lay of the land is a rather important step that most seem to ignore, it might not matter in all places, but not preparing in places where issues like that do matter is merely the greater folly.

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