Tag Archives: Middle East

Scheduling meetings in the Middle East

Bahrain_Grand_Mosque

As a Western ex-pat working in the Middle East you quickly learn that if you want everyone to show up for a meeting, don’t schedule the meeting during prayer time.

Muslims pray 5 times a day. 3-4 of these prayer times will be during work hours. What complicates things is that the prayer times are not at the same time each day. The times are based on the lunar calendar. The first prayer in the middle of the summer is at 3:30am and that same prayer in the middle of winter is at 5:30am. You should know that most of the Middle East does not change their clocks for daylight savings.

So, how do you know when it will be time to pray. I have utilities that I use to make sure that I don’t schedule meetings during prayer times.

As I use Microsoft Outlook, there is a plug-in, that will schedule the times of prayer times on your calendar. If you don’t want to have all of these in your calendar there are a number of prayer time downloads for mobile phones that will do the same thing. I use Salaat Time for Blackberry. I also use a system bar utility that gives a notification bubble just prior to the prayer time. This application is also handy at it will show that prayer times every day for the full year; it is also called Salaat Time .

You can use one or more of these utilities to help you schedule a meeting in the future.

Note: Cross posted from executiveGEEK.

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Using a Blackberry in the rest of the world, Research in Motion [RIMM] are you listening?

I have been in the Middle East for just over a year and it has been eye opening. Apart from the cultural adjustments, one of the things that has become a peeve is how Western companies do not recognize some of the differences that will impact their devices or their software outside of Western countries.

It is no secret that I am a big fan of RIM’s (Research In Motion) Blackberry. However, there are some things that should be considered when selling this product in the rest of the world. For example, the work week is different in the Middle East. Muslim religion dominates in the region and therefore Friday is the day of worship. Depending on the country, your other day off is either Thursday or Saturday. In some countries, they also work a half day on the Thursday. None of these can be accommodated by the Blackberry.

Although I can set Saturday as the first day of the week, there is no way for me to tell the Blackberry that Thursday and Friday are the weekends (or Friday and Saturday). This presents some minor annoyances such as viewing the month and the Blackberry shades the Saturday and Sunday. To some aggravating issues when it comes to having the alarm only active on weekdays.

It would be a simple change, as a screen that simply asks you to fill in some check boxes for weekend or weekdays.

Blackberry sales in the Middle East are growing rapidly. I have read that this is one of RIM’s fastest growing regions. There is both a status and fashion aspect to the Blackberry in the Middle East. Hopefully this will push RIM towards accommodating the the nuances of the region.