Tuesday, May 23, 2017

ADR in the Arab Gulf

The Future is so Bright, We Will have to Wear Shades

One panel speaker, Assistant Professor Andrew Dahdal, had this to say about last week's ADR conference sponsored by Qatar University College of Law:   
The conference was insightful in many respects. Given that some of my recent research has been looking at the relationship between financial centres and broader national jurisdictions, the discussion concerning the enforcement or arbitral awards in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) was especially interesting.

The conference -- entitled, The Future of Alternative Dispute Resolution -- A Qatari Perspective -- brought together lawyers, scholars, and ADR neutrals to discuss ADR in the Arab Gulf and MENA regions.  Most of the presentations focused on arbitration, which remains the dominant (and nearly exclusive) form of ADR in the region.

The agenda included opening and keynote speeches by:

  • Dr. Mohammed Abdulaziz Al-Khulaifi, Dean of Qatar University College of Law.
  • Lord Nicholas Phillips, President of Qatar International Court and Dispute Resolution Center (QICDRC).
  • Sultan Al-Abdulla, Managing Partner of Sultan Al-Abdulla & Partners, a sponsor of the event.
  • Prof. Bridgette Stern, Emeritus Professor of International Law at the University of Paris,I, Pantheon-Sorbonne.
  • Dr. Talal Al-Emadi, Chair of the Advisory Board of the QU College of Law Center of Law and Development (CLD).
  • Prof. Mohamed S. Abdel Wahab, Chair of Private International Law and Professor of Dispute Resolution at Cairo University.

The conference also consisted of four panel presentations.  Topics included:
  • Alternative Means for Resolving Economic Disputes.
  • Arbitrating Natural Resources Disputes: Current and Future Trends.
  • Arbitration in Intellectual Property Disputes.
  • Conciliation versus Court Ruling -- Management of Chances and Risks.
  • The Role of Civil and Commercial Court of Qatar Financial Center (QFC) Consumer Dispute Resolution Scheme.
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution in Contemporary Times.
  • Future Challenges and Paradigmatic Changes in International Arbitration: A View from Behind the Curtain.
  • Effect of Minority Not Signing Arbitration Award on the Validity of Arbitral Award.
  • New [Qatar] Arbitration Law no. 2 of 2017: Pros and Cons.
  • Arbitration and Criminal Law: The View from Qatar and UAE.
  • Alternative Methods for Resolving Administrative Contract Disputes in Qatar.
  • The Rise and Fall of International Administrative Arbitration: A Revision on the Commerciality of International Arbitration under Egyptian Law.
  • Enforcement of Arbitral Awards.
Several of my QU College of Law colleagues covered these topics, along with representatives of QICDRC and regional lawyers.

I hope that my colleagues create more opportunities to discuss ADR in the region.  As my own research is beginning to reveal, ADR is still in the early stages of institutional development in the Arab Gulf region.  I also hope that the papers presented at the conference get published in a symposium issue of a law journal. 

I have encouraged the conference organizers to create a webpage where people can access conference slides.  I'd hate to see this material go unrecognized in the future. 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Week 13: Pansies Versus Crocodiles

The Semester Comes to a Close

I had hoped to post a blog every week of the semester about my experience teaching Legal Research & Writing 1 to my Arab students.  But, the semester gets so intense about Week 10 that I feel happy just to keep up with class prep and grading.  

Over the past two weeks, I have conducted individual conferences with students. We look at their attendance record, the point scores on their assessments, their current ranking in the course, and the chance they have for a higher letter grade.  I then review their written work. 

My female students met with me first.  All of them have been working hard this semester. They are dedicated to their studies and show it by good attendance, preparation for class, and a level of engagement that still surprises me.  After all, we meet from 3 to 4:45 p.m. at the end of a very long day.  

I told them that coming to class is like looking out on the sunny, eager, upturned faces of pansies in a flower garden.  I just love them to pieces.  Now that we know each other better, I see their humor, their struggles in balancing home, careers, and children, and their desire to get a good education with a good GPA. 

Then I met with my male students.  That experience is much different.  After a two-hour class, I feel like I have been "wrestling crocodiles."  Their needs are greater, because they are less prepared for the course.

Most of my male students have several children, jobs or businesses, parents who need help, and then a full course schedule. Their attendance for a 9:30 a.m. course is more inconsistent. I need to set more boundaries with them.  I am strict about enforcing course rules. I police more cheating. And, I find myself in more futile negotiations over assessment scores (futile for them). 

Despite being strict with them, I am impressed by their open hearts, good humor, and strong desire to complete the course.

I have about eight male students who show me every class just how smart they are.  One student has perfect attendance and almost perfect scores on the assessments.  They consistently use my office hours to work on their memos. They ask good questions. They help me communicate with my weaker students who struggle because they have poor English language skills.   I am very thankful to them.

We are all exhausted.  My patience runs thin. I need more sleep.  But, all that is true for my students, too. 

I keep telling them:  "I will get you through the semester!"  I keep telling them, as I did the first week of class, that my job is to get them ready for Legal Writing 2.  Most of them are ready.  For the struggling students, their outcome will depend on how they do on the final exam.  I hope they surprise me. 

Monday, April 3, 2017

Week 8: My Research Methodology

How I Conducted the Research


First, I want to thank Qatar University College of Law and my Dean Dr. Mohammed A. Al-Khulaifi for their generous support of this research. I also appreciate the help of Dr. Yasser Khalaileh, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Dr. Faouzi Ahmed Belknani, Associate Dean of Research, Dr. Yassin El Shazly, Associate Dean of Outreach and Engagement, and Dr. Conrad Sturm. Finally, I want to thank the many faculty and ADR colleagues who gave me the opportunity to interview them. They generously gave of their time.

The Interviews:

The report reflects about 20 hours of interviews, including the interviews of several QU professors, ADR professionals, law firm attorneys, government attorneys, and a judge sitting on the Qatar International Court and Dispute Resolution Center (QICDRC). At this point in the process, I have interviewed people who live and work in Qatar, but I have also interviewed two people living in Dubai.

I conducted interviews over a three-month period during January to March 2017. 

All of the interviews took at least an hour. About half the interviews lasted longer than that allotted time.

The Interview Questions:

I adopted interview questions based on an Appreciative Inquiry approach, as I explained in the instructions to interviewees.

In creating the questions, I relied on two resources:

  • Jane Magruder Watkins, et al., Appreciative Inquiry: Change at the Speed of Imagination (2d ed. 2011), and
  • Bernard J. Mohr & Jane Magruder Watkins, The Essentials of Appreciative Inquiry: A Roadmap for Creating Positive Futures (2002).

In this initial round of interviews, I was Beta-testing the questions. While I intend to make a few changes to them, overall, they worked to elicit the information I wanted to collect.

The Initial Report:

During each interview, I took at least seven pages of notes. I then collected those responses in a report.

Accordingly, the report reflects two stages of filtration: First, during the notetaking phase of the interview, and then during my transfer of those notes to the framework of the summary.

I apologize in advance if I failed to capture thoughts or comments of the interviewees accurately.

I then identified themes coming out of the interviews and captured some of my favorite comments or quotes. I will talk about those themes in my next post.


I intend to do another 40 hours of interviews. I will expand the geographic scope of the interviews to the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, and Saudi Arabia (i.e. other GCC countries).

As I do more interviews, I will continue to update and revise the report.

I plan to convert the report to a law review article that I will submit for publication during the Fall 2017 publication cycle in the U.S.

I also will present the results of this research at The "2d International Conference on Non-Adversarial Justice" held by the Australian Institute of Judicial Administration beginning April 6-9, 2017 in Sydney, Australia.

I also plan to do more quantitative research by using on-line surveys that will determine the background, training, and experience of neutrals in the Arab Gulf region. I will also ask about the number of disputes the neutrals have handled and which ADR processes they used. The surveys will also explore how often stakeholders are using ADR to resolve disputes and which processes they prefer.

I deeply enjoyed the opportunity to talk with people in the Arab Gulf ADR community. I want to thank them again for their time and energy. I learned so much from all of them and their comments have identified other lines of research for me.

I hope the report provides insight and guidance for the community as it plans its future.

I look forward to serving that community as it continues to expand.

Week 8: I'm Off to Australia for an ADR Conference!

Scaling Up. 
Working at an International Level

When I decided to move to Qatar, I had hoped to scale up my ADR teaching, training, and practice.  In the U.S., I held the state-wide leadership positions in the Virginia Mediation Network and positions on Virginia Supreme Court-sponsored mediation ethics committees and grievance boards.  I loved those opportunities to serve my community.  

However, because of the financial constraints of my law school, I could not actively participate at a national level in leadership of the Section of Dispute Resolution of the ABA or of the Association for Conflict Resolution. Towards the end of my stay in the U.S., my law school was not even funding my attendance at the annual conferences of these organizations. 

By moving to Qatar and joining the faculty of a well-funded university, I hoped to grow professionally and scale up to a more international ADR practice.  

I was lucky, in hindsight, to leap-frog national level participation when too many barriers existed to my greater involvement.  

So, I am excited to participate in my first international ADR conference on a continent I've always wanted to visit.  The conference is entitled: the "2d International Conference on Non-Adversarial Justice," sponsored by the Australian Institute of Judicial Administration.

I will be speaking on the this topic: "Barriers to ADR in the Arabian Gulf: A Conversation About Training, Capacity, and Culture."  I will be joined by 75 speakers over the three-day event. 

In my next few blogs, I will share some of the research that I will presenting at the conference. 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Week 7: Mid-Term Exams Required Some Flexibility on My Part

Best-Laid Plans 
of Mice and Men . . . .

This week, I had planned to take students through a second CREAC exercise to get them ready for the CREAC Test later in the week.

I wrote a new exercise that was more similar to the problem the students would analyze on the test.  They would apply Qatari trade name and trademark law to two restaurants using a very similar trade name: "The Oryx Diner" and "The Oryx Diner on-the-Go."  

At the beginning of the week, I ran through about 50 of the slides I had prepared. Before you gasp in horror, please know that 50 percent of each slide is a photo or other image.  I still had about 20 more slides to discuss before students would feel more confident about the CREAC Test.

In the meantime, many of the students had four or more exams this week.  They were feeling overwhelmed, over-worked, and a little hopeless.  

Because of some scheduling issues, students in my afternoon class had exams scheduled during my class! So, they were missing the test prep I was providing. Then, I learned that half of them had another exam scheduled the same day I planned to give my CREAC Test.

At that point, I surrendered to the situation.  I offered both male and female students the opportunity to take the test next week when their mid-term exam schedule begins to quiet. 

The relief they expressed almost had a tangible quality to it.  If I had made the announcement in a Facebook video, you would have seen those images of a thumbs up and hearts floating across the page.  I had made myself their hero.

As an ADR expert, I was mindful that I had my own interests at stake.  I needed to give students a chance to integrate the lessons and apply them in some homework before the CREAC Test.  I wanted their first drafts of their first CREAC to be reasonably successful.  It makes my life a lot easier during the second half of the semester. 

Not only that, I really did not want to grade a bunch of exams right before I took off for my trip to Australia for an ADR conference.

In short, I met many non-competing interests in postponing the exam.  Win-win, blah, blah, blah . . . .

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Week 6: Finally Writing a CREAC

Conclusion, Rule, Explanation, Application, and Conclusion

I've talked about it for three weeks.  CREAC this and CREAC that.  Now, it's time for the students to write their first legal analysis using this format.  Baby steps. We will do it together.

I have an exercise, based on the post-9/11 U.S. Patriot Act, that involves the effort of our "client" to bring onto an aircraft two sharpened pencils, knitting needles, and nail polish remover.  Are they prohibited dangerous weapons?  At the start of class, students are skeptical. How can these household items be weapons?  

Then, in a dramatic demonstration, I light the nail polish remover on fire, jab the pencils towards the eyes of the nearest student (safely of course), and hold a thin knitting needle near the sternum of another student.

Oh! Now the analysis becomes real. 

The fun part is teaching them how to do the Application, where students compare the facts of the "illustrative case" to our client's facts.  Last year, I started using a T-Chart to help them organize the analysis.  It worked better than I ever expected.  

They practice one more time, with my help, before they are tested on the CREAC structure in Week 7. 

These are the days when I get to see my students' brains work.  I just love it! 

Week 5: The Professor Learns Some Lessons

Working Harder to Create Student Engagement

Qatar University has a very rigorous faculty evaluation program.  Once a year, we must upload a boat load of class-related data to a platform called Digital Measures.  The grousing among faculty members during this "upload" week is extensive, me included.

As part of the process, we must submit a reflection on the past year -- something I enjoy. We also must submit a plan for professional development in the coming year. This year I promised to use the peer-evaluation process offered by OFID (Office of Faculty and Instructional Development).  

Dr. Chris Stryker typically makes these class room visits and evaluations.  Chris, an American with a long history at QU, was great in providing feedback, both in writing and in our conversation after class. I am thankful that most of the feedback was very positive. But he dinged me on creating student engagement. "Ask more, tell less!," as his evaluation notes say. 

In the US, teaching Alternative Dispute Resolution with a curriculum I designed, I was able to create more active learning and student engagement in each class.  Short lecture followed by an activity and then a de-briefing.

Here, I inherited a curriculum design, which I greatly appreciated.  But, I have struggled with the first five weeks of the course in which we do a lot of what I call "content dump," mostly through long lectures. 

I knew Chris was coming last week, so I suggested he attend the regular class or two different labs.  I had two terrific active learning exercises planned for the labs -- the meeting with the partner and the client interview.  But, the regular class was designed as another long lecture.  I had my fingers crossed that he would choose one of the labs.  Instead, he said he would attend the regular class because the labs met so late in the day. 

I gave that long lecture on Sunday to my female class. I had low energy (the class meets from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.) and the room was hot.  At the end of it, I told the students that it was the "most boring lecture I had ever given," and I would never give it again. 

True to my promise, that evening I redesigned the class in anticipation of Chris' visit.  Even so, he dinged me on student engagement. During our de-briefing he suggested several ways to change my techniques.  Basically, he wanted me to provide less answers to questions.  Instead, I needed to make the students work harder to answer the questions themselves.

He also suggested that I:

  • Avoid one-on-one interactions. 
  • Activate student memory to increase engagement.
  • Respond better to changes in student attentiveness. Consider using more breaks to "reset" attention.
  • Avoid giving extensions of time on assignments.
  • Let the male students debate and voice opinions. They love that. 
  • Rebroadcast answers by saying: "Salah, what do you think Hassan meant when he said . . . .?"
  • Consider sitting down with students to create a circle of conversation.
  • Create a phone use policy (and enforce it).
  • Have students read and parse the slides.
  • Specifically cue information students should include in their notes.
  • Add drama and overplay my behavior.
  • Make first hour of class more fast paced and energized. 
  • Use a more authoritarian approach with the male students who will take a mile, if given an inch.
  • Use group work.
  • End with a bang, not a whimper.

I am putting these suggestions here so I can refer to them easily in the future. 

To implement a number of his suggestions, I need to be more selective about the topics we cover in class and the depth of coverage of each topic.  I need to create more time for pure exploration on the part of students.

I find comfort in knowing that the coming weeks will be a lot more interesting for me and the students. The curriculum finally allows for that. 

But, I am thankful Chris attended one of the classes I find most challenging.  And, I have asked if I can see him teach.  That may give me some more concrete examples of ways to foster more student engagement. 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Week 5: The Client Interview

Getting Students to Think Like Baby Lawyers

In lab this week, students conducted an interview of our client.  As I noted in my last posting, my good friend, Jessica, played the role of Fatma Alhamad, the co-owner of three gourmet chocolate shops in Qatar. She and her husband, Mohammed, want a competitor to quit using the same trade name, "The Chocolate Drops," and a similar trademark in his own chocolate shop business.  That's the basic outline of the simulation.

To supplement these facts, I have provided students with memos either from me or the "senior associate" about the client, the alleged infringer, and the chocolate industry. With this background information, I required them to draft ten questions for the client.  

The exercise helps students develop listening, note-taking, summarizing, strategic planning, and questioning skills. 

The students in the male section met first with the client.  I was excited to see that most of the students asked questions.  Most of the questions were quite good. They still need to work on listening skills.  I could tell because they often asked the same question twice.  In other words, they were not listening to each other or to the client's answer. 

The students in the female section went next. But, because they are a more introverted group, we discussed possible questions using the outline shown below.  With that help, they also did a great job of interviewing the client.

Jessica is a talented role-player and comes up with ideas I would not consider.  She is good about integrating technology in the simulation by giving facts tied to Facebook reviews, Snapchat and Instagram photos, and misdirection to the competitor's store caused by the use of Google Maps.  

I've told students that they are beginning to see how the rules of the applicable law shape the facts you hope to get -- no pray for -- from the client.  When you get a good fact, you want to kiss it. 

This week, they will continue to summarize the interview using their notes and the client-related memos they already have.

They should cover the following topics:

      Name of Client
o   Full trade name
o   Short trade name (if any)
  Name of possible infringer
o   Tradename
  Trade Name
o   Registration
o   First Use
  Trade Mark
o   Registration
o   Possible similarities between marks
o   Differences in the marks
   Consumer Confusion
o   Confusion about different manufacturers
§  Evidence of actual customer confusion
o   Unfair competition
o   Damage to hard-earned reputation
    Nature of client’s business
o   Industry
o   Number of locations
o   Merchandise
§  Porto Arabia
§  Gate Mall
§  Q Mall when it opens
§  Online sales
o   Store format and trade dress
o   Sales Strategies and Target Market
§  Porto Arabia
§  Gate Mall
§  Q Mall when it opens
§  Online sales
o   Revenue
o   Advertising, Promotions, and Sponsorships
         Goals and objectives for this problem.
         Overarching business goals
         Next steps
o   Needed research
o   Needed documents

o   Date of next meeting

Friday, March 10, 2017

Week 4: The Fun Begins

Meeting with the "Partner"

This week I began distributing to students legal memos on "firm" letterhead. The firm name is: Suliman, Alwahaibi & Young, LL.C. 

The first memo, one of three to date, described my initial meeting with the "clients," Fatma and Mohammed Alhamad.  They own a specialty chocolate shop at three different locations in Doha.  A competitor is using the same trade name and a similar logo.  The trade name is "The Chocolate Drops."
The second memo provided some background information on the competitor and the competing product line, store, trade name, and trademark.  The third memo asked the students, playing the role of "junior associates," to attend a meeting with me, playing the law firm "partner." You see, I need to give them their legal research and writing assignments. 

Next week, the will get another memo from the "senior associate," Maryam, who will describe the chocolate industry, which I learned uses child labor on cocoa farms in Africa. Students will focus on this client simulation for the remaining weeks of the semester.

I try to dole out the client file in a way similar to actual practice. It evolves over time as a lawyer does more factual research. 

I want them to begin to understand how the law and facts interact.  I want them to begin to think of the facts that they need in order to make a case for trade name and trademark infringement under Qatari law. 

In the last lab of Week 4 (painfully scheduled from 5 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday), my male students met with the partner (me) to discuss the assignment.  I gave them a scaffold for listening to the meeting. Afterwards, they summarized the meeting for a possible score of 2 points. 

First, I had to explain the staffing structure of law firms. Many of them did not understand the concept of a law firm partner and won't experience law firm practice until their externship during their last semester as an undergraduate law student. I drew a pyramid and then explained that the work flows down from partner to junior associate; the money flows up from associate billings to partner profits. They got that and smiled. 

Of course students were nervous. I doubt any other law school class creates this type of active learning exercise for them. Last semester, I noticed that by the third meeting with a guest role-player, students got very good about asking questions.They now understood the game and its purpose. We will see if these new students also gain confidence over the arc of the course.  

Next week, they interview the "client," who is played by my friend and colleague, Jessica. Later still, they will interview a "confused consumer" played by my driver, Ashif. I love how these role-players interpret the roles. They often make me laugh out loud in class with delight at their creativity. Ashif was a little off-balance when he first faced a room of lovely Qatari women. Even so, he did a terrific job. In fact, last semester, one student thought it was all real. 

In the meantime, I got some blazingly smart questions from about five male students who are emerging as intellectual class leaders. Today, I will send them an email showing them I was paying attention.  I love to see brains work. 

Next week, I meet with the female students to give them their assignment.  I hope they are equally engaged with the simulation. 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Week 3: Learning to Brief a Case

The Week of Chester, the Parrot

Students are still enrolling in the course. So, we continue to provide background information as everyone continues to settle in.  This week we covered some important topics, but mostly through lecture (my least favorite way to teach).  

We cover:

  • Primary versus secondary sources of law. 
  • Binding versus persuasive precedent in the common law system.
  • The Qatari legal system and the role of case law.
  • The Qatar International Court and Dispute Resolution Center.
  • Case briefing.
  • The professional value of competence as a lawyer.
  • What a partner or a judge expects from a lawyer's writing.
  • Bracket use in quotations.
  • Ellipses dot use in quotations.
  • And, how to read and brief a case carefully.
It's ambitious coverage, and I often wonder how much of it they really understand. Luckily, we cover it several times throughout this course and the required Legal Writing II course.

We use Conti vs. ASPCA as the first case students work with and brief.  A New York judge ruled on who owns a parrot, Chester, that escaped captivity.  It must decide if the parrot is a wild, tamed, or domesticated animal.  If a wild animal, the new owner gets to keep the parrot.  If the parrot is tamed or domesticated, the original owner deserves its return.  

I like working with this case.  My slides feature the back story on four cited cases involving a diamond ring, a sea lion, geese, and a canary. I do a lot of pantomime.

The Conti case helps students begin to understand rule synthesis in a common law tradition.  They struggle with the idea of cases as precedent.  But, I am getting better at offering them support by providing more scaffolding for their work.  They respond better if they know exactly what I want. I guess all students do. 

This week, I asked students to read the case out loud, with each student reading a paragraph.  It helps me assess their English language reading skills.  About a third of the class, struggles with the reading.  Nearly all the students stumble over the Latin-origin English words: received, reviewed, asserted, decided   . . . .

And, it is hard to know how much of spoken English they understand.  They consume a lot of U.S. media, especially movies. But, they still have limited vocabularies. As we build trust, they may take up my invitation to ask when they do not understand a word I have used.

In light of these communication barriers, I am even more focused on multiple information absorption styles.  I give them readings, charts, photos (lots of photos), short lectures, buzz group discussion work, fun online quizzes, and video to try to close the communication gap.  

I cannot end this post without saying that these students have very good listening skills.  I wonder if they are part of a story-telling tradition that some folks say enhances this information absorption style. The brain builds for it at a young age. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Week 2: Settling into the Semester

My Bright and Shiny Students

This second week of the semester marks the first week in which we hold all classes, labs, and office hours.  Students are also finalizing schedules.   We are beginning to know how the semester will feel and be.  It will be a busy one for me again.  

I have two admissions to make.  First, I needed another week of vacation.  Here in Doha, unlike the U.S., we only have about two weeks of vacation between semesters.  This job is more demanding than teaching law in the U.S., so I miss those extra couple of weeks to rest and catch up.  Of course, I created some of my suffering by traveling to Malaysia and Taiwan during the break and then having to nurse a respiratory infection when I got back.  So, as we move through the next two weeks, I plan to assume we are all feeling a little sluggish.  

Here's my second admission.  I've got great students in both sections.  They are all bright and shiny, and I can't wait to see what they will do over they semester. 

My male section consists of several older students who also work and have families.  They pack all their classes into two days of the week.  Last night, we had a lab from 5 to 6:50 p.m.  I was sure I would have a hard time keeping them awake and engaged.  Instead, they brought a lot of energy to the room.  

My female section is predictably prepared and focused.  I love the opportunity to build relationships with each one of them.  They killed (I mean really killed) the practice exercise on quotation marks.   They also zipped through the lesson on legal research finding the Qatari trademark law in two databases with ease.  I see them in an hour to discuss the different types of legal systems.

As it turns out, Qatar has one of the most complex legal systems in the world.  It's a mix of common law, civil law, Muslim law, and customary (or tribal) law.   That system reflects the country's colonial history and its geographic location.  

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Week 1: Starting Again

A New Semester Comes to Qatar University

Today, I am teaching my first class in my fourth semester at QU.  In other posts, I have described my students and how much I love and respect them here.  Each semester, of course, brings new students with new challenges, fears, motivation, grit, and desires for success in the class.

I always "hold space" for what will unfold over the next several months.  I never make assumptions, because the classroom is a dynamic place that depends on me, but also on the leaders and pacesetters in the class. It also depends on the students who struggle to grasp legal writing in English as a second language.

Here's wishing us all a happy, demanding, and successful semester.

* I have permission to use the photos included in this blog.  

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Manifesting Change

"Calling it In from the Universe"

As part of my goal setting process at the beginning of this year, I reviewed the materials I assembled during my three coaching programs offered by Christine Kane.  One of her workbook tools asked me to answer this question: "What will you have created/manifested/attracted in the upcoming year? The tool asked me to list ten things.

I must have filled out this "intention and clarity" tool during the February 2015 retreat in Asheville, North Carolina.  At that time, I had applied for the job at Qatar University, but I did not have a job offer. I had visited Dubai in December 2014, and I knew I wanted a job in the Arab Gulf region.  

Here is what I put on the list:

  • New circle of close colleagues.
  • New circle of expat friends.
  • Inroads into Qatari culture.
  • Travel in Asia.
  • New fitness level.
  • New home furnishings.
  • New car,
  • New student relationships.
  • New diet.
  • More cultural life. 
So let me tell you what did manifest in my life this past year.

New Colleagues:

I am now a member of the faculty of the Qatar University College of Law. That faculty is four times the size of ASL's law faculty. My colleagues have lived in all parts of the world; pursued education in prestigious universities in the US, England, and elsewhere; speak two or more languages; practice law in civil, common, and mixed law systems; bring a global perspective to teaching; can talk about international laws, treaties, and conventions with ease; and welcomed me into their intellectual arms.  Most of them have Ph.Ds, so I'm the dumb one in the bunch. 

New Expat Friends:

It always takes time to make new friends, but here, I just listen for a US, English, Canadian, Australian, or New Zealand accent.  If I find a person with that accent, I invite him or her to my next "beach house party."  

I love the different experiences they bring into every conversation. I will be sad when they rotate home, but then I will just have to make more friends.  Also, my book club consists of strong, well-educated women who provide another safe harbor here.

Qatari Culture:

I am still learning how to navigate this "high context" culture. 

kissed a puppy when I was invited by a student to her farm. In doing so, I made a very big cultural mistake, and I knew it while I was doing it. Even so, I needed the puppy love. Most people in the Arab countries do not keep dogs as inside pets. They do keep them outside as work or guard dogs. Blogger Daniel Pipes has one theory about this dislike for dogs, but my research shows various explanations and not much agreement.

I wore the wrong thing to a student's engagement party.  I was miserably under-dressed.   

I've learned to ask more questions.  I wore the right thing to a recent student's wedding, but had to ask someone about every element of the all-women event, including when I should go home.  
I am reading books on Islam, because it plays an important role in the Qatari culture.  I recently finished a book on fatwas for women, a 1996 book published in Saudi Arabia.  It gave me deeper insight into the lives of my women students.

I talk to my students and ask them about their lives as young women living here. 

Not speaking Arabic makes me miss out on many things, but I do know a handful of words.

Travel in Asia:

I was a bit surprised to see this item on the list.  But, I have always wanted to travel to Thailand.  I spent two weeks there this past summer.  It exceeded all my expectations.  

Later this week, I am off to Malaysia and then to Taiwan.

New fitness level:

This week, I started Week 23 of my fitness program.  Last week, Heidi (my accountability buddy) and I did four sets of wall squats for 60 seconds each.  When we started the program in July, we could do 20 seconds each.  That is tangible progress.

New home furnishings:

In April, I moved into a housing complex called Qanat Quatier in The Pearl.  The complex is built to look like Venice, Italy.  It has a private beach on the Arabian Gulf and an increasing number or restaurants and shops. A gym opened this past month.  A yoga studio should open soon.

My sun-filled, top-floor, one bedroom apartment is smallish, but sufficient.  I have a nice balcony and two bathrooms.

When the University's housing department told me I would be moving there, I immediately began scouting home furnishings fit for a beach house.  I just love it.

I am right across the street from the Porto Arabia harbor, with its yachts, shops, restaurants, paddle board outfitters, and walkways.

New car:

I did leave my new car behind in Grundy under the care of my personal assistant, Brenda.

Here, I rely on a driver, Ashif, to get me through the chaotic and dangerous Doha traffic. I love leaving all the stress to him.  I told him this week, that I am starting to act like a baby. As soon as I crawl into the back seat, I start to yawn. Maybe in a few months, I'll start napping in the car.

New student relationships:

I recently posted about how much I love my Qatari students. I feel honored to be working with them knowing that they are the future leaders of Qatar's legal community.

New diet:

Can you say shawarma, lamb kebab, beef kofta, baba ghanoush, fatoush, kebbeh, dates, pomegranate seeds, labneh, mezze, lentil soup, matboha, hummus, and taboulah?

I do love Arabic food as long as it does not involve a lot of rice, sweets, or sugary beverages.  That limitation still leaves a lot of high-flavor foods, including many grilled meats. 

One of my favorite drinks is a lemon-mint (sans sugar syrup). 

People often offer you cardamon-flavored Arabic coffee as a sign of hospitality. They serve it out of a long-lipped pot into small handle-less cups.

More cultural life:

I like being back in a city with more cultural offerings, including live music, museum exhibits, festivals, tennis tournaments, camel racing, and other events, including a spring beauty contest for sheep.

This past week-end, I returned to the Museum of Islamic Art to view an exhibit of Chinese art and sculpture. Outside the museum, mostly Asian expats had stalls full of crafts and street food. 

I also love exploring the souk. 


So, bam!  I made it all happen.  This is not Grundy, Virginia.  

Now, what goes on the list for 2017?

* I have permission from the people shown in the photographs to use the photos in this post.