Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Two Cities In the Making

What should we build for the future. Two cities are currently in the making that will last for the coming 15 years or so. Two multi-billion dollar investments to build cities the size of new york.

The first is said to be built to international standards. It has a Villas district with beautiful big houses with private pools and close to large golf courses. It will have a fancy financial district with neighbouring parks and recreational centers. The city center will have pretty office buildings and big brand shops. Restaurants look like you are in metropolis Paris. And it will ofcourse have schools and branches of big universities.

The second is said to be a new hub of education, technology, business, and culture. It will have an airport district, an IT district, a University district, and a Bio Tech district.
It will be a green city that will use renewable sources of energy, wind, solar, and geothermal. It will also be a green city in the sense that it will be also a city of parks and open green spaces.

One of these cities will be in Egypt and the other will be in India.

Take a few minutes to look at these two short clips to see how each country is shaping its future.

The Band's Visit

In low-tech theater in down town Palo Alto, i spent little less than a couple of hours with a couple of friends and a couple of their friends, watching an Israeli movie about an Egyptian Police music band lost in a remote town in Israel.

Egyptian roles where played by Palestinian actors, who despite having trouble with the accent, looked very Egyptian (ta7ya el we7da el 3arabia).

The movie was not heavy on politics, if saying that Israelis would very smoothly welcome Egyptians to their homes is not a political statement.

For a Better understanding of the state of the world

This is like discovering a treasure - that's what you get when you watch TEDTalks :).

Watch this jaw-dropping presentation by the brilliant Hans Rosling at TED and then enjoy a better understanding of how the world has been developing at

Make sure to check out the Human Development Trends 2005 interactive presentation, and explore the world through their amazing trendalizer

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Israel and the Electric Car

While everyone in the Middle East world is still fixed on oil, and maybe natural gas, as the sources of energy, everyone in the US is talking about alternative sources for energy and clean technology. The exception of course is Israel.

In an economist article about how tech entrepreneurs are switching to green entrepreneurs, they highlighted Shai Agassi, 39, who was set to be SAP's next CEO but choose to start his own venture BetterPlace that focuses on Electric Cars.

The interesting thing, is that Shai has joined a partnership with Renault and his Israeli Government to bring electric cars to Israel aiming at a 100% gasoline free Israel. Shai has managed to secure $100 million of funding from Israel Corp. and the first car is expected to hit the streets by 2009 aiming at mass production by 2010.

It's interesting how both the Arabs and Israeli choose to react differently. The Arabs, finally knowing that oil will not be there for every for them to bank on it, started thinking of creating other industries like tourism, finance, and freight. Israel on the other decided to go after technological lead of the emerging forms of energy whether electric, wind, or solar.

Media Fuels Hartred "Both Ways"

When i met my American friend i told him i am angry at Egypt, Israel, and the US. He told me what has happened for that, and i told him that is exactly the problem. He doesn't know what has happened.

While the Arab world is at rage in response to the late Israeli attacks on Gaza and the killing of over 120 palestinians including children, women, and elderly. It was barely covered in the US media. I switched between Fox and CNN hoping I will see any coverage but there was none. On the other side, scores of famous singers were teaming up to, rightfully, express the grief and sense of humilation that arabs and muslims are feeling.

But on Thursday, as i was passing by upper arbuckle, our small launge at the GSB, i noticed some people standing next to the big LCD screens watching CNN's breaking news about the Jerusalem attacks on 8 Israeli students. This wasn't a one shot coverage, the CNN would switch to the breaking news quite frequently that day. I wasn't surprised when I overheard some of my classmates discussing the event. I turned to what i assume is a moderate newspaper to see what they are covering and shockingly i couldn't find any coverage on their main page.

What a disconnect?! How can this do anything but ignite each side's hostile feelings and call for blind fury. Unless both sides can see the suffering of the other, there are almost no chances that this will come to an end.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Hahaha ... Crazy Soccer !!!!

Why does each eye see the world differently?

If you pick Abdullah from a coffee shop in Cairo or Akbar from a busy street in Kabul, and ask them how they feel about the Serbs vigerous opposition to Kosovo's independance, what will they say? Probably not very different than what they would have said a few years earlier about Russia's veroucious resistance to Chechnia's independance.

Now take that same Abduallah or that devot Akbar and ask them about how they feel about the American's advocation for Kurds independence in northern Iraq or the autonomy granted to Southern Sudan that could lead to independences. You won't be surprised to hear reference to conspiracy theories and western plans for a new middle east.

But it is not just Adbuallah and Akbar that seem to have double standards depending on which side they are ...

A couple of days ago I was listening to a podcast from BBC world's news. It was covering Turkey's invasion of northern Iraq in chase of Kurds. They were interviewing some foreign affairs person who in his comments said something along the lines of "Turkey has to realize that it many conflicts are better solved by diplomacy rather than military enforcement". This is someone talking about solving problems with "Iraq" through "Diplomacy" not "War". Now the question is which country do you think this person represents?

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Cometitive Instinct + Smartness + Stamina

Yesterday we had Bruce Dulnevie in our Entrepreneurship & VC class. Bruce is one of the founding partners of Benchmark Capital, the VC firm behind companies like eBya, Palm, and AOL.

When asked about what pattern he has seen in successful return his reply was:

1. Competitive instinct
2. Smartness - they give u the answer to ur question right away
3. Stamina - this is no easy trip

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Why not Start Over?

I am feeling there are certain things I would have enjoyed doing while I was here for the past 18 months, but for some reason or another I didn't end up doing them. Things like discussing whether Hijab's importance with that EE student from Iran, organizing that tennis over music day, bumping into this CS student with a pony tail that is a little short on social skills but VC's are giving $5 million, asking my intercontinental friends to come and get squeezed in my little living room to watch a French movie, or simply going up to the city more often and enjoying its more lively spirit.

I have four months to go. They wouldn't seem little time. I could have just came for four months and would be pumped up to do the above and more. However, the fact that I've been here 18 months places some considerable inertia.

So the challenge is to try to forget all about these 4 months and imagine I just set foot at the GSB.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Can Egypt Attract Health Tourism?

It's a growing industry that in 2000 was estimated at more than $40 billion and was growing at 20%. It is by countries like India, Thailand, South Africa, and Jordan. Jordan attracted 126,000 patients generating more than $600,000. I am continuously impressed by what Jordanians are doing.

Travelers come from different places for different reasons; from developed country like the US and the UK because of the high cost of health care or the long waiting lists; from underdeveloped countries seeking health services at their more developed neighbours; and from rich oil countries seeking best in class health treatment.

My guess is that Egypt have some potential in this domain. I bet we have highly qualified doctors. We have lots of destinations in Egypt that can provide a haven for recovery. We do have the money to make the investments. What do we lack?

I always hear how bad Egypt is in Nursing. I think if we can solve this problem we stand a good chance of creating a new considerable source of national income.