Don's diary

July 23, 1999


I am on my way to Abu Dhabi to deliver a five-day training package on police management skills for women to the city's policewomen. With little knowledge of the levels of educational attainment or policing duties in the United Arab Emirates I have compiled five PowerPoint presentations covering managing strategy, people, change, information and projects.


I spend today going over my material, purchasing lemons and tonic (essential academic tools) acclimatising to the heat (113°F) and waiting for my interpreter. Fadil finally turns up at 9pm and we discuss the coming week. We decide that I should be in the hotel lobby at 8am tomorrow and hope.


In the lobby at 8am and, sure enough, my driver, Said, arrives and I am whisked off to the police HQ. After much to-ing and fro-ing the training session is opened, photographs are taken and an interview given to the local paper - the journalist states that he would like to "marry into my family", which apparently is a compliment.


Said arrives promptly at 7.30am. I continue with the strategic management session. Two points surface: the sensitive issue of changing the police uniform to suit women and the changing nature of crime in the Emirates.


Today's session is on managing people, and I am encouraged to hear that there are some forward-thinking managers in such a restrictive culture. After the session, during which the women ask to have their course certificates in English, I spend some time designing a certificate in Microsoft PowerPoint.


The managing change session today has prompted much discussion about setting up a women's committee specifically to oversee policewomen's needs, development and training. There is great excitement because, yesterday, following the teaching session, three of the officers stopped at a road accident (all too frequent in Abu Dhabi) and assisted the traffic police. This is not usually done and the women acquitted themselves extremely well. I was asked if they could explain the incident to the whole class.


The final teaching day is given over to managing information, a short exam and an evaluation session. The all-important award ceremony sees the women receive both an English and Arabic version of the certificate.

I spend an hour with the colonel in charge of planning and training to discuss proposed changes in women's policing together with the additional work he wants me to undertake.

So, it's back to the hotel for a large G&T and to reflect on the only two faux pas committed this week - taking a cup in the left hand and attempting to shake hands with someone who had just abluted for prayer.

Lynne Walley is a senior lecturer at Staffordshire University Business School.

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