Archive for the ‘Relocating to Dubai’ Category

An Arabian Odyssey – An 18 day business trip to the Middle East

August 13, 2013


For those of you who don’t know, I am the Managing Director of m2r Ltd and we devote most of our time to working with companies in the Middle East, helping them fill critical roles. I have been traveling, virtually every 4 months to the region to see our clients and of course, drum up new business. Normally I tend to base myself in just one location but this time I decided to ramp things up a little. Below is what I got up to on my travels:

The master plan this time around was to visit 4 countries in 18 days, meeting as many companies as humanly possible and showcasing not only my company but also Wakefield.

On the 25th April, armed with my suitcase, numerous folders, business cards and a bad back, I set off. The bad back was not a planned accompaniment, I hasten to add.

After a 7 hour wait in Dubai airport (exactly the same time as it took to actually fly to Dubai), I arrived at my first destination, Muscat in Oman. This was my first ever visit to Oman and one I was looking forward to. Unfortunately, as well as my unwanted bad back, I also appeared to have brought the UK weather with me. Well, the rain at least.
I had arranged 6 meetings in Muscat, 2 with current clients (our only 2 in Oman) and 4 were new business. However, I always start any business trip with a day off. I land at the beginning of the weekend, giving myself one day to get sorted out. I have learnt from bitter experience that jumping straight into meetings without a day’s preparation and reoccupation is never the best idea.

Muscat Corniche

Muscat Corniche


With typical Middle Eastern hospitality, I was invited to spend my day off with the COO from one of my clients who acted as my tourist guide and showed me around Muscat. I try to make a point of seeing as much of a country as I can, without it turning into a Judith Chalmers holiday programme. As we are in the business of expatriation, I cannot ethically discuss an opportunity in another country if I have never actually been myself. I am asking people to change their whole life and therefore I need to be able to give them as much information as possible. It really amazes me how many organisations who do business overseas never actually bother to meet their clients. If it too much hassle, then seriously, do something else.
Old Muttrah Souk

Old Muttrah Souk


A trick I always use is to start a business trip with a current client meeting, get warmed up first and test the pitch and get some local market knowledge. I always tell them where I am going and whom I am seeing, invariably I will pick up some nuggets and sometimes I can get two or three new meetings from referrals from my first one. I then build up to the really important new business meetings, the ones that can turn a trip from good to great. My first trip to Oman ended up this way.
An Omani fishing village

An Omani fishing village


Oman, like most countries in the GCC are heavily focussed on the nationalisation of jobs and therefore getting expat visas can be difficult. This information is essential for my line of business.
After some exploratory appointments where the aim of the game is to build that new relationship by sitting with decision makers without being too pushy and ‘salesy’, I ended up at my key meeting of my short stint in Oman.

I was told that the Middle East is a ‘village’ and should be viewed as such. This never really struck home until this particular trip. In my final meeting of the day, with another brand new client, it transpired that not five minutes before I turned up, one of their partner companies in Dubai had called and suggested they use m2r for their recruitment. The two on the phone had no idea I was literally walking into the building in Muscat. It was a pure coincidence but fantastic for me. After a great meeting I walked out with a signed agreement, and a raft of positions within oil & gas training. I am a big believer in making your own luck and this was proof. So a great end to the day and set the precedence for the rest of the trip.

Presenting 'Experience Wakefield' to Primedia Oman

Presenting ‘Experience Wakefield’ to Primedia Oman


My initial observation was that Oman, as well as being the most mountainous country in the GCC, is also the most laid back. Driving is not as suicidal as in, say, Saudi Arabia and no one uses their horn. The Omani people are excellent hosts and I can see why the expatriate community love living there.

I left Oman, quickly followed by the rain and headed off to Bahrain, a 90 minute hop. I will certainly be returning to the Sultanate as I see a lot of potential and the feedback I received was extremely positive. Just the effort of travelling 3500 miles to see companies can sometimes secure the business. You then have to deliver.

Bahrain is a country I know very well. I have worked with companies there for the past 5 years and been to the island over 20 times. We handle the recruitment needs for most of the major Bahraini trading families, the Formula One circuit and a couple of 5* hotels and our client list just keeps growing.

Contrary to the international new reports, Bahrain is not a war zone, I didn’t need an escort or a tin hat. In fact I walked around, on my own! With 20 appointments in Bahrain in 4 days and lots of business to be done, it is all go, from dawn til dusk every day, seeing clients, meeting clients socially and of course, pitching for new business. I am pretty well known there and I am glad to say that my reputation does precede me, in a positive manner. I deal with quite a few large Bahraini families and due to the culture, they all know each other and share information. Therefore I have to be careful about delivering a consistently exemplary service as bad news, in such a small island, can travel very fast.

The hospitality I receive from my regular clients in Bahrain always humbles me. Nothing is too much and help is always at hand if I need it. My name is passed around between companies and we receive a lot of business through referrals now. Obviously to get to this level has taken a lot of hard work. This time I was invited to the house of the Chairman of one of the most well respected companies in Bahrain. His house, or should I say, small palace, was incredible. I was treated to a sumptuous meal, wonderful company and at the end a gift as a thank you for the work I had been doing. Most business is done over dinner / drinks so these events for me are treated as an opportunity to really build the bond. In Arabic culture, friendship comes first, then business.

Flooding in Bab el-Bahrain Souk, Bahrain

Flooding in Bab el-Bahrain Souk, Bahrain

I also take gifts for my clients, as a token of gratitude for the business they give me. I know that I have absolutely no right to work with them and our relationship only flourishes due to the service we provide. Why else would a company 3500 miles away give us vacancies when there are local recruiters that they could use? Currently in the Middle East, it is the place where I feel most at home, probably due to the size of the country and the relationships I have developed there. Having lived in Wakefield all my life, I am not a great lover of huge cities and the personalities that invariably end up there.

I left Bahrain after a great four days, my suitcase weight was increasing rapidly due to the gifts I was amassing, from F1 memorabilia to cufflinks and fold up binoculars, hopefully someone would present me with another travel case as a present pretty soon! Thankfully, the rain (which flooded the capital whilst I was there) seemed to have given up following me, my poor back unfortunately made it through immigration. Damn.

Country number 3 was Saudi Arabia. Size of Western Europe, very secretive and a nightmare to get in. Well, by air at least. You can drive to Saudi from Bahrain, across the King Fahd Causeway, a 16 mile long bridge across the Arabian Gulf. In their wisdom, the Saudi government have decided that on a new visa, entry has to be by air. So a 30 minute drive can turn into several hour long trek, of which only 20 minutes is in the air. It took me 2 hours to clear immigration in Dammam Airport, Saudi Arabia. Getting into Saudi through the airport is extremely stressful but my advice for anyone wishing to do business in Saudi is just grin and bear it.

Sofitel Hotel, Al Khobar along side a beautiful mosque

Sofitel Hotel, Al Khobar along side a beautiful mosque

Due to the sheer size of the country and awful traffic, it is difficult to cram lots of meetings into one day. Also, in true Arabian fashion, meetings to tend to get rearranged at the last minute so remember to exercise patience, be flexible and appreciate that this is just how things are done. So, I started my Saudi leg with 5 meetings and ended up with 7. I always make people aware that I will be in a certain place at a certain time and by providing a local number, I invariably get calls from companies wishing to meet me. The local British Embassy Trade Office are a great source of information and I have a good relationship with them, so when a company needs a recruitment firm, I often get passed the details.

Again, Saudi has a tarnished reputation. But this is generally created by people who have never been and base their opinions on one sided journalism and hearsay. I like the Kingdom. It is friendly, crime free and I do not feel threatened or intimidated at all. Admittedly my experience in only of the Eastern Province but it is still more than most people. All the clients I work with are very accommodating and currently, make up around 50% of our overall revenue. Yes, it is a pain to get in and constant follow up is needed but the rewards are amazing.
We work with a large number of companies in Saudi Arabia, mainly in the Eastern Province but also in Riyadh and across in Jeddah. Again, I am always afforded unbelievable hospitality and nothing is too much trouble. Of course, this level of relationship means you have to deliver. No excuses. This time I was taken out for dinner every single night, had 2 lunches in the space of 3 hours and presented with gifts that really drove home the hospitable nature of the Middle East and also how well we are respected by our clients. If it wasn’t for the call to prayer, where everything shuts, I would have received even more gifts. It can get rather embarrassing as our culture is too cynical to accept grand gestures.

Dammam Heritage Village

Dammam Heritage Village


Kabsa anyone?

Kabsa anyone?


By the time I left Saudi, I had picked up work with 2 new clients, confirmed a number of projects with current clients and the vacancy count before arriving in Dubai stood at over 500. So the stress of getting in and constantly chasing clients to reconfirm appointments was certainly worth the effort. Again, leaving Saudi is just as traumatic as arriving. Another 2 hours wasted in immigration, just to leave!

Dubai from the Air

Dubai from the Air


My final stop was Dubai. A total and utter contrast to Saudi Arabia. Bold and brash, Dubai is still a huge draw and thousands of British expats live there. I finished the trip with another 3 meetings, one was a continuation of a meeting in Saudi but this time at the head office. Again, they were very grateful that I had bothered to make the effort.
A perfect representation of all things Dubai.

A perfect representation of all things Dubai.


So, after 18 days, was it worth the effort? My back had been given a state burial somewhere in Saudi, I was exhausted and missing home. The results are below:
• 30 meetings
• 18 days
• 4 countries
• Over 7000 miles travelled
• 40% new business appointments
• Over £200k worth of recruitment projects secured / won

Let’s put it like this – I am back in September to do it all over again…..

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Travel the world teaching English!

May 16, 2013

Teach English Overseas!
What is TEFL and Why is it Right For Me?

In contrast to popular opinion TEFL is not a range of non-stick pans, but a qualification that will allow you to teach English abroad. To avoid confusion, TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) can also be referred to as TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) – acronyms aside, both result in a qualification that will allow you to boost your CV, learn new skills, and get paid to travel the world!

If you’re new to TEFL, here are answers to some frequently asked questions about the world of teaching English abroad:

Why do I need a TEFL qualification when I already speak English?

You might speak fluent English but what about when a student asks you to explain the rules of the present perfect tense? A TEFL qualification will not only guide you through the tricky bits of English grammar and how to teach it but it is also a requirement demanded by TEFL employers.

Getting involved in TEFL is becoming extremely popular meaning that it is also becoming quite a competitive market. Gone are the days where you can jet-off to an exotic destination and pick up a teaching job no problem, you now need to set yourself apart from the crowd! Many employers (especially those based in Middle East) are now demanding a minimum of 100 hours of TEFL training from a recognised TEFL provider. It’s therefore really important to make sure that you use an established TEFL course provider (look at how long they’ve been in the industry and also their accreditation).

How Can I Get Qualified?

There are three ways to get TEFL qualified – online or classroom-based courses, or a combination of the two.

Why online?
Getting TEFL qualified online means you can study for your TEFL course at a time to suit you, there aren’t any classes to attend or submission deadlines – you can study from anywhere in the world at your own pace! Perfect for a busy student!

Why classroom?

Classroom courses are the best way to put your hard-earned teaching skills into practice! The relaxed atmosphere amongst other TEFL teachers in training acts as a trial run before you get out there and take up your first teaching position.

TEFL is measured in hours; a qualification can therefore be anything from 20 hours to 140 (or more!) meaning you can choose how qualified you are.

Do I need to speak the local language?

This is one of the most commonly asked questions – and the answer is no! Although it might sound like a daunting prospect – moving from your home country where everyone around you speaks a language that you understand – the main aim for English language learners is to be totally immersed in the new language. It also provides YOU with the opportunity to completely immerse yourself in a new community and culture!

How do I get a job?

Once you’re qualified you can start applying for teaching positions all over the world, including the Middle East. Teaching contracts tend to be from 8 months to a year which you can apply by visiting http://www.m2rglobal.com/, emailing info@m2rglobal.com or calling 0845 3884145.

Which TEFL course provider should I choose?

m2r recommends i-to-i TEFL (based in the UK) and have agreed a rolling 10% discount on all course enrolments via m2r Ltd. Simply visit their site and enter the code M2R when prompted during the checkout process (please note, this code is valid for bookings made online). Click here to get qualified!

• Experience
o Established in 1994, they pioneered the 20hr weekend classroom TEFL course and launched the first ever online TEFL course in 2001; therefore their TEFL qualifications are internationally recognized and respected and if needed they shall be around to re-issue your certificate if you lose it or require additional copies.
• Scale
o They have trained more than 135,000 TEFL teachers since 1994, and approximately 20 TEFL teachers graduate with i-to-i TEFL each day
o They have 65 tutors, each with over 5 years’ experience
• Global Reach
o They provide 20hr weekend classroom courses in 65x cities across 13x countries, including 39x towns and cities across the UK and Ireland.
o They have students from over 100 countries currently taking their online TEFL course
• Accreditation
o All of their TEFL courses are accredited by the Open and Distance Learning Quality Council (ODLQC) and they are an institutional member of IATEFL (Member ID 13848). IATEFL stands for the ‘International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language’
• Social Reach
o Their online ‘Chalkboard Community’ has more than 23,000 members, read other i-to-i TEFL’ers stories and feel free to share your own!

m2r recommends i-to-i TEFL (based in the UK) and have agreed a rolling 10% discount on all course enrolments via m2r Ltd. Simply visit their site and enter the code M2R when prompted during the checkout process (please note, this code is valid for bookings made online). Click here to get qualified!

Finally…why should I TEFL?

Teaching English abroad will really set you apart from other students and graduates when it comes to finding full-time employment after college. Here are a few skills that you’re guaranteed to pick up whilst teaching abroad and that are valued by employers worldwide:

• Management – teaching English abroad and commanding the attention of students will demonstrate that you have leadership skills.
• Patience – this might sound like a silly one – but your ability to see a task through and listen to your students (no matter how many times they ask you the same question) will go a long way for you in the world of work.
• Delivering a lesson – public speaking is one of the most feared activities but after a few months spent delivering lessons you’ll be an absolute expert on the matter!

To find out more about teaching English abroad visit www.onlinetefl.com (don’t forget to enter the offer code M2R during the checkout process to obtain a 10% discount on all TEFL course enrolments).

If I receive another irrelevant CV again……….

October 30, 2012
Fill more client vacancies in less time! from Munir Mamujee

Dear Hiring Manager. If you are fed up going through CVs, why not give us a call…..

October 30, 2012
Online Recruitment Advertising Solutions from m2r from Munir Mamujee

Fancy a career change?

October 30, 2012
Working for m2r ltd from Munir Mamujee

We are finally in!!! Welcome to our new office in Wakefield city centre. Still a work in progress but we are getting there…

July 16, 2012

m2r sponsors employee of the year award

June 28, 2012

We were delighted to sponsor this award at the Wakefield District Business Awards held on Tuesday. Take a look:

We win our fourth award!

June 28, 2012

We did it! On the evening of Tuesday 26th June, m2r beat some extremely tough competition to be crowned ‘International Business of the Year, 2012’.

A big thank you goes to all staff at m2r and alll our partners and clients for supporting us over the past year.

Take a look at the moment the winner is announced:

M2R TO HOLD SECOND RECRUITMENT WORKSHOP | News | Wakefield Trinity Wildcats | Official Website

January 5, 2012

Our latest press release courtesy of Wakefield Trinity Wildcats!

M2R TO HOLD SECOND RECRUITMENT WORKSHOP | News | Wakefield Trinity Wildcats | Official Website.

International customer service – 5 top tips

May 24, 2011

So, how do you keep clients happy when you are working across the globe?

Here are m2r’s top 5 tips on how to retain clients that span time zones, languages, culture and of course, distance.

1. Visit regularly

It is too easy to win the client and then resign yourself to emails and phone calls. You have to make the effort to keep developing the relationship. In cultures where friendship comes before business, if you do not want to invest in the time or effort to visit these companies, your relationship will be very short lived. Try to go at least once a quarter, depending on distance.

2. Take an interest in the country where the client is based

If the client thinks you are only after their money, again, no trust will be formed. You are a guest in their country and you need to make a concerted effort to understand the culture, at least some of the native language, the history and also, get a feel for the place. Don’t spend your time in the hotel or the bar, this will not lend itself to building client relationships.

3. Get them to take an interest in where you are from.

Building relationships is a two way process, so, involve your client by showing them your home town etc. They will feel that there is a bond and a trust and that you want to involve them in more than just a one dimensional relationship. I am from Wakefield and trust me, very few of my clients knew of Wakefield before I visited them! Now they now all about the place. It has really helped cement my relationship with them.

4. Get to know your clients as human beings.

This is especially prevalent in cultures where family comes first. If the client feels that you are only interested in their business, you may get one order but that will be it. Take an interest in their life. Again, if this does not interest you then maybe international business is not for you.

5. Go the extra mile

Companies want to work overseas, sometimes for the wrong reasons and this leads to cynicism towards your whole industry. Show your international clients that you are different by delivering exceptional service, maintaining close contact and taking a genuine interest in their business, themselves as individuals and their country. You need to act and appear that you are merely an overseas extension of their current supply chain, not just a person or company that is looking at just the financial reward. This will only lead to very short term gain and open the doors to your competition.

From my experience, using these five tips as a guide will put you head and shoulders above your competition and cement your business relationship with your overseas clients. Don’t forget to deliver what you say and always exceed expectations, but that goes without saying!