Everyone will be selling something, so should you

It’s needless to say in the world that we live in today where consumerism is at warp speed everyone will be selling something NEW.  And yes the operative word is NEW for a number of reasons one of which is we genuinely “like” NEW things that’s sets us apart for the past and we don’t mind “trying” NEW experiences, bungee jumping for example.

People of the 21st century are more daring, more adventurous, more open minded and less risk adverse which means they are more likely to buy new things from people they don’t know, directly.  Just look at Uber or AirBnB as prime examples of our “daringness”.  We dare to get in a strangers car and we dare to book other peoples homes as we travel from one city to another.    That’s pretty courageous if you ask me.

Today, you can buy anything, from anyone, anywhere using an online payment gateway and a credit card which means the buying experience is no longer limited by geography or brand but rather by our sense of curiosity.    Here is an example.  Let’s say you were out looking to buy a T-shirt and your options locally was cotton and one choice of solid color.  Now if someone from Malaysia introduced a T-shirt where it was made of nanotechnology particles that could adapt to your body temperature and change color to your preference and it was being offered at the same price would you try it?     Or you might see an organic plant based nutritional food alternative that tastes like chicken wouldn’t you want to taste it?  I’m sure you would.  All of these technologies are now within reach and as we move forward new inventions will not only intrigue our curiosity but also improve the quality of our lives.

So it is needless to say that the new MEconomy is a real buyers-market, offering better, faster, smarter and more cost effective products and services and as globalization continues to bring down barriers and minimizes regulations, access to new markets will expand opportunities for everyone and in this unprecedented era of openness and unrestricted borders the question then becomes how do you stand out in the crowd and more importantly how can you convince others to BUY from YOU.

In this section I will highlight 5 foundations you need to embody in order to become a recognizable and standalone BRAND with a strong digital footprint in the new MEconomy and you will soon realize that it involves MUCH MORE than just being able to post products on amazon or ebay, create a resume profile on Linkedin and or go after likes and followers on social media.     These rules will integrate your entire Digital Sales Strategy and will act as the backbone to bringing your brand to LIFE.


The foundation

The first step to building up your BRAND in the new MEconomy is to figure out who you are, what turns you on, what makes you get up early in the morning and go to bed late at night only to dream about waking up early in the morning so you can do what you love over again.  It’s about turning your passion your raison d’etre (reason for being on this planet) into a career and sustain it over a period of time.  It’s about “certainty” of knowing WHO YOU ARE and what your DNA is made of so, a) you will own the responsibility of brand development, b) you can out hustle your competitors and c) you won’t regret your decision later in life.     Because that’s what it’s going to take and unless you know who you are and love what you do you won’t be able to turn your passion into work, work into a business and business into a BRAND that revolves around YOU.  It’s just not going to be a successful venture.

Rising up, tapping into your potential and being true to yourself is also important in the eyes of your customers who in this day and age ONLY want to deal with the best of the best.   This part is key so if you haven’t figured out who you are just yet or if you are in that state of metaphysical and spiritual transition wanting to go from being ordinary to becoming extraordinary, take a few days or weeks off if you have to, or go on a road trip or lock yourself in a room or do whatever it takes to reveal the inner you, to you.

Let me start you off in the right direction by asking you to fill in the blank that I wish someone would have asked me in my younger years.    I want you to dig deep and complete this sentence.


When I look in the mirror I see  _____________________ (e.g an Engineer)  who is inspired to _________________________________ (e.g  build homes that cost under US $10,000) so I can ____________________________ (e.g make home ownership affordable for everyone) in order to  _________________________ (e.g help millions of people have a roof over their head)




When I look in the mirror I see  _____________________ (e.g a stay at home mom)  who is inspired to _____________________________ (e.g  make healthy eating delicious) so I can ____________________________ (e.g inspire other moms to make meals for their kids) in order to  _________________________ (e.g reduce the risk of obesity in children around the world).




When I look in the mirror I see  _____________________ (e.g an accountant)  who is inspired to _____________________ (e.g  run financial lecture series ) so I can ____________________________ (e.g educate others in how to increase wealth) in order to  _________________________ (e.g avoid living in poverty at old age).


Be absolutely specific and more importantly be brutally honest with yourself.   These few lines are what we commonly refer to as “soul searching”.    I am challenging you on this because in the new MEconomy you need to stand out and this one simple statement will define who you are, what you want to do in life, what is your offering and what customers can expect from you as they agree to do business with you.

Once you have figured out your passion in life and have defined a “problem / solution” statement you will then need to present domain expertise, authenticity in your offering, compassion towards others and hustle as 4 key benchmarks of selling in the new MEconomy.


Domain expertise / figure of authority

The first thing in order to become an authority and respected “go to” person will be to demonstrate domain expertise.   The way to do that online is to create a digital foot print with clear business visibility (CBV) on the internet radar.   So there is no point hiding your skills, knowledge, knowhow, proficiency, and experience and make sure you drop the ego in thinking that if people want to do business with me they will come to me.

In todays 900 channel world and peoples 2 second attention span if you are not front and center all the time, you are nowhere.

To build up domain expertise means having massive amounts of content online that when I search google for your name, industry, country, and or area of focus your digital track record will lead me to YOU and hopefully a point of contact (your AIO).   On the other hand, if I search Google and all I find are pictures of you partying or find irrelevant content that is not associated to your domain expertise I probably won’t take you serious let alone attempt at trying to do business with you or your company.  If you are not found online in the right way, you have no domain expertise and you will need to change that which is why with AIOconnect we have not only search engine optimized each and every profile but have provided all the necessary tools so you can build up your domain expertise with great ease.


Authenticity in product or service offering

Now the question is when you are found online what is the caliber and quality of content that is associated with you?    Is it genuine and authentic?  Is it unique enough to raise interest and curiosity?  Is it enough to make others want to “get in touch”?   And do you have all of the assurances put in place?  With social media there is a real threat of not being authentic because the slightest negative impact or falsehood can instantly turn into a social media blitz with a backlash.   You can always defend authenticity but BS is very difficult to shake off.

Your authenticity benchmark is content (text, images and video) that you need to build up and we will get into that in later sections.


Compassion towards others

Compassion towards your customers in the MEconomy has two distinctive meanings, one is being accessible beyond a “contact us” page which most websites have but hardly any of them take it serious enough to get back to a customer and the other is being a good listener.  Make yourself accessible and take the time to listen well and your customers will become your biggest advocates, and in the era of social media, this is a must have asset.  Win hearts and minds, play long and never go for the quick deal, it will be over just as fast as it started and it wont be in your favor.

And the last benchmark of being awesome in sales in the new MEconomy is having the heart, stamina and Hustle.



in the new MEconomy means working smart between the physical world and the online world to building up your Brand.   You want to build momentum to become the “go to person” when people want something that revolves around your area of expertise.  Attend conference, give lectures, become a speaker at events, do video broadcasts on Youtube and link it back to your AIO.   Post PDFs on the latest conversations in your industry and make sure you can spread it across social networks.  This builds up brand reputation and you will need it to impact your

The New MEconomy and why should it matter to you?

Over the past 25 years since the invention of the Internet a fundamental transformation has taken place that is just now coming to fruition and it’s called the “new MEconomy”.european_union2

I define the new MEconomy as a tectonic shift that has, and will continue to, dramatically transfer the “balance of power and influence” away from companies and placed it squarely in the hands of the individual.

Think in terms of marketing for a second as I make this point clearer.

When was the last time you made a purchasing decision based on a magazine or newspaper ad, a commercial on TV or by looking at a billboard as you drove by?

Better yet, when was the last time you were influenced by an ad that played itself out on YouTube when wanting to watch a video clip? (you couldn’t wait for the 3 seconds to end so you could click the skip button).  And when was the last time you clicked on a “sponsored ad” on Facebook, twitter or in an email that was sent to you via a company?

My guess is, it’s been a while if never at all and here is why, we have evolved.

We’re smarter, more calculating, better informed and more in control of when to buy, what to buy and from whom to buy.  So the question is, what has changed in marketing when it comes to influencing the purchasing decisions?

You already know the answer, a power shift has taken place where people have greater “INDEPENDENCE” from old media, great access to “KNOWELDGE” and are no longer willing to give their unconditional “TRUST” without due diligence.  Something that in the old economy was exclusively in the hands of big business.

Which is why in the new MEconomic shift where media has fragmented across a broader platform and communication has become instant and direct, and social networks have created new conjugation of people based on new found relationships, loyalties and affinities, “Personal Branding” will be of unprecedented importance.  And, whoever has the “heart and hustle” to build “online credibility” will undoubtedly become a power BRAND in the new MEconomy.

My point at the outset of this conversation is to let you know that YOU, yes YOU are the Most Valuable Brand (MVB) and asset in your business, at your place of work, and in your organization especially if you are on the front line meaning in sales, marketing, PR and business development but in order to win BIG you will need to immerse yourself in understanding how the MEconomy works and what it takes to better your chances of becoming a power brand and a resourceful “point of contact” in this new era we are now entering into.

To get started lets first understand the structural changes that have led to the emergence of the new MEconomy.


Some people talk of globalization without truly understanding its impact on our lives.   Look around you for a second, I’m serious, lift your head up and look around you. Everything you see and I mean EVERYTHING is made, produced, invented, assembled and or designed in a different country, yours included.   Your mobile, computer, microwave, home furnishing, sports equipment, your car, bathroom tiles, the shoes on your feet, picture frames on the wall, your tooth brush and needless to say the clothes you wear, are all products that represent globalization at its finest.  As a strong advocate of globalization and a diehard world traveler let me be the first to tell you that connecting with our abundant planet is nothing to fear, but on the contrary, in doing so you’re opening up yourself to enormous possibilities that brings with it massive benefits both on a personal and professional level.

So when you meet someone who tries to sell you the idea that globalization is the root cause of all economic problems, tell them to get a passport and travel the world.  I am ready to bet a thousand dollars that such people have never been to another country beyond a week long excursion as a tourist and therefore have very little appreciation of the value and benefit globalization has to offer.  Globalization is the best thing that could ever happen to humanity and more so for entrepreneurs of the 21st century and beyond.


Your takeaway from globalization

First by embracing globalization you commit yourself to learning about other people, alternative ways of doing things, different lifestyles, new customs, traditions and business modus operandi.

This has a profound impact first and foremost on your creativity.  As you open up your heart and mind to learning alternative ways of life your brain will start to rewire itself.   You will become more flexible to change, less rigid in outlook and your hormones will begin to release greater levels of serotonin (the happy hormone).  How does that benefit you you might ask?  Well the answer is, globalization will make you a nicer person rather than just being another professional asshole with an “I take, you give” mentality.  By genuinely showing compassion, by being ready and willing to reach out of your comfort zone and by becoming a good listener you are increasing your chances of building better human connections that will ultimately enable you to outperform your competitors as you push forward in your endeavor to becoming a BRAND.

Second advantage of globalization is access to talent pool.  This is something the multinationals have been doing for decades, using outsourced skillset from around the world.  Now you can do exactly the same thing by tapping into global resources that will not only help you with your product innovation, but more importantly, as you expand your network these amazing people will become part of your success story helping you position your product or service in their markets not to mention they can significantly reduce your overhead cost.

I know this for a fact, because this is how we built AIOconnect and everything I share with you in this manual I have lived through it so I am not dishing out empty advice.  To build AIOconnect we worked across four continents, brought on some of the most talented software and application developers, partnered up with amazing business consultants and advisers, and teamed up with remarkable marketing professionals and sales gurus that when all put together have made us one of the fastest growing and profitable platforms today.

The key to your success is through “collaboration across creative minds” which is a term I have coined to describe the future of human capital networks around common objectives and profitable goals.  The old 9 to 5 model of work will soon be replaced with this model where everyone stands to gain, no matter where they live so long as they are ready to work smart.   

connect, collaborate and profit.

Third asset of globalization and the new MEconomy is shipping and transportation.  It is needless to say that as our world becomes more interconnected thanks to high speed internet and faster means of cross continental transportation, shipping tangible products by air, sea and rail have become easier than ever before.

This being said, it makes more sense to have a centralized digital point of sale in a country that offers you greater incentives (lower taxes, less regulation and red tape) than setting up physical branch offices around the world with the “hope” of expanding market share that may or may not happen.   The point here is that through the web you can centralize your entire supply chain and bring down the cost of shipping prices.  This will leave more profit for you, keeps your customers happy, and increases your BRAND presence as word of mouth (WOM) gets around that you are a trustable person to do business with.

Selling services is no different.  Using the web you can now transact online and transfer documents and files through your cloud based hard drive which is one of the core features on AIOconnect.    So whether you are selling a health insurance policy, a graphic design logo or a sales training course all of this can take place online and through AIOconnect.

A forth point that is of vital importance is money transfer.  With PayPal people can now transact instantly via credit card to credit card or credit card to bank account.   There was a time where we had to get in our car, drive to a bank, fill out a form and wait 3 or 4 days before money could be transferred.  Not anymore.  Everything is instant and its going to get even faster as mobiles become transaction devices and telcos become the new banks of the future.

The fifth attribute of globalization is the acceleration of innovation.  Today, an entrepreneur, intrapreneur, momprenuer, and or a laptoppreneur can come up with a brilliant idea, product or service from the comfort of their living room and or garage without having the old hurdles of building a factory, buying machinery, hiring a large labor force and or creating costly distribution channels in order to commercialize a product or service.

This business model is one of the key pillars of the new MEconomy.  With private labeling and factories in various parts of the world ready to build whatever you want at competitive manufacturing prices innovators no longer need to worry about having massive upfront costs.

The same goes for services.  You can tap into global human resources to support your backend if you are providing a niche service.  Let me give you an example.   Did you know that some of the best digital marketing companies in the United States use talented and highly skilled people in Eastern Europe for their SEO and Google Adword services?   Or many companies in Europe use application developers in South East Asia and the Middle East.   Or animation film companies use outsource animators in Turkey, India, and Singapore.

Without a doubt the clothing industry is a perfect example of this model with so many big brands using China as a manufacturing hub.  Its win-win for everyone and based on the cost of living in each country you can provide top dollar for access to such skillset and feel great about it.   Just make sure you don’t turn into a greedy schmuck like some big companies who operate their business on slave labor and support sub human living standards and your conscience can sleep well at nights knowing you are doing the world a lot of good.

The sixth and final aspect of globalization is how our world as we know it has shrunk.  With social media borders are a thing of the past.  Make something poplar enough and within days the world will hear about it and will demand it.

Today, thanks to the internet and social media the old power structure has dramatically shifted in your favor.   Which is why we have integrated the key social media networks such as Facebook, twitter and LinkedIn into AIOconnect making it easier for you to broadcast to your target audience across platforms through a single point of contact.

So, to summarize what the new MEconomy and globalization bring to the table, I can say, it represents unprecedented opportunity that can broaden your outlook and creative juice, it can lower your cost of innovation, provide you with access to greater talent pool and allows you to focus on bringing your dreams and aspirations to life with lowered risk and lowered cost.   So, my advice to you is, “embrace it or others will”.

How to WIN BIG in the New MEconomy

I have just finished writing “How to WIN BIG in the new MEconomy” handbook or manual as I call it …  here is the intro and what it would entail

Authors Notewin-big-in-the-new-meconomy

I write this MEconomy manual for anyone who is apprehensive about their future, unsure of their job security and worried about the impact of globalization that will inevitably reshape our industrial, trade and commercial relationships over the next ten years, as our world becomes more and more interconnected.

Some of you may also be concerned about emerging technologies and breakthroughs such as robotics, nanotechnology, microprocessors, biotechnology and artificial intelligence (AI) that will make old industries, products and services obsolete and along with it making an entire workforce redundant.

A young generation in their 20s and 30s may also be questioning the relevancy of higher learning as most of the information being taught today at universities have very little practicality in the world we live in and the world we face ahead.

Yes, we are entering an era of uncertainty at a global level and while I recognize the seriousness of these challenges and concerns I also want to be a messenger of hope by offering you an effective way to position yourself at the forefront of the new MEconomy that’s heading our way like a Tsunami.

The new MEconomy is a paradigm shift, a disruption and a displacement that will without a doubt move the center of economic power away from the business structure to YOU, the individual, and whoever is well prepared and knows how to capitalize on this new reality will ultimately win BIG.  But you need to believe in yourself, develop a road-map and ACT NOW without being overwhelmed and without any apprehension.

My goal in writing this manual is to introduce you to the new MEconomy, show you the value and benefits of AIOconnect, and help you position yourself as a powerful, penetrable, passionate and profitable BRAND at the highest level as you enter this new frontier with greater conviction and determination to succeed.   There are a lot of uncertainties in the world as we move ahead but there is one thing I am certain of and that is if we don’t change and adapt to in the new MEconomy we will lose to those who do.  It’s a real do or die moment.

NOTE TO READERS:   If you have any questions I can always be reached directly at my Advanced Integrated Office (AIO) @  www.AIOconnect.com/aio/shahriarshahabi   Thanks for taking the time to read this manual and I look forward to connecting with you on AIOconnect.

Now let’s get started …


Dubai is no place for entrepreneurs who want to invest their knowledge and money. Here’s why

Let me first start by saying that since September of 2014 my passport has been taken from me by the Dubai police upon the order of the public prosecutor’s office and on June 19th, 2015 I have been given a deportation order by the courts which means I first have to turn myself to the police, stay a few days in jail, and if nothing happens in between, then be escorted to the airport and sent off to a destination of origin, in my case, Canada like a criminal.

Featured in FORBES Middle East in 2013 – eZeLiving.com has crossed over 3 million viewers

So now you probably want to know why?

Well, here is the back-story.

In 2013 a man by the name of Tarek Ghannem, formerly the managing director of a marketing company called Madison Advertising  now heading a single man advertising agency called Brainstorm came to my office and befriended me.  Little did I know that over the course of 3 months while passing himself off as our re-seller (agent),   he was in fact taking our creative ideas and putting it under his own company name.  The details of how he did it and why is all written up in a separate article that I published on my page back in January of 2014.

After finding out in December of 2013 that Mr. Ghanem had taken many of our ideas, one in particular a show we were about to launch called “in the boardroom” I confronted him via SMS in a 2 to 3 minute conversation (string of messages) where I expressed my intentions of using the power of the LAW to bring him to justice.

With the evidence we had from him it was clear that what took place was intellectual property theft and a breach of agreement based on the emails we had exchanged (all copies are posted online).

What happened thereafter will blow your mind.

Knowing that he had committed a crime and that he would have to pay damages, Mr. Ghannem and his lawyer preempted my legal complaint by filing a case against me on a technicality because I used the word “thief” in an SMS communication to express my disappointment in his action (the taking of someone else’s belonging without their knowledge or consent).  It seems to be the case that whoever files a complaint “first” in the UAE is considered the innocent party, which couldn’t be furthest from the truth.

eZeLiving billboard
Announcing our launch in 2012

In his complaint he stated that I had threatened him which is false.  He had also complained that I had stated in my SMS that I would go after him “American style” and that I would “see him sink” (sink was translated to drowning).  These are manipulation of the “entirety of the conversation” deliberately taken out of context, plus, anyone who knows American business culture and or who would have read my entire SMS communication with him would know that American style of doing business is nothing more than filing a legal case to “SUE” for damages where he would end up spending a lot of money paying legal fees and compensation.  Going bankrupt in legal fees is what SINK meant in this context.

Mr. Tarek Ghanem also knew that I had been featured in FORBES and in The National and was fully aware that my innovation (in marketing and communication) was of value as we had reached over 2 million views on our Youtube Channel and we were cashflow positive, which is why, I asked the courts to look at both of our track records.  The problem was and still is that the legal system in Dubai doesn’t know the first thing about “Digital Forensics” and “Digital Footprint Tracking”.  There is no real due process of law either but I will get into that in a later blog post.

While the evidence would show that I was being credited for my work, he had no record of accomplishment in this area (digital media and content creation) prior to meeting me and my team.  And as a matter of fact he launched his online presence by being on MY SHOW and we have proof of that too.   All of his video content on Youtube will show dates that are after his interaction with us.  But he hid those dates, but we found them.    Here is one example. 

Now here is where it gets interesting.

Our team of young entrepreneurs at BBM

In January of 2014 I get a call from the Bur Dubai police station.  I immediately went in without hesitation.  Upon arrival I was told that I have a complaint against me by a Mr. Tarek Ghannem.  I explain the situation to the police officer and instead of taking down my statement (which was complex because it involved digital media and the internet) the officer told me to go and write up an Arabic statement and bring it back.  I told him it would take a few days as I first would have to write my statement in English and then have it translated into Arabic and he was fine with it.  A week later when I translated my statement (by an official translator) and went back to the Police station I was told by two other officers who shared a room with him that the officer in charge had gone on vacation and that I should come back when he returns.

Thinking to myself that the officer would call once he is back from holiday I refocused my attention, like any western trained entrepreneur would, back on growing our startup company with great enthusiasm. But no one followed up until September of 2014 (8 months after).  In September I get a call from the same police officer telling me that I should urgently come in as I am now banned from leaving the country.

I immediately went to the Police Station with the translation of my statement in hand.  When I arrived my Canadian passport (which was about to be expired) was taken from me.  I asked him why it was necessary to take my passport and he informed me that it was ordered by the chief public prosecutor’s office.   When I tried to explain that this was not necessary I was again told that this is the ruling.

Featured in FORBES Middle East 2013
Featured in FORBES Middle East 2013

And so on September 2014 my passport was taken without just cause  despite not having done anything wrong.

I handed my translation statement to the police officer so he could enter it into my records only later to find out that it was never added into my file (most likely because it had a date on it from January 2014 and that no one from the police station took it from me back when they should have).

In a state of urgency and distress I hired an Egyptian lawyer  by the name of Haitham Al Patchi from Heba Advocates who passed himself off as one of the top lawyers in the country (big mistake on my part).  I later found out that all he cared for was running up a tab on me.   He ended up billing me over 100,000 dirhams where he had originally agreed on a fee of 25,000 dirhams for hardly doing anything.  But that’s an entirely different issue all together that I won’t get into at this point.  I will however say that after getting the deportation ruling he threatened me that if I complained against him he will file a case for 1,000,000 dirhams against me.  Sounds pretty fishy right?   O and i have to add that in 2016 when I checked up on him I found out that his law practice had closed shop and their website was no longer active.

Anyways a few weeks later when we went back to the police station this time with a lawyer who spoke Arabic to explain that if anyone should be complaining it should be me, I was notified that under the “cyber-crime” law I was being charged for threatening Mr. Tarek Ghannem and that I was now considered, get this, a NATIONAL SECURITY THREAT to the country.  I was overwhelmed because based on the evidence we had we were in the right and while everything was made available to the courts, no one seemed to care at the totality of the situation.  I found this to be very disturbing and unethical.

So, the next step was to sit before the public prosecutor (which took another few months), and I did, but despite all efforts in trying and explain to him that I was being victimized and that the real criminal was walking the streets of Dubai a free man, the public prosecutor ended up giving me 3 options.

  1. To pay Mr. Ghanem 50,000aed (which later went up to 120,000aed after Mr. Ghannem found out that a deportation order was given to me) so he would drop the case, and there was no way in hell I would do that. To pay him would be like paying someone money after they broke into your house and walked off with the family jewels.    Where is the logic in that???
  2. Pay up to 250,000 dirhams in fines along with a jail time.  Or
  3. Be deported

    The National - shahriar shahabi
    Featured in the National

I made it clear that since my rights have been taken from me and that the TRUTH was on my side I would never agree to (1) and will defend my rights till justice is served in court.  To this day I am puzzled as to why the courts have chosen NOT to see the entire picture and instead have made a ruling based on one “small” piece of the communication that was taken out of context.  I have my thoughts on this but I will leave that for another follow up article once I am safely out of the country.

And so when our court date arrived a few weeks after my meeting with the public prosecutor, the first instance court judge heard our defense and fined me 2000 Dirhams, however, on the day we went to make payment (June 3rd, 2015), the court administrator told us that the public prosecutor (on behalf of the Dubai government) has made an appeal on the court’s decision and that we would now have to go to a second court hearing.

By this time we had paid over 120,000aed in legal fees, 2000aed in court fees, and more importantly, a year of my life had passed in a state of constant stress, anxiety and complete standstill not to mention my ability to travel was also blocked where I needed to move in order to raise funds for our digital media and marketing company.   Despite putting on a calm and collected face at home and at work there was no way I could focus my much needed attention on our digital media company BBM, and on www.eZeLiving.com, a lifestyle platform that I had projected to be worth a million dollars given our business model and number one position in the market.

A few months later the second court hearing was set and while my lawyer had notified me that it was not necessary for me to be present in court, for reasons again I think I  know but will say once I am out of the country, we got the verdict, DEPORTATION by Judge Adnan Al Farra.

I was shocked in disbelief and so was my wife who is a very well respected high-school teach in one of Dubai’s top international schools and has been for the past 10 years.

eZeLiving BB1 (1)
72 foot billboard and a proud moment

After everything I had gone through, the drama, the stress, and the anxiety the court’s decision was to rule against me while letting the real criminal go FREE.  I thought to myself, what message is Dubai sending to entrepreneurs who are honest, creative, and hardworking?  The message was clear … DUBAI IS NO PLACE FOR YOU BECAUSE THE LAW WILL NOT PROTECT YOUR RIGHTS.

I made an appointment to see staff at the Canadian consulate in Dubai to tell them about my case and after a 5 minute discussion I was told by our embassy that, “we can’t help you because we don’t get involved in the internal affairs of a host country other than to make sure you are well treated”.  So much for our diplomatic team who turned out to be useless despite the human rights violations that have been committed.

I went back to the office got on the phone and immediately FIRED the Egyptian lawyer and his team for their incompetence and hired a new Emirati lawyer.  We put in a new plea to the Supreme Court (taameez) but once again the lawyers had no clue what Cyber Crime is and how to defend it.    The decision came back and it was rejected.  The only thing the lawyer, who was a retired police officer could tell me was “sorry, I am learning”.     By this time my creative energy was gone and my family in a state of anxiety and not to mention my passport still withheld by the public prosecutor after TWO AND A HALF YEARS.

Can you believe it … For OVER THREE YEARS they have now blocked my mobility to travel and do business so I could earn a living.  By 2016 the ordeal had brought my internet business to a complete standstill.  The Dubai legal system had bankrupted me, and this brings us to today.

Now everything is with the rulers court and an appeals committee that we have been waiting for a decision since March of 2016.  Things don’t look good and the question is will they let me leave without a fuss?

eZeLiving BB1 (2)
72 foot billboard outside of Dubai Media City in 2012

I share my experience with all entrepreneurs out there to let you know that Dubai is NO PLACE for creative people to invest in and launch startups because the justice system does not protect people like us who want to create new ideas, create employment opportunities and change the world for the better.  The headache and heartache is just not worth it.

And so it is needless to say that upon returning to Canada, I will file a multi-million dollar lawsuit against Dubai, as I seek damages for everything they have put me and my family through over the past three years, and more importantly, for destroying my business that is now lost, and as per our business plan, for the multi-million dollar market opportunity that was taken away from me.

As I wait for a decision from the Rulers Office through a new laywer (Mrs Samira Gargash) my only priority is to have my name cleared in the courts and to prove that I was right all along.    After that I will seek council with friends and family back home in Canada to take the next course of action as my family’s safety is the most important thing to me.

What is really sad and what Dubai doesn’t understand is that in the US and in Silicon Valley I would have been highly regarded for my skills and risk taking ability, and, society would have benefited from my contribution and job creation potential. But instead, here, they have treated me as a criminal which is why I arrive to the conclusion that this city is no place for entrepreneurs with a global vision.

“the Arc of moral universe is long but it always bends towards justice”
Martin Luther King Jr.

UPDATE …. the superior court “taameez” has upheld the second courts decision in that I have committed a crime worthy of being labeled as a national threat despite the overwhelming evidence in my favor.   Now we file a case to the Public Prosecutors office and write a letter to the Dewan (the rulers office).   JUSTICE must be done based on facts not POOR TRANSLATION of them.

UPDATE –  for 11 months Ibrahim El Banna kept telling us he would help but did NOTHING.  Then asked us to give him power of attorney and once we his fee shot up to 140,000aed.   So much for honest lawyers in Dubai.

UPDATE – met with another person who was introduced to us by yet another Egyptian.  A Polish woman representing another emirati law firm.  Her advise was to write a bounded check so I could stay in the country while the issue is being resolved.    I told her that her advise is terrible and unethical.   These are the type of people are running the legal system in Dubai.  Once you fall into the spiders web there is NO getting out.

January 23rd 2017 …. an observation on Tarek.   If Madison and In the Boardroom was his idea, why did he have to leave and start a new company and NEVER use In the Boardroom after this case?   Why did the first lawyer disappear from his law firm?  Why did the Chief public prosecutor not accept the first instance court ruling?   Why has this case been filled with neglect and mishandling from day one?

February 10th 2017 – had a meeting with Madam Samira Gargash who is a well respected lawyer.  She said she would help us resolve this issue and that this case has been badly handled from the start.  Two weeks has passed and now February 25th and I am still waiting for a response.

April 2nd 2017 – Samira Gargash has said she can not help us.    Even the BEST lawyers have no clue what digital / cyber forensics is and yet the make judgement on these issues.

June 19th 2017 – After 9 final days of hell I have left Dubai forever and will soon tell the world about my story.  Dubai is NO PLACE FOR INVESTMENT, unless you are laundering money.

A creative agency that takes other people’s ideas is hardly creative

tarek ghannam - madison
Tarek Ghannam – MD of Madison Advertising

In February of 2013, Big Brand Media came to know Madison Advertising who at the time was selling print media creative and brand consulting for Saffron in Dubai .  I know this because the CEO of Madison, Mr. Tarek Ghannam shared office space with us at  the H Business tower on Shiekh Zayed road, in Dubai.

As a tech entrepreneur with Silicon valley experience I have always believed in having open and constructive business relationships with partners and so in this spirit my team and I introduced what we did, which was to create consumer and business centric video content, with our webTV platform eZeLiving.  Mr. Ghannam immediately showed interest and wanted to become our reseller for a 30% revenue share.

Knowing full well that BBM and it’s platform eZeLiving.com was focused on lifestyle segments such as food, health, fashion, travel, fitness, automotive, etc and our core strength being in video production at an unbeatable price point, Mr. Ghannam started asking us to make  creative content so he could pitch to his clients such as Nestle and Masafi.  Our first request from him was to create a video for NIDO, and we did.   Here is the webcast. 

After his meeting with NIDO, an email came to us saying that Nestle loved our creative content and wanted to work with us.  But it never happened.

A second creative idea that we shared with Mr. Ghannam was when we introduced our new show in March which was in the boardroom lettera modification of our original idea that we had thought of back in January of 2013.  The premise of the show was to  have CEO’s sit in the backseat of a luxury car as we conducted an interview.  The name of the show that we had given the webisode series was in the boardroom”.  Here is where the idea originated from again from our side and NOT his.

We introduced this show to Mr. Ghannam after BBMs correspondence with Bentley who also had their representative office on the same floor.   He then took action and introduced us to Jaguar / Range rover.

On April 7th we had the meeting with Jaguar not knowing that Mr. Ghannam had set up the meeting as Madison.

During our relationship we shared a number of show ideas some that were active, like our “Good Doctors” and others in the pipelines.

By April, three months into our business relationship none of the client’s that he had introduced turned in to business deals, only later for us to find out why.  Mr. Ghannam had not mentioned a word that any of these ideas, platforms and services were the intellectual property of Big Brand Media and that he was working in partnership with us to promote our creative IP.

To our surprise we later realized in a tweet that he had closed these deals under his own name leaving the real creators of these initiatives out to dry.  What was most shocking to us was that he even had the audacity to take OUR BRAND “In the boardroom” and use it for Jaguar.    We confronted Jaguar only to be told that they had closed the deal with Madison and that if we had issues we should take it up with them.

Discussing the issue with a law firm in Dubai, we were advised to put an injunction on any trademark that Madison could have on this name from Abu Dhabi.  We are still thinking about it.

But here is the real question.  If these ideas, shows, business model all belonged to Madison then  why were we asked bbm-in-forbes-middle-eastto come to meetings with him and WHY was Mr. Ghannam on www.eZeLiving.com and WHY are their emails that state he was reselling our product and that he expressed interest to take an equity stake in our company.   WHY, do we have over 1500 pieces of web content with over 3 million video views where he has none before meeting us (HE HAS NO DIGITAL FOOTPRINT before meeting us), why did FORBES middle east magazine call us “the star of the small screen” (July Issue 2013), Why did the National.ae headline the founder of BBM and the company as “shaking up online ad world” (August 19th 2013)

The truth is that after having full access to BBM, our business model, pricing model, nature of shows, format of filming and upon securing deals for himself using our expertise, Mr. Ghannam took something that was not rightfully his and immediately changed his company website to incorporate a lot of our terminology such as customer centric content, lifestyle focused content, webisode series, storytelling and positioned his firm as a content creator with a business WebTV, and under this pretense, formed a relationship with MediaQuest.

So I say, a creative agency that takes the intellectual property of others is hardly creative and if Dubai is serious about protecting intellectual property rights here is a good case to lend its support behind people who originate ideas and who can stimulate the economy through their creativity.

Footnote:  Everything I have said in this article are backed up by published facts and in the form of communique and emails between myself and Mr. Ghannam.  And while in a court of law the truth will side with BBM I don’t think Mr. Ghannam is worth my time to pursue a legal case against him as we have bigger and better things to do as the true originators of creative lifestyle centric content makers on the Web, founded in the UAE, broadcasting for a global world.  

A copy of this letter is handed over to Dubai Police with all emails attached to counter Mr. Ghannams baseless claim that we called him names.