Musings from Bahraini entrepreneur, design agency creative director and magazine editor, Wafa Alobaidat

If you read my last article on dealing with my post-university years, you might be able to relate to the second installment of my Culture Shock series.

When you do manage to get over and around culture shock at home and build a system of independence with the parents, you're then faced with another challenge: work culture in your home country.

Our GCC system runs a very a depressing streak of hiring the wrong people for the wrong jobs. This has been going on for such a long time that it has become the norm and makes up quite a large chunk of our modern society.

Somehow more wrong people are producing inadequate, below the standard, work without being held accountable for it, which has festered in our everyday routine. The people in these positions are not limited to the public sector, but very much the private one as well. They can be found just about anywhere you look behind a desk.

Most people I meet work at a bank and quite often what they really want to pursue is something in a completely different field. So if you're one of the people who actually work in the field that you majored in, and that you love, you'll find that the workplace is populated with people hired not because they are qualified but because of someone they know that got them the job.

Working alongside your new colleagues becomes a dire aspect as they hate what they are doing and are constantly trying to ditch work and extend lunch breaks while you try to come up with creative solutions to company problems. You start to witness half-done work done at minimum energy at a slow pace – and it's often you that has to clean up after them. You feel over qualified and are learning nothing because your superior is a dinosaur, old and locked in a closed office, the least of his concerns is inspiring and challenging you as an employee and turning you into a potential company leader.

Many others, however, choose to work on their own, carving their niche environments where they can dabble with innovation and creativity, masters of their own fate. This path without funding and mentorship can be frustrating, and the journey long.

But if you do choose the path of entrepreneurship, aim to create a positive and dynamic work culture where you hire the right person for the job as this will affect your productivity level, company image, and will increase the standards in the office (or studio).

If you ever feel you deserve to be at a better firm, then step up your game and hunt for the right place for you. Do not settle in a place where the stench of ‘wasta’ is evident and where you find that you have no voice and cannot add value in the workplace.

If you cannot add value to your work, then find work that can add value to you.

Wafa Alobaidat writes a bi-monthly column for Khaleejesque and muses on fashion, art, culture and culture shock in the Middle East. Wafa is also the editor of Sketchbook magazine and runs design and PR agency Obai and Hill.

To get in touch with Wafa, email her at or follow her on Twitter @fashionambition

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