Consciousness-Raising UAE-Style

Well-known as a capitalist paradise, the United Arab Emirates is a country not known for its commitment to democracy. Indeed, the majority of the people residing in the UAE are actually immigrant workers, i.e., they have no rights and can be deported at any time. So with “no labour laws which can protect these workers from open workers rights violations” it seems that thousands of UAE workers have been turned into what are effectively slaves.

Such “minor” foibles have never stopped British management consultants from celebrating the UAE as an international success story in leadership values: a role model for the rest of the democratic world no less.

A prime example of this disgusting capitalist illogic is provided by the CEO of Barrett Values Centre, Phil Clothier, who happily tweeted the following article earlier this year: “UAE one of few countries driven by positive values.” The subheading for the article being “Positive values attributed to strong leadership and values instilled by Islam.” As the article stated:

The UAE can be the first value-driven nation in the world, according to the results of Watani’s Social Values Survey that found that the country has surpassed some of the most developed countries in the top ten positive values.

The UAE also had the second lowest cultural entropy, which refers to the level of dysfunction and negativity, showing that the people in the UAE are highly satisfied with the country’s current situation.

Of the eighteen countries compared in the survey that was undertaken by Barrett Values Centre (with the aid of Watani in UAE), it turns out that the UAE’s cultural entropy stood at just 12 per cent “as opposed to some of the most developed countries in the world with USA at 56 per cent and UK 59 per cent.” These results allegedly “showed that despite the UAE having a diverse society, UAE nationals and residents have similarities in personal values which enable people to coexist in a peaceful manner.”

But these strange results for this supremely authoritarian country of course have a lot to do with the fact that the majority of the people living in UAE were not included in this survey, as they were foreigners. Of the approximately 4,100 individuals surveyed 57 per cent were Emirati (when they compose about 15 per cent of UAE’s official citizenry), and the remainder were expatriates: economic immigrants making up around 90 per cent of the people in UAE were simply not interviewed.

Sadly the Barrett Values Centre is no small-bit affair, as it was founded and now chaired by the former “values coordinator” at the World Bank, Richard Barrett — an individual who happened to start his ever-upwardly spiraling career in the late 1960s as a transportation planner in Leicester.

Barrett is expert at dressing New Age mumbo jumbo in a cloak of science, and in the year following his departure from the World Bank he published Liberating the Corporate Soul: Building a Visionary Organisation (1998). In this book Barrett expanded upon the work of human potential movement guru, Abraham Maslow, therein describing what he called the Seven Levels of Consciousness model and developing values mapping instruments known as the Cultural Transformation Tools.

Since then it seems that “Thousands of organisations in more than 50 countries have used [Barrett’s patented Cultural Transformation Tools] to better define their current culture and to shape the culture they desire.” The Spiritual Capital Foundation led by Rabbi Naftali Brawer being just one of the many proselytizers for Barrett’s management theories. The Rabbi being a spiritual consultant better known for presenting BBC Radio 4’s ‘Prayer for the Day’ and most recently for joining the “Pause for Thought” slot on Chris Evans Breakfast show on BBC Radio 2.

But if you want to better understand (or rather be confused) about why Richard Barrett and company are so excited to tell the corporate world about how UAE leaders embody the future for all of us — owing to their promotion of “Full Spectrum Leadership” — have a listen to this nonsensical and scarey dialogue between Barrett and Marc Gafni, the Director of the recently formed Center for World Spirituality.

With such dangerous ambitions for ditching democracy for UAE-styled full spectrum leadership, it is little wonder that Barrett’s ideas are very much in vogue among the super-rich. But nevertheless his ability to meld capitalist and New Age ideas is nothing new, and in 2005 he joined a host of other serviceable idiots speechifying at Sir John Whitmore’s Be The Change Initiative which has high ambitions of raising the world’s consciousness.

This brings us back to Phil Clothier (the CEO of the Barrett Values Centre) who is a “specialist associate” of the Australian-based Institute of Human Excellence, which is headed by Sir John Whitmore and Niran Jiang. An Institute that “was founded to serve organisations who wish to develop their people to the highest levels of performance at work, to have greater fulfilment in their personal lives and to make a contribution to the wider community.” As their Director, Niran Jiang, puts it:

Never before in human history has the leadership of human affairs more critical than it is now. Our future rests on our leadership capacity to find balance. To balance is to follow with our intuitive nature, to be agile with our identity and to become one with others.

Such New Age speak sounds all too familiar, and funnily enough is very similar to how Sir Whitmore’s “friends from space” communicated with him and his well-to-do friends from the outer limits of the universe. These extra-terrestrial friends being a group of universal beings, known as the Council of Nine.

When Sir Whitmore and his spiritual buddies asked their space friend, Tom, who acts as the spokesperson for the Council of Nine, if he had one message that he wished to pass to all of mankind Tom succinctly replied: “Know fully that you hold the key within yourself, each of you humans, to bring about change. It is your responsibility, your free will, your choice.”

Maybe Phil Clothier should pass on Tom’s advice to the ninety-odd “judges, human rights defenders, lawyers, teachers, academics and students” in the UAE who are currently being tortured and prosecuted for promoting democracy!

For further reading, see The Only Planet of Choice: Essential Briefings from Deep Space (1993), a book whose foreword is penned by Sir John Whitmore, and whose content was channelled by Phyllis Schlemmer.

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