I leave better.
What do you hope to leavebehind?
I guess the main thing I would like tothink is that, we are helping Qatar in itsevolution and journey to where the coun
try wants to go. And to have some posi
tive impact with what I’ve done.What I will leave behind, and it’s toughevery time I leave a country, is a bunch ofnew friends. Facebook is really good forthat, to be able to stay in touch. Importantto keep that alive.
And there are those who saytechnology erodes relation-ships...
I disagree. Things like Facebook are prob
-ably recreating relationships that disap-
peared... I think technology enables rela
tionships. People in India, China and Africaare using mobiles, and if that didn’t exist,
they would be limited in who they kept
in touch with. The interesting thing about
emails is how senior citizens are using it tokeeping in touch with their family that has
moved away.If people think it replaces face-to-faceinteraction, sitting down in the majlis andtalking, that’s where I think they are wrong.It doesn’t have to.When I sit in the majlis here, everyoneis on their mobile phone anyway! I am like‘talk to me’...Jokes aside, I think it enhances rela
tionships. And you have the choice ofpressing the red button and switching off.People are addicted to the Blackberry, butit’s not Blackberry’s fault, YOU have theaddiction.
Does Qatar feel like home now?
I’ve been here for 18 months. My wife,Jenny, and I say where we both are, wherewe have with us our stuff, is home. We’vemoved a lot.We sit outside by the pool in the WestBay Lagoon, it’s like a holiday every week
end – it’s a good life. We are very comfort
able here.However, the difference for all countries
that are going through a growth period of
lots of expats is that it doesn’t have thatfeeling of home, as everything is transient.It feels like a bit of Hong Kong and Singa
pore 20 years ago.It’s easy as an expat to come in. The
big challenge going forward is how tomake the transition from a country thatis growing rapidly with a lot of inter-
national expats, to people becoming‘Qataris’. People have been here for 20-30years, and are still not ‘Qatari’.It’s the same in Australia, where therewas nobody there 200 years ago, but allkinds of nationalities went there, and theyare now locals.It’s a difcult challenge for Qatar as to
how to do that without losing its local iden-
tity, without losing control of the core as
sets of their country; because Qataris are aminority.It’s a long answer to ‘does it feel likehome?’; for the country, when they get thatright, when people actually make it home,then it will be stronger.But I’m having a ball and enjoying it.
Career women are often askedabout work-life balance. Youthink we need to address thisto men more frequently?
Work-life balance is a personal thing.When I judge if someone is having awork-life balance, it should not be MEthat’s asking that. It should be US as an
organisation saying we believe in that
balance. But if someone wants to workall the time, that may be their work-lifebalance.I am a big fan of the guy who wrote
The Seven Day Weekend
, Ricardo Semler,who says in his book, ‘why is it ok to sendemails on a Sunday, but not ok to go tothe park with your kids on a Tuesday.’He says work-life balance is doingwhat you like, when you like. If that
means working all weekend and going to
the park on a weekday, it’s ok, what’s the
I would advocate for a balance theperson feels comfortable with, and al
lows them to be themselves. Instead ofbeing someone at work, and someoneelse at home, which I think is difcult.If I act differently in the two places,I am schizophrenic. And the WesternWorld drives schizophrenia, frankly.
That’s why so many people have heart
attacks and break down. If they are atough, demanding b****** at work,and go home and are nice to their kids – it’s weird. If you can just be human, it’sgood... that’s my opinion.
What is the toughest deci-sion you have had to make,in your career?
Probably when I said ‘yes’ to goto Sweden to run the business. My
daughter was in her last year of high
school, and my wife was going to stayin Australia for that year. I was liv
ing alone, for eight months, on theother end of the world. I wouldn’t doit again. For anybody.
Any other regrets you wouldlike to share?
Heaps. How long have you got?!I make lots of mistakes and i’m happyto continue to try and make lots more.I regret some of them, but not to an ex
tent that I worry about them. It’s morelike how do I x that. When my wifeand I were living in New Zealand, my
older daughter was in her last year at
school and was about to start university.We were moving to Australia, and shewanted to stay and nish school. Weagreed. There are times, when we won
-der if it would have been better for her
to come with us. Do I regret it? No. Butwe do talk about it.
Maher turned his entrepreneurial skills to developing and launching one of therst Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO) in Australia. He and his businesspartner sold the company to Vodafone in 1996. It wasn’t long before he was lead
ing the team in Vodafone New Zealand. He has travelled on a Vodafone passport,to Australia, Sweden, Czech Republic, and now Qatar.These days when he is not working, he prefers to hit the road with his feet ratherthan on his motorbike; he loves long distance running. He also loves exploring theworld with his wife Jenny and daughters Jessica and Kate.