How much of the Finnish education system can be adapted for use in the UAE? Michael Kooren / Reuters
How much of the Finnish education system can be adapted for use in the UAE? Michael Kooren / Reuters

Finland and the UAE have more in common than you might think



When I saw the headline to Peter Hatherley-Greene’s opinion piece this week – Why the Finnish model of education cannot be imported to the UAE – I expected a slam-dunk argument. Instead, I came away with a deeper appreciation for the affinities between the Finnish and Emirati historical experiences, and a renewed sense of possibility for fruitful cultural interchange.

Dr Hatherley-Greene rightly points out that Finns and Emiratis share a history of economic hardship, born out of a struggle against an unforgiving climate. Both nationals seem to love their landscapes for their rugged beauty.

Similar, too, is the urgency of the mission to improve and advance on all fronts. This was fostered by the emergence of the two young nations into a competitive global marketplace in 1917 and 1971.

What Dr Hatherley-Greene does not mention is that for a long time, Finland relied on a precious few tradable exports, chiefly lumber.

The need to diversify and build a knowledge-based economy drove the educational reforms Dr Hatherley-Greene so praises. Are the parallels with the UAE not evident?

Ah, but culture! Dr Hatherley-Greene references Geert Hofstede’s bestselling yet controversial studies. To hear from him, there are such profound differences in our respective values and beliefs that no fusion of educational horizons is possible.

First, let me say that I doubt that broad generalisations about culture, social mores or national character ever get us far. When we do want to say something encompassing, the conclusions are rarely clear-cut.

Take gender. Both in the UAE and in Finland, the contributions of men and women alike have traditionally commanded recognition and respect.

Call this the "all-hands-on-deck" approach common to societies where a preindustrial sense of basic dignity for all still dominates (something that does not cancel out occasional deference to the needs of the family or tribe).

A corollary is a certain fluidity in the kinds of “feminine” and “masculine” characteristics that men and women are allowed to exhibit.

Men can be gentle and graceful, women can show ambition. Who does not witness this in the UAE today?

Nor are cultures monochromatic or static. Indeed, Finland in the 1970s – the time of Hofstede’s original studies – was more risk-averse, more collectivist, more masculine in its projected values.

But Finland changed. Finns changed. And this was in large part due to changes in our system of education – practices tested out, structures put in place, values vigorously debated then implemented.

None of which is to say that the UAE should necessarily adopt the Finnish model, which surely has its share of shortcomings. I merely suggest that no one – not I, not Dr Hatherley-Greene, nobody – can tell Emiratis what they are or are not capable of becoming.

I am flattered that Dr Hatherley-Greene views my home country’s progress so favourably. Yet to do so on the back of dichotomies that may perpetuate a stereotypical divide between "the modern West and the backward rest" – to cite Fougère and Mulettes, two of Hofstede’s critics – seems unfair and harmfully fatalistic.

What are the purportedly Finnish values that Dr Hatherley-Greene praises? A willingness to demand much of the individual in the name of the common good. Caring for those who are vulnerable. A respect for educators and parents that cashes out in tangible benefits and resources.

All of these are things I see around me in the UAE every day. And they fill me with great hope.

Because if there’s one thing a small nation cannot afford to do, it is to squander any of its talent.

Taneli Kukkonen is a Finnish national and professor of philosophy at New York University Abu Dhabi

UAE athletes heading to Paris 2024

Equestrian

Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi, Abdullah Al Marri, Omar Al Marzooqi, Salem Al Suwaidi, and Ali Al Karbi (four to be selected).

Judo
Men: Narmandakh Bayanmunkh (66kg), Nugzari Tatalashvili (81kg), Aram Grigorian (90kg), Dzhafar Kostoev (100kg), Magomedomar Magomedomarov (+100kg); women's Khorloodoi Bishrelt (52kg).

Cycling
Safia Al Sayegh (women's road race).

Swimming

Men: Yousef Rashid Al Matroushi (100m freestyle); women: Maha Abdullah Al Shehi (200m freestyle).

Athletics

Maryam Mohammed Al Farsi (women's 100 metres).

SPECS

Nissan 370z Nismo

Engine: 3.7-litre V6

Transmission: seven-speed automatic

Power: 363hp

Torque: 560Nm

Price: Dh184,500

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Revibe
Started: 2022
Founders: Hamza Iraqui and Abdessamad Ben Zakour
Based: UAE
Industry: Refurbished electronics
Funds raised so far: $10m
Investors: Flat6Labs, Resonance and various others

Company Profile

Company name: Namara
Started: June 2022
Founder: Mohammed Alnamara
Based: Dubai
Sector: Microfinance
Current number of staff: 16
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Family offices

Law 41.9.4 of men’s T20I playing conditions

The fielding side shall be ready to start each over within 60 seconds of the previous over being completed.
An electronic clock will be displayed at the ground that counts down seconds from 60 to zero.
The clock is not required or, if already started, can be cancelled if:
• A new batter comes to the wicket between overs.
• An official drinks interval has been called.
• The umpires have approved the on field treatment of an injury to a batter or fielder.
• The time lost is for any circumstances beyond the control of the fielding side.
• The third umpire starts the clock either when the ball has become dead at the end of the previous over, or a review has been completed.
• The team gets two warnings if they are not ready to start overs after the clock reaches zero.
• On the third and any subsequent occasion in an innings, the bowler’s end umpire awards five runs.

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Supy
Started: 2021
Founders: Dani El-Zein, Yazeed bin Busayyis, Ibrahim Bou Ncoula
Based: Dubai
Industry: Food and beverage, tech, hospitality software, Saas
Funding size: Bootstrapped for six months; pre-seed round of $1.5 million; seed round of $8 million
Investors: Beco Capital, Cotu Ventures, Valia Ventures and Global Ventures

The five pillars of Islam

1. Fasting

2. Prayer

3. Hajj

4. Shahada

5. Zakat

Company Profile

Company name: Cargoz
Date started: January 2022
Founders: Premlal Pullisserry and Lijo Antony
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 30
Investment stage: Seed

Sarfira

Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5

Getting there

The flights

Flydubai operates up to seven flights a week to Helsinki. Return fares to Helsinki from Dubai start from Dh1,545 in Economy and Dh7,560 in Business Class.

The stay

Golden Crown Igloos in Levi offer stays from Dh1,215 per person per night for a superior igloo; www.leviniglut.net 

Panorama Hotel in Levi is conveniently located at the top of Levi fell, a short walk from the gondola. Stays start from Dh292 per night based on two people sharing; www. golevi.fi/en/accommodation/hotel-levi-panorama

Arctic Treehouse Hotel in Rovaniemi offers stays from Dh1,379 per night based on two people sharing; www.arctictreehousehotel.com

What went into the film

25 visual effects (VFX) studios

2,150 VFX shots in a film with 2,500 shots

1,000 VFX artists

3,000 technicians

10 Concept artists, 25 3D designers

New sound technology, named 4D SRL

 

Coming soon

Torno Subito by Massimo Bottura

When the W Dubai – The Palm hotel opens at the end of this year, one of the highlights will be Massimo Bottura’s new restaurant, Torno Subito, which promises “to take guests on a journey back to 1960s Italy”. It is the three Michelinstarred chef’s first venture in Dubai and should be every bit as ambitious as you would expect from the man whose restaurant in Italy, Osteria Francescana, was crowned number one in this year’s list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants.

Akira Back Dubai

Another exciting opening at the W Dubai – The Palm hotel is South Korean chef Akira Back’s new restaurant, which will continue to showcase some of the finest Asian food in the world. Back, whose Seoul restaurant, Dosa, won a Michelin star last year, describes his menu as,  “an innovative Japanese cuisine prepared with a Korean accent”.

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal

The highly experimental chef, whose dishes are as much about spectacle as taste, opens his first restaurant in Dubai next year. Housed at The Royal Atlantis Resort & Residences, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal will feature contemporary twists on recipes that date back to the 1300s, including goats’ milk cheesecake. Always remember with a Blumenthal dish: nothing is quite as it seems. 

Stree

Producer: Maddock Films, Jio Movies
Director: Amar Kaushik
Cast: Rajkummar Rao, Shraddha Kapoor, Pankaj Tripathi, Aparshakti Khurana, Abhishek Banerjee
Rating: 3.5

HEY MERCEDES, WHAT CAN YOU DO FOR ME?

Mercedes-Benz's MBUX digital voice assistant, Hey Mercedes, allows users to set up commands for:

• Navigation

• Calls

• In-car climate

• Ambient lighting

• Media controls

• Driver assistance

• General inquiries such as motor data, fuel consumption and next service schedule, and even funny questions

There's also a hidden feature: pressing and holding the voice command button on the steering wheel activates the voice assistant on a connected smartphone – Siri on Apple's iOS or Google Assistant on Android – enabling a user to command the car even without Apple CarPlay or Android Auto

Bullet Train

Director: David Leitch
Stars: Brad Pitt, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Brian Tyree Henry, Sandra Bullock
Rating: 3/5

Cultural fiesta

What: The Al Burda Festival
When: November 14 (from 10am)
Where: Warehouse421,  Abu Dhabi
The Al Burda Festival is a celebration of Islamic art and culture, featuring talks, performances and exhibitions. Organised by the Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development, this one-day event opens with a session on the future of Islamic art. With this in mind, it is followed by a number of workshops and “masterclass” sessions in everything from calligraphy and typography to geometry and the origins of Islamic design. There will also be discussions on subjects including ‘Who is the Audience for Islamic Art?’ and ‘New Markets for Islamic Design.’ A live performance from Kuwaiti guitarist Yousif Yaseen should be one of the highlights of the day. 

Cherry

Directed by: Joe and Anthony Russo

Starring: Tom Holland, Ciara Bravo

1/5

Another way to earn air miles

In addition to the Emirates and Etihad programmes, there is the Air Miles Middle East card, which offers members the ability to choose any airline, has no black-out dates and no restrictions on seat availability. Air Miles is linked up to HSBC credit cards and can also be earned through retail partners such as Spinneys, Sharaf DG and The Toy Store.

An Emirates Dubai-London round-trip ticket costs 180,000 miles on the Air Miles website. But customers earn these ‘miles’ at a much faster rate than airline miles. Adidas offers two air miles per Dh1 spent. Air Miles has partnerships with websites as well, so booking.com and agoda.com offer three miles per Dh1 spent.

“If you use your HSBC credit card when shopping at our partners, you are able to earn Air Miles twice which will mean you can get that flight reward faster and for less spend,” says Paul Lacey, the managing director for Europe, Middle East and India for Aimia, which owns and operates Air Miles Middle East.

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Haltia.ai
Started: 2023
Co-founders: Arto Bendiken and Talal Thabet
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: AI
Number of employees: 41
Funding: About $1.7 million
Investors: Self, family and friends

A Round of Applause

Director: Berkun Oya
Starring: Aslihan Gürbüz, Fatih Artman, Cihat Suvarioglu
Rating: 4/5


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