GCC startup Majra promises simple path to a viable career

Majra enables cultural and personality-based job matching in Bahrain. (Supplied/Majra)
Majra enables cultural and personality-based job matching in Bahrain. (Supplied/Majra)
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Updated 04 April 2021

GCC startup Majra promises simple path to a viable career

Majra enables cultural and personality-based job matching in Bahrain. (Supplied/Majra)
  • Majra, a Bahrain-based online startup, champions cultural and personality-based career matching for young jobseekers
  • The job-hunting platform was created by two young Bahrainis fed up with opaque hiring practices and shortage of resources

BAHRAIN: Job hunting is one of the toughest challenges for any young adult. In a highly competitive market, finding employment that not only works on a personal level but also provides a viable career path can be complicated.

For Bahraini youth, this became less of a problem when Majra emerged to offer a cultural and personality-based job matching service.

The company, launched in 2017, was created as the result of two young Bahrainis going through the job-search grind.

Co-founder, Najma Ghuloom, 29, said: “We started having conversations about job hunting and how a lot of the platforms and resources we were using were not very transparent.

“We couldn’t find a lot of information about the job itself or whether or not the company would be a great match for us. A lot of jobs would not put the company name, for instance, or it would be confidential.

“Talking to other people, we realized that this was a common issue, and it didn’t feel that the process catered to young people who have an understanding of what they’re looking for and have certain values going into their professions,” she added.

Thousands of unemployed Omani gather at the national football stadium in Oman's capital Muscat on March 7 for one of the 10.000 vacancies for new policemen. (AFP/File Photo)

Launched as a web-based platform, Majra emphasizes personalizing the experience for both employers and jobseekers. Those on the hiring side are encouraged to showcase their workplace culture, what it is like to be an employee at the company, and what they seek in candidates.

“We also provide services where we would go to their offices, take pictures of the place, interview current employees, and understand their workplace and create content around that,” Ghuloom said.

With jobseekers, stress is placed on the same cultural and personality aspects that would facilitate the matching experience.

“We emphasize personalizing profiles and not just having the same template for CVs that would make all jobseekers look alike. We have certain questions pertinent to particular jobs, including why they want to apply with a specific company or for a job role, and how it aligns with their personal goals,” she added.

True to its transparency ethic, Majra also makes sure that candidates receive job status updates, and it encourages employers to keep jobseekers apprised of the different phases of the selection process.

Majra works closely with both parties. This includes offering workshops and one-on-one coaching to those who request it and things as simple as having jobseekers’ resumes reviewed if they ask for it.

Ghuloom said: “We constantly engage with our jobseekers and make sure they are heard. As for employers, we work very closely if they need support when it comes to building content for their profiles or if they need someone to help them on-board their employees.”

For many GCC nationals, finding employment that not only works on a personal level but also provides a viable career path can be complicated. (AFP/File photo)

The firm does not charge jobseekers to create profiles and apply for jobs. For employers, it has two options to choose from.

Its pay-as-you-go model is suitable for smaller companies with modest hiring needs, allowing them to pay per post and offering limited access to the company’s database.

Subscription packages are designed for larger companies that may have multiple branches across Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, or startups looking to expand. These packages come with premium features and grant access to the database and statistics.

“Everything from day one has been a learning curve. The beginning was the hardest, with very limited resources to get everything up and running.

“As a founding team, everyone had to be involved in everything. We wouldn’t have been where we are today if it were not for those hurdles,” Ghuloom added.

Majra has a number of projects either underway or in the pipeline, starting with a sister platform called Gigs. Catering entirely for freelancers in the region, it launched in early September.

Gigs will allow employers to access freelancers’ profiles and connect with them directly, and it already has hundreds of freelancers signed up and ready to work. Through the platform, Majra aims to change the local perception that freelance work is not a viable career path.


* This report is being published by Arab News as a partner of the Middle East Exchange, which was launched by the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives to reflect the vision of the UAE prime minister and ruler of Dubai to explore the possibility of changing the status of the Arab region.

Huge Titanic replica to open in China

Huge Titanic replica to open in China
Updated 7 min 10 sec ago

Huge Titanic replica to open in China

Huge Titanic replica to open in China
  • Six-year construction was longer than original Titanic build
  • Site features a replica of Southampton Port seen in James Cameron’s 1997 disaster epic

SUINING: The Titanic is being brought back from the deep, more than a century after its ill-fated maiden voyage, at a landlocked Chinese theme park where tourists can soon splash out for a night on a fullscale replica.
The project’s main backer was inspired to recreate the world’s most infamous cruise liner by the 1997 box office hit of the same name — once the world’s top-grossing film and wildly popular in China.
The original luxury vessel, the largest of its time and branded “unsinkable” by its owners, has become a byword for hubris ever since it plunged into the depths of the Atlantic in 1912 after striking an iceberg, leaving more than 1,500 people dead.
Investor Su Shaojun says he was motivated to finance the audacious, 260-meter-long (850-foot-long) duplicate to keep memories of the Titanic alive.
“I hope this ship will be here in 100 or 200 years,” Su said.
“We are building a museum for the Titanic.”
It has taken six years — longer than the construction of the original Titanic — plus 23,000 tons of steel, more than a hundred workers and a hefty one billion yuan ($153.5 million) price tag.
Everything from the dining room to the luxury cabins and even the door handles are styled on the original Titanic.
It forms the centerpiece of a Sichuan province theme park more than 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) from the sea.
The site features a replica of Southampton Port seen in James Cameron’s 1997 disaster epic, where Leonardo DiCaprio’s fictional character Jack swings on board after winning his ticket in a bet.
Tour buses play the film’s theme tune, Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On,” on repeat.
It costs up to 2,000 yuan (around $150) to spend one night on the ship for the “five-star cruise service,” Su says, adding that with a functioning steam engine guests will feel that they are really at sea.
He was so excited by the challenge that he sold his energy industry assets, including a stake in several hydropower projects, to invest in the Titanic.
But even before opening, the replica has drawn plenty of controversy.
Online users have questioned whether the famous ship would attract tourists given the disaster that struck its real-life inspiration.
Others feared it would join other ambitious Chinese building projects that turned into white elephants — including a 2008 replica of the USS Enterprise, an American aircraft carrier, which cost over $18 million and was abandoned shortly after it opened.
But Su hopes as many as five million annual visitors will come to see his Titanic.
“This tourist volume should guarantee the return of our investment,” he added.
Project manager Xu Junnian said he felt it was important to preserve the vessel’s memory.
“The greatest significance of building this ship is to carry forward and inherit the great spirit of Titanic,” he said.
Aside from the enduring appeal of the Hollywood blockbuster, the Titanic has stolen headlines in China in recent weeks with the release of a new documentary called “The Six.”
The film tells the story of a group of Chinese travelers on board when the ship sinks, of whom six survived.
But the developers are hoping to rope in some bigger names to help draw visitors.
“We’d like to invite Jack, Rose and James Cameron to the inauguration ceremony,” Su said.

Riyals, euros or dollars: Women money changers at heart of Djibouti’s street economy

Riyals, euros or dollars: Women money changers at heart of Djibouti’s street economy
Updated 43 min 10 sec ago

Riyals, euros or dollars: Women money changers at heart of Djibouti’s street economy

Riyals, euros or dollars: Women money changers at heart of Djibouti’s street economy
  • The informal sector drives around two-thirds of economic activity in Djibouti

DJIBOUTI: They are a familiar sight on the busy streets of Djibouti: women clutching handbags bulging with dollars, euros, riyals and rupees, the money changers keeping the informal economy ticking over.
Perched on plastic chairs, feet propped on wooden steps, these “sarifley” as they are locally known are vital to the global cast of migrants, traders and soldiers passing through this tiny nation at the crossroads of Africa and Arabia.
Trading in money offers a safe, reliable way especially for women to feed their families, in a conservative country where they lag men in education and literacy.
“I have it all. Euros, English pounds, Turkish lira, dollars, Indian rupees, anything,” said Medina, who offered just her first name, flashing a purse she estimated held the equivalent of one million Djiboutian francs ($5,600/€4,700) in multiple currencies.
Customers and traders alike say that economic life would suffer a lot more friction without the money changers.
Camped at Rimbaud Square, overlooked by a grand mosque in the heart of Djibouti city, Medina and three other sarifley scan the bustling crowds for customers.
Before long a young man from Yemen, the war-torn country across the Bab-el-Mandeb strait from Djibouti, approaches in a flowing white tunic and turban, wanting to change Saudi riyals.
Medina exchanged a few words with the foreigner, tapped some calculations into her phone, then counted out a wad of crumpled Djiboutian francs retrieved from the depths of her bag.
“We bring Saudi riyals with us (to Djibouti) because our currency, with the war, keeps fluctuating all the time,” said the Yemeni, slipping away into the crowd as a police car crawled by.
Refugees from Yemen, migrants en route to the Gulf, foreign troops stationed in naval bases, Ethiopian truck drivers — Djibouti is a melting pot of cultures, and currencies, on the Horn of Africa.
“We also deal with Djibouti businessmen going abroad for their work, as well as foreigners and tourists,” said Noura Hassan, another sarifley in the capital.
When her husband died a decade ago, the mother-of-three started out with just her savings in francs, before acquiring more currencies.
Every day, Hassan refers to a printout from the local bank to gauge exchange rates and determines what to offer customers for the major currencies.
“It is a good job, and I am proud of it,” said the money changer, wearing a blue veil and black abaya, the traditional floor-length tunic worn by Muslim women.
In PK12, a busy neighborhood where many Ethiopians live, Ahmed jumped out of his tuk-tuk to change some Ethiopian birr on the roadside.
“The difference might be 10 or 20 francs, it’s not much,” said the rickshaw driver about the street rates compared to those officially on offer.
But those exchange offices are far away — whereas the sarifley are on every corner and marketplace.
“Without them, I would say that trade in PK12 would not be possible,” said Faiza, who sells khat, the popular narcotic plant that is a daily staple in Djibouti and other parts of the Horn.
“They make sure to feed their families ... We help each other like that,” the 25-year-old trader said.
The informal sector drives around two-thirds of economic activity in Djibouti, said researcher Abdoulkader Houssein Mohamed from the Djibouti Center for Studies and Research (CERD).
Of those engaged in the sector, three-quarters are women, he added.
Safety might be a concern, but in a country of just under one million inhabitants, even the capital feels like a village, the sarifley said — a reassurance when your line of work requires carrying bundles of cash on the streets.
Zahra, one sarifley in the city, said of thieves: “They don’t come near us. They are afraid.”
She also wasn’t too concerned about being scammed by a forger or unscrupulous seller trying to palm off counterfeit cash.
“Even if I was asleep and you handed me a forgery, I would know... Counterfeit cash, I’ll know. The real thing, I know. That’s my job isn’t it?“

Musk tweets, doge leaps and bitcoin retreats

Musk tweets, doge leaps and bitcoin retreats
Updated 14 May 2021

Musk tweets, doge leaps and bitcoin retreats

Musk tweets, doge leaps and bitcoin retreats
  • Markets have gyrated to Musk tweets for months since his interest in dogecoin sparked a hundred-fold rally

SINGAPORE: Bitcoin was pinned near its lowest in more than two months on Friday and headed for its worst week since February, while dogecoin leapt by a fifth as tweets from Tesla boss Elon Musk sent the two cryptocurrencies on a wild ride.
Markets have gyrated to Musk tweets for months since his interest in dogecoin sparked a hundred-fold rally in the previously ignored token’s value this year, while Tesla’s $1.5 billion bitcoin purchase helped it break past $50,000 in February.
Yet in an equally surprising U-turn he dented the world’s biggest cryptocurrency this week after announcing Tesla stopped accepting bitcoin in payment owing to environmental concerns, making investors uneasy about Musk’s influence on crypto prices.
Bitcoin is down nearly 15 percent this week at $49,804.
Dogecoin is down about a third since last Friday, having tumbled after Musk referred to it as a “hustle” on Saturday Night Live. It then jumped 20 percent after his latest comments that he was involved in work to improve its efficiency.
“Working with Doge devs to improve system transaction efficiency. Potentially promising,” Musk said on Twitter, vaulting dogecoin from about $0.43 to $0.52 on the Binance exchange.
It was unclear if Musk was referring to efficiency in terms of energy use, ease of use or suitability as a currency, said Mark Humphery-Jenner, an associate professor of finance at the University of New South Wales business school in Sydney.
Dogecoin consumes 0.12 kilowatt hours of electricity per transaction compared with 707 for bitcoin, according to data center provider TRG, but it is near impossible to use it to buy anything.
Almost worthless in late 2020, dogecoin is the latest darling of a frenzy gripping crypto markets that began last year as institutional investors announced big bitcoin purchases.
It has surged to become the fourth-largest cryptocurrency by market cap, according to CoinMarketCap.com. Second-biggest cryptocurrency ether has also soared more than 400 percent this year. It last sat at $3,865, steady for the week so far.
The huge moves have begun to attract regulatory scrutiny, and a Bloomberg report on Thursday which said major exchange Binance was under Justice Department investigation in the US added to some of the price pressure on cryptos this week.
Musk’s tweets and the market’s response may also invite attention, said Edward Moya, an analyst at brokarage OANDA.
“Tesla is drawing tremendous scrutiny for Musk’s cheerleading of Bitcoin,” he said. “If Tesla unveils a bet on dogecoin, regulators may have their eyes on Musk.”
Others, however, say the market might be more comparable to an old fashioned bubble.
“Dogecoin remains a lesson in greater fool theory,” said David Kimberley, analyst at investing app Freetrade, which posits that buying overpriced assets can be profitable, so long as there is a “greater fool” to buy them at ever higher prices.
“It’s being pumped by people that want to get rich quick (and Elon Musk),” he said.

Egypt’s road building drive eases jams but leaves some unhappy

Egypt’s road building drive eases jams but leaves some unhappy
Updated 14 May 2021

Egypt’s road building drive eases jams but leaves some unhappy

Egypt’s road building drive eases jams but leaves some unhappy
  • Infrastructure push aims to galvanize economy
  • Experts say structural economic problems remain

CAIRO: At weekends, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi is often driven out to a road construction site in Cairo where he is pictured surveying stretches of recently poured asphalt and being briefed by workers.
The highways and bridges he inspects are the most visible part of a big infrastructure push meant to galvanize Egypt’s economy after decades of rapid population growth and unplanned building.
Led by the government and the military, it includes several new cities and one million low-cost homes and has helped pull Egypt through the economic shock of the pandemic and remain in growth last year.
But there is a cost. Some of those displaced by new roads are unhappy at losing their homes, others at seeing their neighborhoods suddenly transformed. Analysts question how much difference the infrastructure boom can make while structural economic problems persist.
One area of intense activity is eastern Cairo, where new roads and bridges scythe through the urban sprawl toward a futuristic capital under construction in the desert and due to open this year.
In the Ezbet el-Hagana neighborhood, drilling machines and diggers are laying out an intersection that cuts through cheap, informal housing, of which hundreds of units have been demolished to make way for the road.
When El-Sisi visited in February, he met ministers in front of unpainted brick housing blocks and discussed how half Egypt’s population of 100 million lived in similar conditions. Afterwards, El-Sisi announced it would be renamed “Hope City.”
But residents of Ezbet el-Hagana, many of whom moved from rural areas and built apartments and livelihoods, say they worry about the uncertainty.
Ali Abdelrehim, a 52-year-old father of four, said his house was not at immediate risk but others might suffer if authorities carry out the president’s suggestion to widen the area’s narrow streets.
“These changes worry people,” he said, adding that business at his carpentry shop has slowed to a trickle as people stop work on homes that risk demolition.
Hosni Ali, a 34-year-old selling tomatoes from a donkey cart, said a storage room he rented was demolished because of the new roadworks. “Everyone here is scared ... everything is on hold,” he said.
Across eastern Cairo and beyond, long-delayed road projects are racing ahead. As much as 1.1 trillion Egypt pounds ($70 billion) will be spent on transport in the decade to 2024, one third of that on roads and bridges, the transport minister has said.
Officials present the road building as part of efforts to develop informal areas across Egypt, connecting them to transport networks and basic services. They say those displaced will be compensated or resettled.
Some of those moved from Ezbet el-Hagana have been allocated furnished housing in Ahlina, a new district on Cairo’s outskirts with a youth center and playgrounds, and residents say conditions are good. But they have to pay rent and some have lost access to work.
“The problem is money, and life is expensive,” said 75-year-old pensioner Sabri Abdo, whose son is a motor rickshaw driver. “Before this I lived in my own property and didn’t pay rent. No one knows my son here, so things aren’t working for him like they were over there.”
The east Cairo governor’s office, which oversees the area, was not available for comment.
The road building surge – social media posts dub Egypt “the republic of roads and bridges” – has triggered disquiet for other reasons.
Bridge and road building near the pyramids, around Cairo’s “cities of the dead” where people live among old family tombs, and in the genteel neighborhood of Heliopolis, has alarmed conservationists.
Commuting in and out of Heliopolis has become quicker but the character of the neighborhood had changed for residents, said Choucri Asmar, head of volunteer group Heliopolis Heritage Foundation.
“They cannot walk in the street anymore, they can’t cross the street anymore, they cannot see trees from their balconies every afternoon with the birds,” he said.
Asked for a response to complaints about the road and bridge program on TV earlier this year, El-Sisi said no sector – including health, education, agriculture and manufacturing – was neglected.
“We need to do this so we can make people’s lives easier, so we can reduce the amount of lost time, people’s stress and the fuel being used causing more pollution,” he said.
A World Bank study in 2014 estimated the costs of congestion in greater Cairo at 3.6 percent of Egypt’s gross domestic product, far higher than some other big cities – though it warned that building more roads and bridges would not solve the problem.
While tens of billions of dollars are being spent on roads in eastern Cairo, the new capital in the desert and a summer capital on the north coast at El Alamein, roads elsewhere are often under-maintained, mass transit limited and public services patchy.
Like other motorists, Hesham Abu Aya, a 51-year-old taxi driver with three daughters, said new roads had eased the traffic crisis but he had to pay 7,500 Egyptian pounds ($480) to fix his car after hitting a pothole.
“If I want the state to spend on something other than bridges and roads, it would be health care,” he said.
Egypt suffers from lack of research and development and barriers to private sector expansion, said Yezid Sayigh, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Middle East Center. “Behind all the investment in real estate or in infrastructure, there’s very little investment in the rest of the productive economy.”
Those with a record in the sector tend to get contracts from military and other state agencies directing the infrastructure drive and can secure financing from banks, said Shams Eldin Yousef, Chairman of Al-Shams Contracting Company and a board member of Egypt’s construction federation.
His company has picked up business through the road projects but he wonders how long the boom will last.
“If a wheel that is moving at this speed and on this scale stops, it will be a problem,” he said.

Turkey’s Karpowership says it is shutting down power to Lebanon

Turkey’s Karpowership says it is shutting down power to Lebanon
Updated 3 min 14 sec ago

Turkey’s Karpowership says it is shutting down power to Lebanon

Turkey’s Karpowership says it is shutting down power to Lebanon
  • The company provides electricity to Lebanon from two barges
  • Move piles fresh pressure on the battered economy

BEIRUT: Turkey’s Karpowership, which provides electricity to Lebanon from two barges, said on Friday it was shutting down supplies over payment arrears and a legal threat to its vessels as the nation grapples with a deep economic crisis.
The company, which supplies 370 megawatts (MW), or about a quarter of Lebanon’s current supply, told the government this week it would have to shut down unless there were moves toward settling the issues.
The shutdown threatens longer daily power cuts across the heavily indebted nation, which did not have enough capacity to meet demand even before Karpowership’s move on Friday.
Many people in the country, which has seen its currency collapse since a crisis erupted in late 2019, rely on private generators or struggle for many hours a day without power.
“For 18 months we have been exceedingly flexible with the state, continually supplying power without payment or a payment plan, because the country was already facing very hard times. However, no company can operate in an environment with such direct and undue risk,” Karpowership, a unit of Karadeniz, said.
A source familiar with the situation said generators were powered down starting from about 8 a.m. (0500 GMT).
The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said arrears exceeded $100 million, and said the government had not sought talks to resolve the arrears despite the firm’s repeated appeals to avert a shutdown.
A Lebanese prosecutor threatened this month to seize the barges and fine the firm after Lebanese TV channel Al-Jadeed reported corruption accusations over the power contract. The firm denies the charges.
Lebanon’s Finance Ministry said this week it had received a letter from the Turkish firm with warning, citing a lawmaker saying the country could face “total darkness” if the barges shut off power. It has made no public statement about any talks.
Each of Karpowership’s barges has a capacity of 202 MW, against a contract to supply 370 MW.
An industry source said Lebanon’s total capacity was about 2,200 MW, including the barges, but was only generating 1,300 MW, including the Turkish supplies of 370 MW. Lebanon’s peak demand in 2020 was 3,500 MW, the source said.