The Cardboard Box Story

Last week, Bob went out to find cardboard boxes to pack up the Art Dept for the move to Qatar. He found around thirty boxes for $14 JOD. He sent this information to Ibrahim.

Ibrahim then emailed Bob telling him that before ATP bought the cardboard boxes, Bob had to go back to the supplier, photograph the boxes, email the photos to Procurement, then await permission to buy them assuming ATP did not find a better deal.

So Bob left again to do this. He measured the boxes. Photographed them. Then emailed the measurements and photos to ATP. He wasted a whole day on this. 

A week later, and Bob has now been told he can go get the boxes. We now have them.

Good news is, ATP got a discount. About £2 JODs.

Bad news is, if you factor in the amount of Bob’s time ATP wasted, plus that of their own Procurement team, Bob and I reckon the $2 JOD saving they made must have cost the investors over $400 JOD in wasted man-time.


UPDATE – May 19th, 2016

More recently, there was the story of the workbench that should normally cost about $200. But which, due to ATP’s behaviour, ended up costing $50,000. This will be detailed in a blog entry in a few weeks.

Go Fuck Yourself!

Bob had a meeting with Ibrahim a few days ago which did not go well. Bob has not been paid for three weeks. He confronted Ibrahim about this who had no excuse.

As Bob lost his temper, Ibrahim threatened to fire him. Bob told him to go right ahead adding that he might like to call Simon (the director) and tell him what had happened because at that point Simon would quit and Issam would leave too.

Bob then told Ibrahim to “go fuck himself”, at which point there was a hesitant cheer from the adjoining office where Ibrahim’s staff reside!

It is of course terrible that such things should happen. But if dissent does exist within the ‘hallowed halls’ of ATG, Ibrahim and ATG have brought this upon themselves.

In the past, ATG has attempted to divide and conquer the Art Department. Recognisable tactics include paying some staff on time and others late in order to create tension within the Art Department. Unfortunately for ATG, their tactics are transparent and rather immature. The result is that the Art Department has become more united, and often laughs at their silly little games.

I have heard from some of the less loyal ATG staff that this has caused tremendous frustration at ATG. They cannot understand why it is that they cannot ‘break’ us. What we cannot understand is why ATG would even want to. There is something ‘mentally ill’ about this company.

Shifting The Blame, ATP Style

Bob is upset today. Ibrahim tried to blame him for the fact the water tanks still haven’t shipped.

The tanks were ready for shipping nearly four weeks ago. But Tareq – an ATG employee – changed the previously agreed despatch arranger from the manufacturer to Dynamic International.

At the time I said this was not a good idea since the tanks were ready and should ship ASAP rather than be grouped with other equipment that wasn’t ready because Ibrahim, after weeks of inaction, still hasn’t approved their payments.

So four weeks later the tanks are still stuck at Dynamic because Ibrahim has taken so long to pay for everything else.

And yet somehow this is Bob’s fault?

Nice one, Ibrahim.

Battle Of The Construction Manager & Bob’s Unpaid Wages

While I got on with a provisional schedule in the absence of a Construction Manager, various things happened today. First, Ibrahim failed to pay Bob  his wages despite the fact Ibrahim had promised Bob they would be paid before the 10th May. This is the second time Bob’s wages have been late. This morning Bob decided not to work because of it. I told Bob to go right ahead.

Meantime, Issam promised to deal with it and he spoke to Ibrahim who promised that Bob would be paid by Friday at the latest. But since Ibrahim has broken promise after promise about wages being paid on time, why would we believe him?

By the afternoon Bob was doing work for Ray Perry anyway. He’s a good egg, is Bob.

Currently Talal (ATG’s owner) and Ahmed (Medinah’s original creator) were in town. Ahmed is usually in Qatar where he lives. I’ve been told he does not like being away from home. The fact he really needs to be here is a problem.

Talal, on the other hand, seems to rarely be in Jordan. Instead he likes to spend his time travelling from place to place. London. Paris. I’m not sure where else but this is the first time he has been here that I know of since I arrived back on March 17th.

The first description I heard of Talal was, “angry child”. Though I have not sat in one of his meetings with his staff yet, everything I have been told indicates it is painful for his employees.

The reason Talal is here is allegedly two-fold; First, because Ahmed is here (I have been told Talal needs to, “keep a reign on the show’s creator and money-channel” – no comment on what this means – I’m just quoting what I’ve been told). Second, because another show has been thrown into chaos.

I have been told ATG is producing three shows. The first is of course “Medinah”. The second is a show called “Malik”. The third, well I don’t even know what that is. But “Malik” was plunged into total chaos last Thursday when the designer, photographer and director all quit. Just to give you a sense of how bad that was, consider this;

ATG has a clause in its freelancer contract that states that if a freelancer quits they must refund all of their wages!!!

I’m going to say that again because you won’t believe it. If a freelancer quits, ATG’s contract demands that they refund all their wages.

“Malik’s” director was so fed up with ATG he agreed to go to the bank and refund 1/3 of his wages there and then.

So ATG staff marched him to the bank and took back his money.

Meantime, “Medinah” is also in chaos. Talal is refusing to meet the show’s designer. Why, I’m not sure.

ATG hired international crew for “Medinah” not out of choice, but because it’s part of ATG’s contract with the financiers: ATG must use international HoDs in order to make sure “Medinah” is of a greater standard than their usual shows because ATG has no experience of making a show of this scale. It’s become clear that ATG is not happy about this.

(There’s also another rule that anyone working on “Medinah” must not be working on anything else. But I have heard that the production manager, production coordinator, make-up artists and location manager are all involved in “Malik” and – possibly – the other unnamed show. It has also been often alleged that “Medinah’s” budget is funding the other two shows to some degree. Last time I checked this was called “embezzlement” – but so far it’s just a rumour).

Anyway, Talal is refusing to meet Chris because Chris wants a UK Construction Manager and other UK crew. Now the show will be better for it. But Talal insists that local crews are just as good. However, ATG has shown me local crew work that they commissioned and frankly it’s atrocious – so while there may be good work somewhere in Jordan, ATG doesn’t seem to have anything to do with it.

ATG acts like this does not matter, but it does. It matters because just as an audience member can often tell good acting from bad without knowing why, they can also tell when something looks real or like a set. And that destroys the ‘reality’ of fictional drama.

So back to tonight. Chris – the designer – has been trying to meet Talal since yesterday but Talal has been ducking and diving. He’s finally, supposedly, meeting Chris today. But only because Ahmed is here so avoiding Chris is nigh on impossible.

Earlier today, Chris told Issam that if Talal isn’t allowing him a UK Construction Manager he might as well quit. And if he quits, Simon Hunter – the director – has said he will quit too.

It has come to the point that we may all be quitting tomorrow. So anther ATG show will have gone down the toilet in under 7 days due to their useless bloody-mindedness. You got to hand it to them; at least they’re consistent.

Fozan Salaheen & Talal’s Attitude Towards The UK Art Dept

So apparently there was a meeting last night about the Art Department … to which the Art Department was not invited. But I heard through someone who was there that it was ugly. Apparently, Talal informed those present that none of us UK people know what we are doing (!) and we just waste money (Let me add that this is the same person who has paid me to be here eight weeks but allowed me to do nothing! And let’s not get on to Chris, the designer, being here since last November!!!). Anyway, curiously the one art department person that was there was Fozan Salaheen – a local, and ATG’s go-to designer. I have been told Fozan is not only the new designer on “Malik”, he is now the Construction Manager on “Medinah”!
I foresee several problems here.
First, ATG knows that they are not allowed to have “Medinah” crew work on other productions. But hey, we’ve been here before so there’s nothing new in their allegedly using “Medinah” funds to finance their other productions. But there’s another problem: I was told that during the meeting he flatly denied agreeing to do a test piece for us about 4 or 5 weeks ago, that he had stopped responding to my phone calls and emails, only to then eventually email me saying he would, well — let him explain in his own words….
Now after this I asked him about another test he was supposed to be supervising for us. Basically, we wanted to know if local artisans could reproduce stone walls convincingly. We gave Fozan a sample to show to someone. Fozan proceeded to argue about how it should be done (which seemed to defeat the point of doing a test). Anyway, we never saw the sample. Instead, the following email exchange happened. Notice that although I call it an exchange, none of them are from him. Fozan had disappeared.
So anyway, Fozan suddenly reappears at yesterday’s meeting. And today I see him hovering around the office, but Fozan does not talk to me. At one point I was in the kitchen. He came in behind me, saw me, and promptly left. I know because I saw him looking at me reflected in the window.
So Chris and I then had a chat in which we agreed we would politely try to work with Fozan but that we should pick up where we had left off. So I looked for Fozan but he had vanished again (on past occasions he has walked into the office because he has been told to, he has checked I’m here, then left without saying “Hello” on the pretext that I looked busy!).
So I texted Fozan and sent him an email. Here’s how it looked.
He didn’t answer my text or email. So at 11:49am I called him. No answer. I called again. This time he answered — maybe because he knew I was not going to stop until he did. He told me he was in a meeting with Ibrahim. I said “okay” and we agreed he would call me later to arrange a meeting later this afternoon.
Let’s see if that happens.
But one last thing. Not long after I sent this message, Fozan returned and confronted Issam – who had no idea what was going on. Fozan slammed Issam’s brand new MacBook on the desk- damaging the body. I missed this as I was at the other end of the building being told that Fozan was arranging interviews with carpenters without discussing this with me first. I’m not sure this is true but the fact I believe it could have happened speaks more about the lack of diplomacy and professional etiquette at ATG than it does about Fozan.
Meantime, here’s the email I sent him after the call.
Here’s a little backstory on Fozan. When we first met I was impressed. He talked about his passion and drive to do something worthwhile. Problem is, since then all I have seen him do is talk.
Finally, on an aside, ‘Bob’ just told me he called Ibrahim again to ask about his wages. Ibrahim promised they’d be paid tomorrow. He then said, “Bob, come on, you’re supposed to be on our side, not theirs”.
Apparently, it went right over Ibrahim’s head that there was something very wrong with this statement and that there should be no sides (see what I mean about a cult?). It seems to me that ATG is so used to screwing people over, they are no longer capable of seeing themselves as part of a team. It’s usually the case the thing a person or ‘company’ hates most is the very thing they are most guilty of. Why would you trust anyone else when you know you cannot be trusted? So it’s “us and them”. Great.

ADDED MAY 29th, 2016

Since writing this entry, I have become very fond of Fozan. It took me a while to understand his position – that he is a respected designer in his country who was basically being told by Talal to be a runner for an Art Department from another country. No wonder he was acting up.

‘Bob’ is a pseudonym that I shall be applying to a group of people to protect their identity in instances where ATG might seek to punish them.