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    Qatar Museums Authority announces re-branding amid layoff uncertainty

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    qma new.jpg

    The Qatar Museums Authority will change its name to “Qatar Museums” this week as part of a move to make it “an approachable, modern service with a public voice,” the organization has announced.

    The re-branding plans were shared with staff during a meeting by QMA chairwoman Sheikha Al Mayassa Al Thani. Employees were also told to expect “a review of duplication,” prompting fears of significant job losses at the organization.

    In a statement sent to Doha News, QMA said that their new name and brand, which will be officially launched on May 15, was designed to highlight the authority’s role as “a cultural instigator.”

    The statement continued:

    “This aligns with our organizational vision to develop, promote and sustain the cultural sector in Qatar at the highest standards. In our logo, we removed the word ‘authority’ to become simply ‘QATAR MUSEUMS.’ This signals our shift from being an entity working behind the scenes, to an approachable, modern service with a public voice.”

    However, QMA said the name change is not linked to plans to convert the authority into a “private entity for public good.” That move was announced last August amid criticism from some Qataris about how the authority was spending its budget, but has yet to become reality.

    Details of the restructuring were supposed to have been disclosed last fall, but nine months have now passed with no news.

    Speaking to Doha News, several QMA staff members said that the upcoming departure of CEO Edward Dolman – and the subsequent search for a new leader – has shed doubt on when the move would actually happen. One employee said:

    “The hunt is on for a new CEO, and they will have to be Qatari, and that may take some time. It’s Ramadan soon, and it certainly won’t be announced before then. I suspect we won’t get an announcement of a new CEO until September or October.”

    In the interim, Mansoor bin Ebrahim Al Mahmoud has been promoted from special advisor to Sheikha Al Mayassa to acting CEO.

    The appointment has caused unease among some employees who are worried about staff redundancies, because the Qatari official also serves on the executive board of the Doha Film Institute. That government-funded organization recently has seen significant budget and job cuts.

    Job losses

    In its statement to Doha News, QMA confirmed that the organization is “reviewing duplication of processes” to make it more efficient.

    Internally, this news has provoked concern among many staffers, several of whom have told Doha News that a lack of proper communication from management has increased panic about possible redundancies.

    But others argued that the fears were unfounded, saying “the whole country is paused, so it’s not only here.”

    Still, uncertainty seems widespread. “You get a Chinese whisper effect,” one employee said. “You hear about job losses varying from 70-700, and budgets being cut from 10 to 70 percent.”

    Another employee who also requested anonymity said:

    “There have been many rumors about hundreds of people to be laid off. We assume they will keep the core functions of museums within the museums themselves, and move the support functions to the QMA. They will obviously get rid of extra staff that are doing the same tasks. We assume that these will naturally be the expats.”

    Staff members have also said there is concern that contracts for many of the QMA’s temporary staff, often hired as consultants, may not be renewed.

    QMA employees have also alleged that teams working on plans for three proposed museums – the Pearl, Media and Children’s museums – have been significantly reduced, and plans for individual museums scrapped.

    However, a QMA spokesperson told Doha News today that while the organization had considered establishing permanent homes for the Pearl and Media collections, these plans were never formalized.

    The collections remain, however, and their respective teams are still working on them, she said, adding that there had been “no change” to plans for the Children’s Museum.

    Thoughts?

    Victoria Scotthttp://toryscott.wordpress.com
    Victoria Scott is Editor-at-Large at Doha News. Before moving to Qatar in 2009, she was a broadcast journalist for BBC News for eight years. She's also worked for Al Jazeera, Reuters and The Telegraph. She has a postgraduate degree in Broadcast Journalism from City University, London, and an undergraduate degree in English Language and Literature from King's College, London.

    9 COMMENTS

    1. Efficiency is a good thing, the IMF recommended it a few days ago.

      Some places seem full of redundancies and a serious look at how the money is spent would be required. Extra people, unneeded projects, extra burdens, some things need to be trimmed down.

      • Perhaps but giving unclear messages only increases uncertainty making it even harder to get new employees. If you then can’t get the right people to do the job your costs go higher and higher and higher…

    2. Someone needs an english dictionary. Instigator is not a good term. It means to incite someone to do something, esp. something bad.

      Maybe they meant to say initiate.

    3. The problem of redundancies is common in government institutions here in Qatar. I understand that this is widely accepted for Qataris, since the government can afford it and it is an easy solution for unemployment issues. However, having redundant expats is something unacceptable and reveals poor management, bad choices and lack of organization.

    4. Good. Get rid of the dead weight and the creative wannabes. We’re seeing more and more layoffs, hiring freezes and whole organizations closing their doors. Unless you deliver in an efficient and transparent manner, you will be axed.

      A lot of similar projects fall victim of over employing and over paying staff for their expert views… Started with Rand and Tribecca .. Then some family consultancy business… Now this … Go Qatar!

      • Theoretically, what you are saying is completely true. In practice, there is usually no strategy behind these layoffs, and the common approach here is to remove tens or hundreds of people overnight regardless of their performances. This means that after sometime (6 months or one year), managers discover that their solution was not the right one and they either restart hiring again or they kill the project off altogether. In both cases, it is a huge waste of the government’s money.

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