KhaleeGE: New Year, New Initiative
“Yola,” “Balaleet,” “Rgaag,” and “Bukhoor” – if you are a citizen of the Arabian Gulf region, or perhaps an expatriate resident, these words will be instantly familiar to you. If not, these are likely to be unfamiliar, so here’s what they are: a local Emirati dance, a pasta-based dessert, a thin flatbread, and a kind of incense.
All played a part GE’s celebration last month at its Dubai office of UAE National Day, an event that was part of a new GE Gulf initiative called KhaleeGE. “Khaleeji” is the Arabic word for someone from the Arabian Gulf region.
KhaleeGE, a network of GE employees who are Gulf nationals, seeks to strengthen internal networks and career development among these Gulf national employees, foster GE’s engagement with local communities across the region, as well as build a pipeline of talent from the Gulf. GE Gulf encompasses the company’s operations in Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the UAE, four of the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
KhaleeGE is just one of many employee affinity groups that GE encourages across the globe, in its effort to foster diversity, which the company sees as delivering significant commercial benefits to its clients and its operations. One of the largest of these affinity organizations is the GE Women’s Network, which operates globally, including in the GE Middle East, North Africa (MENA) and Turkey region.
The UAE National Day celebration featured Yola dancers, cooks preparing Rgaag and other traditional Emirati dishes; a sampling of Emirati dates; Bukhoor, Oud and other incense; henna designing on women’s hands; a buffet lunch with classic Emirati food, a traditional majlis tent, and a Emirati best-dressed competition.
The event is just one aspect of the broader KhaleeGE program that will support Gulf employees’ career advancement through networking, team building, mentoring, leadership training and exposure to senior GE executives.
As well, the program will promote better understanding of local culture among non-local GE employees – e.g., the UAE National Day event, and it will reach out to local nonprofit groups to support their community development and enrichment efforts, in part through support from the GE Volunteers program. KhaleeGE also will support regional institutions and government agencies involved in human capital development, and it will raise awareness of GE among potential Gulf national employees.
Already, KhaleeGE counts more than 105 members across the four countries – all working together to support their careers and deepen GE’s involvement in communities across the region.