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So, what about the MLI?
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Bindair Dundat



Joined: 04 Feb 2003
Posts: 1123

PostPosted: Sun Mar 14, 2004 2:55 pm    Post subject: So, what about the MLI? Reply with quote

Had an interview with the MLI people - seven 7 of them. Smile I thought they presented the MLI and its much-discussed problems fairly, and they made a convincing case for giving it a try. They said, yes, that some regrettable things happened, that the problems were due to the change of management, but that the MLI was learning to manage itself. They also said that the termination of the former management's contract had been planned and executed as part of the evolution of the institution.

They passed out a "staff recruitment" handbook, which discusses in great detail many of the issues (getting on the payroll, getting dependents situated in the UAE, etc.) that have been brought up in this forum and in a certain letter that has been circulated. Looking through the handbook, I don't see many significant differences between MLI policies and those of other government-run institutions in the UAE. There are things that could be very upsetting if they happened unexpectedly, and I wonder if that was a significant part of the problem for people who arrived last year - ?

I'm also wondering if the predicted "mass exodus" from the MLI has materialized.

In my dealings with the MLI, they have been responsive, efficient, and polite. I'm not suggesting that this reflects the character of the UAE military organization, but it does appear that there are some people at the MLI who are able and willing to get things done.

I just don't think it looks like a bad place to work. I believe that the bad experiences that people reported really happened, but I see no reason to believe that they will continue or should be considered inevitably repetitious.
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veiledsentiments



Joined: 20 Feb 2003
Posts: 16006
Location: USA

PostPosted: Sun Mar 14, 2004 6:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello Bindair,

I'm sure that most of these people at the interview were sincere. (7 of them??? seems a bit much, but I have no experience with military interviews) But, what I would worry about is their ability to deliver. Do the people making these promises really have any ability to move the wheels of the military bureaucracy? They know that the story is out and they have to overcome their reputation in order to get the many teachers they need for the upcoming year.

AMIDEAST also made many promises in the interviews, and with their long experience dealing with the Arab world, sometimes they were even able to deliver on most of them. Who are these new people? This last year was absolute chaos. I don't think we can have any assurance that they will do that much better this year.

Personally I would avoid them like the plague. Perhaps in another few years, they may get their act together but right now all you have are rosy promises. (and personally speaking, I would point to another employer that shall remain nameless that promised the overcoming of previous problems - remember how well that one turned out for us????)

For someone like you with a family, a major road block I can see is how poorly they did in getting families in this year.

VS
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grand fromage



Joined: 16 Jun 2003
Posts: 131

PostPosted: Sun Mar 14, 2004 7:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have to agree with VS. This is not a good time to trust promises that they may not be able to keep. Last year's recruits were in the same boat as all of us that came before them--being at the mercy of an indifferent employer for whom we are just a number (in this case a military number Wink .

If waiting up to 4 months for your family to join you and to get a deposit in your bank account (rather than a salary advance or loan that will still come late) is OK with you, then MLI is the place for you.

Want more suspense? Our commander just retired, and there's a new one in the picture and he hasn't quite started off the right foot with the staff. But that's another posting and for someone else to make. Good luck deciding.

BTW, from talking to friends who work for other recognised institutions in the UAE, some are not as messed up contrary to your earlier comments.

BTW2 Bindair, did they really tell you that AMIDEAST's dismissal was planned? If so, it is an absolute lie. AMIDEAST was told they were going to be renewed (after a period of uncertainty) and one of their employees even went out and bought a car on that account! A few days before the news of their firing broke, in a conversation I had with their boss, David Heuring, I was told that under their new contract their role was to be more off-hands and advisory. Then, well they were no longer there, and they were removed last minute and without any word of thanks or good-bye ceremony-kind of through the backdoor after hours-really shameful on the part of the army, regardless what you thought of them!
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nowasta



Joined: 16 Mar 2003
Posts: 74
Location: uranus

PostPosted: Mon Mar 15, 2004 5:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

On paper...or should I say in those expensive, glossy handbooks the place looks good. However, I must be honest when I say that there are some real issues. The process of getting your family here and getting your payments set up will be difficult. In fact, you most likely won't be paid for several months as you will be among 30-40 new teachers and there is no doubt GHQ will screw something up. Don't even get me started about getting your housing and furniture. You have to live in a designated hotel apt. or a building owned by the right family. You must also get your furniture from stores owned by the right family. You will not have a choice in this matter.
Assuming everything is going okay during your in-processing, your next hurdle will be degree authentication. You will have to get your MA degree authenticated by your government, the UAE Dep't of Foreign Affairs and the UAE Ministry of Higher Education. This is not pleasant. They have already flunked some teachers for having distance MA's as well as the entire French Dep't for not having degrees that correspond to American ones. After you start working you will most likely need to visit Zayed Military Hospital at some point for some illness. I sincerely hope you don't expect to be treated like the locals...or even human for that matter...because you won't. Many people have gotten there own private health coverage or are looking into it. When you deduct the cost of this (1-2,000$ annual) from your salary it doesn't look like such a sweet deal anymore does it. Can you imagine if something serious was to happen you got the typical Zayed hospital run-around. You would have end up having to pay out of pocket...ouch! You should also consider the curriculum and teaching. While the students can be pleasant you will be often be treated poorly by the new administration. The old commander was a well liked, kind and caring individual but we have been told by the new staff that we are all a bunch of lazy complainers and we shouldn't come to them with any problems. We must deal with all of our problems through the ccordinators (who are looking out for our best interests!! Rolling Eyes ). Lastly, I should mention that the curriculum is in a state of flux and will probably be entirely revamped next year...can you imagine how organized that will be!
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Bindair Dundat



Joined: 04 Feb 2003
Posts: 1123

PostPosted: Mon Mar 15, 2004 7:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks to VS, GF, and nowasta for your replies. I am considering all available information carefully and will take my time in making a decision. I'd like to hear more, especially from anyone who has recent information.

I would like to clarify two points, and to respond to a couple of others.

1) No one at the MLI has promised me anything. No one has said that everything will run smoothly. There is no question in my mind about whether the people I talked to can deliver on their promises (i.e., whether they are being honest) because they haven't made any, nor would I ask them to. They seem to be doing what they can to improve the situation (beginning with bringing more teachers on board), which means that there are some forces for betterment at work at the MLI. That, to me, is encouraging.

2) GF: I did not say that any institution was "messed up". I said, "I don't see many significant differences between MLI policies and those of other government-run institutions in the UAE." You may interpret that as you wish, of course, but it was not my intention to imply that anything was "messed up." Sorry I did not clarify that sooner.

Now, the issue of bringing in one's dependents is significant. The MLI says 8 to 10 weeks. That's a long time for a child, a long time for a lonely person living in a new place and culture, and a long time for the spouse left at home. There is a remedy, however: Dependents can enter on visit visas. The MLI does not recommend doing so, as every new endeavor entails extra effort, expense, and possibly complications, but the option does exist for those who find the prospect of a lengthy separation unbearable. Some will; others will not; and yet others may even view a protracted separation in a positive light.

As for the question of pay dates, this too will create greater or lesser degrees of discomfort for different people. In my case, it will not be a problem at all. I can go a long, long time without a paycheck. For those who cannot, the MLI offers an advance after the first full month of service. For people who need money immediately and do not want to rely on the offer of an advance, the MLI would not be a good choice.

As for the authentication of degrees, it looks to me as though the MLI is handling this themselves. I have not earned my degrees by DL or in France (heh), so I don't think this will be a problem. If it were, I have every reason to believe that the recruiters would have advised me by now.

The health care does have its limitations, and people who are unfamiliar with the public health-care systems in the ME may be disappointed. I, myself, am likely to use private facilities because I do find interminable waiting annoying; that was a quirk I developed in waiting rooms in the U.S., if you get my drift I do note, by the way, that the coverage available to MLI employees apparently extends to unspecified "corrective vision surgery".

Finally, would like to say that I am not discouraged by suggestions that I will be "at the mercy of an indifferent employer for whom we are just a number" (GF) or that I will not be loved and cared for by the locals; I just don't care! I grew up and lived many years in America, and I am used to indifference, exploitation, and contempt from my "superiors". I do not expect to be valued for my unique combination of talents or as the special, wonderful person I am, but I assure you that neither am I likely to fall in love with the cadets or the generals, so I will not be losing any sleep over their callous disregard for me. Smile

Thanks for the opportunity to discuss these things. I would love to hear more from anyone who has any recent info -- and what about that expected mass exodus from the MLI? Is that in progress?
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grand fromage



Joined: 16 Jun 2003
Posts: 131

PostPosted: Mon Mar 15, 2004 10:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds like you've bindair and dundat and have also answered most of your own questions to your liking. I don't know about the others, but I merely wish to inform you and others like you to the reality of coming to work at MLI. I do not wish to encorage or discourage, and not even discuss the facts. Everyone can interpret them the way they choose, and that includes justifying finding explanations to the strange parctices of MLI (strange, as other recognised institutions do not make people go through so much frustration at the begining). Oh, you do realise that your way out of waiting for your family to arrive by bringing them on a tourist visa is entirely at your cost without any possibility of reimbursement (yes, GHQ will only issue an LPO after a visa has been issued--an alomost 5 month wait for some of last year's recruits). Not everyone has that kind of money. As for the mass exodus, it hasn't happened yet. However, why is MLI looking for such a large number of teachers when some are already sitting and waiting for sub duty?
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mli_vet



Joined: 11 Jun 2003
Posts: 99

PostPosted: Mon Mar 15, 2004 3:40 pm    Post subject: GHQ/MLI Dungeons and Prisoner Internment Camps Reply with quote

Bindair writes, "I just don't think it looks like a bad place to work. I believe that the bad experiences that people reported really happened, but I see no reason to believe that they will continue or should be considered inevitably repetitious."

This is incredibly wishful thinking Mr. Bindair. I've got suspicions you might be a management mouthpiece--hopefully only by your unwitting gullibility.

Don't be taken in by that glossy MLI handbook. I helped write the thing and can guarantee that is has no relation to reality. It's a laughingstock, a kind of inside joke among us MLI Vets. Don't believe that you'll have any rights or privileges. You sign these away when you put your signature on that contract--read it closely, and you'll see I'm right.

This place is more like a prisoner internment camp than a language institute. A sorry excuse for an educational endeavor. The backdoor treatment isn't reserved for AMIDEAST alone. Just wait and see.

The dungeons of GHQ are filled w/ the rotting skeletons of civilian workers (including some old ESL hands) who haven't been seen around for awhile. Who's next on the list to mysteriously disappear?

MLI Vet
Over and Out
mli_vet@yahoo.com
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Bindair Dundat



Joined: 04 Feb 2003
Posts: 1123

PostPosted: Mon Mar 15, 2004 3:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

grand fromage wrote:
Sounds like you've bindair and dundat and have also answered most of your own questions to your liking. I don't know about the others, but I merely wish to inform you and others like you to the reality of coming to work at MLI.


Great. Glad to hear it. Tell me, has the MLI paid off all back wages and set things right with the people who arrived last year? Does everyone have housing, telephone, transportation, family, etc?

grand fromage wrote:
I do not wish to encorage or discourage, and not even discuss the facts. Everyone can interpret them the way they choose, and that includes justifying finding explanations to the strange parctices of MLI (strange, as other recognised institutions do not make people go through so much frustration at the begining).


Lemme tell you a little story from the UGRU, ten years ago, when it was still the BUEC: A group of teachers (American and Canadian) who had processed through the UAE embassy in Washington got their paperwork delayed for several weeks beyond the term of the visit visas on which they had entered. They racked up daily fines, had to wait for car loans, driver's licenses, dependents, the whole nine yards -- apparently, the consequences were just like those in last year's MLI situation. The twist was that someone in the embassy had done it on purpose in order to put the screws to someone in the Ministry of Ed, or so the rumor went. Whether the rumor was true or not, the fact is that what happened can happen at ANY institution or organization that has to rely on the UAE gov for incoming processing, And this is just one example of a non-MLI bureaucratic horror story; everybody has heard them from all corners of the Middle East, and they are not limited to that part of the world. They can happen anytime, anywhere.

Now, if you see a pattern of such incidents developing over a number of years at any one institution, you've got a case. Right now, though, it seems as though everything negative that's being said about the MLI is related to a few months that mark a time of transition. I'll concede that that time of transition is probably NOT over -- but its existence does not serve, in my mind, as an indictment of anyone or of the institution itself.

grand fromage wrote:
Oh, you do realise that your way out of waiting for your family to arrive by bringing them on a tourist visa is entirely at your cost without any possibility of reimbursement (yes, GHQ will only issue an LPO after a visa has been issued--an alomost 5 month wait for some of last year's recruits).


Yes, I understand that. To me, this is not a problem. I faced the same problem in another ME country (Kuwait) and resolved it by opening up my wallet. In fact, I even paid my *own* way to Q8 because I didn't feel like waiting, waiting, waiting for the gov to get their act together. One benefit of paying my own way was that I got to choose my own routing, timing, stopovers, etc., so it was worth it to me. If I can't to wait for my family to arrive on the MLI's ticket, I'll pay their way. If I want things on MY terms, I expect to have to pay. No problem.

grand fromage wrote:
Not everyone has that kind of money. As for the mass exodus, it hasn't happened yet. However, why is MLI looking for such a large number of teachers when some are already sitting and waiting for sub duty?


I would never take it upon myself to try to explain the strangeness of any ME institution. Smile It's my considered opinion that the kinds of explanations we outsiders come up with simply don't usually fit the facts.

Nor would I accept a big recruitment drive as evidence that management expects a lot of people to leave; I DON'T GIVE THEM THAT MUCH CREDIT. The reason I ask about the threatened exodus is that it is a "put your money where your mouth is" sort of test. If people DON'T leave in droves, I will be led to conclude that the situation is not as bad as it might otherwise appear.
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Bindair Dundat



Joined: 04 Feb 2003
Posts: 1123

PostPosted: Mon Mar 15, 2004 4:15 pm    Post subject: Re: GHQ/MLI Dungeons and Prisoner Internment Camps Reply with quote

mli_vet wrote:

This place is more like a prisoner internment camp than a language institute. A sorry excuse for an educational endeavor. The backdoor treatment isn't reserved for AMIDEAST alone. Just wait and see.


Dear Mr. V.,

Well, do tell me more about day-to-day life there. All the complaints I've heard so far seem to concern only new people who arrived last year and can, I think, be reasonably attributed to the change in management. If there is ongoing, systemic crap happening, I'd love to hear about it. The word going around is that the MLI was a great place to work for years, and then, suddenly, the sky fell. If you can clarify things for me, please go ahead.

(I'll ignore your attempts at slandering me until I've gotten all the info I want out of you. Your day of reckoning will arrive, insha'allah.
Wink )

Very truly yours,

Secret Agent Bindair Dundat,
UAE Ministry of MisInformation
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mli_vet



Joined: 11 Jun 2003
Posts: 99

PostPosted: Mon Mar 15, 2004 4:31 pm    Post subject: RE: Slander implications Reply with quote

It's not a change-in-management issue.

Wasn't trying to slander you Mr. Bindair. If you're not a management mouthpiece, you've got my sincere apologies.

The sky just didn't fall all of a sudden. These salary problems among others have been going on long before the change in management. Seems to be endemic w/ GHQ rather than MLI malfaisance (Majors Mohammed, Abdullah, Haider, Rashid . . . et al can be nice guys--just gotta get to know 'em).

I've said this before, and I'll say it again--I won't say a definite don't go there, but I also won't heartily recommend the place, at least not in a public forum. There are some serious issues, serious problems, which potential hires need to be aware of before accepting and signing. You won't get the glossy version of things from the MLI Vet.

Take the post, by all means. But just be prepared for some major headaches, the kind an aspirin or 2 won't help (local remedies available).

About the skeletons in GHQ being old ESL hands? All right, gotta admit I was just kidding. But where have some of our colleagues disappeared to? I'd really like to know!

MLI Vet
Over and Out
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grand fromage



Joined: 16 Jun 2003
Posts: 131

PostPosted: Mon Mar 15, 2004 5:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It looks like I'm resting my case as I have better things to do than debate an issue with someone who is clearly a well-to-do idealist who knows little of what he talks about (sorry but examples from 10 years ago don't count for me) Wink BTW, where is this world coming to: the Vet and I finally agree on some things; a reason to celebrate for sure Laughing Oh, Vet do you rememebr when you accused me of being an MLI coordinator? Smile Wink Cool Laughing Aplologies accepted Wink Well, I just write it as I see it. And I don't like what I see. Over and Out. If anyone wants any more info from me they'll have to send me a message.
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Bindair Dundat



Joined: 04 Feb 2003
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 15, 2004 6:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

grand fromage wrote:
It looks like I'm resting my case as I have better things to do than debate an issue with someone who is clearly a well-to-do idealist who knows little of what he talks about (sorry but examples from 10 years ago don't count for me) Wink .


Thank you for all of your help, Mr. Fromage. It's been delightful.

Bindair Dundat,
Well-To-Do Idealist Extraordinaire
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Bindair Dundat



Joined: 04 Feb 2003
Posts: 1123

PostPosted: Mon Mar 15, 2004 6:53 pm    Post subject: Re: RE: Slander implications Reply with quote

mli_vet wrote:
It's not a change-in-management issue.

Wasn't trying to slander you Mr. Bindair. If you're not a management mouthpiece, you've got my sincere apologies.


Apologies accepted, Mr. Vet. Thank you.

mli_vet wrote:

Take the post, by all means. But just be prepared for some major headaches, the kind an aspirin or 2 won't help (local remedies available).


And thank you for that. "Major headaches" rings true with my own estimation of the situation. If I sound overly optimistic, it may be because we have grown so used to the rhetoric of damnation that a neutral POV comes across as rosy.

Yours,

Bindair Dundat
On The Road To Hell
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veiledsentiments



Joined: 20 Feb 2003
Posts: 16006
Location: USA

PostPosted: Mon Mar 15, 2004 11:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Goodness me --- I never thought I'd see the day that Grand Fromage and MLI Vet would become allies. Smile

It is certainly true that MLI was one of the better places for a number of years, but things had been deteriorating slowly until this years crash. It has changed from a small number of people with major problems (MLI Vet for one), but there were still people there who were happy - or at least content. But as of this year, even those like Grand Frommage, who had found things acceptable, turned negative. And he is not the only one that is telling this story - I have communicated with a few personally about it.

I can assure all that Bindair Dundat is not the pollyanna type, but perhaps after years in the Gulf he has lowered expectations - and a high ability to cope with bureaucrats. Still, for the next year or two until there is some track record of change, I will certainly advise him and any other applicants to take a job at MLI only as a last resort - a very last resort.

VS
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Bindair Dundat



Joined: 04 Feb 2003
Posts: 1123

PostPosted: Tue Mar 16, 2004 6:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

veiledsentiments wrote:

...but perhaps after years in the Gulf he has lowered expectations...


MOI??? *snicker*

Certainly not. I expect them to roll out the red carpet and give me a new Lexus in recognition of my many years of *GREAT ENGLISH TEACHING*. I mean, after all, I have a MASTER'S in TESOL!!

SUCH AN ACHIEVEMENT DEMANDS RESPECT!!

I have conjugated verbs for the crowned heads of Europe! I have corrected grammatical errors for the great kings of the mysterious Orient! The Japanese call me "sensei"!!

I have even taken COURSES IN THE PHILOSOPHY OF LANGUAGE!

BOW TO ME, O LOWLY ARABS!! GIVE ME A GENEROUS EXCESS-BAGGAGE ALLOWANCE!!



FOR I AM A GOOD TEACHER!!
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