I'm lucky to have a great team working with me on this project. Finding them took a long time, and two of them came through rather a strange route, but we've now been working together throughout the summer, and I can't remember a better group of people to be with and work with. All the team are Syrian of course, and a real mix of personalities, backgrounds and beliefs. I have been taken to task for paying more than the going rate and setting a bad example, but I'm looking for the right skills and attitude, which are rare round here, and it doesn't seem worth paying less and settling for less. First appointment was Dina, my deputy, an architect by profession, mother of small daughter Maria. Dina is very gentle but very tough and determined, and is the main reason I have survived so far without some form of mental collapse. She has good English and laughs at my jokes, which I always appreciate. Dina keeps things going when I'm in the UK and is the reality check for my more irrational ideas. She has lived in Canada. Zuhair, big, shaven head, looks after the touring programme. He came from the commercial exhibitions sector so is used to coping with deadlines, shipping, hotels, inadequate electrics and double bookings, all of which has come in useful this summer. He also knows everybody in the trade. Mais, the office coordinator, which means she is usually stuck here while everyone else is off at an event, is young and very bright. She is studying to be a translator, so her skills have come in very handy during the training and in getting all the documentation produced in Arabic. This is her first job. Lastly Maged, operations support manager, who shifts things and people around, organises minutiae, helps with the set up at events and writes procedures manuals. He too has worked around the world.
They're marvellous. I'll post some more pics in due course. This one shows Zuhair carrying a bunch of flowers presented to Dina, with Maged in the background.