BW Open Minds summit not going quite to plan

A little while ago, like a month or so, I saw an advert in the papers for an event called BW Open Minds and it featured a long list of famous speakers, but the real draw was that Sir Richard Branson was coming!

I was pretty pumped about this so immediately reached out to a contact at the Bustan hotel for more information, and emailed the organizers in the address given in the ad. I got a reply from the organizers after a few hours (I also heard back from the hotel too) and my heart sank. The ticket was RO 500 to attend the conference, and RO 650 if I wanted to attend the conference and the gala dinner on the night of the 3rd of September.

I was not going to spend that kind of money to attend the conference and had planned to do a blog post about the event, and to have a whinge about the cost of the ticket, but decided not to (I got lazy).

Imagine my amusement last night when I saw Sir Richard make a statement on his FB page:

Well, imagine that, an event organizer in Oman not paying it's fee's upfront. That's never happened before! But the fee was supposed to be a donation to charity, and still not made. I shared this quickly on my FB group page this morning and then set off to a busy morning of meetings - I checked in at lunch and was surprised by the amount of comments and interaction the share had received, and thought I'd write about here on the blog too.

During the course of this morning it has transpired that (from a few sources that attended the conference) that the organizer of the event made an announcement that Sir Richard had missed his flight and may be attending tomorrow.

As the day has moved on, I saw this picture floating around social media, where Sir Richards face has been what appears to be tippex'd out from a sign board at the event. Too funny, but he might be coming tomorrow, because he missed his flight. Let's pretend that he doesn't own an airline and a private jet to boot.

Now, lets just step away from the fact that this event has been organized terribly, and has only served to make Oman in general look silly and ask some hard questions:

1. Look at that sponsor list? Some *really* big players there... Bank Muscat, Nawras, Oman Air, Sultanate of Oman, Oman Airports Management Company, Merge (lets just say Sabco radio), Times of Oman and a few more. That is a lot of sponsorship, before the massive price-per-ticket cost to attend the event. How was it that the events BIGGEST DRAW was not paid (charitable donation made) a priority? I wonder if the sponsors are pleased that they've been associated with this balls up?

2. Aside from the financial muppetry displayed, to quote from the organizers website, "The thought leadership forum, which will feature 10 global speakers, all success icons in their own fields, is created with an objective of knowledge transfer to local youth and young entrepreneurs with an inspirational tone to Synergise, Motivate and Educate (SME)". Apparently the lessons learnt here on the face of it is that you should gather as many sponsors as you can, not pay your bills and then lie to your paying customers.

It's not all bad though - people I know that are attending this event have said it's been good and they've found the experience beneficial so far - I'm truly very glad. If I'd have forked out US$ 1,300 to attend this event and Sir Richard was NOT giving a talk, I'd be P-I-S-S-E-D. 

I wonder if the organizers will be offering a refund? Or if they're gonna keep lying about Sir Richard missing his flight.

Tomorrow I'm announcing a new concert I'm organizing, Michael Jackson will be performing live, and Elvis will be making a cameo duet with Tupac - tickets are just a snap at $1,000 a pop - get em while they're hot cos they're gonna sell fast. I've also got some invisible gold for sale too.

What a world.

le fin. 

BW Open Minds summit not going quite to plan BW Open Minds summit not going quite to plan Reviewed by Sythe on Wednesday, September 03, 2014 Rating: 5


  1. Superb! On ya, Richard.
    Good move.
    At least that bearded Osama lookalike didn't cancel.

  2. Bad form, please don't abuse a well respected Omani scholar. Sheikh Khalfan is a nice guy

  3. Well said mutterings....the other point being ofcourse that the event definitely should have targeted Omani youth and inspire now with 500 rials?

  4. I was bummed that i couldnt attend and was going to blog about it too (laziness prevailed)

    Somehow glad I didnt fork up the 500RO for it....

    Can we include a few dearly departed in your Ghost Concert?

  5. Your freaking living in this country has the decency to respect its people!

    …Go Richard
    …Bash up Khalfan

    Childish to say the least

  6. Dear Anon: MM didn't bash Khalfan... an anoynmous did.

    That's really low, for the event...

  7. I am staggered that these people have the cheek to simply lie - "Richard Branson missed his plane" - when it is so easy to get found out. Not sure these guys have much of a future in event organising though having associated so many top tier sponsors with a PR disaster...

  8. There's no need to bring Sheikh Khalfan into this, he's a widely respected religious scholar.

    On the topic of the post I found it amusing that the Times of Oman did a full 2 page spread today and not even a mention of Sir Richard not attending. Some shamelessly bad "journalism" from Ms Macdonald.

  9. How do these people get away with it?

  10. It's like every day there is someone testing how much scamming they can get away with in Oman. What a blatant rip off that will just fade away as nothing. You'd have been stupid to pay OR 500 for this event. The other speaker may be good, but you'd spend less travelling to see them where they speak regularly.

  11. While attending the forum, I had a chance to talk to the organizer on the topic of Sir Branson. This is what I have learned. First the payment goes to Sir Branson and not to his charity. Second Sir Branson last installment was sent on the 2nd of September. When I asked why, they told me his fee is very high and couldn’t pay it at once (that’s why the ticket price is high). Third, none of the sponsors paid the organizer any funds yet. Also the organizer was very upset that Sir Branson mentioned it on social media instead talking directly to them which does not reflect on Sir Branson professionalism. I also learned from the speakers and the people who attended the forum, Sir Branson is known for not showing on his most public engagement and has done it many times in the past. Something to think about!

  12. I heard the money was sent on Sunday, August 31, but because it was a bank holiday in the USA (Labor Day) the money only showed up in his account on Sept 2. Heard a lot of great things about all the other speakers, though, so even without Branson it seems like people enjoyed it.

  13. Last two comments, Really!

  14. Hey guys, I spoke to someone who knows the organizer last night and this what he told me “they are not going to comment or go public until Sir Richard returns the money, they don’t want to go to court to get it They already sent him a note to refund the money”. So I am waiting!

  15. Even if the money was sent on Sunday August 31 waiting til the last minute is very unprofessional. A smart paid speaker gets paid up front, otherwise your asking for trouble. My experience with Oman is that they take their time paying people and if they feel you are getting paid too much it can sometimes be difficult collecting money owed.

  16. Hey, I spoke to the organisers the other day and they said lots of things that make them sound like total saints and that the multi-billionaire successful businessman and philanthropist chose this event to criticise because he has long hair. It is so unfair that an Omani company has been targeted for doing this when it has never, ever happened before. FFS.

  17. Did Attend the event. While am of the opinion that 500 OMR was too high, let me stress than Jeffery Archer, Tony Wheeler, Sarah Hashemi and Tom Whittaker are no mean people and added amazing value to the event. Brad Blaze and Tom Thun were equally outstanding wrt their arts.

    Was deeply impressed by the words and thoughts of Sheikh Khalfan who I believe was the most impressive speaker at the event and hence the stereotypical comment by "Anonymous" is really in bad taste. Really sad how people can think and moreover post it.

  18. Jeffery Archer, the well-known criminal?? What skills was he teaching the audience?

  19. Times of Oman was a media sponsor and it's owned by the same owner as Black & White, so don't expect any critical coverage there. But check the coverage in Observe and Tribune -nothing about Branson there either. Freedom of press in Oman.

  20. I had a pretty loose vision and was willing to let the experts do their work and my event planner handled that beautifully - I would bet on her being able to perfectly execute a more detailed-oriented vision as well.

  21. Well, this time in 2016 its OMR 300, still too high for middle class Omani students. I guess ROHM tickets are less expensive ryt. The least being OMR 5/-. I guess orgainising it in an affordable hotel might help. Though, I know not much about event management. Correct me if I am wrong.

  22. Well, I guess the costing includes a part of fee to the speakers. But still a fee of OMR 300 could any student attend? I wonder. Not complaing B&W. Theyre atleast organising the event in Oman. But looking for something affordable.


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