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Thursday, June 30, 2005

Meet the real, real world

Icaro Doria decided to put a new meaning to a flag by using the colors of each flag to represent relevant, global, and current date taken from the websites of Amnesty International and the UNO. The result is quite fascinating, and very, very creative. I love.

Check out the rest of the flags here.

Chocolate cravings

I'm having a particularly chocolatey appetite, and this did me no good! The world's first ever sneaker chocolate, made out of the finest Swiss chocolate!
Oh, my...


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Wednesday, June 29, 2005

O Nezel 3al Dabkeh Il Lawee7 Il Shater...

For three years, I shook my brains to death, literally jumping around tennis courts, squash courts, and the various stages of Riyadh doing the Dabkeh(a Levantine dance marked by synchronized jumping, stamping, and movement, a teeny-tiny bit similar to tap dancing).

A good shaking does a lot to ones brains- it either knocks sense back into them, or knocks sense out. I will leave which it did to me for you to decide, but those three years of bouncing away for at least an hour a day are the best memories of my life so far.

It all started around the time of the 2nd Palestinian Intifada as a way to collect money through shows and bazaars to send to orphans, and it was so successful that after a year, we were doing shows for the WHO, UNICEF, and various other worldwide charity organizations.

So basically, it was a group of around 40 kids who belonged more to "She's All That" than dabkeh- "Ohhh myyyy Gawd! Like, what the hell, today, I like went to buy this really, really cute top from Mamlakeh and like, they only had yellow! Yellow! Like, seriously, whatever, who would wear that?" Yes, we were airheads.

But whether we were airheads or not, it was the best time of my life, and some of the friends I made through dabkeh are going to be my friends for life. Yesterday, I saw some of the dabkeh people that I haven’t seen in ages, as a lot of us then-airheads are now scattered all over the world for college, and it was just great! It brought back so many memories, and a trip into bites to dig out old files, pictures, and videos that I decided to share with the internet. Why the internet? Mostly because there is a huge shortage of dabkeh (dabka, dabkah, dabki) related material online, and because these pictures and videos represent a very special part of my life.

Internet, behold, I present ye with the dance that has blessed the marriage of most of the population of Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria(and any Levantine couple that got married without a zafeh didn't really get married!)

I actually put up some low-quality videos of Arabian Sunshine(yes, yes, very pleasnt name isn't it?) doing the dabkeh- forgive me for the quality, we had to do with home videos as dabkeh, video-photography, music, lack of segregation, and unlicensed charity organizations are all illegal in Saudi Arabia and that posed a problem in regards to professional video-taking.

Dabkeh Video 1 (refresh if it doesn't work the first time)
Dabkeh Video 2
Dabkeh Video 3 (confusing layout, keep scrolling downwards)
Dabkeh Video 4

Click on each thumbnail to look at it:

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Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Harry Potter Mania!

I read the first Harry Potter book back in 1998, before it was "all the rage". One of the boys had "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" assigned for his English class, and I, by nature, can't let any available book escape my hands.

Naturally, I absolutely loved it, and as the years went by, you would find us discussing the long-awaited release date of the following book!

Next week marks the release of the 6th book in the series, "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince", and at 12:00 AM of the 16th of July at Prime Megastore, we will participate in the world's biggest-ever brand events- in thousands of retail outlets all over the world, millions of people will gather with the same purpose: to buy the new Harry Potter book. The cool thing is that we will get the book several hours before the stateside counterparts! (and if that's not cool, I don't know what is :P)

Anyhow, while on the subject of Potter, I found a really fascinating article about the brand power of "Harry Potter". The article poses the question "What defines a brand?", and can "Harry Potter" be considered a brand? You can read the whole article here, here are some highlights though:

"In less than 10 years, Harry Potter has become one of the world's most widely recognised names. A brand name indeed. In terms of books sold, Harry Potter stands third in the all-time literary charts behind the Bible and the thoughts of Chairman Mao. And, I suspect, read rather more avidly over the past 10 years than either of those other literary heavyweights.

Rowling has created Harry Potter using branding techniques and the books themselves are full of brilliantly invented brands, corporate strategies, advertising campaigns and every element of the marketing mix. In effect, they make a textbook case for marketing.

Harry Potter's lightning flash is becoming as recognisable as Nike's swoosh or the golden arches of McDonald's, and he has many other distinctive brand elements such as ownable words. 'Quidditch', for example, was recently voted one of the nation's favourite words, even though it has yet to find its way into most dictionaries."

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Monday, June 27, 2005

Road trip!

Did you ever hear of the Land of the Kites? I'm sure you've seen it if you've ever been to Amman during the summer, for some where seemingly far away from West Amman lies many white mountains with skylines stippled with colorful kites.

It is indeed a very enjoyable view from afar, so today, Nada and I decided to hit the road into the "land of the kites", especially since Nada loves kites. Ok, so "Road trip" isn't an appropriate title, especially since that in East Amman's narrow two-way roads "alley lurching" is so much more suitable...

It was a very pleasant trip, starting with "trying" to reach the targeted area but instead ending up at Abdoun where we started. Finally, after several tries, we found ourselves in an area we don't recognize and we kept going deeper and deeper until Amman stopped looking like the Amman we know and became a mosaic of brick buildings, very narrow streets, and little kids flying kites.

I'm not very sure where we were, the lady we asked said we were in "Bab Sahera", and I've never heard of that area.

I'm deliberating between redirecting you to a slideshow or posting enlargable minis of all the pictures here... I'm gonna go with minis now, but let me know if you think that a slideshow will be a better option for the future.

Everything grows when clicked!

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Saturday, June 25, 2005

Good news

UAE Flickr ban lifted!


Double Tag the Bookworms!!!

Arafat tagged me with a book meme. I know I already did a tag thing today, but they're quite different, so here you go:

Number of books I own: LOL, who counts books! Yet I've had a love affair with books since forever, so I'm guessing they're well over 200(not counting the books I have from before I was 12, man, I have at least 150 Baby Sitters Club books!)

Last book I bought: "The Arab Contribution to Islamic Art by Wijdan Ali". This was one of the references I had for a class last semester, and the book was so interesting that I decided that it's certainly worth being in my permanent collection.

Last book I read: "Leo the African" by Amin Malouf, and I'm currently reading "Quran and Woman" by Amina Widad.

Five books that mean a lot to me: the fantasy/science-fiction buff shining through...

1. "Blood and Gold" by Anne Rice. A lot of rich historical fiction, a lot about art, a lot of action, and a lot about the philosophy of comparative religion- this book is certainly a rich, colorful feat.

2. "The Lord of the Rings" by J.R.R. Tolkien. This could, possibly, be my all-time favorite book. Tolkien is a genius...

3. "Memoirs of a Geisha" by Arthur Golden. This book was my first venture into the East of Asia.

4. "Wicked: The Life and Tales of the Wicked Witch of the West" by Gregory Mcguire. Amazing look at the notion of evil and good, beautiful fantasy, magical imagination, and an cunning ability to twist facts and make you doubt your world.

5." Experimental Formats and Packaging." Great book- very creative, very resourceful, and quite unique!

The book I am reading since long but could not finish: "Lasher" by Anne Rice. LOL, this is the first book in a trilogy, and I read the last 2 books a while back so it's being quite annoying...

Tagging: MMM, Farooha, Madas, Lina, and Natasha!

Take me down to the paradise city where the grass is green and the sky is pretty...

Eman passed this baton on to me, so here goes!

Total volume of music files on my computer:
There are 1475 music files on the computer, LOL, and their volume is 5.99 GB.

The last CD I bought was:
I will redirect you to this blog post... but if you're interested anyway, it was an MP3 for Fairooz.

Song playing right now:
Simon and Garfunkl's "If I"

Five songs I listen to a lot, or that mean a lot to me: (the rocker shining through!)

1. "Dazed and Confused" - Led Zeppelin
2. "Comfortably Numb" - Pink Floyd
3. "Under the Bridge" - Red Hot Chili Peppers
4. "Shook Me All Night Long" - AC/DC
5. "Zombie" - The Cranberries

Five people to whom I’m passing the baton:
Arafat, Ammar, Nader(enough with the drafts!), Sarah, and Omar.

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Friday, June 24, 2005


Only a little while after Saudi Arabia decided to unblock Flickr, the UAE decided to block it! Not a good day for freedom of speech, especially since it is the Emirate users of Flickr who asked UAE ISP to block Flickr, claiming that some people post nudity that is not appropriate for the eyes of the citizens of the UAE!

I say, bullshit.

I've been keeping up with this "syndrome" since I saw that a UAE-national residing in England who started campaigning against Flickr was actually getting a lot of support. I was indeed shocked at some of the reactions and support that he received, especially since Flickr has a mindblowing number of users from the UAE.

Many lengthy threads have been formed on Flickr pertaining to this topic, a lot of which have already been deleted(ha, especially now since the expat campaigners who got it blocked are happily posting pictures away in England, Canada, and the US!) There are now several ways around the UAE ISP censorship, and they're even collecting money to create a UAE Flickr.

Personally, I believe the difference between nudity and pornography is huge. Some of the world's greatest artwork consists of depictions and sculptures of nude figures created before the dawn of time- way before the Arabs, Christianity, the West, Islam, or the UAE ever came to be. Tasteful nudity is a part of the history of the world, the culture of the world, and even the Muslim culture if I may say so- we have many examples of nude Muslim art going back to the time of the Ummayyads! I think it is not an issue of nudity as much as it is an issue of inability to distinguish been tastefulness and pornography, it it an issue of lack of appreciation, horrible schooling, and priorities gone wrong!

Anyhow, regardless of the culture issue, is blocking Flickr really the right way to combat pornography? Flickr, by its terms of use, clearly states that pornography or anything indecent is not allowed, and users can easily flag nudity as "Over 18" and enable the "Over 18 toggle" option. There are many ways to access porn through other less discrete sources, and if someone is looking for it, there are many ways to find it. Having the ISP block a nonpornographic websites like Flickr makes it seem like the consenting adults in the UAE are like children that can't make up their own minds and can't filter their own content! Opressing is a stupid way to deal with problems.

Lastly, I find it ironic that the people campaigning against nudity are practicing something that in my opinion is one of the most morally disgusting practices- hypocracy. The England resident, for example, was the person who started the campaign against Flickr by using such images such as the one below and by various threads, all of which have now been deleted.

After the onset of the blockage, this person has decided that to change his opinion!

I am really, really pissed off.

Jordan Planet, reality?

I came upon an article about blogging in the Arab world via Saudi Jeans, and I found this really interesting:

As quoted from an article by Jihad al-Khazin on Dar Al-Hayat:

وكان الأردن بين أول الدول العربية التي نشطت في مجال البلوغز، خصوصاً ان الحكومة تشجع استعمال الانترنت، وهناك بلوغ باسم «جوردان بلانت» يجمع عدداً من البلوغز الأردنية. وثمة أسماء كثيرة تنشر مع البلوغز، ولكن لا نعرف على وجه التحديد إن كانت أسماء حقيقية. وفهمت أن بلوغز كثيرة مجموعة تحت سقف «جوردان بلانت» هي لناس يعيشون خارج الأردن.

Translated(me bad translator, 3amo Iyas unavailable)

"Jordan was the first amongst the Arab world to become active in the blogging scene, especially as the government encourages the use of the internet. There is the blog called "Jordan Planet", which joins a number of Jordanian bloggers. There are many names published with the bloggers, but we do not know if the names are real. I also understood that a lot of the bloggers of Jordan Planet are people who live outside of Jordan."

I found it really interesting that they stressed on the fact that the Jordanian bloggers don't blog anonymously, and that they even doubt the names we publish. I understand that a lot of other Arab bloggers blog using nicknames or only first names, so what do you think this means? The democracy in Jordan? The more open-minded culture of Jordan?
And why is it that Al-Khazin actually doubts the published names?

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Thursday, June 23, 2005

Summer in the Garden

One cannot underestimate the importance of a garden in the Jordanian society. For a good amount of the population, night life in Jordan is not about flashing signs, music, or drinks, it's about sitting on the porch or garden in the evening's shade and enjoying a cup of Turkish coffee(one cannot underestimate the importance of coffee in the Jordanian society either!)

Personally, I'm more about flashing signs, but even I can't escape the garden, especially in the summer when I find the most interesting people drinking coffee and smoking argeeleh(hubbly-bubbly, hooka, sheeshah, whatever you call it) in my grandmother's garden.

For me, there's also the compulsory picture taking feat(and my teta getting excited about my sudden interest in flowers), and the inavoidable shoe topshots.

Main: AndFarAway.net

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Politically Correct

Abu Samer also says that there is only one political party that can mobilize the masses...

Three rules for protection from radioactivity:

According to Abu Samer:

1. Trying to change the material to a nonradioactive one.

2. Shielding.

3. Distance.

You can never go wrong with Abu Samer...

Fete De la Musique a Amman!!!

Today in Amman, we celebrated the Fête de la Musique, or "Eid Il-Musiqa" as it was dubbed. This festival was held at the Gardens of Al-Hussein amongst crowds enjoying the wonderful music of Nawazen, Sign of Thyme(Al-Tareeq ila Al-Za3tar), and Cheb Balowski.

The Fête de la Musique takes place in France, Switzerland, and Belgium on June 21, but as you can see, it is spreading out to different countries in Europe and around it. It was thought up by French culture minister Jack Lang in 1981 and first took place in 1982, it is the occasion of a mass celebration which has grown more and more successful over the last two decades.

Its purpose is to promote music in two ways:

1) Amateur musicians are encouraged to perform in the streets. The slogan Faites de la musique (Make music), a homophone of Fête de la Musique, is used to promote this goal.
2) Many free concerts are organized, making all genres of music accessible to the public.

An interesting fact that this is one of the only nights in the year where, under French law, there is no sound restriction at nighttime. One can party on without being bothered by neighbors calling the police. LOL, certainly not in Amman though!

Anyhow, the festival was absolutely amazing, and the bands played wonderfully! Each band that played has its own distinct flavor, and that made the whole festival very diverse and interesting. There was a good amount of people present, from all classes of society and from different places in Amman, and maybe even Jordan. I saw two of my blogging buddies, Ammar and Lina, both of whom I always get the pleasure of seeing in cultural events(cheers you two! you guys rock! viva la being cultured!)

Here's a little more about the bands that played(in order of appearance):

Elia Khoury's Nawazen:

Playing traditional Middle Eastern compositions with a 21st century twist, played on oud, string bass, and percussion.

Sign of Thyme:

Sign of Thyme is an attempt to represent the sound created by the intense diversity of influences floating in this place and time; this is the sound of Amman as they hear it, and their work is jazzing up the scales of Arabia, and adding the element of spiritual rapture to the grooves of a walking bass. I really enjoy their music, listen to a sample of it here.

Cheb Balowski:

Spanish band characterised by the "groove" in the songs and their rhythmic density, among melodies that go from Flamenco to Balkanic, Arabian, or Mediterranean, the band's intersection.

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Monday, June 20, 2005


Introducing the latest addition to the 3assis...

Whitey getting cosy with Gus:

Isn't she a cutie?
(Tim, I don't know anything about cats! Iyas, Allah yiqrifak la7alak. Sami, she looks like you!!!)

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Saturday, June 18, 2005

Jordan Planet's 4th Blogger Meet-up

(from now on, we're using a tripod, but MMM's picture is whole check it out here)
Left to right, standing row: Nader , Jad , Lina , Hind , Eman, MMM
LEft to right, sitting row: Deeb , Isam , Roba, Naseem , Mira

I just got back from the 4th Jordan Planet blogger meet-up, which we had tonight at our now usual venue, Wild Jordan(though I doubt it will remain so). The amount of attending bloggers was impressive, and we got to see plenty of new faces (we as in JP's always-there-committee of Isam, Ammar, Nader, and myself). It was great meeting the new faces and great seeing the old ones again.

Like Eman said, it's really nice putting a face to each blog, especially those individuals like Eman and MMM who I've personally liked for so long and never got the chance to meet.

We discussed everything from politics (Nader really loves the government), to the conception of marriage in the Arab world, to movies, to why we started blogging. We even discussed the difference between the French horn and the trumpet and heard some technical jokes from Ammar.

For the first time, I feel like there are enough names of attendee bloggers to actually have a list! And so, just for the heck of listing(although I hate listing), here you go:

(Nader, woops, we forgot to carry out our plan!)

Picture time:

Samir , Lina , Deeb

Eman, MMM, Ammar

Lina , Deeb , Jad

Naseem , Mira , Hind

Nader , Samir , Lina

Eman, MMM, Ammar

@6:15 AM

Abu 3eesa bib3at salam...

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Friday, June 17, 2005

Fact #2


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Thursday, June 16, 2005

Scream baby, scream!

- So what's the best way to get a year's worth of stress out of your system?

- Go to a concert and scream it all out!

- A concert? In Amman?

- Indeed. The guys and girls from LBC's Star Academy 2 threw an awesome concert at the Arena(in a university that doesn't show, we reached Salt looking for it!) tonight.

- Um... why would anyone go to a Star Academy concert? Especially someone like you? You're all anti popular music.

- A concert is a concert. I do not take an excuse to scream my ass off for granted!

- You're too weird...

- Does it look like I care what people think? The security was excellent, the lighting was beautiful, the song line-up was perfect (they even had that cool song from the Chicago soundtrack), they actually started on time, the audience's energy radiated into me and cheered the boo-boos away, and I even got to see two friends I haven't seen in ages(hey Tala, hey Heba)! Me? Lame? Whatever.

Show opener was Sophia from Star Academy Season 1

Big crowd...

The group

Grand finale