Aug 31, 2010

You are not welcome

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A couple weeks ago, I decided it’s time for a vacation. I have a visa to the US but for someone who hates flying, the trip is unbearable. UK was the best option. It’s only 5 hours from Beirut and London was always on the list of cities I wanted to visit. It also helps that I have friends there who promised to show me around.

Aug 24, 2010

Television Fail

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I don’t watch TV much. The last time I watch extensive amount of television was during the World Cup. But in the last couple of days, I was Internet-less most of the time. I had to resort to television, the old fashioned source of entertainment and news.

Aug 21, 2010

The house that should replace all buildings in Lebanon

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German architect Rolf Disch built the home, called Heliotrope, to follow the sun throughout the day. The structure features triple panes of thermally insulated glass to strike a balance between letting light in and keeping the house cooler inside. 

Do you even know what PR is?

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This is what you get when you search for Public Relations (PR) jobs on Monster Gulf. 
  • Sales Manager
  • HR Manager
  • Arab Sales Executive
  • Secretary to CFO (WHAT?!)
  • Head of Supplement Sales

Our universities suck, apparently

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If you thought the American University of Beirut (AUB) is the best university in the region, well, you are wrong.

According to ARWU’s top 500 educational institutes of 2010, the best universities in the Arab world are King Saud University and King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals.

Who would have thought! I actually know nothing about both universities but congratulations for making the list.  

What’s even more intriguing is out of the 22 Arab countries (14,000,000 km2) only the above two universities made the list. On the other hand, seven different universities made the cut in tiny Israel (28,000 km2) and 25 made the cut in Japan (378,000 km2). Now what does that tell you about the educational system in the Arab world?

I still say the AUB got snubbed. 

When it comes to crazy news, Saudi will always deliver

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The headline: Saudi judge considers severing spine of attacker who paralyzed man.

The story: In a variation of the ancient eye-for-an-eye punishment, a judge in Saudi Arabia has asked hospitals whether doctors would sever the spinal cord of an attacker convicted of paralyzing a man with a cleaver.

While a leading hospital in Riyadh refused to perform the operation (kudos), a sadistic hospital in Tabuk said it has no problem doing it.

Makes you wonder if the doctors at that hospital actually took the Hippocratic Oath or forgot the line that reads: I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone.

Dear Saudi, you never cease to amaze us. Another two steps back in educating the world that Islam is a compassionate religion.

Aug 20, 2010

Apology for the inconvenience

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If you are subscribed to Arabianism's feeds, you will notice some older articles are being posted as new. This is my bad. I had a couple of issues with the comments section of the blog and I had to delete a couple of posts and republish them. 


Aug 18, 2010

No UAE visa to Palestinians since March

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According to Emirates Airlines visa office in Beirut, they have been 'instructed', since March 2010, not to issue visas to Palestinians (Watheeqa holders).

There you have it. UAE is added to the list of Arab countries which deny entry to Palestinians.  

I have nothing more to add at this stage.

The word 'terrorist' is missing

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Texan dude, Patrick Gray Sharp, filled up his truck with explosives and tried to ignite it near a police station in Texas yesterday. He also attacked the policemen with his gun before he was killed.

Sounds like a terrorist attack to me. The Gawker and AP articles, however, do not mention the word terrorist or terrorism. Shocker! Now had the guy had an Arab name, the articles would have been written in a completely different way.

I’m just saying.

Aug 17, 2010

Your top three most annoying things about Lebanon [Survey]

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According to a recent survey, published on August 15 in The New York Post, the most annoying thing in New York is people who block subway doors. The Post carried out the survey with 300 residents to find out what they don’t like about the city. The rest of the top 10 is as follows:

2. Tourists
3. Cabdrivers on cell phones
4. Drivers who block the box
5. Panhandlers
6. Hipsters
7. Bike delivery guys
8. Film shoots that take over the street
9. Street fairs
10. Tip jars everywhere

Here's an about a survey to find out the most annoying things in Lebanon?

Choose your top three most annoying things in Lebanon. If this post gets enough replies, I’ll compile the data and share the final list. If you don’t live in Lebanon but have visited the place before, you can still take part in this survey.

My top choices:

1. Electricity shortages
2. Internet bandwidth, plans and pricing structure
3. Traffic

The prize you don't want to win

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As a news junkie, I scan and read news from all over the world. I actually make a game out of it. The which-region-wins-the-most-depressing-news-of-the-day game. Unfortunately, the Middle East always wins…and by a landslide. 

Below are the three ‘most interesting’ top stories from different regions around the world today*. Play along with me here, I promise it gets a little interesting.

  • Thriving German economy gives Europe a boost - report 
  • Energy Costs Push Prices Up Sharply in Europe
  • EU Threatens KLM Over Ash Compensation

South America
  • TAM, LAN intend to form 'number one' South American airline
  • Latin America looks to the wind for its clean energy
  • The Kindness of South American Strangers

  • Australia facing possibility of hung parliament
  • Ricky Ponting: Australia can beat England 5-0 in Ashes
  • Katy Perry Crashes Prom, Performs 'Teenage Dream' In Australia

North America
  • Indians in America debate over mosque near 9/11 site
  • Tyra Banks apologises after outcry over America's Next Top Model
  • BP's Gulf Well: One Of America's Biggest Oil Fields?

  • S.Africa's Aspen to buy Sigma drugs arm for $804 mln
  • Journalists campaign against press curbs 
  • Naomi Campbell must apologise to the children of Africa

Most (if not all) of the top stories from around the world could not be more mundane or soft, don’t you agree?

Enters the Middle East. 
  • US More Likely to Bomb Iran
  • The War Against Iran Begins
  • Mistrust Frustrates US Effort to Get Israelis, Palestinians Talking
  • Israel to reject new peace talks 
  • 5 killed in car bomb explosion in northern Iraq
  • Gaza future vague five years after unilateral Israeli disengagement
  • Bombing Iran 

The Middle East, ladies and gentlemen; the world’s leading and only source of negative, depressing and terrifying news.

And we wonder why people are scared of this region! Leave it to us to spice up the world’s news. What’s fascinating is that our headlines have been the same for years. They really haven’t changed much, have they? They will probably remain the same until the next ice age.

We have been reading about the Palestinian–Israeli talks for decades now. Not a day goes by without reading about a tragic suicide bomb in Iraq. Every day we read about the increased tensions in the Middle East. Alas, the world remains amused with out stories.

We just have a knack for creating and spreading negativity to every corner of the world. If we have positive stories to share, it rarely goes beyond the walls of this region; or the world chooses to ignore them. On the other hand, our disastrous news, get the cover pages.

Seriously, when was the last time you heard a depressing story from Finland or Belgium or Brazil or Malaysia or Denmark or Cyprus or…the list goes on. How come there are no war predictions in other parts of the world? I think Canada’s most read negative stories of the year are RIM BlackBerry fiasco and temperatures rising to 36 Celsius. That’s it.  

Don’t you think it’s about time the ‘negative news’ crown was handed over? We have been on that dreadful thrown for decades. We should be able to let go by now.

Well one good thing about our news is that we provide the world’s media with enough content to keep the media industry alive. I honestly cannot imagine the news without horrendous stories from the Middle East. We also provide the world with entertainment. They watch and laugh. We are a nonstop action-horror-comedy blockbuster.

This experiment works flawlessly 99% of the time. Try it yourself.

P.S The post was written at 2am and published at 9:40am.

Chaos in a Beirut neighborhood

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My neighborhood in Beirut erupted into chaos around midnight tonight. Some of the residents in the area threw bricks on the streets and tipped over the trash cans, causing the main road to be blocked.

When the police arrived, the residents blamed their actions on the frequent electricity cuts in the area, which caused businesses and individuals to suffer.

Today, the electricity was cut more than eight times for a total of seven hours. This has become a daily occurrence. A week ago, it was cut for more than 9 hours. While residents of other areas can subscribe to third-party providers (Ishtirak), it is forbidden in our neighborhood. In the scorching heat and high level of humidity, the residents are left without light and air conditioning.  

Below are the pictures I took from my balcony. Click to enlarge.

Aug 15, 2010

How about a geography lesson?

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So I was searching Google Images for pictures of Arabs to add to some of my posts, I observed something interesting.

When you search for ‘Arabs’, Google’s algorithm suggests ‘Muslims’ as a related search. Two things come to mind here…

A. Google tells us: search for Muslims to get better results of Arab pictures.
B. Arabs don't have many images worth seeing.

Of course I am being silly here. Algorithms are designed in a unique way. But, Google, really? No other suggestions come to mind?

When you search for Indonesia, which has the highest population of Muslims, this is what Google suggests:

A search for Israel? Nope, no mention of the Jewish faith.

Only the Arab world seems to be associated with religion. Quite common since 9/11, no? 

Back in June and following Barack Obama's speech in Cairo, most of the headlines, if not all, read: 'Obama addresses Muslim world'. Hmm! What about the 26,000,000 Christian and Jewish Arabs? What about the atheists? No love for them? 

Here’s a small geography lesson:
  • Indonesia has the highest population of Muslims.  
  • Nigeria has the second highest population of Muslims.
  • None of the top four countries with the highest population of Muslims are Arab.
  • In the top 30 countries with the highest population of Muslims, only 10 are Arab.
  • There are 25,000,000 Christians and 900,000 Jewish people in the Arab world.
  • Geographically, this region is called the Middle East and not the Muslim World. At least this what my geography schoolbooks in Kuwait taught me.
  • Islam is neither a nationality nor a race.  
Interesting paragraph from an article I read long time ago: 
Just last week, I heard somebody describing a person as "looking Muslim." People don't generally look Muslim, just like they generally don't look Christian. They might look Arab, but even that's questionable because there are many races that live in the Arab world. Needless to say, Muslims in the Middle East look different than Muslims in Africa or Indonesia. Source. 
Dear world, can we not confuse geography with religion anymore? Thanks.

P.S. Click images to enlarge.

Aug 14, 2010

My follow list in 11 categories

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Twitter is truly fascinating. It’s a planet on its own. A virtual one. Much like the real world, It embraces different characters and personalities.  Over the past 2 years, I have been religiously active on Twitter. On an average day, I spend enough time on Twitter to virtually ‘know’ and characterize tweeps into different categories.

Turns out there are 11 different ones.

The Poets.
They not only make you envious of their remarkable talent but their words are so electrifying, you instantly go into a state of trance.

  Recommended Arabic poetry blogs:

The Angels.
They say you can’t really know a person until you meet him/her face to face. I say there’s always an exception to the rule. On my Twitter list, I have few angels. They always offer unconditional love and support. I don’t have an ounce of doubt that in real life, they are also angels.

The Activists.
They are the ones that are true to their cause. Full of determination and dedication. You don’t have to agree with their ideologies but they still make you believe that people can make a difference and that the world could be a better place. You learn a lot from them.   

The Chandler Bings.
They are the ones who shower us with cynicism and sarcasm in 99% of their tweets. Much like the ‘Friends’ TV character, I believe they use sarcasm as a defense mechanism.  And “OH. MY. GOD” most of the time you wish they were standing in front you so you could punch the living daylight out of them. Still, they are entertaining.

The Comedians.
In 140 characters or less, the comedians can make you cry with laughter with their snappy tweets and remarks. I usually don’t follow individuals who don’t follow back but for the comedians, I will always make an exception.  Unlike the Chandler Bings, who try to be funny but instead make you cringe, the comedians are genuinely hilarious.

The Photographers.
I never really appreciated the art of photography until I joined Twitter. I follow brilliant amateurs who could easily pass for professional photographers. They really make you appreciate the art. Every shot is a masterpiece.  

  Recommended photography blogs:

The Playlists.
To create the perfect music collection, I would seek The Playlists' tweets. Hands down, they have the best taste in music. Every #nowplaying tweet is worth checking out.

  Recommended blog:

The Stoners.
Ok, they might not be actual stoners but their tweets surely indicate they are high on something. They simply make you go “WTF?!” Appropriately enough, they come out and ramble late at night. Great fun if you have insomnia.

The Techies.
They provide you with the best tech related support, information and news. I am not talking about the likes of Engadget or Mashable or the self-proclaimed geeks. I mean tweeps who live and breathe technology.  Whenever my mind is in tech mode, I focus solely on their tweets.

The Romantics.
Painfully and hopelessly in love. They tweet random romantic thoughts and always choose love songs in their #nowplaying tweets. It’s sometimes endearing, but mostly depressing.

The Journos.
A must-follow to get the news as it breaks. Great bunch. There is a black sheep in every flock, however. 

Do you have the same categories?

Aug 10, 2010

My Ramadan wish list

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This is will be my first Ramadan in Lebanon in 8 years. To celebrate this momentous occasion, I decided to create a wish list for the month. 

This Ramadan….
  • May Arab countries’ hearts soften and allow Palestinians and Watheeqa holders to enter their ‘sacred’ land.
  • May Arab countries unite over serious issues, not just BlackBerry banning.
  • May Gaza get peace and electricity.
  • May Beirut get electricity all day. 
  • May the humidity decides it’s time to vacation outside Lebanon.
  • May the fireworks in Lebanon wait till Eid.
  • May traffic have mercy on us.
  • May stores not hike Vimto and grocery prices.
  • May women show less skin (only during Ramadan).
  • May ‘True Blood’ episodes show less soft-core porn (again, only during Ramadan).
  • May people not tag me with Ramadan pictures on Facebook.
  • May Twitter be extra entertaining.
  • May people have more patience.
  • May people thank more and whine less.
  • May my family, friends and tweeps be always happy and healthy.
Blessed Ramadan everyone.

Majestic Lebanese art

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In the Middle East, Lebanon has always been the center of attraction when it comes to art.

I pass by my favorite exhibition every day and thought I’d share pictures of some of the fine art the country has to offer.

The below collection is currently on permanent display in Beirut and other areas. It has been there since May 2010. Unfortunately, the new collection is expected to arrive only when the next circus is in town. The clowns artists are already hard at work retouching their wrinkles with Photoshop.

If you are in Lebanon and want to visit the gallery, no need to take a cab. Just look to your right and to your left. For your convenience, the gallery is sometimes hanging above you on what seems to be, a laundry rope. Entrance is free.  

Kudos to the exhibition organizers for setting up the gallery in record time. I went to bed one night and the next morning, the  exquisite paintings were vomited all over Lebanon.  Sadly, the artists are always short of cash. They could only afford to pay the thugs organizers to set up the exhibition but not to take the glorious canvas down, lucky for you. 

This post is sponsored by Lebanon Tourism. 

P.S. At the risk of sounding negative, Lebanon is indeed the place to visit if you are an art lover.
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