February 2, 2010

We've Moved!

After about a year and a half of being on Blogger, I've decided it's time to move this blog to Wordpress as I find their themes neater and more comfortable for reading. So if you're one of the blog readers, please follow me to:


See you there!

January 25, 2010


I don't know whose brilliant idea this originally was, but someone on Twitter started posting their #Top50Jo or the top reasons they love Jordan, and it took off. Even Queen Rania pitched in! I loved the idea because we always complain about living here but forget the reasons we love it so much. So here's my top 50, some of them from other Tweeps:


2) Emad Hajjaj's Abu Mahjoob

3) Souk Jara in the summer

4) Antique jewelry from souk jara

5) Sunsets in the dead sea

6) How we can have snowless snow days!

7) How everyone watches JTV only when it snows and you can't get any other channels

8) How Mohammad al-Wakeel's show is our equivalent of the Oprah show

9) How EVERYONE talks about whatever cold front is coming

10) Hummus and Fool on Friday mornings

11) How you can bargain prices at local stores

12) Ka3ek with za'atar, eggs and spread cheese!

13) Local Jordanian bands like Jadal

14) How people start dancing like crazy in weddings whenever they put on national songs like "ya beiragna"!

15) Our beautiful weather. we get all four seasons!

16) Shawerma

17) Delicious summer fruits

18) How everyone you meet knows someone you know

19) How everyone has an "uncle" who's high up in the government

20) That our Queen has YouTube and Twitter. and actually contributed her #Top50Jo

21) That you can complain to the mayor @MayorOfAmman on Twitter

22) How everyone gets together in happy as well as sad occasions

23) 5 piaster popsicles in the summer or "Eskimo"

24) Ras il abed!

25) Cups and Kilos

26) The smell of jasmine in early summer mornings

27) How we combine the best of the east and the best of the west. We have falafel, and we have Sugardaddy cupcakes!

28) 1 JD DVDs from the Balad

29) Cab drivers. Love 'em or hate 'em, Jordan wouldn't be the same without them!

30) How every place in Jordan delivers. From McDonalds to Argeeeleh places

31) How you get coerced into eating till you pass out at 3azaiem (feasts)

32) How guys are prepared to get into fights in defense of “their” football team

33) How everyone has a mobile phone, from CEOs to housemaids

34) Ramadan atmosphere

35) Walking in Amman

36) The view from Jabal Amman

37) How you can buy newspapers/flowers/gum/plasters at the traffic light

38) The view of the King Hussein Mosque at night

39) Balad sights and sounds

40) How we don’t acknowledge maps or street names. It’s always next to some place you know!

41) Street cats!

42) How you don’t need to go to the car-wash. The 7ares across the street will wash it for you for a small fee

43) How older men with mustaches and a frown are considered prestigious

44) how our streets flood every time it rains

45) How you can have a tab at the local mini-market

46) How every health issue is attributed to low B12 levels

47) How it doesn’t matter how old you are, there will always be someone to tell you to put on a jacket when it’s cold outside

48) “Dora” or corn cob carts

49) Sha3er banat or cotton-candy sellers with their harmonicas

50) Barbecues with family and friends in the summer

Roba's compilation

Naseem's tweet digest

January 20, 2010

January 15, 2010

Jordan's War on Terror

What's been happening in Jordan for the past month has been truly unprecedented.

Hummam al Balawi, a Jordanian informant pulled off the worst attack against the CIA in over 25 years. Balawi, a trusted informant of the General Intelligence Department was recruited by the CIA to try and infiltrate the higher circles of AL Qaeda and help in the capture of Al Qaeda's second most important man, Aiman al Thawahri. Balawi, however, had kept his allegiance to Al-Qaeda all along, and in a suicide bombing, he killed 7 top CIA officials along with his Jordanian GID supervisor, Sharif Ali Bin Zeid, a distant member of the royal family.

The repercussions of this attack have been staggering. Besides resulting in immense embarrassment for both the CIA and the Jordanian government, it raised too many questions to be answered.

Should Jordan be helping the CIA in their war against terror? Some say after the Amman bombings in 2005, we had no choice but to enter such a war, while others argue that fighting a war alongside the US will only drive more people into Al Qaeda . One cannot ignore the similarity to the US's decision to fight the war against terror in Iraq after the 9/11 bombings.

Even after the Amman bombings, more than 30% of the Jordanian population was actually pro-Qaeda, and if the Sharif Bin Zeid wasn't one of the victims, the majority would've idolized Al Balawi and considered him a hero.

I have no answers on what stance we should be taking, but whatever it is, Jordanians need to be made aware of it. How can Jordan fight a war against al-Qaeda if there's a not-so-small percentage of Jordanians who are actually supporting them? Just the past week a Jordanian fighter in the Taliban was killed in an American military operation. The government says of its involvement in Afghanistan as "finding the root of where terrorists plot and stopping them there". While that is legitimate, it is also pointless if there are terrorists in the making right here. It is time for the government to address the mentality that defends terrorism, rather than pretend it doesn't exist.


1) Shooting Your Foot: Jordan’s Afghanistan And CIA Connection (Black Iris)
2) Humam Balawi Video Surfaces On Al Jazeera & Other Notes From Jordan (Black Iris)
3) Photo Of The Moment | Jordanian Taliban Fighter Mahmoud Zeidan’s Funeral Contrasts (Black Iris)
4) Islamists Press Jordan to Stop Aiding U.S. Forces in Afghanistan (New York Times)
5) Jordan emerges as key CIA counterterrorism ally (Washington Post)
6) هل يؤيد الأردنيون "القاعدة"؟ (Alghad)

December 31, 2009

On University Registrations

Ah registration. Ever since my first semester, it's always been a stressful event. Despite there being an online system, students always have to try to register as soon as possible before the sections close and they either end up with a terrible schedule or have to go beg someone to let one more person into their section.

Registration this time was exceptionally stressful, however. Not only did they make it on a Friday, when no one has the option of going to the university if something doesn't work out, but they also made it on Christmas day. Now it would've been fine if all we had to do was simply log in when it starts and register, but after 5 semesters of experience with our registration department, we know very well that they never start on time, so all we do is keep refreshing the page until it opens. So assuming this year wouldn't be any different, I, along with half the student body spent 6-8 hours refreshing the same page. And when it did finally start at 2 PM, turns out they changed the entire system so we couldn't register for half our courses.

It was an unbelievable waste of time, and I decided to send an email about it to both the registration department and the university's president. The registration department didn't even budge, but much to my surprise, the president actually replied a day later telling me to come see him. He told me that my comments were taken into consideration and even apologized for setting registration on Christmas day and I must say I was very impressed. We tend to complain a lot, but I felt like this time complaining actually helped in doing some good.

And this is why I urge everyone who has a problem to complain, to the right person at least. Maybe nothing will happen, but then again you might actually get your opinion heard and help solve whatever problem you and a whole lot of other people are facing.

December 10, 2009

A New Government. Yeah, so?

While the decision to dissolve the parliament about two weeks ago was met with pure joy and relief, the appointment of a new prime minister was met with either disappointment or most probably indifference. Sameer Rifai, the new prime minister is the third generation of a family of prime ministers, something that probably happens only in Jordan.

I like to think of the whole thing as a game. There's this circle of elitists, the ones allowed to play, all of whom at one point or another were ministers or CEOs and every couple of years one of them gets their turn as the top player. Now this top player would proceed to "reshuffle" the current players, or if he's looking for some change, add a couple of new ones. The field that each player is in charge of is truly irrelevant to their area of expertise. Now once the parliament is elected, the game of who destroys who first begins! Fun fun fun.

So I don't really think it matters who gets picked as the prime minister, the same cycle of events seems to repeat itself regardless of how optimistic we are of the new government. But not to be part of the blame culture, because we should take the blame as well. We should be part of a responsible, incorrupt election that would result in a parliament that speaks for the citizens rather than attack them, but hey that's just wishful thinking.

Once again, Emad Hajjaj depicts it best.

December 6, 2009

Amman Stand-Up Comedy Festival 09

Yesterday I went to the second night of the Amman Comedy Festival that was organized by the Greater Amman Municipality and it was a great show! First of all, just entering the place makes you feel like a VIP, with all the people smiling at you and telling you to have a great night. Not something you see in Amman everyday.

They started right on time, and we were sitting in the very first row, practically on stage that each stand up would make jokes about the people in the row (a married couple and a lady with 3 kids in particular became the targets of maaany jokes!). Dean Obeidallah from the Axis of Evil did a great job in hosting the show and Nemr Abou Nassar and of course Maz Jobrani were the funniest.

I have to give it to the municipality, they've been doing a great job with cultural events. You just feel like Amman's growing culturally, from the marathon which was very well-organized to other events like Fastwalk Jordan (it's not organized by the GAM but without their help wouldn't have been able to become as widespread as it is today).

These are a couple of videos I took, the first is of Nemr Abou Nassar and the second is a video of Maz Jobrani shaking it! A girl actually raised her hand in the middle of the show and asked him to do the infamous happy birthday dance, but sadly he didn't oblige...

November 9, 2009

City Light Hack

City Light Hack is a project that was performed by the IEEE student branch in GJU in 30/10/2009 and was deemed a truly successful project, the first of its kind in the Middle East. IEEE (Institute of Electronics and Electrical Engineers) is a global organizations with more than 300,000 members in universities around the world, and the GJU branch's first project was City Light Hack.

What they did is they turned a building in Madina Monawarra St. with 6x5 windows into a big dot matrix screen by controlling the building's lights using a computer and a board. It's not as easy as it sounds, there's A LOT of programming involved and it took a bunch of 20 students about 3 months of programming and trial and error and succeeded in a project that was only performed in a couple of more countries in the world (it failed in Dubai!).

The video below shows scenes from the show, which despite the rainy whether gathered quite an audience and even caused traffic jams because the people driving would just stop their cars and watch. The police even tried to stop the show at one point!

So congratulations to the team and here's to more amazing achievements!

Event reported in Ammon

Project website

September 15, 2009

Sexual Harassment & Blaming the Victim

Reading the comments on this article, I had a hard time controlling my blood pressure. The article discusses sexual harassment against women and how it is still present in Ramadan. First of all, what did ya expect? With all due respect, who doesn't have moral standards for the 11 months of the year isn't going to suddenly develop some, holy month or not. Second of all, the prevailing mentality seems to always blame the women and practically fear them for their "fitnah".

Now I understand that there is such a thing as a provocative outfit that could attract more attention to a female, but any female above the age of 12 who has spent more than one hour walking a street in Jordan will tell you, the demeaning comments will come whether you're wearing a Jilbab, a veil or a a normal jeans and t-shirt. Also, there is something very wrong with a culture that divides women into fully veiled and therefore decent and not veiled or not properly veiled and therefore have no morals.

So it really pisses me off to tell me that it's my fault for being insulted by an asshole with no manners who considers my walking down the street an invitation for him to express his carnal thoughts.

And for the commentators who blame the women, are you comparing yourselves to animals who just can't control themselves at the sight of a woman? By what logic should we lock up the women at home -several comments seemed to suggest that-, if you're the animal that cannot be controlled? I say we should lock YOU up.

I know I'm preaching to the wrong audience here, but sexual harassment is an issue that hits a nerve for each woman. It is an issue that needs to be strictly dealt with, and not by blaming the victim but by punishing the offender. I'm not one to encourage violence, but I think every woman should buy a taser and stun the hell out of any asshole who dares to come near her.

September 10, 2009

What's the Deal With Quest?

Ok so it seems a lot of people are entering this supposedly lucrative business of network or multilevel marketing, namely this company called Quest. If you've been approached, probably one of your friends or acquaintances has tried to wow you with this fascinating presentation about the business. You can become a millionaire with the least effort possible, all you have to do is buy JD500 worth of their so-called unique online products and you're in. Now what you have to do is keep making these presentations for people in order to recruit them so they'd buy the products in turn. And the more people you recruit, the more money you make.

Frankly I've done some research about it, and the whole thing is just too fishy, I'm not buying it. Their products are incredibly overpriced and you can only get them if you want to get in the business. Old members have to recruit new members in order to make money, but won't this have to stop at some point? Eventually the new members will be unable to recruit any more members, the very basis of what is called a pyramid scheme. Moreover, they fascinate you with their endorsements from FIFA and United Nations (even the Vatican!) but when I actually looked it up, I couldn't find a source other than the Quest websites themselves to verify this information.

Now some people I know have actually made some money already, but I fear they're making it from their friends and family who may very well lose. So my question is, does anyone know anything about this?

September 9, 2009

Dear Orange, YOU SUCK

The Black Iris is trying to make a campaign or a social experiment to see if we can do something other than complain, and I am more than happy to participate because God knows how much Orange piss me off. We don't get the speed we're paying for, if you try calling their customer services you're left to wait for a number of hours and the only thing they are persistent at is practically threatening their customers to pay. So spread this letter around if you agree that Orange SUCK.

Dear Orange Telecom (and all Jordanian service providers),

It’s been a while since I’ve written. In fact, I’m simply terrible at keeping in touch, so let me get straight to the point. You have a problem and it’s starting to affect others around you. Just like that guy at the gym who refuses to wear deodorant, we’ve started to notice. Indeed, something stinks terribly about your level of service, which I was for-warned about but was prepared to forgo in order not to deal with the hassles of third-parties. I wanted to deal directly with the source. Instead, the source has given a daily blinking red “disconnected” light.

All in all, I feel bamboozled. Swindled. Cheated. Robbed. And to a large extent, those adjectives are not far from the truth. For the 2MB connection that I receive from you, and which I pay a generous 50JDs a month for - has now, on average, gone down to around 0.60MB. It’s still the beginning of the month so I know I haven’t used up any of your very limited download capacity. I know that much.

I’m writing to you now about how your problem is affecting me, because you are someone who has been consistently communicating to me your own needs, and a good relationship always requires a two-way street when it comes to communication. You constantly send me your news in the form of an SMS. Something that states:

Dear Orange internet customer you have reached 70% of your download capacity, to extend your download capacity & avoid speed downgrade, please call our customer care at…


Dear Orange Customer, we would like to kindly remind you to settle the bills due on your internet service within 1 week. Thank you from Orange internet.

See? You’re always communicating your needs to me. And I would kindly oblige to your requests but see, our relationship has sort of become like that broke uncle who’s always asking to “borrow” some money, and you just know you won’t get it back. As far as I know, that’s not how our relationship should be. Our relationship is supposed to be based on give and take: I give you something, you take it, and I expect a little giving in return.

To put it bluntly, I expect to get what I paid for.

And please do not ask me to call your customer service because that’s like asking me to explore new levels of frustration and I’m just not in to masochism. The person on the other end of the phone never knows what they’re talking about and you end up wasting 15 minutes with them (which I suppose is good for Orange Telephone), and this is after waiting 30 minutes to get through to a representative. They end up arranging for a visit by one of the technical crew, and that is a visit that requires at least a week of being Internet-less.

No, it’s not just you. I have met few people who are genuinely happy with the level of service they receive from the telecom sector in general. It seems the only good thing these companies are excellent at is taking their customers’ money. And by the way, even that requires me to line up for 40 minutes while tellers are busy servicing other people who are shopping around for a phone; why counters dedicated to bill payments cannot be arranged, I don’t know.

So how can I help but feel cheated?

And I won’t even mention my dropped cell phone calls in this letter.

If there’s one conclusion to be drawn from experience in the Jordanian sphere, it’s that we are relatively good at providing a serivce but terrible at delivering a service. In other words, we’re great with coming up with the next great marketable idea and taking money for that idea, but exchange is never mutual. We never get what we paid for.

And I know. This post might fall on deaf ears as others have. After all, why should any company that makes a great deal of money every year bother listening to its customers?

But fellow blogger Jad may have been on to something when it comes to starting an online campaign. It might need a better name, but I’m betting that bloggers and their readers alone can force a change simply by blogging about a company such as yours, and simply by putting Orange Jordan in their post titles, a little bit of tagging, a little bit of twittering, digging, Facebooking and other nifty weapons at our disposal, we can probably have our posts reach Google’s top ten ranking. So every time someone searches for your company, some of the most pertinent results they’ll get involve unsatisfactory reviews from your customers. And if you think that’s never made a difference, well, Google around and see if it ever has (try Dell for starters).

How else is a customer supposed to react when their satisfaction is no longer guaranteed? When they can no longer communicate effectively with their service provider?

I wanted this relationship to work out; I really did. But I feel like you haven’t given me any choices. It’s just been one bad thing after the other and I’m writing to let you know that I might be ready to move on. I know, I know. Our relationship didn’t last too long, but we all deserve a little happiness in our life. You once wrote to me that “Internet = Life”. I saw your message all over town in fact. It was sweet. But if that equation is true then I’m afraid, it seems, I can’t have that kind of happiness with you. So I want you to know, just so this is all out in the open, that I am starting to look for other people.

But whatever happens, I promise to stay in better touch with you (depending on the stability of my connection).

Yours Sincerely,

Naseem Tarawnah

September 5, 2009

Cervical Cancer Vaccine: The Controversy

Last month's "Living Well" had an interesting topic over Gardasil, the vaccine against cervical cancer. Definitely one of the greatest breakthroughs in the medical field over the past few years has been the development of this vaccine which prevents 70% of cervical cancer cases, the second most common form of cancer among women worldwide. The vaccine should be given to girls ages 9 to 25 as three shots over the course of 6 months with each shot costing 150 JD if memory serves.

So what's the problem? We've come up with a vaccine for cancer! Why would any parent refuse such a vaccine for their daughters? All cervical cancer cases are caused by strains of a virus called HPV which is sexually transmitted. And when the words sexually transmitted are involved, the average middle-eastern parent will become utterly offended by the fact that they're even offering a "sex shot" as it was referred to in the magazine. Such a vaccine will be seen as a green card for girls to start having sex, as if the only thing standing between them and promiscuity is the chance of contracting cervical cancer. One interviewed mother said she would not give the vaccine to her daughter, but were they to develop it for males she would give it to her son.

Tell me one thing, though. Do you tell your child to go play with rusty nails after giving him a tetanus shot? Would you kiss a flu patient because you've had your flu shot? Of course not. A vaccine is not a green card for anything, it is simply a rational precaution against a known disease. And to have anyone die from something completely preventable is absurd, in my opinion. One woman said "I'd rather live with the unfounded suspicion of my daughter sleeping around than to bury her one day because of my irrational decision".

I think at least there needs to be awareness about the subject so parents can know about it before it's too late. I for one had no idea the vaccine was available in Jordan.

So what do you think? Should Gardasil be given to girls? And for the ladies under 25, would you take it? For the parents, would you give it to your daughters?

August 4, 2009

My Thoughts on CEDAW

A little late to the party, I suppose. I honestly didn't think the discussion would keep going till now, but people can't seem to give it a rest. And by people I mostly mean organizations pertaining to the Islamic Brotherhood.

Firstly, let me state something very clearly, I KNOW that Jordan is an Islamic country. I know that the personal status law which applies to people of all religions living in the country follows the Islamic law. I do know that.

What seems to bother the Brotherhood and more recently the Council of Ifta' are articles 15 and 16, which in a nutshell, guarantee women the freedom to travel and reside freely, as well as equal rights in marriage, occupation, etc. I will not go into discussion as to why would Islam disagree with the previous notions, because in the end it is a personal opinion. But this i will say: Jordan is not Saudi Arabia. We don't apply Islamic teachings to every part of our lives. We don't force women to wear headscarves, we don't force people into mosques at prayer time and we won't chop your hand off for stealing. The Jordanian constitution guarantees freedom of religion, and by that I don't just mean the right for non-Muslims to practice their rites of worship, but also the right for Muslims to choose whether to apply the teachings of Islam to their lives or not.

And that is why I don't think CEDAW should pose a problem. If certain women don't believe it is their right to travel freely, then by all means, don't. No one is forcing you to. What CEDAW does is guarantee this right for people who don't agree with that. What it does is provide women with the choice. I find nothing wrong with that, and if truly there is no compulsion in religion, then this shouldn't even be an issue.

Go ahead now, proceed to chopping my head off in the comment section xD

July 27, 2009

About the Recent Swine Flu Outbreak in Jordan

It's all in the newspapers by now, 13 teenagers have come back with swine flu from a camp in Ajloun, the largest number of people to contract the disease at once so far. I know a couple of people who were at the camp so I have a second-hand account of the events.

Firstly the camp, organized by Christian churches, takes place each summer and a couple of times throughout the year, and most of the participants are about 16 or 17 with older leaders and supervisors present as well. After the camp ended on Friday, two of the participants tested themselves after coming down with the symptoms and were found positive, so all those who took part in the camp were brought to the Prince Hamza Hospital, and those with a temperature of 38 or higher were quarantined and had samples taken to be tested. The results take about a day to come out.

From what I heard, the parents and those who were kept at the hospital were very disappointed with the way things were handled. The hospital is not well-equipped, conditions are far from sanitary and the section where they stay is very understaffed, with only one doctor and two nurses. The parents struggled to find a doctor to answer their questions. It makes me wonder if we really are as ready to handle an influx of cases should they happen as the Ministry of Health has been saying.

Contrary to what's being said in the newspapers, there weren't any participants from the UK, and only one from the US and one from Lebanon, and both tested out negative, so till now the source of the outbreak is still unknown. And with 6 new cases discovered today, I doubt the disease can be contained any longer.

Anyhow, Tamiflu was distributed to those who tested out negative and their families as a precaution, and those who do have swine flu are quarantined and prohibited from seeing anyone for the next 5 days. They're all doing fine though, they've got their laptops, DVDs and cards to entertain them! If you're going to go down with swine flu you might as well end up with your friends, I suppose!

7amdella 3al salameh to all.

July 6, 2009

Free Hugs in Jordan!

Yes, yes, I'm a terrible blogger I know it. But this I just have to blog! Remember this video? It's one of my favorite videos ever. Well apparently the Sunny FM people got one of their employees to dress up in a ridiculously stupid costume and carry the Free Hugs sign around different places in Jordan, just like Juan Mann, the man who originally started the campaign. I kinda wish I would've bumped into them, but man what's with the costume?

But Jordanians, you need to get better at the hugging business. Maybe what we needed was a free cheek-kissing campaign. Now that we would be good at! Anyway kudos for Sunny for thinking this up! And for the brave dude who went around Jordan offering hugs. Maybe the purpose of the costume was protection against being beaten up? Kidding, kidding, we're very friendly people. Most of the time.

May 23, 2009

Souk Jara and Jadal

One of my favorite things about Amman during the Summer is Souk Jara, the annual summer flea market in Jabal Amman. This year it kicked off just last week. Booths situated on each side of one of the oldest streets in Amman, selling unique merchandise, from antique jewelry to locally made Jo Bedu t-shirts. There are also small tables reminiscent of a "kan zaman" setting where you can sit and munch on saj sandwiches and have yourself an argeeleh. The best thing about it though are the concerts by local bands every week. We've got some seriously talented Jordanians!

Yesterday's concert was by Jadal, an Arabic rock band formed a couple of years ago. It was my first time seeing them in concert, and I loved it. Listening to the combination of slang Arabic lyrics and electric guitar tunes while enjoying the view overlooking the Citadel and al Balad was really quite an experience. Plus, the drummer is the cousin of a personal friend who requested her name be mentioned here (so here you go, Diana :D).

My favorite song is "Salma", I've been playing it non-stop since yesterday. You can download it at their website. Here are the lyrics as well.

سمِّي سلمى يا أختي سلمي أمرك و اتكلي
سلمى صغيرة راح تبكي من أول وهلة راح تشكي

سلمى عيونك يشوفوا الخير يشوفوا أمك بتصلي
تشوفي و تسمعي كل خير ما يهمك خالك بيغني

سلمى صغيرة راح تبكي و راح تملى بيوتنا بالضحكه
و بأعلى صوتها راح تحكي أنا بحبك يا أمي

سلمى عيوني بتستنى تشوف عنيكي و تتمنى
العمر كلو يا سلمى العمر الي بتمناه
العمر الي بتمناه العمر كلو يا سلمى

Verse :
سمِّي سلمى يا أختي سلمي أمرك و اتكلي
سلمى صغيرة راح تبكي من أول وهلة راح تشكي

سلمى عيونك يشوفوا الخير يشوفوا أمك بتصلي
تشوفي و تسمعي كل خير ما يهمك خالك بيغني

سلمى عيوني بتستنى تشوف عنيكي و تتمنى
العمر كلو يا سلمى العمر الي بتمناه
سلمى عيوني بتستنى تشوف عنيكي و تتمنى

سلمى عيوني بتستنى

P.S. Uploading photos to blogger is a major pain effft.

May 21, 2009

Good Blogger. Nice Blogger.

Exploring the weird species that is bloggers.