06 December, 2006

My Last Post From Saudi Arabia

With 18 hours left, I think this is my last post from KSA. The only major thing in my life that didn't happen here was being born. 25 years, with all it ups and downs, happy times and sad time. I went to school here, I graduated from college here. All my friends and memories. I admit that I wasn't the best friend and I truly appreciate the few of that kept up with my weirdness -especially recently- and I hope they will always remember these times because my brain is doing its tricks again and all of my memories from school are already lost and of college already fading.

It is hard to leave the place where you've lived for a quarter of a century especially if you're leaving for a place thats totally new and much more complex, but after 25 years here I've decided its enough. I know that a lot of people will not fully understand my choice especially that I'm leaving a great opportunity here -according to almost everybody in Egypt I have discussed this with- for getting an M.S. degree -which I have already started- but some point during the past two years it stopped being about getting good education and became an issue of personal development.

A lot of people like living in KSA, my folks love it here. But circumstances changed a lot since my dad first came here almost a year before I was born but yet a lot of stuff also remained exactly the same. My folks may like the slow rhythm of life, every day here is almost exactly the same as any other one, nothing major ever happens, the perceived lack of troubles etc. But living in such a place for so long makes you awfully aware of the emptiness of such life and of the limitations to how much you could grow. I feel that at 25 I have missed a lot of experiences in life -but I only have myself to blame for this since it is I who chose to come here in the first place- and the choice I have is either continue living here and hide from the troubles or face it right on and go back to Egypt and try to finally reach the emotional and social maturity I'm sure I'm never going to reach living here. This issue became so important to me lately -and it should- that it overthrew everything else from my priority list even if it meant the suspension of my post-graduate studies and even the probability of not ever completing it.

Every time I go to Egypt in the summer I spend a couple of weeks in a sort of "cultural shock". Life there goes so much faster its hard to keep up with. Stuff that happens in one day there could be spread over a whole month here. The number of people you have to deal with on day-to-day bases triples or even quadruples, and its not only the number of people, but also all the different types of people that you have to deal with. I feel that I have to be on-guard 24/7. Everybody recognizes from the first moment that I'm from the gulf area "khaleeg" somehow -well, not somehow, I know its obvious :)-. Its a weird situations, how much should I give the taxi driver, who and how much should I tip in a cafe. The money stuff alone is enough, your perception of the value of money totally changes when you live in Egypt. The price of a cup of coffee in a coffee shop here could keep you full for a whole day in Egypt, but I admit that the only cheap thing in Egypt is food! Clothes are way more expensive in Egypt.

I'm going to miss studio-1 FM, I'm going to miss mishwar's shawerma and of course "Ganoup Modern Cafe". And of course I'm going to miss all my friends here who were the only reason I kept on going this far without suffering from a mental break down and making it that much more bearable. Thank you Naji and Jawad, you'll always be my best friends. Thanks to all the people from the diwaniya who during the past two months helped me -maybe without them knowing- get out from my summer depression phase. Thank you Ali, Faleh, Basil, Rashid and everybody else. I know I've been a little weird in the beginning but it was out of my control, ask Naji about it. Thank you Muthanna, Dodo, Sherbini and Noami. I'm really sorry I had to go without telling you but it has been awfully hard for me and I know that you will understand, someday. You were and always have been my closest friends. Thanks to Tawfiq, whom might be surprised to when he knows that I'm leaving KSA, you've been my safety valve and always been a joy to be with in my lowest moments. Thanks to all my friends from kfupm, to Khaled, Ali and Ehab and all the crazy things we've done together, you were the only people who I've been so close with from my college years. To Faisal, my fashion advisor, to Ahmad Bukhari, to Abdulhakeem, Abdulkareem, Said and Alaa. And to Bukhari and Alaa especially since I'm going to miss their weddings.

Thank you all. And wish me luck.

end note: after settling in Egypt I'm planning on writing about the experience of living in Saudi Arabia for so long, all its ups and downs and good and bad things, about the people and the country. It is after all a unique experience, with people from all over the world, I don't think that living in Egypt I would've met people from all over the World, to appreciate the difference between a Syrian and a Lebanese. I've me and been close friend to people from all over the arab world and have been exposed to their cultures and this is one of the greatest experiences of living in Saudi Arabia.

I've always wanted to write this down in a book. I've even chosen the name of the book: Esm Ommak Aih - اسم امك ايه. classy, huh?

Dodging Bullets

Now here's a weird thought.

Bullets, when it comes to physics, should behave like any other projectile. So theoretically, a bullet, after being fired, should travel some distance and if it hits nothing in its way it will just fall to the ground with a trajectory that looks like half a parabola with its axis in the direction of the bullet. Now, still theoretically speaking, the force with which the bullet is fired could be calculated and consequently we could get the distance a bullet travels before it loses its momentum and falls down -or simply by experimenting and trial and error- but, and here's where it gets interesting, a bullet fired at from point "A" as shown on (Diagram 1) should naturally fall at point "B". A point "C" on the trajectory of the bullet could be found where the bullet has sufficiently slowed down to the point where someone could just catch it in his hand!

Theoretically, I should be correct, so how nobody ever tried it before? If any body is interesting if this works out or not, I have a gun, bring a calculator. :)

Today's Quote

"All marriages are happy. It's the living together afterward that causes all the trouble." -- http://www.pioneerdrama.com/playwrights/rh.html

05 December, 2006

Today's Quote

"In life, it's not who you know that's important, it's how your wife found out."
-- Joey Adams

04 December, 2006

Who Stole Islam?

If I have to agree with the Egyptian government on one thing, it would be the banning of the Muslim brotherhood group. And if I had to give one reason for me not liking the brotherhood so much it would be the way they look down on everybody else.

One of the thing I admire the most about people like Ahmad Zewail or Farouk El-Baz -and in fact almost everybody with such knowledge- is how having all this knowledge made them so humble and so polite because science, just like religion, has a way of elevating a persons spirit which makes me think that maybe the gaia people were right! But when you look at most religious people you will find something that almost the complete opposite. This look that they know so much more and that they're so much better than you just because you don't grow a beard or -if you're a woman- you don't cover your hair.

I'm OK with anybody who wants to go the extra mile with his religion whatever it is but I can't help it feeling that there's something "troubling" with most of these people. I know some people who either joined or tried to join the brotherhood and I noticed that the "recruiters" usually targeted people with somewhat troubled personalities, people who could be easily manipulated and maybe back then in my subconscious I felt that these people were actually being "brain washed" but I never really saw it this way until the era of terrorists attacks and suicide bombers came upon us especially after the Iraq invasion. And this maybe the main reason why I never trusted the brotherhood. But this is not the main reason why I don't like them having an "Islamic" party.

I can't get myself to forget the Luxor massacre on 1997, and I know that the group behind the attack are not the brotherhood but the Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya who actually did it originated from the brotherhood. Living in Saudi Arabia too I could tell you that the followers of the brotherhood who took refuge there and who mostly worked as teachers in schools and universities were one of the main reasons behind the development of extremism -in a country that was on top of this following the wahhabi extremist understanding of Islam- which eventually lead to the emergence of Bin Laden and his friends. I can't really put my hands on it but there must be some kind of a connection between all these extremists link to the Muslim brotherhood.

You can do like my father and try to convince me that they're good people and they do a lot of services to the community, but, don't you think that this is just "marketing" for their group? To brainwash the people they're helping into thinking that they're good people so that they have their support when they call for them in any of their crazy endeavors against the government? "El qa3da el sha3biya" elly zahha2o ommena beeha? Its the same technique they've been telling us in schools that Christian missionaries are using in the poor countries of Africa when they offer them food and medicine in exchange for them converting to Christianity, something that I don't believe anymore but try telling this to almost all school students in Saudi Arabia.

Just take a look at their logo and their motto: "God is our objective, the Quran is our Constitution, the Prophet is our leader, struggle is our way, and death for the sake of God is the highest of our aspirations". If their message is so peaceful then whey do they need the sword for? and then below the logo you have "وأعدوا", this alone really scared me! Its as if our whole mission as Muslims is to fight and kill the infidels. And where does it say in Islam that dying should be our "highest aspiration"? These kinds of teachings are what gave us the suicide bombers and terrorists. Instead of teaching people to respect the soul and to forbid the killing of anybody regardless of his religion they're teaching us that dying should be our highest aspiration.

I still have a lot to say on this issue, wait for me...

Today's Quote

"I am not a vegetarian because I love animals; I am a vegetarian because I hate plants." -- A. Whitney Brown

03 December, 2006

The Solution

Something I've noticed in the blogging world: Everybody is writing about problems, nobody's offering a solution.

I'm not saying that its a bad thing, not at all. At the very least problems are finally being discussed in public and its an indication that most Egyptian are still not corrupted by the rotten system. But talking about the problem is only a first step and it should be followed by another and another till we fix these problem, and here I'm going to propose my humble suggestion on what the second step could look like. But just in case, if anybody with legal knowledge of the issue thinks that this post could lead to me getting arrested for provoking public unrest or planning to overthrow the government please notify me so I could delete it in time 3ashan mama mwasyani arga3laha 7etta wa7da ya3ni.

The solution in one word is "education". Democracy is the legal child of a well-informed society and as long as we suffer from these horrifying rates of illiteracy we're never going to make it. A couple of days ago I was reading the Asharq Al-Awsat news paper and I came upon this article on how the Jew, originally mistreated by the "religious" mostly christian Americans, and how they forced the American public to respect them by becoming highly-educated and consequently highly influential and recognized. And they're still doing it, according to wikipedia Israel ranks 3rd amongst countries spending on Research and Development. Of the best 10 universities in the middle east, seven are in Israel. Among the same list no Egyptian university shows up on the Asian top 100 -the 100th university by the way ranked 3656th world wide! mine was the 1681! yeppy!-. Going through such statistics and noting the countries you'll find that there's a relationship between a country being an industrial and a high-tech nation with a strong economy and their education standards. Countries like China, India and Korea dominate these lists.

Now, improving our educational system is a key to both having a democratic country and one that plays a key role in international politics not a country that its foreign policy is dictated else where. I know its an obvious solution to a lot of people that we should start with the education, but what I want to say here is what can we do as highly educated Egypt loving people. My suggestion is to interact with the current educational system and putting in a little of our own time and effort trying to make it better. Small things like going to your little brother's school to talk about your profession, parents organized and financed school trips, summer camps all around Egypt where college students spend a couple of hours every day teaching illiterate people to read and write and at the same time while doing this we could tell them that we have a constitution and that we have rights. A grassroots movement to educate people on political issues and to eliminate illiteracy all at once. And I'm going to try to start something like this myself in my little brother's school after I settle in Alexandria and see whats going to happen with my army service but I promise you that I'll do my best and I'll keep you updated.

One of the things I'm going to miss the most is a two-minute radio spot called "Second Thoughts". A short radio spot where Mort Crim, the presenter, tells a short story of how one person saw something that he thought he could improve a little, and DID! And the results were much greater than he expected. At the end of each show he says "Now YOU go make a difference".

Let's all go make a difference.

Today's Quote

"The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie — deliberate, contrived and dishonest — but the myth — persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic." -- John F. Kennedy