A Blog from Amman, Jordan, Online Since 2004.

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Rhetorical questions(; “a rhetorical question is one asked solely to produce an effect (especially to make an assertion) rather than to elicit a reply”):
So why is it hijab is directly associated with being an Arab? Am I not an Arab because I’m not planning on wearing hijab? Why is it that Islam is associated with hijab? Is a woman not Muslim unless she wears hijab?

Billboards at a university in Kuwait:

“I am a [female] university student …
and my appearance suits my university.”

“I learn … I discuss … I debate
We compete in loving our university”

Ye! So even in the field of eduaction, men should go learn, debate, and discuss while women should sit at home and think of how to make sure their collars suffocate them[via Just Another Blog].


Understand, I’m not saying anything about hijab, I’m just pissed off at the priorities of this campaign.

While we’re on the subject of hijab, here are some interesting international ads:

“More education for girls in Islamic countries”

West vs. East
“West / East
Both sides of intolerance.”

Hmm.. I’m not sure I get the second one, but I do absolutely love the first one. Amazing art direction! [Ads of the World]


Dressing up those streetlights


Canvassing around the Planet


  1. the Unicef add is amazing!

    While two of the three women wear hijab in the picture, one of them doesn’t. So they’re not totally saying hijab is a must. But I don’t like the comment about apprearance. Since appearance should have nothing to do with education, or the persuit of education.

  2. I think the ad meant that you should just look neat and presentable, or they would not have had the third girl without a head cover. Besides, I think the hijab in this picture is fairly liberal (referring to hijab as being all their clothing and not just the head cover).

  3. i wouldn’t say in the univeristy, but in many places in Jordan if you’re not wearing a hijab you’re either not a muslim or some very strange woman ….

  4. Anonymous

    hey girl! i cannot understand what exactly are you trying to reach ? what is your point of hijab? by the way am not veiled

  5. I am not saying anything about Hijab. My first paragraph was purely rhetorical, and answers are not expected.
    What I am critisizing is the priorities of this campaign- asking men to enjoy/debate/learn and asking women to cover.

  6. Hamzeh

    Two points I would like to comment about Roba:

    1- I do like the university campaign you’re talking about. However, I fail to understand why they chose to not include males in the idea of the first ad, and why they chose not to include females in the idea of the second one. That is really wrong in my opinion.

    2- You cannot infer from the statement “Hijab is directly associated with being Arab” that “not wearing a hijab means you are not Arab”, and the same goes for Islam. So the rhetorical questions you asked really don’t sound round. If you really think about it, nobody ever said if you don’t wear the hijab you’re not an Arab or not a Muslim. I think you over reacted there.

    I wish they quickly change those ads to include both males and females in both aspects that they were trying to convey.

  7. Hamzeh

    I mean to say “don’t sound right”, not “round” :p

  8. Roba, I totally relate to what you are talking about

    I agree with Hareega, we are looked at as very very strange species for not wearing Hijab ..

    I think that the campaign is not balanced at all .. we all go to universities to learn and we all should look neat while doing so. Restricting the looks on girls and main benefit of learning on boys, is actually a very premitive narrow minded way to look at things.

  9. super devoika

    roba… am doing it ur way…
    dun misunderstand me… u know i love u…
    a rhetorical question: so why is it assocaited that muslims mean arabs? why is the hijab assocatied with middle eastern women? and who said that liberaty and open mind thinking should go with not wearing hijab?
    dun misunderstand me… i have nothing against those who don’t wear hijab… as i don’t have anything agianst arabs…

  10. Hamzeh, well, your first point is exactly what I meant to say. As for your second point, I’m not really “reacting” to anything. I’m just thinking out loud.

    Khalidah, precisely.

    Super Devoika, oh, no, bil 3aks, what you’re saying is on the same side of the coin as I’m saying. I completely agree with all your questions. It is absolutely wrong thinking from both sides, but it is becoming a stereotype.

  11. but they have an un-veiled girl too, I think its just that in that particular country it is common for girls to wear hijab. actually including a girl who does not wear shows their awareness that modesty should be practiced whether or not the girl is veiled, which means that they are fully aware of the diversity of religions, beliefs and life styles among the students.

  12. SC, that is beside the point. I don’t care if the girls in the picture were stark naked or wearing a borqo3, what is upsetting me is the fact that the men were targetted with “Debate/learn/converse/enjoy” while the women were targetted with “dress modestly”.

    Is this all that we succumbed to? Even in an educational institute were women do better, we are only required to dress “Modestly”? It is disgusting.

    People should stop looking at the outside and start concentrating on the more meaningful stuff.

  13. Roba, thats another story, I was only referring to what you said about making hijab synonym with Islam and Arabism. you used the ad as an example, while in the same ad there is an unvelied girl.

    I agree that it is offensive to include only males in the second ad and directing the first to females only, true that only girls can wear mini skirts but also guys can look extremely annoying too.

  14. super devoika

    good point there roba…
    the ad did treat girls superfacially… as many other ads… where women are targeted as icons of seduction… -even in this ad… to a certain extent- limiting women and girls to thier bodies… is totally wrong!! i hate it…

  15. I don’t think I get the 2nd Unicef campaign poster either. And frankly, it kind of disturbs me.

    Regarding the Kuwait University billboard ads, it just goes to show that there is a large disconnect between the people carrying out the campaign and the students/youth. Reading the comments of people on the site where this was originally posted gave me some insight (and relief) regarding what people in Kuwait think about it.

  16. Nas

    you know i wanted to comment but i dont know what to say because im not a student there and i think one has to be to fully understand it.

    from what im seeing they are just 2 posters that are detailing the many identites of students at this university, whether they wear religious or traditional clothes or not, they are all part of the same university.

    so i dont know what the big deal is.

    as for the second poster. i think they are a load of crap as they’re based on the preconcieved notion that girls who wear the veil and/or are religious automatically dont recieve an education which is a complete falsehood.

    there are better ways of saying more education for girls in Islamic countries without insulting their dress

  17. Nas, quite the contrary. These posters, as I see them, advertise gender inequality. Why should the men be encouraged to to debate and think while the women are tossed aside educationally and asked to “cover”? If this was some public interest advertisement lissa nos imseebeh, but this is done by an actual educational institute, and an educational insistute should respect gender equality.

    Like I said, the point here is not what the girls are wearing, the point is the targetting.

    As for the second ad, I don’t see how it is offensive. Like I said, hijab is automatically being assigned to Muslim women regardless of whether they are educated or not.

    I think it’s pretty cool how a book was used as the cover. I strongly believe that the best way a woman can enforce respect from others is by education.

  18. Roba this is regarding the last ad, I find it hard to interpret as well. The West half is beyond me.. but I think I understand the east half.

    The east half is an irony. The east is where we veil women, showing only their eyes. But in reality women are so badly educated, that they become blind, and hence the eyes are covered. I guess it goes well with the saying “al 3ilm nour…”
    no 3ilm = no light = no vision

    maybe I’m going overboard, but that’s my interpretation

  19. Fatima

    Roba, this is not to disagree with you, but perhaps to add to the complexity of the issue:

    The male and the female ads are (possibly) fundemantally different in their nature because they are trying to “cure” fundamentally different problems. Some half-formed postulations:

    Females at this University (and indeed, in general) “naturally” pay more attention to appearance. This is a “general” rule, and does not count the exceptions either way (yes, I KNOW there are men who pay way too much attention to their appearance, and females who pay nothing more than a reasonable amount, or, even, those who could care less). The add is trying to say that you CAN dress modestly, and professionally (and quite attractively, I might add myself — which seems self-contradictory) and still be a “jaami3iyyah.” To me, that says at least two things: 1) oh ye females who dress modestly/professionally you are welcome here — try not to feel out of place if you do not fit in with the rest-of-the-University-female-spirit who think appearance IS everything; and 2) oh ye females who pay too much attention to appearance — that’s not what University’s were designed for (i.e. try to learn something while you’re here).

    As for the males at the University… I don’t think the second ad says anything complimentary about males at all. Again, the ad is trying to “cure” a problem, to promote something that isn’t there — that (perhaps) of males NOT taking University seriously, of NOT going there to learn or discuss or debate. This goes in perfectly with what you were saying about females performing better; the ad speaks to the males: oh ye males who think life is a game, and your University is a playground — well, try to learn something while you’re here. Doesn’t say very much for males, does it?

    Any way you look at it, though, I think there is something very juvenile about the ads.

  20. Absolutely agree with you in every way, Roba. The campaign promotes gender inequality.

    And about the second advertisment, I don’t get the point neither. What it means, than we eastern women are blind….¿to what? women rights in some muslim countries? absolutely false. Gender inequality in THE WHOLE WORLD (which it is, even in eastern countries, even if it’s practised in different manners? absolutely not. I wonder why when in public we women shout about gender inequality there has to be always discussion and comments saying we women “OVEREACT”. My goodness!!!!! overreacting???? I can’t understand why we have to explain this historical inequality low voice…I simply can’t understand. I mean, it seems like there is freedom of speech about whatever but in this points, oh oh…we overeact…of course! we are half the world! isn’t it fair to shout?

  21. To Fatima – if that is what they wanted to send through this campaign; they failed.
    If they wanted to send a reasonable balanced message that had nothing to do with gender; they could have mixed the genders in both ads; i.e. put both boys and girls on the appearance ad and same for the other ad .. this is the way to overlook the gender issue in this campaign and concentrate on the real issue, hence; send the right message.
    What was done here is that the message they wanted to send, whatever it was, did not reach us, what we got are things that are totally related to gender, do you see what is wrong with this picture now?

  22. In my eastern point of vie the first add wanted to say that appereance is ths most important thing women in university must pay attention to. Notice that i don’t discuss hijab or not, which is another issue. Again, relating women to mere objects, even if it’s for sexual proposes (not the case, of course)or objects of a false protection (women must be “protected” from men’s bad thoughts). ¿¿¿¿What thoughts? ¿¿¿are we all persons or animals who cannot controle primary instincts????? in Spain 95% of men do not walk the streets harassing nobody and we women dress how we like, and almost nobody judges women business because of the way they are dressed. Obviously, in terms of social-amorouse-sexual relations this is a higlight but it’s a personal thing and a personal choice, not related with working, studying or judging no one. This add is in a university where BRAIN is used, not looks. My opinion.

  23. Fadi K

    hi. roba , mawade3ek 7assase too much!

  24. Another point about the add, why should the females be seperated from the males from the begining?

    I mean why werent the two merged stating both slogans?

    As for the last add it reminded me somehow of the Ying/yang concept, that both sides comlplete each other,each being blinded in its own way but both ending in being intolerant

    The west is blinded MENTALLY because of its traditions maybe? and the east are blinded by Media?

  25. Nas

    Roba, lol see I cannot properly judge, I do not know the goals of the campaign or even if they planned for more posters. but there is a picture of 3 girls and the caption reads: “I am a [female] university student …
    and my appearance suits my university.”

    so where is the inequality? the message im getting is “it doesn’t matter what you wear, you apperance suits your presence at this university”…its only when u place it side by side with another poster that has men that you might get thrown off. But i have no idea about the intended context here. It feels like we are forcing pieces of a puzzle together.

    I am open to all sides of the arguement as I am not 100% sure of they are saying. But what if the pictures stayed the same and the captions switched accordingly, would we complain?

    The last ad pictures I think are offensive Roba. First it is suggesting that all girls who are in Islamic countries dress in that manner and second it is assuming that all girls who dress in that manner have no education or need more of it. It is an insult to the phd’s, the scientists, the MDs and every other woman in the Isalmic nations who has a high level of education and dresses in that manner.

    thats my interpretation at least :-)

  26. Despite the several attempts above at interpretation or justification, I fully agree with you Roba, that the Kuwaiti billboards are disturbing and even offensive. It doesn’t matter so much what they may’ve been trying to say or what they ended up suggesting, but the fact is, they make clear and immediate assumptions about or associations with women. Given that the men and women appear separately on different billboards with different messages, I think we can safely assume that the difference in message basically has to do with gender. Or at least, that is the immediate effect.

    Why is it that the women must be primarily concerned with their appearence, while the men talk about the intellectual rigor of learning, debating and discussing (and competing…this is imp)? Why this distinction in focus on the body versus the mind? Of course, the billboards do NOT imply that the women don’t learn or discuss, but they DO show men talking about the intellectual delights of their university exactly at the same time that the women are worried about how they look. The women are clearly assigned a much more passive role compared to the men.

    I won’t bring up the question of modesty (although arguably that is what the billboards are implying). For me, it would be equally disturbing to see a billboard showing women in t-shirts, tank tops or their college sweatshirts, with the same message. Why must the women be concerned about their appearence? I don’t care how it is in real life, that’s not the concern here. The concern here is how women are portrayed vis-a-vis men. And we can very well see how that’s happening here. Honestly, what does appearence even have to do with loving one’s university? Seriously, that’s the most ridiculous and nonsensical university ad one could ever see.

  27. What can we say about medium stars? ,

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