A Blog from Amman, Jordan, Online Since 2004.

Shallow. Cultureless. Lacking in self-confidence.

“What drives a person to converse in a language not his own? Is it that he considers the Arabic language not worthy of being spoken? Or is the English language, or as they refer to it, the language of the civilized youth, superior to Arabic?
This, of course, stems from lack of self confidence! This person tries to make up this deficiency in his personalities by using a language other than his own to appear better – according to his faulty perspective- and to appear to be a civilized youth!”

As translated by yours truly from an Gulfian Arabic blog which I won’t link to because I am not in the mood to start a flame-war (but are you surprised to find out that it’s the blog of the same person who believes that the word “Bye” is a mighty conspiracy against our convictions?).

Nice, eh?

Anyway, save for a few exceptions such as Serdal and Tech2Click, I very much dislike the Gulfian Arabic blogosphere. It is infested with hate, intolerance, and that particular Arab mentality that make me want to shoot someone. Ok, ‘dislike’ is too tame a word, but let’s leave it at that shall we?

After reading the post the excerpt is from, I have this sudden impulse to stand on the rooftop and scream my dislike out to the world. Me is getting really pissed off with the elitist attitude towards the Arabic language. Yes, it’s a beautiful language, no one can deny that, but that doesn’t make everyone who doesn’t perfect it “culture-less” and “lacking in self-confidence”.

I, for one, absolutely adore the simplicity and practicality of the English language. Yes, here I am, I’m saying it out loud, I LOVE ENGLISH!


If this person’s logic holds, my love for the English language means that I look down on Arabic. It also automatically makes me shallow, cultureless, and lacking in self-confidence. Ahuh. The only thing I look down on is sharing a common language with such mentalities, and the only thing I lack is such idiocy.

“This is especially prevalent with the English Arab blogosphere! It makes me sympathetic to see those truly pathetic people who use English in topics sillier than themselves! This also goes back to shallowness of thought and lack of selfconfidence as I have pointed out earlier, otherwise, why else would they insist?
On the other hand, I am proud of those who use English to spread Islam.”

Yeee, 3aleina 3ad!

Ok, ok, enough with that. Let’s talk a little about Arabic instead. Seriously, regardless of whether the person is Arab or not, how can anyone look down on Arabic? It is the most mystifying language! Arabic calligraphy by itself is mind-blowing. Watch this space for an hommage to the sheer beauty of Arabic calligraphy soon, for now, I will leave you with this painting by Egyptian artist Ahmed Moustafa (click on it to view details);

26. Egypt-Ahmed Moustafa

Fantastic, isn’t it?

This is our culture. This is our identity. It’s not in Arabic itself as a language- it’s the whole package, you know? With the colors, the movement, and all.


Olive Oil


Experiment Take


  1. s/he has a point when it somes to people using english to look more civilized. Perhaps not the majority, but some do, you gotta admit. Having said that, his/her point of view is extreme. How will we ever communicate with the west, show them our culture, art, and even in his words, religion, if we don’t use english? Why is it ok to use religion to spread Islam, and not say anything else? This person is your typical closed minded, ultra religious arab.
    I say relax, and let him ramble on.

  2. So true. Couldn’t have said it better. I’m going to leave religion aside for this one, cause I don’t wanna use some other person’s blog as the spotlight. It’s funny how the people who can’t speak english are the ones who object using it!
    Too bad we’re too closed minded to accept the fact that some people are just slightly different. Boring.

  3. Well this is defiantely a two sided issue just as Omar said.

    A few days ago I was on my way to the parking in uni when I went past a few guys , one of them was shouting :Stay man, stay!(more of a verions of “zdai”) then when apparetnly his friends didnt get it , he went on ” wak baGolak omkoth, omkoth 3al arth). It sounded too cliche for me! If you’re not in control of something dont use it! including languages!

    And yes I do believe at that point the person is shallow and trying to just “show off”!

    Our family conversation at home is English since my mom doesnt really master Arabic. I cant help it to slide a few foreign words when I speak in Arabic, though Im working on it…

  4. Nj

    I think it’s important to master your own langage first, no matter wether you’ll use it when expressing yourself in the web or not. The majority of tunisian’s blogsphere use frensh instead of arabic, because whether they can’t write in arabic proprely (including myself) and it’s a shame or because they want to look more civilized. We make effort to master frensh, english but not arabic.
    Yes it’s very important to let the others (especially foreigners) get your message especially when tackling important issues such as the palestinian issue… It’s important to be able to let yourself understood, it’s a way to bridge the gap between different civilasations with different creeds, beliefs and cultures. But it’s also important to preserve it’s own identity and be proud of our culture.

  5. Yeap, It’s so fantastic Roba!

  6. Western Brother

    Am I the first non-Arab and non-Arabic speaker/reader and reader to comment this?

    I wouldn’t be able to enjoy Roba’s blog if this was in Arabic (my Arabic being limited to a couple of heavily accented phrases), which is a reason good enough for me to support her writing it in whatever language she (and no insular language militia) prefers.

    On the other hand, there’s also something sad about the conquest and rule of English all over, especially when there are people who don’t master their “mother” tongues anymore (mother in brackets not due to sexism but to point out that it’s not anymore one’s mother tongue if it’s not his/her best language).

    English is not my language either but I guess it’s the only one I share with most other readers here. If somebody can suggest a better way to communicate between ourselves, I’m willing to listen.


  7. It is quite obvious that the audience for a blog would be substantially reduced if the language used was Arabic. If you need to reach to the outside world you need to use English.If you want your blog to be a provincial backwater than write in Arabic.
    The best would be to use both languages.

  8. K-2

    Well, I am venezuelan and this is the first time I come here, but I wouldn’t be able to read this if it were written in arabic. But it is a personal choice what is the language you use to blog. If you want to have a more “universal” audience, you have to write in English, in any other way you are restricted to those who belong to your culture.

    Spanish anyone?

  9. sad… very very very sad..

  10. Western Brother

    Steve, I wouldn’t call a blog in Arabic “provincial backwater”. Arabic is apparently spoken by more than 200 million native speakers plus those who have learned it otherwise. Arabic is also an official language in more than 20 countries, in various international organizations and spoken by millions of members of minorities and immigrants outside the core Arabic world.

    Too sad I don’t speak or understand it myself :-(.


    P.S. Check this: . In fact I would have thought myself that the Arabic is spoken by fewer people, now that most Arab countries don’t have really big populations.

  11. The use of English gives you a pretty large audience. However, if one would like to restrict his or her audience strictly to those who could read Arabic, then he or she might as well blog in Arabic.

    English has more or less become the de-facto language of international communication. I visited a number of Tanzanian blogs this afternoon trying to find out what’s going on in that part of the world. Unfortunately [for me], they were all in Kiswahili, a language I do not understand.

    I kept saying to myself “how I wished these folks would blog in both Kiswahili and English.” They all speak English I know—it’s the official language of Tanzania.

    In the Nigerian blogosphere, everyone uses English. It makes communication much easier than if each person had to use his mother tongue (there are over 200 languages spoken in Nigeria, most of which are barely written). But then, English also happens to be the official language of Nigeria.

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  13. I think blogging in English, and using it when conversing with fellow Arabs are two VERY different issues!

    I’m all for blogging in English and for using it to communicate with the world in all sorts of other ways. But I don’t like it when a fellow Arab, whether in the U.S. or Jordan, starts talking to me in English (provided s/he is somewhat fluent in Arabic, and all those present in our company are as well).

  14. really no comment on this subject!!
    in arabic “كل واحد حر”

    n i say lets have a war…

  15. DNA

    Exactly it – he just ‘don’t like English so he makes for it by bitching about those who do.

  16. I dun see what the fuss is all about .
    If u wanna blog in arabic go ahead .
    if u lean more towards english its fine too .
    You folks should be more zen . You’re missing out the whole point of blogging in the 1st place .
    I for one started a blog coz it was getting too crowded up there .
    Now i have an outlet to park some thoughts and make space for new ones . Now i’m much more refreched !
    Just chill sit back and relax .
    There’s enough shit in your lives out there . Don’t start damping it here !

  17. Curt from Houston

    Just a couple of observations here. I personally love the sound of Arabic when spoken by a woman. It’s almost melodic. When I listen to men speaking Arabic, it sounds like a different language. Rough and guttural. Are there different forms for male and female?

    I also love Arabic calligraphy. Classic English script is also beautiful but almost no one can write that way any more.

    As for the word “bye” being some kind of evil epitaph, I just find that deeply disturbing and creepy. What kind of mind invents that kind of idiocy?

  18. Absent minds Curt from Houston !

  19. Roba…
    you love English?!… lah lah… [LOL]…
    the talk about language always bug me… because of people with that attitude… for God’s sake… langauge is a man made thing… it’s a tool… not a goal… if I choose to use any tool… who should blame me??
    yeah Arabic is a mystical language… my highly respect for it… is because it’s the language of the Holy Quran and the mother tongue of the Prophet Mohammed PBUH! if I choose to learn it and to master it… it’s only because of thes above reasons…
    can’t blame… shouldn’t blame others for thier own personal choices…
    tolerance people… tolerance!!!

  20. I say speak both. Then you have the best of both worlds. End of story.

  21. I agree with Ziad, it’s much more practical to solef in our native dialect anyways, right? But writing… take it from a translator-in-the-making whose target language is almost always Arabic.. writing in Arabic can be a professional bitch. Blogging in Arabic may help, if what you want is to reach out to your brethren, no matter what social class or background, but it will do little else, in all honesty.

    For the life of me,though, I can’t help but raise my glass to this post. The guy in question (and his posse, our much loved “official” community) has been bothering both Ahmed (from SJ) and myself very very much. He kinda makes me wish my passport wasn’t green, if yaknowwhatImean. ;-)

  22. I have two blogs one for them is in English (with more than 400 posts), and the other one is in Arabic (with about 80 posts). I cannot tell the reason why I prefer writing in Eglish to writing in Arabic. May be some topics are better written in English like those ones related to Technology and Internet (On the other hand, I prefer to write those religion related topics i Arabic). May be I am just used to writing in English because of School, University, and currently Work. May be coz I feel if I like in English more people from different places in the world will be able to read what I write.

  23. Very well put, Roba. I read the original post you’re talking about here a few days ago, and just like you, I wasn’t in the mood for another episode of War of The Blogs. I really had enough already. The problem with this kind of people is that they think they are the sole agent of our culture, language, history, and religion. They don’t hesitate for a second before passing judgments on everybody because they think they own the truth, the absolute truth. My question to him is: If you don’t have an identity crisis, then do you need to judge others because they might use another language?

    When I use English, it is not because I don’t know how to speak or write in Arabic. I master Arabic, and I write in Arabic very well. Actually, I write in Arabic very well that one of the prestigious magazines in Saudi Arabia is publishing a column by yours truly this month which I actually got paid to write it. Ironically, the very same guy is leading now a project that is supposed to bring people together, but with his mentality of excluding others, I’m afraid that this is so not gonna happen, except for people who are exactly like him, of course.

  24. Well if one wants to reach a wider audience it’s important to use a way of communication understood by the majority.

  25. Zilal

    I love English, but i love Arabic as well, and that’s what motivated me to do my PhD in EFL nd culture. Sincei’m still in the first stages of my work, i cannot provide you with data or answers, but as far as ican tell, language is tied very much to identity and a few recommended books on Vygotsky and Kramsch will help you see my points. Thought and language are inseparable and if you prefer one language over another, then studies agree that there is something wrong here. I wish to talk more about this with you some other time, as it will shed light onto my study lthough i’m a Gulf citizen, whom i guess you want to shoot ;)

  26. ahmer

    yaar, u did osam ,terrific painting …… great


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