A Blog from Amman, Jordan, Online Since 2004.

Month: August 2008 (Page 1 of 2)

On August

July came and went and there was no time to update. But here’s August. And it was a much nicer month. July sucked anyway.

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National Security Alert: Faisali vs. Wehdat

The Facts

Game: Jordanian Super Cup (Kass al-Ko’ouss)
Date: Friday August 29th (tomorrow)
Where: Amman International Stadium

Time: 7 pm Amman local time
TV: ART (exclusive)

HS1F7758 by you.


I grew up a Faisali fan.

As I started understanding football at around 1989-1990, I thought Faisali offered the more entertaining version of football.
I just enjoyed watching the Faisali players, and the impeccable style of Madhar Assa’id.

– I was a big fan of Khaled Awad’s comb over.
– I was a big fan of Ziad abu Shanab’s fluorescent-yellow striped shoes.
– I was a big fan of Abu Abed’s crosses from the right side (he was never as good when he played center midfield but from the right side he was Beckham before Beckham).
– I was a big fan of the Awad brothers – Sobhi and the number 17 midfielder, the aptly named bruiser – Musa.
– I was even a big fan of their cousin Adnan, a fan of Ahmad Khalil, Firas al-Khalayleh and even a tall lanky dude called Ali Zo’bi.

To me there was no comparison between Jihad abdel Mine’m (a fat slob), and Jeriess Tadross – the best Jordanian striker ever. There was no comparison between Sobhi Sleiman’s long-range strikes and Hisham Abdel Minem’s one-of-every-twenty-is-between-the-three-bars blind shots (I swear one time he took a shot from a few yards outside the box, and it went out of bounds from the side… not a corner kick… a throw in). Milad Abbassi, Aneess Shafiq and Raed Ahmad were all better keepers than the clumsy Nasser Ghandoor and his fresh Salem cap (although I doubt he knew it was a cigarettes brand). Ibraheem Sa’dyyeh’s below the knee shorts never appealed to me.

I was never able to watch a Faisali and Wihdat game at the stadium (until recently… last October), but I went to Faisali games against the likes of Sahab and Manshyyeh (round one of the 1993 cup – final score 3-0). Every night at 8.30, I checked “Akhbar al Mala’eb” on the radio for the Faisali match score.

A Traitor

Despite being ridiculed by my friends and cousins, and sometimes even being called a traitor, I stayed true to my football-based devotion. I have to admit though, it was a commitment that was becoming harder and harder to keep once I enrolled in the University of Jordan in 1996. I realised that the question Faisalawi or Wihdati had nothing to do with the quality of football. As I went on 15-minute rants dissecting the teams to the alleged football fans who just asked me about my team affiliation, I came to realise that most of them barely follow the teams and hardly know any players names beyond the main stars. Actually most of them admitted they find Jordanian football unwatchable.

(Pictures by Jehad Najjar)

Tufahtain: fall from grace

Somewhere in 1997-1998 after the Faisali lost the Super Cup game for the second year in a row, I headed to my favourite retreat, then “Khan Morjan” in Sweifyyeh. I can’t say I was devastated, but definitely not happy. An hour later Jerriess Tadross and Mohannad Mahadeen (probably two of my biggest heroes at the time) showed up and sat with the coffee shop owner (now semi-famous singer Ziad Saleh). They said something about officiating and the referee. I can’t exactly remember if they carried cigarette packs (I vaguely remember Viceroy packs) but I am sure they ordered Arageel. Either way, football started to matter a little less since then. Not a lot less…but nevertheless, less.

Time to say good-bye to both teams

Football and all of sports are “games”. With all due respect to Faisali and Wihdat’s history, they both do not mean anything. Their matches are officially the country’s largest (and one may argue the only) arena for cultivating and exchanging hate sentiments based on origin. And hence there is no need for them to exist anymore. The team can be dissolved and the players could be spread around the league – as could the assets, buildings and other stuff. With all apologies to anyone who ever invested time and effort in those franchises, but at this point they are doing more harm than good.

Last year the final game of the season between the two teams was held without a crowd; it was not a result of a previous incident, it was not a result of a league-issued punishment on one of the teams, it was solely a decision made out of fear! With all those precautions a fight still took place. When players are not fighting with alleged-photographers, fights are breaking out between team presidents in the VIP section. When the players’ sisters are not being cussed out, Ehud Barack is being cheered in the stands… A football game should not put a whole country on alert.

HS1F7818 by you.

HS1F7819 by you.

Jordanian football is insignificant. Jordanian football fans cannot watch Jordanian football on TV because ART has exclusive rights. Jordanian clubs are holding their players’ passports because they are fleeing to play in other countries. Players are holding out refusing to practice if they are not compensated. The football league wants to install a professional system but does not have the funds. I challenge anyone to name nine players on any Jordanian club, including Faisali and Wihdat, let alone recognise the face of them.

HS1F7812 by you.

So please, go away…Other than “al-Fi’a almondassah” no one cares.

Actually I kind of do!

(Pictures by Jehad Najjar, from the October 25th, 2007. Second leg of the Asian Cup Semi final.
Compared to the other games, this one was rather peaceful and the Sports City circle was blocked by riot police only for a couple of hours. Of course some of the incidents included:
1. Raafat Ali was ejected after celebrating a goal with an obscene gesture
2. Amer Shafi’ and Siraj al-Tal got in a fight after the game, followed by Shafi’ getting banned from the national team
3. A fight broke out in the VIP section
4. Chants that hurt the national unity (which cannot really be called an incident))


The Curse of the Half-Ass Job

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that this city is cursed. It seems like the entire population just does not give a shit about the job that they are paid to do. They go to work, routinely pass the time, make it look like they are doing their job, clock out when their work hours are done, and consider the job done.

This curse affects almost everyone, in the private and public sectors. It affects Jordanians and non-Jordanians, professionals and non-professionals.

Case in hand: Tahboob Kitchens. We decided to get our kitchen from Tahboob, although it is more expensive than a lot of the rest, thinking that we are not in the mood to deal with unprofessionals as we too busy to spend most of our day following up. We go, sit with their designer, who designs us a kitchen, gives us an offer, and promises us that they will start putting it together on July 26. Wait, we tell him, but before we agreed, you told us it will take you 40 days, and that’s more than 40 days. He says they are busy before that, and that’s what we should expect from a successful company. Ok. Whatever.

July 26th comes and goes and the kitchen is installed by the agreed on date of August 1st. So far so good, except its not, because the kitchen is missing several compartment doors, which they said they will come put up soon. We can them a week later and they say something about a glass door being made by a glass-smith and that’s its still not ready yet. Wait, what glass door? We didn’t ask for any glass doors. No problem, they say, we’ll put a wooden one. We tried to call them every 4 days or so in the past month and yet they kept stalling. Yesterday, they call, “The glass door is almost ready”.

DUDE. And what about the rest of the doors?

It’s been over a month.

Case in hand: The governmental workers who were re-paving the pavements in Shmesani yesterday. My grandmother’s house stands on a little cul-de-sac which the workers were using to park their trucks over night over the past week. My grandmother’s house is around 40 years old, and on the pavements stand several huge 40-years old pecan trees that my grandfather brought with him from Palestine. These trees are a huge part of our family, every year for so long, we collect them, dry them, and spend the rest of the year eating them.

The governmental workers paving the streets did not care about anything though, they thoughtlessly drove their trucks without caring about the trees in the streets, and their branches broke. My grandmother and aunt freaked out, looking at the branches as if they are their babies, and taking them inside to try to save as many as possible, and hoping that the actually tree did not die.

Of course, that could have easily been avoided if the workers were just a little more conscientious of their surroundings.

And these are just two little examples while I have many.

Why are we like this? Why doesn’t a person care about perfecting the job that he is doing? Why is everything done with “the back of their hands”? People in this country pride themselves in being both Muslim and religious, something which I would never understand, because Islam clearly values conscience and good work. In Islam work is given special importance to the extent that it is considered as an act of worship in itself.

Font Conference

Hahahaha. That’s really hilarious.

Hattip: The Vacillator

Hanging on: A tribute to a pair much-loved

I know they’re dying, any such pair would have been dying for years. Their color has long faded to a shade of sickly grayish-blue, and their natural curves have faded to flatness. But I am not yet ready to let go, they have been my favorite walking partners since the eighth grade, and that was back in 1998.

I remember the first time I laid my eyes on them. A new Nike store had opened in one of the malls in Riyadh, and I was going there with my mother and my brother Omar, who was looking for an American football. At the very end of the oblong store, on the very far wall adjacent to the entrance, a display of brand spanking new sneakers was covering the entire length and width of that wall.

Those years were the peak of sneaker fashion, when sneakers were still a canvas for creativity and new methods of keeping your feet comfortable. They were of many diverse colors, made out of a whole lot of materials from woven uppers to denim to pink leather. It was also the time to forget that sneakers should automatically come with shoe laces, and many of the models had alternative ways of sticking to your feet.

I had no problem picking the bright blue pair with the elastic front. They were pathetically comfortable, and they felt like they were socks. I did not know then that they would become the shoes I spent most of the time wearing in the coming ten years.


1998-2002, I wore them every single day to school. When I say every day, I really am not exaggerating. It was as basic as the alphabet; wake up, brush teeth, put uniform on, socks on, blue Nikes on, drink milk, grab back-pack, and go to school. They made funny, squeeky sounds on the rubber floors of Manarat, and I always found it funny.

2003-2007, the time spent at the University of Jordan was divided between my red Chucks and my blue Nikes, depending on whether my outfit matched blue or red. The Nikes had started to die in this period, but their death has been slow. Every year or so, I glue their soles back together with UHU, which has been keeping them alive for years.

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I remember the day I blogged that, it’s in the archives actually. Date, January 25th, 2005.
The years have since made them my favorite pair. I mean, it’s been a while, you know?

2007-2008, my low-rise red Chucks have sort of died. Not in the same way that my Nikes are dying, where temporary cure is achieved with a dash of UHU, but the fabric itself is tearing off the Chucks. I bought a new pair, but I am mostly wearing my Nikes these days because I haven’t broken in the new pair properly and I really like shoes to be comfortable. If only Gus still shared my shoe size, he would have broken them in for me. Oh well.

The Nikes were ten years old last year, and a very fruitful ten years they were. Together, we walked the hallways of middle school, highschool, we practiced graduation ceremonies, ran around Jordan University rain and shine, learned to drive, made graduation projects, took photographs, and signed marriage documents. Together, we walked the streets of Riyadh, Amman, Damascus, Cairo, Paris, London, Beirut, Amman. This pair has been my partner, a steady element, a steady comfort, a steady reliability.

It’s not that I haven’t looked for another pair, but each pair I buy gets buried in the back of my closet, for none can laceless, be as comfortable and look as good.

And I’m still gluing them every now and then, eleven years on. Today is a gluing day. This is to another year of the blue shoes.


Medal Count

The Fourth-Place Medal has “36-facts about the Olympic medal count”, my favorites:

1) China won the most gold medals at the Beijing Games with 51. They become the first country to crack the 50-gold mark since the Soviet Union in 1988.

2) It’s the first time since 1936 that a country other than the United States or the Soviet Union has led the medal count.

3) China won more golds in Beijing (51) than they did total medals in Atlanta (50).

4) Per capita, China won one gold medal for every 25 million people in the country.
The United States’ per capita rate was one gold for every 8.5 million.
The tiny island nation of Jamaica, which won a staggering six golds in Beijing, had a per capita rate of one gold for every 450,000 residents.

5) India has 17% of the world’s population. They won 0.31% of Olympic medals.
China: 19.8% of population, 10.4% of medals.
United States: 4.6% of population, 11.5% medals.
Jamaica: 0.041% of population, 1.15% medals.

6) Six countries won their first ever Olympic medals: Afghanistan, Bahrain, Mauritius, Sudan, Tajikistan and Togo.

7) The rest of the world won seven golds in men’s swimming events. Phelps won eight.

8) Members of the former Soviet Union won a total of 173 medals in Beijing.

9) From 1980 to 2008, Jamaica won three Olympic golds. In a span of six days in Beijing, Usain Bolt won three.

10) In all, 958 medals were handed out to athletes from 87 countries, the most medals and medal receipients in Olympic history.

For the rest of the 36, check this post out.

From Wikipedia:

Jordan first participated at the Olympic Games in 1980, and has sent athletes to compete in every Summer Olympic Games since then. The nation has never participated in the Winter Olympic Games.

As of 2008, no Jordanian athlete has ever won an Olympic medal. However, in the 1988 Seoul Games, a Jordanian athlete did win a Bronze medal in Taekwando. As this was Taekwando’s first appearance in the Olympics it was ruled a demonstration sport not an official Olympic event.

Nadine Dawani – another Jordanian loss

The occasion: Jordan’s hope Nadine Dawani plays her first match in Beijing

The time: 5:45 am Amman Time

The chances: If Nadine beats the British player in the first round she advances to face the Chinese – the group’s favourite.
But she will still have a very good chance to compete for the bronze, even if she loses to the Chinese.

The opponent: Britain’s Sarah Stevenson – European Champion in 2005 and 2006
17th place in Athens 2004 (Nadine finished 5th in the same weight class in Athens)

5:35 Am alarm goes off – tough choice between patriotism and sloth

5:45 Navigate through handball, men’s diving, table tennis to finally find the match.

1:23 to go – first round (1-1)
After half a minute of bouncing around the players score simultaneous points 1-1 on turning kicks.
0:20 to go – first round (2-1) Stevenson
With both players spending the period bouncing around and trying to get a feel for the opponent, Stevenson scores a point by landing a kick as the round winds down.

First time out – A group of twenty Chinese people is shown waving little Jordanian flags. Good to see the Jordanian teams coming to Beijing prepared with all the essentials for a successful Olympic participation.

0:18 to go – second round (2-2)
At the end of another bouncing-only round Nadine scores on a push kick to tie the match. Followed by some shoving at the end of the round.

Second time out – The same group of Chinese people is still waving the flag, but we now we can see that they are led by two-time Olympian Zeina Shabaan who looks like she is enjoying her three-week vacation in Beijing.

1:24 to go – third round (3-2) Stevenson
After the referee urges the players to fight for the seventh time in the last two rounds, Stevenson scores on another turning kick.
1:00 to go –
The Moroccan commentator is getting nervous. “Nadine has to win”
0:30 to go –
With time winding down and Nadine continuing with her passive-defensive approach, I am starting to wonder if Taekwondo matches are played out of four rounds and not three
0:15 to go –
The Olympic dream is almost over and Nadine is still bouncing around without any serious attempts to score a tying point.
0:10 to go –
Nadine throws a few kicks, engages with the Brit, tries to push her out of bounds to force her into a penalty.
End of match
Stevenson 3 : Dawani 2

The Moroccan commentator seems confused why wouldn’t Nadine actually fight.
The Lebanese commentator believes she did fine because at least she was competitive.

And that sums up Jordan’s Olympic participation in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Objective for 2012: Make the second round in at least one sport.

Masking Tape Abuse

This reminds me of Sharpie-abuse in Saudi Arabia:

Olympic logo police workers are tasked with vigilantly going around all facilities and putting masking tape over the logos for any product where the company is not an official sponsor.

Talk about taking it too far.


The Olympic Dream

Colour Lovers has a great article on the design of the modern Olympics since they started.

It’s amazing that the Olympics moved from this:

( 1896 Athens, Greece)

to this:

(1928 Amsterdan, Netherlands)

to this:

(1968, Mexico City, Mexico)

to this:

(2012, London, UK)

The Time Traveller

I’ve always been amused by the decades that passed. The 60’s and the 70’s seem amazing to me. Woodstock, flower-power, Abba, Palestinian nationalism away from religion, and of course, the awesome fashion.

Then I came upon this website that shows you what you might have looked like in a mug shot from the past… and perhaps I was better off not being born in those decades :)

As for Moose, whose vintage shots I added out of curiosity with how guys would have looked like in those decades, could also be seen. I would say he fits other decades better than I do.


The years of Sputnik, the United Arab Republic, Gamal Abdel Nasser, and the Arab Federation of Iraq and Jordan. Yes, I suppose on such a politically charged decade, I’d probably look so well-kept and peaceful, while Moose would have looked so serious. 

Yearbook by you.

Picture 9 by you. Picture 6 by you.

Picture 5 by you.


The people were jamming to the Beatles, Walt Dinsey’s Mary Poppins has its world premiere, Martin Luther King is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and Roald Dahl writes Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The Vietnamese war is also reaching its peak, and man walked on the moon.
Apparently, they were also very bad years for us. I can’t believe how horrible we look.

Yearbook by you. Yearbook by you.

Yearbook by you.

Picture 12 by you. Picture 11 by you.


The Arab-Zionist war of 1973, the Lebanese Civil War, the green revolution started gaining ground, Stephen Hawking developed his theories of black holes, people became less religious, and people were listening to Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and the Ramones. Star Wars, The Godgather, and Grease were released.
Okay, so kill me, but I love 70’s hair. For both males and females.

Yearbook by you. Yearbook by you.

Yearbook by you.

Picture 14 by you. Picture 13 by you.


Islamic fundamentalism began gaining ground in our side of the world, Space Invaders became popular, personal computers were getting more important, and The Karate Kid became a blockbuster. AC/DC released the second highest selling ablum world wide, Chernobyl came to be, and John Lenon was shot.

The 80’s were bad. Bad. Bad.

Yearbook by you. Yearbook by you.

Yearbook by you.

Picture 17 by you. Picture 16 by you.


The first decade that I remember in its entirety. The Gulf War, the internet, the break-up of the USSR, Dolly-the-sheep, and the Millenium bug. These photographs remind me of Full House and Boy Meets World.
Well, and boybands.

Yearbook by you. Yearbook by you.

Yearbook by you.

Picture 19 by you.Picture 18 by you.

Compare Musa’s boyband looks to an actual picture taken in the early 90’s of his class:

And finally, the year 2000. Compare to an actual picture of me taken in the year 2000.

IMG_1437 by you.

How would you look like in those decades? Try it out here [via Kottke].

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