A Blog from Amman, Jordan, Online Since 2004.

Month: March 2011 (Page 1 of 4)

Songs of Time: سكرت بواب فتنة مالهاش لزوم

They say that artistic expression and real creativity are directly proportional to the challenges that a society faces. A society that is sinking in comfort zones is less likely to step out to create, grow, and advance. And not just artistically.

Disruption is scary. It can change everything we know and love.

Disruption is necessary. It opens our eyes, helps us realize, helps us advance.

Here’s a very disruptive video for you. While I do not like the lyrics at all (I think they are doing exactly what they’re warning against, judging people, increasing “fitna”), I am impressed by the artistic value.

As a reply to their message: Dear AudioTunnels, stupidity, I believe, is not tied to background. It’s tied to stupidity.

Here’s to more disruption.

An Ode to Abu Ghosh – RIP

It came to my attention this morning that Abu Ghosh, my favorite ka3ek baker in town, has passed away. With his passing, the delicious whiff of freshly baked bread will no longer come from the one-man bakery on the corner of Rainbow street.

My story with Abu Ghosh starts almost 10 years ago, before Rainbow Street had its renaissance. His kaek was one of my two post-bowling choices, the first being Falafel Al-Quds, right across from Abu Al-Dahab Bowling Center.

As a car was added to my repertoire of belongings, my visits to the kaek man increased. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy stopping by Coffee and News for Italian soda, while reading a book and eating one of his ka3kehs.

What set Abu Ghosh apart from all the other bakers in town was his endearingly foul mood. He always reminded me of Seinfeld’s soup Nazi. A “good afternoon” was welcomed by a gruff “ummmrrr”, and he would start yelling if I got my camera out. The opening hours of his bakery depended on his whims and fancies, and he sometimes would refuse to bake because he was having a cigarette break, or because he was out of dough.


I find it suitable to end my ode to Abu Ghosh with a paragraph from the “Amman City Guide” I wrote for Gulf Life:

“On the corner of the first portion of Rainbow Street lies a bakery that simply cannot be missed, thanks to the mouthwatering aroma of warm bread. Abu Gosh runs his “ka’ek” business from the early morning, tirelessly feeding dough to his furnace, which magically transforms the dough into thick, baguette-like “ka’ek”. Across the furnace rests a battered wooden table that provides you with do-it-yourself “ka’ek”-filling ingredients: a plastic bag of thyme and a half-finished box of La Vache Qui Rit’s cream cheese triangles. Unassuming, but believe me, breakfast cannot possibly be better.”

So long, Abu Ghosh. I will miss you, indeed.

You will always be Amman’s best ka3ek baker.

Takreem: Arab Achievement Awards

The Takreem Awards were created out of a thirst to inspire Arabs around the world. They aim to promote and recognize Arab accomplishments, bringing to light Arab excellence and leadership worldwide.

2011 has been an eye opening year for me. Since I have lately been reevaluating my own identity and my own relation to being “Arab”, I am very fascinated by their mission at Takreen, which is to “recognize key Arab achievers by celebrating their milestones and portraying how well established, strongly rooted, and united the Arab world is.”

I definitely don’t think that the Arab world is well established, strongly rooted, or united. Yet every day, I realize that I believe that we should be: a united Arab world.

And that is the cool thing about pan-Arab initiatives like Takreem. They might start out idealistic, but a little idealism is always healthy.

The candidates still have not been announced for 2011. I am looking forward to seeing a list of individuals from all across our region that have affected, and will continue to affect, change.

Here are the winners of last year’s Takreem Awards:
1. Award for Philanthropy: Arcenciel, an apolitical Lebanese non-profit organization committed to assisting those living on the margins of society.

2. Award for Arab Women of the Year: Nahida Nakad has had an outstanding journalistic career that spans almost 30 years.

3. Exceptional International Contribution to Arab Society: For over forty years the Council for Arab-British Understanding has lobbied for a positive approach to Arab-British relations, as well as challenging anti-Arab prejudice in the UK.

4. Award for Innovation in Education: BouJoude is a Professor of Science Education at the American University of Beirut (AUB)

5. Award for Young Entrepreneur Award: Rana Shanawani is the founder of BIDAYA (Boosting and Inspiring Dynamic Youth Achievement), a Syrian non profit organization dedicated to providing young, disadvantaged adults with the financial and technical support needed to turn their viable business propositions into successful ventures.

6. Award for Environmental Development and Sustainability: Enviromena Power Systems, headquartered in Abu Dhabi, is the leading developer of solar projects in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

7. Award for Scientific and Technological Achievement: Abdel Magid Salem Hamouda of Libya has a stellar record as an inventor.

8. Award for Cultural Excellence: Jack Shaheen has dedicated most of his professional career to challenging the negative image of Arabs as portrayed in the media and most especially Hollywood.

9. Award for Outstanding Corporate Leadership: Sobhi Batterjee is the co-founder, President and CEO of the Saudi German Hospital (SGH) Group, the largest healthcare developer in the MENA region.

I will keep you updated when this year’s candidates are announced.

Saul Bass Logos: Good Design is Forever

To take a break from statistics, here is some visual candy.

Saul Bass was an American graphic designer and filmmaker. Bass was responsible for some of the best-remembered, most iconic logos in North America, including both the Bell Telephone logo (1969) and successor AT&T globe (1983). Other well-known designs were Continental Airlines (1968), Dixie (1969) and United Airlines (1974).

The average lifespan of a Saul Bass logo is 34 years.

The secret? Simplicity.

Kosé is one of the top cosmetics manufacturers in Japan and in the world. The company still uses the same logo as in 1959.

Logo lifespan: 52 years and counting (1959- )

ALCOA (1963)
Original design by Saul Bass

ALCOA (1999)
Revitalized logo. Revitalizer unknown

Logo lifespan: 48 years and counting (1964- )

Original design by Saul Bass

Only the name has changed

Logo lifespan: 47 years and counting (1964- )

The logo was used until 2001, when Rockwell International was split into two companies, Rockwell Automation and Rockwell Collins

Logo lifespan: 33 years (1968-2001)

Saul Bass logo Kleenex 198x

KLEENEX (198x)      
Original design by Saul Bass    

KLEENEX (2008)      
Redesigned by Sterling Brands

Saul Bass logo Girl scouts 1978
Original design by Saul Bass

Redesigned by OCD Agency

For more Saul Bass logo love, check out Annays.

What Your Mobile Phone Says About You

While discussing new phone options with my brother Omar, I somehow ended up saying this:

“The smartest people I know own iPhones or Androids. Mostly the idiots use Blackberry’s, Nokia’s, and other phones.”

Then I looked down at the phones of Omar and I and had a terrible realization.

We’re both very stupid.



On a related note, isn’t my Apple sticker on my 4800 hilarious? No one seems to appreciate the joke.

What does Google say? #ArabNetME

These slides might be useful:

Media versus tech #ArabNetMe

Since this year’s ArabNet has tons of advertising panels, there are tons of media professionals. You have your quite typical tech-retarded mediaheads, and you have your typical media-hating techies. The suits versus the jeans.

There’s a new breed of people at too though. The digital mediaists. They’re wearing smart outfits with dorky twists, and they speak polished words but they’re truly nerds at heart.

As they are saying in the panel I’m currently in, “Case Studies in Digital Marketing”, why do we use the word “digital” in front of media? Why is it alternative media verus traditional media? Why isn’t it just media?

How to lure geeks at #ArabNetME

Build cool robots that print 3D and things that work with QR codes.

Search engine usage #ArabNetMe

I love Internet statistics!

Here are some pointers from Ahmad Hamzawi stat-talk from Google:

First result when you search for YouTube in Arabic is YouTube.

% of MENA search queriesfrom mobile devicesis 13%

IOS grew by 1,500% in 2010. Half of th

Opera Mini is #2 mobile browser outside GCC.

Queries in Arabic represent:
70% of Egypt queries
80% of Saudi queries

A few pictures from #ArabNetME

The Online Project saved my starving stomach with popcorn this morning.

Maha Mahdy, my ArabNet buddy for two years running.

The mobile advertising panel with the awesome Alexander McNabb.

(captions in no particular order)

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