A short, romantic history of blogging in the Arab world (and on meeting the last two bloggers on my list)

Amira is from Bahrain. Ahmed is from Saudi Arabia. I’m obviously Jordanian.

The three of us have many things in common, but for the sake of this post, it is one underlying factor that combines us all: we all started blogging in 2004.

I started AndFarAway. Ahmed started Saudi Jeans. Amira started Silly Bahraini Girl.

The date is very important, because unless you were super online in 2004, you probably can’t recall how early it was in the life of the social web. 2004 was a time before Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. It was a time when the mere idea of sharing your thoughts with strangers on the web was considered crazy. It was a time when there were just a handful of bloggers in the Arab world, and we all knew one another very well and were often in touch.

Blogging was different than what it is today. It was a niche and difficult enough interest to be a major combining factor between bloggers, a deep insight into our characters as humans. If you were a blogger in those early days, you were either a GNU geek or a romantic lover of self-expression. I was the latter, so were Amira and Ahmed. We got along well, and we “blogged” at each other all the time. In fact, one of my favorite blog posts in the world is a letter that Ahmed wrote to me in 2006.

The years passed and I met almost every blogger worth meeting in the Arab world, but I was somehow never in the same country as Amira and Ahmed.

Then in the past month, a whole whopping ten years later, we finally managed to meet. I met Amira in Amman, and Ahmed in Dubai, and what fun it was!

Amira and I

Ahmed and I

Naser is one of my very good friends, and we initially met through blogging in 2006. Yesterday, we were discussing how easy it is these days to become friends with people you meet on the Internet. Somehow, the boundary between reality and the digital life have become so thin, even for people who are not really online. We worked hard for meeting, at some point in time, so it was so lovely meeting both Ahmed and Amira.

20 Years Later… Jordanian Band Mirage is Back, Totally Embracing 2014

I was only eight-years-old when Mirage release their famous single, “Tigool Ahwak”.

It was 1994, and the single was one of the first, if not the first, alternative Arabic music experiments. It’s a song that actually stayed cool, even in 2012 when I wrote about it.

Imagine my surprise when I get sent a link to the video below… Mirage, 2014, released a completely remade “Tigool Ahwak”.

It is AWESOME. You would expect the musicians to look old, tired, and potbellied. You would expect them to sound 1994, in a cute, 90’s-nostalgia way. You would expect the video to be something hilarious, especially if you’re familiar with the original one.

Oh, no.

Mirage will have none of that.

The song is completely different. The guys obviously started liking rock in these last 20 years where they have been hiding. And the rock sounds AWESOME. Heavy guitar riffs, drums, and solos…

The band themselves also look so much cooler and fresher than most Jordanian bands half their age.

Great job, Mirage.

And in case you’re curious, here’s the original single, 1994:

Oh, I just discovered that operating systems are now truly usable

Today it occurred to me that its been years since I last had to Google my way out of a system problem. I used to spend days fiddling in system files and the run time environment to fix obscure bugs that popped up often.

I guess the OS has finally become dependable, since its buggy start in the early 90’s, but I was too busy to notice.