Saudi Panorama

Here is my first Picture’s Panorama in Saudi. It should gives you an overview of my life here in the first two months. Beginning from next month, I will post a monthly panorama. My goal from these panorama is to give you a 360 view on people’s lives and expose you to a different people, different thoughts and different realities in a short sentences or in a collection of pictures. During my time in USA, I was able to meet people from all different faiths, races, sexes and countries. Here in Saudi, all people are Saudi. They are all Muslims. Men don’t encounter or talk with women freely and openly. However, I will try to my best to meet different people and share their stories and thoughts here.

  • I ,in a discussion with my brother about my life in USA, my impression of life here in Saudi, and my plan for the future.


  • I normally upload many Arabic poems in my IPhone so I can read them and try to memorize while I am waiting or walking.

  • In the first week, I went to renew my governmental ID and I was shocked with this mess. You have to wait on long line to get an application first, then on another line to get your application reviewed, then in another line to take a picture, then you are good to go. This process normally takes 4 hours or even more.


  • I took this picture while I was in the car. My city is known for being the city of farms. However, in this picture, some of the dates palms have been cut down.

  • Here is the picture of my nephew while he was trying to drink his tea 🙂 he is the funnest kid in my family 🙂

  • I went to mosque in Ramadan. Mosques are the place to promote a spirituality and understanding. Unfortunately, some mosques became a place for promoting hate and political propaganda.

  • You know me, I can’t survive without a coffee! Finally I found a Seattle’s Best Coffee in a Dammam Mall.

  • My brother, Mustafa, in a Thoab store to make his thab for Al-Eid.

  • A picture of a random street in Alhassa while I was in a car.

  • I went to Jarir Bookstore to buy some books. I am trying to increase my reading rate as possibly as I can. Please let me know if you have any book that you think I should put in my reading list.

  • In a juice’s shop. Everything here is natural 100%

  • In Ramdan, I was invited by many of my friends  for Iftar (breakfast). A lot of food to eat, and I have small stomach for it, but I am gaining more weights which is really good 🙂

  • In Alrashid’s mall, it is the only mall that allows single men to enter along with women. A lot of flirting and love stories happens there!

  • My nephews dancing together. I love kids and I never got bored of playing with them.

  • Rice and meat are the main meal of the day in Saudi.

  • My nephew, Hadi. He was a child when I came to USA in 2005 and look at how fast he grew up.

  • In Aljawazat, to renew my passport. It is a complete chaos. It made me question whether or not we live in 21st century.

  • Reading a magazine about sport’s fanaticism

  • In Alhassa’s train station, waiting for my train to Riyadh. Men and women are separated in the waiting area. The sign says (waiting for men)

  • I met some of my old friends with whom I have studied in Portland.

  • My father has a small farm and all my family during a special occasion like Al-Eid gets together in the farm. Here is the picture of my nephews (Ahmed and Hussain) in the farm.

  • In Al-Eid, people wear the best clothes they have, to go, meet and hug each other. The Eid gives you a feeling of brotherhood and love.

  • Here is my favorite breakfast meal, Alosho. I have been dreaming about eating this for five years and finally the dream became true 🙂

  • A car accident with a gas track. The firemen who always comes late, were trying to save lives. I normally don’t like taking picture of car accidents but I took this picture very quickly for the sake of this post.

  • In the first week of Al-Eid, I read this headline in the Alyom newspaper. It says  ” In the first days of Al-Eid, a husband congratulate his wife for Al-Eid with (You are divorced!)” !!!

  • I went to cemetery to visit the grave of my cousin. He died in a car accident when I was in USA. The view of the cemetery is kind of sad and scary. Some people comes to cemetery from time to time to remind themselves of the fact that one day, they will be here alone forever, with no family, no money, no fame!

  • Here is the Saudi side of me. I wore the Qatra with the Thoab in the Eid. I am very bad in wearing the Qatra, I can’t hold it on my head for a long time!


Back to Blogging, Back to Life

Before I start writing anything, I must say first that I miss you, my readers, a lot. I have been away from blogging for more than three months and ever since then, I felt that I am missing something important in my life, something that gives me joy, happiness, knowledge and inspiration. Blogging was a revolution in my life. It gave me a new vision, and new ways of looking at reality. I have never thought that I would be able to express my thoughts and feeling freely here before and I have never thought that I would make really amazing friends like you through my blog.

I have never wanted to be happy, or rich, or famous more than to be understood. To understand and to be understood are the ultimate goals of my life. I feel somehow warm here, I feel that I was able to understand you more and you were able to understand me better, so thank you.

P.S  I am 23 years old now 🙂 and oh! my blog is 4 years old.


May 2010 Panorama

  • “The identity is: what we bequeath not what we inherit, what we invent and not what we remember”  I repeatedly say this famous saying of the poet Mahmoud Darwish to any one who asks me about identity of my culture.
  • “The major similarity between media news and pornography is that both influence negatively people’ perception and expectation of others.” Writing my thoughts about Media influence on people.
  • “Questions are the eternal truth, answers are merely a distraction…” said Aysha Alkusayer in her facebook status.
  • “Real loss is only possible when you love something more than you love yourself.”a quote from the movie Good Will Hunting that really fascinated me and got my attention.
  • “Do we have to fall from high altitude, and then see our blood on our hands, to realize that we aren’t angels as we used to think?” Said the poet mahmoud darwish
  • “I am allergic to dust, smoking and religion” Said one of my friend when I asked him about the things that he allergic to.
  • ” I never regret any moments of true sadness but I regret indeed  every moments of fake happiness” Said one of my friend in a personal discussion about her struggle to be happy.
  • “Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life” One of Mark Twain’s famous quotes
  • “Don’t worry too much about not having the entire story told. someone else will pick up the untold parts, and make another movie out of it” Said Alia Makki on her comment on my post Saudi Arabia with No Makeup
  • “I think it is impossible to dehumanize others and remain a human” That is what I said to my friend in a discussion about (We, They, and the Others)
  • “It is so sad that nobody understands me, but it is even miserable to realize that nobody has ever tried” a young girl speaking to her friend on the phone while walking.
culture, discussion, Gender, Observation From Inside, Politics, reflection

Saudi Arabia With No Makeup

I watched recently the MTV episode “Resist the Power! Saudi Arabia.” The episode represents an inside story of young Saudi: Fatima who fights to change the traditional clothing of Saudi women,  Ahmed who fights for women rights, Aziz who wants to date and see his girlfriend with no fear, and finally the music’s group who want the freedom to play their music and songs in public.

My thoughts of the episode:

  • First of all, the episode is more for an entertainment than for a documentary purpose.
  • I think the young Saudi in the episode represent their individual perceptions and observations of Saudi society which is open for a discussion and debate.
  • It is impossible to make a realistic judgment about any society or religion based on small selective groups of people, or blogs or news.
  • There is no diversity in the participants of the episode. They are all from Jeddah. They are all against the tradition or the society.
  • I think there is a mixed understanding between what is religious and what is traditional in Saudi society. I think the presenters themselves weren’t sure about where to drew the line between religion and tradition.
  • I think it is very good and healthy to have people showing their opposition or agreement on social and cultural issues especially in Saudi Arabia.

My opinion on Fatima part:

  • Her story was very interesting. I thought she did a good a job in presenting her own observation of the Saudi society.
  • I don’t think she represent a large number of Saudi women. She is from rich family. She has her own driver which many Saudi women don’t. She can uncover her face outside while many saudi women get  in trouble for uncovering part of their face in many cities of Saudi.
  • I really like her colorful abaya’s business. I really wish that these beautiful colorful Abaya will replace the black ones in KSA.

My opinion on Ahmed role:

  • I really like his part the most. He was very confidence in speaking about his thoughts and ideas. He stated clearly his vision of change in Saudi society.
  • I think his story possibly represent a specific group of young Saudi who are well-educated and concerned about women rights along with the civil issues of Saudi society.
  • I think he did a good job overall.

My opinion on Aziz role:

  • I thought he was so funny.
  • His story is very common among Saudi teenagers, talking and having fun with girls in the chat rooms or in the messengers then, falling in love and then arrange for a meeting and then one of them may not show up, or maybe both of them show up but they end up getting in trouble or maybe they decide to get married but then their family will oppose the whole thing! You know, happy ending are rarely predicted on this type of stories 🙂

My opinion on the devil music group*:

  • I think the guys were confusing. I have never heard or saw music group similar to theirs in Saudi Arabia before. It was very interesting for me to watch and listen to their stories.
  • Their music and their clothes are unaccepted by the majority of Saudi society.

How do Saudi viewers react to the episode:

Many Saudi (men and women) felt upset and offended by this episode for many reasons. Some think that the episode focuses only on the negative sides of Saudi society and ignore all the positive sides.  Many Saudi don’t like to see any criticism on their culture exposed to the outsiders. Part of that comes from the old belief that the west are conspiring against Saudi culture or that some religions will try to destroy Islam by presenting a bad picture of muslim society.

Other Saudi think that it is perfectly fine to let people share their individual understanding and observation to the world even if it disagree with our observation. In the time of internet, the world has become a very small village and things can’t be hidden anymore.

I personally think that it is better that we become open and honest about our problems. The mask strategy is no longer practical and Saudi should appear to the world with no makeup. We aren’t the best country in the world and certainly not the worst. There are many Saudi who view life and society differently. I think everyone of them should have the right to speak up his/her mind. We may agree or disagree with what they say and think, we may think that they are completely right or wrong but none of us can deny their right to share their own observation about the world around them.

* Clarification: I am not referring to the music group as the devil. I am referring to how the music group is called and perceived in Saudi society. In the episode  summary, they made the same reference as to explain why Saudi society oppose such type of music. Thanks for Hammad for asking me to clarify this point.


Climbing The Songs

Climbing the Songs تسلق الأغاني is a short movie directed by Nawaf Alsabhan, voice-over written and narrated by my friend Ahmed Alsihayih. The main actor in the movie is my best friend Malik Falatah.  The movie was presented during a Saudi Night at my university. Please make me happy and watch the movie. I really think that these talented Saudi should get a lot of supports and popularity for the great work they have done.

It happens sometimes, that happiness quits you. It happens too, that you become saturated with defeats and it happens that you stand up straight but on crooked ground, and in turn look slanted. Nevertheless, the warm of hope are vast, like the arms of the city (Climbing The Songs Movie)

Panorama, personal

April Panorama 2010

It has been known that pictures can speak better than words, so I decided to do Pictures Panorama for April month. I hope you like it!

  • My lunch from Chipotle restaurant. I highly recommend place for healthy fast food!

  • People waiting on lines to buy the apple’s new product, IPad!

  • Trying to follow up with my piano lessons. Piano lessons were not easy as I thought.

  • Portland is the city of art and music. In every corner, you find people playing beautiful music or displaying beautiful arts.

  • Two guys debating the existence of god on our university’s campus. The first guy believe that god exist and that the none-believer will go to hell, the other guys believes that religion is silly and none-sense!

  • A guy with his girlfriend setting and studying together. Isn’t that so lovely! I love people when they express their love in creative way, like setting together and reading something!

  • Eating some Italian food at the Pioneer-Square Mall. I miss my mother’s homemade food. I miss the smell and the taste of her cook.

  • I attended a philosophy conference at Pacific University. I learned how little I know about Philosophy!

  • I babysitt my nephew Mohammed twice a week! It is indeed a very good experience, do not you think that I should add it to my resume? 🙂

  • Here is why I drink coffee a lot: 20% because of the taste of the coffee, 80% because of the thoughts, ideas and emotions that flow continuously into my mind  while I am drinking coffee!

  • This is an interesting book I found while I was walking around in PSU bookstore. I didn’t buy the book because I have a lot of books in my shelfs that I haven’t read yet.

  • I finished two of my midterms so I finally had enough time to write posts in my Arabic blog, Murtadha Diaries. I will think of translating some of what I have written there!

  • I love to contemplate nature! I love to look at the perfect beauty of birds!

culture, discussion, Make a difference

Two Open Letters

Dear American and foreign countries,

I want you to discriminate against Saudi, Kuwaiti, Omani, and Emiratis so badly. I want you to treat them exactly the same way they treat Indian, Bangladeshi and Filipino workers. I want you for example to force Emiratis to work under the heat of sun for less than 2 dollar per hour. I want you to make fun of Saudi exactly the same way they make fun of Asian workers. I want you to never allow Kuwaiti to eat with you in the same table and when he asked why, tell him that you are from a better social class than he is just like some Kuwaiti assumes that they are from better social class than Asian labors. I want you to get Omani maid, and force her to work 24 hours without rest just like Filipino maids work with no rest for Omani families.  I want you to force every Saudi that comes to your to convert to Christianity, or whatever religion you like just like Saudi force foreign workers to convert to Islam.

Maybe when we feel how is it like to be under oppression and discrimination, we will become more aware of how bad our actions and treatments to Others. Maybe our governments will understand that  the discrimination against forign labor workers will lead to a discrimination against  our own citizens.

I hear everyday a discrimination and an insult against some labor workers in the Gulf countries and nobody stands against it, no newspaper write about it, no government official speak up against it.  But when one Saudi, or Kuwait, or Emiratie guy has been discriminated against in the West or in America, the Gulf turn upside down and every newspaper write about it and every government official stands against it.

Now dear Saudi, Emirati, and Kuwaiti,

There is a simple rule in life, it is “treat others the same way you want others to treat you”  so If you don’t stand up against discrimination on any country, race, or religion, then please don’t ask others to stand up when some people discriminate against your country or religion.

You have an obligation to stand up against discrimination wherever it is, just like you have an obligation to pray five days times a week. It is not like saying “oh, that isn’t of my business” because your silence is counted as if you are supporting the problem.  So, please never allow any discrimination to happen in your home, or in your neighbor or in your country.


I made a generalization in this post just to emphasize the urgency of the whole society to speak about this problem. I know that there are many Saudi, Kuwaiti, Omani, and Emiratis who are strongly against discrimination on labor workers from all the countries. So please don’t take the post personally.

blogging, culture, Gender, personal

Saudi Women and The World

“(Saudi) Young women bloggers are fabulous” said Kirsten Powers in talking about her trip to Saudi Arabia. I have to say that I am so proud of Saudi women who blog, who speak up, who expose their identity, who show their disagreement or agreement about global, political and social issues, who show their feminism, their faiths, their thoughts and creativities so openly. I am so proud of Saudi women who hold a camera and take  photographic pictures and share it with the world in Flickr. I am so proud of Saudi women who hold a pen and write about philosophy, literature, psychology in the newspaper. I am so proud of Saudi women who tweet in Twitter about the lovely voice of their mothers, the romance of their husbands, the funny stories of their children and about everything concern their lives.

And that is why I believe that Saudi women aren’t in anyway less intelligent, creative, caring, beautiful than the rest of world’s women. I wrote this post as a respond to one of my American friend’s question  about why do so many Saudi guys, whom she met here in US, find American women are more attractive, beautiful and intelligence than Saudi women. Well, the answer is that I can’t speak on their behalf, I think they have the right to speak about their personal opinions and preferences. But I also would like to speak about my personal opinion, I find Saudi women are very attractive, beautiful, intelligent, intellectual and creative. and that is why I think I am going to marry a Saudi woman.

By the way, just so that you don’t confuse my personal opinion with my stand on foreign marriage. I strongly believe that Saudi men should have the freedom to  marry whoever they like from wherever they like, but I also believe that Saudi women should have that freedom too. There are so many handsome, romantic and intelligent  foreigners out there who want to marry Saudi women. So, let’s be fair on that.


I Am a Human Being

I am a human being, a simple human being who wants to live his life to the fullest, achieve his dreams, read more and more, travel around the world, meet new friends, fall in love, get married and build a family.

I am a human being with emotions. I feel sad when I see people sleeping on the streets, shocked when I know that the water that I am drinking right now isn’t accessible to  many children and families in Africa and angry when I hear stories about women being raped and abused around the world.

I am a human being with basic desires. I like to wear nice clothes. I like to drink coffee. I like to smile at people and see them smiling back at me. I like to eat Italian, Mexican and Lebanese food. I like to walk a lot by myself early in the morning or late at night. I like to read and memorize the beautiful Arabic poems.

I am a human being. I have a family who I care about, friends who are part of my life, a community in which I participate, a society which I want to change, a world that I want to discover.

I am a human being. I have two feet, two hands,  two ears, one nose, one mouth and most importantly one heart. I can smile and laugh. I can talk and listen. I can dream and hope. I can think and debate.

I am a human being, so before you ask me about my religion, or where I come from, or why I think this way or another, please remember FIRST that I am a human being just like you are.

Thank You