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.

Uncategorized

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.

Note:

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.

personal

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

discussion, religions

A Story From The Bible

Here is one of my favorite stories from the Bible. The story has been narrated in Muslims’s books as well. I might share some more passages from the bible and AlQuran as an attempt to build a bridge between Christians and Muslims in my blog.

And every man went unto his own house. Jesus went unto the Mount of Olives. And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them. And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.

Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more. John 7:53-8:11 in the King James Version:

What is your personal reflection on the story?