The beauty of localization

Dishdasheh crossing

This sign is probably one of the most interesting things I have seen in Doha thus far. It is what I regard as localization at its best. When I first looked at it, I was confused. I thought it was a drawing of a woman and then I realized it was a picture of a man outfitted in the national dress, a dishdasheh. Cool, huh? I mean why should traffic signs here be adorned with drawings of individuals in western attire, particularly when the majority of citizens wear otherwise. I love it!

By Natasha Tynes

I’m a Jordanian-American journalist, writer, and media development professional based in Washington, DC.

37 comments

  1. How then would be the sign for public restrooms? Turkish toilet picture?
    Happy St Patrick’s day everyone!

  2. I honestly do not see any cool, wow, or gorgious in this sign. Moreover, it looks like a sign inside a house, not in a traffic area. So, whats amazing about a dishdasheh? Come on guys and gals ! Does that make you proud of what? Why don’t you wear it then. How about the head cover (7atta & 3gaal)too ?, shouldnt this poor guy be wearing it as well in this sign ?. How about flip-flop (zannobeh- or 7affayeh- or sha77aatah)as well ! If this was one of the most interesting things you saw in Doha so far, why didnt you share it with us long time ago Natasha ?. Give me a break, I just can’t stop laughing about how this post has any one to express their joy with you for it. Those comments come from people who must admire you a lot to a degree they praise whatever you post !

  3. Well Jareer, that’s a pretty nasty comment, isn’t it? It is a traffic sign on one of the roads in the Bin Mahmoud neighborhood of Doha. And what the wife and I both happen to like about it you happen to hate. I’m not a big fan of dishdasheh either but I do like the localization. It’s nice in a globalized world to see something not bent to the will of commerce. I think the both of us, although not fans of that outfit, respect the difference and actually do find it cool.
    It just made it here simply because it’s something we’ve passed by in the cab many times since our arrival. But to take a proper picture we had to walk a few kilos and snap it; one of those things you’ll get around to but finally are pressed to do when you see your time in a place winding down. You can chalk that situation up to me. Now take a deep breath, else you might turn green.

  4. Dishdasheh Hater, AKA Jareer, please stop creating new user names whenever you feel like it. It is getting annoying.
    Obviously, you didn’t get the concept of localization. I’m sorry but others did. As why I didn’t share this before, the answer is simply because I recently took the picture of this sign.

  5. Natasha does nothing that is Arab in this chat. She does nothing but brag daily about the Western restaurants she goes to, the English books she reads, the American husband she has and what not. She sees a Turkish toilet and posts it to the world like she has never seen such a thing. She denies honor killings and shows contempt to the veil. Everything she does, shows her “hidden” hatred for her roots and all that is Arab, yet she comes here and “pretends” to be proud of a localized sign! And all her friends come here and show their support to her because they are nothing but empty-minded Abdounis who know nothing about the Middle East, yet claim to know it al. Give us a break please. P.S. If you had bothered to visit places like Wehdat and some rural cities in your own country, you might have been able to find a sign like that. Will you and your supporters go find something more futile to take pride in. If you are going to tell me not to drop by your chat again, then close it or make a password and give it to your supporters only. We also find it annoying that you disclose every little detail about your life to the rest of the world. I’ve gone there and I’ve watched that..I’ve met this and visited that. Big deal! And like Jareer has said, if you are really proud of dishdasheh, then go and wear one.

  6. Sorry, but this comment prompted me to write instead of lurk. Rivda, it occurs to me that you don’t know what a blog is. It is precisely those things that you do not like: talking about the details of your life. A blog, much like a television, radio or most anything else in life, requires that you choose it. If you do not like things here, perhaps you can create something that you do like. But you are not forced to come here and unleash your hatred. But you choose to do so. Why? Why are you incapable of ‘not’ coming if you dislike it so much? I’m not an expert, but I’ve gained a greater appreciation for so many things Middle East from this place. The pictures and the stories make it seem a wonderful place; quite opposed to the violence and terror so often in the news. I think you really sell it short and it seems you do so simply because her opinions do not match your own. That only belies your own ignorance of the importance of individuality and the right to free expression. This is her place. Why don’t you respect that?

  7. Rivda, I find it truly amazing that as much as you hate my view of the world, you keep coming to this blog. In fact, you’ve commented 14 times on this blog using the name Rivda, two as ‘anonymous’ and once as ‘electyourown.’ Some of your comments I’ve liked, some I’ve not. But because I like this to be an open forum I’ve not made any judgments, changes or banning, even though in several instances you choose to make personal attacks.
    Personal attacks simply are not tolerated here.
    I advise you to spend your time on something you actually enjoy. It would be far more productive than wasting your time, effort and energy visiting my ‘westernized blog’ and leaving hate messages.
    Obviously Rivda, you are not familiar with the concept of a blog. Otherwise you wouldn’t have asked me to make this blog ‘private’ and continued with the remainder of your ignorant observations on how this all works. But maybe exposing your ignorance in this fashion will help you to learn something from me, even if just this one little thing.
    On another note, if you hated the Turkish toilet topic, which I did not create but found interesting and amusing enough to share, why did you take part in that discussion on three occasions with comment gems such as:

    In case of bad teeth, one can use his/ her own lips instead. Using dentures is not a bad idea, however … I’m surprised nobody has mentioned anything about the “flushing” system in these toiletes.

    Or the classic:

    That hose or the facucet cannot be for flushing, because, if you think about it, the hose and the faucet lack water pressure to do the cleaning. Here is how the process of flushing actually takes place: you fill a bucket with water, and taking several steps backward, you hurl the water onto the surface of the toilet meanwhile cringing, in the hope that no sh** will fly at you.

    I enjoyed your comments as much as the rest and place no bias on them one way or the other; it seemed you were enjoying the discussion.

    Yes, I could have easily deleted your comment and banned your IP address, but I chose not to do so, allowing them to speak for themselves. After this attack from you, I’m thinking that might have been a mistake.

  8. Delete it that’s fine…I know that you can do that. Once you have said something to me, and fortunately, I read it before your husband came and deleted it. I think you know what I am talking about. So, yes, I am familiar of what you can do and what you cannot. I simply come here and go to other blogs to see how women and men in my country think like and how things are going overthere. Obviously, you continue to disappoint me. As for the toilet remarks, I gave my opinion out of experience; yours and many others’ obviously were not. I happen to have belonged to that part of Jordan that you despise and are unfamiliar with, and I find some of your snobbish remarks disgusting. I, however, insist on reminding you and others that you do not represent the majority of Jordanians; and you can only speak for very few, as you and your supporters belong to the “elite” group. You do not even live in Jordan, you have gone to a private school, studied in England, lived in Kuwait, and married an American. Yet, you come here and pretend that Jordanians are similar in culture to the West, and that what is strange to you is strange to all Jordanians. Let me remind you that some of the things that you see as odd are the norms in Jordan. Wearing the hijab, using the “mir7aad,” and the “honor and shame” system resemble the norm. Playing golf, watching American films, listening to Sarah McLaughlin is not the norm. So, girl, wake up and smell the coffee (and here I’m speaking of gahweh sada) and not the one you normally drink at Star Bucks! Salam for now..sorry I mean Bye Bye U La La!

  9. Rivda,
    Wow, really seems like you didn’t get any sex last night. And heck yeah, that is a personal chide, but you know what, when you take potshots at someone expect a lil honey comin your way. Sheesh, one would think such anger could be targeted at something a tad more meaningful.
    Rivda, if you had paid a little more attention on this blog you would have seen that it serves as a forum for people of differet origins to express different, sometimes argumentative, opinions and to share ideas.
    Sometimes we hate each other, sometimes we agree but the important thing is there is discourse.
    And here’s the stinker, but what is Arab? You say Natasha does nothing that is Arab? Explain to us first what authority you are to preach what stands for Arab and non-Arab. Then explain what Arab really means…
    Fortunately for the rest of us, we are able to discern that Arab is not the kind of behavior you exemplify.
    And having not had enough of attacking Natasha, you choose to turn on what you term supporters. One would think Natasha was running for office.
    I have disagreed with Natasha on a great many things, Hubby, Thomas, Jareer, Nas(al) hahaha sorry, and a whole bunch of yet-to-graduate-from-kindergarten gringos, too.
    I don’t think we come to this blog because we support Natasha as a person, or whether she is an Arab, Jewish, Italian or a pink elephant. There are a lot of valuable discussions going on here. Try and engage in some and you may learn a few things you didn’t know.

  10. Rivda!
    Seriously, have wild sex. It will temper you down. Why so much hatred? Instead of celebrating what make you and Natasha similar, you choose to create a line between you and her.
    Tsk, tsk, tsk. You shame the rest of us Arabs this way. We simply were not brought up this way. Enter extremism, the death of all of us.

  11. The yet-to-graduate-from-kindergarten gringo in me agrees with metalordie (again!), you need to have wild sex Rivda. For that purpose, I have a goat and a camel (typical Arab eh?) to offer you or “Bubba the pedophile” if you like receptive.
    And just for the record, we had a “Turkish” toilet in our house growing up yet I found the post about it very funny. Wait, the technique you described for flushing it runs the risk of splashing shit on you, is that what you are full of it?

  12. Damn typing skills,…I know your feeble mind cannot figure out the last phrase I typed Rivda. I meant “is that WHY you are full of it?”…”It” refers to shit in this case
    You stink…

  13. RIVDA,
    WHEN I DO NOT KNOW THE DEFFINITION OF A WORD, I LOOK IT UP. THAT IS MY PHILOSOPHY. WHEN IN DOUBT…LOOK IT UP. (THANKS FELLOWCOPY EDITORS FOR THAT WONDERFUL ADVICE.) I DIGRESS. SO, LET’S LOOK UP THE WORD BLOG.
    BLOG:
    Main Entry: blog
    Part of Speech: noun
    Definition: an online diary; a personal chronological log of thoughts published on a Web page; also called Weblog, Web log
    Example: Typically updated daily, blogs often reflect the personality of the author.
    Etymology: shortened form of Weblog
    Usage: blog, blogged, blogging v, blogger n
    Source: Webster’s New Millennium™ Dictionary of English, Preview Edition (v 0.9.5)
    Copyright © 2003, 2004 Lexico Publishing Group, LLC
    OKAY, NOW THAT WE GOT THAT OUT OF THE WAY, RIVDA YOU DON’T NEED SEX LIKE METALORDIE AND IYAS SAID. TRUST ME. ALTHOUGH THAT IS VERY FUNNY GUYS. BIG LAUGHS ALL AROUND. ALL YOU DO NEED IS AN OPEN MIND. YOU NEED NOT TO ATTACK PEOPLE IN SUCH A RUDE WAY. NATASHA, I DON’T BELIEVE, HAS ATTACKED YOU PERSONALLY. COME ON. THAT IS JUST RUDE. YOU SHOULD LEARN SOME MANNERS.
    I AS WELL HAVE DISAGREED ON MANY TOPICS WITH NATASHA, STARBUCKS BEING THE NUMBER ONE THING (COME ON YOU GUYS, JOIN THE REVOLUTION AND BOYCOTT IT WITH ME.) BUT I WOULD NOT ATTACK HER.
    AND TO TELL YOU THE TRUTH, YOU CLAIM NATASHA BELONGS TO A SMALL ELITE IN JORDAN. IF SHE DOES, WHO CARES. JUST BECAUSE YOU CONSIDER HER A MINORITY YOU THINK HER THOUGHST ARE NOT IMPORTANT? LIKE THEY DON’T MATTER?
    YEAH, I MIGHT SOUND LIKE A “NATASHA SUPPORTER” BUT HER BLOG BRINGS PEOPLE TOGETHER TO HAVE OPEN DISCUSSIONS, LAUGH A BIT AND GET TO KNOW PEOPLE. I MADE MANY FRIENDS THROUGH THIS BLOG THAT I KEEP IN TOUCH WITH. WHAT IS WRONG WITH THAT?
    I ADVISE YOU TO SPEAK YOUR MIND, EXPRESS YOUR OPINIONS BUT DO NOT BE RUDE. WHEN YOU ARE RUDE, NO ONE WILL TAKE YOU SERIOUSLY.

  14. I have used many a Turkish toilet and I think most Arabs above the age of 30 have. It was not long ago that THESE were the ONLY toilets to be found in most of the Middle East.
    Except maybe in Beirut. They had gold-platted ass-wipers there. And yes, I grew up there too.
    Iyas, this agreeing thing is becoming epidemic. Meet me at the Turkish bath and we’ll discuss.

  15. The turkish bath…I’ll be driving a car and wearing pants so you can spot me out of all the other typical Arabs there.

  16. I feel like I’m late to the party…
    First of all, I think Natasha’s been the bigger person in taking all the criticism standing up.
    Secondly, Natasha isn’t pretending to be anyone or anything. She is being herself, she speaks for herself and answers to herself.
    So what if she didn’t crawl out of a wadi last week?
    So what if she’s not the norm in Jordan?
    If she doesn’t conform to what “you” think is acceptable, I don’t give a rats ass! I do take exception that you think you can dissect her motives and condescendingly declare that you KNOW what she loves and what she hates.
    Maybe you think she’s a snob. That’s your perogative. You said your piece, thank you very much. Now sit the hell down and shut the f*ck up!

  17. Hey Desert Island Boy,
    What Island would that be? I think moving to an Island wouldn’t be bad. Heard some are for sale for as low as half a mill – greenbacks – but heck with the tsunami warning out today, I dunno…

  18. Rivda, I guess I can’t add much here and likely shouldn’t since I’m just some American husband whose presence apparently robs legitimacy from my wife’s opinions. But I find your assessment of things so off the mark I have to address a few of the most appalling. First and foremost, where in these pages did you find that honor crimes were denied? That is an absolute lie.
    That Natasha chooses to address honor crimes in context (because that’s necessary) and that she chooses not to embrace the work of Norma Khouri in no way suggests she doesn’t believe they occur. If you actually look through these pages you’ll find numerous stories in newswire and comments from her expressing her outrage that they — IN FACT — still occur. Her work alongside Rana Husseini made her far from anything remotely resembling someone in denial.
    But worse, for me, is that you demean her ‘Arabness.’ In the US, I used to hear African-Americans do this to one another; a fact that, like this one, I still fail to fully comprehend (we are just people under the skin after all). But here it is so off the mark. Natasha may not like Qatar. There are many Arabs and others that would agree with her there. But she has never EVER … NOT ONE SINGLE TIME expressed anything but love and passion for her home of Jordan.
    You greatly misrepresent her as well when you say “she doesn’t even live there.” She has been away 15 months. She lived in Jordan most of her life, spending her childhood until the age of only 7 in Kuwait. That means, Rivda, a great deal of her childhood and the majority of her adulthood was in Jordan. She speaks of what she knows and she knows her country. What part of it do you think she’s not seen? She chooses to discuss the parts that she loves, as is her right. That’s included: Petra, Wadi Rum, Um Qais, Amman and all its many diverse neighborhoods, her home city of Madaba and of course Mt. Nebo, where we were married.
    Your impression that she’s a child of Abdoun and West Amman is way off the mark. She is not an Abdounite and never has been. She may have grown up in Shmeisani but that doesn’t make her different from the majority of Jordanians. Nor does it mean that she doesn’t understand them or relate to them. I suppose that’s a matter of opinion, and mine is skewed, but the logic of it is clear.
    You think it’s because she went to school in the UK? She attended school there because of a full scholarship from the British Council based upon her academic ability. These are limited scholarships that are very competitive in Jordan. She earned one and earned that degree, as well. It was not how you characterize it.
    How galling that you suggest she does not represent the Arab world well. She is proud of the Arab world, knows that it is in need of change and she’s not afraid to address that and consider it. Don’t for a second think that because she’s critical of something it means she’s elitist. She’s earned the right to say what she’s said. If you look across the near decade she’s spent writing about the country and region she loves, you’ll find that with every word there is love in her heart for what she is. If she harbors anything against Qatar, I suppose it’s the fact that it is NOT Jordan.
    Rivda, there is something going on with you in all this, of that I am certain. I don’t know why you lash out and why you harbor such hatred. What is your connection or lack thereof (based upon a comment you made previously about leaving) to Jordan? Why do you feed so compelled to besmirch? Who are you to judge? Why is that you believe your experience and perspective to be so on the mark? Because Natasha tried out golf? Are you serious? Were you unable to read between the lines of that posting. It’s sad that your perceptions are so warped that you read it as elitist when it was exactly the opposite.
    Rivda, you too have the capacity to make a blog and speak about what you wish. I may not agree, but maybe I will. The dialogue is what is important. I think that regardless of perspective that’s what you’ll find on this blog: a healthy exchange of personal perspective, each valid in its own right.
    In my time in Jordan, certainly far from the lifetime of my wife, I met rich, poor, East, West, North and South. All were different in their own way but all — including my wife — were the same in one: they were proud of their kingdom. Natasha is no elitist, nor was she born with a silver spoon in her mouth. She is not less of an Arab than any other. She is intelligent. She is provocative and she is proudly, fiercely Arab. What’s your excuse?

  19. lol guys take it easy…its just a sign 😀
    and yes there are many “localized” signs all around jordan although amman seems to be more towards the “tourist/capital city” kind of city, which is good i suppose.
    i think the “wow” factor is not that they exist or that we may or may not act like we’ve never seen them, but the fact that they still exist in a region that is becoming more and more americanized.
    in the process of americanizing the middle east, i think the ‘wow’ that someone somewhere has managed to preserve a sliver of local culture.
    anywho…no need to get personal about it.
    this reminds me of high school for some reaso.

  20. I agree with the amazement. Of all the posts on this blog … that this one would draw insults?!?!? Well, it’s surprising. I, for one, love localized signs. A favorites in Jordan is the camel crossing signs along the road to the Dead Sea. I know, I know … that camel thing. But I assure there is not a whit of condescension or stereotype. As a youth, living in the southwest US on an Indian res for a bit, I *acquired* a cow road sign that is still in my parents’ basement somewhere. Why? I think it’s the designation, even the declaration, that this place is different; you’re not in Kansas anymore. I appreciate those differences.
    I still wonder about the two or three comments made here that suggest there is a dishdasheh crossing sign somewhere in Jordan. Is there really? Where?
    As to the fallout from all of this, I’d say the things here were highly personal, quite insulting and worthy of reply. I’m mystified by the hatred held in some hearts. And Nas, if you didn’t realize it was serious, let me just share with you this secret: When you see Linda using CAPS, it’s serious.

  21. Oh, wow. I can’t believe what just happened there.
    Rivda, who the hell do you think you are to go around bashing a woman as wonderful as Natasha just because she doesn’t conform to your idea of what Jordanians should be? The essence of respect for a country and its culture does not lie in staying in a static state and not evolving as the world evolves, it lies in respect.
    “Natasha does nothing that is Arab in this chat.” What is Arab to you? Conspiracy theories? Lack of tolerance for technology and evolvement? Being Arab lies in the heart, and that is certainly not for you to judge. What Natasha does is nothing close to bragging, quite the contrary actually.
    And all that… for a localized sign? And you call the “Abouni’s” empty-minded?
    One last thing, “We also find it annoying that you disclose
    every little detail about your life to the rest of the world. ” Who is “we”? You and Jareer?
    Natasha 7abeebti, you are doing a heck of a great job, I enjoy reading every single thing you write. Your posts are always insightful, distinctive, and truthful. I’m sure most would agree.

  22. Sitting here late this evening I do have to add something. The support each of you has shown for your own distinctively personal reasons is wonderful. But I think we all have to maintain and try to keep our responses on the up and up. Personal attacks, even of Rivda (and regardless of the nobleness of their motives), are not necessary. They only seve to lower the standard of discourse.
    Although the conversations here may not hit the hightest of heights at all times (and I do love that too), they have always managed to stay above the attacks levelled by Rivda. Even when provoked, I say let’s not let her or anyone’s comments lower our own.

  23. Jeff, im with you. But i think it is important to illustrate Rivda’s rudeness, and move on.
    As for the CAPs issue, you are right on the mark.

  24. I think we did and were right to do so. I just don’t want to get too carried away, which maybe I did, such that we discourage anyone else — perhaps someone new — from posting a contrary opinion for fear of the wrath of personal attacks or even cliques. That’s not what anyone should expect here and with good reason. It stayed clean until Rivda arrived on the scene.

  25. I doubt Rivda has read any of these.
    I feel sorry for her. And for Sterling. And a few others who bring the walls crashing down on themselves as soon as they open their mouths.
    That’s why there’s heavy metal.
    I urge all of you to headbang.

  26. headbang? i got whiplash for hedbanging once at my junior high school dance. they called me whiplash girl for the rest of the year.

  27. Rivda what i want to know is, if your so goddamn true blue Arab, why do you have a Russian prostitute’s name?

  28. Jeff and Natasha,
    I do not exactly know why you were annoyed of my comments above. I just explained my opinion and observation on the sign. The fact that I use different nicknames, should not annoy you as you know anyway who I am. Anyways, these are supposed to be “scribbles” with no much pre-arranged and spontaneous comments that first come to the mind when you read or see something. Describing my comments as “pretty nasty” make me feel unwelcomed here.

  29. Jareer,
    Your comment came as a personal attack to me and I was offended. You can post your opinion on any topic, no body stops you, but I can’t tolerate perosnal attacks here. And it seems Rivda put you on the same boat with her. She is making you a member of the we-hate-natasha- club. I hope you don’t agree with her. Jareer, you are always welcome here as long as you respect one sole rule “no personal attacks”.

  30. Hello people.
    I’ve been here a few times at the behest of one of your regular bloggers (I won’t mention whom), and I was wondering if Natasha (or Jeff) is familiar with the works of Naguib Mahfouz? I really enjoy his work and I’d be interested to hear your thoughts. Maybe a section on books, literature, or even contemporary politics might be an interesting addition to the site.

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