Critiquing with kindness

Critiquing with kindness

I have been part of a writing group for over ten years now, and during this time, I have published a novel, dozens of articles, and several short stories. My writing...

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Steve Jobs is my Obama

The night President Obama decided to address the American people I was home, on my sofa, under a down comforter. On the table across from me were a bottle of Chianti...

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Body of Lies is simply a big lie

As you might guess from the title, I was not a big fan of the film Body of Lies and I regret watching it on our fifth wedding anniversary, of all times! The reason I wanted to see it was because of its depiction of the Jordanian intelligence services as well as the fact that […]

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Censoring the Queen

Petra News Agency, Jordan’s state news agency, decided to play the role of ultimate censor by altering a photo of Her Majesty Queen Rania of all people. Jordanian blogger Arab Observer exposed Petra’s manipulation of the photo! When will Petra News Agency realize that they can’t get away with this anymore? Manipulating photos to make […]

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Freecycle: The American art of giving

My very good friend Jessica (a.k.a. "the yoga master") started a neat blog entitled Responsible Frugality. The concept of this blog is to document Jessica’s attempts at living a frugal yet sustainable and responsible lifestyle. She uses a bike as her only form of transportation and buys products from local farms. She also makes her […]

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Salman Rushdie, up close and personal

During my teenage years in Amman in the late 80’s the name Salman Rushdie was the talk of the town. Shortly after the release of his book, Satanic Verses, Rushdie was portrayed in the local media as the devil incarnate and his book was banned in Jordan (and the rest of the Arab world if […]

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Thoughts on the Stimulus Check

Last night after attending a book reading by Salman Rushdie, we got back home to find a nice surprise in the mail: A stimulus check from the US Government for $1200. For those that have been living under a rock for the past six months, the stimulus check was approved by Congress earlier this year […]

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Rachel Ray and Dunkin Donuts: My thoughts

Reader ‘Dunkin’ asked me my thoughts on the Rachel Ray – Dunkin Donuts controversy. I have been talking about this issue extensively with my coworkers lately, so I’ll just reiterate myself here. I’m extremely disappointed that Dunkin Donuts backed down and listen to a misguided blogger, who is obviously oblivious to Arab and Muslim culture […]

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Thoughts on nasty comments

When I first started this blog, I was very passionate about my opinions. I talked candidly about how I felt about certain topics especially the politics of the Middle East. Of course, the outcome of this was nasty comments posted on this blog mostly by anonymous readers. I was called many names and I was […]

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Finally, I see ‘Captain Abu Raed’

It was three years ago when I was introduced to the work of Amin Matalqa. It happened when I found a couple of his short movies on the web. I then posted them on my blog. He contacted me and thanked me for highlighting his movies on my site. We have remained in touch since […]

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‘Where is equality?’

Freedom House is running a new nationwide advertising campaign in Jordan that asks "Where is equality?" The campaign, featured in popular magazines and television commercials, uses a long blue bar and a short pink bar to represent the rights afforded to men and women. Badges featuring the campaign’s logo encourage people to ask about the […]

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Morcheeba Live: As good as ever

Since moving to the US nearly three years ago, I have not had a chance to see many live concerts. I saw The Gypsy Kings live on my 30th birthday at Wolf Trap and really enjoyed it. Back then, I made it a point to see more concerts, but we got busy and did not […]

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Good news: A prize for the best Arab fiction

I was extremely pleased to learn of the existence of the brand new "International Prize for Arabic Fiction," which this year went to Egyptian author Baha Taher for his book Sunset Oasis. According to Bloomberg, "The $50,000 prize, announced at a ceremony in Abu Dhabi, aims to secure recognition for outstanding Arabic authors and to […]

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My friend Dan and Obama

My friend Dan has been working to convert me into joining the Obama cult for the past month or so. Every morning he comes to the office and tells me about Obama. I keep telling Dan I’m not sure my citizenship papers will be completed in time for the elections, "so you might be preaching […]

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Snapshot: Deer in my backyard

One of the things that I enjoy a great deal about living in the suburbs, away from the hustle and bustle of the city, is the easy access to nature and wildlife. Last week, while I was sipping my morning coffee and flipping through the weekend edition of the Washington Post, I glanced at our […]

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The ramifications of supporting Hillary

I’m fascinated by the amount of angry messages and "Wall posts" I’m getting on my Facebook page from my friends these days after I announced that I’m supporting Hillary for president (for reasons that I do not wish to delve into now). Most of the angry messages came from my Jordanian/Arab friends who made sure […]

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The simple joys of life

After two months of constant stresses that left me with a white hair (see below), I’m starting to gradually relax. This, of course, might mean I’ll get back to blogging on a more regular basis, as my mind is clear and I’m ready to scribble again. This long Thanksgiving weekend is a special treat. It […]

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Single white hair

For the past few months, the husband and I have been doing a great deal of reading and research on how to achieve the ultimate American dream: buying our first house. Traveling this path has been both exciting and stressful. In the interim, I had to learn a whole new language: The language of the […]

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Am I in the wrong line of work?

The latest projections of the US government rank being a journalist as one of the worst jobs for the 21st century, as newspapers cut costs and jobs. Some other of the "worst jobs for the 21st century" include textile workers, file clerks and electric meter-checking guys. But journalists will also have a hard time getting […]

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On my dearth of blogging

For some reason, I mentioned my blog this morning to the husband during our morning commute. His reaction was something along the lines of the following: people may have forgotten about you in the blogging world by now. Of course, he was referring to my sporadic blogging, which is becoming less and less by the […]

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Interview with award-winning blogger Wael Abbas

For those interested in the development of the Arab Blogosphere, here is an interview I did with Egyptian blogger Wael Abbas, who just last month was named last month winner of the prestigious Knight International Journalism Award. I enjoyed talking with Wael. He was very eloquent and quite determined to expose corruption and human rights […]

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American tradition: Backyard camping

In preparation for our much anticipated camping trip up amongst the Blue Ridge Mountains on the Skyline Drive [pic] at the end of this month, the husband wanted to try out a brand new tent (one he’d bought years ago but never used) by camping out in the backyard at his parents’ house. He told […]

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Snapshot: Watching the demonstrators

One of the highlights of my day is my lunch break. And it’s not just because I get to take a breather and step away from the computer screen. I can also take a walk in nearby Lafayette Park and watch the chess players, the lobbyists, the dog walkers and of course the demonstrators. Last […]

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Hooked on ‘The Closer’

Although I enjoy watching TV a great deal, my current life doesn’t leave me with enough time to do so. There are always things to do over the weekends and evenings such that I rarely turn on the TV to see what’s playing. But Monday night is a special case. Every Monday night this summer […]

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Demolition Derby: A truly baffling pastime

Last weekend I learned about (and experienced) the American pastime dubbed: Demolition Derby. Thanks to Leiloulta and spouse we made our way to the Montgomery County Fair, which featured the derby among other things. I have to admit that I was quite baffled watching this demolition take place to the cheers of nearly a thousand […]

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“Why are they running?”

One of the most amusing comments my mother made when we took her to Metro Center, the metro’s busiest station, was: "Why are they running?" Of course, she was referring to the fast pace of commuters who rush to catch their trains to get to their destinations on time. While my sister was teasing my […]

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Do I really need my husband’s ‘permission’ to get a passport?

Jordanian bloggers are currently talking about women’s rights in Jordan. Sweet! I like that. The reason for the interest in this issue now is because Jordan recently endorsed a United Nations convention eliminating discrimination against women — albeit with some reservations. I’m not sure if this endorsement will really mean anything since Jordan did express […]

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The cutest thing

It always amuses me to no end when I see my mom getting interested in the latest technological trends. As I was meeting my parents and sister at the airport last weekend, my mom recounted how my sister almost lost her Ipod before they took the flight to DC from Amman. My first reaction was: […]

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Iraqi blogger ordeal at Amman airport

Two Iraqi bloggers recently began talking about a similar subject related to Jordan: the treatment of Iraqis upon entry to the Kingdom. The two are veteran blogger Omar from Iraq the Model and Fayrouz from Fayrouz in Beaumont (who posted a story from her friend in Basra). After reading their posts, I realized that the […]

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My byline in an Oxford University Press publication

Last year, I was contacted by Oxford University Press for permission to reprint an article that I had written for The Jordan Times some years ago. I was really pleased and humbled that such a prestigious publisher was interested in my work. I gave them permission to publish my work instantly and waited patiently for […]

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Mohammad Asha is charged

This is a quick update to my previous post about Mohammad Asha. According to the Associated Press: A Jordanian doctor has been charged in connection with foiled car bomb plots in London and Glasgow, police said Thursday. Dr. Mohammed Jamil Asha, 26, was charged with conspiracy to cause explosions, a spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Police […]

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Haircuts: A cultural perspective

Since moving to the US two years ago, I have dreaded going to the hairdresser. One reason for this is the fact that styling your hair in this country is just too damn expensive. The price of a haircut here is really excessive, especially if you want a stylish cut. The last time I decided […]

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Mental Mayhem blocked in Dubai?

I got the following message from my Dubai-based friend this morning: I got the habit of checking your website every now and then. However, recently i haven’t been able to as it gives me a weird message: "Network Error (tcp_error) A communication error occurred: "Operation timed out". The Web Server may be down, too busy, […]

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Living on my own planet

Sometimes I wonder if I live on my own planet. The current reason this thought is going through my head is because I only got to listen to Amy Winehouse’s fantastic album Back to Black last weekend on our way to the beach. The album is a gem in every sense of the word! Winehouse’s […]

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Rana’s Husseini’s upcoming book

I was very pleased to stumble upon the website of my former colleague Rana Husseini, who is currently working on a book on honor crimes. I really can’t wait to put my hands on this intensive piece of work. According to her site, the book: … will provide people with a credible source based on […]

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More reasons to celebrate

While I was celebrating my 31st birthday this past weekend, Jordan was celebrating the selection of Petra as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. As a result, my birthday had a unique flavor. Petra’s prestigious news was mentioned in the majority of birthday text messages, e-mails and phone calls I received from […]

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Newsweek’s interview with Ali Farzat

Reader Peter S. drew my attention to this Newsweek interview with Ali Farzat, whose cartoons were banned by the Syrian regime but eventually picked up by the BBC in the form of an animated series. Hassan Abdallah: Bashar al-Assad used to come visit you at home before he became president, and he’s responsible for [at […]

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Quick confession

I have a new addiction. It is the one and only Facebook. These days I’m finding myself checking this networking portal at least 10 times a day. I’m not sure why. Nothing much happens in there. I guess what has got me is the idea of "six degrees of separation," where I find myself getting […]

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Taking a break from the Muggle world

A new Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, is coming out this summer. Sweet! Also, the highly-anticipated finale to the book series will also be available next month. This, of course, is making the summer even more exciting, at least for me. Last week, my husband confessed that he had […]

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Media watch: The work of consultants

For those that care about media issues, here is an article I wrote about the work of The Rendon Group in Afghanistan. Consultants say they focused on skills, not influencing media Rendon Group, a public relations firm known for helping the U.S. government make its case for the war in Iraq, denied any direct influence […]

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Charmed by ‘The Prestige’

During the past month or so we have been extremely busy with work, friends’ visits and other responsibilities such that we were unable to indulge in one of our favorite pastimes: watching movies. During that time, I truly yearned for a good movie. I just wanted to watch one that would satisfy my thirst after […]

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Snapshot: Frogs at the Nataional Aquarium

This past Memorial Day Weekend, we took my long-time friends, who were here visiting from Amman, to Baltimore to marvel at the breathtaking sea creatures on display at the National Aquarium. While there, my super-talented husband took this phenomenal picture of this live frog chilling inside a tank at the aquarium. In my humble, completely […]

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MEMRI: Lost in translation?

Besides writing and editing, I spend a big chunk of my day as a linguist, translating Arabic to English and vice versa. Although the process itself is tedious and hectic at times, I enjoy it for the most part, particularly when I’m trying to find the exact word match. I look at a challenging text […]

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The new face of Amman

I was baffled when I saw this picture on Lina’s blog. The photo highlights the new face of Amman: cranes dotting the new skyline of the Jordanian capital. It took me a while to recognize that I was looking at was my beloved hometown, which I have not visited for over a year. At first […]

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Jordanian coach starts refugee soccer team

I recently read a very inspiring article about a female Jordanian female coach who started a soccer team in Georgia in 2004 for refugees in the US. Dubbed "Fugees," the soccer team’s success story grabbed global interest. According to press reports, there are plans to turn the story of her and her soccer team into […]

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Can’t wait for the ‘Newseum’

I’m really excited about the opening of the new news museum dubbed the "Newseum" in Washington, DC in October of this year. It looks to be a top-notch museum and will focus on issues in news-making, which happens to be both my passion and my career. Here is a brief description: The Newseum is located […]

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Jordan’s latest press freedom violations

The nature of my current job requires me to keep a close eye on press freedom violations across the world. I was surprised to see Jordan’s name pop up twice over the last ten days or so as a violator. The first violation involved the confiscation of an Alajzeera interview tape. The second involved the […]

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Aljazeera vs. Jordan … again

It seems Aljazeera has upset the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan yet again, though this time the event involves HRH Prince Hassan. The Committee to Protect Journalists reported the following yesterday: The Committee to Protect Journalists protests the Jordanian government’s seizure of a taped Al-Jazeera interview with former crown prince Hassan bin Talal last week. Ghassan […]

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‘The Yacoubian building’ comes to the nation’s capital

Yesterday, we had a wonderful outing with Leilouta and her husband when we went to see the Egyptian movie The Yacoubian Building, which came to the nation’s capital as part of the DC film festival. The movie was as fantastic as expected. Based on the highly-acclaimed novel of the same name, the movie dissects Egyptian […]

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Jordanian radio station grabs NAB award

I just stumbled upon this news item on Arabian Business, and yes it did put a huge smile on my face. Jordanian music station bags NAB award Jordanian music station, Play 99.6 will receive this year’s NAB International Broadcasting Excellence Award during the International Reception on Wednesday, April 18 at NAB 2007 in Las Vegas. […]

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A stunning scene

One of the most memorable things I did last week was to go off to the the Tidal Basin during my lunch break to see the cherry blossoms at their peak. I figured I had only a one hour break to see them, so I thought I would take a cab instead of simply walking. […]

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Review: ‘The Namesake’

We have seen a lot of good movies lately, thanks both to Netflix and the library. I could go on and on about Freeway, Blood Diamond, Zodiac, Russian Dolls, 3 Iron, and Elephant, among others. However, I will choose to talk about one we saw last week that has remained on my mind until this […]

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Ruba Saqr speaks out on music censorship

I just finished watching a fairly recent interview with Jordanian singer Ruba Saqr, during which she talks about the censorship of musical expression in the Middle East. I enjoyed the interview a great deal, as some points she raised were spot on. I also enjoyed hearing her perform her song I’m a lantern, which is, […]

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The vibe of the city

One of the many things that I enjoy about my current job is its location in the heart of Washington, DC. The very minute I get out from my metro stop, I sense the potent political vibe of the city. There are the anti-war demonstrators, the presidential entourages, and of course the lobbying center of […]

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‘I would do it again if I had to’

The UN news agency, IRIN, has a new feature about honor crimes in Jordan. According to the article: "Jordanian law continues to be lenient on those who kill their female relatives in the name of protecting family honor. Last year, between 15 and 20 women were stabbed, beaten or strangled to death by family members, […]

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Jordan retracts limits on ‘single women’ tourists

An outcry from Jordanian tour operators has compelled Amman to backtrack on a controversial new regulation that was intended to limit the entry of single eastern European and North African women into the country. Tour operators throughout the country were notified earlier this week of a new visa regulation issued by Jordan’s Ministry of Interior. […]

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The depressing status of Jordanian journalists

Jordan’s Press Association (JPA) slammed parliament Thursday for approving a clause in a draft law that allows the imprisonment of journalists. "We reject this decision. We are opposed to the imprisonment of journalists for expressing their opinions by writing, verbally, or by any other means, and linking this to four taboos," JPA president Tarek Momani […]

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Hypnotized by the ‘Sprinting Gazelle’

Among the many wonderful gifts that our friends Luma and Shawn gave us during their short, but very sweet visit this weekend was a pile of awesome new music. The album that grabbed my attention immediately was Reem Kilani’s Sprinting Gazelle. I have been listening to this debut album since last night and this is […]

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Snapshot: Lost in Narnia’s world

The very day after Amal’s arrival here for a five-day vacation, the DC metro area got hit by a huge snowstorm. It was the biggest so far this winter, pumping out about six inches of snow in the suburbs where we live. Amal loved it. Somehow it helped her turn off and detach herself — […]

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Torture on ’24’

One of the most engaging articles that I read last week was one in the New Yorker which examined the repercussions of the myriad of torture scenes in the award-winning Fox drama 24. Entitled "Whatever it takes" — Jack Bauer’s famous line from the show — the article keeps tabs on 24′s torture scenes and […]

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Jordanian twins in training to climb Everest

I just read on Tamara’s blog about two Jordanian females — who happen to be twins — that are currently in Alaska training for their big trip to Mount Everest. Here is an excerpt: The Jordanian runners Dima and Lama Hattab have just joined a training camp on 9 February 2007 in Alaska supported by […]

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Saving Dibbin

I was asked by reader Mohammad to give some exposure to the message below. I’m obliging, as the threat to "Jordan’s only real forest" is really quite distressing. According to the Friends of the Environment website, Dubai Capital Company has plans to build four hotels right in the heart of the Aleppo forest. Here is […]

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High school: East Vs West

Update: Very good news! Soon after posting this, I was contacted to run this article. I’ve moved the whole of it there, but here’s a bit of it with the rest now on their site. Here’s the link to the full article, as published on Common Ties. Enjoy! I submitted the following essay to an […]

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Ibrahim Nasrallah profiled in ‘The Guardian’

Last week, The Guardian newspaper ran a profile of Jordanian-Palestinian novelist/poet Ibrahim Nasrallah. Of course I was thrilled to see a fellow countryman profiled in such a highly acclaimed publication. However, it ailed to realize that the focus of the article was on the constant harassment he was/is receiving from the notorious Jordanian censorship department. […]

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At the local IHOP

We took my mom out for breakfast to our local IHOP last weekend. All was fine and dandy until the waitress decided to inform me that the kitchen confused my order such that my seafood omelet would be delayed. The waitress came to our table and then looked at the husband, who had earlier given […]

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Petra named a 7 Wonders candidate

Jordan’s ancient city Petra was officially declared a candidate Tuesday in the contest to name the new seven wonders of the world at a ceremony amid its rose-colored stone buildings. Contest founder Bernard Weber presented Jordan’s Queen Rania with Petra’s official candidacy at the event that included a presentation on the way the city’s first […]

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Been busy eating

I haven’t updated this blog for a little bit. The reason: We’ve been busy eating. For the past two weeks or so we have been overwhelmed by the sheer volume of food available for consumption, courtesy of my mom’s cooking and a myriad of dinners that we’ve been invited to by friends and relatives. A […]

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A Jordanian Christmas

It goes without saying that having your parents around for Christmas adds a unique flavor to the festive season. There is the quality time, the shared laughs and of course the memories created. My parents came all the way from Amman to celebrate the holidays with us. In addition to the memorable time we are […]

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Jordan and the Mormon Church

Reader Jen left a detailed comment today on my post entitled "Man on a mission," explaining the position of the Mormon Church on a number of issues — including the Israel-Palestine conflict. She also mentioned something I was completely unaware of. In her comment, she stated that Jordan actually recognizes the Mormon Church: I do […]

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Snapshot: Santa convention

While driving around the National Mall in DC last weekend, we came across something that resembled some sort of a Santa Convention. What we saw was more than two dozen Santas gathered in front of the entrance to the Smithsonian National History Museum. The Santas were not doing anything special besides just hanging out. My […]

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Ode to the library

One of the things that I enjoy about where we currently live is the easy access to our local library. I have no idea why it took over a year since our exodus from the Middle East for me to join the library. I guess it is because I am used to buying books without […]

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Hurricane Arianna

I just finished reading a profile on Arianna Huffington, the founder of the Huffington Post, which, according to London’s Observer, is one of the world’s most influential media outlets. The profile sheds light on Huffington’s strong and vocal personality, one which attracts the attention of media moguls, Hollywood celebrities and politicians. Here are some excerpts […]

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Dancing Arabs: A delightful read

Very few books manage to put a smile on my face these days. I really do not know what’s happening to me but the number of books that I hate is far larger than the ones that I like. Dancing Arabs, however, is one that I’m absolutely falling in love with. I’m already half way […]

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Bush does Jordan

Jordan dominated the news cycle of American news stations this morning. The reason: Bush’s visit to the Kingdom to meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki. Seeing images and sounds from Jordan on American morning shows while sipping my coffee in our Maryland apartment was, of course, exhilarating. "Hey, look, Richard Engel is on […]

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Thanksgiving in the Valley

We spent this Thanksgiving weekend in the picturesque Shenandoah Valley, where we gathered with family members for fellowship and divine food. It is goes without saying that gathering in the breath-taking valley adds a special vibe to this fall holiday. No matter how many times we visit the Valley, I can never get over how […]

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King Abdullah: Three potential civil wars

From His Majesty King Abdullah’s interview with the ABC network’s "This Week": "We could possibly imagine going into 2007 and having three civil wars on our hands," he said, citing conflicts in Iraq, Lebanon and the decades-long strife between the Palestinians and Israelis. I’m not optimistic either. The situation in the Middle East is getting […]

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Man on a mission

On my way to the post office the other day, I was approached by a young man on a bike. He was wearing a helmet and a dark blue suit jacket. Pinned to his jacket was a name tag in both English and Chinese. The young man wanted to tell me about his mission: Espousing […]

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Petra inspires the artwork of Marité Vidales

Here is a link to a feature that I wrote about a Costa Rican artist who is currently displaying her Petra-inspired artwork at the Jordanian embassy in Washington DC. The feature was published in The Jordan Times last Thursday. Artist displays Petra-inspired paintings in Washington, DCBy Natasha Twal Tynes WASHINGTON, DC — For Costa Rican […]

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Calvin Klein: Made in Jordan

The husband needed new pants. He claimed that a number of his pants had shrunk due to my excessive drying methods. I did not argue. Instead, I accompanied him last weekend on a shopping spree to Filene’s Basement. After maybe an hour and a half, the husband managed to find himself some pants that suited […]

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Quick thoughts on ‘The Interpreter of Maladies’

While I was on the phone the other day with my very good friend Mariam, the subject of our current reading lists came up. I was surprised to find that Mariam was reading Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Interpreter of Maladies. It’s a collection of short stories that I finished a couple of weeks ago and haven’t […]

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Jordan withdraws its ITU nomination

Khalaf has drawn my attention to the sad fact that the Jordanian delegation has withdrawn Muna Nijem’s nomination for head of the Information Telecommunication Union or ITU. He says: After the first round of voting, the candidate from Mali received 53 votes, Germany 45; Brazil 29; Switzerland 14; and Tunisia 9. Nijem received 5 votes. […]

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Update: Case against Abu Odeh dropped

Hamzeh has notified me that the charges against Abu Odeh have been dropped. A military prosecutor has dismissed the case brought against a former cabinet minister who was charged with slandering Jordan’s King Abdullah II and harming national unity. The official Petra news agency reported on Sunday that Adnan Abu-Odeh "will not be tried and […]

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In memory of the victims of the Nov 9 terrorist attacks

My musician sister, who recently joined the wonderful blogosphere, is highlighting a concert that will be held in memory of the victims killed in the terrorist attacks that rocked Jordan on 9 November 2005. Performed by the Orchestra of the National Music Conservatory on November 10 and 11, the concert will feature Mozart’s Requiem. Part […]

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Jordanian Muna Nijem runs for ITU Secretary General

Jordanian IT expert Muna Nijem is currently in the running for the position of Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Unit (ITU). According to ITU’s official website, the unit is an international organization headquartered in Geneva that operates within the United Nations System, where governments and the private sector coordinate global telecom networks and services. Muna […]

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3rd anniversary snapshots

In what is becoming a rapidly evolving tradition each anniversary, we left town last weekend to celebrate our third wedding anniversary. Our first anniversary was celebrated in Dubai, while the second was in New York. This year, our destination of choice was Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Philadelphia is pretty neat, feeling somehow like a young town with […]

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Petra short-listed for ‘new’ seven wonders of world list

The Nabataean city of Petra in Jordan has been short-listed for the new seven wonders of the world. The original list included 200 sites; the short-list now stands at 21. The vote is being organized by a non-profit Swiss foundation called New7Wonders, which specializes in the preservation, restoration and promotion of monuments. The results of […]

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On censoring books

Diala Khasawneh writes in The Jordan Times about book censorship in Jordan, recounting a story that happened to her years ago when she was traveling with her mother across the borders from Beirut to Amman: The original officer, his superior and a couple of curious men were now hovering around our car. We were being […]

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Female journalists to be honored for their courage

Four female journalists will be honored this month in New York City, DC and Los Angeles for their courage. Among them is my dear friend Jill Carroll, who was held hostage in Iraq for nearly three months. Lebanese journalist May Chidiac, who survived an assassiantion attempt last year, will also be honored. Also among the […]

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Book Review: “The Attack”

I recently finished reading Yasmin Khadra’s The Attack, a novel revolving around the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The story is about Amin, an Arab-Israeli surgeon who is well-assimilated into Israeli society. He discovers — to his utter surprise — that his wife has blown herself up in a crowded restaurant inside Israel. Flabbergasted and devastated by her […]

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The Jerusalem Post’s Ruth Eglash responds to my post

Yesterday, I received an e-mail from Ruth Eglash, the journalist from The Jerusalem Post who wrote the misleading article about Jordanian blogger reaction to the Red Sea Cinema Institute. Here is what she wrote: Natasha, Thank you for your feedback on the article that I wrote this week regarding the opening of a film school […]

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In the name of ‘honor’ another one bites the dust

Yet another woman has been murdered in cold blood in the name of honor. According to The Jordan Times, the deceased became the thirteenth woman killed this year in Jordan in what is termed an "honor crime." Authorities on Thursday said two brothers confessed to murdering their sister for reasons related to family honor two […]

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US organizations file suit against Jordan over workers’ rights

So after issuing a report slamming the rights extended to workers in Jordan’s Qualified Industrial Zones (QIZ), the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, or AFL-CIO, and the US National Textile Association (NTA), are filing a lawsuit against Jordan. The AFL-CIO, the largest labor federation in the US, representing more than 10 […]

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The roller coaster rider

When the husband told me of his desire to take me to Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia I answered saying: "Great. But no roller coasters." "We’ll see," he said under his breath. As soon as we arrived, the first thing we did was ride a roller coaster, the park’s legendary Loch Ness Monster. I have […]

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Jordanian blogger examines sexless marriages

I just came across a new blog by Jordanian journalist Oula Farawati. I enjoyed reading most all of it. One post that grabbed me was an article she wrote about sexless marriages in Jordan. I thought the article was well researched and extremely engaging. I also thought it was very brave of her to tackle […]

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Review: Kafka on the Shore

While vacationing in Myrtle Beach, I managed to finish Haruki Murakami’s Kafaka on the Shore, a lengthy novel that I had been carrying around for over a month. This was my first book by Murakami. It was actually the first time I’ve ever read anything by a Japanese author. The novel had a unique style […]

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Disturbing news in the Kingdom

I read two news items related to Jordan today. Both have negative vibes — one particularly so– making me still more skeptical of any reform prospects in my native land. The first thing that caught my eye was this: Syrian film director banned from visiting JordanFilm director Omar Amiralay, whose trenchant documentaries on life and […]

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Blog on equal citizenship rights for Arab women

Reader Christina notified me of a "nationality campaign" blog that was launched here in Washington DC last week. The blog, found here, features six organizations in the Middle East and North Africa that are working towards changing legislation so that women are granted equal citizenship rights. According to Christina, the aim of the blog is […]

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A Myrtle Beach vacation

We spent this past week at South Carolina’s Myrtle Beach for a big family gathering. Among the many unique experiences I went through during this marvelous vacation — besides spending quality time with family — was swimming in the Atlantic Ocean. It was a first for yours truly. What was so exhilarating about this activity […]

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Prince Zeid bin Ra’ad enters race to succeed Annan as UN chief

Jordan’s ambassador to the United Nations, Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein, has entered the race to become the next U.N. secretary-general, he said on Tuesday. Zeid becomes the fifth declared candidate to succeed Ghanaian Kofi Annan, who completes his second five-year term at the end of the year. Zeid’s nomination was submitted by Jordan’s government. […]

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Foreign tourists targeted in Amman

A Jordanian gunman on Monday shot at a group of foreign tourists visiting the Roman Amphitheater in Jordan’s capital, killing a British man and wounding six other people including a Jordanian police officer, Interior Minister Eid al-Fayez said. Police overtook the gunman at the scene and arrested him, said government spokesman Nasser Judeh. Al-Fayez said […]

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A dip in the West Virginia whitewater

I think this picture speaks for itself [Yes, it enlarges on click]. Last weekend was simply out of this world. I never thought I would do something like this in my lifetime … ever! It was something I used to see in the movies. But after some planning and encouragement from the husband, I decided […]

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Jordan and the scooter woman

I never thought I would live to see the day when Jordanian women would be zipping through the streets of Amman on scooters. Apparently I was mistaken, as women in Amman are indeed scooting about! I have to admit, I’m loving it. The woman in this picture is Haya Karadhseh Qubain who, according to Ahmad, […]

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Getting a taste for ‘Sugar in Amman’

Thanks to blogger Salam, I got to know Sugar in Amman, a short-story by Jordanian Amal el Masri. The story, which I thought was very enjoyable and extremely well-written, won first prize at the Toronto Star’s 29th Annual short-story contest. In addition to the crafty details, I greatly enjoyed the ‘womanly’ observations, which other female […]

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‘Monsieur Ibrahim’ sends a message of tolerance

One movie that we saw last week and enjoyed tremendously, is a film that sends a clear message of tolerance. In light of the wanton number of "intolerant" incidents we seem to hear about on a daily basis, this movie came as a breath of fresh air. Dubbed Monsieur Ibrahim, the film stars highly-acclaimed Egyptian […]

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Jill tells her story

Jill has published the first part of the 11-part series that details her kidnapping ordeal in the Christian Science Monitor. The whole article can be viewed here. This series also contains video interviews with her in which she expands on her ordeal. I have to admit though, there were parts in this first section that […]

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Four arrests made in connection with Jill’s kidnapping

This morning a spokesperson for the US military announced that four people that were connected to the kidnapping of my good friend Jill were arrested in Iraq. Here is a piece of the AP story: Marines have arrested four Iraqi men in connection with the kidnapping of U.S. journalist Jill Carroll, who was freed last […]

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Jill Carroll to tell her story

My good friend Jill Carroll. who was kidnapped in Iraq last January for 82 days, will detail her ordeal in an 11-part series that is scheduled to appear next week. The series will appear in The Christan Science Monitor (on-line as well — with video). According to The Boston Herald: The 27,500-word series will be […]

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Refugees: Living in Jordan, longing for home

The Washington Post ran a feature in today’s paper about the situation Iraqis are facing in Jordan entitled Living in Jordan, Longing for Iraq. According to the article: Iraqis are everywhere in the streets and in the coffee shops. Their distinctive dialect pops up in conversations from the Mecca Mall, a downtown shopping bonanza, to […]

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The Qana Massacre and Hezbollah’s growing popularity

So after 60 people — at least 34 of them children — were slaughtered in an Israeli strike today, Israeli PM Ehud Olmert is indicating he wants to continue "the battle". "We will not stop this battle, despite the difficult incidents this morning," Olmert said during Israel’s weekly Cabinet meeting, according to a participant in […]

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Arab-American celebs call for a ceasefire

Arab-American celebrities — including Tony Shalhoub, Jamie Farr, Paul Anka and Casey Kasem — are calling for a ceasefire between Hizb Allah millitants and Israel in a half page ad that is running today in the Washington Post and other publications. This is so uplifting. I’m extremely glad that these prominent Arab-Americans are asking for […]

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Jordanian aid plane lands at Beirut airport

It made me extremely proud to read that the first plane to land at Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport after it was bombed by Israel was a Jordanian plane there to provide humanitarian support. According to Reuters, the plane will evacuate many of those wounded during the last two weeks of conflict. BEIRUT, July 26 […]

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Killing the messenger

Lebanese photojournalist, Layal Najib was killed by an Israeli strike on Sunday. She was only 23. This is just horrendous. Najib is yet another innocent victim of the Israeli collective punishment of Lebanon. Why did she have to perish at such a young age? This is an image Layal took while covering the invasion. It […]

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Déjà vu

This was the cover of Time magazine in 1982 during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. The striking resemblance is giving me shivers. Lebanon, my heart aches for your suffering. The admirable Lebanese people are known for being the ultimate survivors. They will rebuild their beautiful country and return it to the status it was just […]

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‘The Syrian Bride’: Far-fetched ideas of coexistence?

Ironically enough, amid the bloodshed taking place in the Middle East as Arabs and Israelis again engage in a vicious conflict that has innocent civilians paying the price, we watched a movie about tolerance. The Syrian Bride, born from the joint efforts of Israeli and Palestinian movie makers, depicts the strife of the Druze community […]

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Aching!

I haven’t had the time to jot down a word on two on this blog in a while; the reason being that I’m simply at a loss for words. What is happening in the already volatile region ails me to no end. From Gaza to Iraq and now to Lebanon, things are deteriorating from bad […]

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4th of July in the nation’s capital

Right after watching the out-of-this world World Cup match between Italy and Germany, we jumped on the Metro and made our way down to the National Mall to celebrate Independence Day along with hundreds of thousands (estimates of 400,000) of people that flocked to the nation’s capital. As expected, this once-a-year mammoth event was extremely […]

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Hope renewed: Kuwaiti women take their place

I have a confession to make: Kuwaiti women have renewed my hope in the Arab world, especially when it comes to the issue of Arab women’s rights. Kuwaiti women fought for years until they finally got the right to vote and run for parliament. It was today that we saw this materialize, as elections took […]

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Jordan’s fight against corruption

It seems efforts are underway to fight corruption in Jordan. The Amman prosecutor general recently indicted 350 people on charges of corruption, a senior interior ministry official said on Monday. "Abuse of public and private posts has wrought havoc on our economy and development," said the official, preferring anonymity due to the sensitivity of the […]

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Bigotry at Jordan’s education ministry

Renowned journalist Randa Habib, who heads the AFP bureau in Amman, reported in a column she writes for The Jordan Times a very disturbing situation. Here is an excerpt: One of my readers called to tell me about this shocking problem: she works for a Christian who is in the field of education, but her […]

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Jordan’s Fastlink caught spying on competition

Jordanian blogger Basem drew attention to an article published in the on-line magazine Elaph (Arabic) where it was revealed that Jordan’s number one mobile operator — Fastlink — was found guilty of spying on Jordan’s second largest GSM provider, Mobilecom. According to the article, Fastlink created a special unit solely dedicated to spying on Mobilecom. […]

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Mona Eltahway details her Asharq al-Awsat banning

Egyptian journalist and columnist Mona Eltahawy, who’s writing was banned from the Saudi-owned Asharq al-Awsat publication, has written an op-ed for the International Herald Tribune explaining her experience with the Arab daily. You can read the whole article here. It’s worth your time. Here is an excerpt: Writing for an Arab newspaper is like playing […]

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Meeting the Moorish Girl

I had the opportunity to meet Moroccan author Laila Lalami face-to-face the other day in Washington, and I must say that she is extremely admirable and more impressive in the flesh than in cyberspace. She was in Washington, DC this past Thursday to read some excerpts from her debut novel, Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits […]

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No more Philipino maids in Jordan

Human rights groups on Wednesday welcomed a decision by the government of the Philippines to stop sending domestic helpers to Jordan, saying such a step would highlight the abuse Philipinos and other nationals are subjected to at the hands of Jordanian families that employ them. "These types of measures will positively contribute to providing protection […]

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