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Emirates To Allow Mobile Calls On Aircraft November 9, 2006

Posted by O.J. in Dubai, Middle East, News.

Eimrates Airlines 

Dubai-based Emirates Airlines will soon become the first airline to allow passengers to make mobile phone calls while on its flights.  The service is expected to be launched as early as January 2007.

The airline has recently signed a deal with Aeromobile to provide the technology that allows mobiles to be safely used on board.  People hoping to use this service on board Emirates flights will be charged rates similar to international tariffs.

The airline claims that it will tackle complaints from fellow passengers about the use of mobile phones by encouraging people to use silent or vibrate modes on the phone.  Cabin crew will be able to control the system at anytime and can set operating modes appropriate for certain flights (such as selecting text-only operation mode for overnight flights).

Do you really think us Arabs will put our phones on silent?  Never! I’ll probably end up spending the whole flight listening to mobile ringtones to the sounds of Haifa, Nancy, Ragheb Alameh and other extremely annoying songs.  Cinemas in Jordan had to install mobile phone reception blockers because people never switched their phones to silent mode.  You’d be in the middle of a very suspensefull scene, then suddenly, you hear “boos el wawa” blasting from someone’s pocket!

Do you really think people will make phone calls that are strictly business related?  Hell no!  I’ll probably end up sitting next to some freak who, instead of picking up a book or a magazine to read quietly, will end up spending the whole flight talking, yelling and giggling obnoxiously over the phone.  Or better yet, I’ll end up sitting next to one of those annoying guys who spend ours going through every ringtone on their mobile trying to decide which one to choose.

Although this technology may be useful for many, I can’t help but feel the service will be more of an annoyance and a disturbance to passengers rather than a convenience. 


Mideast Views November 9, 2006

Posted by O.J. in Middle East, Politics.
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For those interested in reading some interesting articles pertaining to Middle Eastern politics, then I suggest you visit www.mideastviews.com

Mideastviews.com is a website for articles dealing with the Middle East and written by Syrian Political Analyst Sami Moubayed, who is specialized in modern Middle East Affairs.

Moubayed’s articles have appeared in several regional and international newspapers including The Daily Star, al-Ahram, Gulf News, Asia Times, and The Washington Post. He currently teaches at the Faculty of International Relations at al-Kalamoun University, the first private university in Syria. He is the author of four books on modern Syria, which include: 

1) The Politics of Damascus 1920-1946 (Syria, 1998).
2) Damascus Between Democracy and Dictatorship (Maryland, 2000).
3) The George Washington of Syria (Beirut, 2005).
4) Steel & Silk: Men and Women Who Shaped Syria (Seattle, 2006).

Moubayed studied at the American University of Beirut (AUB) and obtained his PhD from the University of Exeter in Great Britain.

There are plenty of great articles on the site, which is updated quite frequently.  He is a very impressive writer and I believe most of you will find his work to be powerful and informative.

Jordanians Reflect November 7, 2006

Posted by O.J. in Jordan, Middle East.
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The Ministry of Political Development and Parliamentary Affairs has set up a forum on their website (www.mopd.gov.jo) called “We Are All Jordan” for Jordanian citizens and others to share their feelings and reflections on the upcoming first anniversary of the November 9 Amman bombings. 

Those wishing to take part can visit the website, go to the Forum section, and follow the instructions.  I’m sure many Jordanians as well as the international community alike have much to say and share about that day.

Dubai Presents The World’s Biggest… October 15, 2006

Posted by O.J. in Advertising, Dubai, Middle East.


Dubai has consistently astonished the world with its extravagant projects breaking world records.  We have seen the world’s biggest theme park, shopping malls and even indoor artificial ski fields.

Now comes the Middle East’s largest billboard ad.  Weighing in at a whopping 400 meters long and standing 20 meters high at its highest point, the billboard is promoting one of the cities newest development projects named ‘The Lagoons’.

Using the more than 2,880 hours of man power, the billboard is positioned in a marketing traffic gold mine on the infamous Sheikh Zayed Road.

With up to a quarter of a million motorists passing the billboard each day, it’s fair to say the size will grab a few motorists attention along its 200 meter long stretch.

Dubai Billboard

The Yacoubian Building (Amaret Yacoubian) September 20, 2006

Posted by O.J. in Middle East, Movies.
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 Amaret Yacoubian

I’ve been hearing about this movie for a few weeks now.  Maybe one of the first times I feel, see, and hear so much buzz about an Arabic movie.  I’ve actually heard mixed reviews on the film.  Some loved it, others hated it.  I heard some even walked out of the theatre!  I don’t really know much about the movie, but supposedly, it is very controversial and based on the novel of the same name which was published in 2002 by Egyptian writer Alaa Al Aswani.  I’m not really into Arabic movies.  I may decide to watch the movie at some point, but just incase I don’t, my very good buddy TK not only watched the movie yesterday, but also provided me with a personal review which I will share with all of you. 

*Note to readers.  Proceed with caution.  The review may contain spoilers. 


Although I am not a fan of Arabic movies I felt the need to see the newly released Amaret Yacoubyan movie and to find out why it has such a mass appeal thus I ventured into this and was pleasantly surprised with the outcome! The film is taken from a novel by Adib Alaa Aswan and is centered on the events that occur in the building which is situated in old downtown Cairo. The film addresses the economic and political developments during the past half century as well as the corruption that is evident in the wake of the Socialist Republican period. It also depicts how the affluent upper and middle class have deteriorated in the Egyptian society as well as shedding light on Islamic fundamentalism in Egypt and homosexuality.

The movie, which runs for 160 minutes, is rather long and at times irritated me with its vicious content, but at the same time it created an urge in me to keep following the events as they unfold. It starts with a backdrop of black and white pictures of old Cairo. The building itself was constructed in 1937 by an affluent well to do foreigner (Khawaja) residing in Cairo named Yacoubyan and it’s original inhabitants were groups of different religions and races. The movie depicts how life in Egypt prior to the 1952 revolution was wonderfull and dandy. Yet after the revolution life became chaotic and corrupt for many in society.

The first depiction of character in the movie is played by the renowned Egyptian actor Adel Imam. He plays the son of a former Basha named Dasuqi and his character is one that lives day by day on the glorious memories of his family’s past heritage doing nothing in life except drowning his hidden sorrows in alcohol and chasing women as a lifetime career.  His sister, played by Souad Younis, accuses him of tarnishing the family reputation with his immoral and unethical conduct and files lawsuits to question his mental status.

The second major character in the movie is Shazili who I do not know actually the name of the actor who plays his role. Shazili is the son of the building’s doorman (bawab) and in the beginning, has aspirations to join the police force and become an officer. But unfortunately he lies about his father’s occupation and gets rejected from the police academy holding much resentment regarding his social status in society. He finds harbour for his resentment and gets recruited by an Islamic fundamentalist to undergo violent terrorist actions. He gets captured and is severely tortured adding more fire to his resentment towards the government and in the end he assassinates the officer who tortured him and dies while doing so in a joint pool of blood with the officer, leaving the viewer in confusion to differentiate between the two bloods flowing on the pavement.  

Khaled Al Rasheed brilliantly plays the role of Hatem Rashid, editor in chief for a French newspaper Le Caire. His role is one of an affluent member of society who is aslo gay. During the course of the movie he targets young poor men to “befriend” in order to justify his abusive childhood from his Sudanese caretaker male nanny.

Egyptian actor Noor Al Sharif plays an affluent businessman and Member of Parliament that falls into the corrupt governmental cycle and is blackmailed by a Minister to share his profits. He refuses at first assuming he is much bigger than the corrupt governmental officials but falls astray and gives in to their blackmail tactics.


Overall the movie was something I did not regret going to see and for the first time I believe that the Arabic movie industry has come a long way as the film was excellently written, produced and directed as well. My score is a solid B+…go and see it if you have not so far.


Thank you for the review TK.  Anyone have a different opinion on the film?

Turkey In The EU? September 14, 2006

Posted by O.J. in Middle East.

Turkey Eurpoean Union

Upon my recent trip to Turkey, the very arguable topic of whether Turkey should or would eventually join the European Union has been occupying my mind.  I’ve discussed the topic many times with Turks and non-Turks alike.  It seems as though Turkey’s entry into the EU is inevitable and just a matter of time (most assume a 2015 – 2020 time-line).  There doesn’t seem to be such a large gap regarding EU integration as many people tend to think.  I couln’t help but notice simple things such as prices being quoted in Euros rather than Turkish Liras, and Turkish coins looking very much like Euro coins.  It seems as though the Government of Turkey is already preparing its population of 70 million people (the majority of which are Muslims), for an EU integration.  Will Turkey eventually join the growing European Union?  Is Turkey Economically and Socially ready to join the EU?  We always here EU politicians calling on Turkey to work on Human Rights issues, but many agree that the main obstacle to Turkey’s EU membership is not Human Rights but rather Religion.

I read an article in one of the local daily newspapers while in Turkey that discussed a recent survey of how Turks regard the West (Europe in specific) and Turkey’s eventual addition to the European Union.  The findings were quite surprising!  Compared to a similar survey that was conducted in the year 2000, a larger percentage of the Turkish population regard Europe and the West negatively and a higher percentage of the people surveyed disapprove a Turkish integration into the EU.  I think the survey just illustrates the anti-Western sentiment spreading across the globe, and will in no way be a hindrance to Turkey’s long-term vision.

Although I’m basing my opinion on a visit to only several cities in Turkey, I believe Turkey is both Economically, Policitically, and Socially ready for EU membership.  Over the next 10 – 15 years, Turkey will continue to work on its Human Rights issues and internal infrastructure to shape a solid paltform and an efficient system for eventual European integration.  Turkey WILL one day be the cultural bridge that links Europe & Asia; East & West.

New Middle East Map? August 20, 2006

Posted by O.J. in Middle East.

I’m sure some of you have already seen this.  With all the turmoil in the Middle East recently, a couple of journalists have independantly re-drawn the Middle East map, which they claim will solve all the violence happening in the region today.

Notice Jordan’s new borders….