Routes d’Arabie, Rami Khouri, Reverse culture shock

  • The Saudi Routes of Arabia exhibition in Paris has been receiving some pretty good reviews. Hundreds of artifacts never before seen outside Saudi Arabia are currently on view at the Louvre. I have seen most of these pieces at the National Museum, and I’m glad the whole world is getting a chance to see this part of our history. I wish they would do more to promote the museums and exhibitions like this inside the country for the locals who only get to hear about such events when they take place abroad.
  • Rami Khouri thinks the new media in the Middle East synonymous with the Al Jazeera effect of the 1990s, i.e. it is merely venting and therefor will not lead to any real change in the Arab political landscape. I’ve heard this rhetoric many times before. If he thinks that the current wave of activism is useless, then what exactly does he suggest? Should we just sit down, keep our mouths shut, and wait for his generation to bring about change? Based on their history, this seems pretty unlikely. But lamenting this whole phenomenon as merely venting is naïve. Khouri and other old media people obviously still struggle to understand new media and their influence. I never said blogging will change everything, but I think it is the start of something good, something that our predecessors were not able to do. The evidence is his comparison to Al Jazeera, which is a one-way medium just like the one he comes from, unlike new media where people are actively engaged and involved and not simply passive consumers.
  • My friend Ben has been living in Saudi Arabia for a year, and now he is back to the US and is suffering from a “reverse culture shock.” Thankfully, he says, his condition is treatable. The doctor has prescribed him movies, lots of bacon, and a few happy hours.
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