This is one of the blogs that I recently added to …

This is one of the blogs that I recently added to the SaudiBlogs.org list. It is written by a British man who moved to Saudi Arabia few months ago, and it is quite amusing to see what a foreigner has to say about his experience here. BTW, he has an advice for blondies: “If you are a blonde haired woman and you are planning on coming to Saudi you had better be prepared to be stared at. A lot.”

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Push the Button

Earlier this year, I asked who will make the Arabic Technorati. The Arabic Technorati is not here, yet, but several notable web apps have appeared in the Arab World. There was Wapher, Printaholics, Sortak, and most recently Ikbis, which I linked to last week.

Ikbis is basically a service for sharing photos and videos, a combination of Flickr and YouTube if you like. Now some would say: why would I use a clone when I can go for the original thing? But I think this is not the right question. I would rather ask: why not take the best of both and turn it into something better? This is not the only reason to try Ikbis. Flickr and YouTube, as good as they are, are not perfect and I believe there is always a space for competition and improvement. Moreover, for a start, Ikbis offer one major advantage over the big guys: a beautiful, user-friendly Arabic interface.

All the above probably sounds like over-hyping, but I really think this might actually work, and there are several factors contributing to that. Ikbis is brought to you by the Toot Team, the same guys who produced iToot.net, the best Arab blogging portal out there. They offer a bilingual interface, which is essential to make it big in the Arab World, especially with the widespread use of mobile cameraphones. One more thing: Ikbis could grow around the already established and very flourishing Arab blogging community.

Although I think creativity and innovation were the main motives for the team to launch Ikbis, I’m really hoping they can make money out of it. We have seen some major Arab players in the field such as Arabia.com and Sakhr die in the dot-com bubble, and we don’t want to see that happening again. Let’s pray the lessons were learned and the old mistakes are not to be made again (fingers-crossed).

Women. Out. Now.

Lubna Hussain and Abeer Mishkhas, as well as John Burgess, were all really angry at what happened in Riyadh last week during an international medical seminar: a presenter called Dr. Yousef Al-Ahmed from King Saudi University insisted that all women — including medical and media professionals — leave the room before he would enter the room to give his presentation. I can’t blame them. It was outrageous.

However, I don’t agree with Hussain and Mishkhas that the female attendees are to blame for leaving to the request of the organizers, who are the only to be blamed for this ridiculous incident.

Dr. Al-Ahmed knew well there will be women at the event. He for sure knows that KFSH has a mixed work environment, unlike KSU and King Khaled University Hospital. If he was offended by the presence of women then he should have rejected the invitation. The organizers should not have agreed on his request to kick women out, and if he had a problem with that then, well, this is his problem not theirs, as one of the attendees, a Saudi female neurologist, told Arab News.

Considering that he comes from KSU, I should say I was not totally shocked by his actions. Those of us familiar with the environment of Saudi Arabia’s oldest university, and its medical colleges in particular, would come to expect the most bizarre things. Do believe me when I say that despite the strict segregation at KKUH, there are some teachers in the College of Medicine who are not satisfied with the situation and demand the current dean to be sacked in order to implement their views.

I know that some people would jump down my throat for simply writing this post, and to that all I can say is: I don’t care. They would bash me as Westernized, un-Islamic, etc, and whatever they can come up with of their sorry accusations, and you know what, I don’t care. Silencing critics and sugarcoating mistakes would only set back our country, and if we want to move forward we should never give in to the nay-sayers. Now if you excuse me, I would like to make sure that no woman will comment on this post.

Destroyed. Forever.

I feel bad every time I see Dr. Sami Angawi on TV speaking about our bulldozed history, raising awareness so we do not neglect what is left of historical locations in Hejaz, especially in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. I feel bad not for the man, as he is a man to be respected and admired and not to feel sorry for, but for ourselves and this miserable situation that we have reached, and for a past that some people have destroyed. Forever.

In addition to the random, and not-so-random, destruction of the houses of the Prophet and Companions, and other important historical locations, it seems that we are moving toward a day when the visitors of Mecca won’t be able to see the Ka’aba unless they are staying at one of the fancy towers which started to surround the holy mosque from every corner. Some would blame the ideology that dominated our country for so long, an extreme ideology even when it comes to dealing with mud and stones; some would blame businessmen and their greediness without any regard to the holiness of the place; and some would blame officials and their corruption which allowed this to happen. I blame all of them, excluding nobody.