Dancing, Reform, HRW Report, Arab iPhone developers

  • YouTube video mashups of Saudi folk dancing with Western music have been a popular item on this blog. Here is the latest in this series, courtesy of Mctoom.

  • Ahmed Ba-Aboud: “When would reforms in Saudi Arabia be real reforms and not the gift of the King? It is when those reforms focus on finding solutions to the real issues of the country rather than creating more fictional wars.”
  • Speaking of reforms, Human Rights Watch recently released their report on Saudi Arabia in which they try to review and evaluate the past five years. The report is well written and reaches a conclusion many of us already know: there have been some changes here and there, but there is still much more to do, and these changes need to be institutionalized to ensure their sustainability.
  • Jordanian blogger Ahmad Humeid writes about the new opportunities that the iPhone and the iPad offer to software developers in the Arab World, with a shout out to my good friend Bandar Raffah.
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Professional Brain Explosions

Whenever someone asks me about the Shoura Council, I quickly respond: “Shoura is dead to me.” I have lost hope that anything good for the people would come out of this institution. Some think I’m being too harsh on them but I beg to differ. Now this is old news, because a couple of days ago Dr. Fahad al-Aboud, a member of the Shoura Council since 2001, offered yet another reason to take the council less seriously.

In his weekly column for al-Riyadh daily, Dr. al-Aboud wrote about a new iPod from Apple. That confused me a little bit because last time I checked Apple’s latest iPod was introduced in September 2009. So I figured maybe he meant the iPad, which was unveiled by Steve Jobs last month. The “revolutionary device,” he said, is a “tablet” computer. Okay, it’s the iPad then, I thought.

But in the next paragraph he adds, “the new device is 3-in-1: a mobile phone, an iPod, and an internet browser.”

Um, I’m confused again. The iPad indeed includes an iPod app and an internet browser, but can’t make phone calls. The iPod Touch is, well an iPod, can browse the internet, but also can’t make phone calls. The iPhone, on the other hand, can do all that, but it’s not exactly a tablet. So what’s up Doc?!

Aboud iPad

Dr. al-Aboud, who holds a PhD in information sciences from Florida State University, goes on and on about the new mysterious iPod that we have not yet seen, saying the new nonexistent device has given Apple “a psychological victory over its peers.” He then asks the all important question: “how far this amazing technological advancement will go?” It is safe to say, he concludes, that the human brain will have a hard time keeping up with or following this advancement.

Well, I can tell you that my brain is exploding from all this gibberish that I’m reading.

But on a more serious note, I believe this article, in addition to showcasing the incompetency of Shoura members, also says a lot about the state of media in the country. The minister of information and top editors here keep talking about how blogs and internet websites lack professionalism and credibility, presumably compared to their newspapers, and then they go and run utter rubbish.

Publishing an article like the aforementioned shows clearly that these newspapers do no fact-checking whatsoever. Do they even know what fact-checking is? Have they ever heard of such thing? They should. They are, after all, professional.

Love/Hate

Let’s face it. Despite what Philips may try to tell (or sell) you, life is not simple. We usually try to simplify it by generalizing and using stereotypes but that doesn’t always work. This has much to do with the fact that we human beings are very complex. We are not simple creatures folks. And this, I believe, where this kind of love/hate relationships come from.

1 – Riyadh
I love it because living in this city has given me opportunities I would never had if I stayed in my beloved hometown back in the EP, but I hate its hypocrisy, rudeness, sharp contrasts, restrictions and traffic jams.

2 – KSU
I love almost nothing about it except that some of my favorite intellectuals such as Khalid Al Dakhil, Hatoon Al Fassi and Matruk Al Faleh supposedly belong to this entity. I hate almost everything about it especially that these very same intellectuals are not allowed to teach here because someone thinks they will corrupt the minds of our youth.

3 – Relationships
I love them because they can provide you with a sense of security and peace that you can’t feel it on your own. I hate them because in a society like ours they are risky, shaky and so complicated you usually have little or no control over how they progress.

4 – Religious TV channels
I love watching them every now and then because they offer a form of entertainment rarely found anywhere else: laughing at something not intended to be funny. I hate them because in most cases they promote a very narrow-minded agenda that would actually hurt the religion they claim to represent.

5 – iPhone
I love the multi-touch large colorful screen, the amazing UI and immediate responsiveness, the SMS app, YouTube, etc. I hate the Apple lock that makes it hard to use for regular people without some hacking and geekery, no SMS forwarding, the inability to copy contacts from the SIM, and few other little things. But now that Apple have to offer the iPhone in France unlocked I hope most of these problems would be solved soon.