At the End of the Hour

Earth Hour. And although I would like to look at the brighter side of things — pun intended — I find it increasingly difficult to appreciate a cause that revolves around hype. I am not here to say Earth Hour is nothing but a social movement; on the contrary, I do believe in the cause. The faith I lack is in how people would maintain their commitment to the cause a long time after the lights are back on.

And herein lies the problem: we want to feel part of something that is much bigger than us; we participate, and when it is over, so is the participation. That is not to say that everyone will go back to heavy consumption, but through observation it is safe to assume that when Earth Hour is over, the majority of people will go on like nothing has ever happened. Unless the event coincides with a solar flare that will fry out the grids (and not just read on the news that they might), I hardly doubt many people will go beyond the hour. Just like when a large proportions of Muslims who observe Ramadan and fast all day end up binge-eating after sunset, missing out completely on the concepts of preservation and discipline. Dare I say that the amount of food wasted daily at Iftar around the world can feed a continent for that day? Food for thought.

So how are social causes any different? Yes, it is all nice and fun to be part of something — but where is the belief and the passion that go along with it?

Perhaps, then, wrapping the event around a challenge is actually a good idea; when you commit people to a challenge, they’re more likely to commit to the cause. And in the recent years with everything “going green” trending worldwide, all these green movements are starting to shape up. The fundamental reason behind this is what while the majority of people will go on with their power-hungry lives, those who go beyond the hour are making an impact. They’re spreading the awareness and are becoming role models for other people to follow.

The underlying principle here is not necessarily “saving the planet”; it’s about discipline in consumption. Let it be power or water  or food or whatever resource. Earth is truly finite. Our lives are finite. Every single aspect of our lives is composed of fleeting moments. Why is it when the water is cut off, we manage to brush our teeth and do the dishes and other things with a bottle of water, whereas when it’s flowing out of the tap, we’re opening the tap all the way?

Earth Hour — and most other things like it — are not just an hour-a-year social movement; they’re habits. So make conservation, and discipline, your habit.

You’ve Been Raped! Shame on You!

I won’t be discussing politics here but what caught my attention while reading this article on the Washington Post is that a few good men have pledged to marry the women who have been recently raped (the point of who is the rapist is not my point of discussion).

“It made us so mad. Such an injustice. We have decided, we will marry them,” said Ibrahim Kayyis, a 32-year-old baker from Jisr al-Shugour, a town that was stormed by troops.

To reclaim their “honor,” families in Syria have been known to kill raped female members. Even if families allow such women to live, they are not eligible to marry.

“We sat and discussed that we want to change this. We don’t want to change just the regime in Syria, but also this kind of stuff. So we will marry them in front of everyone,” Kayyis said.

Now, in all seriousness, this is 2011 for the love of everything you hold dear! How can anyone punish someone for being raped? Because they’ve been raped now the entire family’s honour is “stolen”!?!?! This is an ongoing topic of discussion over at Kinzi’s so you can read all about it there. I am not less flabbergasted today than I was a few years ago when it was a trend in Jordan. If there’s anyone – rather, anything – dishonourable it is the rapists in society and the social system that insists on propagating this idea of equating good women with virginity.

I can bet my balls that there aren’t many virgins out there left in this wilderness. I had a neighbour in Damascus who was finding it needlessly difficult to get married as she was married before. Society automatically believes that it is her fault and that she’s no longer a virgin. Oh, poor man’s ego,  preoccupied with the thoughts of whether her former husband is better in bed and that she won’t put hummus on the table next morning!

I’d like to say “go get laid” but most men – ironically – are. So I’d just say go get a life and a brain while you’re at it. They’re no less women after being raped than they were before; they’re still human beings and women are the pride of our nations and humanity as a whole. They’re our mothers, sisters, and they will raise our future generations. We should take care of them and go after the rapists. Otherwise, what kind of message are we giving our youth and the world at large? That we accept rapists in our society and favour them over our women?

Bottled Water, or Tap?

I remember in 97 when I was in NYC, often I was asked if I would like to have tap water or bottled water. Even when watching shows, I see people filling in water from the tap, and often wondered why the hell would someone do that.

Then again when I was in Saudi I knew exactly where our water came from – we used to fill an underground well in our villa and I knew exactly how that well looked like from the inside. Though we had it cleaned and painted and sterilized, it remained a well and the trees and plants in the garden always found their way to penetrate through.

So for me tap water was a no no.

In Syria, we have filters. Bottled water was only seen in restaurants to boost the bill. My friend who works for the Abu Dhabi Electric & Water Authority claims that the water here is safe to drink, the one being distributed anyway, and depending on the quality and cleanliness of the piping on a building by building case things may differ.

Now after seeing this video, I think I will buy filters for 90-something AED and save myself a shitload of money on bottled water. You can get the fact sheet in the more info pane on the video page. What I find interesting though is that if this is done by something we take for granted, such as water, then what about everything else?

Dubai Cares Children of Gaza Campaign

I just got this from my friend. If you’re in the UAE it would be great to join:

Subject: help package 50,000 basic school kits and 50,000 hygiene kits for the Children of Gaza

Dubai Cares is joining a united front of UAE-based relief and charitable organizations to pledge humanitarian assistance and mobilize the UAE community to help the children of Gaza.

There are approximately 275,000 students of primary school age in Gaza and Dubai Cares is asking for your help to support them in this time of need.

Here’s how you can help. Dubai Cares is currently recruiting volunteers to help package 50,000 basic school kits and 50,000 hygiene kits for the Children of Gaza. Approximately 150 participants are needed each day for this event as we are aiming to assemble approximately 10,000 kits a day . We would be honored if you could join us.

Dubai Cares will supply all of the items required for the kits and we need your help to pack and prepare them for shipping to the children of Gaza.

Date: Wednesday, January 14 through January 20, 2009
Venue: DIFC – Emperor Hall
Weekdays: 4:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Friday January 16, 2009: 2:00 -6:00 p.m.
Saturday January 17, 2009: 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.

You are welcome to join us anytime. Please bring your friends and family to the venue during our working hours and we will put you to work. You can also help us spread the word by forwarding this email to others who you believe may want to help. We will have snacks and beverages available.

Should you have any queries or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us at: gaza /at/ dubaicares /dot/ ae

We hope you will be able to join with us to show solidarity for the children of Gaza.

If you want a map to DIFC:


From UAE to Gaza

Throughout the past few days people in the UAE have been very procative in their efforts to do whatever they could towards Gaza. I am very pleased with the contributions of the people around me, be it monetary, supplying food or even a lending hand.

While my friends and I shopped, a few of the guys from the group have been in the Aramex warehouse sorting up supplies and boxing them, and they told me that within the few hours they were there they filled up 7 giant lorries and send them away, and the warehouse still had a long way to go. Collections to the Aramex campaign are ending tomorrow though I believe you can still go to the warehouse and help with whatever you could.


keep this shopping list with you





If you want to be part of the Gaza Aid Package Project – Dubai, go visit the Facebook group.

Meanwhile, people took it to the streets across Dubai, Sharjah, Abu Dhabi and Ras al Khaima and thousands of people joined in a peaceful march (approved by the Ministry of Interior) for hours demanding something be done about the crisis. High profile people also joined in the rally. Images from Gulfnews.




During the rally, the Red Crescent had its campaign running to receive donations via drop boxes or through SMS, and while it ran from 2 PM to 9 PM it was able to generate a whopping 315 million AED (roughly $86 million). UAE President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum also pledged to build 1200 homes for the Palestinians in Gaza and the ruler of Umm Al Quwain His Highness Shaikh Saud bin Rashid Al Mualla ordered that the mosques of Gaza to be renovated.

It’s truly heart warming to see this kind of reaction taking place around you, but the question begging to ask itself is: Is it really enough?

Remember that the world needs just a little compassion for it to be different for the better. Every day I wake up amazed at how the majority of the population are bonding together for one cause. It shows you a great deal that if there is a time for us to change, there is no better time than NOW.

Let’s just do all we could as civilians, to help other civilians less fortunate than us.