Friday, December 20, 2013

Just for Laughs - Lost in Translation

One of the most amusing aspects of living in a foreign country is the written word - business signage, menus, misspellings, or translations into English.  Here is a variety of funny pics, some taken by me and others that found their way to me, that will hopefully make you laugh out loud.

Business sign:  "Sale of Chicken Murder" - no other words necessary

Menu item:  "Itch Salad" - Does that come with calamine dressing?

Men's perfume packaging:  "One Men Show"

Signage on mall escalator:  "Be aware of you're abaya and children"

Advertising billboard: "Laser Vaginal Rejuvenation Clinic" - a popular service in Saudi Arabia?

In a mall:  "No Smoking" sign - with ash tray below

On the wall in a restaurant: Listing cities around the world - see Madrid on the bottom line

Handicapped parking sign in Saudi Arabia:  "If you want to take my parking, take my disability"

Business sign:  "Cock Brost"

Meat department in grocery store:  "Boneless Lamp" and "Lamp Meat."  Photo credit: April Tosch Jamjoon

Meat department in grocery store:  "Chicken Tights"

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Entertainer

I used The Entertainer when we lived in the states and I was so delighted to discover that it is now a worldwide product that is available here in the Middle East as well.  Editions available in Saudi Arabia include Jeddah and Riyadh and the Eastern Province.  The book quickly pays for itself and offers brilliant discounts at a wide variety of restaurants and activities.   

For sports, pleasure and leisure, you can go diving in the Red Sea, live it up by ice skating or paintball, or try your hand at ceramics.  Select from an assortment of informal dining restaurants, cafes, or family eateries, or relish a special night out at one of The Entertainer's featured fine dining restaurants.    You can save on haircuts, beauty services, and day spas, or appreciate savings on an immense array of other services and products in your area or even when you travel. Plan your next getaway and choose from dozens of superb hotels all over the Middle East, Asia, or Africa. 

Still have doubts?  Check out The Entertainer's FREE TRIAL OFFER!  You won’t be sorry.

The Entertainer is an easy to use discount coupon book - now available in an even more convenient mobile format - that offers buy-one-get-one-free opportunities at many restaurants, hotels, and other types of businesses.  It is now available at a pre-sale 20% discount for the 2014 edition IF YOU ORDER BEFORE DECEMBER 5th. 

Find out more and discover why so many people LOVE The Entertainer!  Hurry and get yours today!

"Like" The Entertainer on Facebook.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Ramadan 2013 Photos - from

A Nepalese Muslim boy offers Friday prayers during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in Kathmandu on July 12. (Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters)

One of my favorite websites for photos of Ramadan, which just ended this past week, is
Muslims offer first Friday prayers during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan at a mosque in the northern Indian city of Allahabad on July 12. (Jitendra Prakash/Reuters)

This year "The Big Picture" feature of published 37 photos taken around the world during Ramadan 2013. 
An Israeli border policeman, right, stands by as a Palestinian man prepares decorations at the entrance of the Al-Aqsa mosque ahead of the Muslim holiday of Ramadan, in Jerusalem's Old City, Israel, on July 8. (Abir Sultan/European Pressphoto Agency)

Ramadan is the holy month of fasting for Muslims worldwide.  No food or drink is taken during the daylight hours in order to feel appreciation for the blessings one has, as well as gaining compassion for those less fortunate. 
Students from an Islamic boarding school pray during the Koran recitation "Tadarus" during Ramadan in a mosque in Medan of Indonesia's North Sumatra province in this on July 11. (Reuters)

To see the rest of the amazing photos from "The Big Picture," Ramadan 2013, click here to go to the website. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Paranoia or Greed?

Many foreign expat workers who come to Saudi Arabia endure, among other hardships, isolation, stressful living and working conditions, severe climate, and separation from their families, sometimes for years.  Saudi Arabia is now exploring yet another way to make these conditions even more difficult - by threatening to ban internet social communications platforms to make it harder for people to communicate with their loved ones outside the country.  On the chopping block are programs such as Skype, Whats App, and others.

Saudi Arabia ranks near the top on the worldwide list for usage of electronic technology, surpassing many other countries in the use of social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and other such applications.  Saudis pride themselves on having state-of-the-art electronics and services.  

These past few months, there have been threats and warnings by the Saudi government issued to several communications platforms to comply with unclear and unspecified regulations - or be shut down.  It has been reported that local servers have apparently been requested from these companies so the Saudi government can monitor and censor activities of their users.  In 2010 under the threat of being closed down, Blackberry surrendered and provided the required servers rather than risk being banned.  

The first casualty of this censorship campaign is Viber, a company based out of Cyprus.  Viber was the easiest and most popular service used by Arab expats because of its Arabic formatted version and its compatibility with all computer operating systems and wireless networks.  There have been conflicting reports as to exactly why Viber was shut down.  According to reports, the suspension was put into effect because monitoring is difficult for the government and it robs licensed telecom companies of profits from international calls.  However Viber claims that the Saudi government agency in charge of this action made no prior request of the company.  

So is this just an act of desperate need for control by a paranoid Saudi government?  Or is this action motivated purely of greed?  It’s probably a combination of both.  With unrest wafting through the air since the Arab Spring, the Saudi government is no doubt on its guard.  Saudization, the government plan to replace foreign workers with Saudis, may also be a factor in this move, making it expensive for foreigners to call family back home when they have been able to do it for free for the past few years. 

Internet service and mobile phone costs in Saudi Arabia rank among the highest in the world.  With these applications providing users the ability to make free phone calls, exchange text messages, and photo file sharing, Saudi telecom providers are being deprived of potentially gargantuan revenues from these free services that, if controlled by Saudi telecom companies, could line their pockets with an exorbitant windfall.  
Considering how these applications are not only used by expats staying in touch with their families, but also by many Saudi students and travelers to maintain contact with their families, as well as by many businesses for basic communication needs, this move by the government is not welcomed by anyone other than the powerful and greedy Saudi telecommunications industry.   I’m convinced that the powers that be in Saudi Arabia just want to make simple things as difficult as they possibly can for the country’s residents.  The theory is that this type of thing is done to keep people’s focus on more trivial matters and keep the glare away from the government. 

At any rate, there will always be some other ingenuity used to circumvent these roadblocks put up by the Saudi government.  It’s just a pain in the meantime for those of us who aren’t that technologically astute to find a suitable detour.

More reading:

Arab News:  5 Expats arrested in crackdown against internet calls

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Two More Steps Back

There are times when I feel that Saudi Arabia has made great strides - especially with regard to women's issues - in the past five years that I have lived here.  And then there are other times when I can only shake my head in disbelief when I see that Saudi Arabia is still a very misogynistic society and with each step forward, the country seems to take two steps back.  

The latest headline coming out of Saudi Arabia that is quite troubling and disturbing concerns a Saudi author named Abdullah Mohammad Al Dawood, who unfortunately has 97,000 followers on Twitter.  He recently tweeted a call to action for Saudi men to sexually assault working women in Saudi Arabia, especially those working in supermarkets. His “logical” explanation is so the women will stop working and stay home where they belong and thus “protect their chastity.”  Al Dawood writes self-help books (God help us!) and has also been called a Saudi cleric in the past.  In fact this is the very same guy who popularized the term “Burqas for Babies” when he made the ridiculous suggestion a while back that baby girls here should be veiled so perverted men won't be tempted to molest them.  He is obsessed with sex - He sees baby girls as sexual objects. 

Abdullah Mohammad Al Dawood (Twitter photo)

So now, on the one hand, he's supposedly "protecting" little girls from perverts, and on the other hand he's calling for their mothers and older sisters to be sexually assaulted.  What kind of world is this guy living in?  Or better yet, as Waleed Al-Khawaji, another Saudi tweeter responded, “What kind of person urges the youth to commit debauchery?”  It seems that Al Dawood’s objections to women working are based on his belief that men and women mixing in the workplace will lead to western-influenced immorality and corruption.

Another disturbing part of this story is that Al Dawood tried to use Islam as the basis for his wicked idea.  He cited an old obscure story about Al Zubair, a famed warrior, who wanted to stop his wife from her habit of leaving home to go pray in the mosque.  Apparently Al Zubair chose to teach his wife a lesson by hiding and attacking her as she walked by on her way to the mosque.  Unaware that her own husband was the attacker, she ran home frightened and swore she would never leave the safety of her own home again.  

Abdullah Mohammad Al Dawood (YouTube/approach channel photo)
By the way, allow me to interject here that this story that Al Dawood cited projects what is to me a very confusing contradiction of Islam.  Clearly Islam forbids anyone from trying to prevent someone else from going to pray in the mosque, while at the same time, saying that it is better for women to pray at home.  I have read texts that say that women should ask their husbands for permission to go pray in the mosque.  Yet if the husband says no, isn’t that actually preventing her from going?  So to me, this is a murky Catch-22 situation, with no clear meaning one way or the other, and one part contradicting the other.  And dear readers, please don't bombard me with your explanations of this and how it makes sense to you.  It will never make sense to me. 

But encouraging men to sexually assault working women?    Right - Let’s molest these women to protect their chastity!  Makes perfect sense to everyone.  Is this really a “religious tactic” that Saudi Arabia wants to use and promote?  Many of the women working in Saudi Arabia are working because they have to work, to help support their families.  Many are divorced, or widowed, or deserted by their husbands and need the income to feed their children.  Many working Saudi women are married and are working to ease the stress on their family’s financial situation.  What do their husbands have to say about this loony bird’s call for men to attack working women?   I honestly can’t recall the last time (if ever) that I heard of a woman being sexually assaulted in a supermarket, yet here is this pervert in Saudi Arabia promoting that very idea.

Men like Al Dawood are doing absolutely nothing for Saudi Arabia's image to the rest of the world and are giving Islam a black eye by spouting absurdities like this.  Sexually assaulting women is a crime.  Inciting men to violate women is a crime.  Abdullah Mohammad Al Dawood should be promptly arrested for promoting violence against women.  And in my opinion, he should be castrated too.  Maybe neutering him will calm him down and he won’t be so obsessed with sex all the time... 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Blogging Community in Mourning

Carol Fleming Al-Ajroush died yesterday, May 27, 2013, at the age of 53 after a valiant and hard fought five-year long battle with breast cancer.  Carol was known in cyber space as "American Bedu," the name of her popular and widely read blog pertaining to Saudi Arabia.

Even though we never actually met face to face, I counted Carol among my friends.  We shared a few bonds that had drawn us together.  We both married Saudi men, we both moved to Saudi Arabia when we were older, and we both wrote blogs about our lives here.  Over the past few years since I moved to KSA in 2007, Carol became my sounding board and confidante.  When I was going through my "disenchantment period" after the "honeymoon phase" of living here had worn off, I would run my ranting blog posts by Carol first before publishing them to get her valued opinion. We would talk on the phone and exchanged countless emails.  She was so much more diplomatic than I tend to be and always had good advice and words of encouragement and support. 

Amidst her life of illness, turmoil and loss during these past five years, Carol always remained upbeat and positive and never wavered in her mission to bridge the gap of understanding between Saudi culture and the West.  It was her fierce dedication to this mission that I believe may have extended her time here on earth, giving her life a sense of purpose and commitment. 

Carol grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania and worked for the CIA as a spy, under the guise of being an American diplomat.  By the time she met and fell in love with Abdullah Al-Ajroush, a Saudi diplomat, while on assignment in Pakistan, both of them were in their 40s and each had a previous marriage under their belts.  Carol and Abdullah had been married for just a few short blissful years when tragedy struck.  In 2008, within just a few months of each other, both Carol and Abdullah were diagnosed with cancer - he with a rare and very aggressive form of leukemia and she with breast cancer, a disease that had already claimed several of her family members.  In 2009 they both traveled to the USA to continue treatment for their diseases.  Unfortunately they had to be separated during this time because of their illnesses and went to different states to receive their course of treatment.

In February 2010, less than a year and a half after his initial diagnosis, Abdullah succumbed to his illness and Carol was heartbroken.  She never returned to Saudi Arabia.  She continued the fight for her life in North Carolina, close to her only child, son Jon and her two grandsons, becoming an outspoken advocate for finding the cure for cancer and sharing with her readers her journey of becoming a "breast cancer warrior wearing her pink full body armor."  She fought valiantly.

I was in awe of her positive and upbeat attitude and amazed at how quickly she answered emails.  Though at times she required help in fulfilling her daily commitment to blogging, Carol posted every day without fail, oftentimes preparing her posts in advance when she knew she would be out of commission from her exhaustive, energy-zapping treatment.  Her topics covered anything and everything having to do with Saudi Arabia and Islam.  Discussions were lively and often heated.

The American Bedu blog even spawned a marriage between two of her readers and commenters. 

Last summer when my own mother passed away, Carol found the strength to comfort me despite her own precarious health and offered me guidance on how to deal with my grief, as she had done with the loss of her husband.

Carol’s funeral arrangments are as follows:  Services will be held Tuesday, May 28, 2013, at James Funeral Home. The viewing will be at 11:00am, followed by the service at 12:00pm. In lieu of flowers, you may send a donation to Carol's favorite charity, The American Cancer Society, to continue the fight against breast cancer.
James Funeral Home - 10520 Arahova Dr., Huntsville, NC 28078 - Phone 704-584-9004

A casual gathering for all family and friends will be held following the memorial hosted by her dear friends, Ray and Robin. All are welcome at the reception after the service at on May 28th at 2pm at 20420 Island Forest Drive - Cornelius, NC 28031.

Carol will sorely be missed in the blogging community, by her family and her countless friends around the world.  I'd like to close this post with Carol's own words, written in an email to me about some life lessons and advice she wanted to impart, some wonderful words of wisdom from one of the most gracious, giving, and generous women I have ever known....

"First, it really is not worth the time and effort to sweat the small stuff....and believe me, it's pretty easy to discern the wheat from the chaff!
Second, there is nothing more important than dearly loved family and friends.  We love each other warts and all!  (smile) 
Remember to take the time and let the special people in your life know how much your care.  Make sure they know why they are special to you.  Do something spontaneous for them.  Hug them when they least expect it.  Always let them know how much you love them.
Don't save words for tomorrow if you can say them today!
Live each and every day to its fullest and most joyous!"
Rest in peace, sweet Carol.