Trump should learn from The Arab Spring


Watching the events unfolding in the USA and the reactions of Trump’s government, one can’t help but draw the lines and compare the uprising of the people protesting injustice with what we faced here in the middle east in the past decade. On the verge of Bouazizi putting himself on fire in the street of Tunisia, triggering an uprising that swept over the region, the western media rushed into branding it and calling it The Arab Spring. A name that held so much hope for a much needed change towards a more just and free societies.

Today, waking up to the news of Trump threatening to ‘dominate’ protestors with military force, shooting peaceful protestors in Washington with rubber bullets and tear gas, one can’t help to wonder if the table has turned. Many people in Arab world and around the world ask themselves today, are we watching the birth of The American Spring?!

We all know the fatal consequences of The Arab Spring on different countries in the region, and certainly don’t wish the same faith to be reflected into any other country, and certainly not to the one that been considered a world leader for many years. In reality, if one looked into the region to take notes, he won’t be disappointed. Each country leadership reacted differently, and each country found itself verging into a different path. All depended on what the man on the top did!

And to be honest, with Trump in charge, angry with inflated ego, it is sad to say that we should expect the worse. Ben Ali was smart, he fled Tunisia in less than month of the revolution, saving himself and the country from disastrous consequences. Today, Tunisia is considered the most successful model of The Arab Spring and turned into an operational democratic country. Husni Mubarak, in Egypt, reacted as wisely as Ben Ali, and after his initial violent reaction towards protestors that triggered millions more to go into the streets, he stepped down. King Abdallah of Jordan was the smartest, he instantly changed the cabinet, promised demonstrators to fasten a political reform and fight corruption, and worked hard to ensure they are safe. He even ordered policemen to distribute water and juice on angry protestors.

On the other hands, ego-centric leaders, from the dump Gaddafi of Libya, to Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen, and Bashar Al Asad of Syria. They all reacted violently, trying to “dominate” the demonstrators with their military force, and ended up taking their countries downhill, swirling into a civil war and declared as failed states. While Gaddafi and Saleh didn’t survive the havoc, Al Asad played all his cards, tortured and killed millions, displaced millions, and was saved the growth of ISIS and the intervention of Russia!

One would say that neither one of those countries had a democratic system in place that would ensure a better consequence for the events, but we have an example for that as well. Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood leader, who took over Egypt through a democratic vote after Mubarak stepped down. He lasted a year, as he ruled with an ideology that didn’t sit well with most Egyptians. He was deaf to the masses, like Trump is today, and was on the verge of killing the new found democracy, same like Trump is doing in America today. Morsi was ousted by a military coup, ending the very short democratic ear of the country.

Trump feels as stupid and deaf as Morsi, and ego-centric and crazy as Gaddafi. No one can deny that America is in a state of division today. Politics polarization hit the roof. Although opposition leaders feel more wise today, his reactions might trigger more and more violence, and could easily push the country into a civil war. We have seen looting during the Arab Spring, and we have seen other militias forming in some countries to respond to the violent state reaction, we have seen other countries interfere and support all sides of the conflict, we have also seen terrorist groups taking advantage and gaining grounds. Trump might have the military to aid him at the moment, but he might not have that for long. Divisions will appear in every single institution, and if he kept his stubbornness, don’t listen to his advisors, and don’t learn from other countries, his America might just do a free fall, from leading the world, into a failed state.

Mexico watch out, pay for the wall, before you get to face the flood of millions of refugees.

This would be a sad scenario, which we don’t want to see.

The Arab Observer interviews Natasha Tynes


Natasha Tynes

It is always a pleasure to see a new Jordanian getting published, and it is double the pleasure when it happens to be one of the fellow old bloggers. I was first introduced to Natasha’ Tynes’s writings around 14 years ago through her blog which I enjoyed and admired back then. And, fast-forward to two years ago, I was honored to read the draft of her first novel when she approached me seeking advice on how to get it published. She didn’t need my advice, as she was determined and passionate, and proud of her work. Eventually she got it done, and successfully released last summer. A book that I enjoyed reading, and loved because it highlighted a space/time that is dear to my heart and is rarely covered in our cultural productions.

It has been a long time since I did any interview on my blog, but I am happy to chat with Natasha, and happy to present this interview that talks about her book, her experience in getting it publisher, and recommendations to aspiring writers. Hope you enjoy reading it!

They Called Me Wyatt

Fadi: Congratulations for the release of the 2nd edition of “They Called Me Wyatt”. I remember reading the draft before you released it and enjoyed all of the nostalgic references to Amman in the 80’s. But lets hear you, tell us more about the book for the readers of this blog. What is the story all about?

Natasha: My debut novel They Called Me Wyatt is a murder mystery set between Jordan and the US, featuring Jordanian student Siwar Salaiha who is murdered on her birthday in Maryland, but her consciousness survives, finding refuge in the body of a Seattle baby boy. Stuck in this speech delayed three-year old body, Siwar tries but fails to communicate with Wyatt’s parents, instead she focuses on solving the mystery behind her murder. Eventually, her consciousness goes into a dormant state after Wyatt undergoes a major medical procedure.


Fast-forward twenty-two years. Wyatt is a well-adjusted young man with an affinity towards the Middle East and a fear of heights. While working on his graduate degree in Middle Eastern studies, Wyatt learns about Siwar’s death, which occurred twenty-five years ago. For reasons he can’t explain, he grows obsessed with Siwar and spends months investigating her death, which police at the time erroneously ruled as suicide. His investigation forces him to open a door he has kept shut all his life, a spiritual connection to an unknown entity that he frequently refused to acknowledge. His leads take him to Amman, Jordan where after talking to her friends and family members and through his special connection with the deceased, he discovers a clue that unravels the mystery of her death. Will Siwar get justice after all?

Fadi: The book has a unique concept and does a great job highlighting issues of identity and rift between East and West. How much of that was built on your own identity as a person, being a Christian Arab and living in the US? I am sure there is a big space to tackle here when one is faced with different identity agencies. It is a rich material to work on and I think you have done it nicely in the book.

Natasha: My book is loosely based on my formative years, my childhood and coming-of-age in Amman, Jordan. My identity as an Arab-American and also as a Jordanian-Christian has definitely shaped my novel since I tend to write about what I know and how I see the world. However, I tried to stay away from the topic of religion in my novel. My main focus is the Arab identity as a whole, and the challenges faced by an Arab immigrant to the US.

Natasha signing her book

My book is loosely based on my formative years, my childhood and coming-of-age in Amman, Jordan.

Natasha Tynes

Fadi: I like mostly about “They Called Me Wyatt” that it captures a part of Amman we rarely see in Literature. The stories of west Amman that seem to fail to find a place in local literature, as if our stories don’t worth documenting because that part of the city is “too westernized” and doesn’t fit with the overall cultural image we have for the country? I also grew up in the same period of the 80s and 90s and I have experienced much of what you mentioned in the book about the life of Siwar. Unfortunately that period of time was dominated by conservative media and didn’t leave much space for such stories to see the light. What do you to say about this?

Natasha: I agree. You rarely see literature, especially literature in English, that tackles growing up in Amman in the 80’s and the 90’s. Amman has changed dramatically since then. I feel part of me still feels nostalgic to the old Amman, to the Amman of my childhood, that’s why I based my novel around it. Life back then was simpler. We really had nothing, but we had each other, the family, the cousins, the friends, the neighbors. We spent our days playing outside, not glued to a screen like kids these days. We had adventures, we formed friendships, we learned life lessons. It was wonderful. I deeply miss it.

Natasha reading from her book

Fadi: I remember the time when you were looking for a publisher for your book. Being a writer myself, I know how hard it is to find a publisher who is willing to adopt your work and support it, especially when it is your first one. You approached it as it is a full time job and were pretty much determined to get it done, and I applaud you for that. There are many writers out there who are struggling to get their first work get published, tell us about your experience and what would you advise them?

Natasha: My advice for you if you want to be a writer, is that you need to develop a thick skin and be ready to be rejected hundreds of times. Buckle up. Your soul will be crushed and you will constantly doubt yourself. Remember that what makes a good writer is not only talent but also persistence, resilience and hard work. Keep applying, keep submitting your manuscript to agents and publishers. Keep getting rejections until you eventually get the acceptance that you have always dreamt about.

My advice for you if you want to be a writer, is that you need to develop a thick skin and be ready to be rejected hundreds of times. Buckle up. Your soul will be crushed and you will constantly doubt yourself.

Natasha Tynes

Fadi: Soon after your book got released, you were faced by a stupid incident that costed you your publishing agreement. I remember being on the goodreads page of your book. Initially I was surprised that you had a thousand reviews in such a short time, which I thought wow, Natasha’s book has picked up, but when I started reading the reviews, I felt shocked with the amount of hatred you received. They were giving you one star review and attacking you personally rather than objectively assessing your work. It must have been a tough time for you. Tell us about the incident and how did you handle it. Did the bad publicity help you in any way or form? You know what they say “bad publicity is good publicity”, you may beg to differ.

Natasha: I was involved in a Twitter controversy after I tweeted about a DC metro employee breaking the rules on the job. In retrospect, I should have used a more private manner to complain, and if I can take this back I would. To my shock, I was seen as racist since the metro employee in question is African-American, although I never mentioned the color of her skin! In addition to all the death threats I received and all the derogatory comments, my novel’s Goodreads page was attacked by thousands of people who left one-star reviews without reading the book, and who also left personal attacks. I contacted Goodreads numerous times, but they never took action. Thankfully, a new publisher picked up the book after my old publisher caved to the online mob and dropped the book. This was really hard on me and I sunk into deep depression. Thankfully, there was a happy ending with the book being republished. The only way the “bad publicity” helped me was that I got a better publisher

Fadi: Do you plan on translating the book and publish it in Arabic? As I mentioned before, I feel that we miss these stories in our local literature. It’s actually part of the reason I started writing myself. I felt that our lives are rarely represented accurately in literature. It would be nice to have your book translated. Do you write in Arabic? Have any plans of writing any of your future work in Arabic?

Natasha: I definitely would love to see my novel translated into Arabic, I have already talked to a number of Arab publishers in the region, but there is nothing concrete yet.

Fadi: I know from experience that working on promoting the book takes same time and effort of writing it. How did you promote your book? You once gave me a good tip to approach “Instagrammers” for reviews. That was brilliant. What other things do you recommend?

Natasha: These days authors do the bulk of marketing, so you need to spend a big chunk of your time marketing your work. Here are some tips:

  1. Create your own newsletter and send it to your subscribers at least once a month. Keep them updated with your latest news. Newsletter is a must!
  2. Approach people who run podcasts. There are tons who interview authors and review books.
  3. Contact bookclubs (there are a number of virtual ones) and ask them if they would be willing to read your book and host you as a guest to answer questions.
  4. Join a writers group Facebook group. They are usually very supportive and offer a lot of help and advice.

Fadi: Who are your favorite authors? and what’s your favorite book?

Natasha: I love the work of Jhumpa Lahiri, Junot Diaz, Ahdaf Soueif and Dave Eggers. I think my favorite book is The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

Fadi: Are you working on a new story? What is it about?

Natasha: I’m working on a novel set in Amman, Jordan. It’s about a building whose residents all immigrate to the US and all end up facing unfortunate and sometimes tragic events. They all wonder if these unforeseen harsh circumstances were a result of their bad luck, or if they were actually all cursed. Was there a hex (a’mal in Arabic) in the building that never left them? Or was it their own choices?

I am look forward to reading more of Natasha’s work and wish her all the best. For more about her and her work, visit her website http://natashatynes.com/

My time in Lockdown


It was been more than two weeks of a total lockdown here in Dubai in additional to the other three weeks before when I have started working from home. More than a month since gyms closed down, cinemas, malls, restaurants and beaches. This is not news, as the whole world is taking the same measurement in some form or another. Social distancing to flatten the curve and contain the coronavirus fast spread. Unprecedented in my life time or parents time, something new that no one of us has faced before. Yet, we are here, dealing with it, each on his own way.

For me, I am staying home alone in my apartment in Dubai. So much time on my hand, something that I am happy to have. Although I miss all of the closed activities and miss my friends and family, I have try to fill my time with some different activities that I enjoy. Here is a list of what I do, outside my home working hours:

1. Writing

I finally managed to find time to write this blog, and happy that I am doing it. I haven’t blogged for sometime now as I was focusing on writing my next book. The good news is that during this lockdown I managed to finish writing it! Hurray, it is exciting as it sounds. Took me more than two years and was a tough challenge. A really tough one, imagining a different world where gender is divided based on height rather than sex. Lots of imagination, and most of my worry has been in developing the storyline and trying to keep it as exciting as possible. I am still not sure how the readers will perceive it, but hopefully will do once it sees the light and gets published – probably by end of this year.

2. Yoga

I miss going to the gym the most, and it felt bad when the decision came out to close gyms. To be honest, it was the rational thing to do, and thank God they did, cause otherwise I would have kept on going to the gym and probably caught the virus. I was also sad to know that the crossfit box (Goldbox) I have been going to in the past two years closed permanently. The news came after the announcement of closing gyms for two weeks, but now it is lost for good. It was such a nice gym with a very nice community and amazing trainers. Loved going there, despite my struggle with crossfit as sport and my mixed feelings about it.

Nevertheless, trying to stay fit without a gym is not easy. I ordered some weights online but they are yet to arrive. At the moment I discovered Travis Eliot on youtube, and I am in love with his Yoga classes. I have been doing a daily yoga class for the past 5 days and I am enjoying it a lot. I wanted to challenge myself for a 30 days daily yoga, but today felt a bit tired after 5 days and decided to skip the day. And here I am, blogging instead!

Travis Eliot

3. Nintendo Switch

I am loving my nintendo switch and has been lucky with my choice of games recently. The most beautiful and entertaining one that I finished yesterday is “Ori and The Blind Forest”. If you are a gamer, then it is a must play. Go and get it. I really loved it. Before Ori I finished “Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze” and enjoyed it as well. And I just downloaded “Hollow Knights” yesterday hoping it will be as good as Ori, but till now I didn’t feel it.

Ori and the blind forest

4. Netflix/Suits

I finally reached season8 of Suits. Amazing show and I enjoyed each and every episode. I only started watching it recently from first episode and got hooked. I love all the characters, especially Donna and Harvey. Would they ever be together? If you haven’t watched it, then you should. And yes it is okay to commit for all the 8 seasons. I don’t know why, but I like shows that never ends.

Donna and Harvey – Suits

5. Doodling

From time to time, I pick up my ipad and just doodle. Recently I feel stuck with these colored owls that feels like a good fit to angry birds. It relaxed me and I enjoy it!

My angry owls – doodle by fido

6. Tik Tock videos

I’d like to believe that this is a phase and will fade out, but this new trending app is so much fun. It is amazing the amount of creativity it allows. Whenever you open the app you’d feel the urge to just jump in and do your own silly video. I had created my own fair share of that but now on a break. Till when, I have no idea!

7. Reading

The Book of Collateral Damage

I am currently reading two very nice books. The first one is “The Book of Collateral Damage” by Sinan Antoon. It is the first time that I read for Sinan and I am impressed by his creativity. He is different than other Arab novelists. His book is deep, creative out of the box and entertaining all at the same time. It is an archive to everything that is lost in Iraq due to the war. Very sad and strong statement. Highly recommended.

Second book I am reading and finding it very engaging is “The Body: A guide for occupants” by Bill Bryson. It is very entertaining and informative at the same time. If you want to learn more about your body, then you have to get this book. They should make it a mandatory read for schools. After reading “Sapiens“, “Homo Deus” for Yuval Noah Harrari and “Why We Age And Why We Don’t Have To” for David Sinclair, I realised that I enjoy reading informative scientific books and decided to order “The Body”. It didn’t disappoint me at all.

The Body: A guide for occupants

What about you? How have you been managing during the lockdown?

مشاركتي في مؤتمر نقاط للعقل المطاطي وكلمتي عن التقسيم المبني على النوع الاجتماعي


سعدت بالمشاركة في مؤتمر نقاط للعقل المطاطي الذي عقد في دولة الكويت في شهر نوفمبر الماضي حيث تعرّفت على العديد من الأشخاص الملهمين الذين تحدّثوا في مواضيع ابداعية مختلفة شيقة. يمكنكم الآن مشاهدة كافة الحوارات على قناة نقاط على اليوتيوب.

خلال مشاركتي قدّمت كلمة عن الرواية التّي أعمل عليها والتي تحاول أن تتخيّل عالماً يكون فيه تفسيم النوع الاجتماعي الأساسي مبني على الطول لا الجنس. شرحت فكرة العالم واسقاطاتها على واقعنا وكيف أنّ هذه الفكرة أتتني بعد سنوات طويلة من العمل في مجال الحريات الجنسية والحقوق الجسدية ومحاولة توضيح ما يعنيه النوع الاجتماعي (الجندر) والفرق بين الجندر كصفة اجتماعية والجنس كصفة بيولوجية. أترك لكم هنا الكلمة كاملة لمشاهدتها ويسعدني تلقي تعليقاتكم وأسئلتكم.

كذلك خلال المؤتمر شاركت في ندوة حوارية حول القيود والأعراف الاجتماعية وأثرها على حرية الفرد، يمكنكم مشاهدتها كاملة هنا:

Why we age and why we don’t have to? an army of researchers are on it!


Almost done reading Lifespan: Why we age and why we don’t have to by David Sinclair and I am pleased with what I read. This post may contain spoilers.

David Sinclair


At first glance one would look at the book cover and say it is a tall order. Not knowing who is David Sinclair, one would assume that this best selling book is another hocus self-help or motivational book. But once you start reading, you’d get to realize that this is the real thing. David has a Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics and is a researcher at Harvard Medical School. He has been working on genetic researches related to aging for many years and is well aware of the scientific advancements in that regards on almost all fronts.


The book starts with a focus on biochemistry and an outline of recent medical achievements in prolonging the lives of other living things along with researches results on human beings. The first chapters are tough to read for non medical readers but it gets better in the following chapters when David outlines his recommendations for everyone on what to do to slow down aging and potentially halt/reverse it. He goes on later in the book into addressing some societal and philosophical concerns on the effects of longer human lifespans on the way we carry on and perceive our lives.


Towards the end, he goes back to his lab at Harvard medical school, mentions many of his colleagues who are working on aging researches at different fronts. Some of whom are prominent scientists and Nobel prize winners. He lists many breakthroughs that happened in recent years and highlights the fact that all the incredible achievements he mentions in this chapter have only happened in one lab, whereas there are many of other labs, researchers and scientists working on tackling this issue all over the world.


I loved that he uses the word “army” where he says that there is an army of thousands of researchers all over the world working on understanding aging and potentially expanding healthy human lifespan to levels we have never imagined before.


The question today is not about “can we defeat aging?”, it is more about “how we do it? ” and “when will it happen?”. It is like having a million pieces jigsaw puzzle with a 100K people trying to put pieces together. We will do it, and hopefully sooner than we expect.


Loving it!

طفح الكيل – انتفضن ونحن خلفكن


أدمت الجريمة البشعة بحق فاطمة أبو عكيلك قلوبنا جميعاً. نساءً ورجالاً. فلا يوجد إنسان عاقل قادر على تقبّل هذه الجريمة. لا مبرر لها. لا يمكن لنا استيعابها. كذلك لا يمكننا أن ننكر البعد الاجتماعي والثقافي الممهد لحصولها. ولا يجوز غض البصر عن استفحال الذكورية في مجتمعنا ووصولها إلى درجة الإجرام.

انتفضت نساء الأردن أخيراً ومعهن كل الحق بالانتفاض. طفح الكيل وقد آن له الأوان أن يطفح ويفيض. الإمعان بالظلم وصل إلى درجات لا تحتمل. المرأة معرّضة اليوم لكافة أنواع التعنيف والإذاء الجسدي واللفظي الذي قد يطال حياتها. وكل ذلك مبرر قانونياً واجتماعياً وثقافيّاً دون أي حماية حقيقية. وصمة العار جاهزة لدمغها. وشرفها هش سهل الخدش حتى دون أن يطال عذريتها. والوصاية الذكورية مطلية بغلاف أبوي زائف.

كنت في كل مرة تطرح مواضيع حقوق المرأة للنقاش. خصوصاً تلك المتعلقة بعدم المساواة في القانون. أتساءل لماذا تسكت المرأة الأردنية عن حقّها؟ أوجه سؤالي إلى تلك التي أخوض معها النقاش مستهجناً الحالة المرضية التي وصل مجتمعنا إليه. لماذا تسكتين؟ لما لا تنتفضي؟ لما لا تصرخي؟

وبعد ذلك أشعر بذنب يطالني لطرح تلك الأسئلة. فأي أبله أنا للتغاضي عن كمية النساء المناضلات اللواتي صرخن وانتفضن ودفعن الثمن خلال عقود من العمل النضالي لكي يبقى في مجتمعاتنا شيئاً من الإنسانية ولمسة من العدالة. أي أبله أنا لأوجه إصبعي نحو النساء متّهماً إياهن بالتقصير في حين نعمل جميعاً، نساء ورجالاً، على ترسيخ ذكورية موروثة وثقافة بالية.

نعم انتقضت النساء. نعم طفح الكيل. ونعم علا صوتهن. فلا يجوز السكوت بعد اليوم. فنحن اليوم أمام استحقاق مدني. أمام قرار انساني بمراجعة قيمنا وثقافتنا وعاداتنا وتقاليدنا وديننا وقوانيننا بمنظار عصري يحمل شيئاً من العدالة الاجتماعية. ويعترف بالمرأة ككيان مستقل شأنها شأن الرجل. مساو له في الحقوق والواجبات.

المرأة الأردنية اليوم غير الأمس. واعية لحقوقها. واعية لقدراتها. وواعية لقوّتها وقدرتها على الاستقلال. وإن علت بعض الأصوات الجاهلة، بترديد اسطوانة الخطاب الذكوري المعتاد، “ليست من عاداتنا أو قيمنا أو ثقافتنا”. فلنا أن نرد عليهم ونقول أنه حان الوقت لتغيير العادات وتبديل القيم وتقليم الثقافة. فالظلم لم يكن أبداً من شيمنا.

انتفضن ونحن خلفكن.

A reward and punishment VR system – imagining the future Black Mirror style


The future might be both, beyond our wildest dreams, and so much familiar where it manifests many of our beliefs and traditions. With the exponential advancement of AI and technology, it would be near impossible to predict what is coming our way.


But understanding the power of human beliefs and imaginations and how persistent it can be, and coupling that with the powers of our future technologies of AI, VR and censoring, let’s imagine the following scenario:


For those who still believe in heaven and in hell, who believe in reward and punishment in a world where aging does no longer exist and death is far more rare. You don’t have to worry!


I have a solution.


We can run a mini experiment and create the world you think is fair and true. To assist the angels on your left and right shoulders, we will create artificial invisible angels, planted on your shoulders to log whatever action you do. They will be ran by an advance AI that can asses every single action, collect data from your body and brain activities, and determine if the action should be logged in your deeds or sins records.


This can start any moment, from the day of your birth, or the day you subscribe to our service. It will also have a time limit. We recommend 100 years. After which, your judgement day will arrive. But don’t worry, we can do it in groups, or patches, so it can feel real, with a real judgment day for all. And we can keep the date a secret that no one knows.


On your judgment day, the AI will measure your balance and how it tips. It will determine if you have been a good person or a bad one. And accordingly, it will channel you to one of our afterlife chambers; the VR chamber of Hell or the VR chamber of Heaven.


In Heaven, you will be seated comfortably in a perfect room and you will delve into an experience of joy that you have never thought of. Your body will be monitored all the time to ensure your safety. Your mind will be constantly induced with happy hormones. And your imagination will be living the Heaven you always dreamt of and longed for. You will not feel time, because there is not time in Heaven.


In Hell, we will burn you “virtually” to atone your sins. You will be tortured to the highest levels your body can endure. We will repeat that constantly, every time till you lose your consciousness, and reset once you wake up again. All in a safe environment, with your body tightened into a comfortable chair and sensors that can guarantee you would never die.
Who is up for this? Add your name in the comments!


– This can either be a Black Mirror episode or a blue print for a sequel for my Heaven on Earth

Joker – a wake up call for social justice


The Joker is in the back of my head as I come today to office. I greet the security guard and the office boy with a smile, and with a part of me that feels sad, reflecting on the emotions of Joaquin Phoenix who knew exactly how to portray the feelings of someone enduring social injustice.


That’s the core message of this strong film. Social injustice that we grew to accept as a natural state of life, embracing the status quo and brushing off the harsh reality of the lives of many people living with us.


And while, enduring the daily struggle of living at the bottom of the social ladder, or the invisible side of it, is a valid reason for someone to develop contempt towards this society, the Joker has been lucky to combine that with a history of abuse and mental illness. A formula that built a character we grew to love and admire at the end.


The film doesn’t glorify villains as some critique claims. In the contrary, it raises an alarm. It is a strong wake up call. It is a call for every single one of us to pay more attention, to be nicer and look beyond our own needs and vanity. The Joker, hasn’t been a villain in this film, not to me, and not even towards the end when his character develops into enjoying killing other people. And to be honest, the minute he shots the first person is a turning point in the film. Not because he pulls the trigger, but the effect of it on him. The empowering look on his face, the liberating feeling and the healing from the psychological pain he endured for so long.


It is not right. I know. But I accept it because it is a film. There is a part of me that can’t handle the sight of psychological struggle of other people. I wish to help and I know that I fall short in many times. But that same part, played on by the film makers, made me cheer to the Joker as he took those lives. Yes, smile. I wanted to see him smiling and clapped when he did. Yes, dance. I loved how he danced and wanted to dance with him.


Be happy. I wanted to see him happy but that didn’t happen. And that is unreasonable to expect at the point he reached. He is broken beyond repair and his actions are no longer to seek justice or take revenge, but more of becoming mad to fit into the craziness of the world he found himself in.
And here, I can’t ignore the connection my mind made between the Joker and Mohamed Bouazizi, the Tunisian street vendor who set himself on fire on 17 December 2010, triggering the Tunisian revolution and the Arab Spring. One might find this film dark and heavy, but looking at our reality and the state of the region since Bouazizi burnt himself, shows us clearly that more than often, reality is darker than fiction.

SI Leader Lab – Going back again after 11 years!


I am going back to Sweden in two weeks. This time participating as a coach in the Swedish Institute new leadership program “SI Leader Lab” which aims to connect gender equality advocates in South Asia, the MENA region and Sweden.

I can’t be more excited to be part of this after 11 years of my participation in the Young Leader Visitors Program, which started in 2008 with the aim of connecting young leaders for positive change. I was selected to be one of around 25 participants at the time from Jordan, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and Sweden. And that was mainly due to my writings on this blog. It was an amazing experience getting to travel to Stockholm, meeting all of those young change makers, who were leaders in their respective communities, getting trained on team building and social media, and build friendships that last for a lifetime.

The beauty of the program lied in the network it built and the connections it paved the ground to. It wasn’t limited to that year, as it continued every year since then, adding more change makers to the network. Some of which I already met and got inspired by their work, but many others whom I am yet to meet.

And this years, it even gets better. The YLVP has morphed into a program that focuses on what I am really passionate about – gender equality. It is also larger, reaching out to young gender advocates in more countries, hosting 60 participants this year from Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Nepal, Pakistan, Palestine, Sri Lanka, Syria, Tunisia, Yemen. And this time, I am going to give back to the program, co-facilitating a public narrative workshop to help these gender advocates develop their stories.

I actually can’t wait to get to know each and every one of the participants and learn about their work and challenges they are facing. It feels like an entirely different generation, but I understand the challenge. I understand how hard it is pushing the gender agenda in this region and around the globe, and I salute any effort that is put into building and strengthening such networks.

The movement is growing in breadth and strengths, and many laws have been changed in the past few years towards equality. Yet, we are no even close. The challenges are still huge, but we will work, each from his place, to make this world a better place to live for all of us.

I am going back this year with a feeling of pride, as I look back to 2008 and know that my passion hasn’t faded out. I am going back with an arsenal of books in my history log. Books that I wrote with the intention to push social boundaries towards more openness, tolerance and acceptance. And others that are yet to come. It makes me feel that I do belong to this network, and earned my spot here.

7 years passed, still a best seller – Aroos Amman (The Bride of Amman)


Yesterday, an old time friend of mine, took a photo for “Aroos Amman” (The Bride of Amman” that shows the book in the best selling section of DNA Lifestyle Store in Al Abdali Mall.

I was happy to receive the photo and rushed to share it on all of my social media channels. The fact that “Aroos Amman” keeps on appearing in best selling lists after 7 years of its release, speaks volume. This is not the first time or place for it to be a best seller, in fact it was one of the top best selling books on Jamalon in 2012, the year it got released. It continuously appears in the best selling books section in the famous Jordanian bookstore “Reader”. It has been a best seller and a “recommended to read” at Virgin megastore for months. The audio version, made it to the most listened books list on storytel and the ebook is part of Abjjad’s all time most read books!

In Virgin Megastore Amman

The book been translated and published to English in 2015, and currently is getting translated into the French language, planned to be released next year.

Jamalon best selling list 2012

It has opened so many door to me, including securing an MA scholarship from the British Council to study in the UK in 2012. Invitation to different conferences and events in global cities from London, to Berlin, Salzburg and Pune

I have always wondered about the reason behind the success of this book. Why it ticks with so many people? It was my first to write, even before doing my MA in Creative Writing and Critical Thinking. It wasn’t perfectly crafted, and critics would point out the simplicity of its language or the shortages of the plot. Yet, it keeps generating strong reactions that surprises me till today, not just from my fellow Jordanians whom I mainly address in the book, but also from Arabs and foreigners from different countries.

For me it was a work of activism and I am more than happy to see it reach such heights. I wanted the voices of my characters to be heard, and they got heard. I wanted to give our youth hope, and for many I did. I remember a gay guy once told me that he keeps the book with him all the time, and place it next to his best when he goes to sleep as he feels protected by having it close by. That’s something I am so proud to hear. I remember a young woman once sending me a long letter stating how empowered she feels after reading the book and promising to stand up for her self and her rights. That’s also something I am so proud of. Even yesterday, after posting the photo of the book in the best selling list, I received a message from a guy who said it is his favorite book ever and that he remembers how he skipped his university classes and stayed home super excited to read it.

رواية عروس عمان بين الكتب الأكثر مبيعا في مكتبة ريدرز
Readers Bookshop

I don’t know what the magic in “Aroos Amman”. Maybe it has to do with giving a voice to a gay man that hasn’t been heard of in our society before, or hearing a Jordanian woman standing up to her body rights and sexuality, or maybe its magnifying our issues of gender and heavy social heritage, and showing how they have been affecting our lives negatively. I always say, I wrote it from my heart, and maybe that’s what made it tick. And I guess, thats what others see in it, like what a friend commented yesterday on the Instagram image, stating that it is successful because it is “honest” and “different”.

Thank you for all of the honest and different people who supported me and supported this book into such success. Hopefully we will seeing it reaching more people and maybe soon we will watch it as a movies on the big screens.. fingers crossed!

London launch for The Bride of Amman