Queen Rania: Extremism is everyone’s battle

Queen Rania with Becky Anderson on CNN

Queen Rania with Becky Anderson on CNN

Queen Rania sums it up in this short interview with Becky Anderson. Extremism has been eating us up for few decades now. It is no longer about our image in the west but more about protecting of what is remaining of our countries and societies. We need all to stand up and think.



How to Change Your Career to a Career You Love

Career Expert Bayt

Career Expert Bayt

Posted originally on Bayt’s blog.

I hated composition assignments at school. I was never good in languages classes like I was good in math or science. When I wrote something down, I used to make sure no one reads it, and when that happened, I would die of embarrassment.

I felt more comfortable with numbers than letters. Numbers didn’t entail self-expression; they didn’t push me out of my comfort zone as a shy kid. I also had an interest in arts. Drawing was my subtle way of self-expression at that age.

Things changed with time.

I studied Computer Science at college as a natural consequence of my scientific interest and the popularity of the field at the time. It wasn’t my first choice though; I wanted to study architecture thinking it would satisfy my interest in both numbers and arts. If you live in Jordan then you must know the Jordanian system of universities’ admission. Despite getting 92.8% in the Tawjihi (Jordanian High School degree), I didn’t meet the requirement of studying Architecture that year (1996), which was set at 95% at the University of Jordan. So Computer Science emerged as a second option, and I found myself searching for an artistic side to that discipline. I found it in the colorful pages of the web. And so, trying to avoid sticking to becoming a programmer, I worked hard to become a web designer, but I also fell short because I had no Graphic Design background. I ended up being a User Interface (UI) developer for many years after that.

I enjoyed the first few years of working as a UI developer. The combination of HTML code snippets with Photoshop slicing and Style Sheets coloring met my interests in logic and design. But it didn’t satisfy me completely. Maybe it had to do with the nature of the business of the company I worked for at the time. There was no emphasize on creativity, the design had a secondary priority, and thus I ended up feeling like I was doing a soulless job. A couple of years down the road, I was desperate to break off and look for something else!

Working online helped me explore my writing and communication skills. As part of my job as a UI developer, I had the internet open to discussing and debating issues that mattered. I used Yahoo Message Boards at the time to debate a TV series I used to love (not telling you which one it was). I became more comfortable in expressing myself with words. I felt that my background in Computer Science helped me in shaping logical arguments. And soon, letters started to appeal to me, and language started to become dearer to my heart than numbers.

I launched my own blog in 2006 and started expressing myself like I never had before. I had so much to say and didn’t shy from that. Language wasn’t my strongest asset, but I made up for that by being genuine and original in the ideas I wanted to communicate. With time, my writing skills improved and so did my way of thinking. Suddenly, it became apparent to me that language is larger than numbers, and that thinking is bigger than logic. Playing with letters became much more fulfilling than playing with numbers, and coming up with an original idea started to make me happier than solving a mathematical equation.

After that, I decided to switch from Web Design into Social Media where I could do more writing and communication than coding and coloring. I was also able to collect my ideas and write my first novel “Aroos Amman” (The Bride of Amman) which witnessed success since it saw the light in 2012. The passion of connecting with people grew within me and I found myself longing to write more and more and shape myself into a fiction writer. I got a scholarship and went back to school. I did an MA in Creative Writing and Critical Thinking at the University of Sussex in the UK and graduated with a Merit.

During the book signing of Aroos Amman

During the book signing of Aroos Amman

(During the signing of my first book, Aroos Amman)

Today, I am waiting for the release of my second book “Janna Ala Al Ard” (Heaven on Earth), a science fiction story that builds on all the things I love: science, philosophy, exploration, language, logic, design, communication, achievement, and creativity.

I guess it came with age. At 36 years old now, I find myself passionate about many different things in life. I have more appetite for exploration and a much bigger arsenal of skills to portray things the way I want them to be.

My tumultuous career taught me that we may not always get exactly what we want, but, with time we learn to broaden our horizon and pick up whatever falls in our paths. We just have to keep on marching.

Zain, a new Jordanian Comedy that’s worth watching

مسلسل زين

مسلسل زين

I am enjoying watching Zain, Saba Mubarak new comedy show each night on Abu Dhabi TV.

I like it in particular because it feels progressive in presenting the female characters. I like that the main character is the bread winner for the family and I like the modern wardrobe of the cast in general, which is closer to what people in Amman dress than we ever have seen in a Jordanian drama.

I like the reflection on Amman’s society by incorporating Egyptian, Syrian and Philippians characters in a very respectful and decent way. The showing of these characters is done very smartly despite the comedy nature of the show. It doesn’t fall into the trap of exaggerating known stereotypes. In the contrary, it breaks those stereotypes in a subtle welcoming way.

The work of Mohammad Hushki, the director, is clear on the characters especially the main one played by Saba Mubarak. This may be a positive thing that distinguishes his work from others and gives it a certain feel.

Wish all the best for the cast. Hope it helps opening the door for the revival of Jordanian drama.

Well done Tima Shamli. Thank you for producing this.

The show plays on Abu Dhabi TV (Al Aula), Sunday to Thursday  (9:00pm, 2:00am, 8:00am, and 3:00pm). Reruns on Abu Dhabi  TV (Drama) on Friday for all weeks (episodes starting 2:00pm).
I hope to see it on Ro’ya TV or any other Jordanian TV channel soon.



We need another Oasis500 but for the food industry

Oasis500 bootcamp

Oasis500 bootcamp

A month ago I read an article in the Metro newspaper here in the UK. The author was trying to get the government’s attention towards the emerging innovation of food concept outlets around the country. I remember one of the main headlines stating clearly something in the lines that the country has more chance of seeing the next Starbucks than the next facebook! In order for that to happen, the author encourages to the government to give a better support for food entrepreneurs. Her main argument is based on the fact that people of this generation are more and more used to the idea of eating outside and the huge opportunity out there to capitalize on this trend.

Thinking back home, I don’t think that the trend is any different. Interesting enough, the food innovation have focused recently on Burger joints that mushroomed around Amman. That doesn’t mean it should stop there. I believe that there is a big room for concept restaurants to carry on different display of local and traditional food.

A few years ago, and building on the success of Maktoob, the first seed investment company for the ICT sector started its operation in Jordan. Oasis 500 helps ICT entrepreneurs in Jordan and the MENA region to realize the potential of their creative ideas and turn them into viable startups. The chairman Osama Fayyad, in the world economic forum two years ago, said that King Abdullah dared him to create another 500 success story aka Maktoob, and he passionately accepted the challenge. To this date, Oasis500 website shows a directory of 73 startup they are supporting, among them names we grew to love and admire such as Jamalon, Abjjad, and Zaytooneh.

While Mr. Fayyad has yet to prove himself adequate for such an enormous mission, I would love some Royal, or maybe better say governmental interest in supporting other kind of entrepreneurship beside the ICT sector. Don’t get me wrong, Oasis is a great idea and it has a great potential, but that doesn’t mean we should stop there. The cloud economy does help improve the ground one but it isn’t sustainable on its own. We need other initiatives that help creating new productive businesses, it may very well be in the services fields since the tourism sector is still dear to us.

It doesn’t have to be Oasis 500, it can be Oasis 50 or 100. A seed investment company that supports the food industry entrepreneurs. We have seen few success stories in the past in Jordan such as Chili House, Che Che, Al Day3a, Al Kal7a, Zalatimo.. etc. Why don’t we support what we have and open the door for many others to emerge and provide another backbone to our economy? The next Pink Berry doesn’t have to be Kuwaiti, and the next Zaatar o Zaait may not be Lebanese.

We have embraced globalism and capitalism with big arms, yet we haven’t figured out how to capitalize on that. We opened our doors for international big names without building an adequate playground to foster our own. Worse than that, we have recently readdressed tenancy laws in favor of killing small businesses who suddenly found themselves out in the cold not able to pay the rent for the space of their businesses!

King Abdullah may have fairly paid  for not listening to the naysayers, but we have paid more because he listened! It is about time to get back the spirit of pre  Arab Spring and the financial crisis. Let’s refocus our compass again towards an economical priority and let’s aid in creating some businesses rather than wasting our energies begging others for money.