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!

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.

Dividing gender based on height? My next project!


I miss blogging. It has been a while since I wrote anything on my blog, and even when I did, it has been more of an announcement or photos without much of written words or ideas or opinions like I used to do back in the days.

Keeping a blogging habit has been challenging in the past few years, and I don’t think that I am ready to overcome this challenge anytime soon, but I feel the urge to write something today and happy to use this platform. And as I have been doing lately, using it as a platform to talk about my writing projects, I feel like pitching the idea of the next novel I am working on, with a working title ‘Khait Hareer’ (A silk thread).

I am not sure how well the title goes with the idea and how well it will be weaved in the storyline. I have actually finished writing 9 chapters already and working on the 10th. It is kind of exciting but challenging, more challenging than writing my previous books as I am trying to imagine a fictional world. I have done this before with ‘Heaven on Earth’, and it was challenging too, but I think it was a bit easier, because in that book I tried to imagine the future, but in the new one, I am trying to imagine a parallel society.

So here is the pitch in simple terms. I am trying to imagine a society where gender is divided based on height, not sex. I know, it might be a tough sell, as not so many people understand the concept of gender and how much it is related to sex. For me, I understand that gender is a social construct, it is a sectioning system that divides people into two categories based on their perceived sexual organs. On top of the sexual division, comes a huge burden of dividing every single human attribute in an attempt to exaggerate the sexual organs distinction and make clear divisions between two types of humans – in our world today we call them men and women.

In a nutshell, we build on a single human characteristic our main human classification. And we divide all of the other thousands of human attributes, that are irrelevant to our sexual organs between the two types of humans we created. It is the most dangerous classification of humans in our history, one that most believe is natural and has always been their in every single human society. A division that clearly over simplifies the sexual organs shape and size spectrum and ignores the power of nature in brining in a wide range of manifestation to every single human attribute.

Sex is not different than height. The sexual organs come in all shapes and sizes. And if we can hold a knife and cut human populations into two sexes based of the state of development of male/female sexual organs, hiding a big portion of human beings that fall under what we call ‘intersex’, then we can use the same knife into cutting human populations into two heights (tall and short people) and hide those of middle height.

And yes, like what we do top our sexual organs distinction or dividing other attributes between two sexes, we can do the same, and divide human attributes based on the height of a person. In my story for instance, tall people will have to be thin and weak, while short ones will be thick, stocky and strong. It is not physical attributes that I divide, but also psychic ones, same like we do men and women. I even outline a dress code, a behavior code and strict gender roles that these tall and short human beings have to adhere too.

It is a very exciting practice trying to imagine how such humans would behave under these constraints. How they build their life and how they define things! There is a lot to explore and I might fell short in bringing up all of the angles such a drastic change might mean to us. It is a challenge that I decided to take, one that I am pleased with its outcome so far.

The most challenging aspect of imagining such society, is the language to use in describing it. I am writing the story in Arabic, and for those familiar with the language, it is pretty much gendered. For Arab speakers, everything has a gender, even unanimated objects. It is either a thing is feminine when it has the ta’ at the end of the word, or is masculine when the ta’ is not there. Yes, we have queer objects, but thats not the rule of the language.

In their world, their language is gendered too, and it is gendered based on height. But inventing such a language is beyond my capacity. I can outline it, and maybe try writing few phrases, but even then, no one would understand it. So I had to come up with a twist for the book, one that I hope will give you an “aha” moment and a smile once you get to it.

Not sure if I succeeded in pitching the idea, but if you got what I was trying to say, please let me know what you think. Try to imagine that society and let me know what comes to your mind. That would help me adding to the story.

New trend of misogynic songs is a reaction to social change


A new genre of arab music appeared recently where male singers remind women how they are suppose to behave with their men; from Mohammed Iskander’s song that asks women not to work and stay homes, to “Si Al Sayyed” song of Tamer Hosni where he claims that as a man he is a superior being and that his wife shouldn’t argue or object him, and now a new release by Rami Sabri with a title “Al Ragel” (The Man) and words asking women to be obedient in order to please their men and be good!

This only popped up in the past few years, where men seem to feel they have the right to be vocal about women behaviour, stating what seems to be a social criticism and disapproval on how modern women are claiming their independence and equal status.

The notion of men being responsible of women is widely spread. And it is not just men who claim this responsibility but also women from all walks of life who rushes to remind their men that they are responsible of them! Even those who are modern and lead a somehow a liberal life. I remember few years back when I blogged about something with some daring sexual content, a man stepped up, he was angry because women might read it! This sense of responsibility, or this sense to guard women and make decisions on their behalf would only help in increasing the gender divide and keeping women in a state of immature adults that constantly need guidance and protection.

It shouldn’t surprise us to see men, beside popular singers, popping up in videos on social media to tell women what to wear and how to behave in public. This sense of superiority is disgusting.

We need a social shift in regards of the perception of women, men should learn to see them as equal partners who are very much capable of making their own decisions and protecting themselves, women also need to step up and stop depending on men and holding them responsible of their well being. Women are full fledged adults, thats how they should be seen, how they should be branded, and how they should be treated if we want a modern mature society.

The silent majority are no longer silent: Dr. Dala’een case


I have been observing the growth of a strong online network of voices in Jordan that champions individual freedoms and human rights. This is a positive indicator that shows a u-turn in public opinion and a stronger passion from what we used to call as “silent majority”. This “silent majority”, with the help of Facebook and social media,  seems to seize being silent anymore, they now stand firm against oppressing traditional voices that has always used the agency of religion and local traditions to hold us back.

We had a good win yesterday when Dr. Dala’een, an ex parliament member and opposition leader was pushed to issue a statement denying the misogynist comments he posted on his Facebook page a week ago attacking the new appointed Minister of Telecommunication, Majd Shawikha. On his page last week he posted a photo for her (most probably taken from her Facebook account) in a night dressing gown. He added a comment saying that in the past such profane scenes had a place in pornographic magazines for perverts to look at, but today these women are appointed to rule against us! He got a few supporter to his post and many likes, but then hours later, the tide change, and angry people started flocking to his page, attacking him for his sleazy comment, and standing up for the minister. A day later, someone started an online petition on change.org, a call for the public attorney to take actions against Dr. Dala’een. The petition gathered 2276 supporter so far. It has triggered some newspaper columnist to address the issue and stand up for Dr. Dala’een. It may also be what prompt him to issue a statement yesterday and claim that it wasn’t him who posted that on Facebook, but a hacker that took over his account.

Whether he is lying or not about the hacker is not the point, we could be nice and give him the benefit of the doubt and believe his story. The point is that Jordanians are forming an organic coalition online that will no longer stand silent for misogyny or discriminative discourse.

Few months ago, the same Jordanians stood up for Kharabeesh, a video content website, for posting a homophobic video for an immature standup comedian calling for burning gay people. The reaction was strong, fast, and organised. People showered Kharabeesh with emails and FB comments and messages, forcing them to issue and apology and delete the video carrying the hate speech from their youtube channel.

In the same line, Jordanians stood up before to both Amjad Qorsha, a religious leader, for his offensive posts against christians. And also Abdul Hadi Raji Al Majali, a popular columnist, for his hate speech against Iraqis in Jordan. Both of them seemed to be tamed these days after witnessing the hard reactions.

One could consider Dr. Dala’een retreat as a win for women and women rights. I see it more of a public statement and endorsement for individual freedoms and human rights at large. With all of the negative aspects that social media brings, this one is a positive welcomed social change that brings hope for a better future.

Happy women’s day!