November 17, 2006

I got promoted, so where's my partitioned office?

Apparently, at our sick and unprofessional work environment, if you don't have a walled or partitioned office, it doesn't matter if you're a manager or not, what's important is to have the latter and then command the blunt acknowledgment and attention usually associated with being one (a manager), and I happen to experience both, being an office-less manager and just recently added another key to my key-chain, having my very own office!

So after a year working for our marketing department, doing geo-marketing research and liaison-work between the technical and marketing departments; I finally went back to my career routes, crude engineering work, were dust, sweat, informal (yet practical) attire & cluttered work spaces among other things are all a token of pride and love of the work in hand, to everyone's expectation, I seem much lively and sport a much more enthusiastic face instead of the lame and pale one while suited inside a cubical.

When I used to be a manager at the technical department, we had some sort of an open-space office policy at the time, were the whole hierarchy of staff set together without any obstacles except for the director/chief of the department, who's walled inside his own partition, so I really never knew how it feel to have your own, not that I never thought of it, but in general I was in favour of open-space offices policy and the positive synergy it trickles throughout the organization, but with the recent change I had, I was assigned with my very own office…

I've been with my current company for two years now, I was the 10th person to join, so I'm fairly old in the organization, and I fairly know everyone around, and everyone knows me as one of them "old" faces around, but really I only knew the extent of how ill treated non-senior staff get until I was walled-in, were you get far more than what you bargained for, as you seem to get some of the respect reserved for those behind partitions instead of it being the tandem of all interactions with all employees!

Although I was a senior manager from day one in the company, I was never treated as such, partially because I never sought such distinction, I view the mere act of baring the responsibilities of a manager as the ultimate reward for being one, but as I was relocated to the office, suddenly the word "Mr." became a prefix to my name, the IT trouble-tickets that aged for a couple of weeks at the help desk were now seen-into promptly, and colleagues who never spent the effort to know me beyond my name are now congratulating me for my new office(or was it my assumed new position, it doesn't matter by now)!!!

What did change? I'm the same smiley and down-to-earth person i always strive to be, I wasn't promoted per-se, just a simple change in capacity that eventually led into having my own office… what a sick sea of deluded mentalities do i work in.

I personally envisage the perfect organization to value each and every employee as its greatest asset, not simply rhetorical slogans but rather in practice, were all of them get equal distribution of benefits and privileges, for everyone to feel being invested in and appreciated beyond any titles and organizational hierarchies, everyone must be rewarded on a transparent scale.

The most destructive of forces in an organization is the negative sentiments induced by feeling unappreciated or unprivileged in comparison to the privileged few who're usually managers closer to the upper management and their side-kicks, forcing one to set his/her mind and expectations to such that will turn him/her to an executive-freak oozing with blunt requests and wasting valuable work time ensuring that his/her business cards are in print hours after being seated in the new post.

For instance, we have a limited underground parking space that fits 40-50 cars depending how tactful we –managers- were, the remainder of the company have to find their spot in the alley ways of the neighborhood behind us, a nuisance task considering the 200 staff competing every day for the scarce lots.

With such a pretext, the underground parking becomes some sort of a privilege that's offered to senior staff, to the point that one of them who lives in a walking distance from the company not to abandon his "privilege" in the parking lot out of courtasy as he feels its his "right"... flippin heck, i'll fire'em right up if it was my call.

But in my utopian vision of the company, I'd pool the parking lot among all employees, perhaps reserving a couple for the top-management and their guests, but otherwise on a first-come-first-serve basis, and what I'll get in return: a positive synergy from having all employees equally "privileged", and those who thrive to come early on time will be rewarded by finding a convenient spot right under their offices and the late one's can endure the pain of finding space in the scorching heat outside.

Back to my private office, I can't say that part of my sick psyche is dripping with ego and happy about it, you must admit that having your office translates into less intrusions and dealing with nuisance interruptions from people whom least of thier concerns is being productive while being paid for his time. But really I'd like to see myself outside of it with my staff, more – platonically- interment and face-to-face.

Investing in one's employees from the bottom of the organizational chart and up while valuing each and every staff member is crucial for a productive and homogeneous workforce and will ultimately change the sick attitudes and perceptions about becoming a manager or taking a senior post, humbleness must be the core of the corporate culture, by understanding that some people's job are to manage others, but it's no different than doing any other job in the team, just like a football team, were you have a captain & a goal-keeper along with 9 others, the former two may have a special role, but they're all part of the team of equal members.

Truly nothing like an open-space and open-door office policies.

Related DCMS reads:

I've been promoted; so where's my laptop?

November 05, 2006

Flashback : Thoughts extravaganza in a Bonfire night

Four years ago while i was still studying at university, i wrote this essay in an online forum i used to post in, I'm reposting it as-is to capture the true essence of it.

little did i know at the time that the thoughts manifested in it will perpetually echo with relevance until today, alas with even wider spread footprint, for we now have the affairs of Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Palestine among others haunting our minds with distress and worrisome.

At the peak of the Israeli assault on Lebanon, Jordanians spent well-over half a million JDs on fireworks on the night of Tawjihi results! Though some may justify shelling huge sums on an individual basis under the premise that people are gay-happy and they want to celebrate (after all, it's better than firing rounds of AKs around, no?), yet the cumulative expenditure is totally unjustified at wartimes.

It'll be another despicable highlight of our culture failure and defeat if the niche of our society decide to celebrate bonfires at our ends, were the unacknowledged resistance is striving to find the money to source firearm, while others are spending the money on recreational fireworks to celebrate others' engaging history

Enjoy the piece

For those who don't know what bonfire night is -as I have only came to know it when I came to England few years back-, it is a night of which people shell out mad sums of money on fireworks, and blast them out all night long in a spectacular display of an urban tradition!
What provoked the following stream of thoughts was not the astonishing and dazzling displays I have witnessed throughout that night...

What triggered it was merely the background sound of that night...

As I walked back from university on a late hour, I was listening to all these fireworks exploding, some where close, some where echoing, some had thunderous explosions, other seemed to have this repetitive pattern of sound that tend to remind me of an automatic assault weapon. Slowly... my hallucinatic mind could not help but to drift in a stream of thoughts, visualising the west bank -and Gaza- in pursuit of capturing the anxiousness my fellow Palestinians live -or die- under... day by day!

The unexpected explosions that you tend to hear every other second did trigger a hint of anxiety, as I forced my self to believe that I was in an anxious situation, trying to capture the moment and have a taste of what its like to live under fire, and it does sound like anything but normal... they say a picture speaks for a thousand words, but tonight it proved the other way around, the continuous fead of news from Palestine could not squeeze a single tear drop... while a Hollywood movie might get many weeping over a fictional love story with a dramatic twist of some sort... Tonight I could not help but to keep my self constrained by the tangling stream of thoughts thrilled by an ever-lasting explosive echoes and sounds

Yet I live in a peaceful and quite town, and during my usual shuttle walk between my house and the university, the worst thing that I might encounter in my linear daily life is a drunk and or drugged-up homeless whom might ask for some change! building up from this situation, and with the help of my imaginative mind, I hardly managed to remind myself of those who live under the siege, how do they feel? I hear the thunderous explosion, with un-dismissible certainty that this explosion was 150 foot high in the air, indeed not worrying about if it was of a close proximity... which is certainly different from being in a situation where you encounter actually occupiers, geared up with M-16s, F-16s and apatches looming in the horizon, and every other explosion you might hear is in the next block, until one day you are in its proximity, yet they lead a normal life... they get married and seem to strive to survive and raise out of ashes time after time!

After a long day at uni., and with this imaginative journey to examine 'how it feels like' to be there, I shall lay down and sleep... to wake up for another English, gray and rainy day... certainly those anxious thoughts should evaporate by then... as for those on the front line back there... Allah Ma3ahum

October 11, 2006

Islamically tuned, Ramadan themed & personalised scam email!

Though I didn't have the endurance exhibited by Bakkouz and his long email skirmish with Amina the orphan and her
Intoxicated-to-death father, however I found this pilot scam email I received yesterday interesting.

Did he/she actually spent some actual human-time on customising such message, or is web-crawlers are now smart enough to relate a name, a theme among other info to the email they hunt!

At any measure, I did reply to him, and he was more direct than Amina by bluntly asking me for my personal details… he wasn't persistent though, he dropped it when I did, Enjoy…

Notice the Subject and the overall general context, things like "I got your contact from an Islamic search on the web when i was searching for who to entrust".

From: AMAD UDDIN> Signed-By:
To: ***************************
Date: Oct 10, 2006 1:13 PM
Subject: From your Brother Amad Uddin To Basem Aggad
Reply | Reply to all | Forward | Print | Add sender to Contacts list | Delete this message | Report phishing | Show original | Message text garbled?
ATTEN:Basem Aggad

Salam Alaykum......

greetings in the name of Allah, the most beneficient, and the most merciful

Dear Brother,

Compliments of the season. I know my letter might come to you as a surprise, but don't be surprise because it’s coming in good faith. I am Mr. Amad Uddin from ZINBABWE. But based in United Arab Emirate U.A.E. with my kid sister Fatima Uddin.

My father and me located to from ZINBABWE to London long time ago, after we where converted to Muslim by my late father's friend who was from United Arab Emirate (DUBAI). After my family welcomed the Islamic religion my country was no longer self for us to stay anymore, due to the Christianity religion over there we where wanted death to be killed by Christens that is why we left to London to stay.

My father was invole in the recent Plane crash in IRAN couple of days ago, when he was flaying from Bander Abbas to Mashhad. before we left to London my father deposited the sum of E28.2m Euros (twenty Eight Million Two Hundred Thousand Euros) With Me-bank International Dubai
( United Arab Emirate). Which he made it know to me as the only son. Part of this fund i mapped out to use for building a Mosque where children of ALLAH will be worshiping, the rest of the money i will use for a very lucrative investment to keep my life going because i can't go back to my country anymore.

My Christian name use to be Michel Andrew before i was converted and since then we have been happy in worshiping the almighty ALLAH our personal savor’s, I got your contact from an Islamic search on the web when i was searching for who to entrust before i saw your contact and decide to tell disclose my situation to you of which i know that by Allah grace things will work out fine for me and you. All i need is your assistance in helping me to retrieve this fund from theMe-bank International Dubai (United Arab Emirate) and have it transferred out side through your account to build this Mosque which my late father told me to do and which has also being my dream. I know i do not have much say in my country any more that is why i want to entrust this transaction in your hands. However, i will make shore i provide all the documents back up we will need for retrieving this fund.

After transferring these funds to your account in your country, we will bring out money for building of Mosque, the rest of the funds you will be in title of 15% shear for assisting me, and 5% will be for any expencies you made on the process of this transaction.Then i will use the rest for an investment in your country.

Finally, i will reside in your country because i will not be welcome in my ZINBABWE as a Muslim.

If you are interested in assisting me. Email me at

I look forwards to hear from you.

Happy Ramadan.

Best Regards.


October 08, 2006

Moslems celebrate their "Lunar food & drama festival" aka Ramadan

Next will be surrounding the Ka'ba with advertising billboards like football stadiums to milk out petty pilgrims, why not?

If it was a matter of dedicating certain delicacies (Qatayif, Samosa …etc) to this season then I wouldn't have given this despicable state of affairs a flying thought, but what we're witnessing here is an outright exploitation of the holy month of fasting with total disregard to the true essence of it.

And mind you, despite my usual rhetoric tone, I'm not enflamed by the fact that the commercial exploitation of Ramadan is on the expense of its Islamic and sentimental values, no… for this only worries those who cohere to the Islamic doctrine on a daily basis, whether off-Ramadan or during the month, in which Ramadan act as a catalyst to do more of the good stuff they usually do.

But for others, it seems fair that during the month of Ramadan, if one feels unconvinced (too young, too hot or too tired) or simply can't be bothered with fasting, then the least that one could do is to refrain from doing so and go about his/her day as business as usual, but this isn't exactly what happens.

What we see before our blatant eyes is the transformation of Ramadan to a total different entity, with nothing left of its Islamic origin or its cultural evolvement, but a mutant commercially exploited month-long celebration driven by greedy corporates and oblivious recipients (that'll be us).

From a more analytical perspective, Ramadan became what it is now from right from the capitalising of two underlying features that engulf the fasting community: hunger and boredom, that's of course what's left for those who blindly practice fasting, others subtly find themselves stricken by those two.

It sounds fair that our heritage have in its luggage allot of dedication for Ramadan along other occasion, some with valid grounds, like serving high energy food and thirst-bashing & nurturing drinks and some merely found out of the blue, no harm in that, every other culture have its fair bit of seasonal food and drinks.

Here in Jordan, Circassian have their Shibs-ibwasta, typically served in winter time (seems like year round back in the Qoqaz though) and Christian minorities serve a special home-baked biscuits during their seasonal occasions, but I'm not sure how many cultures out there have Vimto and contemporary commercial products as a Ramadan household item?

I'm not sure either; if many other cultures allow themselves to be exploited and be manically rushed into a "a pre-Ramadan shopping spree", as if supplies will run out at some point in the near future, to the point that some supermarkets here rationalise the despising of Vimto at the rate of one bottle per shopper!

The amount of advertising spending for fast-moving consumer goods double, especially drinks, they litter the littered billboards with drinks and Ramadan-inspired food, as if to say that the sunset marks the cadence of one's average Ramadanian day… petty really.

I'm not disputing the commercial viability and what used to be a marketing ingenuousness of placing food & beverages products right in the face of hungry folks who are about to have their first meal after a long day! But how ethical is that I ask? Not from an Islamic perspective but rather in terms of the corporate responsibility towards respecting others beliefs and try not to exploit it.

If anything, demand should decrees during Ramadan, work the math out, people should be consuming less since they'll be eating less, how we managed to challenge the laws of supply & demand, I think I have a clue or two.

Then comes the matter of entertainment and TV, cinema, tents & theatrical drama (will its mostly comedy I know), and again I'm not disputing the business sense behind investing heavily on aligning premier stuff for Ramadan TV schedules and line up a number of movie releases and performances especially for this month.

This is a normal continuum of the despicable state of affairs of Arabs & Moslems in general, where the only industry they seem to be "good" at is the entertainment one, if only this accompanies some quality content… but alas, mimic societies are bound to have the cultural contribution of an amphibian frog.

So I have no problem (will I do, but you should know my theme by now) with Ramadan TV specials and all, except with the fact that its dedicated for and named after the month of Ramadan, it sounds utterly awkward and incoherent with the general theme of Ramadan and what it should typically entail and stand for.

The least that can be done is to continue offering the usual stuff without dedicating anything to the month! Its very disrespectful to those who adhere to the month and try to observe it thoroughly.

I humbly think that Moslems and non-Moslems alike (living in Moslem societies), the fasting and the can't-be-bothered-with-fasting folks alike, we should all take a strong stand against all greedy companies and supermarkets that try to milk us out during this holy month and gradually diminishing its genuinely distinct essence.

A boycott movement if you like, against every exploitation of the month of Ramadan, in sheer respect for what Ramadan stands for and what it means to those who try to sincerely observe it, and happy Lunar food & festival everyone, and Ramadan Kareem to the observing few.

To the interested few, my blog site feed changed

My avid readers, the don't-call-me-Sheikh site feed address was changed



kindly amend your aggregators accordingly.

A tip to all those who migrated to Blogger beta and are using the new templates, your old site feeds will eventually disappear, circulate the new one accordingly.

September 13, 2006

Getting techy with it

Blogger platform help. How can I upload AND place a JPEG banner instead of the one in the template? Please help, it'll be rewarding, rewarding I tell you (visually at least)

September 06, 2006

Batelco Jordan CEO joins XPress

Once again, another episode in the Jordanian telecommunication sector, notorious for its plentiful surprises, Marwan Juma an old-school figure in the IT & telecommunication scene in Jordan resigned from Batelco and joined the ranks of XPress as the CEO, taking over from Mr. Suleiman Ma'ani whose been the latter's CEO since its establishment back in late 2002.

The drastic changes in XPress is taking place after a new shareholder beefed up XPress's capital and became the managing shareholder, which usually entails sweeping management changes.

Good luck to both men wherever they settle for they both hold high credentials, bright track record and a credible reputation.

I have worked during Mr. Maani's reign, and beside stating his charismatic personality and thorough leadership felt through the organization, Mr.Maani was loved (or at least respected) by most employees even after he left, i have not encountered a single negative resentment or hard feeling felt by any of his x-employees, even by those who think (from a professional perspective) that they were let down by XPress as a hall.

As for XPress, I hope that along with such changes, there'll be some serious revision of their marketing strategy, for they do offer a genuine addition to the Jordanian telecom sector with their services but they seem to be badly communicated in the market place.

Read more here:

Al-Rai report (Arabic)
Addustour (Arabic)
Al-Ghad (Arabic) with really more info than the official Batelco statement.

September 05, 2006

A glitch in the Matrix? The windowless houses of Riyadh

The photos speaks for themselves, but mind the awkward angles they're taken at, they were shot in a drive-by fashion as I thought to myself that those who put too much effort "covering" up their houses will probably be really pissed-off if they found someone –a foreigner especially- taking photos of the very entity they're "covering" away from voyeuristic intruders!

Let's start with this one, the owner of this house decided to have some windows but with an angle to cut any line of sight! people inside probably suffer from a stiff knick when looking outside the window.

Your average apartment building comes in two window fitting flavours to fit your lifestyle: noisy "window" air-conditioning or a blinded window.

The guy decided to artistically & permanently place a metal sheet in front of the windows adjacent to the main street.

No need for air-flow, single-sided darkened windows.

To be fair, this is how the majority of houses have their windows done, fair enough I assume!

This is from the inside of an apartment building, to come and think about it, methinks the reasoning behind such practice is not to detour nosy neighbours but actually to prevent whose inside from looking outside!

At least this one is different, L-shaped, very very original, remember these are not see-through glass, they're all darkened or "امبزر".

A wall was porpously constructed to hide away the window and block any chances of sight in either direction.

This is another typical in-the-box boxed house.

The little window is for the toilet probably.

Keep the window arches to maintain the architectural visual harmony (if such thing exist) probably; but do with glass! I swear I didn't touch any of the photos with Photoshop, this is sheer reality.

Another creative use of metal sheets in shading one's windows.

One must be fair, this villa have a huge lobby area to the right side covered out with glass, but the rest of the house (especially the sleeping & living quarters) is hidden away as it seems.

Another typical setup, notice the metal shading to the left, this is very common in between most adjacent houses.

Had a change of heart? This one inspired the "glitch in the Matrix" title, from the trap scene when the Machines changed the attributes of a building in order for it not to have any exists (doors, windows ..etc) causing a "glitch" Dejavu.

So… a visual account of a strange phenomenon here in Riyadh, I used to find the huge concrete fences around house to be repelling, but these are nothing compared to being stuck in one of them houses for days & days without a hint of sun shine or allowing a breathe fresh air to replace the AC-intoxicated & rotten air in the house (if you don't mind the desert dust).

August 24, 2006

Scandal at MobileCom: 1,000 car winners due to a fault!

This piece of news & pictures came from an insider, apparently hundreds of MobileCom customers who subscribed to some car competition gathered in front of MobileCom HQ sometime ago to claim their car after receiving a SMS message from MobileCom congratulating them on winning a promoted car.

The insider said that an employee at the marketing department sent the message to some 1,000 customers (who subscribed to the competition earlier on) by mistake while he was testing the winning SMS message that was suppose to be sent to the lucky winner, and those who received it gathered spontaneously the next morning at MobileCom HQ to collect their car!

Obviously the ground was fertile for speculations to thrive that Fastlink had something to do with in light of the incidents earlier, but putting this aside, i can only imagine the short ecstatic thrill of the winning customers and the sheer disappointment they felt the next day as they saw many of their likes claiming the very same bounty and slowly figuring out that there seem to be a mistake of some sort, a dream too good to be true for many.

The insider also told me that one of the winners was demanding not only the car, but also compensation for the Kunafah he distributed promptly after he received the message! Having said that, i wonder how this will be resolved, and if there will be some sort of compensation if any?!

If i was in charge over there, I'd be creative and exploit the episode by actually giving away 1,000 cars to absorb the bad publicity and boost some proactive synergy out of it by showing some surprising commitment and absorption of the situation!

Not necessarily giving away the promoted car which i think was a mid-range Cadillac, but perhaps some branded Cherry or something in that order, but i don't think MobileCom is brave enough or can even fund such a radical step.

At any measure, here are some pictures to go with the piece above, i just hope my insider is not an imaginative daydreamer who made this whole thing up, i didn't have tie to authnticate but MobileCom already pulled the car promo from its website!

August 20, 2006

"No body queues in Jordan"; but I do!

During a spontaneously arranged trip I had with my wife (Yes, I got married few weeks back) to Aqaba, I had an unfortunate incident at the Movenpick hotel while I was checking-out from it, the incident reminded me of how “third-world”* we can be right in the midst of our thinking rather than our surrounding.

A quick back rounder, this leg of the trip was never planned, my wife and I were roaming all over southern Jordan, as we reached rum and spent the day cruising over there, we decided that we were too tired to drive back to Wadi Mosa and headed down to Aqaba, at this point, we were looking a bit rusty & showered with sand.

We spent the night over at the hotel, showered and cleaned up, it was extremely busy, I think they were running at 99% occupancy.

Next day at the reception desk, I stood there waiting for my turn to check-out with my rusty looking beard, wearing army-like shirt and cargo pants and a wide tourist hat my wife grabbed from Petra, minus the sand and the sweaty smell.

A group of mothers and their kids were checking-in, it took the hotel personnel around 15 minutes to get them settled in, I was patiently waiting there, chit-chatting with my wife, going about my usual habit of eyeing people around, trying to figure out where are they from, what are they doing here & if there’s anything unusual about them.

Enter the apparently half-Jordanian-half English-guy (have he not spoken, I wouldn’t have figured out this about him), he stood at an uncomfortable distance between me and the desk I was waiting my turn at, with a bit of anxiousness as he seemed to wanted to check-out from the busy hotel like I did.

I did not mind the guy at start, he was not aggressive with his distance from the desk, but he seemed a bit shy of it, as if he knew he was about to do something that he’s not accustomed to, I didn’t make any pre-emptive moves like blocking his way or nicely asking him to step into the queue (comprised of myself behind the loud mothers & their annoyingly trespassing kids), under the assumption that the lad seems to be from somewhere were people tend to queue naturally at busy junctures.

The mothers and their kids left the check-in desk, the guy made his move & spoke in an i-speak-it-fluently-but-I-prefer-not-to heavy Arabic that he want to check out, the rude hotel attendant smiled in his face (one could argue because of his handsome Caucasian looks) and told him just a minute please. I turned to the guy and nicely told him in Arabic that he took my turn and that I was waiting behind the group.

The guy ignored me first time around as he waited for the attendant to return. So I repeated my request in English and he answered me without looking to me that he is “at a hurry and he have a large group”, now I had it… “listen ya Mr. Busy with a big group, I came here and lined myself in a queue, you better stand in the line too”.

The attendant came and started processing his check-out, I reiterated that I came there before him, and with a poker face she said “but it’s not a problem”, I told her “no it is a problem, this is disrespectful to me and she should respect the line in front of her”, upon my challenge she put aside his credit card and papers & started processing mine without even an apology.

I looked back at the guy and spoke to him in English, now I have his attention as it seems, and tried to understand why he acted in such a way, I wish I didn’t do that, I wish I stood there quietly, left him full of himself and his blunt feelings of superiority thinking of me and our country the way he did, for he answered me in a very arrogant manner:

“Listen, here in Jordan there are no queues, back in England people queue, but here they don’t, I did what everyone here is doing, utter chaos”

I swear by the one who raised the seven heavens with no pillars that I was infuriated to the point that I was going to grab him by the head and smack his forehead against the wall for the offensive gibberish he uttered.

“No my friend" i replied "people do queue over here, I’m queuing as I speak, you on the other hand, choose to ignore the queue & jump it while feeling comfortable of being uncivilized because you are not in England”…

He apologetically tried to explain his position but to no avail, I kept reiterating that he jumped the queue and that there was no excuse for that and not to mention how insulting it was to blame it on “being in Jordan”…

I left the scene feeling victorious but with a bit of disgust, first because of the blunt reception attendant who unprofessionally attended the good looking Euro guy who just skipped the line and passed on the rusty-looking “sheikh” thinking to herself that it’s “not a problem”.

Second because of the mentality of the guy who seemed to be from a well-educated & well-off background that should have salvaged him from being at fault of circumstantial uncivilized misconduct.

* I typically do not entertain such imposed terminology, but unfortunately I couldn’t find a better descriptive word that captures the meaning deceivingly embedded in such terms.

August 16, 2006

Fence Your Farm: Jordan’s first Guerrilla marketing campaign

Chances are that you have already spotted at least 3 to 4 of the intrusive “لتشيك مزارعكم” graffiti littered all over Amman and rumored to have even reached Irbid.

Every single person I asked if he/she knew someone who could basically “fence my farm” failed not to refer me to a number they think they saw scribbled somewhere near! Think of repetitive subliminal message engraving.

Brand recognition is not a hard Endeavour after all, I feel sorry for the millions corporates burn on selecting a brand name, designing a logo & toning a funny/catchy colour scheme –think Umniah- while all it take is a dozen of black spray paints, cheap labor or a bunch of enthusiastically bored kids, a subtle disobey of the law and disregard to public taste.

I doubt that the service is in great demand, as I can hardly imagine many owning farms in the first place for them to need to "fence"! At least not in Amman and its urban areas, but now you know that whenever you fancy fencing your farm or garden, you have a number handy scribbled at a nearby wall.

What is more interesting is that now there seem to be even copycats to the original idea! I wish this doesn’t spark a heated competition, or otherwise we’ll end up with even more urban distortion from such nuisance.

Below is a snippets of the graffitis I managed to capture with my camera, if you spotted more of these, please send them to me with a tag of its locatoin at basem dot aggad at gmail dot com and I’ll keep adding them up here, perhaps we can document this "phenomena".

Dahyit Al-Hussien


Dheir Ghbar


Al-Bayadir COPYCAT


Tla' Al-Ali

Marj Al-Hamam

July 09, 2006

Blog wars, now is it?

A comment spammer(s) managed to lure me into clicking on what apparently seems to be yet another new Jordanian aggregator.

What seemed wrong right from the start was the statement made under the coming-soon banner, which clearly drives off all those who are already registered with another existing Jordanian aggregator!

Unless the creators of the two sites were fuming foes, I see no reason why the new site should be blunt in stating the above!

Better still, they could've been subtle about it and simply dismiss any applicants who are listed else where to avoid the bad karma and be more inclusive at face-value.

I must admit however, being listed on a credible aggregator (or gracious fellow bloggers rolls) is an important milestone.

If it wasn’t for Allah’s will and the good bunch behind the planet; I wouldn’t have had half the exposure I’m getting now, not that I know how many people visit my blog, but I like to think there are significant few to say the least.

I once stumbled upon a major Palestinian blogs aggregator, and found many JP blogs listed over there, not that I have an issue with it, but it got me thinking if it really matters? Does submitting my blog to another aggregator will do me any more good?

A bit of an unsolicited public advise to the folks behind the new site:

You're not offering anything new! You have JP incubating most of the "blogs" you're targeting, toot is hand-picking the good stuff (as they claim) and apparently they’re good at it, dwwen, tadween, dewanji and all other spelling variants are… will, I’m not sure what they are doing, but being just another "aggregator" will be self-defeating in a crowded market place.

Update: It seems the same people are behind both sides, but I still think they should get rid of the statement.

June 28, 2006

They met before we did

When my Aunt (my father's sister) met my fiancée's grandmother (her father's mother) for the first time during our engagement "party", there was an elusive sense of familiarity between them that was thrusting through both minds.

They both went home & started scratching their heads to aggregate their rusty memories with the underlying question; "Where do I know this woman from?"

My aunt had an advantage that all her old photos where archived neatly in albums by her daughter, (i think) corresponding to probable consecutive dates.

So she started flicking through the photos relentlessly, imagine the challenge: matching a decades-old face with what’s left of it today after she aged!

Despite the fact that my fiancée's grandmother is a distinctly looking reddish brunette (is that the word?), she's even nicknamed (by her self) " تيتا الحمرا " (The red Grandma).

My aunt search came to an end when she found the picture that captured herself, Grandma & another Lebanese woman during a social gathering sat on Sofa at my Aunt's old house in Al-Muhajirin old district of Amman.

She phoned me up oozing with excitement, telling me that she now remembers my fiancée’s grandma, though they only had a single encounter with each other (at which the picture was taken back in the fifties), they both left a deep impact upon each other that only needed a little catalyst for it to surface onto the present.

My fiancée & I bought a frame in which we placed a duplicate of the picture, and we presented it to grandma, it goes without saying that this made her day, being the person she is who's obsessed with old photos and the memories it bears!

The trigger was powerful enough for her to vividly remember my aunt the photo & the event itself; to such details as to the colour of the psychedelic-looking sofa they were setting on, the story behind the light jacket (that belonged to my Aunt) she was wearing “for the purpose of the photo only” (to cover her bare arms), the occasion at which the picture was taken at and a quick biography of the Lebanese woman who was also in the picture... That was amusingly entertaining.

Further, she mentioned that at the same gathering, my late father’s x-wife was present as a little kid, who was also a good friend of my father-in-law as they used to play together when they were young!

The astonishment from such junctures in our social fabric; can never wear-off! You’ll always be dazzled by how people are related or know each other.

On a side note, I hate pictures; I literally hate to document memories by taking pictures that "captures" them, I like my memories crudely raw & floating in my mind the way I want to remember them!

If they were worth remembering, they'll probably stick (whether good or bad), I hate the surrealistic surge that photos brings to my consciousness with an overwhelming force.

I don't recall staring at any of my late father's photos for more than few seconds ever since he passed away! It just sounds unnatural really when compared to say, how aroma trigger certain memories, or the sight of someone who looks awfully familiar to a dead relative.

June 27, 2006

Do you know Wonho?

Leave a short comment if you do!

I’ve known Wonho for almost 8 years now & he’s a good friend of mine. Beside his socially engaging personality, multi-talented nature & (sort of) charming-at-first-encounter charisma; the guy is eccentrically different than "us".

The late king in his famous saying “من شتى المنابت و الأصول” (From all routes & origins) was inspiringly broad enough to include his family as a Jordanian one indeed! How frequently do you get to be acquainted with a Jordanian guy from a Korean origin who lived among us all his life & commands Arabic probably better than many of us!

A tribute to the Chung family in Jordan & a little “experiment” on the side… please make it a success

June 25, 2006

A good blog entry & an even better comment

Qwaider from the Memories Document blog has put together a very interesting piece, which I obviously didn’t agree with, so I wrote a comment which is worth a dedicated blog entry of its own.

Links: The entry & the comment (in case you’re more interested in what I had to say)

Shameless egoistic self promotion? Indeed…

June 18, 2006

An anomalous divine intervention: America vs. Italy!

“عدالة السماء” (heaven’s mercy/justice) apparently took revenge last night for the hundred of thousands of massacred Iraqis & Afghanis killed by US forces while fighting terrorism (and as a bonus: bringing them justice while at it), along with the chronic oppression of Palestinians that was only made feasible by the American support of the Israeli apartheid!

I despicably hate America’s guts (not its people); I oppose its invasion of Iraq, & the poking of its reddish nose in everyone’s business. But I must admit that I couldn’t but help siding with whoever team the American team was playing against, I know it’s just sport & not politics, but I just couldn’t swallow it. (Beside who ever heard of an American football -soccer- league as famous as the NBA?)

But would I go to the extent to be a God’s spokesman & claim that the two red cards & the canceled goal were part of God’s wrath against American atrocities around the world? I wouldn’t dare doing so...

But it seems the commentator of the ART exclusive airing of the match thought so, he rhetorically screamed “يا لعدالة السماء” as the fond-with-red-cards referee waived the 2nd card during the match (kicking out the first american player).

For a split second there; I was rather amused by the whole thing, but as the 3rd red card was waived (kicking out the 2nd american player) & the 2nd American goal was canceled, the commentator reiterated that he couldn’t help but view this as a vengeance against America’s foreign policy! He interrupted my blatant sense of entertaining joy out of the American team’s misfortune!

Is that so? Why did God allow the American team to make it to the world cup finals in the first place (an achievement on its own even if suffering an 8 to nil defeat like another supposedly a Godly loved country), huh smart commentator?

Why wouldn’t God take revenge by weeping off a whole battalion in the middle of the desert in broad daylight or a couple of them super carriers cruising the gulf? Why choose an almost politics-free football game & not some skirmishes on the frontlines?

I’m also reminded of the fallacy in the proposition of those who found it in themselves to claim that Katrina was God’s answer to America, little did they appreciate the human tragedy in it, or the difference between the ill-fate of fellow humans & the arrogance, deficiency & failure of the government ruling them who couldn’t deal with the crisis (something worth cheering upon).

The fatalist mindset we’ve been oriented with throughout our lives is just incredible, we seek easy victories achieved by others (including non-deserved divine interventions) to heal the wounds of the utter loss we’re solely (as people & not governments) responsible of.

God may well be capable of humiliating an American team during a worldwide event, or even soak America up to its chest with floods & “natural” disasters, and frankly he is capable of doing so, he is the almighty, the sustainer of the universe, but why ridicule our creed in him to merely serve a momentous ecstasy out of mocking our enemy’s misfortune that has nothing to do with the very struggle we have against them?

For some reason (I wasn’t born back then) the scene of the kidnapping of the Israeli Olympic team during the 70s came to mind, yes; the righteously rebellious Palestinians had every right there is to bring the world’s attention to their injustice as it was slowly slipping out of the world’s consciousness & into the ancient-history injustice category that sounds ludicrous to be discussed in contemporary terms.

But the targets were civilians, and not the type of soldiers-on-standby civilians living (occupying?) Palestine as we speak, and the arena they were targeted in was of a civilian nature, I think if one choose to take the Olympics or any internationally-observed sporting activity as a retaliation front, then the game should be played otherwise: lobbying to have Palestine listed as a participating nationality (before the Oslo accords), decide to take part (after being listed) & work hard enough to humiliatingly defeat the Israeli team with pure sportsmanship! or better still, boycotting the event that the Israeli teams are taking part in altogether.

I personally would opt for the latter; I think despite official international endorsement of the Israeli state, non-political events should still recognize the oppression of the people in a politically neutral basis, under the premise that the Palestinian cause is just & humane even before being politicized. But that’s off the subject.

Personally, I only watch the world cup matches while exercising at the gym, I occasionally find myself purposely watching a football match (it must be potentially a really really good game that include mainstream-ishly recognized as good teams), but I’ll definitely not watch the American team in play again, because I don’t want the blatant part of me to have even the tiniest of American-demise midgets out of an insignificant event…

I’d rather flick the channel, watch some news of the Iraqi or afghani resistance "teams" showing their own type of red cards that harvests American mercenaries occupying their sovereign states with the “real” aid & blessing of an ever so merciful & just God.

June 12, 2006

Wondering Abdullah:

check your mail!

June 06, 2006

Did I tell you about Adam?

Perhaps one of the most eccentric acquaintances I ever made with anyone was my omni encounter with a young Canadian guy named Adam, our mutual friend (Maher) introduced me to him when he came to reside in Jordan working as a pilot for a newly established charter airliner.

Beyond the hype that surrounded his death, the portraits in glossy English magazines & the instantaneous mourning of the circle of people he was surrounded with (with few exceptions of the sincere few), allow me tell the story of Adam, the one that my humble self was subtly part of, yet its profound effect upon me, still trickles down to the very essence of my consciousness!

The gathering took place at Adam’s home in late spring’04, it was a very interestingly located classic old-Ammani style house opposite the books@cafe, vividly over looking downtown, and because it was a purposely arranged gathering, there was an uncomfortable sense of what’s-next? to it at start, but the easy-going & engaging charisma of Adam overcame this stall.

Wanderer Adam was seeking answers or perhaps directions; he had far too many unanswered (or unsatisfyingly answered) questions about existence, life & so on, the typical set of things you’ll frequently dwell upon if you reflect upon yourself and the life you’re leading (or being dragged all along in it).

We conversed in a very relaxed manner, beyond any characteristics you may attribute to the fact that I’m an adherent of Islam & he was closer to agnosticism at the time.

The discussion was left with loose ends, no prevailing thoughts or opinions, just a civilized exchange of thoughts... EDITED*

Days went by, and I never heard of the guy again, until a couple of months later, when I called my friends back home around Eid-Al-Fitr time the following Ramadan of Autumn'04, when they informed me of his death, which happened when his airplane crashed during an air-show (I think it was a rehearsal) at Wadi Rum the first day of Eid…

That piece of news was momentous on its own, the inevitable reoccurrence of death never fails to overwhelmingly strike me even when I'm not acquainted with the deceased, but that was not the only piece of news I was told, my friends informed me that Adam embraced Islam during Ramadan… May Allah rest him in piece & have mercy upon us!

A Few days later, Maher called me and told me about the encounter he had with the Shiekh who led the funeral prayer at Ibad-Al-Rahman mosque in Sweifieh, who asked about the identity of the deceased, he was told it’s Adam, he was astonished & reiterated that this new convert joined him throughout Ramadan in Taraweeh prayers (the prolonged Ramadan-exclusive optional prayer after Isha)!

Please understand that I’m not trying to promote Islam here blunt manner, despite the fact that the story itself is profoundly influential, yet if one can contemplate the human story line, in which a guy from a distant land, travels halfway across the world to a tiny foreign land, whilst having lived the bulk of his life either adhering to a certain axiom or wondering (for the most part) about his existence & the truth beyond matter & sincerely attempting to give meaning to his livelihood!

And then, far away from where he considered home, he acquaints himself with a new religion, a way of life or a philosophy (whatever floats your boat; “open-minded” claimants) and he embraces & practices it for the rest of the few days remaining in his life!

It was an undisputed manifestation of the prophet Moh’d -pbuh- hadith:

إن أحدكم يُجمع خلقُه في بطن أمه أربعين يوماً نطفة، ثم يكون علقة مثل ذلك، ثم يكون مضغة مثل ذلك، ثم يرسل إليه الملك فينفخ فيه الروح، ويؤمر بأربع كلمات: بكتب رزقه، وأجله، وعمله، وشقي أم سعيد، فو الذي لا إله غيره! إن أحدكم ليعمل بعمل أهل الجنة حتى ما يكون بينه وبينها إلا ذراع، فيسبقُ عليه الكتاب فيعمل بعمل أهل النار فيدخلها، وإن أحدكم ليعمل بعمل أهل النار حتى ما يكون بينه وبينها إلا ذراع فيسبق عليه الكتاب فيعمل بعمل أهل الجنة فيدخلها

Call me mystically emotional, but I shiver when I think of Adam & this hadith at the same time.

I’m not sure if his parents knew of the conviction he carried with him to the afterlife... EDITED*in order to bury him at a Moslem cemetery observing the Islamic rituals as he would’ve deserved after his body was sent back to Canada.

At any measure, this was not the average numb existence of your average person! This was not onw of your average hyped up converts stories that are usually told rhetorically! It was simply the story of Adam… and from my humble perspective, it was The story of Adam: the one day friend, the one month Moslem and the martyr. نحسبه عند الله كذلك

* EDITED : Edited on the 10th of June upon the suggestion of reader Lamer, thank you.

May 03, 2006

The man-made maid dilemma

Following the topic led by a number of entries about the maids (domestic workers, huh?) in Jordan, methinks that being sympathetic towards those we hire to work for us in our homes is rather a flawed approach to a circumstantially unique issue; what’s needed is a degree of empathy, beside the social aspect of the issue!

In my case, our house back home is rather large, and I must confess we had two maids at one point, all of my 2 married sisters & sister in-law have maids too, though their household is comprised of their non-working selves, their husbands & 1 to 2 loud & demanding kids living in a 200sqm apartment (at best)! A typical well-off family setup, my fiancée’s sister also has a similar situation!

Being sick-off & fundamentally opposed to the excessive dependency on maids, I started the discussion with my fiancée at an early stage to establish a provisional agreement upon which I can keep poking her with once we’re married! Perhaps not; but I’ll use it to negotiate my way out of it when I’m cornered with the possible demand of hiring a maid…

The thrust of my premise & opposition stems from the fact that the size of the household of my sisters does not require the hiring of a live-in maid, neither their age or their health condition, as a matter of fact, the maids they hire are either their age or older, probably has left behind kids of the age of my nephews & nieces… at best, a per-hour hiring of a maid ONCE needed seems more sensible!

The problem with such proposition is that you get instantaneously hit with the heavy brick of “If you think it’s THAT easy, why don’t you do it for yourself?”, and to my "feminist" naysayer readers; I plead for a hint of a benefit of doubt here…

The other premise I argue my case with is the fact that when a maid is available –typically- 16 hours a day increases our dependency upon her service, intriguing laziness, and lack of intuition in house-keeping and swarms of other deficiencies, not to mention the cultural, linguistic & general negative influence over the kids & the household in general!

No I’m not xenophobic-ally worried that my kids will be deluded & start carrying a cross or worshiping Jesus –peace & blessing upon him- or rub a deformed golden elephant statue every morning for luck! Rather, I’m worried that my kids would fall into the comfortable feelings of superiority over a consistent observation of maids coming from certain backgrounds, among other issues...

It took me a 4-year solo stretch living on my own & 6 month washing dishes at a restaurant while studying abroad to appreciate & understand the very household demanding necessities that I’ve took for granted the whole of my life! statements like “Leave the dishes, SHE will take care of them”, “Never mind the untidy living room, SHE went out to walk the dog & SHE’ll tide it up once SHE’s back” or “Oh, I’m late to work, never mind turning the bed, SHE’ll take care of it” creeps a fit into my knick.

And my closing paradigm is rather economical, as I don’t understand how a country with a per capita GDP as low as $4k is capable of paying (on average) $120 monthly for over 50 something thousand maids coming from a country –Philippines- with a higher per capita GDP (ok, slightly higher)! Probably the math works out the same way we ended up with 10 H2 Hummer vehicles for every 1000sqm of Amman costing JD14 to travel for 100km distance (the per litter cost for premium unleaded is JD0.6 & the H2 mileage is 22litters per 100km, fire-up Google & get your calc. out if you find me unworthy of your trust)

On a lighter note, I utterly demise the hierarchy of the hiring process which is based on prestige in essence (and hence the pay they get): Who decided that the Iraqi widowed maid is better than the dark-skinned young woman from Ghour? Who decided that an Indonesian maid is better than the Iraqi widow? Who decided that Chandra & her sisters are better than their Indonesian counterparts? Flippin heck… who decided that their Filipino counterparts are more hardworking & prestigious?

Oh, with the hurl of exceptions of Moslem Filipinos who are mostly dump & will probably churn at an early point, along with the niche Egyptian couple (a guard & his wife) being a spot-on preference of differentiation! That’s infuriating& out-righting pathetic…

Now, despite a (believe it or not understandingly) probable disposition with regard my humble self being not so feminine-friendly, yet I’m still a firm believer in the distribution of roles between the –equal in rights- men & women of society, where in the majority of typical families, the man is a provider while the woman is a sustainer, the man provides a living to the family, while the woman makes this living possible!

Why should a woman leave her home and kids to work in order to afford a maid that will fill in for her where she is mostly needed? I’d like to emphasize on the use of the term “needed” as opposed to being obliged or required to; for this distribution of roles stems from an intrinsic (and I sincerely believe: instinctual) understanding of the capacity of being a wife & a mother!

Why should the whole family suddenly become so dependent on the service offered by the maid or even the –mostly- helpless housewife or the dozen of sisters, while each and every member of the household should take care of his or her bit and contribute towards the general welfare of it!

Obviously, I understand the need of a maid for a larger households, like having a 400+ sqm home, with half dozen or more kids, I can understand the need for a maid with an elderly living alone, I understand the need of a helping hand with a young woman whose either pregnant or recently gave birth, so on & so forth…


So you hired a maid, huh? Obviously you shouldn’t treat them as slaves, common sense one might think, yet a good chunk of our oblivious society take such things for granted & end up treating their maids as such!

All that’s needed is a principle understanding of the contractual obligation between both parties, you hire a woman regardless of the circumstances that led her to taking such job, you pay her fairly, give her the agreed upon leaves (be it the weekly, monthly or bi-annually) & don’t force her to work over hours.

Along with the essential good manners & no-brainers tactfulness of recognizing that she also may suffer from a crippling fatigue after a Jordanian family feast or gathering even if she was being paid to do the job she’s doing at such occassion(s).

On the other hand, the maid should understand that she’s not being done a favor or being subject to a charity pay camouflaged in a form being paid for a job! it might not be the best job in the world, but it’s her reality; a cumbersome job that provides the money needed to support the very family she left behind.

Now this was strictly business talk, and that’s too crude and does not address the uniqueness & intimacy (in the family sense of it) of the situation, therefore the family who decide to hire a maid should acknowledge the fact that the woman they hired did actually leave her house to serve in another thousand of miles away…

No, that doesn’t mean to be arrogantly be sympathetic or pampering her with insincerety, it means that the environment where she works at should be capacitating:

Ideally, it should feel like her second home, for her to feel considered as part of the family (for she is), as she wakes up wit them, live with them, eat with them (yes on the same table & at the same time while the food is hot) & essentially being allocated a decent & acceptable place to sleep (the washing machine room is not a sleeping quarter) while she carry out her due diligence!

All that is needed is a level of empathy (I can’t emphasize more on the essential difference between it & sympathy) and understanding! Rubbing a JD10 note in her face on Christmas or Krishna’s anniversary wouldn’t cut it as being nice! It’s the general attitude & overall good-mannered treatment that counts and should be widely recognized as important.

Finally, if you’re a non-working elitist mother who's out'n'about doing her nails at Perfect-nail (they should start paying me for over mentioning them) or the hair at TONY&GUY while the entourage of specialty maids are taking care of the dog, the kids & the house… (respectively) I'm inclined to speak of your likes viciously, yet the more articulate & well-spoken “foreigner” among us had it better...

April 24, 2006

Guest Entry: My fiancée’s reaction over the latest “uncovering” of Hamas activity in Jordan

Last Wednesday, my fiancée called me up; utterly irritated by some segregating gibberish she heard over the radio "البث المباشر" on her way to the university, folks were speaking of how “we” helped the Iraqis & Palestinians and this is how “they” pay "us" back by terrorizing “us”!

She wrote the following piece and in my unbiased –could it be?- humble opinion, I think it’s crude & cordially sincere:

قالوا صباحا في الأذاعة أنهم لم و لن يهزيمونا! لا صواريخ, لا متفجرات ولا حتى مؤامرات, لا ولا ولا،،، 0

قالوا أنهم (من هم أصلا؟ و ما هدفهم؟) لم و لن يستطيعوا زعزعة أمن الأردن المستقر الباقي الحبيب،،، 0

و قالوا أنهم (من هم؟) لم و لن يستطيعوا تدمير أحلامنا و تفكيك قوانا ولا حتى زحزحة حجر من أحجار بنيان "الأردن أولا" 0

ولكنهم فعلوا (من هم؟)0

زعزعوا (من هم؟) الأمن بدون صواريخ ولا تفجيرات, زعزعوا (من هم؟) الأمن في بلدنا بزرع الشك في نفوسنا الضعيفة و قد نالوا من بنيان "الأردن أولا" بزرعهم الفتن بين أفراده وزرع الكره والحقد والعدوان

فلا نقول أنهم لم ينالوامنا ,بل نالوا وفعلوا وحققوا

لتكن نظرتنا للأمور أعمق, ولتكن حكمتنا بالحكم أقوى و أوجه, لنفكر و نحلل لندرك،،، 0

لندك أنهم (من هم؟) بقدرتهم أن يخططوا اعوام و أعوام لزرع فتنة واحدة ممكن أن تدوم حتى و لو لساعات بين أفراد المجتمع فيزيد الكره و العدوان بين أفراد المجتمع الواحد

فننشغل بأنفسنا عنهم (من هم؟), و نضع بأيدينا الغشاوة على أعيننا حتى نصبح من الذين لا يرون خلف الأسوار

و نقول أنهم لم ينالو ؟؟؟؟

April 18, 2006

Fastlink’s success is the highlight of the Jordanian consumer failure!

During my last trip to Amman, I called an electrician to come and fix something & when I gave him my mobile number –not on Fastlink (Zain)- he reiterated in protest “ما في عندك خط فاست؟” “Haven’t you got a Fast number?”… I paused for a second & thought to myself; either Fastlink (Zain) has a one hell of a cult-following inducing marketing strategy or we are just a bunch of easily milked taken-for-granted consumers!

We stand today at a market place were –technically- four different mobile operators are burning themselves out to the verge of bankruptcy to keep their pace in the competition to lock-in as many customers as possible, yet what we get in the end is an erratic –guesstimate- market share of 61% Fastlink (Zain), 27% MobileCom, 9% Umniah & 3% XPress!

Have it been the case that Fastlink (Zain) is a decent operator that provides a quality service with a matching customer service & fair competitive pricing; I wouldn’t have given it a flying thought if Fastlink is leading the market or not, I’ll even applaud their success!

Yet Fastlink (Zain) treat its taken-for-granted customers like old mules (Examples from the blogsphere: here & here), their network performance is poor (despite the comprehensive coverage they boost) & their pricing is based on the premise that everyone is using Fastlink & no other network exist!

Allow me to elaborate by briefly –not- telling the Mobile story of little Jordan:

Once upon a time, a company called Fastlink was granted a license to operate a mobile network in a lovely little country called Jordan, at the time, the cost of building, operating & maintaining such a network was costly, so obviously their target customers were a niche, hence the vulnerability of their business that required it to be protected by a 5-year exclusive monopoly over the market.

During those 5 year golden years, Fastlink (Zain) managed to milk the slowly growing niche of customers with a ridiculously high pricing & no emphasize on the service it offered or the quality of it... but everything has an ending, and so did its monopoly by the entry of another operator MobileCom, both took part in a duet of a further 5 years of duopoly with exclusivity over the market place.

At the time, Fastlink (Zain) recognized it will be loosing it’s customers rapidly, after all the advent of competition is tempting for the previously choice-less punters, so they did overhaul their service, most notably was the introduction of a real customer service call-center with adequate number of sweet-talking agents to meet the demand of their 85k punters at the time.

Yet Fastlink (Zain) found itself in a situation facing an incompetent competitor unable to penetrate the market while competing over simple-minded consumers! Fastlink (Zain) spared no effort in capitalizing on those two underlying factors.

By launching a new pricing plan that made it ridiculously expensive to call anyone not on Fastlink (Zain) in comparison with the relatively cheaper – but still expensive- price for calling its own customers, they rendered any good rate plan offered by MobileCom irrelevant because punters who sign up with MobileCom assumed that they will not be called by their Fastlink (Zain) counterparts!

How imbecilic is that! Since when the feasibility of anything is based on the savings made for others! If company A charges you a very high for calling company B & charging less for calling its own, while company B is charging you adequately to call both, which one will you choose?

Why should you care if 100k out of a potentially growing market were initially signed up with company A out of no choice, why not create a balance in the market place to keep a truly dynamic competition in place!

Our incompetence as Jordanian consumers stemmed from the fact that we allowed ourselves to be restrained into a thinking pattern that jstified our worrisome if those who will call us will refrain from doing so because they’ll be charged a premium!

Why should we care if those calling us made the wrong choice by opting for the company that charges a premium while they had the CHOICE otherwise!

Yes, MobileCom didn't capitalize the full potential of it being a new entrant or utilize the environment dictated by the duopoly they enjoyed along with Fastlink (Zain)!

It’s out-of-place marketing strategy & complex –yet cheaper- pricing did not make it easier for punters to make the choice either, so MobileCom is liable within this context.

Whether the government came to the aid of MobileCom, or the latter came up with the novel idea of offering the army personnel a special rate-plans -something that was almost unheard of in this industry-; the strategy worked & the company stayed afloat… until today!

The failure of the Jordanian consumer turned Fastlink (Zain) into a mammoth that enjoyed 5 years of monopoly charging premiums for a service that rapidly cost-ed less to offer, with further 5 years of pity competition that could’ve been more considerable!

And even today, while MobileCom is boosting the best network quality a GSM network can offer, & while Umniah is literally burning prices beyond feasibility (trust me on this one: any cross-network minute sold under 5 piasters doesn’t cover its cost) & XPress is offering a differentiated flat-rate professional service to corporate customers that does actually save money and improve the way business is done, yet with all that on offer you still find a cult-like following for Fastlink (Zain)!

Mr. Electritian, if Fastlink (Zain) is charging you so much for doing the unthinkable act of calling punters on other networks, then for Allah’s sake switch to another provider that charges you fairly for calling anyone!

Damn this number of yours that you have cherished for oh-my 2 years or so… no one cares if you changed it, your prestige will not shatter into pieces at the gates of dunes club, no one will think that you’re a Hafartali except for this insignificant lady, and definitely you’ll earn more by saving on your telephony costs!

A fellow blogger once commented on the lack of innovation in the Jordanian telecom market, but I don’t blame the telcos of Jordan, why should they through another dime while they see the incompetence of it’s potential customers whom are happy even when they’re treated like old mules overlooking the choices they have in a competition-driven market-place.

For Allah’s sake we’re content and even easily amused with merely premium SMS & “new” valued-added services (VAS) such as playing a dreadful song instead of the ringing-tone for those who have the courage to call outside Fastlink (Zain)! Why should any of the networks invest in 3G…

At the end, if you’re a Fastlink (Zain) customer, I have some FACTS for you:

Fact No. 1 No, not everyone is on Fastlink (Zain)! that might’ve been the case few years back thanks to people who think like you do.

Fact No. 2 You have a choice of 3 other operators whom will probably give you a free massage if you decide to opt for their service.

Fact No. 3 Yes, Fastlink (Zain) have superior network coverage, but unless you venture allot outside cities & main highways, you shouldn’t be worried to be left in the cold.

Fact No. 4 Their network is congested! Again, thanks to people who think like you do.

Fact No. 5 What’s the point in having a mature regulatory body, compitition & a maturing sector while consumers are not.

April 16, 2006

The didn’t-I-tell-you-so Ego is oozing, despite the disinterest: MobileCom is rebranding.

My speculation months back was well-placed, MobileCom is going ahead with it’s rebranding to become yet another Orange under the France Telecom cluster.

It’ll be interesting to see how they’ll tackle the issue of it’s already axiom-ed misunderstanding that Orange is an Israeli company! from the press release, the new CEO bluntly referred to this explicitly…

Not a very smart move in my book! It’s like looking gay-ish while everyone thinking that you are & you plead otherwise by chanting “I’m not gay”… NO, you go and find yourself a girlfriend or something! (The metaphor fell short of correlacting the girlfriend bit)

This will surely catalyze the dynamics of the telecom sector in Jordan, though it’s about time we see truly novel new services being introduced, not merely new ways to get ring-tones and premium SMS! We want wireless broadband for starters…

The full news item from Al-Ghad:

April 13, 2006

Fragment (consider revising)*

This turn-off statement that the MS grammar checker makes almost every time I finish typing a sentence is partially responsible for the recent lack of posts here at my blog, despite the many drafts I have jotted in the past month with no will to neither proof-reading them or to hit the publish button!

Why should I consider revising a perfectly sensible & meaningful long sentence that I wrote on MS Word? I barely put up with the constant nagging of MS Word with its grammatical mishaps detection & its unrelated spelling corrective suggestions, for I like to write in lengths as I ponder upon a subject, I like to dwell upon it & not merely write about it without confining myself with being concise!

Yet the issue lay deeper than the inability to write properly as I’ve been always criticized for my far fetched analogies, incomparable –you guessed it- comparisons & mostly flawed premises, but never did I gave into critics of such nature!

But ever since I started sharing my thoughts through online discussion forums – & more recently, my blog- I became more self-conscious of how I present the thoughts I bare.

For the most part, I do recognize that my head oozes with thoughts, ideas, insights, rants, observations & an opinion about almost everything that I come across, but then comes the road block of actually structuring it to a properly meaningful read!

I do usually start with jotting down a title that captures the genera of the thought in mind, a pointer if you like so I can materialize it into a publishable piece at a later stage, but then comes the dwelling part, at which point I face a multitude of obstacles, one of which is my linguistic fragmental deficiency, followed by the tendency to off-road beyond even the comprehension of myself.

Besides that, I do sense an underlying fear of how it’ll be read, how coherent & well-written it’ll be perceived, a possible theatrical fourth-wall anxiousness as it may be…

At one point, the throughput of thoughts just overwhelms my ability to compose them into words or even capturing them in the first place, its like thoughts are setting there, desperately circling inside my mind & as they eye an opportunity to be vented out (at times where I actually set down & write, talk or else) they come rushing over each other chaotically to a point of total stagnation!

It’s not a matter of lack of interest in my surrounding or the incidents I encounter; neither is it the case that I no longer spot the unusual in the midst of normalcy! It’s definitely none of that…

I like to think of it as such periods in one’s life when one become self-conscious about say his weight & contemplate the importance of exercising as his weight increases but never actually take the plunge & start, the impedance against starting grows by the day to the point of giving up on one’s self.

Similarly, a thought can be somewhat entertaining & catalyzing for a while in one’s mind on its own without it being communicated, but it’ll eventually –& gradually- fade to make space for fresher thoughts at the front of our mind! Unless it’s materialized its value will degrade into nonexistent…

Related post : Linguistic clumsiness!

* a possible copyright infringement; just in case, courtesy of MS & the novelty of using it as a title goes to my cousin Hamada.

March 05, 2006

If only they both met…

I had two momentous turning points in my life in a spam of less than two years; my father’s death & my engagement to a wonderful woman I love dearly!

Death is generally a tabooed reality, it’s surreal eventuality is not the sort of subject that the average person would like to be constantly reminded of, alas... even when death occurs in the family, we tend to rush ourselves out of its bitter occurrence by any erratic means! Regardless of the emotional scar this may leave, or worse still, the emotional need that never get fulfilled or addressed for we have got it all but too wrong…

The fact that my father is dead doesn’t trouble me any longer per-se; what troubles most is the fact that I’m actually getting used to the reality of him being dead! I’m moving forward with my life with his legacy but not with him in person.

I seek comfort by vividly reminiscing his character, his wisdom, his sense of humor, his charismatic presence, his zealous attention to details and his overall comprehensive and –you guess it- alternative perspective on life. Mind you, a bit of romanticisms doesn’t do me any harm here, after all; its death we’re dealing with...

Instead of sinking myself to the traumatic wishful thoughts of him being still around, I like to think of what he would’ve done if he was in this or that position, what advise he might’ve given me over a certain incident, or what would he say about this person if he was to know him, the latter is bitter and touchy indeed:

My father never met my fiancée; I was introduced to her, got to know her and engaged to her after a year of his death, the year that separated both events was not really enough for me to comprehend the full impact of his death in my life. Yes it was -and still- business as usual when it comes to my daily proceedings, yet my mind was -and relatively still- preoccupied with all sorts of thoughts and concerns that ranged from the utmost imbecilic rationales to the most complicated of welfare matters... I felt vaguely unsettled at the time.

However, responsible manhood is about tackling the reoccurrence of unprecedented turning points in one’s life, and I accept that challenge, but part of me still fou
nd it bitter to accept that my father never knew my wife-to-be, and she will never have the chance to know him in person either, while they both comprised the entity I call family!

I like to believe that I knew my father well enough to know what he would’ve thought of my fiancée, not that his opinion would’ve influenced my own to the extend of negating it, but rather; it’s the underlying sense of acknowledgment from one’s parents that I was seeking by envisaging what my late father’s opinion would’ve been if he knew her!

On the other hand, my beloved fiancée, despite her young years (No, she’s not 14 most sheikhs don’t do that believe it or not!); she compassionately sensed the psychological gap or disconnect –if you like- whenever my father was spoken about or his legacy was extolled!

She passionately started building her own perception of him, not through still imagery portraying him or old home videos, but rather; she compiled all stories and accounts she heard of him, drawing relationships and apprehending the various aspects of his presence in each one’s life…

Her sincere attempt to fully capture my father’s legacy as she fathom the space he occupied in our lives meant that she understood this aspect of my past, hence better appreciating our -her and mine- present and brilliant future together.

I try to envisage myself getting to terms with the new reality I’m surrounded with, yet I cannot conceive it without my fiancée being part of it, partially because of her genuine appreciation and treasuring of my father’s lineage although she never met him, and for that I’m thankful to Allah and to her...

January 22, 2006

A guest "entry" by an insightful anonymous commentator

It'll be a shame if this new "comment" gets buried under an old entry of mine! An interesting read worth being endorsed & aggregated to others as-is.

Thank you anonymous commentator:


I will not comment on this post! because reading this one has lead me to read all your previous posts! I have taken every chance online to read one of your posts (not in order but according to interest), and each time I find myself going through a mix of feelings. So maybe it is best to share with you (and all readers) whatever comes to mind...

1- More and more I realize how many are the things we have in common: Jordanian, working in the gulf, Belonging to the 80's in amman, and missing the feel of that, and most importantly, I share most of your views. As a special tribute, allow me to take you even to an earlier time that has really gone forever, the early early early 80's!!! actually I will just list stuff that has disappeared (add to your list!), in case any of the following items was not self-explanatory then... boy am I old!!!! Here goes:
2-The wealthier students in your class who had the pen case that folds opens in many ways and has a special place for everything?
3-The girrafe pencil sharpner with tail that you can push down for its neck to bend.
5-Because the community was less segragated, as a child you used to get an expensive toy from a friend of a family like LEGOs for example and at the same time a very cheap HEALTH football or a sparkling noisy laser gun (made in china ofcourse)from another! which suggests the next items :-)
6-LEGOS with universal and less theme specific pieces.
7-fattash, 6oggei3 and 3eid related toys that are sold at small shops (displayed in a a laundry line fasion)
8-3anbar, baloza, kraizeh,da7-da7 and other items that according to school you should not by from the street.
9-Good quality stuff in general, specially clothes without having to be extremely expensive or secretly obtained from 'stockaat' or second hand clothes shops!
10-Hand bags with the compliments of 'ALIA'
11-Chanel 6 and knowing their schedule by heart!
13-Endless TV shows that are forgotten (this can be the subject of a future discussion)
12-Antenna TV channels in general including neigboring country channels and I will not expand on this one!

I will stop here and move to my next point...

2-I agree with you totally in the way English language is related to a higher class and how confusing amman can be, being aware of and how we receive the 'otherness' is a totally lost skil. Not much to say about this except that one of the things that really make me feel sorry for our community is how little we accept diversity, everybody regards the others with little respect, and for me, the ones who I love to hate most are 'western ammaners' who express their accptance to the ones on the east side by going on brave 'safaris' to east amman to show their acceptance of that other beloved half of the city by (in my opinion) very humiliating ways that include but are not limited to:
1- Suddenly becoming a specialist in Found-Object-Art and start taking pictures of places and faces of eastern amman and sharing those with (most probably) other western ammaners! I have noticed a lot of cases where the objects of interest are people with a history of bad nutrition, or places that are basically junk! the mere revelation of beauty in such objects is a manifistation of how far these communities have become from each other ... even if with good intentions!
2- Buying 'souveniers' from eastern amman and buying your daily needs strictly from wetern amman.
3- changing to another (hopefully) more blending accent!

Again, I will have to stop somewhere and go on...

3- I would like to share this thought... which is really based on many of your posts about us Jordanians...This is a personal explanation and subject to argument ofcourse... There are a few things that I wish I could change, untill then I will at least address: Firstly: Why cannot we tell the difference between a REASON for being rich, successful or elite ...etc, and the life style that is CORRELATED with being so? the result is wasting our time and resources trying to become something that is a result of being somehting else!!

Secondly: Why do not we face our true capabilities? why insist on making things LOOK right rather than MAKE them right???Thirdly: why do we copy so much? aren't we creative? Not creative AT ALL??? Impossible! people are really almost clones when it comes to fasion (people of the same 'community' ) interests are the same too! and I hate it when I think how little we know of the correct practice and how much we THINK we know! This actually applies regionally even to places like the impressing Dubai.Why don't we take our education further than the years of study? I have learnt the hard way that piling years of experience (at its best) does not alone make you the best around! it is contnuing to learn is what might make you distinguished!Why do we care so much for fasion and looks and care less for our education and right for health insurance? Speaking of fasion and styles, I am simply disgusted with our attention to styles of haircuts, clothes, eye glasses, and everything that was not developed with our middle eastern looks in mind! we are just out of proportion, and irrelevant to the colors and lines and attitude related to claimed styles!

One last thought: I have fallen myself in the mess of trying to become western in so many ways in spite of the fact that neither my family, nor my looks or anything at all related to the west. It was not my clear intention of course, it took me so long to realize what I was doing! The result? is that I regret every second and (ta3reefeh) I spent away from all the goals I wished to reach. why should we grow to the British pop charts? I am not saying it is wrong to listen to western music or do anything you like, it is the feeling that i was naturally driven there is what I cannot understand. Why did I buy Smash Hits Magazine instead of saving to improve myself im one way or the other? If we don't have our own music then I think we don't deserve one yet, at least not before we sort out all the other essential needs before worrying and keeping up with pop music which by definition: Pop(ular)refers to a specific region.