Monthly Archives: December 2012

Picture Jordan: Lara’s Secret

Victoria’s Secret Jordanian style.

At Arabella Mall - Irbid
At Arabella Mall – Irbid

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Picture Jordan: Expats in the Gulf

Because Irbid is not an industrial or a rich city many of its residents seek a better life in the oil rich Gulf countries like Kuwait and Saudi ِArabia. I am not sure of the number of Jordanians working in the Gulf countries but I would say no less than couple of millions. Taking into account that the population of Jordan is six millions only. In the first Gulf War 500,000 Jordanians were forced to return back from Kuwait.

Jordanian expatriates in the Gulf send money to help their parents and siblings in Jordan. They also send money to build new beautiful houses (pictures to come soon). The pictures below are taken at a poor neighborhood yet you can see the expensive convertible Z4 BMW parking near a very bumble house.

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Picture Jordan: Dar As-Saraya

My hometown is called Irbid, located in the northwestern part of the kingdom. “The archaeological research and excavations have shown that human has settled there about 200,000 years ago. Irbid played an important role during the Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Islamic periods. Irbid has 4 of the Decapolis cities: Jadara, Pella, Guelbeh and Capitolias.” [Jordan Archaeological Heritage]

To see some of these civilizations’ history I recently visited Dar Al-Saraya Museum. The building of the museum was originally a castle built by the Ottomans in 1886. Its plan resembles castles and caravansaries founded by the Ottomans. Saraya means government building. This particular building was the governor’s house.

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After the Ottomans, Irbid city used the building as a prison until 1994
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Dar Al-Saray Museum Entrance
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Courtyard
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Courtyard

The location of Irbid on a crossroad junction connecting the north with the south and Palestinian coast attracted people from Syria and Palestine, especially merchants… In Irbid there are Armenians and Kurds, as reflected by some Irbidean family names, but also families originated from Palestine who came to the city from early times.

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From America to Jordan

Last Monday December 10th, 2012 I left Columbia, Missouri. I arrived Jordan on Wednesday, December 12th, 2012. It was a very long trip, it took more than 24 hours.

1. From Columbia, Missouri to Kansas City airport (MCI): 2 hours

2. At MCI: 2 hours

Preparing to take off on American Airlines
Preparing to take off on American Airlines
A view of Kansas
A view of Kansas

3. From MCI to Chicago O’Hare airport: 1:30 hours

Approaching Chicago
Approaching Chicago
Chicago O'Hare Airport
Chicago O’Hare Airport

4. At O’Hare: 3 hours

5. From O’Hare to London Heathrow airport: 8 hours

6. At Heatrhow: 7 hours

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In America some airports have a Chapel which can also be used as a multi-faith prayer room.

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Unlike chapels found in the USA this room is not designed to look like a church from the inside. There are many prayer rugs and the direction of Mecca can easily be located in the room

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Muslim women can pray out of sight of strange men if they wish to

London Heathrow Airport is by far the best airport I have seen. So beautiful!

7. From Heathrow to Amman airport: 6 hours

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Arriving Amman at 4:30 am (8:30 pm Central time). Trip time: 28 hours.

8. From Amman to Irbid: 1:30 hours

Buying breakfast at 5:45 am
Buying breakfast at 5:45 am

A glimpse inside my head while I watch the News

The beautiful Al Jazeera’s female anchor broadcasted some disturbing footage of the war on civilians in Syria. With her husky voice she announced the number of injured civilians and people killed today.

I tell myself her voice is so sexy and captivating. Meanwhile, a Syrian mother on TV, sitting on a 2-inch mattress with her child on her lap cries “no water, no food, no medicine….”

The crying voice of the woman fades away while I look at the wall clock. I still have some time, I tell myself.

Suddenly, the news now is about Egypt. I don’t care about what is going on there. It seems Arabs are more interested in Egypt’s new constitution than the thousands of children being massacred in Syria.

I went back to my laptop checking what my Facebook friends are up to. Again, I looked at the clock at the bottom of the laptop’s screen to check how much time left before I prepare for my trip. I and some friends are going to the park for a BBQ. The weather is so nice and sunny today.

More interesting news, than Egypt’s, is shown on TV, another distressed Arab mother this time from a refugee camp in Gaza. Her family only resource of income is from the UNRWA since the husband can’t get a job under this unlawful siege. The siege on Gaza has been in place for a couple of years the anchorman narrated.

Who is this old male anchor. Where did the sexy female anchor go? I wondered this important question in my head while admiring the woman’s decision to wear glasses. The glasses complete her great look.

The news is from Pakistan now. A well-dressed European young man is talking in front of journalists about the war on terrorism. I like his suit, those Europeans know how to wear suits. I really should start losing weight. My brain wandered to what I should do to lose weight.

My wandering halted when I heard the European man talk about terror and Muslims. I nodded my head in dismay and questioned the Westerners’ intention of the war on terrorism. How come the siege on Gaza and the war criminals in Syria are not considered terrorism, a question came up in my head.

I looked at the wall clock. It is time to leave. I hibernated my laptop, turned off the TV and went to prepare for my BBQ trip. I needed to have a break after my hectic week of working in a very safe and temperature controlled room. At the same time, I cleared off all these horrible images and news from my head. I have my own problems to worry about, I tell myself. America should do something  to put an end to these tragedies, I exclaimed.

What is the purpose of the news if we don’t respond or react to it?

Q&A about Arab and American culture

Someone sent me a long list of questions about Arab culture. It is difficult to answer all of them in one post. So, I will try to answer a few in different posts.

How has the US changed since you first came here?

  • It became more expensive.
  • I used to see more people reading books everywhere now people at coffee shops are mostly on their electronic devices.
  • American TV started depicting Muslim characters on TV shows as normal people. The stereotype is still there but at least they are not terrorists.
  • I became more adapted to living in the US since I came here 10 years ago.

Knowing both US and Arab culture, would you recommend a cross-cultural marriage to a sister or brother, cousin or friend? Or would you strongly caution against it? Why?  Would you recommend this couple’s children be raised in the US or be taken back to Arabia or somewhere else? What other advice would you give?

I am no longer against cross-cultural marriage, as I used to be, because I have seen successful ones. I know Arab-American, Arab-European and Arab-Asian couples who live happily. Cross-cultural marriage can work if both belong to the same religion.

Where the couple lives is not a determined issue for a successful cross-cultural marriage. And also it doesn’t matter where the kids are raised as long as they live with their parents either in Arabia or in the USA.

As in any arrangement both must be clear about certain issues. They should know marriage is not about physical attraction only. One issue I have seen repeated many times and American women can never learn a lesson no matter how many times they read about it. A Muslim Arab man in his mid-twenties or early thirties falls in love with an American woman. Although he is a Muslim but he is not practicing so he is okay with his American wife wearing what she used to wear before marriage. At some point in his life the Arab man decides to be a devoted Muslim. So, he asks his wife to become a Muslim if she is not or to wear hijab if she is a Muslim. Maybe he will ask her not to go the yoga class wearing these tight pants. Or maybe when the couple has their first baby, naming the baby becomes an issue.

My recommendation in case of inter-cultural marriage is to ask questions before marriage.

What did you find different about American Christians compared to Middle Eastern Christians?  In what ways is Christianity different here than you expected?  Do you believe there is an element of American culture within American Christianity?

Middle Eastern Christians are more conservative than American Christians. In the Middle East, many Christians identify themselves to be Christians. In the US, it is not easy to know if someone is a Christian or not. People here don’t like to talk about religion. I don’t think I have seen a man or a woman wearing a necklace with a cross. In the Middle East, this is very common. One might say because they are a minority in the Middle East so they like to be identified. I feel in the US, some people feel shy to identify themselves as Christians especially among college age students.

In the Middle East, religion is the identity of people. In America, it is not. I think the more dominant factor here is race.

Drawing your dream

When I was in my early and mid-twenties I used to tell my friends in Malaysia that I want to do my PhD in UK. I also used to mention, a lot, that my dream car is a Jaguar. And I guess I may have mentioned that I am going to get married after finishing my Master and going back to Jordan. My friends also know that I like beaches and my dream house would be close to the coast.

While looking for some documents recently I found the drawing below. My lab mate in Malaysia drew it for me as a goodbye gift before leaving to for Jordan. I think she knew exactly what my dream was at that time.

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“The Dream of Malik Tubaishat.” I used to have a mustache.
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Master in Computer Science from Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM). USM is located in Penang Island. Yes, I lived three years on an island.
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“He found friends of his interest.” Our lab used to have video game tournaments, daily. It was a fun lab.
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My Malaysian-Chinese friends, from left to right Myself, Jason (lives in Singapore) and Eunice who drew this (She lives in the UK). Pokémon was a top game that time.
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After Malaysia, getting married in Jordan then heading to England for my PhD.
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Finally, a Jaguar and a big beautiful house on the coast was supposed to complete my dream.

What I still didn’t mention is that this dream was supposed to be accomplished by 40. I am 39 now. I achieved nothing from this dream, yet. But I found a treasure that is worth more than anything in this dream. I found true friends. Indeed, you can’t put a price on friendship.

We dream about materialistic things all the time but instead we should only hope to be loved. We can live without materialistic things but not without love. Seek to love and be loved by your spouse, children, parents, brothers, sisters and friends. Love will indeed achieve happiness.

On a side note, I am stopping at Heathrow Airport in London for seven hours. So, hooray, after all  I am visiting the UK.

Jaraad Won the Honorable Mention Award for Best Expat Blog in USA

Moving to USA

Yes, we can!

So, today the Expats Blog announced the winners of five countries including USA. Thanks to the lovely readers of Jaraad the blog received the Honorable Mention Award 2012. Chiara’s comment was chosen by the award organizers to accompany the award announcement. I would like to thank Chiara as well because she is the one who encouraged me to register at this website.

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A special thanks goes also to Whisper who encouraged other readers of this blog to vote for me. She dedicated a post in Arabic for this purpose. I appreciate the effort.

I would like to thank every single person who wrote a comment or a review about this blog in the Expats Blog. Except for one person (Kawafha), none of you I have met in person. We have met only via this blog. I appreciate your time and effort for writing a comment and continuing reading this blog. Thank You!

A.Q.Jamhawi wrote 6 days ago:

an interestingly different perspective, he’s normally bold and thorough with the topics he blogs about, for those Arabs who’re interested in the American culture, and those Americans who’re interested in the Arabic culture, I find his blog, in a way .. educational ..

Lablabla4 wrote 6 days ago:

The American life from a Jordanian perspective. my reference for daily events, news, activities and American culture.

Rain wrote 1 week ago:

Smart, interesting blog. Always a pleasure to read.

LioneSS wrote 1 week ago:

Wish you all the best ***** Nice blog

Amber wrote 1 week ago:

One of my favorite blogs. Jaraad’s posts show me my own country in a whole new light.

Zena wrote 1 week ago:

its great blog.. i like it

Jumana =) wrote 1 week ago:

Awesome blogger, and totally worth every minute spent reading his writing! Whisper, thanks for introducing Jaraad’s blog =)

W7l wrote 1 week ago:

one of the best blog i ever read!! the topics are always interesting to be read, i really like it, keep going

Mayyasi wrote 1 week ago:

I like the way Jarad sees US through an Arab eye.

Hb wrote 1 week ago:

Jaraad is a great blog and deserves all the best.

Haitham wrote 1 week ago:

One of my constant checks on the web, a great blog indeed. Opens up a lot of venues to consider + reconsider cultural differences and their relatedness from a unique well-suited perspective. Thanks Jaraad for that.

Um Ommar wrote 1 week ago:

One of my favorite blogs to read 🙂

Roba Al-Assi wrote 1 week ago:

Interesting and intelligent blog with a great perspective on what it’s like being Arab in the USA.

Kinzi wrote 1 week ago:

I love Jaraad’s blog! I’m an American in Jordan, he’a a Jordanian in America, and I love the positive exchange of national superlatives. What I like best: he is not easily offended, he is a man of faith who, like Madeleine, ‘smiles at the good and frowns at the bad’where it is found in both cultures, both faiths, and both genders. BRAVO!

Jad wrote 1 week ago:

I have been reading Jaraad’s blog for ages and the blogger behind it is one of few cyber acquaintances that I would like to meet in real life.

ORANGEE wrote 1 week ago:

Every time i read jarad’s blog i feel optimistic & proud that we still have a well- educated and energetic arabs out there in the world in which we can always points to them and say : We need persons like those 🙂 a person that capture knowledge and experience from each chance and using it wisely !! i do love his simple language and the way he describes and justify things ^_^

Kawafha wrote 1 week ago:

This is a great blog to read good luck Jaraad

Chiara wrote 1 week ago:

This is an outstanding blog that provides excellent insight into Arab culture, American culture, and the cultural (mis-)understandings as the 2 meet in the USA or in the imaginations of anyone around the world. Jaraad favours genuinely open and fair dialogue, which never descends into culture bashing. I always read the posts and the comments, and often comment myself. This blog has been invaluable in itself, and a conduit for the blogs of others via their high quality comments here.

Aseel wrote 1 week ago:

One of my favorite blogs to read! Jaraad is very talented and very thoughtful in his posts. What I love about his posts is the way he introduces living in the USA and explaining the cultural differences and similarities in a very articulate way to a degree where you can actually imagine yourself there with his posts and beautiful pictures. The posts remain in your mind once you read them! That’s how good they are! My favorite posts are the one about the library and the pictures of it, the one on the lake with pictures of ducks and the post about first day of college!I really love this blog and I really hope it wins!

Naysan wrote 1 week ago:

great blog !

Whisper wrote 1 week ago:

I’m a regular reader for Jaraad’s blog and I’m not exaggerate if I say that I really liked and loved every and each post he wrote there. I’m sure that Jarrad deserve such an award Best luck

Susanne wrote 1 week ago:

A wonderful blog which shares life in the US from the perspective of a Jordanian man who is living in Missouri. I greatly enjoy the cultural posts and seeing life in my country through the eyes of another. Jaraad’s blog covers a variety of topics, and is among the best!