Post Tagged with "Middle East"

Qusay on Saudi Arabia today

Qusay is a Saudi Arabian engineer from Jeddah, and his blog Qusay Today is a mixture of Saudi culture, news and politics.

Topics are varied, ranging from award winning Saudi photographers to thoughts on Faith versus tradition in Islam.

Saudi Arabia has been in the news recently because some women have defied the driving ban which affects women there, and Qusay’s analysis of the Western media reactions is also interesting to read.

Read more:
Saudi Arabian blogs on Blogs of the World
What’s the future of Arabic dialects?
Iran as you don’t see it on the news

July 21, 2011 Comments disabled

Imagine Amman

And Far Away has been going for so long (six and a half years to be exact) and covers so many topics that it’s difficult to summarise in a few paragraphs.

The author Roba Al-Assi was born in Amman, raised in Saudi Arabia and returned to Jordan to study. According to her About page, the blog began as ‘place to save ideas that motivate, inspire, or touch the imagination’, but it evolved into a way to meet and socialise with other bloggers from Jordan and beyond.

Those wondering about Amman can try 10 best Amman moments, the Sunny Art Fair, or Shopping the Ammani girl way, which also compares fashion in Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

Or, for food lovers there is Turkish coffee tasting or how to make the perfect ‘Arab style’ cheese sandwich.

Well I said this blog is diverse, and Roba also writes about blogging, ‘geek culture’ and social topics. If you prefer to look not read, check the huge archive of photo posts showing photos from March 2007 right up to the present day.

Read more:
More Middle Eastern blogs on Blogs of the World
Gift etiquette around the world
Mate: also found in Jordan

February 8, 2011 2 comments

Everyday in Iraq

Iraq is still in the news a lot, but many reports have a military angle. How can we find different perspectives on what is happening there? One way is to look for blogs written by ordinary Iraqis.

Iraq used to have a very lively blogosphere and there were several blogs dedicated just to tracking its updates. Unfortunately there hasn’t been so much activity in the last year. Baghdad Dentist wrote an update during Ramadan this August:

“its early morning. we’ll have electricity for a while. im sitting on the dental chair with my laptop since there is neither a space in the clinic nor chairs to sit on. the employees took them out to the garden of the health centre because we didnt have electricity and the generator was broken. my colleagues are talking about clothes and shopping…the working hour now starts at 7:00 a.m. its very early though its good for us because the sun is burning and the temperature hits over 50c many times.”

Searching further, there are more blogs to be discovered. In Iraq, sex is like snow (not as racy as it sounds), juxtaposes a cheery post about Eid in Baghdad with a more sobering near-death experience.

And Touta of Fog el nakhal writes a compelling account of a chance meeting with some village children.

Can you recommend any more Iraqi bloggers? Tell us in the comments.

Read more:
More blogs from Iraq on Blogs of the World
Iraqi barbeque (food of the world)
Catching a plane in Iraq

September 14, 2010 Comments disabled

Secrets from Saudi

Little Pink Strawberries is written by Noor, who is originally from East Tennessee but now lives with her husband and son in Saudi Arabia.

Look behind the cute design and you’ll find lots of information on Saudi and Middle Eastern customs, such as Wasta, Arabian traditions of making and wearing perfume and a guide to different types of face coverings.

Perhaps most intriguing is the weekly post a secret Sunday, where readers post their anonymous secrets.

Thanks to Noor for submitting her blog. Want to pick next week’s Blog of the World? Tell us about it here.

Read more:
More blogs from Saudi Arabia on Blogs of the World
A marriage that’s music to the ears
Kiss, hug or shake hands? Guide to global greetings

July 22, 2010 Comments disabled

Streets of Yemen

This week we’re featuring two Yemeni bloggers who write about life in their country. Most of their posts are in Arabic, but with Google Translate and a bit of patience, we can see a bit of Yemen through the eyes of some Yemeni women.

Shells is about ‘Yemeni girls and the surrounding community’. In the post Shells and Pearl she says:

I mean in pearl every yemeni woman who try to be stronger and overcome all difficulties that she faces, shell are the environment around the pearl as family (father, mother, brothers, sisters and husband). Sometimes this shell dosn’t have a flexibility so this leads to damaging of the very fine pearl but even those pearls try to have her own identity and personility whatever happens. Sea is the society which also sometimes makes restrictions on the pearl, ocean is the whole world. So all of these things surround the little pearl. Is she lucky or poor? What can she do to deal with all of these things?

The second blog, Feeling (scroll down for English), aims to write about social issues. In a series of posts, the author Rahaf has been exploring the situation of street children in Yemen.

These bloggers were trained by the Hand in Hand Initiative, which is a project supported by Rising Voices, aiming to enable Yemenis to add their voices to the global blogosphere. This interview with project leader Ghaida’a al-Absi is also worth a watch to find out more about Yemen and the project, which has produced 67 new bloggers so far.

Read more:
More Middle East blogs from Blogs of the World
What is the future of Arabic dialects? Different dialects of Arabic and where they are spoken
Reem Kelani’s introduction to Arabic music
The dying art of Yemeni shoes and Kutnu fabrics

December 24, 2009 Comments disabled

What future for Arabic dialects?

We often refer to ‘The Middle East’ as one region, but it is actually made up of more than 20 countries and territories. Most of these are Arabic speaking.

Middle Eastern countries share some cultural similarities, but each country (or region) has its own distinct culture and these cultures reflect on the spoken language too – each Arabic speaking country has its own spoken version of Arabic, known as a dialect.


The Arabic speaking world. Credit

Linguists disagree on whether Arabic dialects are really dialects, or whether they are languages in their own right. Sometimes they are called variants as a compromise.

A common past

All Arabic currently used stems from the same original Arabic, also called FusHa. The modern evolution of FusHa (known as Modern Standard Arabic, or MSA) is quite different to the one spoken a couple of thousand years ago. To get the picture, just think of how much English has changed in the few hundred years since Shakespeare’s time.

So it’s natural that as spoken Arabic evolved over the years, regional differences cropped up, leaving each community with its own particular dialect.

The relationship between MSA and local dialects seems complex at first. MSA is taught in schools and used for official communications, so those with an education can comfortably switch between local and standard Arabic. Newspapers are written in MSA, but national tv stations usually speak either MSA or the local version of Arabic, depending on the show.

The Main Arabic Dialects

Arabic dialects can be divided into 4 main groups:

Arabian dialects – spoken in Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, UAE, Qatar, Yemen and Saudi Arabia;

Mesopotamian dialects – spoken in Iraq;

Syro-Lebanese (Levent) dialects – spoken in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine and Southern Turkey;

Egyptian dialects – spoken in Egypt;

Maghreb dialects – spoken in Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya.

The Maghreb dialects also divide into sub-groups, with the Tunisian and Libyan versions having more Berber influence.

It’s all about culture

So all the Arabic dialects share the same basic structure, but each is modified by local cultures, histories, traditions and habits.

Fatima is a university student from Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia. She shared some of her opinions and experiences as a native Arabic speaker:

“If you look into north African Arabic (which to me is the most difficult to understand) you notice a lot of French influence stemming from the French occupation. In Egypt, Syria, Lebanon etc you can notice the French and the Turkish influence; in central Saudi Arabia and also I guess in Yemen, Arabic is more pure, while in Eastern Saudi Arabia (which is where I am from) and in the other gulf states you can notice the Persian and Indian influence. It all goes back to the history of each area.

These days English media also have a lot of influence all over the Arabic world, I mean we listen to English songs, we watch English movies and TV shows…etc so “OK”, “yes”, “yup”, “no”, “nope”, “cool”, “hi”, “bye”, “whatever”, “please”, “sorry”, “thank you”, “baby”, “music”, “movie”…etc are all words commonly mixed up with Arabic in everyday conversations.”


Pop culture. Credit

Dialects don’t stop communication

Fatima also says that any Arabic speaker who understands the differences in local customs and cultures has no problem communicating with other Arabic speakers:

“As a Gulf speaker, I’m familiar with other Gulf speakers. Yes, even within the Gulf there are differences! But they’re the same as English tomatoes and American tomatoes or taking a shower vs. having a shower,

I’m also familiar with all the other accents of Saudi Arabia (even though I have some difficulty in understanding the Southern areas because they speak very quickly and the area is quite isolated)

I’m very familiar with Egyptian Arabic because Egypt is the Middle East’s Hollywood.

Lebanese and Syrian are also very familiar to me on the basis of media, as for Palestinian and Jordanian, I do understand them but sometimes I have some difficulty with the local slang.

Arabic spoken in North Africa (Morocco, Libya, Tunisia and Algeria) to me is most difficult because the local Arabic they speak is mixed with a lot of French. But when they speak to other Arabs, they tend to use their Arabic words along with some FusHa to make their speech more understandable.”

A reunited future?

Some see Arabic dialects as a threat to the Arabic language, arguing that they weaken the status of standard Arabic as a world language.

Others think that differences between local versions of Arabic are increased due to high illiteracy rates and restricted movement among people who live in Arabic speaking countries. These are factors which could change over time.


Old media. Credit

The rise over the last 10 years of pan-Arabic media such as the tv stations MBC and Al Jazeera mean that even Arabs who don’t travel are hearing more Arabic from different countries – although presenters may speak in standard Arabic, people phone in and participate from all over the Arabic world.

Increasing internet access across the Arab world could help further in removing some barriers. And as the Arabic blogosphere blooms, the future of Arabic in all its forms is looking bright.

Update (July 2010): Amar commented that Libyan Arabic does not have the same French influence as that spoken in Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco, since Libya was not colonised by France.

Are you an Arabic speaker? Please share your opinions with us!

Read more:
The world’s most difficult languages
Top 20 languages of the world
How difficult is Chinese?

December 14, 2009 7 comments