Dec 10, 2005

Listen to Aswat on the Radio/Live Internet Broadcast

Salam everyone,
So inshallah tomorrow I will be playing with Aswat Arabic-Music group on the KPFA Radio 94.1 FM from San Francisco downtown during the annual holidays fair.
Aswat will be playing 2:30pm to 3pm Pacific Time (12:30am Amman time).
You can listen to the broadcast online at
I'm the one playing the Nay, so look for my Taqasim before Ya Sidi Badri song.

note: do you know how to record live broadcast from the internet?

Hope you like us.

Dec 8, 2005

Teacher in Saudi is pardoned

In a previous post, Sabbah brought our attention to an ugly court decision in Saudi to slash & prison a middle-school teacher for something he said in class. Rumors has it that one of the princes issued the decision to capture him.
Well, apparently today a pardon was issued by the king for that teacher.

Mysteries of the legal system...

Shiekh El-Kubba: an Ode to Tarneeb

A funny song by my brother Muneeb. He recorded it several years ago.
Muneeb Arrabi - Shiekh el-Kubba.mp3

hope you like it

Dec 3, 2005

Swords and Sticks for Egypts Elections

This is soo unreal!! The guy has a sword in his hand and is about to slash the stick guy.

More photos here:

Nov 30, 2005

Zewail, Frustrations of the Egyptian Nobel Laureate

I've recently got Ahmad Zewail's biography (the Egyptian Nobel laureate for Chemistry '99). It's nice and has some interesting pictures.

Most interestingly, in the last 2 chapters he talks about his vision for enhancing the state of research in Egypt/Arab World and then US.
Apparently, after he got the Nobel prize and went to Egypt, he put the "corner stone" for University of Science and Technology (UST) and vision document for Technology Park (TP). In his bio, he stated 3 conditions for the success of this project:
1- Promise endowment (money from government & donations)
2- Promise law that guarantee's full independence from the government
3- Curriculum (he will do it with advisors from around the world)
The TP idea is cool. It aims to create a place where academia & industry can meet and do experiments & research related to the industry. I couldn't find any more info about the details - but it definitely sounds interesting.

Zewail in his book cites several successful governmental research projects to excite the Egyptian government. These are the ones I remember:
1- The Max Planck institutions in Germany
2- The IITs & India Institute of Science in India
3- The Institute de France in France
4- The Technion and Wizeman institutes in Israel
5- U of California campuses in USA
6- ... there's one more. I can't remember.

Unsurprisingly, Egyptian government put the corner stone with names of 3 ministers & Mubarak, and never did anything else. Ahmad Zewail hints to that on page 223 his bio:
"I have had first-hand experience with UST and other projects in Egypt and have seen how bureaucracy and the 'power of the chair,' or more accurately the power of position, can impede real progress."
And then finally on page 224
"Although clear orders regarding UST have been issued, the slow implementation of the plan is enough to subdue the enthusiasm of any serious person with obligations and exacting demands on his time."
he also shows his frustration while collecting donations:
"Ironically, some of the very rich were less willing to make significant contributions until they had weighed their personal benefits."
and then he goes on to say:
"The public sector was pushing me to begin a national donation campaign believing that every Egyptian should participate in this national cause. But of course, I could not do so without a new law that guarantees that UST will be able to function freely."
RECENTLY I've heard that he gave up on Egypt government and went to Qatar to create his university. It seems that they have started building the university and that it's on its way. Also heard that he asked for "10 year grace period" after which results can be expected.

So, the question for you readers - Do you know anything about his project in Qatar? it sounds interesting. I looked on the internet, and I couldn't find anything more than 1-page biography for him and nothing about the University of Science and Technology.

Any more info on this guy?

Nov 29, 2005

First Concert!

I love California, one for the sun, two for the mediterranean-like fruits & weather, and finally, for the active Muslim & Arab communities here!
I moved to the area 3 months ago, and quickly I found Aswat, a very impressive Arabic music community ensemble in San Francisco. I have joined as the most junior player on the Nay (which I've been playing for about 2 years). The group is very supportive and fun to be with. I played my first concert with Aswat at Mells College on Novermber 18th. Ah... I even got to do a short Taksim on Bayati.

Looking forward for weekends of Music.

Nov 26, 2005

Rome & Carthage: The Arrogance of “Democratic” Supremacy

In 149 BC, The Roman Senate took advantage of a minor disagreement with Carthage to wage a war (the last Punic war ~150BC). Unsurprisingly, at the end of which, the Romans triumphed against Carthage. Carthage sent a delegation surrendering the city and giving up all their weapons to Rome. But the Roman Senate decided specifically thatCarthage was to be razed to the ground, no stone was to be left upon another, the soil was to be ploughed and strewn with salt.” Needless to say, all of its people were either slaughtered or sold to slavery.

Which begs the question, WHY!?

The decision was not that of momentous anger by a tyrant individual, for that Rome was a Republic. The decision was debated and decided by the ~200 representatives of Roman people.

The decision was not that of military, for that even the famous Roman General that carried it out, Scipio Africanus, was against it. He followed the orders anyhow.

So, WHY!?

One cannot but think these days at the real value of democracy, try to understand the pros and cons beyond the usual clichés and banner-style statements like “democracy is the solution”. And to do so, there is nothing like learning the History of Rome, through which one can re-live Democracy on fast forward. There are many bright spots, and some deep bleak ones too.

Rome has started as a Kingdome and turned successfully into an expanding Democratic Republic for 400 shining years. But then, and just like magic, it turned into an Empire, and finally presented historians to this day with a mysterious fall after another 400 years.

I am not an expert in this field, but I have gone through Rome’s history recently, and I find some aspects extremely interesting to share and contemplate upon. One of these events is Rome’s verdict on Carthage, described above.

And this brings back us to the question, WHY!?

The answer is, because the Romans were the strongest nation at the time. They simply could do it, and so, they did it. “War Mongering” is the term.

This brings a second question: how come a group of highly educated Roman elected-senates come up with such an unjust and inhumane decision?

Simply, (and it took me a very long time to realize this answer) democracy does not guarantee making the right decision. Democracy guarantees agreement: that most of the attendants will agree on the decision. In another way, that the disagreeing portion will never be large enough to overrule the decision by power (or so is the theory).

Democracy is a lot like human-desire. It requires a high degree of discipline and dedication to actually be guided correctly. Democracy requires that we be active and objective all the time so that it won’t be misused. Democracy cannot function with a passive population.

Democracy is not ethical by itself. The ethics of democracy are that of its people. Democracy does not tell us right from wrong. But it can tell us what we ought to be doing about it. Things are not right or wrong just because 51% of people said so. Morality is independent of statistics.

Seems intuitive… but in the same time, it is very easy to forget this and fall in the same mistakes again and again…

Nov 25, 2005

A Jordanian wins Rhodes scholarship to Oxford

Tanya Haj-Hassan, a Jordanian American, wins the Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford.

The Rhodes Scholarship is THE most prestigious scholarship available to undergraduate students in the US. Every year, each university nominates their top 2-3 students to apply. Only 32 are chosen every year. The scholarship pays for 2-3 years study at Oxford.

To put it in perspective, the Rhodes scholarship was what put Bill Clinton, a farm boy from Mena, Arkansas, on the path to US presidency.

I know Tanya personally, and she's my friend's cousin. She has lived and studied in Jordan until she moved to Stanford to study Human Biology. She's very humble and extremely active. I really hope best for her, and I hope more Jordanians will win this scholarship in the future.

The scholarship is available to citizens of about 22 countries. It'll be great if it becomes available to Jordanian citizens also one day. I'm not sure how we can make this happen.

more about the scholarship:
notable winners:

Nov 24, 2005

Looking for NGOs in Jordan, please help

Hello all,
A friend of a friend, Jesse Torrence is looking for an NGO (non governmental organization) in Jordan to work at. He has degrees in International Relations and Economics from Harvard. If you know of any NGOs in Jordan who might be interested, please let Jesse ( know. Jesse's e-mail is below:
Dear All,

I will be relocating to the Middle East/North Africa region this December
most of next year and am interested in getting involved with some
organizations engaged in development work, particularly in Palestine, Egypt,
Lebanon, Syrian, or Jordan. I'm especially interested in the following
education, capacity building for Civil Society Orgs.,
microfinance,reproductive health/sexual education (esp. HIV/AIDS
and youth exchange. Do any of you know of any organizations(especially
in these fields) that could use someone with 2-3 years of experience in NGO
organizational management, project management, grant writing,
fundraising,event planning, and/or community organizing?

My needs in terms of compensation at this point are very minimal and my
availability in terms of time and specific location are still fairly

I would greatly appreciate any leads, contacts, or advice.

Jesse Torrence
IR, Econ '02

Nov 18, 2005

Google's Arabic-to-English translation ranked first

Google's "still under development" system for Arabic-to-English translation is ranked as best worldwide.

According to NIST:

Here are the rankings:
Arabic-to-English Task, Large Data Track
1- GOOGLE, BLUE score: 0.5131
2- ISI, 0.4657
3- IBM, 0.4646
4- UMD, 0.4497
5- JHU-CU, 0.4348
6- EDINBURGH, 0.3970
7- SYSTRAN, 0.1079
8- MITRE, 0.0772
9- FSC, 0.0037

Arabic-to-English Task, Unlimited Data Track
Table 2
1- GOOGLE, 0.5137
2- SAKHR, 0.3403
3- ARL, 0.2257

more reading:
Google: The Universal Machine

Nov 17, 2005

I Lived In The Garden Of Allah (by Sir R. Bodley)

I read this story in Dale Carnegie's "How to stop worrying and start living", and then found it on the internet. I have to say that it's very inspiring in how to cope with disaster, especially in light of the recent events that struck Jordan. (source)

I Lived In The Garden Of Allah
By R.V.C. Bodley
Descendant of Sir Thomas Bodley, founder of the Bodleian Library, Oxford Author of Wind in the Sahara, The Messenger, and fourteen other volumes

IN 1918, I turned my back on the world I had known and went to north-west Africa and lived with the Arabs in the Sahara, the Garden of Allah. I lived there seven years. I learned to speak the language of the nomads. I wore their clothes, I ate their food, and adopted their mode of life, which has changed very little during the last twenty centuries. I became an owner of sheep and slept on the ground in the Arabs' tents. I also made a detailed study of their religion. In fact, I later wrote a book about Mohammed, entitled The Messenger.

Those seven years which I spent with these wandering shepherds were the most peaceful and contented years of my life.

I had already had a rich and varied experience: I was born of English parents in Paris; and lived in France for nine years. Later I was educated at Eton and at the Royal Military College at Sandhurst. Then I spent six years as a British army officer in India, where I played polo, and hunted, and explored in the Himalayas as well as doing some soldiering. I fought through the First World War and, at its close, I was sent to the Paris Conference as an assistant military attaché. I was shocked and disappointed at what I saw there. During the four years of slaughter on the Western Front, I had believed we were fighting to save civilisation. But at the Paris Peace Conference, I saw selfish politicians laying the groundwork for the Second World War-each country grabbing all it could for itself, creating national antagonisms, and reviving the intrigues of secret diplomacy.

I was sick of war, sick of the army, sick of society. For the first time in my career, I spent sleepless nights, worrying about what I should do with my life. Lloyd George urged me to go in for politics. I was considering taking his advice when a strange thing happened, a strange thing that shaped and determined my life for the next seven years. It all came from a conversation that lasted less than two hundred seconds-a conversation with "Ted" Lawrence, "Lawrence of Arabia", the most colourful and romantic figure produced by the First World War. He had lived in the desert with the Arabs and he advised me to do the same thing. At first, it sounded fantastic.

However, I was determined to leave the army, and I had to do something. Civilian employers did not want to hire men like me-ex-officers of the regular army-especially when the labour market was jammed with millions of unemployed. So I did as Lawrence suggested: I went to live with the Arabs. I am glad I did so. They taught me how to conquer worry. Like all faithful Moslems, they are fatalists. They believe that every word Mohammed wrote in the Koran is the divine revelation of Allah. So when the Koran says: "God created you and all your actions," they accept it literally. That is why they take life so calmly and never hurry or get into unnecessary tempers when things go wrong. They know that what is ordained is ordained; and no one but God can alter anything. However, that doesn't mean that in the face of disaster, they sit down and do nothing. To illustrate, let me tell you of a fierce, burning windstorm of the sirocco which I experienced when I was living in the Sahara. It howled and screamed for three days and nights. It was so strong, so fierce, that it blew sand from the Sahara hundreds of miles across the Mediterranean and sprinkled it over the Rhone Valley in France. The wind was so hot I felt as if the hair was being scorched off my head. My throat was parched. My eyes burned. My teeth were full of grit. I felt as if I were standing in front of a furnace in a glass factory. I was driven as near crazy as a man can be and retain his sanity. But the Arabs didn't complain. They shrugged their shoulders and said: "Mektoub!" ... "It is written."

But immediately after the storm was over, they sprang into action: they slaughtered all the lambs because they knew they would die anyway; and by slaughtering them at once, they hoped to save the mother sheep. After the lambs were slaughtered, the flocks were driven southward to water. This was all done calmly, without worry or complaining or mourning over their losses. The tribal chief said: "It is not too bad. We might have lost everything. But praise God, we have forty per cent of our sheep left to make a new start."

I remember another occasion, when we were motoring across the desert and a tyre blew out. The chauffeur had forgotten to mend the spare tyre. So there we were with only three tyres. I fussed and fumed and got excited and asked the Arabs what we were going to do. They reminded me that getting excited wouldn't help, that it only made one hotter. The blown-out tyre, they said, was the will of Allah and nothing could be done about it. So we started on, crawling along on the rim of a wheel. Presently the car spluttered and stopped. We were out of petrol 1 The chief merely remarked: "Mektoub!" and, there again, instead of shouting at the driver because he had not taken on enough petrol, everyone remained calm and we walked to our destination, singing as we went.

The seven years I spent with the Arabs convinced me that the neurotics, the insane, the drunks of America and Europe are the product of the hurried and harassed lives we live in our so-called civilisation.

As long as I lived in the Sahara, I had no worries. I found there, in the Garden of Allah, the serene contentment and physical well-being that so many of us are seeking with tenseness and despair.

Many people scoff at fatalism. Maybe they are right. Who knows? But all of us must be able to see how our fates are often determined for us. For example, if I had not spoken to Lawrence of Arabia at three minutes past noon on a hot August day in 1919, all the years that have elapsed since then would have been completely different. Looking back over my life, I can see how it has been shaped and moulded time and again by events far beyond my control. The Arabs call it mektoub, kismet-the will of Allah. Call it anything you wish. It does strange things to you. I only know that today-seventeen years after leaving the Sahara-I still maintain that happy resignation to the inevitable which I learned from the Arabs. That philosophy has done more to settle my nerves than a thousand sedatives could have achieved.

You and I are not Mohammedans: we don't want to be fatalists. But when the fierce, burning winds blow over our lives-and we cannot prevent them-let us, too, accept the inevitable. And then get busy and pick up the pieces.

Nov 2, 2005

Typical Jordanian... (a post by my brother Muneeb)

Fate & destiny caused my brother Muneeb to wake up today and write this e-mail... enjoy :-)
Subject: Who are jordanians
From: "Muneeb Arrabi"
Date: Wed, 02 Nov 2005 16:46:43 +0000

I came across 2 web pages that define jordanians. I don't know if you would see what i saw in these 2 web pages. I copied them in this email.
One taken from amman stock web site, and the other taken from addustour web site.
شعار جديد لبورصة عمان

بدأت بورصة عمان اعتبارا من يوم الأحد الموافق 14/8/2005 باعتماد شعاراً جديداً لها، حيث يعبّر الشعار الجديد عن رسالة البورصة بالإضافة إلى رؤياها بالتطوير الدائم والتحديث المستمر.

لقد تم تصميم الشعار الجديد لبورصة عمان مع الأخذ بعين الاعتبار القيم والرسائل التالية:-

• الديناميكية.

• التجدد والحداثة.

• التطور والتقدم.

هندسة الشكل

الشعار الهندسي الجديد هو عبارة عن نجمة تعبّر عن التطور والحركة الدائمة للبورصة، حيث أخذ الطابع العصري والحيوي.

لون الشعار

اللون الرمادي يعكس النظرة المستقبلية للبورصة والتي تساهم في تحقيق رسالتها ورؤياه

اللون الأزرق يعكس الطابع المؤسسي للبورصة.

الخطوط المستخدمة

هي خطوط ثابتة وقوية توحي بالمصداقية والثقة.


fe3lan.... As soon as i saw the slogan i figured out enno borset amman laha mesdaqeyyeh wa theqa wa laha nathra mustaqbaleyyeh thaqebah wa adraket 3assaree3 arro'ya wa attabe3 al mu'assasy lel borsa........... erhamoona ya jama3a
Why do we always have to give reasons and meanings to everything. Why can't we just say... "I like this because it's beautiful".
Not to mention the disappointment when i see jordanians in TV interviews. You feel like you are listening to a profesor be athaqafah al 3alameyyeh who won noble prizes in all fields while the interviewee has just finished setting up jarret el ghaz la baitak. And by chance, every interviewee's voice becomes harsh and deep to go along with look on his face when he's talking about ashafafeyyeh wa t'atheerha 3ala al 3awlameh
This reminds me of the famous commercial on Jordan TV " tabee3ty al e3teyadeyyeh enny baheb atsallaq al jebal....."
"tabee3ety al e3teyadeyyeh" ...... come on maaaaaaaan.........
And the other thing is the following:
نتيجة التصويت
أين تفضل أن تقضي اجازاتك؟
سياحة داخلية - الاردن (24.124 %) 1198 صوت
سياحة خارج الاردن (39.6698 %) 1970 صوت
في البيت (36.2062 %) 1798 صوت

من : 6/3/2005

الى :20/3/2005

المجموع الكلي #: 4966

P.S: look at the number of people who like to spend vecations at home "ya rabbi laish nehna nekdeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeen"

Oct 24, 2005

Good English-Arabic auto-translation site/program?

I want to buy an auto-translation program/site-subscription for my mother. She will use it mainly to read Biology/Science related sites. So, I've embarked on an "evaluation" mission for all the products currently available. For now I'm just collecting links to auto-translators (that support English-to-Arabic).

Mr/Ms reader, if you know of any other sites that I do not list here, please let me know (in the comments box).

So far, all the ones I've tried range between terrible and bad. I can't find any "sensible" translator. My currently evaluation/test page is: (5/10) (very basic) (can't try it yet) (download site) (can't try it yet) (bad translation)

Oct 20, 2005

The Russian Rag!

Today I've learned about one of the funniest musical pieces ever.. The Russian Rag.

George Cobb, a composer from the beginning of the century, claimed that he can turn any piece of music into Ragtime style (which is famous for syncopated off-beat rhythms). While sitting in a famous restaurant in New York in 1918 (Jade?), a friend of his challenged him to turn Rachmaninoff's Prelude in C-minor to ragtime. George didn't think long. He got up, went to the piano, and played what became known as the "Russian Rag". Unknown to him, Rachmaninoff was in the restaurant at the time. He walked slowly towards the piano. As Cobb finished playing, he turned around to see Rachmaninoff standing right in front of him. Cobb almost had a heart attack, as Rachmaninoff said "nice melody, but the rhythm is all wrong" :-)

The Music:
Listen to the original Rachmaninoff's Prelude in C-minor here
Listen to George Cobb's Russian Rag here

(I'm still looking for a midi of the New Russian Rag. Please let me know if you find it.)

I found another attempt to rag'ize the prelude here. But it's not as good.

I've just started learning about Jazz music. (The course starts with an intro to Ragtime & Blues). This is turning into a very interesting experiment. I didn't think that Jazz is this much fun.

Oct 18, 2005

Corruption Perception Index - questions

The Corruption Perception Index (CPI) for 2005 has just come out. Jordan is ranked 37th with score 5.4 out of 10. An increase from last year's 5.3, rank also 37.

Things that puzzle me:
1- Jordan is higher than Italy (5.0, rank 40)

2- Syria, Saudi, & Egypt are at 3.4, rank 70. Yet, Lebanon is at 3.1, rank 83!

3- Iran & India are at 2.9, rank 88. Both of these countries are industrial and have very strong universities. Interesting to see their ratings so low.

for more discussion on CPI, see Naseem Tarawneh's blog:

Sep 15, 2005

Problem of Arabic Music: Take 2

I have started discussing the problem of Arabic Music in a previous post. Roba has helped with a nice comment, that I would like to use in continueing the discussion.

The question: why are there many bad Arabic songs today?

Roba had 3 main points:
1- Some modern songs are better (e.g. Nanci) than others (e.g. Maria).
2- The younger generation (kids, as Roba called them) actually think that Maria is good.
3- Music is not just good or bad - it depends on the occasion (e.g. wedding vs every day)

Before we delve into the discussion, let me re-cast the question. Of course, music is one of those "taste" issues that people cannot just agree upon. Furthermore, people tend to like their own music and hate that of younger generations. The question I'm posing is beyond all these variations. If you take all these measures in account, you will still find that the modern Arabic pop songs are not just different; they are actually bad relative to older ones.

In the first post, I stated that since music is taste-based, then "good/bad" criteria must be defined by the collective opinion of people, thus: popularity. And that created a dilemma: how come many people say that modern songs are bad but still they listen to them?

The solution is simple: popular does not necessarily mean good. As Roba has said, she might not mind dancing to a Maria song at a wedding, but that does not mean that the song is actually “good music”. So, people might like bad songs, but they appreciate good ones.

I think this is true in all ages. The Viennese audience was amazed by Beethoven’s 9th symphony, but, they were not dancing to it at their festivals or little parties. There must have been some form of light folkloric “dummy” compositions that were played at homes.

So now the question we have is: Why is some music popular but not good?

And that, I will inshallah try to think more about for my next blog...

Sep 13, 2005

islamic computer virus! funny
This virus will detect if you're watching a porn website. If so, it'll minimize the porn window and show a verse from Quran instead!

From the website's description of the virus:

Troj/Yusufali-A is a Trojan for the Windows platform.

Troj/Yusufali-A analyzes the title of the window in focus looking for various words. Some of the words Troj/Yusufali-A searches for are:


If Troj/Yusufali-A finds one of these words in the title bar it will minimise the current window and display the following message in English along with other messages in other languages:

YUSUFALI: Know, therefore, that there is no god but Allah, and ask forgiveness for thy fault, and for the men and women who believe: for Allah knows how ye move about and how ye dwell in your homes.

The message displayed by the Trojan horse

The message displayed by the Trojan horse.

Troj/Yusufali-A will continue to display messages if the offending window is left open, and after a while it displays a box in the middle of the screen containing the current time and a button 'For Exit Click Here'. As soon as the mouse is moved the box changes to have vertical bars and the text 'OH! NO i'm in the Cage'. The box contains LogOff, ShutDown and Restart buttons and the mouse pointer is locked within the confines of the box. All the buttons actually cause a logout. The keyboard is still useable.

Another message displayed by the Trojan horse

Another message displayed by the Trojan horse.

Sep 6, 2005

Ibn Battuta - funny!

(sorry I'm mixing Arabic & English here - but I can't figure out how to write Arabic on my Linux machine - Gnome-Fedora 4, for those who can help..)

As I couldn't sleep well yesterday, I started reading Ibn Battuta (thanks to, and what an interesting read it was. Few interesting quotes from the book:

1- Ibn Battuta & the Eskimos!! (Ard Al-Thulma)
وكنت سمعت بمدينة بلغار فأردت التوجه إليها لأرى ما ذكر عنها من انتهاء قصر الليل بها وقصر النهار أيضاً في عكس ذلك الفصل. وكان بينها وبين محلة السلطان مسيرة عشر. فطلبت منه من يوصلني إليها فبعث معي من أوصلني اليها وردني إليه. ووصلتها في رمضان فلما صلينا المغرب أفطرنا. وأذن بالعشاء في أثناء إفطارنا فصليناها وصلينا التراويح والشفع والوتر. وطلع الفجر إثر ذلك. وكذلك يقصر النهار بها في فصل قصره أيضاً. وأقمت بها ثلاثاً.
وكنت أردت الدخول إلى أرض الظلمة والدخول إليها من بلغار وبينهما أربعون يوماً. ثم أضربت عن ذلك لعظم المؤونة فيه وقلة الجدوى. والسفر إليها لا يكون إلا في عجلات صغار تجرها كلاب كبار. فإن تلك المفازة فيها الجليد فلا يثبت قدم الآدمي ولا حافر الدابة فيها.
والكلاب لها الأظفار فتثبت أقدامها في الجليد. ولا يدخلها إلا الأقوياء من التجار الذين يكون لأحدهم مائة عجلة أو نحوها موقرة بطعامه وشرابه وحطبه. فإنها لا شجر فيها ولا حجر ولا مدر. والدليل بتلك الأرض هو الكلب الذي قد سار فيها مراراً كثيرة وتنتهي قيمته إلى ألف دينار ونحوها وتربط العربة إلى عنقه ويقرن معه ثلاثة من الكلاب. ويكون هو المقدم تتبعه سائر الكلاب بالعربات. فإذا وقف وقفت. وهذا الكلب لا يضربه صاحبه ولا ينهره وإذا حضر الطعام أطعم الكلاب أولاً قبل بني آدم وإلا غضب الكلب وفر وترك صاحبه للتلف.

2- Ibn Battuta speaking Indian:
وقالت لهم: مارا ميترساني ازاطش " آنش " من ميدانم أواطاش است رهكاني مارا وهي تضحك ومعنى هذا الكلام أبالنار تخوفونني أنا أعلم أنها نار محرقة

3- Ibn Battuta & Women: Quiz: In what country do you think this has happened?
a- Andalus, b- Sudan, c- Turkey, d- China

ذكر مسوفة الساكنين

وأما هؤلاء فهم مسلمون محافظون على الصلوات وتعلم الفقه وحفظ القرآن. وأما نساؤهم فلا يحتشمن من الرجال ولا يحتجبن مع مواظبتهن على الصلوات. والنساء هنالك يكون لهن الأصدقاء والأصحاب من الرجال الأجانب وكذلك للرجال صواحب من النساء الأجنبيات. ويدخل أحدهم داره فيجد امرأته ومعها صاحبها فلا ينكر ذلك...
ولنسائها الجمال الفائق وهن أعظم شأناً

دخلت يوماً على القاضي بعد إذنه في الدخول فوجدت عنده امرأة صغيرة السن بديعة الحسن فلما رأيتها ارتبت وأردت الرجوع فضحكت مني ولم يدركها خجل. وقال لي القاضي: لم ترجع إنها صاحبتي. فعجبت من شأنهما فإنه من الفقهاء الحجاج واخبرت أنه استأذن السلطان في الحج في ذلك العام مع صاحبته لا أدري أهي هذه أم لا فلم يأذن له.
حكاية نحوها دخلت يوماً على أبي محمد يندكان المسوفي الذي قدمنا في صحبته فوجدته قاعداً على بساط وفي وسط داره سرير مظلل عليه امرأة معها رجل قاعد وهما يتحدثان. فقلت له: من هذه المرأة فقال: هي زوجتي. فقلت: ومن الرجل الذي معها فقال: هو صاحبها.
فقلت له: أترضى بهذا وأنت قد سكنت بلادنا وعرفت أمور الشرع. فقال لي: مصاحبة النساء للرجال عندنا على خير وأحسن طريقة لا تهمة فيها ولسن كنساء بلادكم. فعجبت من رعونته وانصرفت عنه فلم أعد إليه بعدها. واستدعاني في مرات فلم أجبه

Ibn Battuta visits Baghdad after it has been destroyed by the Mongols. His account of that city, a broken city but yet great, is very sad - especially given the situation today in Iraq.

For those who want to read it, his adventures in the south pacific islands are the most amusing. The book is available on

Sep 3, 2005

C++ programming style question

Salam All,
This is a c++ programming post/question. So, if you're not a programming geek, please ignore gracefully :-)

I'm looking for advice on choosing a simple & elegant programming style for a certain type of functions. I will first explain the function, and then list several solutions I've seen (and don't totally like so far), and then I'll keep it open for people to post back their suggested answers.

The Function (i want to write)
The function simply has several statements to execute in order. Each statement may return an error code. The statements must be called in order, and if any fails, none of the rest must execute. The function also has initialization & clean up code that must run (whether the statements fail or not).

How to write this function in an elegant readable style that would allow future additions & modifications easily?

Following are several solutions I've seen. However, there's something I do not like about each. My question is... do you know of different method that would avoid any of my dislikings?

Style #1, if-else-if, example
int TheElegantFunction () {
/*** init-code ***/
int rc = 0; //return value. 0 means no error

/*** the statements s1, s2, & s3 ***/
if (0 != (rc == s1())) {
} else if (0 != (rc == s2())) {
} else if (0 != (rc == s3())) {
} else {
//we were successful

/*** clean up ***/
return rc;

1- no code repetition
2- one-exit-point for the function
3- compact code (each statement takes 1 line)
1- not very readable (sequential code does not belong to the if-conditional-expression)
2- what to do with non-error-returning statements, or addign-statements
3- placing those statements in else {} will force creating several levels of nested else { if... }

Style #2, if-error, example
int TheElegantFunction () {
/*** init-code ***/
int rc = 0; //return value. 0 means no error

/*** the statements s1, s2, & s3 ***/
rc = s1();
if (rc != 0) {
/*** clean up ***/
return rc;
rc = s2();
if (rc != 0) {
/*** clean up ***/
return rc;
rc = s3();
if (rc != 0) {
/*** clean up ***/
return rc;

/*** clean up ***/
return rc;

1- readable
2- easy
1- you have to repeat the clean up code for every single statement
2- multiple exit points for the function - can be confusing to follow the logic

Style #3, goto-solution, example
int TheElegantFunction () {
/*** init-code ***/
int rc = 0; //return value. 0 means no error

/*** the statements s1, s2, & s3 ***/
rc = s1();
if (rc != 0) goto end;
rc = s2();
if (rc != 0) goto end;
rc = s3();
if (rc != 0) goto end;

/*** clean up ***/
return rc;

1- readable
2- one function exit point
3- compact
4- no repetition
1- the frowned-upoen, spagetti-programming, goto statement!
2- the goto can mask the logic and make the function not very readable - especially if there are loops

Style #4, my-dream-language, example
int TheElegantFunction () {
/*** init-code ***/
int rc = 0; //return value. 0 means no error

conditional_block (rc == 0 /* exit block when expression doesn't hold */) {
/*** the statements s1, s2, & s3 ***/
rc = s1();
rc = s2();
rc = s3();

/*** clean up ***/
return rc;

1- (I think) readable & elegant & clear logic-flow
2- no code-repetition
3- one entrance, one exit for the function
1- imaginary (maybe a nice C# v3.0 feature? hint hint ;-))

so what do you guys think? do you know of a nice style of write such common-functions?

Aug 30, 2005

What do you listen to while working?

What do you listen to when you work or study?

I usually look for no-lyrics, melow but not boring, complex but not distracting type of music. My favorites:

1- Mystical Legacies by Ali Jihad Racy. This album contains solo pieces by Racy on different Arabic and Middle Eastern instruments. The nay tracks are especially beautiful. Racy is considered the foremost Arabic musician in the US (yes, not Simon Shaheen)

2- Clarinet Trio & Quintet by Brahms. Towards the end of his life, Brahms decided to retire and never compose again, but then he did. And the last few pieces he produced were amazing. While I find early Brahms a bit too "obvious", his late compositions are truly at a different level. Just like with Mozart's Requiem and Beethoven's Ninth (although his earlier pieces are also amazing), for some reason, "maturity" does show up in music. And it's not just music maturity, but it's life-experience reflected on the composition.

So that is me. What do -you- listen to while working or studying?

Aug 27, 2005

Oh sweet California

Sabbar at china town 5
Originally uploaded by arrabi.
I go to this small dinky arab shop next to the musala in san jose (California, where I've moved very recently), and
what do I find!? ha, what do I find in this small dinky arab shop!?
In this small dinky arab shop, I find a piece of my lost spirit:

- SABBAR!! (prickly pears), oh, I've been looking for this stuff for so
long! In seattle I used to hunt in China Town every weekend to get it
like once a year.
- Bala7!! (yes, not Tamer, but hard juicy yellow Bala7). I did not have
bala7 since I was in Jordan in 2000. Ah.. the years I've yearned for one.
- real Teen!! and I'm not talking about the plastic green stuff you get
at Safeway. This is nice sweet teen (although I'm still looking for
that Syrian purple teen - big, juicy & self-peeling)
- Khiyar and Kosa!! the real thing, small & tasty and free of those huge
- white Seeds (bizir ya3ni, bizir!)

ah.. I know this sounds weird, but mediterranean fruits are hard to find in the US. California is so different. It's so similar to back home. People even have Lemon & Orange trees in their backyards.

(note: I didn't have my camera, so forgive me for using an older picture of Sabbar in Seattle)

Aug 25, 2005

Hijab Swim Suits!

Interesting idea... and... they actually look nice. It'll be nice to know if they are practical (did anybody try them or have seen them in use?)

Aug 23, 2005

The problem of modern Arabic music

Many accuse modern Arabic songs with extreme degradation.

You hear: Oh, Om Kalthoum's songs are the best.
You hear: All this Amr-Diab, Nansi stuff is nonsense.

But is it?
What makes a good song?
You can spend years researching the question. You can come up with a complicated rating system that gives points depending on the originality of the melody, the meaningfulness of the words, the "dignity" of the singer, etc. But then at the end, you would just create a very complicated system to answer the question "how much do you like this song?"; a question you can answer instantly after listening to it. And, if some other person creates another rating system, most likely his results will differ from yous. Thus, this whole rating system idea does not get us anywhere.

So again to the question, what makes a good song?
It seems that what matters the most, is whether people like the songs or not. Do the people in the Arab world like the modern songs? Just by looking at the concerts, bus stations, radio channels - a resounding yes, people love the music of today.

And this brings us full-circle: why do people accuse modern Arabic songs with extreme degradation, if they actually like them?

I don't know. Do you?

Jul 29, 2005

Kitsap Beach

Originally uploaded by arrabi.
testing Flickr's compatibility with the Blogger

Jul 27, 2005

Want to share your photos?

I wanted to give my uncle an easy-to-use powerful subscription to a photo-sharing site. I was SOOOO confused. There are SO MANY of these sites at very differing prices.
I found this "photo-sharing search engine" site very very useful:

Online Photo Resource Guide

Other good links:

kinda useful:

I also know that is weak. So far, my choice is seems very good but expensive. (now Kodak) gets a lot of praise, but I'm not sure. seems interesting... didn't try it yet. has a lot of people. Nice place to browse.
hope you find this useful.

Jul 6, 2005


It has been a while since I've last blogged... many reasons, but mainly got married, and so I blog verbally now :-).
I'm trying the new ImageBlog feature... and this is my first try. The beautiful autumn of Seattle...