Thursday, April 30, 2009

On racism et al

Face to face with history ...??

More words that are blindingly obvious ... but where to from here?

I cannot decide, can you?  

So in the meantime, ponder on this: 


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Spring in the UK

'Oh to be in England now that spring is here'.

The sun is shining on my mother's back garden and this is her view from her sitting room down through to the golf course. The second picture is from the cliffs looking down on Bournemouth beach. A lovely part of the world and a beautiful spring day. T
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Moab musings

Trees destroyed to make way for a larger highway between Amman and the airport, 
opposite Yaddudeh, a few kilometres south of Amman ...

‘If Mohammad would not come to the mountain, the mountain will come to Mohammad ...’ So said hubby this morning as he arrived in the computer room carrying a refreshing tray of coffee and treats, for his much frustrated wife who could only access half the internet today!

Probably just as well if you survey the planet these days, all kinds of hobgoblins and hooligans popping up in every corner, what with the Americans just realizing that violence is endemic in their society including violence against women; Clinton recognizing America’s role in the dire state of Pakistani affairs … “we should have filled the vacuum after the Russians left Afghanistan”, (!!!@*& ...??) to Obama flip flopping his way through the maze of American/AIPAC foreign policy and the home truths of torture …. I sure did once have a dream … but it was only a dream!

And so ‘on on’ as the Hash House Harriers would say, as Jordan celebrates Earth day with tree planting here and there, and slates 10,000 trees along the airport road with destruction to, presumably, make way for wider roads and the complexities of a population explosion.  And meanwhile in Egypt, a local sheikh issues a fatwa against the Jordanian government because it is thinking about passing a law limiting child birth … 

“Look here voice of doom” bellows hubby from the other room, I want to buy a dark mysterious car …


“Shoo barifnee … New, not a scratch on it … lots of power … to scare people ...  LOL … to compensate for all my complexes … got it?!”

Well no …. Hubby with complexes??  And what might they be??

“Complexes of a suppressed man ….”

Me:  laugh out even louder ….

“trampled with the clutter of life … and the pain of income tax files.”


It’s that time of year you know … it’s that time of year every day it would seem!






Friday, April 17, 2009

Here we go again ... Dibeen et al

What is it with this government that it thinks it has the right to stampede all over our landscape with hob nail boots destroying everything in its path ... including the legacy of mother nature when it comes to investment and development?? Very soon we, the citizen, will no longer recognise our own country. If the government does not respect the law or the very land we live on ... what hope is there for our children's future ....?

True the land is still there, but the soul of the country and its culture is fast disappearing down a development hole because change is imposed; an ancient landscape and its trees destroyed - it does not evolve.

I was saddened on a recent visit to Madaba .... as it is being turned upside down and with it the lives of the people who live there all because of tourism and development plans!  Can we please have a breather .....?

The new streets are so small you can no longer turn a corner in a truck or 4x4 ... the pavements are so big the shop owners can no longer have easy access to their places of work for deliveries etc .... and Madaba is loosing its quaint identity of old, simply because tourists and the aid masters seem to have more say in how a Jordanian village should be organised! So much for devolvement when USAID is around ....

There is an uneasy disconnect  between the people of Madaba and the policies of aid/tourism agencies .... I sense the people are growing weary with all this change in the development game. When will it end? When we have a completely new Middle East I suppose ...

Madaba's new road infrastructure - enormous pavements with tiny 3m wide roads - Where am I again???

Instead of one road at a time, the whole of Madaba looks like this ...

Environment society decries decision to relocate Dibbeen resort site

Jordan Times 17 April 2009

By Mohammad Ghazal

AMMAN - The Jordan Environment Society (JES) on Thursday decried a decision to relocate the proposed site of a multimillion dinar tourist resort in Dibbeen reserve, claiming that the new location is in "a highly dense" forest area.

The relocation, in an area of the Dibbeen forest where tree density is between 85 to 90 per cent, is a violation of several regulations, according to the JES.

The forest is of ecological importance to conservationists in Jordan and globally because it is the southern-most natural pine forest in the world.

The selection of the new location is in violation of 2007 land usage regulations, which prohibit construction in any area where tree density is more than 30 per cent, JES Executive Director Ahmad Kofahi told The Jordan Times in a phone interview on Thursday.

Jordan Dubai Capital (JDC) and the investment unit of the Social Security Corporation signed a memorandum of understanding in 2006 to construct the JD100 million comprehensive tourism complex.

But environmentalists expressed concern over ecological ramifications of the resort's location, noting that the infrastructure for such a complex, including the construction of roads, water pipelines, sewage networks and parking lots, would harm the forests in Dibbeen.

Their arguments prompted the Environment Ministry to propose an alternate site, which already contains infrastructure, so no trees would have to be cut when the project is implemented.

This is the third time the ministry has changed the location of the project, Kofahi noted.

"A team of experts, including some who work for public agencies, visited the new location and reported that tree density is higher there than permitted rates for construction," he said, pointing out that some trees at the new site are more than 200-years-old.

The Higher Regulation Council, which authorises such projects, has also set a JD10,000 fine for each tree the developer cuts.

Kofahi also said the ministry did not complete an environmental impact assessment (EIA) of the project before giving it the go-ahead, although a bylaw within the Environmental Protection Act requires a positive EIA before construction begins.

Officials from the Environment Ministry and JDC were unavailable for comment.

The planned Munya Woodland Resort and Spa includes convention halls, chalets, entertainment facilities and therapeutic centres, as well as a 40-room lodge.

The 500-dunum complex is expected to create 500-750 job opportunities in Dibbeen, which is among the least-economically developed areas in the country.

17 April 2009


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

"No Name" Private Hospital Violator

I don’t get it. On page two of the Jordan Times today (April 14, 2009) there is a 9 paragraph column headed “Private hospital closed down for violating Public Health Law.” The author proceeds to list the reasons that it was closed but refrains from disclosing the name of the hospital. If it is newsworthy to write about this institution, why can’t its name be published? Who are we protecting here and why even write the article about this nameless "place???"


I noticed in the Jordan Times this morning the creation of Warcati. We already have Madrasati and I was just wondering if one of our royals was going to form a Wazarati to ensure better performance of our ministries!.........z

Friday, April 10, 2009

Vandalism at the Citadel

Archaelogical vandalism is taking place at the Citadel. This is a tourism centre being built on top of one of our national heritage sites with bulldozers digging ditches and holes. I gather there will also be an area for tourist coaches.

There seems to be a school of thought that all our archaeological sites need tourist centres. I would have thought it was more important to protect and preserve these places and leave them to be excavated in peace without building on our precious history. But all that we seem to be looking at is development at the price of culture. Please read a previous blog on this site on this particular subject by J. T

Thursday, April 09, 2009

From Nepal with love

Here is one very special man who embodies all the good things in life; he is also very courageous in his quest, especially to ride a bike around the world!

Which got me thinking about the benefit of the bike ... funny how we can always find the money to widen roads for more cars …and yet not do anything serious about fixing pavements, or even building a cycling/running/walking route within the existing structures all over town. Doh! Forgot about all the pollution that makes walking impossible! If only we could have a moratorium on massive development and car imports, maybe then we can enjoy and maintain what we already have … with some peace and quiet ….

If this wonderful man, Pushkar Shah, has shown us anything in his drive for peace, it’s that peace is a choice, peace is attainable, because peace comes from the heart, but you need to recognize it first.


Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The lighter side of life ...

Fed up with politics et al ... started this a while ago and finished it this morning! I must be feeling better! So here's to all those little bits of nonsensical ramblings to start the day off ...

Ode to Age

For Hubby by J

When you hit a certain age
And your biological clock
considers it a totally new page,
your mind is off, ad hoc
and your body goes into a rage!

While you think that all that changes
Is that you become a little wiser,
A sage …it makes no difference because
Your body flies into yet another rage!

And while it thinks you have gained too many years in age
As your trousers lose their way to your waist
And pause at your knees
wondering how to get up to your …
‘teeze’ …

It’s the mind that’s raging wild and nutty
Ad hoc flutterings and wild imaginings
Waiting and wondering
Bemused …

“But how could this happen to me?”

So next time you pause at the bathroom door,
The mirror of perfidy posed to pounce,
Smile and remember
The simple rule of the game
That life
needs a little madness
to be free!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Tourism and its effects … but what about Culture and the effects of development?

Commendable that there is yet another ‘conference’ to tackle issues of concern to society. Issues are raised, papers written, conclusions made …. But what is the difference … something akin to the sorry state of Arab summit affairs?

When Princess Sumaya al Hassan says “This conference comes at the right time now when our culture and civilisation faces the danger of irresponsible human actions, pollution and fast demographic growth," we should all be taking her seriously enough to incorporate preservation into all our laws and bylaws to curb irresponsibility for the greater good.

Raising concern over the effects of tourism on the social and cultural fabric of society is nothing new. We just don’t heed the lessons of the past when economics and investment overtake the need for preserving our cultural heritage, whether it’s a tree (airport road as in above picture) or an ancient handicraft, such as shibriya making. A challenging point when one considers the cause and effect of tourism on the local economy …. culture will always loose out to big bucks. Such a pity that this issue is not debated to a logical conclusion, (ie culture must be protected at all costs), at our preeminent house of parliament. Ooops silly me, forgot these are the people driving the development train!

So who do we turn to when culture is forced to give way to development, and we the people object ? Sad to think that in GAM’s 100th anniversary year, their drive for development in the name of investment, sees fit  to consign one hundred years of cultural urban heritage into the annals of history; (see below) … and this at a time when Amman is trying to make its case to become the world cultural capital of 2016! If we don’t respect the past, what message are we sending to our children ….I suppose the only consolation is that all this modern, faceless, insensitive building in the name of development will also suffer the same fate twenty years down the line!

When are the tourism masters going to understand that tourists visit Jordan for its archaeological sites and history; its quaint and charming little shops and staircases, handicrafts and sense of the old; the delights of floating on the Dead Sea, and basking and diving on and in the Red Sea; its ancient landscape and pristine environment untouched by human hand, (nothing quite like walking in the footsteps of the prophets around Mount Nebo and beyond). They come to Jordan to escape development and immerse themselves into a Jordanian cultural and social experience, as the people are at the heart of the matter regardless of stature .....     J Amman to make case for world cultural capital title …2016 Officials explore tourism’s impact on heritage, culture Dagger makers survive fall of empire, struggle with GAM eviction notice

Thursday, April 02, 2009

The Good Old Days

Most people, particularly the young, dislike hearing how great the good old days were. Most of the time I agree with them. Life is change and change will happen whether we are ready for it or not. One hopes it is for the better.
Now that I’ve said that, I want to make an exception. I do wish for the good old days when I could phone my Internet provider, press 4 for technical support, and hear a human being offer to help me. He listened to my problem and then would walk me through the solution while I sat in front of my computer and followed his instructions. I could tell him to repeat them or to slow down until I got it right and my problem was solved. Now, I phone a number and am told to phone another one. Sometimes it rings and instead of being answered it just disconnects. Sometimes I get a recording that says, “The operator isn’t available, goodbye,” and then the line disconnects. Sometimes I get a recording with instructions that whiz by me, and then when I get it right and press the correct extension, I get another recording or loud music and I wait. I wait and wait until I give up and hope that next time I call, I will get the help I need.
I guess I shouldn’t complain because for the past two decades or more whenever I was visiting my family in the States and needed to call an airline, an airport, a large corporation, a bank – you name it – I would get a recording and then a long wait would follow. In fact, a major complaint from my family in the States is that they dream to talk to a human being when they make a phone call. But I suppose that is the way of progress in this technical age. Jordan obviously isn’t going to be left behind. Our small little companies, locally owned, have been sold to bigger (better?) and certainly more impersonal mega corporations. They offer faster, more up to date products and services supposedly. The customer is forced to manage as best he can with the mediocre service he is given. At least when I call I’m not ‘outsourced’ to India, China, or the Fiji Islands – yet.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Farewell to Oman

Since my daughter will be moving here in June, I just made what might be my last trip to Oman. As a real farewell I took 3 of my girlfriends with me and did some things that I had never done before. First, it was wonderful introducing them to a country that I have learned to know and love and it was fun opening their eyes to this multifaceted jewel.

How to describe this Arab country located on the Arabian Gulf? First it is not a UAE “Disney Land” it is a real genuine place working hard to balance growth and development with the environment. In fact we arrived in the middle of a huge campaign against plastic bags and large substitute bags made from jute were being sold for the equivalent of 20 piasters (30 cents)at checkout counters.

The streets are clean and beautifully landscaped, the driving is orderly, people obey the rules at the roundabouts and car honking is considered an offense and one can be fined for breaking it. Houses have to have an “Islamic” ambiance and must be painted in white or pastels, their roofs are finished off with no unsightly steel bars, washing lines, or ugly water tanks visible. And the Omanis are friendly, soft-spoken, refined and polite people.

While there we drove 3 hours south of Muscat to Ras al-Jinz (, the most eastern point of the Arabian Peninsula, to visit the famous green turtle nesting beach. At 9:00 p.m., in a professional and organized group, we made our way to where over 20,000 females return annually to the same place where they were hatched, in order to their lay eggs. There we watched one monstrous female laying what would be a minimum of 100 eggs the size of ping pong balls. We also saw a group of baby hatchlings who had just dug themselves out of their nest struggling to cross the sand to reach the water. Through all of this we were in pitch dark with only a dim light provided by the guide. The reason for this is that the turtles follow the reflection of the light on the water to orient themselves and if they see light other than that from the sea, they will go the wrong direction and will die. It was impressive how serious the Omanis took their responsibility to protect this endangered species and this unique phenomena that Ras al-Jinz is famous for.

Other visits were to the amazing Muscat fish market, the fascinating old souk, the lovely Bait al Zubair museum, the magnificent Great Mosque and the modern city malls. A lovely week with friends and family ended with the treat of watching granddaughter Zeyna in her school play performance, The Aristrocats”. Her sister Karmah proudly called us the “Grandma brigade” and we enjoyed being that. So farewell lovely Oman, I admire the orderly way that your beautiful country is being developed. It is certainly something that the rest of the Arab world could take lessons from.