but we are actually all winds
ever more than before
even ever more than before 
towards future 
and redeeming laughters
and happiest laughters
Start page JUMO | Code for America | good.is |
“If you want to free a society, just give them internet access. Because people, the young guys, you know, are all going to go out and see biased media, see the truth about other nations and their own nation and they’re going to be able to contribute and collaborate together.”




Baby fox playing with a little girl in the dessert :)

> My heart melted when it dug a hole to lay next to the girl.

> I have never heard an animal make such an adorable noise.

> This is like some Disney princess shizzz, so beautiful :’)


OMG what is this cute animal? 


Reblogged from la-belle-laide.

February 07, 2013, 11:17pm  10,819 notes


Muslim pilgrims circle the Kaaba and pray at the Grand mosque during the annual hajj pilgrimage in the holy city of Mecca ahead of Eid al-Adha which marks the end of hajj. On October 25, the day of Arafat, millions of Muslim pilgrims will stand in prayer on Mount Arafat near Mecca at the peak of the annual pilgrimage. Picture: Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters


Muslim pilgrims circle the Kaaba and pray at the Grand mosque during the annual hajj pilgrimage in the holy city of Mecca ahead of Eid al-Adha which marks the end of hajj. On October 25, the day of Arafat, millions of Muslim pilgrims will stand in prayer on Mount Arafat near Mecca at the peak of the annual pilgrimage. Picture: Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters


Shadia and Raja Alem 50 People Shaping the Culture of the Middle East Al Monitor 

Shadia and Raja Alem 50 People Shaping the Culture of the Middle East Al Monitor 

Old Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Old Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

▸ [Saudi Arabia] Saudi Arabia: in a restless realm - Abeer Allam, Financial Times

For Saudi Arabia - ‘Tipping point’ could be reached in much anticipated (thus familiar) issue areas - but I’m more curious about aspects found in quoted parts - less reported/discussed too.

The domestic situation compounds the problems. An ageing monarchy resistant to political change must focus on appeasing a young population – increasingly connected to the outside world – concerned about transparency in government decision-making; the distribution of the country’s resources, including oil wealth and land; and a dearth of jobs.


Although dissent levels are not yet sufficient to alarm the government, technology-savvy young Saudis appear willing to raise their voices. They note the region’s revolts and elections and – after years of poor economic decision-making, slow reform and low oil prices in the 1990s – higher living standards in Gulf states such as Dubai that lack Saudi Arabia’s natural resources.

In the remote mountain province of Abha, students protested in March against poor sanitation, demanding the dismissal of the university head, amid accusations of corruption and nepotism. Students posted videos of the protests on Twitter and Facebook, gaining support from others who shared their complaints. Some teachers, medics and airline workers have organised strikes and protests, seeking better conditions or new jobs.

Increasing numbers of young, educated middle class Saudis question the effectiveness of ruling a country of almost 27m, only 18m of whom are nationals, in the traditional tribal way. Despite years of petitioning, women lack the right to control their employment prospects, and even their own daily movements.

“The question is not ‘Is the system listening’ but ‘Does it respond to our needs?’” says Hala al-Dosari, a women’s rights advocate. “Are 9m women supposed to go and wait by a prince’s door when they can’t get their basic paperwork done because they need a male relative?’’

As Saudi rulers seek to pick a pragmatic course through changes transforming the region, the greater question they face is whether they can adapt to the subtle, but no less significant, evolution of their own society.

Aug 27, 2012, 10:08pm  0 notes      

“Try to imagine the online behaviours that people consider humorously objectionable (the humblebrag, the promo, the retweeting of compliments and “Follow Friday” recommendations) enacted in real life. Imagine telling friends and strangers that someone thinks you’re brilliant, or that you’re about to reach a certain number of followers and would like to thank them all, or repeating every compliment on a work you have produced with a straight face. It is simply the sign of a “weak and disturbed personality”, as Talal Thaqafi, a psychologist who backed up the fatwa with his medical opinion, declared. Wincingly close to the bone, he also went on to say that those who indulged in such behaviour “suffer from an internal void, and by increasing amounts of followers, he or she satisfies such a void, and draws attention to him or herself”.”

Nesrine Malik re: the Saudi cleric who declared a fatwa on buying Twitter followers (via guardiancomment

This is not to suggest that all social networking behaviour is symptomatic of an empty existence. But even at its most banal, a lot of it is self-aggrandising. Granted, in real life we all present a slightly abridged, polished version of ourselves in order to make friends and not alienate people, but this is magnified online, where much of it has become acceptable behaviour. So much of modern interaction is now virtual that naturally, some validation comes from it. But has this come at the expense of our authenticity?

Although it may be ridiculous to issue a fatwa on the topic, it’s an honest perspective of social networking culture, where we seek attention that we are “unable to achieve by any other means”. Next time your fingers hover over the retweet button, think about that.

August 21, 2012, 9:27am  297 notes

▸ [Saudi Islamic Conference, Syria] Next week's 'Mecca Declaration' will urge Assad to step down

Via Sultan Al Qassemi 

Personally not sure how much it weighs. 

Kuwait’s Al Seyassa: “During the upcoming Organisation of Islamic Conference meeting on Tuesday & Wednesday in Mecca Saudi King Abdallah will present the “Mecca Declaration”, a proposal similar to that which saw former Yemeni president Ali Abdallah Saleh step down from power offering Bashar, his family & all Syrian minorities guarantees of safety. This proposal will rule out any foreign military intervention according to observers. Sources say Arab states have agreed to the proposal but Iran has voiced reservations. Ahmedinejad is expected to obstruct the proposal.”

Source: facebook.com

Aug 11, 2012, 9:40pm  0 notes      

▸ [London Olympics] One small step for Wujdan, One HUGE leap for Saudi Women! - Saudi Roots

The 16-year old Saudi barely had a minute when the high-ranked Puerto Rican fighter easily beat her, but in my eyes she didn’t lose! she was a champ! She made a whole nation proud of her achievement. She competed in the greatest sporting event of mankind and without a shred of help from the Saudi government. In fact, the government (unlike any other country) not only didn’t support her, but stood in her way. At school they forbid her from participating in sports, and physical education just for being born a women. Outside school by not providing gyms and facilities for women, and as an athlete by not providing any funding for her to compete in the Olympics. Yet despite all of this, she managed to compete in this global event that had hundreds of millions of viewers- What an achievement! She has not only competed for herself, but for every Saudi women out there with a dream. Her accomplishments will loudly tell them that they can do anything they desire, and being a Saudi women will not stand in the way of there dreams! What a role model to be proud of!

Unfortunately, her performance today has highlighted a very horrible treat we have in Saudi – Racism! Because of Wujdan’s historical roots from outside the Arab Isles, she has been targeted with racial slur. The worrying this is, the Saudi authorities don’t take racism seriously, so I expect nothing will be done, and no support will be provided for her to deal with this unacceptable behaviour.

I hope and wish that Wujods participation in the Olympics will highlight the importance of women in sports, and highlight the URGENT need to create facilities and gyms in schools and beyond for females in the Kingdom.

Source: saudiroot.com

Aug 03, 2012, 11:26am  0 notes      

▸ [London Olympics] 82 Seconds to History for Saudi Olympian, WallSt Journal

LONDON—It only lasted 82 seconds, but Wojdan Shaherkani made history.

The 16-year old Saudi judo fighter stepped onto the mats at the London Olympics on Friday and lost in barely a minute when a high-ranked Puerto Rican fighter easily toppled her.

But the rapid defeat didn’t detract from the bout’s significance: Shaherkani became the first woman to compete for Saudi Arabia in the Olympics—a breakthrough moment in the ultraconservative kingdom.

After the match, speaking through a Saudi judo official who translated her brief remarks to a hoard of dozens of reporters, she said she was “excited” and “a bit scared” during her groundbreaking appearance. “Hopefully this is the beginning of a new era,” she added.

It almost didn’t happen. Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s most conservative Muslim countries, agreed last month to send two women to the Olympics, making it the last country to include women on its team. But with days to go before the Games, the International Judo Federation, the sport’s governing body, said she couldn’t compete while wearing a head scarf. Saudi officials, as well as Shaherkani’s father, said she couldn’t compete without one.

The two sides reached a compromise earlier this week, allowing Shaherkani to wear an unspecified form of headgear.

She showed up wearing a white judo robe and black cloth wrapped tightly around her head. Her opponent was Melissa Mojica, one of the world’s top judoka in the heavyweight category.

Shaherkani had never participated in an international judo bout. She was invited to the Olympics in a symbolic attempt to strike a blow for women’s rights in Saudi Arabia. The country prohibits women from playing sports in front of mixed audiences of men and women, and Saudi schools generally don’t provide girls with physical education.

Before the fight, some other judo fighters worried that Shaherkani wasn’t qualified to compete and suggested it could be dangerous for her to square off against Olympic athletes in the violent sport.

Those concerns faded quickly when the bout got under way. Shaherkani used a defensive strategy, trying to deflect Mojica’s advances. She succeeded a few times before Mojica grabbed hold of her and swung her to the ground. That ended the match.

As she walked to the locker room, Shaherkani’s father was waiting. He embraced her in a bear hug, as Shaherkani cried. Her father, a judo referee who taught Shaherkani judo, has been nearly constantly by her side, often with his arm wrapped around her shoulder, partly due to a Saudi edict that she could only participate in the Games if constantly accompanied by a man.

In Saudi Arabia, the initial reaction to Shaherkani’s participation in the games had been fiercely divided. Some welcomed her as a trailblazer. Others derided her and the other Saudi female Olympian, a runner who has yet to compete, as “prostitutes.” The Saudi Olympic Committee itself appears to be struggling to come to terms with the inclusion of women on its squad. The young women weren’t included in a group photo of Saudi Olympic officials posing with the male Saudi Olympic athletes carried by the Saudi Press Agency this week.

On Friday, Shaherkani’s match took place around the time of the main Friday prayer in Saudi Arabia, meaning many people likely didn’t watch it live. But some Saudis were in the crowd to cheer her on.

"It was a very proud moment," said Raf Fatani, a Saudi academic who stood in the stands with a Saudi flag around his neck. Shaherkani didn’t lose because of lack of talent, he said, "she lost because the Saudi government didn’t give young women like her the training opportunity. She made every Saudi individual, man or woman, very proud, win or lose."

On Twitter, Shaherkani’s brother said he’d been passing on the kind words to his sister. “She replied that she is proud to represent the kingdom and all the Saudi women who wanna do sports,” he wrote.

"It’s going to give hope to so many young women," said Alla al Mizyen, a 22-year-old consultant in the Saudi coastal city of Jeddah, who played basketball at an international school and watched Friday’s judo match on television. Saudi girls often are told they can’t play sports. Now, she said, they can point to Shaherkani and say, "No, I can do this, and not only that, but I can go to a global platform like the Olympics."

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Aug 03, 2012, 11:21am  3 notes      


History in the making; Saudi women walking proudly among the Olympic athletes for the first time ever


History in the making; Saudi women walking proudly among the Olympic athletes for the first time ever

▸ [Egypt-Saudi Relation] In Simply Meeting, Egyptian and Saudi Leaders Open New Era - NYTimes.com

For its part, Saudi Arabia needs Egypt, the most populous Arab state and home to the most formidable Arab army. Both countries are anxious to counter Iranian influence in the region, and the Saudi-dominated Gulf Cooperation Council has even floated the idea of enlisting Egypt as some sort of auxiliary member to help firm up its military alliance.

What is more, the Saudi monarchy may fear that the Islamists in Cairo could potentially exercise a subversive influence in support of Brotherhood allies inside Saudi Arabia.

But Mr. Morsi made clear in his inaugural address that he shared Saudi Arabia’s opposition to the situation in Syria, where the Iranian-backed government of Bashar al-Assad has been crushing his opponents in what is nearing civil war.

Saudi-Egypt relation is crucial thing. But then, this is just making me wonder more about this: Hamas top traveling to Tunisia and then Morocco - attending governing party’s official - gatherings. (PR move countering Palestinian Authority? but then how govts of Tunisia and Morocco can endorse that?) 

Hamas chief [Meshaal] attends Morocco ruling party [PJD] conference - AFP

RABAT — Khaled Meshaal, the politburo chief of Hamas, on Saturday attended the opening of the first conference of Morocco’s ruling Party of Justice and Development (PJD) since the moderate Islamists won November polls.

"Khaled Meshaal arrived yesterday evening in Rabat and is participating in the opening of our party conference," Abdelaali Hamiddine, a party leader, told AFP

More than 2,000 people were present at the start of the congress in Rabat, which took place under the theme of “good governance,” and in the wake of last year’s Arab Spring uprisings that swept the region, bringing regime change to three north African countries.

The PJD won parliamentary elections in November that were called early by King Mohammed VI to pre-empt swelling Arab Spring-inspired protests in Morocco, and its leader, Abdelilah Benkirane, was appointed prime minister in January.

Meshaal, whose Palestinian Islamist movement rules Gaza, flew to Morocco from Tunisia, where he participated in the first home congress in 24 years of the ruling Islamist party there, Ennahda. It had swept to power following the ouster of president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011.

Jul 16, 2012, 6:53am  0 notes      

▸ [Saudi Arabia: Shooting and capturing of Shiite Cleric Nimr al-Nimr] Ellen Knickmeyer - Wall St Journal

There was a similarly detailed report from Reuters, but this WallSt Journal piece provides a narration of how the incident happened. (*Not necessarily true or whole truth thing)

Prince Nayef’s death - Shiite Sheik al-Nimr post a video calling for ‘rejoicing’ Prince’s death on Youtube (WallSt Journal says verified it) - then somehow Saudi security force attempted arrest/capture of the Shiek - and that somehow resulted in shootings, injuries and deaths.

And views are that this could only escalate the tension within Saudi Arabia, esp in its Eastern province (Qatif). 

RIYADH—Two protesters were killed amid demonstrations in Saudi Arabia over the shooting and capture by security forces of a Shiite cleric who had called for “rejoicing” over the recent death of the crown prince, activists said Monday.

The arrest of the Saudi cleric, Nimr al-Nimr, disappointed some activists and diplomats who had hoped that the Sunni monarchy might ease up on crackdowns under a new interior minister who had succeeded one considered to be a hard-liner on dissent.

Sheik al-Nimr, known for his fiery speeches against the kingdom’s rulers, played into government worries of opposition figures seeking to incite unrest among Saudi Shiites to destabilize the state and widen the influence of neighboring Iran.

The new interior minister, Ahmed bin Abdulaziz al Saud, succeeded his older brother, former Crown Prince and Interior Minister Nayef, after the prince died on June 16.

Saudi Shiites, who mostly hail from the oil-rich Eastern Province, have long alleged discrimination in majority Sunni Saudi Arabia. Last year, six Shiite protesters died in confrontations with security forces during several protests.

Jafer al-Shayeb, a longtime Shiite activist there, said Monday that the situation had calmed this year.

"But after the developments last night, for today and coming days, we will see more protests and violence," Mr. al-Shayeb said. "It’s not in the interest of anyone."

Shortly after Crown Prince Nayef’s death, Sheik al-Nimr appeared in a sermon posted on YouTube and viewed by The Wall Street Journal calling for “rejoicing” over the prince’s passing.

The video caused a stir among Saudis in a kingdom whose royal family has religious stature and functions as the guardian of Islam’s two holiest shrines. Open criticism by Saudis of the monarchy is rare.


Despite some earlier Western expectations that a change at the top of the Interior Ministry might bring a softer approach, “change rarely comes quickly” in Saudi Arabia. Jane Kinninmont, a senior research fellow at London-based Chatham House think-tank, noted Monday.

"It’d be too early to expect much of a difference," Ms. Kinninmont said. "If anything, the direct targeting of Sheik Nimr represents an escalation."

Jul 09, 2012, 5:33pm  1 note      

▸ Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood lacks 'political vision,' says Saudi government official - Ahram Online

Anwar Eshki, an advisor to Saudi Arabia’s Cabinet of Ministers and head of the Jeddah-based Middle East Centre for Strategic and Legal Studies, accused Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood of lacking the requisite political vision and experience for governing the country.

Eshki, in an interview with Al-Ahram, expressed his fears on the “doubted aspirations” of the Islamist and most politically-based entity which in the minds of many is seeking to extend its control over the country and pave the way for the reproduction of despotism in Egypt.

"If no roadmap is drawn, the Muslim Brotherhood will have a tripartite stronghold over the executive, legislative and judicial authorities," he stated.

Eshki also described the transitional phase in the post-Mubarak era as a “tough process” for the whole nation, negotiating the different stages of transformation from authoritarianism to a freedom-based political system.

"I hope that democratic progression will be achieved quickly; Egyptians could not afford the price of other alternatives," Eshki said.  

The Brotherhood and Saudi Arabia share Sunni Muslim values, but Riyadh regards the movement as a competitor with an aggressively activist political doctrine that might destabilise allies and foment discord inside the kingdom.

Permeating Saudi worries about the Muslim Brotherhood are decades of ideological rivalry.

Since the 18th century, the ruling Al-Saud family has enjoyed a close alliance with clerics of the ultra-conservative Wahhabi school of Islam.

In the modern kingdom, the royal family has bankrolled the clergy and given them wide-ranging influence over government policy. In return, the clerics have espoused a political philosophy that demands obedience to the ruler, a notion that shaped Saudi dismay at last year’s Arab revolts.

By contrast, the Muslim Brotherhood has always promoted an active political role for Islam, first as a revolutionary organisation and more lately as a force in democratic politics.

Some Saudi leaders have accused the Brotherhood of inspiring the kingdom’s main domestic opposition group, the Sahwa movement that in the 1990s agitated to bring democracy to Saudi Arabia.

Last month, Ahmed Al-Qattan, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Egypt, stressed that the oil-rich kingdom does not support any particular Egyptian presidential candidate over another, refuting allegations that his country is pushing for an Islamist Egyptian president.

Al-Qattan’s words, according a press release issued by the Saudi Embassy in Cairo, came in a meeting with presidential contender Mohamed Mursi, head of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), outside the embassy’s premises.

Jun 21, 2012, 8:18pm  2 notes      

▸ 10 voices for change in Saudi Arabia, Christa Case Bryant, Christian Science Monitor, May 30 2012

  • 1.Sheikh Salman al-Ouda
Sheikh Salman al-Ouda spoke to a group of US journalists in his home in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, earlier this month.
(Christa Case Bryant/The Christian Science Monitor)

Prominent Salafi cleric, with more than 1 million Twitter followers

"To debate and consult the citizen in decisions and policies … [and] elections, I think Islam gave us that sort of democracy – all caliphs were elected by their people…. The problem here is with the philosophical democracy without a limit…. For example, it’s impossible one day within an Islamic system to have a debate on homosexuality … since it is religiously forbidden."

  • 2.Samar Fatany
Samar Fatany, Radio journalist: ‘It’s no good to be a rebel … you’re going to be marginalized…. So I think people want to [pursue reform] with wisdom and patience so they can influence change and have their way with these hardliners in society.’
(Christa Case Bryant/The Christian Science Monitor)

Radio journalist and women’s rights advocate

"It’s no good to be a rebel … you’re going to be marginalized…. So I think people want to [pursue reform] with wisdom and patience so they can influence change and have their way with these hard-liners in society."

  • 3.Fahad al-Butairi

US-educated comedian with the wildly popular YouTube show La Yekthar (‘Put a lid on it’)

“I think the government likes what we’re doing, because it’s releasing some pressure.”

Here is the most popular episode to date, which takes aim at the government’s relatively new anticorruption campaign. It has gotten nearly 3.5 million hits so far. (Click “CC” for English subtitles.)

  • 4.Dr. Maha Almuneef

Pediatrician, executive director of the National Family Safety Program, and one of 12 women appointed as consultants to the Shura Council*

"A lot of women activists are against us as consultants. They said, ‘You are there just to improve the picture of Saudi Arabia in the West; you are not very active in this.’ They were right…. However, I do believe that we as consultants were really treated as full members, and we were really taken seriously.”

*The Shura Council is comprised of 150 appointed members, all of whom are male, together with a dozen female “consultants.”

  • 5.Mohammed al-Qahtani
Mohammed al-Qahtani recently declared Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz unfit to become king.

Economics professor and prominent human rights advocate

“It’s a very difficult time…. You’re going after a regime that is very entrenched, with lots of outside support, lots of oil that the international economy depends on, and it’s very easy for [other countries] to look the other way…. But believe me, we can weather it….

“Our goal is to reach a situation where the regime is bound by its own law.”

  • 6.Wesal Abu al-Khair
Ms. Abu al-Khair takes time out from preparing for medical school exams to speak to a group of US journalists at King Abdulaziz University in the coastal city of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
(Christa Case Bryant/The Christian Science Monitor)

Medical student, King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah

"Revolution is not necessary to change a country – the people themselves need to change and to understand how change is important in order for us to be able to revolutionize. If the king changed, even if the system changed, if people don’t understand how change is important, we’re not going to build anything…. We’re going to be like Egypt exactly.”

  • 7.Prince alWaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz al-Saud
Prince alWaleed has used his significant wealth and media holdings to press for more openness in Saudi society, as well as greater cultural understanding between Islamic countries and the West.

Businessman and media magnate ranked 29th on Forbes' billionaire list

“The revolution that took place around us [the Arab Spring] was a wake-up call…. No one will say it, but it was the catalyst.”

  • 8.Princess Ameerah al-Taweel
Princess Ameerah has overseen a considerable expansion of the AlWaleed bin Talal Foundations’ work over the past year and a half, including everything from handing out cars and appliances to Jeddah flood victims to training newly hired saleswomen in lingerie stores.

Wife of Prince alWaleed and vice-chairwoman of the board of trustees of the AlWaleed bin Talal Foundations

"When you find a conservative person, most likely they are attacking liberals [and vice versa] … We don’t attack anyone. We believe the majority are in the middle – they love religion, they love tradition…. The voices that are really high are on either end."

  • 9.Lamya AlAbdulkarim

Businesswoman who recently co-founded a girls’ soccer program in Riyadh

"Sport is a window to so many things – this is … a small window [into change]."

  • 10.Usamah al-Kurdi

Member of the Shura Council and chairman of the US-Saudi Congressional Friendship Committee

"The ballot box is not the only sign of democracy."

‘It’s no good to be a rebel … you’re going to be marginalized…. So I think people want to [pursue reform] with wisdom and patience so they can influence change and have their way with these hardliners in society.’

Source: csmonitor.com

Jun 01, 2012, 6:02pm  0 notes