Sunday, November 29, 2009

More Saudi Driving

What to say except watch this You Tube video ...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Vilence Against Women

This landed in my in-box today:

Bahrain Human Rights Watch Society (BHRWS) launch: Bahraini Civil Network to Combat Violence Against Women (BCNCVAW)

A PETITION urging authorities to introduce a family law and a labour law to stop violence against women and protect expatriate workers was launched by a Bahrain human rights group today.

More than 100 people have already signed the BHRWS petition, which specifically requests the protection of women and children.

The petition was launched by the BHRWS' Respect Movement on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

Signatures will be collected until the end of the month and the petition will be presented to the UN, in Geneva. It will also be sent to the UN Human Rights Commission and international organisations.

BHRWS Regional and International Relations Director and (BCNCVAW) Director Samira Al Sada said urgent action was needed from the Bahrain authorities because people were suffering.
"There are more than 72,000 expat domestic workers whose wages are around BD45 per month and who work more than 12 hours a day with no rest," she said.

"Many who are running from abuse still have cases in court, but Bahrain joined the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 2001."

"There are many cases to address, for example there are many Bahraini women married to expats or expats women married to GCC men like Rebecca Jones and her son Adam who are still waiting for their children to get citizenship and some are in a bad situation. And she said that the news and HOPES that a Adam mother would be temporarily reunited with her ten-year-old son today, who was allegedly kidnapped in Qatar almost two months ago, appeared dashed last night was particularly upsetting considering that today marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

"Although this isn't physical violence, it is a typical example of the sort of treatment that women can suffer in the region," she added

And she saied today BHRWS launch: Bahraini Civil Network to Combat Violence Against Women (BCNCVAW) As BHRWS launch this Civil Network, BHRWS call all everywhere to join us. Break the silence. When you witness violence against women and girls, do not sit back. Act. Advocate. Unite to change the practices and attitudes that incite, perpetrate and condone this violence.

BHRWS secretary-general, Faisal Fulad said efforts from all sectors were needed to ensure that women, children and domestic workers had the rights they deserve.

Gender-based violence, he said, was a form of discrimination that seriously curbs women's ability to enjoy rights and freedoms on a basis of equality with men.

"We have to take appropriate measures, especially in the field of education and legislation, to modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women and to eliminate prejudices, customary practices and other practices based on the idea of the inferiority or superiority of either of the sexes and on stereotyped roles for men and women."

The petition was welcomed by female victims of abuse and they were the first to sign the petition.

"This law will ensure the basic rights of all mothers and their children and grant them dignity and respect in the society that they live in,' they said.
'It is important to include domestic workers under the labour law so they can also be assured of their basic rights."

To electronically sign the petition, which remains open until the end of the month, go to

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me, Happy Birthday to Me ...

Today, White Girl, Arab World is one year old (if you're European/Western) or two (if you're Arab), which makes Tuesday 24th November, 2009, my offical blogging birthday [eed mee-laa-dee].

I want to say a very big "Thank You" to everyone who's visited over the past 12 months: 65 followers and 43,000+ visits from 142 coutries is a lot of you and a very happy me.  Over the past year, as I've watched visitors arrive from totally-exotic-sounding locations such as Nunavut Territory, Terruco and Thimphu, I've started to realise how small the world really is. "Salam" and "Shukran" for visiting.

I'd also like to say a special thank you to bloggers Angie and Christine, both of whom I've met online and who have been there when the going got tough (although Angie perhaps didn't realise it ...)

Finally, to everyone who reads this blog, thank you for visiting and I do hope you'll continue to visit during the next year.

Happy Birthday to You, Happy Birthday to You ...

The west gets it wrong again.  Image taken from: here

Age Numbering System
In the western world when you're born, you're aged 0 and become 1 on your first birthday, whilst in the Arab world a baby is born aged 1 and becomes 2 a year later.  It seemed strange until I realised it's just a different way to label the same thing; an additional year is given in one of two places, the beginning or the end, depending on which system you're using.

Date of Birth
Because births went unrecorded until about 70 or 80 years ago, many older Arabs don't know when they were born and can only guess at their age and date of birth.  Not so with the younger ones and anyone who is about 60 years old or younger knows which day they were born on, even if they don’t celebrate it.

Date of Birth on the Passport
GCC passports (or at the very least Bahraini passports) state the holder's date of birth as being on the first of January, of which ever year you think you were born. For example, 01-01-28.  Husband knows his date of birth, but in his passport it's stated as being January 1st or 01-01, the same day as everyone else who was born in that particular year, in Bahrain.

Image taken from: here

Birthday Celebrations
I remember a headline in a British newspaper in March 2007 saying, "Bin Laden celebrates his birthday today" even Reuters, who should know better, said more or less the same thing here.


Birthdays in the Arab world are not celebrated in the same way as they are in the west. In Islamic terms, birthdays are not celebrated because it's thought the only thing that should be celebrated is God.

However, with the advent of greater worldwide communication and travel, children’s birthdays are being celebrated more and more often.  Parents will often buy a cake, invite the family and friends over and give presents to the child/ren. In Gulf countries where Christmas decorations are sold {see wgaw blog post: banned} these will be bought and put up, either in the house or in the garden. Happy Birthday is sung in English and the child/ren will blow out the candles on their birthday cake.

If it is decided not to hold the birthday party in the house then a party is often arranged at a local fast food restaurant.

Monday, November 23, 2009

English - Arabic, Loan Words: S

safara to travel
Hunting or scientific expedition, esp. in East Africa

saffiore from asfar
An orange flower thistle like plant whose seeds yield edible oil

orange flavouring and food colouring made from the dried stigmas of a crocus

from zafaran
Any of a large group of mainly red dyes used in biological staining etc.

sahara desert
A vast desert in North Africa

sahib friend, lord
A form of address, often placed after the name of European men

kusa l-at-lab foxes testicles
A starchy preparation of the dried tubers of various orchids, used in cookery and formerly medicinally

A tall swift slender breed of dog wit a silky coat, large drooping ears and fringed feet

sarki eastern
An Arab or Muslim at the time of the crusades

sas muslin, turban
A long strip or loop of cloth worn over one shoulder or round the waist

probably zaytuni from the Chinese city Zaytun
A fabric of silk or various man-made fibres, with a glossy surface on one side

Ascalonia a town in ancient Palestine
A shallot or spring onion

a laxative prepared from the dried pods of the cassia tree

sikka a die
A circular spangle for attaching to clothing as an ornament

the scared law of Islam

saykh old man
Chief or head of an Arab tribe, family or village

sharba drink
A flavoured, sweet, effervescent powder or drink

Adherent of the Shia branch of Islam

surb to drink
A cordial made of sweetened fruit juice and spirits, esp. rum

saluq east wind
A hot, oppressive and often dusty or rainy wind blowing from North Africa, across the Mediterranean to southern Europe

From the Latin sinus, which is a mistranslation of the Arabic jayb bosom, fold of a garment
The trigonometric function that is equal to the ratio of the side opposite a given angle to the hypotenuse

suda split
Any of several compounds of sodium in common use eg washing soda, caustic soda

suffra seating area
A long upholstered seat with a back and arms, for two or more people

A green leafy garden vegetable

sudd obstruction
An area of floating vegetation impeding the navigation of the White Nile

suf wool
From the woollen garment worn - a Muslim ascetic and mystic


sultan power, ruler
A Muslim sovereign

The mother, wife, concubine or daughter of a sultan

A territory subject to a sultan, the office, position or period of rule of a sultan

A shrub or small southern European tree having reddish cone shaped fruits used as a spice in cooking

sunna form, way, course
The body of traditional customs and practices based on Mohammed’s words and acts, accepted with the Koran as authoritative by Muslims and followed particularly by Sunni Muslims

The most populus of the two main branches of Islam

suq marketplace

chapter or section of the Koran

sarab beverage
A thick sweet liquid made by dissolving sugar in boiling water

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Adam Disapears

Over the past couple of weeks a British expatriate mother, Rebecca Jones, has been interviewed by many of the Gulf-based English language newspapers.  She is fighting to have her son, Adam, who is half English and half Qatari, returned to her family home.

The following local Gulf newspapers give detailed overviews on what is happening in the Adam case at:  Gulf News and at the Gulf Daily News:  here  and  here

In general when parents split, the choice of where the children live differs between Muslim and western cultures.  In general, in Muslim cultures children are given to the father and in western cultures the children are given to the mother.

For more information on what happens when divorce or death occurs in a mixed marriage, have a look at this {wgaw: divorce} or this {wgaw: pre-nuptual agreements}

If you're interested in reading more about Adam's case, there's an extended debate about the case and the court ruling, with lots of cross-cultural information (and very little ranting) at qatar living

Adam's mother and step-father have put information about what has happened to their family on Bahrain Human Rights website  Facebook and YouTube:

Monday, November 16, 2009

An Arab Cross-Cultural Overview

So it's theory day today.  If you combine all the three Western cross-cultural experts together; Hall {see wgaw blog archive; Hall} Hofsteede {see wgaw blog archive; Hofsteede} and Trompenhaar {see wgaw blog archive: Trompenhaar} it seems Arab culture can be described in the following ways by westerners:

Time - Polychoronic or Monochroninc:

Communication - high or low context:
high context

Collectivism - groups or individuals:
high collectivism/ groups

Power Distance - vertical or horizontal:

Male/female - patriarchal or matriarchal:

Risk Avoidance - high or low:

Age - youth or experience:

Time orientation - short-term or long-term:

One theory for all - particularism or universal:

Feelings - affective or neutral:
both affective & neutral

Social Status - achievement or ascription:

Combining all these 11 factors together means in an Arab culture the following is likely to happen regularly.  Please remember these are generalisations:

* groups of people operate/ think/ act as a tribal group, not as individuals: group think rather than moving above self-actualisation
* use of auditory and visual skills, not just visual
* highly emotional reactions
* enjoyment of family life and children
* expect high powder distances between workers and rulers (or bosses and employees)
* strong usage of oral traditions
* will do only one thing at a time, very little multi-tasking
* fludity of plans - plans can change often and easily
* operate in the, 'here and now' rather than planning ahead for the future
* generous with time, things, money, help
* take a long time to let people into the inner circle, and then never let them go
* want control other people and situations, all the time
* expect to work in win-loose or loose-loose situations. win-win is often not an option
* are high-context and already have information
* have low spatial intelligence
* expect things to be done through contacts {see wgaw wosta}
* stop everything to speak to someone they know
* think ‘more is more’

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Flying Under Bridges

Welcome to Bahrain ...

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

How to Read & Write Arabic: Laam

Writing Laam
The letter laam is one of the easiest Arabic letters to write as all four forms look very similar and there are very few changes:





Speaking Laam
This week's letter, 'Laam' is an easy letter to speak and to read as it has a sound which is similar to the English letter, 'L'.  However, not all English L’s sound similar to the Arabic 'Laam'!

Say the English word 'light' and think about where your tongue is when you pronounce the L.  It should be behind your top front teeth, touching the roof of your mouth.  This is exactly the place where you need to place your tongue when you say the Arabic letter 'Laam'. If this sounds a little confusing, compare the positioning of your tongue when you say the sound 'L' in the English word, 'feel', your tounge is now at the bottom of your mouth.  'Laam' is always pronounced with the tongue at the top of the mouth.

In the photos below you'll find laams highlighted.  Try to review the previous letters you've learnt whilst you're thinking about the laams




Hide & Seek
Now try and find the laams in the photos below:

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Life ...

Today's post doesn't really fit into the Arab cross cutlural slant of this particular blog, but it did arrive at my email: shirley at act3associates dot com from an Arab who'd obviously thought the sentements expressed in the photo were relevant:

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Monday, November 9, 2009

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Beautiful Birds: Cormoronts Flying

We've seen these birds whilst we were crossing the Bahrain-Saudi causeway and did manage to film them, but this video's far better ...

Monday, November 2, 2009

English - Arabic Loan Words: N-R

Today's posting follows on from various wgaw blog archives {see wgaw blog archieves: loan words} and continues the list of English words whose roots are said to have been borrowed, or loaned from the Arabic.

Words in the list below start with the letters 'N' to 'R' and are listed in alphabetical order. The English word is followed by the root word in Arabic [xxx] and then the Arabic meaning. On the line below is the meaning in English.

If I needed help with the English definition I used: 'The Oxford English Reference Dictionary' ISBN: 0-19-860046-1


A Muslim
official or governor under the mogul empire

Mother of pearl from any shelled mollusc

[na-zir as-sam-t'] opposite to the zenith
The part of the celestial sphere directly below the observer. The lowest point in one’s fortunes

a mineral form of sodium salts found in dried lake bed



Open sesame
[if-ta il sim sim-mah]
A means of acquiring or achieving what is normally unattainable (from the magic words used by Ali Baba in the Arabian nights)

utmani of Othman
Concerning the dynasty of Osman I

Pia mater
[al umm al ra-ki-kah]  tender mother
The delicate innermost membrane enveloping the brain and spinal cord

A conceited person, historically a figure of a parrot on a pole as a mark to shoot at

The Islamic holy book, also spelt Koran

[ra-ha]  palm of the hand
A bat with a round or oval frame strung with nylon used in tennis squash, etc

possibly [ra-ma-da], be hot
The ninth month of the Muslim year, during which strict fasting is observed from sunrise to sunset

[rehj al ghar]  dust of the cave
A mineral of arsenic sulphide used as a pigment and in fireworks

[riz-ma]  bundle
500 sheets of paper

three stringed musical instrument played with a bow

[ri-jil]  foot
The seventh brightest star in the sky and the brightest in the constellation of Orion. It is a blue super giant nearly sixty thousand times as luminous as our sun

[rukh]   original sense uncertain
Chess piece with its top in the shape of a battlement