Hope all well with you & yours.
A depressing week in many ways. Was talking to a Syrian friend in recent days and he made the point to MB that many people and groups in this region are becoming more & more extreme, wrapping a cocoon around themselves and their group, and totally intolerant of other groups and other beliefs. In years past people lived peacefully together and knew tolerance. The fathers and grandfathers of groups now killing each other once drank coffee together and farmed side by side and attended family weddings and funerals of the others. He reminded me that the birthplace of Christianity is Damascus, not Jerusalem He knew one family growing up in Damascus where one brother and sister were a Christian nun & priest, and another brother & sister in the same family were Muslims. And everyone lived in peace together. This region of the world would seem to be on a journey to a dark & dangerous place.
But let us not talk of depressing things. The same Syrian introduced MB to some music. Or rather a musician, called Omar Farouk. Something different:
Hope you like lads.
This weeks pics, excluding match maker ones, are about the future. Have you ever wondered about the future lads? What type of houses and environments your grandchildren and their grandchildren might live in. Well, there is one partially built mini city in Abu Dhabi, UAE, which may provide some of the answers. It’s called Masdar City, and it adjoins Abu Dhabi airport.
Masdar city is a carbon neutral development and is a completely sustainability themed habitat. Uses design and materials combination to provide a way to live for large populations of humans that will not harm our planet. So the sun is used to generate heat and electricity. Building design provides courtyards where the surrounding building provide shade from the hot sun out these parts, and a lot more. In 2030 the daytime population of Masdar city will be 90,000 and habitant population approx 45,000. MB called recently to see it, avec camera. It’s presently small-scale, but extremely impressive. So arty architectural pics for you this week lads.
A place where businesses can thrive and innovation can flourish, Masdar City is a modern Arabian city that, like its forerunners, is in tune with its surroundings. As such, it is a model for sustainable urban development regionally and globally, seeking to be a commercially viable development that delivers the highest quality living and working environment with the lowest possible ecological footprint.
It is a community where cutting-edge cleantech research and development, pilot projects, technology testing, and construction on some of the world’s most sustainable buildings are all ongoing. As such, Masdar City offers a fertile environment that inspires creativity and growth to organisations operating in this strategic and dynamic sector.
Match Making – The Outing
Few weeks back guest blogger Miss L told us all about arranged marriages out here in the Middle East. Irish followers of this blog will all be aware of the famous arranged marriage festival we have every August back in Ireland in the small town on Lisdoonvarna on the West coast of County Clare. Where match making has taken place for years and years, and where many a man has found a life partner. It’s fame is such that bus loads of American ladies are turning up in recent years to find that hunka hunka burnin (Irish) love.
I am reminded of a great story told to me many years ago by a friend who was born and raised in Lisdoon, as many Irish refer to the town. Concerns a farmer from West Limerick, who attended the festival each Summer in search of a life partner, driving down each year on his old Massey Ferguson tractor, as he did not possess a car.
He attended the event over a number of years until eventually match maker Willie found a young lady who had no qualms about marrying a ‘tractor man’. Tractor Man now had a new wife to help him with milking the cows, saving the hay, plucking dead hens, feeding pigs and all the other bonding activities that farming couples engage in the world over. Bliss.
And being respectful of the occasion and the town that brought them together, the happily married couple continued in future years to take their summer holidays during festival time in Lisdoon to relive the thrills and spills of their first courtship. But they still had not acquired a car. And as there was insufficient room on the tractor for the new wife, the farmer, in most romantic fashion, threw a bale of straw into the transport box each year, hooked it up to the tractor, and off they would journey into the Lisdoon sunset. Happy as pigs in muck, as we say back home.
There will be many followers who do not know the joys of driving a Massey ferguson tractor or even recognise one, or of sitting in a transport box, or who would not even know a bale of straw if it fell on their head from the sky. So MB is giving you two pics by way of explanation – just for all you city slicker blog followers.
Lisdoon caught MB’s attention earlier this week when he noticed that the Lisdoon festival is going ‘pink’ this year, with the introduction of a gay & lesbian match making weekend as part of the overall event. Live & let live says MB, wish them well with all the craic! Match Maker Willie is handing over the reins to drag queen Panti for that weekend only. Maasalama to all who may journey there!
LISDOONVARNA is going pink!!
Yes, Europe’s oldest and boldest Matchmaking Festival is getting more inclusive and is opening this season with a gay-themed weekend.
The media are already very excited about it, judging from the chatter, and that’s just day one!
Dubbed ‘The Outing,’ the weekend will feature matchmaking events, concerts and more, all hosted by drag-queen Panti.
Event Director Donal Mulligan said, “We’re taking the best of old Ireland – music, dancing and matchmaking – and putting it together with the variety of entertainment on offer in the LGBT community.”
Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mo
Often make joking references to Sheikh Mo lads, as you are all aware. But he does fantastic job generally with his Emirate and it is the tolerant jewel in this MENA (Middle East North African region). This week Sheikh Mo is cracking the whip with his Ministries to ensure that all Government services will be available on smart phones within a short while. Plucked the following from his Facebook page earlier in the week:
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum
Met with around 1000 Government officials today and announced our vision for the Government of the future. The Government of the future works 24/7 and 365 days a year. It is as hospitable as hotels, fast in delivering & strong in its procedures. The Government of the future is innovative and adaptive. It improves the quality of life and helps people achieve their happiness. We started working on this vision. Today, we launched the “m-Government” project with the goal of providing all services via smart phones. Through m-Government, we aim to reach people instead of them reaching us. Through their smartphones we can make their lives easier. Our deadline for the m-Government project is 2 years. We will never tolerate any failure in achieving this goal.
RM has just become the first lady from saudi Arabia to scale Mount Everest. When MB read the story he was more surprised that a/ she was allowed to do so by her family, and b/ that she did so in the company of 3 men, which I read in another report. Her family are obviously not of the traditional Saudi variety. Well done Miss Raha!
Katmandu: The first woman from Saudi Arabia to scale Mount Everest said she doesn’t intend to inspire a movement, but would be happy to change people’s opinions of Saudi women and Saudi women’s opinions of themselves.
Raha Moharrak told reporters in Katmandu on Tuesday after returning from the mountain that her next goal is to climb the highest peaks in all seven continents. She said she has already scaled five of them.
Moharrak, 27, was among hundreds of climbers who reached Everest’s 8,850-metre summit in recent days because of favourable weather conditions on the mountain.
“It was very personal thing. I didn’t do it to cause a movement, did not do it because of anything, but If I can change people’s opinion or the world’s opinion on Saudi women and if I can change Saudi women’s opinion about themselves I would be really happy,” Moharrak said.
Syria – Robert Fisk
Interesting commentary as ever from Robert Fisk. Just returned from Syria.
DW: Mr. Fisk, you’ve just returned from Syria. What were your impressions?
Robert Fisk: What you find is that there are large areas which have been destroyed, large areas which are largely depopulated, and large areas which are not only undamaged, but in which life more or less continues. This applies not only to the center of Damascus, it applies mostly to the city of Latakia, where there’s a large Alawite community, and the same applies to Tartus. So you do find certain areas of Syria where the government is still firmly in control and where some semblance of life goes on. You can go out to lunch; you can shop; you can go to your office.
In a week when the words ‘Islamic’ or ‘Islam’ or ‘Muslim’ or even ‘Arab’ were mentioned in not too flattering terms on world news TV channels MB would like to mention that about 2 hours ago he took break from writing the blog to go to the local supermarket. Got into a chat with a Saudi man and his son at the hot oven counter. After a few minutes chat they invited MB back to their house for dinner. MB went along and had great fun with the entire family (4 sons and 1 daughter), except for wife who remained in the kitchen as is the custom. Nice meal and great hospitality.
Have a good weekend
Deutschland uber alles! Champions League final Saturday night so final game of the season for the footy fans and something to shout about, apart from fact that its 2 German teams playing. And generally there is little or no support outside of Germany for either. To watch or not to watch – that is the question.
Ciao for now lads.