Posted on November 11, 2021
Chances are, followers have heard of the Elgin Marbles.
The EM are not marbles, in the round spherical sense. They are marble statues and other marble antiquities that were looted from certain Greek temples at the start of the 17th century. The related dispute between Greece and Britain hits the international headlines with some regularity. The EM dispute is a complex international dispute, but MB has written a short play on the subject, to enlighted followers on the various intricacies, as is his wont:Read More
Posted on November 10, 2021
Thanks to Tina for a great challenge this week. Followers of MB can view Tina’s post HERE. MB suggests that you stop and take a look. Tina’s shots are always awesome and being a well-traveled lady, she takes followers on a virtual world tour on almost every post. Shukhran Tina!
Posted on October 19, 2021
Posted on October 15, 2021
The Lens-Artists ladies have set The Ordinary challenge for MB.
On recent trip to Tbilisi, MB & daughter MB2 stayed in the cosy Amente Narikale hotel in the citys Old Town area. On morning Nr 1, MB got up for an early breakfast (as MB2 snoozed on!) and chose the outdoor courtyard to dine under the clear blue Tbilisi sky. The hotel cat was soon a beneficiary of MBs’ decision, and MB went to the breakfast bar for seconds to ensure he and Mr Cat had a filling start to the day.Read More
Posted on September 29, 2021
MB said in his previous post that he was done posting about his and MB2s’ recent Georgia trip.
But here’s another one!Read More
Posted on September 26, 2021
Gamarjoba to all.
Last ‘Georgia’ post coming up from MB & MB2s recent trip to Tbilisi, Georgia. This time it’s food and drink.Read More
Posted on September 19, 2021
Posted on September 18, 2021
MB and daughter MB2 took a day out of their Georgia trip to head into neighbouring Armenia. The northern part of Armenia where MB & MB2 visited is a poor region, with a poor road infrastructure and architecture that harks back to the days of the Soviet Union. Tall featureless apartment blocks abound, giving a sense of depression to the locality, on the surface-level at least.Read More
Posted on September 16, 2021
On the appointed day that God gave land to all the peoples, the Armenians and Georgians were late. The Armenians were late by one hour and the Georgians by one day.Read More
Posted on September 13, 2021
It’s 10 minutes past 1am on 14 September 2021. MB finds himself in Georgia.Read More
Posted on September 3, 2021
Posted on June 2, 2021
After almost eighteen months of desert dwelling, MB got to make the trek home.Read More
Posted on March 26, 2021
Time was, the only vaccination one thought about was that of one’s dog.
How times have changed.
Posted on March 25, 2021
Seems like only yesterday when MB wrote the story of Sofia’s birth.
Two or so years later, baby sister Maria arrived. And two years later again, four years since he started, MB now finds himself sitting down to write the next installment.
And so, the chronicles of Sofia & Maria continue.
Recently S&M celebrated Valentine’s Day with mom & dad R&E in Doha, Qatar, where R&E reside and work. Sofie’s 4th birthday took place on 10 February just past, and as ever, artistic mom R didn’t spare any effort for either occasion. As followers can see from mom R’s pics below, these two young ladies are growing up fast for sure.
However, whilst the family thrive and prosper in Qatar, their Lebanese homeland has all but collapsed economically, particulary in the last six months, and event more particularly in recent weeks. Ominously, according to many Lebanese friends on MB, the worst may be yet to come. The currency has lost 90% of its value against the dollar in the last year (and its still sliding), the banking system has lost the confidence of the people (with very good reason), prices of food and life’s other staples have sky-rocketed, and more than 50% on the population now lives in proverty. Crime levels, understandably, are rising. People with little savings, most of the population actually, are in dire straights. In a country that was once referred to as the ‘Jewel of the Mediterranian’, chronic unemployment, and even hunger, now stalk the land.
MB had a meeting with a client earlier this week. Lebanese national Walid. Walid informed MB that in 30 years on employment (mostly in Qatar), his reasonably well-paid wife had managed to save USD 400,000.00. Each month she would religiously send home her monthly savings to her bank account in Beirut. About two years back, at the suggestion of her bank, she converted her entire dollar savings into a local Lebanese pounds account. The Lebanese pound accounts were paying double the interest rate of the dollar accounts at that time, so it seemed appealing. Two years later, his wifes USD 400k is worth USD 40k – 90% of her life savings have disappeared. He has a similar tale to tell, but MB will not tell it as it,lest he depress readers too much. Sadly, the tale of Walid & his wife is replicated through hundreds of thousands of other ‘Walids’ and other ‘wives’.
MB works with many Lebanese. Most have now given up the ghost of ever returning to their homeland to work. That possibility may now not even exist for their young children. Sadly. Comparisons with Venezuala are often mentioned.
Sofia and Maria, thankfully, have many years to go before career decisions will need to be made. Let’s hope for better times for both of them, come that time.
Thanks to mom R for the following pics:
Posted on February 13, 2021
In the year 632 AD, the Prophet Muhammad died and a conflict ensued related to who should succeed him as the spiritual head of Islam, or Caliph. Battles ensued during which one of the proposed Caliphs, Ali, was killed. The supporters of the alternative, Abu Baker, and killers of Ali, won the day in the end, so to speak, and so began a centuries long divide within Islam which continues to the present day. The followers of Ali formed their own sect called Shia, and the victors became the Sunni sect, which is far more numerous. Approximately 85% of Muslims today are Sunni and 15% are Shia.
It’s not always or fully appreaciated in the western world just how much the Sunni/Shia divide impacts relations, and conflicts, in the present day Arab/Muslim world, and how it provides a large degree of explanation for many of the regional protests and conflicts. Syria, Iran, Iraq, Bahrain, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon are each impacted by the divide, or schism (as it’s known), to a greater or lesser degree.
During the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland (1968 to 1998 approx), inter-religious, or ‘mixed’ marriages between Catholics (who generally wanted reunion with the Republic of Ireland to the south) and Protestants (who generally wanted to remain British) were as rare as hens teeth. Families and communities were unaccepting of such unions and the young couples had generally two choices – call it off, or emigrate to London or elsewhere, get married without informing families, inform them later and then suffer the emotional consequences.
Religious polarisation exists today throughout the Middle East, even when there is no actual military conflict at play. Whilst many from the Sunni and Shia sides of the ‘religious’ road will have many friends and work coleagues who are members of the opposite sect, the matter of mixed marriages will invariable lead to difficulties, as families react along religious and cultural lines.
Take marriage contracts for example. They are an obligatory part of all Muslim marriages, with Sunni and Shia contracts each having differences, but can contan practically anything that either party may wish to include, including amendments to the standard clauses. Many wifes insert clauses giving them automatice right to divorce if the husband takes a second wife. The standard Shia marriage contract, for example, will not allow a wife to have a divorce under any circumstances unless she receives the permission of her husband. But by inserting a simple amendment into the standard contract, a wife’s unrestricted right to divorce is guaranteed. So one might think that the insertion of various amendments can solve all thorny issues that might exist, and they do to a large degree.
However, the matter of future grandkids can raise the thorny to extremely thorny. If the marriage takes place using a Sunni marriage contract, then it automatically follows that the children will be Sunni. And vise verse for a Shia marriage contract. Culturally and religiously, older generations find it difficult, if not impossible, to accept that their children may produce grandchildren who will be from the opposite sect. And as the culture of the region also means that children, regardless of their age, will want to take parental permission before getting married, then the possibility of parents refusing to sanction a mixed marriage can cause huge distress to the child and their potential future partner. Failure to take such approval will often lead to a break-up of the relationship, and in all probability, a new search begins for each from amongst their own community sect. The ‘Northern Ireland’ option is one that is regionally taboo and rarely, if ever, used.
A non-religious civil marriage provides a possible solution. Civil marriages are mostly unrecognised within the various countries but are recognised if they took place in a foreign country. However, elderly parents again will often reject this non-religious option, due to the mere absence of religion, and as the grandchildren would be considered non-muslim if the parents were to die prematurely. And so the distress of the young couple goes on, event with this alternative possibility.
The subject matter of this post is close to the heart of MB at present. He numbers a young, modern-minded, educated, mixed Muslim couple amongst his Arab friends. They now find themselves in the dilemma described above. The coming months will see Shia boy attempt to extract some workable comprimise from his (possible) future Sunni father-in-law, who may or may not be willing to do so. Equally, his own Shia family may not agree to the marriage under the civil option, which is the preference of both boy and girl. With the refusals of the families, if that’s how the dice rolls, then that may be the end of love.
Happy St Valentine’s Day to all.