Trip Home: Photo of the day (2) – Moonlight


Lough Gur, Limerick, Ireland, under the moonlight of the Super Moon – 3am this morning 24 June 2013

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Trip Home: Photo of the day (1)


The ‘Long Walk For The Longest Day’ – over 5 hills around Lough Gur lake, Limerick, Ireland, on 21st June 2013. Memorable!

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Weekly Phopo Challenge – The World Through Your Eyes


Observing the Summer solstice sunrise at Grange Stone Circle, Lough Gur, Ireland. 21st June 2013.

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‘Twas the night before Caroline!


Everyone’s made the effort for the big day tomorrow.

http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10201400574445135.1073741827.1497695183&type=1&l=fe3b5278b8

Heading Home


Caroline Kennedy visit to HX

Fifty years after President John Fitzgerald Kennedy visited Limerick, his daughter Caroline Kennedy will return to the Mid-West to trace her father’s links and visit her ancestral family home in Bruff, Co. Limerick. Read More

Weekly Photo Challenge: Curves


Did someone say curves?!

Giving you 6 of the best from end April 2013 visit to Shaikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Mosque is open to people of all religions to worship. And to respectful photographers. On an overcast day, or any day, it’s jaw droppingly beautiful.

Apologies to all that many of these have already featured in one of MB’s recent posts, but MB just couldn’t resist the temptation when he saw the weekly challenge. He is weak Lord. Please forgive!

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Adios.

MB

The Buffalo Soldier


Sorry lads!
Mentioned this pic in yesterday’s post but for got to include it. But makes no nevermind – deserves separate post anyway! And you get extra music clip into the bargain:

A young Bob Marley

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S5FCdx7Dn0o Read More

The Recipe


Greetings lads

Words
It’s only a few short days away from MB’s departure back to the homeland, to kith and kin. MB will take break from the blogging for few weeks ’till he gets back from the Emerald Isle. But as will be burning out the camera with pics, will post up some good ones for all Crosser followers to drool over. Yes lads, drooling will be the order of the day for you all over next few weeks. Inshallah the sun will shine when MB is at home and he will blow you away with the awesome images. Read More

Weekly Photo Challenge: Fleeting


Burj Khalifa

A passing cloud wraps around the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, for a few moments before passing on. April 2013.

The Holy Book


Marhaba & Hello from MB

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Firstly lads, an apology from MB. In last week’s blog MB used an Arabic word that he though was acceptable translation of the English word ‘prostitute’. It was subsequently pointed out to MB that the word used is a street-slang swear word, not suitable for common usage (as in MBs blog) and likely to cause offense. The Egyptian lad who originally gave me this word failed to point out this important fact! This is not MB’s style as you are all aware. So big apology to all, especially to MB’s Arab lady followers of which there are thousands – not!

Met this kid on the street selling newspapers and magazines. Streetwise as hell, huge confidence, great attitude. He will be Prime Minister of Lebanon some day

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The news from all over the Middle East of late just seems to get darker and darker. Acceptance of others views and beliefs seem to be shrinking. Saw interviews on the net recently with various Sunny clerics who were preaching the need to destroy (kill) their Shia neighbours, who also read the same Quran holy book. On the grounds that the Shia are somehow heretics who must be put to death for having a slightly different interpretation of the book. Bit like we use to do in Europe when we burned heretics and witches at the stake. Inshallah the Middle East does not have to wait 300 or 400 years to see basic human tolerance and decency prevail. As usual, as in most places, the majority of people are decent and reasonable, but an intolerant crazed minority can cause havoc and misery for all.

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Was talking to a Syrian friend few days back and he told me that he had other Syrian friends around to his house recently. His friends are supporters of Bashar Al Assad, the Syrian Prime Minister and his government. I expressed surprise that the trouble in Syria with tens of thousands of people now killed had not affected his friendship with his friends. I am aware that he regularly posts anti-Bashar pieces on Facebook and has been advised by friends inside Syria that it would not be safe for him to return home. He replied to the effect that he could not allow Bashar Al Assad to affect 40 years of friendship he has enjoyed with his friends, regardless of their views, and they would continue to be his friends. In the midst of much blood and darkness and death, my friends attitude was a bright light. A small light for sure, but hopefully one that spreads far and wide in the future. Most have now come to conclusion that in the case of Syria there are even darker days ahead. Let us pray not.

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Met a Lebanese man in recent days through work, and in response to MB’s ‘min ina anta?’ (‘where are you from‘ in Arabic) he informed MB he comes from the city of Tripoli, where a number of people had been killed in gun battle in recent days as result of troubles spilling in from neighboring Syria. Meeting him reminded MB of trip to Lebanon in early 2012 and the fantastic few days enjoyed there with family. And the friendly people encountered. In memory of that trip, and in big hope that Lebanon at least will be spared the trouble of the region MB is giving you some pics this week from that trip. Hope you like.

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Music
Thank God for music. Played this a few times last night. Switch to full screen. Amazing:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtSjM3YU7Qw

Lots of poverty throughout the Middle East and absence of welfare benefits make it even tougher than in the West. Stopped to speak to this man for few minutes, who was begging for money.

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HX Festival
As informed you last week lads, MB will be heading home in few weeks for the HX Festival (3 local festivals actually). If you are of a mind to travel then take a look at the itinerary for this year’s event. Specifically this is the list for the Lough Gur Festival, but there are two other Festivals taking place in the neighboring villages for Bruff & Knockainey. Mentioned daughter of JFK in last week’s blog Caroline Kennedy – who will attend the Bruff event to dedicate a local building to the memory of her great-grandfather, who left the village in 1852. MB will have to use the grease gun on the Canon 7D before he goes back, it’s going to be hectic few weeks & photo opp heaven:

LG Festival

So hopefully see some of you at the festival, inshallah.

Like this one!

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Beware the lady in the Burka who wants a hug!
Spare a thought lads for the misfortunate Indian lad who got the surprise of his life last week when a lady in a burka (abiya) suddenly hugged him in the lift. Obviously he assumed that the Arab Muslim lady was so overcome by his Indian masculinity that she threw religious caution to the wind and just gave in to her animal instincts. He later discovered this was not the case:

No lads, we did not have earthquake. MB is just playing mind games with you all, with his incredible camera wizardry!

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ABU DHABI: They say a hug costs nothing, but for an Abu Dhabi resident it proved otherwise.
Indian expat Noushad lost Dh29,000 when an abaya-clad con woman stole his bulging wallet after locking him in an unexpected embrace in an elevator recently. The incident happened in broad daylight in the Al Raed Automatic Laundry building in the capital’s Tourist Club area.

http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/uae/crime/hug-from-an-abaya-clad-woman-costs-abu-dhabi-man-dh29-000-1.1193020?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Newsletter&utm_campaign=&utm_term=%26287020

The corniche/harbour area of Beruit. Has undergone huge redevelopment in recent years. A must-see location.

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Sharia law – Husband to be whipped
The law in Saudi Arabia applies to women and to men. The judges really do not care about male or female. Justice comes from Sharia law which is based on the teachings of the holy book:

Manama: A judge in Saudi Arabia has upheld a flogging sentence against a husband for slapping his wife even though the wife later said that she forgave the husband and wanted the case dropped.

Beruit & Lebanon generally – Incredible food. Maybe the best MB has come across in all his travels. This pic is from the rooftop restaurant at Le Grey Hotel in the corniche.

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The man was sentenced to 30 lashes and 10 days in jail and ordered to attend special sessions on marriage counseling and on how to treat and deal with spouses.

The court in Al Qateef in the Eastern Province said that the wife could witness the flogging in retribution for the physical pain her husband caused her.

http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/saudi-arabia/saudi-judge-ignores-wife-s-mercy-plea-upholds-flogging-sentence-against-husband-1.1193486

The famous Rafiq Hariri Mosque. RH is Assassinated former Lebanese leader. Assassinated by Hezbollah according to recent UN report.

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More English words from the Arabic
More educational stuff from MB lads, who continues to amaze you weekly with his eclectic mix of photos, wisdom and general ‘stuff’. Awesome!

http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/uae/heritage-culture/it-s-arabic-1.1127251

The Lebanese consider themselves extremely sophisticated and a cut above the other Arab nationalities. These local girls spoke French as their language of first choice as they lunched next to MBs table. They informed MB that they are equally comfortable in both languages.

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These 2 would not be out of place at some restaurant in Paris. Classic Lebanese sophistication!

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Gay Games 2018
Yes lads its now down to 3! London, Paris or……………………….. Limerick! Organisers have short listed Limerick, along with 2 no-hope non-entity cities to host the 2018 Gay Games. Am sure Amsterdam & Orlando will be sick as parrots to get booted out. With approx 10,000 participants it should be a fun week in HX if Limerick wins the hosting. 2018.gaygames.org if any of you want to participate lads.

The grave/shrine of Rafiq Hariri

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Federation of Gay Games announces finalists in bidding for Gay Games X
Limerick, London, and Paris continue in race to host the world’s largest sport and culture festival open to all

Today the international Federation of Gay Games announced that groups from Limerick, London, and Paris would continue in the bidding process to host Gay Games X. The three finalists garnered the most votes from among the members of the FGG’s site selection assembly, who for the first time designated this short list by online instant runoff voting. Unsuccessful in the vote were groups from Amsterdam and Orlando.

http://gaygames.org/wp/blog/2013/06/01/limerick-london-and-paris-selected-as-finalists-in-bidding-for-gay-games-x-in-2018/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

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Another blog

Occasionally give you link to other blogs I come across that catch my interest. Liked the following:
Letter to my 16 year old son
http://katrinaannewillis.com/2013/05/23/a-letter-to-my-16-year-old-son/

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HX Homeland
If any of you followers wonder what the HX land is like lads, I give you link this week to our local community newspaper called the Vale Star. It’s focus is almost entirely on local sporting and community group activities. Some of you Arabs might enjoy a quick scroll through it. Gives good idea of life in rural Ireland.

http://www.vsopublicationsltd.ie/wp-content/uploads/pdfpapers/Vale%20Star%2030-05-2013.pdf

Many in the Middle East were recently very surprised to discover that Hezbollah are involved in Syria, fighting on the side of Bashar Al Assad and his government forces. MB came across a Hezbollah demonstration in support of Assad on his visit last year and wrote about it in his blog at that time. Absolutely no surprise to MB that these guys got involved.

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Iran
Big news in Iran last week lads. A judge can now sentence those guilty of adultry to death by other means “where the possibility of stoning does not exist”. That phrase is not actually defined. So presumably it will apply in the sandy areas where there are insufficient suitably sized rocks. One can only but have sympathy for the lads throwing fist fulls of sand in the past for days on end as they tried in vain to stone (sand) the sinners to death. But no more. Mashaallah!

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It was interesting to read in the article that if a sinner can free him or herself before death they are pardoned. But a man is only buried to his waist whilst a woman is buried to her shoulders, lest any of the rock athletes should see her bare breasts during the stoning games. Hardly seems fair.

Pics of Bashar Al Assad at the Hezbollah demonstration

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Let the hunger games begin!

http://gulfnews.com/news/region/iran/iran-amends-law-on-stoning-for-adultery-1.1190780?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Newsletter&utm_campaign=&utm_term=%26286255

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Reluctant Emigrant
Cheers to DH!

http://thereluctantemigrant.wordpress.com/2013/06/03/public-displays-of-affection/

Demonstration was good natured and noisy that day, with the soldiers smiling and joking. Suspect that would not be the case now.

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Slan lads
Ok lads. Another week down. Planning a good sleep tomorrow on the Muslim holy day. Take care all. Have a nice weekend. May the sun shine!

MB supporting SMEs in Beruit

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MB

The famous bombed out and bullet ridden Holiday Inn Hotel in Beruit. Still standing to this day and testimony to the war of the 1970s. Let us hope no repeat of that fiasco for modern Beruitis. Inshallah.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: The Sign Says (My top 10!)


Ten Of the best!

Restaurant, Northern Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

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Buddist prayer flags, Kathmandu, Nepal. Each colour represents a different element – fire, water, earth…..

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Gurka memorabilia shop, Kathmandu

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If you get to Kathmandu, try the mo mos, the national dish. Yum!

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You will never go wrong with chocolate!

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Ireland – lots & lots of history

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The home village in Ireland – lots & lots of signs

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We could all do with an oil change!

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Construction workers prostrate themselves for the after work evening prayer, in front of the restaurant. Northern Riyadh

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Forget viagra – we have honey mixture in Middle East for same purpose!

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Conversations


Salam from Riyadh

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It’s a balmy Saudi evening outside the hotel entrance door as MB writes his blog. Meanwhile, inside the lobby, MB is listening to the loudest painters making the loudest noises since Michael Angelo (another legendary Michael) dropped his bucket from the ceiling scaffold onto the marble floor miles below all those years ago. The artists in front of me are presently giving a touch-up to the ceiling which suffered some water damage during the recent 3 week monsoon. If you have seen the movie ‘Best Marigold Hotel’ you will get the picture. Each time the long-handled roller is dipped into the metal paint bucket it is producing a sonic wave throughout the entire city and structural damage is already reported to some major bridges. MB needs Panadol, or something stronger, asap. Or maybe MB is just tired and cranky after a busy week in the dusty desert. Maybe.

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MB would seriously love a large cold bottle of White to relax the brain and quench the thirst, but such life pleasures are strictly forbidden in this stricter than strict Island of Islamic. If MB was in any other jurisdiction on the entire planet, a bottle from the ‘new world’ would presently be planked on the table in front of him with a long-stemmed glass sparkling in the evening sunshine . Or if that location happened to be some 3rd World haunt, then maybe a bottle of some local hooch would suffice, and the thirst would also be no more. So the thirst remains for the moment and the solution must await MBs return to the homeland next month alas.

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Yes indeed lads, MB is heading home to kith & kin next month which coincides with the HX Festival. To be very truthful there is actually no HX Festival. But there are 3 festivals happening at same time in the surrounding localities. So MB will refer to them collectively as the ‘HX Festival’. In recent days it was announced in the local Press that Caroline Kennedy, daughter of assassinated US President JFK, will attend the event on account of the family connection with the HX locality. MB explained to some non-Irish Muslim Arabs yesterday that the ‘F’ in ‘JFK’ stands for the Irish name ‘Fitzgerald’. In 1852 one Thomas Fitzgerald emigrated from HX and a few generations later his grandson was President of the USA. The emigrant story that dreams are made of.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caroline_Kennedy

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The HX Festival will host a multitude of other events and MB will give you all the full itinerary next week. One event does however merit special early mention. Namely, the Photo Workshop hosted by none other than Irish/Arab Photo Shooter  Supreme MB! Yes indeedee lads, for the paltry miserly sum of 20 Shekels (Euro) you can partake in the MB Photo Master Class at the HX lake front, which will ensure that you too can produce the Nat Geo standard pics that MB produces week in week out for the blog, and which you have now come to expect as a right. MB will not be bringing his camel, in case you were wondering, although he would provide nice backdrop to some shots. (Note to self – rethink the camel). It’s not yet publicised lads, but already the class is almost full, so get your booking application in asap.

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It is not yet known if Caroline will book in for the Photo session with MB. Ok, MB will admit she is stinking rich multi millionairess with access to the entire professional photographer class of USA, probably for free. But have any of those Yankee Dog photographers ever produced an irreverent weekly blog from the land of beheadings and limb amputations? I am sure not lads. And could any of them milk a cow by hand, or make a wynde of hay with a pitchfork, or castrate a young bull turning him into a useless mutant good for nothing other than burger production? Yes lads, I think you will all agree – Caroline would indeed be selling herself very short if she chose other than MB. Inshallah she will choose wisely.

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What else to tell you lads? Conversations lads, yes, conversations.

A few days back MB was traveling home from work in the company of an Aussie coworker and the young Sudan lad that MB has mentioned few times in the blog of late. MB & Aussie (Whities) sat in the front sea while Sudan lad (non-Whitie) sat in the back. All in their rightful place lads, hahahahaha! Joke lads – In case any followers with sub 150 IQ levels might be thinking MB has turned into some kind of racist Neanderthal. But am sure the blog has no sub 150 followers as it’s a minimum entry requirement.

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Anyway MB & Aussie were shooting the breeze about the events of the past & the coming months. MB mentioned the HX Fest, photography, some wineries MB had visited on trip down under few years back. Aussie mentioned upcoming 25 holiday he will take on a beach down under, when he & surf board will hit the waves for few hours each morning. Wifey will set up camera on a tripod on some headland overlooking the waves to get the awesome shots of husband exiting the wave tubes just in time. Remainder of the days will be filled with restaurants, bit of shopping, friends. The good life down under.

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We dropped Aussie to his hotel when MB gave permission to Sudan lad to sit in front seat! Sudan lad then said to MB – “MB, what the hell was that conversation?”. “What the f*ck are you on about Sudan lad” replied MB. “That entire conversation you had with Aussie, with talk of surf boards, festivals, photography – it was a totally and completely Whitie conversation. Two people from the 3rd world could not have had it. They would not even have understood it” shot back Sudan lad.

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For once MB shut his mouth, and reflected on what Sudan lad had said. And came to conclusion that Sudan lad had said a mouthful. All conversations are products of our backgrounds. Pretty obvious I suppose when you think about it, but MB never had. Maybe you need to work in places like this to sometimes see the obvious, or have it shown to you.

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This Weeks Pics
Are all from last years HX Festival, to give you flavour.

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Hypnosurf
Mentioned Aussie pal above lads. He is very interesting character in his own right. Along with the day job he has spent time in recent years designing a self hypnosis app for surfers, designed to get them to perform at highest level every time, rather than the hit& miss performance that many experience during a surfing season. Now available for iPhone & Android. Am wondering if this app could be applied to other sports like tennis or golf? What say you Mr M?

So check it out lads on http://www.hypnosurf.com

Bare Breasts!
Saw on the net yesterday that 3 young European girls made a topless protest outside a courthouse where a young Muslim girl is being tried for upsetting some Salafist Muslim group and allegedly insulting Islam. I hope the embassies of the 3 girls get them home quick. Such behaviour out these parts is very much ‘haram’ and would be considered akin to behaving like a prostitute (‘sharmuta’ in the Arabic). And you will never hear any words of sympathy out here for sharmuta or any sympathetic words why girls might get into that game like you might do in the west. So MB hoping they get tickets home real fast. They will not receive kind treatment in prison if they sentenced. To put it mildly.

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As for the Muslim girl, she previously posted a topless photo of herself on facebook, which caused huge controversy. Although this is not why she is on trial. Read both links below if of interest:

http://arabia.msn.com/news/world/1886342/3-femen-women-held-in-tunis-after-baring-breasts-afp/

http://gulfnews.com/news/region/tunisia/feminist-on-trial-topless-protesters-held-1.1190787

Note to Muslim visitors – do not eat John Finn’s sausages – they are pork (khanzeer) so haram for you. Ask him for beef burger instead.

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Harassment in Saudia Arabia
MB has told you all many times that the Saudi version of Islam is stricter than strict, and laughed at by people of other Islamic countries. Some of the behaviour seen here would probably get people locked in mental institutions in other countries, but not here.

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This week some nutball religious conservative posted a suggestion on Twitter that people should harass women working in shopping centres to show them the error of their ways and prevent them becoming sharmuta. Thankfully, in a sign that the country might be going in a different direction, hundreds of Twitter people turned on the guy. But others supported him. Such is the thinking, sadly, of many in thee parts. MB read in separate report that Muslim Imams (Priests) are making weekly presentations to the office of the Ruler, King Abdullah, to change the law to ensure that women could no longer work in shops and shopping centres. Crazy in any other country. But not here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-22705573

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In a related story MB saw the following from a fellow blogger earlier this week. No comment:

Kuwait shows respect for Saudi women driving ban
Last Thursday, Brig. Saleh Al-Najim, the head of a Kuwaiti delegation, stated that out of respect for the Saudi ban on women driving, his country will make the exception of not issuing driving licenses to Saudi women until they provide proof of their male guardian’s permission. I’m shocked and disappointed that the Kuwaiti government would exploit how politically weak Saudi women are to gain favor. But that isn’t why I’m writing this post. I’m writing it because this particular tactic of expressing an opinion about a sovereign nation’s internal laws by altering yours is something that has occurred to me before. A few years back I either dreamed or read somewhere that a politician proposed to the European Union that Saudi men not be allowed to drive in the EU until they end the ban on women driving in Saudi. Judging by the last Olympics, that type of restriction on Saudi men could actually work in making a change. How weird would it be for those banning people from driving their hard-earned cars because of their gender to have a taste of their own medicine?

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My watch!
Like this story. Husband presented future wife with expensive watch as gift. Watch broke and upon taking it for repair wife was informed that the watch was a fake! She is now divorcing the cheapskate husband:

http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/uae/courts/dubai-woman-seeks-divorce-over-fake-chopard-watch-she-received-as-dowry-1.1189099

http://www.chopard.com/?___store=en_gb&___from_store=en_gb

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Malala
Nice to see Pakistani girl Malala Jousafzai in Abu Dhabi last week to say thanks for the air ambulance supplied by UAE to take her to UK for treatment after she was shot by the Pakistani Taliban in her Swat valley homeland. Still under a death sentence from the crazies. She met with future ruler Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nihayn, son of UAE ruler.

http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/uae/government/general-shaikh-mohammad-bin-zayed-al-nahyan-praises-pakistan-rights-activist-malala-yousafzai-1.1189368?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Newsletter&utm_campaign=&utm_term=%26285867

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Reluctant Emigrant
Have not had chance to read DH blog this week. Think it’s about the expat wife and kids heading back to the cooler climates of the west leaving hubby to toil under the hot desert sun:

http://thereluctantemigrant.wordpress.com/2013/05/26/annual-migration-2/

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Adios lads!
Have a nice weekend. I see some sunshine appeared in the Irish this week after long absence. Inshallah it continues to shine.
Take care all.

MB

Weekly Photo Challenge: In the background


Pigeon

Pigeon & friends. At a temple in Kathmandu, Nepal. October 2012.

The Future


Greetings lads
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.

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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:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmvKQ0fmBdU

Hope you like lads.

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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.

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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.

Masdar City
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.

http://masdarcity.ae/en/105/visit-masdar-city/

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.

T and TB

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.

Straw bales

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.

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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.”

http://www.matchmakerireland.com/

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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:

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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.

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Healthcare job opps in Dubai
If anyone interested lads:

http://www.zawya.com/story/Numerous_healthcare_job_vacancies_in_Dubai-ZAWYA20130515031459/?utm_source=zawya&utm_medium=web&utm_content=most-popular&utm_campaign=story

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Raha Moharrak
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!

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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.

http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/saudi-arabia/female-saudi-everest-climber-raha-moharrak-happy-to-change-views-1.1186848

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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.

http://www.dw.de/robert-fisk-syrian-war-could-go-on-for-two-three-years/a-16823404

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Arab Hospitality
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.

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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.

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MB

Weekly Photo Challenge: Escape


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From the Dubai World Cup horse racing night at Meydan Stadium, Dubai, end March 2013.