LGBT


MB is not a lesbian. Read More

North or South


Greetings Crossers

Late post this weekend. Apologies. MB is bit busy these days on account of fact he is leaving Saudi Arabia after almost 2 year and in busy ‘wrapping things up’ mode. Read More

Three Amigos!


Evening lads
MB decided to do au revoir blog post for you all on account of fact will be traveling through the sky from Middle East to Ireland on Friday morning, and later that day heading from Dublin to HX. So will be just too busy to cater for your ever growing needs. The HX family is growing weekly lads, al hamdillah, and it can’t be much longer before MB chucks in the day job to focus solely on spending the large advert revenue that is most assuredly heading his way. Allah u akbar for sure.

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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

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

Marriage – By arrangement


Are you married ladies? Have you found your Mr Perfect? Are you still looking? Maybe you found him and he didn’t turn out so perfect after all?

If you can not find him, or you did and he was a donkey, why is this so? Are you the problem? Was he the problem? Maybe your interests/hobbies/age/IQ all combine to make the search a difficult task? And the certainty of a good result is no more than a lottery?

Will he look after you? Will he help you when you need? Will he share the burdens? Will he make you smile? Even occasionally? Would be nice to find the man who makes you smile ladies. After all, girls just want to have fun, said Cindy.  Who would be a woman?! But if someone could offer to help you find him ladies, would you accept? That is my real question ladies.

It’s interesting to see the process at work out here. The girl has help with her search, and the success rate is neither better nor worse than other societies from what I have read. Yes they have divorce here, probably at lesser rates than many Western countries like Britain, which has very high rate. So ladies, when you sit back and really think about it, would you accept or reject the idea of an arranged marriage?

Your family will do the scouting for you, talking to friends near & far. Friends of friends will receive word of you, what you are like, what you do, your education, your interests, you are a happy type, sad type, full of chat, quiet. And so the oldies are put to work using their lifetime experience to come up with a match, a suitable match. Nice.

In the part of the world MB comes from there is much misconception about AMs. There is prevailing idea that vast majority of girls are forced into a marriage regardless of what they may think of the man partner. And we read the occasional horror story which reinforces the view. The phrase used out here to describe the opposite of an AM also helps the prejudice – a Love Marriage. Who wouldn’t want a love marriage? But it’s just the phrase they use, for want of a better phrase. Generally speaking the prevailing attitude mentioned is not an accurate one, and is far removed from the truth.

When a boy is looking for a wife his family will contact the family of a suitable girl. The local culture dictates that the father of the girl will have the big say. If he is not comfortable with the approach, the invitation may never even reach the girls ears. But the father/daughter thing is no different in Havana, Helsinki or HX. Or Dublin or Dubai. Or Rome or Riyadh. (How did you think of all that alliteration MB? Because I am awesome lads). What father would want his daughter to end up unhappy all her days? None that I know. None at all actually.

But a picture paints a thousand words lads (or an MB photo a million!). In recent weeks MB happened upon 2 cases that will give you idea of what can happen. Of how a Dad is human and fallible, can make a mistake, but at end of the day gets it right, putting angel daughter before all else.

Both Dads are friends of mine, both of this region and of the local prevailing religion. Both daughters are also known to MB (totally platonic Cla, may God forgive you your filthy mind), both with great personalities, intelligent, in careers, and of an age when marriage is on the cards, or at stage when the arrangements might start. Both girls, in many many ways, are very attractive ‘catch’ for local ‘fishermen’. So the calls are coming, and Dads must decide.

Dad Nr 1
Dad Nr 1 received call from distant long term family friends who had met daughter at some occasion in recent past and were very taken with her. Early 2012. A suitable boy was available. Introductions followed. Both boy & girl had initial attraction so all good. Engagement party soon followed. All mumtaz (‘excellent’ in the Arabic lads).

Dad actually knew boy as a young child many years back, but had moved to new country so had fallen out of contact with boy and family in more recent years. Dad, not being the strict religious type, invited future son-in-law on family holiday out of the region, so daughter and suitable boy could get to know each other better. Daughter and suitable boy were allowed whole days together, more or less unsupervised to give them good chance to talk and get comfortable (Dad speaks French, which might explain an attitude that would be uncommon out these parts!).

But as daughter fell more & more under spell of new boy, Dad started to notice things he did not like. Even though boy had very good well paid job, he was stingy with money. He might arrange a night out for a meal, but would always expect Dad to pay. He did not seem to be in any any way affectionate or warm towards his daughter, as much as local custom might allow. F**k – could this guy even be gay thought Dad, just getting married for appearance sake, to keep his own family off his back. Double f**k! But daughter seemed happy. Under all the circumstances, what was a Dad to do?

Dad decided to express thoughts to daughter. Took her to the local beach on his day off for a chat. Told her the final decision was hers to make. Absolutely. But explained his concerns and just told her he did not want her to end up married to a donkey and unhappy with life, and maybe ending in divorce after some miserable years. Daughter, he discovered, was also having second thoughts, and considered all that Dad had to say. And after the chat was over, decided to call boy to inform him he was history! The plan was hatched to make the call at 4pm that afternoon.

But as luck would have it, boy was also having reservations, and at 2pm he made call to Dad to apologise profusely, as he had changed his mind about the marriage and did not want to proceed. Dad & daughter were now, also, his history! Dad thanked him for his honesty & candour, wished him well for the future, clicked off the phone, and smiled the broadest smile in the entire Middle East!

Dad Nr 2
Similar to Dad Nr 1, Dad Nr 2 also received call from long time family friends who were now living in different country. The following may not be 100% accurate lads, and the words are my own, but they convey the general gist of what happened:

“We think our boy would be suitable partner for your daughter, and would love them to get introduction”, said family friends. “Great” said Dad chuffed that good friends had a male offspring that would probably be like them, nice decent people, and great match for daughter. “Yes, mumtaz, we will arrange and your lad can arrive on Wednesday, to meet daughter on her coming home from work”. “TVM” said family friends, pleased that boy would probably end up marrying daughter of good friends. All would be good with life and happiness would prevail. Babies would follow. “And we are emailing you pic of our little Tom (Abdullah) Cruise, so your daughter can be impressed, and does not meet total stranger on Wednesday evening”.

Dad breaks the ‘great news’ to daughter and forwards the pic, assuming she will fawn over it all day, thinking of nothing but the beautiful/suitable boy, be in high spirits when she gets home from work, and will dazzle suitable boy with her intelligence, wit and charm. This one is not a shy flower type, I can assure you lads. She does not know how to look at the floor, and occasionally lift her head to flicker her eye lashes. No siree.

Anyway, daughter takes one look at the pic and calls Dad. She informs him accordingly:

“If that Jackass is in our house tonight when I finish work, I will not be going home. I will go to my Uncle’s house instead”.

Poor Dad nearly has heart attack. He worships the ground daughter walks upon, but he has already invited suitable boy to house. He has hours of extreme discomfort wondering what the hell to do. Is daughter just having bad hair day, and making poor judgement? Could ‘apple of his eye’ daughter be totally and utterly wrong? To him, the boy in the pic had potential on a number of fronts. And boy should at least get the chance to present himself and his case. And at this stage boy is on the way. Hells bells!

Dad decided to consult the Homer Simpson Book Of Child Psychology, and went for chat with some man friends. The pic was displayed for second opinion, and the reaction was immediately negative. Upon getting the ‘No’ opinion, MB has never seen a happier man. Dad immediately called ‘treasure’ daughter to inform her that of course she was correct in her judgement, and Dad would right his wrong immediately. Dad immediately calls donkey suitable boy to inform him that he is history even before he starts. Not sure what reaction was from boy, but I would suggest he tell Mom & Dad to stop emailing pics for start, and just let nature (or nurture) take its course.

And did you see the pic MB? Yes I did lads. And what was he like MB? Well lads, if you know the look of young Dublin drug dealers, who have spent a few terms inside, with shaved head and open neck shirt, displaying some orangutan type chest hair (giving indication of IQ level), then lads you have general idea of what daughter was expected to make pleasant polite conversation to on Wednesday evening after hard day at the office. But of course lads, I could be very wrong. So could daughter. But I doubt it!

Summary
What more can I say lads. The world and it’s cultures are fascinating. There is good and bad in all and nobody’s got life off to perfection. Dads (& Moms) do their best for their kids, sometimes with great skill, and sometimes make a mess of it. That’s life. Meanwhile the sun still rises every morning and the world keeps on spinning. The girl out here still hopes for the suitable boy, and the boy for a suitable girl.

So ladies, anyone for an arranged marriage?

MB

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