Friday, October 30, 2009

Dear Oprah.... Lebanon is NOT like that !

BREAKING: Inside sources have been quoted that “Oprah is in distress because of the attacks from Lebanon”. This all started when Oprah Winfrey showed a promo clip for an upcoming episode of her show, explaining how fans can be so fanatic sometimes in all parts of the world. Oprah described Nancy Ajram as “the Britney Spears of the Middle East”. Oprah noted that the sexy dance moves “caused quite the controversy in this deeply conservative country.” She also showed photos of veiled women sitting in the desert; two photos that have nothing to do with Lebanon……

It seems that Oprah’s use of the phrase “deeply conservative” to portray Lebanon has sparked a heated discussion in this tiny Middle Eastern country; some have gone so far as to call for an uprising against this unjust interpretation.

While some may dispute that it is the responsibility of her ruthless PR team to do the research beforehand, many have argued that Oprah herself needs to publicly apologize. After all, this Queen of Control Freak Journalism knows all too well that the blame will always fall on the person under the spotlight, the individual facing the cameras.

Facebook users have created a group appropriately named “Dear Oprah…. Lebanon is NOT like that!” With almost 21,000 members at the time of writing, this online phenomenon is growing rapidly in numbers. In its relatively short time, it now has more members than the group “Palestine”, usually the most talked about topic in the Middle East.

To make sense of the term “deeply conservative”, which was used to illustrate them, members of the group have so far pointed fingers at a number of people - from Oprah herself down to the deprived and poor politicians that run the country. In a country like Lebanon, the price of tomato today is a political issue. Some citizens have taken it upon themselves to stop eating carrots because they are orange and that is the color that represents a particular opinionated party.

Creators of this group have pointed out that “This is NOT a hate group. And any hate messages that attack the person of Oprah Winfrey do not represent the thoughts of the Lebanese community as a whole, nor the creator of this group. Such messages will be DELETED.”

A member by the name Jax H. thinks this is a conspiracy theory, he goes on to say; “Guys... this is a planned media campaign against Lebanon paid by another Arabian country which they think it will take over Lebanon's place as the capital of Middle East.”

Zeina H. has this to offer; “Dear Oprah, I’m sending u a first class ticket on MEA airlines and 5 star accommodation hotel in Beirut in order to visit our country before u do ur next research about us…” In which her friend Dima D. commented; “ur right im with u bas sa7n l tabouleh 3layeh :P” Dima agrees with Zeina but has asked that she buys Oprah the Tabouleh. Tabouleh is a Levantine dish of Lebanese origin. The “:P” sign in Dima’s comment depicts a person sticking out their tongue. It is not yet known whether Dima disturbingly gestures using the muscle on the floor of her mouth towards Zeina, Oprah or the Tabouleh. But since the tongue is the primary source of taste, sources are saying it is most likely directed at the Tabouleh.

The confusion does not stop there, Malaak Z. has dug deep into the subject matter, these are various extracts from her note; “The prob is not the word “conservative” that Oprah used…in Lebanon most of the ppl in it don’t accept homosexuals, civil marriage….but I must remind you, that a lot of Americans don’t accept many things also…for god’s sake some of them even hate black people…why??? Bcoz they were born with different skin color!! & Obama being president cant change the facts…. That report was shown on purpose, coz I don’t believ that she wasn’t watching the news this summer, especially the “GREAT CNN”,… I’m 100% sure that she saw the reports….. she has a large influence on American ppl& we all saw her on Obama’s campain.”

It is not sure whether Malaak has extensive insight into the American Civil Rights Movement, or she is merely an observer stating her opinions. If it is one thing for sure we know about Malaak, it is that she forgot to use the spelling and grammar checker provided under the Toolbar.

Moe K. has said “I will reply to Oprah soon by something special… She use to be one of my favorite TV shows, but not anymore.” The CIA are investigating this threat. Rumor has it that Oprah is quoted as saying “I don’t see it as a direct threat, but I am fearful that my career will end because Moe might stop watching my show.”

To clear the air, Lebanese Politicians have tried to calm the streets by holding a round-table discussion. The round-table was used in order for them to face each other; politicians in Lebanon have always preferred to hold talks with the more customary rectangular fashioned table. The dialogue was postponed because it was reported that two politicians were overheard discussing selling Lebanon to Oprah. An anonymous insider was quoted as saying “One of the politicians whispered to the other “she can buy it, she has a lot of money she can find a way to move it into her backyard.”

Both politicians have since been expelled from holding government office. They are reported to be in discussions with the Merriam Webster publications to buy the phrase “deeply conservative” in an effort to sell it to Miss. Winfrey at a premium.

This intellectual debate goes on – the Lebanese have once again proved to be at the forefront. Art, philosophy, poetry, talent and aptitude have always been an integrated part of Lebanese society. One can only help but wonder, why has this beautiful country been in ruins for the past 30 years? Its’ people are evidently very concerned with justice and political correctness. The group “Dear Oprah… Lebanon is NOT like that!” is proof that the Lebanese people will not allow this prejudice portrayal and intolerance. The Lebanese will always stand in the way of fanaticism. But not color, color always finds its way through, orange, yellow, green, blue, white, whatever the color – the Lebanese will somehow bend over.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

a controversial issue

I am sitting here watching a BBC debate on immigration in the UK and it has got me thinking. A representative for the BNP is arguing about Britains "indigneous" people ,its immigrants, and their right to gain citizenship. The reaction of the audience has been that of outrage towards Mr. Nick Griffin's comments throughout the show. He wants the British government to pull up the ladder on immigration into the country.It's a view from the far right .

Switch now to a conversation I had this week with an Arab national , whose three children were born in Canada , carry a Canadian passport, but reside in the UAE. Low and behold, said lady is pregnant again and is now seeking a new country to deliver her new born baby in . She asked me to ask a family member in the know , whether or not she could pop over to Ireland ( as it is so much closer than Canada ) to give birth .

So, I obliged and did a bit of research for her. It turns out , that after a "free for all " on Irish immigration , which saw any Irish Born Children ( IBCs) getting automatic citizenship, the Irish laws on immigration have tightened up. It is no longer possible to hop off a plane at 8 months pregnant , stay for a month or two, never to return, but have a child who automatically gets an Irish passport.

Am I being too harsh in my thinking when I think that the idea of somebody getting nationality for no other reason other than simply being born in a country, is a bit off ? Is it really that easy to do it?Would the "citizen" be liable to pay tax in their adult life? And if the Irish government have managed to put a stop to it , are Canadian and American governments really allowing it ? How does it benefit them? If you are going to live in a country, contribute to its economy, learn a little about its culture and identify at least some aspect of your persona with being Irish , then fine . Would I think of this in a different light if I came from a country that didn't have the most desirable passport in the world? ( Not saying for a second that Ireland has the most desirable passport , but it ain't the worst by any stretch of the imagination )

What amazed me was that some people don't seem to realise what a contentious issue this is with certain nations. They have no qualms about openly seeking nothing but a piece of paper - without being willing to do anything for it !If you want to live in a country - thats a different story. But popping out a baby and running back home is a whole other issue. If a country is not good enough for you to spend more than a month in , then why should that country issue you with a passport? If neither parents have a substantial tie to a country - have no intention of anything but gleaning the benefits of the passport , then should it be allowed?

Maybe someone can help me see this from an angle I haven't thought of yet ...Is a sense of Arab identity less important than future opportunities and easier travel?I understand that this move is generally to improve opportunities for their offspring - but is that a good enough reason? Will the passport holder pledge loyalty to its host country in years to come?
HE agrees with the notion of going elsewhere for a week or two for the sake of a passport. But it just doesn't sit right with me . I know it is common place in this region for those who can afford it . Is it right for people to accept the protection and benefits of another countries passport when they haven't ever resided there? Or does all that just not matter- as it is just a piece of paper - albeit an important one?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Know your audience...

I found this in Ikea a while back . Is it just me , or does this picture seem a little out of place in a ad campaign in the Middle East?

The real Dubai

The all powerful Oprah Winfrey , award winning talk show host and general expert on all things worth knowing is reaching out to world and giving her viewers a chance to see how - we're all just working moms, no matter what our address.

She interviewed several women from across the globe to get an insight into their lives. Here is Dubai's segment ....

Wow! If I watched this from my living room in Texas , I would love the idea of a tax free country , with free water, electricity, and healthcare. Dare I say, it's a little inaccurate for the majority of residents here . Also love how she is skyping from a country where skype is banned ! Ho hum.

Monday, September 14, 2009

"keepin' it real" gone wrong...

I like Kanye West . I bought his first album , his second album and I even stuck by his latest ventures of relying almost exclusively on that voice synthesiser crap. But music snob I ain't and one of the joys of being a music fan over a certain age is that you can separate the music from the personality. And oh my , what a personality!

Click here to see Kanye making an utter tit of himself on MTV's 2009 VMA's. Oh, and here, and here and .... you get the picture.

For the record, Beyonce's video probably WAS better than Taylor Swift's. So , in fact, was Pink's video ... .funny how they managed to smile and applaud! Beyonce even managed to try to make up for the embarrassment of it all by sharing her moment in the spot light ( God know's she has enough of them ) later on in the show. She called Taylor Swift up on stage , saying how she remembered her first VMA win and how exciting it was, giving Taylor a chance to get a better stab at her thank yous!

I want to send Kanye to the same bootcamp that Serena Williams should do a stint in ! I think he is a cranky blogger trapped in a celebrities body - but when the world is watching , if you dont have anything nice to say - shut it !

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Serena Williams

Im not a sports fan in the least , but I do love the drama that can go hand in hand with sports !

Serena Williams managed to let her temper get the better of her and line judge went running to the tournament referee , complete with forlorn looks and pointing ! Williams showing a lack of sportmanship for the second time in this US Open title defence match , made sure that drama ran high after she broke her racket when she lost the first set .

" If I could , I'd take this ball and shove it down your throat !" she bellowed at the line judge in front of a shocked crowd. Nice one Serena , bet you feel a bit stupid today!!

It kind of reminded of the John McEnroe days" You cannot be serious!!"

Saturday, August 22, 2009

More adventures in Paris

Now that I have paid hommage to the french and their food , it's time to rip into them, non?

We flew with Qatar airways to CDG airport in Paris. The flight was ideal ( I think the nail marks in his arm , my special way of coping with turbulence , have faded now ) and we arrived in Paris without too many issues .

On our return journey , we debated about what the weight restrictions on luggage were and eventually concluded that it was 30kg per person . I did think at the time that this may have been wrong , but as we didn't buy too many souvenirs ( mostly fridge magnets , caricatures and a few items of clothing ) we reckonned we would be alright. Oh , how wrong we were !

A word of warning , when arriving for a flight in CDG , do not arrive any later than three hours early - you never know what could go wrong. We got there two hours before the flight and started to queue. While we were at the end of this line, and had to wait for about half an hour, I certainly didnt feel we were pushing any time limits and had even contemplated a few more fridge magnate purchases in duty free.

When we finally reached the counter, we met with our french Qatar Airways representative. Let's call him Pierre for arguments sake. Up goes our luggage onto the scales and , wouldn't you know it , we are 16kg over between the two of us. At this point , I decided to let him take over negotiations. In my experience with the french , if they know you speak french , they can be twice as venemous with their insults, so I kept schtum . I also have quite a short fuse when dealing with arrogant pups.

Pierre ( beginning to shriek) : You are heavy , you are heavy ! You must pay , quickly, quickly .

Him : Really? I thought it was 30kg? I'm pretty sure the ticket said 30kg.

Pierre: Non , non , non , non , non ! You arrive late, you have too much luggage and now you are telling me it's ok? ITS NOT OK? What did you expect when you arrive so late like this?I cannot help you . You must pay , NOW , go to that counter over there ! WAIT ! I HAVE TO GIVE YOU TICKET!!

Him : Ok , how much is it? Where do we pay?


Him : We were queueing for a long time , we weren't late. Ok , just tell me where to pay please ...?

Pierre at this point continues to scream like a scorned lover , delaying us by another ten minutes . He lectured us and there was lots of tutting and rolling of eyes. We went over to the special " over weight counter " and discovered that we owed 600 Euros . I started to hyperventilate slightly and ran back to Pierre .

Her: Look , we can't pay that much , it's crazy , please , give me the bags back and we will ditch some of our luggage .

Pierre : NON

Her : WHAT???

Pierre : Non ! I am not letting you on the flight . It's too late, I am closing , your luggage is staying here now .

Her: You can't be serious . We will throw luggage away . We will make it lighter ! Please ! We are sorry , we didn't know !!

Pierre: You should have come early if you will make problems like this.

Pierre prompltly made a "hmmph " sound and turned his back on us! I'm pretty sure they take assault fairly seriously in airports, so it was probably for the best when He ushered me to one side in a bid to damage control . After some intense apologising on our part, Pierre finally decided to let us rip open our bags and pull out anything we deemed unneccessary . In the cull , we lost boots, jeans and sweaters while we transefered ipods and speakers to our handluggage and hoped for the best. All the while ,Pierre continued to scream at us !

When we re-weighed our things, we apparently had reached an acceptable weight . I nearly wanted to point out that we had both gained a stone since the last flight ( the french hate fat people ) and what was he gonna do about that , eh?? But common sense , or , um , fear, prevailed and we continued our humble apologies . The charitable soul decided that , actually , he would let us on the flight . We took our tickets and ran like bats out of hell to passport control . We weren't late initially , but we certainly were now. Further more, it seems that entire Kuwaiti polulation has decided to drag themselves away from the cafes of the Champs Elyisee and head home , so the non European passport queue was chronic . ( Were there any Kuwaitis who weren't in Paris this August?? )

When we finally got to the closing boarding gate , I am pretty sure we were flagged for swine flu , what with the red faces, the wheezing and puffing . The air hosts were lovely , gave us water, and seemed to realise something had happened to the two bewildered passengers. Maybe they knew we had just had a lovers tiff with Pierre. I have never met anyone so unprofessional and stroppy in my life. I felt like we were breaking up with the guy in a restaurant and he had decided "Screw this, I'm going to make a scene "

While he is not the first French man to scream at me , and certainly won't be the last , I never fail to be utterly gobsmacked at how unbelievably arrogant certain individuals can be. It's amazing how a little power can go to someone's head isn't it !