Reviews

#BookReview Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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That void good books leave behind..
I finished this book last night and just absolutely loved it! Although it was relatively long, almost 600 pages, it wasn’t easy to put down at all.
It’s the first fictional book I read for african authors, and they definitely have a wealth of writing.
Chimamanda’s book Americanah  is a about a Nigerian girl who grew up in Nigeria and makes the move to the US to continue her study there after all the issues happening in Nigeria. She spends almost 15 years there before she decides to move back to Nigeria. Read the rest of this entry »

Saved by Their Greed: How I Escaped A Scam Attempt

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I never thought I could ever fall for a digital scam, because I heard enough stories and I do come with a background in IT, so I know how things work. Little did I know! So here is what happened:

I decided to sell my old laptop, so I went to good old Dubbizle, benchmarked the price of similar laptops, and then posted the Ad there. Few hours later I got couple of emails from individuals asking me about my last price. So I replied to both of them saying the posted price AED 2,700, and the discounted price is AED 2,500 if they were serious. I was considering lowering it even further if they were persistent and were going to take it on spot.

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An hour later, one of them continued the conversation. His name was “Issam Umar” and he sent this: Read the rest of this entry »

My Review on 3 Morning-Productivity Books

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I have been on a ride of reading morning-productivity books recently and it has been really helpful in shifting my lifestyle to a morning riser lifestyle. As I’m currently between working from home and coffee-shops, it can get a little hard to maintain the productive tempo for the day, especially that I still have to maintain time to spend with my family. So here are the books I read in the order I read them and my review for them:

1. “What The Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast” by Lauran Vanderkam

book 1_

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My Experience in Light Calligraphy with Karim Jabbari & The Ara Gallery

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Today I joined a workshop that was organized by The Ara Gallery about Light Calligraphy by one of the most known Arab light calligraphists and street artists, Karim Jabbari.

We went in not knowing what to expect exactly, but the experience was amazing! And Karim is so passionate about this form of art that you can’t help but to ride on his wave of enthusiasm!

The workshop was outdoors at the area right outside The Ara Gallery in Downtown Dubai, between 6-9 PM. Thank God it was a time friendly to us corporate slaves so I finally could join one of their so many interesting workshops! But the workshop was held at such a time specifically because light calligraphy is best practiced during the night so that the lights being used can be distinguished clearly in the artwork made.

The workshop started with Karim taking us through the right camera’s configuration and setup that would help capture the right aspects of light calligraphy and the scene we were making, he then shared with us some of his artwork and explained the different setup he did for each. Needless to say, his artwork was simply mind blowing!

Karim then gave each of us a flashlight to use for the workshop, and explained that the sense of light calligraphy is basically to draw the words we want to write as if our flashlight was our brush, having the air as our canvas, BUT, the tricky part was that we’ll have to write in a mirrored effect so it can be reflected correctly on the camera! Not easy I tell you! Let me try to show you how does a scene typically look like:

light calligraphy scene

Read the rest of this entry »

My Emirates Literature Festival Schedule

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Here are the sessions I’m attending for the festival:

Thursday, 10th March
19:30-20:30 – The Hadef & Partners Business Panel: Change! The Good, the Bad and the Future
20:30-21:30 – Yasser Elsheshtawy in conversation with Peter Jackson
21:30-22:30 – Nujoom Al Ghanem and Wael Al Sayegh

Friday, 11th March
10:00-11:00 – Tony Buzan: Mind Maps for Business
18:00-19:00 – Edward de Bono
19:00-20:00 – Ali Al Shaali and Khalid Al Budoor

Saturday, 12th March
12:00-13:00 – Tony Buzan: Harnessing the power of poetry to develop your mind
13:30-15:00 – Ali Mostafa
15:30-17:30 – Nik Gowing
16:30-18:00 – CJ Simister
18:30-19:30 – Juma Al Majid: The Festival Personality 2011
19:30-21:00 – Digital Revolution 2: Is the book dead?

 

**For the full festival schedule, you can view this link.

 

Literature Festival day 1: 3. Historical Fiction

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The author of Wolf of the Plains discusses his historical fiction ( Conn Iggulden)

History is where we’re from, what we are, and who we are. Reading about history, about real people, inspires others to persevere.

We all need to know about history, it simply teaches us not to make the same mistakes. But history is often presented as a serious of disconnected facts. They are mostly not humanized, so you wouldn’t be able to relate to the facts. This is where the History fiction fits in. It highly depends on historical facts, but it connects them with an amount of fictional writing. This humanizes the historical characters, approaches the readers with a capturing script, and delivers historical facts in an easy to ready novel frame. By that, more people are able to read and understand history.

This was reflected on in a later session in the day with Dr Youssef Zeidan on his novel: Al Azazil

Literature Festival day 1: 2. The Importance of Quality Books for Children

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The Importance of Quality Books for Children & Young Adults (Nadine Touma, Fatima Sharafeddine, Taghreed Najjar, Qais Sedki)

This was a very interesting session discussing the current state of Children’s books, why is it there, and how can we change it. Children and young adults are the category of those who are 18 years old and younger.

There was an argument whether such books are categorized as Children books or Children literature. The authors leaned towards it being more of a literature, because it is an art on itself to communicate with such a sensitive age-group with any topic at all. The problem is that due to this age-group’s sensitivity toward whatever they receive, it becomes a harder job to write for them, and hence it is easier to just avoid it.

The main questions that targets the writers for this group are: what value does it give the child? What did you want to establish with it? How will that affect them? This often kills the author from a side. From the other side, it is forgotten that a child at that point does not really care about learning, he wants to be entertained. That is why you find other cultures where kids do read, their books are not necessarily value derived, they are more towards entertaining the child, and allowing him to enjoy the process of reading. Sadly, our children books are very basic in their language and purely ideal value setting, e.g. Ahmad went to play with his friend, Sarah went to visit her grandmother, etc.

The statistics says that we have around 120 Million people under the age of 18 years in the Arab world. Sadly, according to the present authors, their books are merely printed for 3000 copies, which barely get sold out over a period of 5 years. Conclusion: no demand!

So what should be done? It was agreed that though the financial support is important, it is definitely not the key. It could be the key for additional publishing to more countries, but what’s the use if we are still stuck with the same content that didn’t get the children to read in the first place.

We have to realize that we have a problem with our generation reading, and then try to create the demand for reading. Learn from other cultures how they solved it, embrace the molds, but create our own content. This is not a call for translation, because translation will still look different, and deliver values we don’t accept for our kids. Kids need to read and see what they can relate to, and enjoy reading.

There was a question that was discussed and debated without reaching to a conclusion. The question was: whose responsibility is it to create a reading society? Is it family, schools, writers, publishers, media? It was argued that education ministry may need to collaborate with cultural authority to provide better books for schools, and to guide authors to be aligned with the new writing approaches.

I believe it is not a one factor solution; it is an equation of contributing factors. Families definitely play a role; media plays a role as well. You never find an advertisement, tv show, movie, or anything at all where a kid not even remotely far in the background is reading a book. So the idea of reading becomes marginalized, uncommon, and as they say “uncool”. Authors need to revisit their content, if it’s not selling, then producing more will not help either. Schools need to grow that in their students. This is not achieved with reading competitions, rather with discussion panels and debates. And the list goes on.

Literature Festival day 1: 1. Inspiration

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Inspiration (Bahaa Taher, Yann Martel, Imtiaz Dharker) (10th March, 2010: 2.30 pm)

Inspiration to write definitely differs from a person to another. Some find it within themselves, some find it in natural scenes, some in muses, and some in everyday’s conversation.

As Yann Martel says, to write, you have to be at discomfort towards a state in the world. You have to have that intellect curiosity of wanting to know how to help change that. Then when you write, you become momentarily in control, you become the painter of that change. You are overtaken with the joyful process of writing.

Imiaz Dharker, a poet, had a very interesting reasoning on writing poetry. You don’t write because you want to be published, not because you want it to be read, not because you want to get money of it. You just have to write, because this is all you can do to express it, because you cannot not write. You just write. For an audience that may never be. Writing gives that sense of harmony, a moment when everything internally is finally balanced. Beautiful!

A point that was raised by Yann Martel, is that he started writing when he was 18 years old. He stated that when you’re young, you don’t think of retirement or money, you don’t care about being poor, you got that optimism in you. You believe you’re immortal. That’s why he started writing then. He wrote horrible plays, but he wrote anyway, he kept trying, he had that hope.

This is opposed to what often is suggested for writers by surrounding people, to quit that nonsense, and submit self to that sense of corporatization, for the sake of job security, and guaranteed salaries. This was stated by Paul Blezard (the host) and confirmed by Martel.

I can’t help but to think, if the above is the reason why we don’t have that much of new young writers? Is the society holding them back? Are we still looking at corporate as the only right way to go? I know I don’t! But what is it about that fear of stepping into that land? Does the change have to come from the individuals alone? Or should there be a support system from the country and the society?

My Lit Fest Schedule

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Ok so here are the sessions I bought tickets for. I was planning for more, but I got a hunch that said not to. If anything I can buy them on the spot later!

Wednesday

2:30pm Inspiration
4:00pm The Importance of Quality Books for Children & Young Adult
5:30pm Conn Iggulden: In Conversation
7:00pm Launch of Looking Back with Love: Dubai Poems from the 1800s
8:30pm Youssef Ziedan: In Conversation

Thursday

2:30pm Art, Science & Creative Ideas for your Children
5:30pm The Uses and Abuses of History
7:00pm One Evening of Outstanding Contemporary Arabic Poetry
8:30pm Poetry as a Cure for the Ailments of Modern Day Society

Friday

2:00pm Women Writing from the Arab World
6:30pm An Evening with Five Contemporary Emirati Poets
8:00pm social media in publishing

Saturday

4:00pm Words and Music
5:30pm Panel Discussion: Robert Lacey, Turki Al-Dakhil, Richard Spencer
7:00pm Maha Gargash: In Conversation

The ones I’m still in doubt of:

Friday 12.30pm Imtiaz Dharker & Fadhil Al-Azzawi
Friday 3.30pm Francis Wheen: In Conversation
Friday 3.30pm Roger McGough 1
Friday 5pm Imran Ahmad
Saturday 11.30am Abdo Khal, Alawiyya Sobh & Bahaa Taher
Saturday 5.30pm Sara Al-Jarawan, Maryam Al-Saedi & Amal Al-Falasi
Saturday 5.30pm Panel Discussion: Robert Lacey, Turki Al-Dakhil, Richard Spencer