Saturday, December 30, 2006

Why do Arabs hate us?!!!! Gosh, I feel sick!

I couldn't help but cry this morning when I saw the News of Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein being hanged... I will not delve into whether He was right or wrong becausethe principles of those have changed in these days... but I was so humiliated to see that they hanged him on the first day of Eid Al Adha... I just want somebody to tell me and on the record why this day in particular was chosen... makes me feel sick...
The feelings I had were unprecedented, I felt bad, really bad... and when people were greeting me with happy Eid today, I was feeling really depressed... Bravo America you did make us fell bad, oppressed and clueless... Bravo!
now, I keep reading opinion articles by American thinkers, politicians and ordinary citizens, all headlined with "Why Do Arabs Hate Us?" they ask the question innocently and analyze and analyze and analyze... I hope that now they have an answer! is there any clearer reason...
Gosh, dear American Administration: Thanks for helping your people find the answer...

And dear Arab Nation: "happy Eid"

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Jordan Business status: ONLINE


Jordan Business Magazine (for which I work as news editor) has launched its website! the URL is:

hope you enjoy it.. It is really a good read (and I have 3 stories in there :D)

Saturday, December 09, 2006

A warm soul..

... Is it cold
In your little corner of the world
You could roll around the globe
And never find a warmer soul to know...

Bernie Taupin, Elton John
Ice on Fire

Friday, December 08, 2006

Of birthdays, busy moms and THE right tabbouleh

Today is my son Abdel Aziz's birthday party... He turned two on Dec.6, and the party is being held today because I was busy with the ICT forum... :(
Everyone from my husband's family and my family is coming and we cant just mince enough parsley for Tabbouleh... (which has no cucumber, lettuce or anything like that... only parsley, some tomato, borghol, lemon, salt and olive oil... why people add so many other ingredients is something I cannot quite fathom... The other day, I had Tabbouleh with RED CABBAGE in it... what!!???)...

We decided to have a cozy party at home... I don't like birthdays held at fast food restaurants and cafes... the nice thing about a birthday is the family gathering and the joy of bringing people together to have fun... not bringing 50 crazy kids with their boring moms to a restaurant and spend your time smiling to complete strangers who in turn spend their time talking about their husbands and mothers-in-law while your are helplessly trying to prevent kids from hitting each other, and quite not succeeding in that...
And because I am a working mom and I still want people coming today to eat a lot of yummies, I thought I should seek help. So we are doing the Tabbouleh at home, my mom will cook some fried Kibbeh and yalanjee and my mother in law is doing some pastries and mou3ajjanat... and we will buy cake and desserts...yummy... this made both ladies compete to make some nice stuff and the ultimate beneficiary is us all...we love it when my mom and my mother-in-law compete... very HEALTHY and YUMMY competitions. :D

God, kids just grow fast... and i am trying to enjoy every single moment of this... kids are such a blessing.. Thank God for them...

Happy Birthday Abboudeh!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Shut up Jordan Planet

And so we did... after all Khalidah needed to do something so that everyone listens to everyone during yesterday's meeting... Wedad's civilized attempt to have names written on a piece of paper was not successful and Khlidah knew she had to be tough to be able to have some control over the chaos (see, who said Saddam Hussein was wrong)....we were just too many and Nimer and Jad both had headaches and ran for peace somewhere else...
It was nice to put a face on everyone's blog.. unlike their blogs, some people were really quiet yesterday... and some were talking non-stop... mmm...(I was very nice and quiet as always :P)... whatelse, qwaider apologized for his victims and apologized for his future victims, so everyone, beware, qwaider is coming...
We missed all the secret people on the Jordanian blogsphere: Mala2e6 (we had a long conversation that she is a he not a she...) and Khalaf (we really wanted to know who is that guy on the donkey)...
I really wanted to see Iman and abu Shreek...
but above all, i missed Naseem Tarawneh the most... wish u were here pal...

Secret after-meeting

Khalidah (of course, who else) had a plan B.. and some of us, notably sweet Shaden and Ola, 3ashe2at al jamal 7ala, lactose intolerent Moey, mowaffaq qabbani, Opairah, qwaider and um Al Yomn followed her lead to Wild Jordan cafe to have some nice conversations about qwaider finally getting engaged, itoot, my kids, m7ammad 3ali klay and MANSAF... qwaider also told us about the secret place for that yukky, yummy kabab... ya3! heheh

So it was really fun... looking forward to the cookies night at Rebecca's (sorry fellow male bloggers, u can't come!)


Monday, November 27, 2006

بدي أروح عالجيش

من اسبوع وكل يوم بنتفرج انا وزوجي واولادي على قناة نورمينا... وبالضبط من حواي الساعة 4 حتى الساعة 8 عشان نتفرج عالاغاني الوطنية... مش طبيعي شو حلوة الاغاني.. بشار السرحان وعمر العبدلات بغنو اغاني بتجنن... وبالذات بشار اللي الو اغنية رائعة جدا اسمها "يالاردنية"... يم بنصير نرقص حتى نتعب. وبصير قلبي يزغرد من الفرح.. وبصير اقول لجوزي: تعرف... جاي عبالي اقوم البس عسكري واروح اداوم بالجيش

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

we lost the game :( but.. hey people... we won!!!

So yesterday I was so enthusiastic and went with my family to have some fun... I carried Abboudeh (with a big bottle of milk) and headed to the basket ball game between the Lebanese Al Riyadhi and the Jordan Team... though we lost ( I donno why I expected a landslide victory) we went back home very happy... the crowds, the security, the "Jordanian feeling" made us go home victorious... the crowds were chanting riyada... ordon... riyada... ordon... in one voice.. Amazing... and i dont know why Omar Abdallat songs sound so much nicer during the games... Hashmi Hashmi was absolutely great...
Carrying four flags (with Jordan's flag on one side and the Arab Bank Shabab prog. on the other.. heheh), my son, Abboudeh (2 years on Dec.6) danced all the time and would not go home after the game finished, so we had to stay also for the Egypt, Kosovo match... (with Egypt winning!)
I felt so happy during the match... the chanting makes me feel so happily Jordanian... it feels so patriotic and we waved the flag till we became tired... yes yes guys do it..
I was so pleased with the security also… normally there would be a lot of elbowing and "dafasheh" on the doors and during the game… some people become so high with patriotism that they start fights for nothing. But the presence of a big number of security personnel (they were really nice too) and a no-smoking strict rule made our game very interesting and rewarding… I love my country… I love Jordan!

(Mu husband, though, will not allow us to sit with the crowd! heheheh)

Friday, November 17, 2006

هو شو السيرة

من وقت ما صرت بلانت سيتيزن خرب جوردن بلانت.... يا فرحة ما تمت...

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Should I be worried?

My blog has very "unique" visitors who land on it after conducting websearches, especially on Google. My statcounter shows the keywords they typed to do their searches… the top search keywords are: Sexless marriages, sex in amman, porn Jordan and the like. While I consider the stories I have written on sex-related issues to be beneficial, especially for those seeking advice on staying connected with their spouses, or reading about the bad effects of watching porn, I find myself disgusted to see that some psychos arrive at my blog expecting "pleasure". I also find myself worried that they ever see my blog which has information about me as well as my photo… should I be worried?

Friday, November 10, 2006

Jordan's 9/11....Clear and Present Danger*

The process has become quite automatic; you go to a shopping mall or a hotel and open your purse or empty your pockets and allow a "security guard" to examine their content. If you are one of the unlucky visitors who sets off the metal detector (just when you thought you were finally getting in) you will have to raise your hands in the air, and allow security to manually search you. The familiar procedure rarely takes more than a minute or two, yet oddly, there is no way out of it. Oula Farawati investigates.

This was not the case only a year ago. Inspection at the doors of hotels, cinemas, and shopping malls was an unfathomable concept. The only place where Jordanians were inspected, to the best of their knowledge, was at airports.
Clearly nowadays this is no longer the case. The upsetting incidents of 9/11, when three hotels were the targets of a string of attacks, have changed Jordan forever. The untimely explosions managed to shake the people’s confidence, for at a time when Jordan seemed unsusceptible to attacks, having been the most secure country in the region for decades, an entire nation was suddenly taken aback by the killing of 60 civilians. Not strictly for Jordanians and their families, terror has become an all too familiar word for people worldwide. Since NY's 9/11 five years ago, globally, not a day goes by without the mention of the words, terror, bombings, suicide attacks, interrogations, or Moslem extremists. From London, Spain, and Germany to Egypt, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, no place remains safe.
"I never before thought I would be searched and inspected before I enter the mall in Jordan… If someone told me this last year, I would have laughed at the whole idea," Hiba, a schoolteacher said.
Immediately after the attacks, security authorities imposed heavy, not to mention rigid, measures around Jordan. Special emphasis was placed on embassies and foreign offices, non-governmental organizations, government offices, hotels, and shopping malls in addition to some cafes and restaurants.

"I did not realize what an integral part security checks now played in my life until I went away on holiday this summer. I went to malls, hotels, cinemas, and it just felt wrong that nobody checked my purse or that there were no metal detectors. Bizarrely, I actually felt it's not as safe as Jordan," Samar said. Generally, people’s senses are heightened and most find it difficult to be completely at ease in public venues. For Nada Barakat, a cooperate lawyer at a local firm, something as trivial as two people leaving the theater before a movie ended was enough to make her and her family uncomfortable and suspicious.
"We were at the theater the other day and just before the movie ended, two men left… everyone at the theater looked scared… I myself freaked out!" she shared.

Take it or leave it

Despite a general approval of the need to protect Jordan against attacks and prevent any from happening in the future, the overall consensus is far from unanimous. Many people feel annoyed and inconvenienced by the new measures. On the other hand, others feel that these measures are still not enough and that stricter practices have to be implemented in order to really feel safe.

"At the beginning, I was quite irritated by these measures… I am not used to stopping at the doors of more or less every place I want to go to be searched. However, I feel that I have gotten used to them now, sometimes, still, I wish they were not there," added Hiba, the schoolteacher. However, Kinzi Jones, a writer, said the measures were absolutely a must. "I happily plunk down my purse for a search when shopping, and I am thankful when I get pulled over for a random check," she said. "But they seem to be focusing on the wrong people. Just as police are busy giving parking tickets when people who endanger lives on our roads go free," she added. Shaden Abdul-Rahman, a realtor, said that she appreciates the security measures applied at malls. "Sometimes I do wish that they thoroughly search my purse as opposed to just quickly scanning it without checking every item. Occasionally the employee in charge lets you in even though the machine has beeped. He doesn't even bother looking at the screen in front of him. After 9/11 every Jordanian is grateful for extra security," she said.

But Ahmad Hammoudeh, a hospitality student, said he disliked the measures. "I don’t understand this… I never liked it. When I go to Mecca Mall, I never enter through the metal detector, as I believe it is cancerous…Instead I prefer to be searched manually by the guard," he said, after he was searched by security. Like so many other rules and regulations, many locals completely abide by security rules when abroad, but are less cooperative when undergoing procedures locally. Nada Barakat, on the other hand, criticizes people who complain about security measures internally, yet peacefully and quietly accept thorough searches and inspections in European and American airports, although measures taken there are far more undignified and forceful. "The sight of my husband taking off his shoes, jacket, and belt, and sometimes even being dragged into a secluded room because his name sounds dubious whenever we travel abroad, is not a pleasant feeling".

Security… a service for all?!

Kheir Salah has been working as a security guard for Mecca Mall, one of the busiest shopping malls in Amman, for three years. He said he applies strict procedures when working at one of the gates to the mall. "I get people saying they don’t want to go through the detector and I respect that… but in this case, they have to be searched manually… if they refuse, I would never allow them in [without inspection]," he said.
"Sometimes the metal detector beeps, but it could beep because of a ring, a belt, a button, anything. What many do not realize is that we have grades [of sensitivity] on the Garret machine and the machine tells us when the item in question is of any danger," Mr. Salah said.
Additionally, Mr. Salah noted that the mall has a large number of surveillance cameras installed in the many corners of the mall. These cameras, which are connected to a main control system, have proven successful in unraveling any attempts of sabotage or chaos. Special emphasis is also placed on a select few that security personnel feel are suspicious. Examples include people wearing very big (or loose) clothes. Such visitors are flagged down and are manually searched immediately.
Deputy General Manager of Mecca mall, Salameh Kurdi, recalls the few days after the attacks very well. The mall was completely deserted like so many public venues in Amman. "But gradually we started regaining the confidence of people and customers to go out and enjoy their time without fearing any sort of attacks," said Kurdi.

The mall, he added, increased the number of its security personnel to around 130, and manned every gate with a number of security agents to search people getting in. Female security personnel were employed to search women and children.

"Security for us is a service like all the other services we offer here like car parking and cleaning. We have a special department for safety and security. We need to make the mall conducive for investment and safe for people who come here with their children to shop, walk, and have an enjoyable time," said Mr. Kurdi.

According to Mr. Kurdi, whose company (Kurdi Group) also owns Abdoun Mall; security personnel have received and continue to receive, training on the optimum ways that will make security measures successful without becoming too much of a nuisance to mall visitors, which has become one of the busiest places in Amman, especially during weekends. "Our security have received training by the security authorities and continue to learn the most up to date ways that will keep the mall's environment safe and encouraging," he said.

However, Living Well was successful in entering several so-called guarded places without being inspected. Pushing a baby stroller, pretending to be pregnant, or claiming to be very late were reasons that helped our undercover agents avoid inspection. In too many of these places the search was either mediocre or not conducted at all. A sweet smile from one of our female reporters was enough to get through to a restaurant unattended. But in some hotels, notably the Grand Hyatt Amman (one of three hotels attacked last year), Intercontinental Amman, and the Four Seasons, security was strict. The machines they use are very similar to the ones used in international airports. In these hotels, both machine and manual search were obligatory.

Pseudo politically speaking…

Some have a different take on security and making Jordan ultimately safe.
These security measures may help catch criminals but nothing can stop the act of terror. “Let us face it, these security measures are meant to protect the property of the rich in Jordan, not the people of Jordan. The same applies in the U.S. and everywhere else. Who protects Jordanians in the farmers’ market, lower-end restaurants, downtown Amman, or in funerals? No one. You are on your own out there. But when you enter a hotel or a mall, the owners see you as a threat to their property. That's all. The sooner you face this simple fact the sooner you will realize the whole security thing everywhere is not meant for the average citizen," a Jordanian young man, who refused to be named, said. Indeed, security for many should transcend armored doors and armed guards. People should feel valued in order to feel secure; this helps a nation work for its country and not work against it.
"Our government would be committing a crime against Jordanians if they don't learn from the deadly mistakes committed by the U.S. There is no substitute for dialogue with everyone. A mixture of smart security measures and open channels of communication are Jordan's best security policy. At the end of the day, it's us Jordanians who don't live in forts behind technologically advanced security fences and armored vehicles, who will benefit the most from such a smart security policy," he said, preferring anonymity.

Cultural security

Political analyst and expert on Islamic movements, Mohammad Abu Rumman, noticed a transformation in the way Jordanian security handle things. According to Mr. Abu Rumman instead of waiting for extremists and fundamentalists to come and strike, the security authorities have formed a database on security threats and how to protect the country against any more attacks.
"The General Intelligence Department has realized that the database they had was not sufficient, especially after the invasion of Iraq. This entailed strengthening the database about Iraqis and other expats in Jordan and re-examining and enforcing border security," he explained.
In this regard, he believed the security authorities have made a significant success. The fact that security has foiled many terrorist attack attempts proves their success.
"But they have failed in culturally protecting the society against mental and cultural terror, and they have failed in stopping the continuous recruitment of people by Takfiri and other terror groups. They have made many attempts like the Message of Amman and restructuring the Ministry of Awqaf but these have also failed. This is due to the lack of a vision for a practical plan in this regard. All the laws that have been enacted in the security regard recently pertained to physical security and not cultural safety and security. They have failed to create a social and cultural shield against extremism," Mr. Abu Rumman noted.

"People don’t have to believe in the religious beliefs of Al Qaeda but anyone who holds up a flag against the U.S. will absolutely win support. In protests in Amman and elsewhere, protesters carried posters for Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah and not AlQaeda Chief Usama Ben Laden. Which means that a political and cultural shift to an anti-U.S. sentiment was easier. This affects societies with a high percentage of youth, unemployed, and poor people," he said.
"That is why I am saying there should be a very strong societal and cultural campaign that will attract people away from violence and towards peace, tolerance, and acceptance of others," he added.

Columnist and political analyst, Batir Wardam, sees security issues from a different perspective. "I think safety has many faces and physical safety from violence is only one of them. I think Jordan is still relatively safe from terrorism and political violence now, but this may change in the future. My negative assessment against our safety is economic safety and social safety. I feel this country is run by people who do not appreciate it and we may end up with being less safe in terms of education, health, water, and other things we took for granted," he said.
"I fully support security measures in hotels and airports to the highest limits. There are some crazy people who think killing us will get them a ticket to heaven and they will not stop. So I go for security but not at the expense of people's freedoms. Again, I do not think that the Jordanian security forces target anyone who lives peacefully. If you have Takfiri ideas or plan to destabilize the country do not expect the security to shake your hand for that," Mr. Wardam added.

Naseem Tarawneh, a Jordanian living in Canada wrapped it up by saying "Are security measures necessary? With Israel to our west, Lebanon is a mess, people moving in and out of Jordan through Syria to the north, the occupation to our east, terrorists attacking Saudi targets to the south and terrorists attacking Egyptian targets to the south west. So yes...given the circumstances I think so!"

“I never before thought I would be searched and inspected before I enter the mall in Jordan”

“People don’t have to believe in the religious beliefs of Al Qaeda but anyone who holds up a flag against the U.S. will absolutely win support”

“There are some crazy people who think killing us will get them a ticket to heaven and they will not stop.”
*Previously published in Living Well Magazine

Monday, November 06, 2006

The dark obsession*

By Oula Farawati

The scenario is somewhat the same… you wake up in the middle of the night and notice that your husband is not sleeping next to you. You hear some noise coming from the living room, and your hunch tells you to tiptoe towards the room. And there you stand… watching…
“I stood on the room door speechless, motionless for minutes… My head was spinning as I stood there thinking what I should be doing,” said Iman, a 28 year old secretary.
“My husband’s back was towards me and he was watching a naked woman masturbating on TV and was masturbating himself as well… I felt that my whole marital life was falling into pieces,” she said.
Her first reaction was yelling at her husband and asking him what he was doing…But he retorted with surprise at the beginning and then utmost anger.
“He yelled at me loudly and asked me to go back to the bedroom, this is none of your business, he said and I retreated in shock and fear,” she added.
“I went back to the bedroom, stayed in bed for some 10 minutes thinking of what I should be doing next. My heart was beating restlessly and my emotions were hard to understand… I was feeling sad and angry and betrayed.”
But Iman’s husband was not sorry, she said. She recalled that she went to the living room a bit later to discover that her husband was still watching porn, not at all deterred by her anger…
“So I went crazy again and started screaming hysterically and threatening that I would leave the house if he does not stop watching,” she said. "And that is when he stopped."
Iman and her husband slept back to back that night… They did not talk to each other for a week.
“I thought that he would not watch porn again, but I discovered that he was doing that every night… so I decided to talk calmly to him during the day,” she said.
But her husband’s attitude was all but positive.
“He told me that if I don’t like it, then I can do whatever I wanted… and every night now, I would go to sleep knowing that he is betraying me… I would cry myself to sleep… This is how I have been living for the past three years,” she complained.
On the other end of east Amman, lives Nadia, a 34 year old mother of five, her husband would watch porn every night for hours and then come to the bedroom and sleep with her.
“I feel so bad about it… I sleep with him and pretend that I was enjoying it and then fake an orgasm… when he is finished, he would sleep next to me and start snoring and I would sit next to him, cry and stare at him thinking how much I hated him and my whole life,” said Nadia.
Nadia had already gone to her parents’ house to complain after discovering her husband’s addiction to watching porn… Her parents thought she was “absolutely crazy” to ruin her marital life for such a “silly reason.”
“My mom and dad asked me to be realistic and accept whatever he was doing... The man has needs, my father told me and my mother even admitted to me secretly that my father used to watch porn as well, and for years… and with no support from my parents at all, I went back home hurt, but tied-handed,” she said.
Ladies in Amman tell sad and shocking stories about their partners’ addiction to watching porn… while some men were doing that secretly, and sometimes feeling shy about it, others were shameless and would go as far as forcing their wives to watch porn with them.

Is it safe to watch porn?

Experts acknowledge that most men are not aware of the consequences of their once-secret, now-public habit… but mistrust, low self-esteem, and fear about the collapse of their marital lives are only few examples of the effects of porn obsession on wives.
For Iman, the consequences were immediate… her husband would have sex with her only once every two weeks…
“I thought he was watching porn and shying away from me to make up for something that was missing in our relationship, or because I was not pretty. I tried talking to him but he bashed at me and said watching porn has nothing to do with wanting me less, or more,” she said.
She described how dying her hair, buying new and expensive lingerie did not help.
“I started working on myself,” she said. “Everyday, when he comes back from work at 4,00 p.m., he would find good food on the table and find me dressed in sexy lingerie and perfume.”
However, her husband’s response was disappointing. Right after the meal, he would go to bed and sleep for hours: “when I go to sleep, he would watch a porn movie, and I would wet my pillow with tears.”

According to Psychiatrist Mohammad Habashneh, addiction to watching porn can break relationships, affect work performance and become a major life priority.
“The problem differs in intensity and manner from person to another but all porn addicts become hooked on their brains' chemical responses to the stimulating material,” he said.
“But the idea is that the more you watch, the more you get addicted and the more it is hard to quit… Addicts start to require more excitement and intensity and move from wanting to watch normal intercourse to anal sex oral sex and other kinds of extreme sexual practice like fetishism,” Dr. Habashneh added.
The expert noted that the obsession with watching porn can also lead to negative consequences on children, especially if they know that their parents were watching such movies on a daily basis.
“[Addicts] get so immersed in the habit that it deviates their attention from the world… They sometimes become unaware of anything that takes place around them and their whole mindset will only be focused on when they can be alone to watch porn again and again because masturbation leads to solo-sex which can be more rewarding to them,” he added.

Rob Weiss, the founder of the Sexual Recovery Institute in Los Angeles, told TV show Oprah recently that porn addiction is becoming an epidemic. "I think of sex addicts as being drug addicts—only their drug is their own neurochemistry. It's what turns them on. … I talk to guys who say that hours and hours and hours go by, and they're not even aware of the time change because they're so filled with adrenalin and dopamine and serotonin." Contrary to popular belief, sex addiction is not about sex, Weiss told the host. "It's like a gambling addiction," he said. "It's like losing yourself in the process of it, and the men that I work with, they're lost in the flirting and the looking and the possibilities of what might happen. They may never actually have an erection. But they can spend hours and hours and hours kind of lost in fantasy."
Face to face with “one of them” Porn is nothing harmful, many men believe… For Naser, a 29 year old government employee, porn is like sport.“It is nothing addictive or bad… I have watched porn for many years now and I enjoy it a lot…”Naser, however, believes men who criticize porn and say they don’t consume it are simply “lying.”“We are programmed to watching porn.. it is in our libido…I don't really trust men who claim to not be interested in porn. We're biologically programmed to respond to the sight of people having sex."Asked about what he thinks the effects of this habit on women, Naser says it has no effect: “Women should understand how men think… one woman is never enough and watching porn is much less harmful than cheating or marrying another woman.”For the young man, who was educated in London, women in Jordan are quite traditional and boring and “do not do many things in bed.”“I ask my wife for things in bed but she refuses… I see many nice things in these films and I have the right to demand the same stuff…”This is where the problem lies, Dr. Habashneh believes the danger of watching porn comes from the fact that actors go to extremes to impress fans… “These actors have sex for a living… they don’t mind going to extreme extremes and do things that are sometimes impossible to imagine.”“Now the danger is that for most men porn films are their sex education and they think that what these actors and actresses do is what drives up excitement and some wives fall for that, because sex education here is always a taboo,” he added. At its most basic level, pornography answers natural human curiosity. Adolescent boys want to know what sex is about, and porn demonstrates the mechanics.
Guardian writer Edward Marriott wrote in a 2003 that long before his first sexual relationship, porn was his sex education.

“Like many men, I first saw pornography during puberty. At boarding school, dog-eared copies of Mayfair and Knave were stowed behind toilet cisterns; this borrow-and-return library system was considered absolutely normal, seldom commented upon and either never discovered by the masters or tacitly permitted,” he wrote.
“No doubt (though we'd never have admitted it then) my friends and I were driven to use porn through loneliness: being away from home, we longed for love, closeness, unquestioning acceptance. The women over whom we masturbated - the surrogate mothers, if you like - seemed to be offering this but, of course, they were never going to provide it. The untruths it taught me on top of this disappointment - that women are always available, that sex is about what a man can do to a woman - I am only now, more than two decades on, finally succeeding in unlearning,” Marriott added.
David Morgan, consultant clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst at the Portman Clinic in London describes the “learning phase” as "transitional, like a rehearsal for the real thing”.
However, he wrote that the problem with pornography begins when, instead of being a temporary stop on the way to full sexual relations, it becomes a full-time place of residence." Morgan's experience of counseling men addicted to porn has convinced him that "the more time you spend in this fantasy world, the more difficult it becomes to make the transition to reality. Just like drugs, pornography provides a quick fix, a masturbatory universe people can get stuck in. This can result in their not being able to involve anyone else."
After all, pornography is a big lie. It is all about false love, sex and human relationships. Its victims are lonely, weak men and some women.

Tips for wives: how to make your husband quit

Psychiatrist Mohammad Habashneh offers these tips for women

1- Don’t confront your husband with the problem because this will put him on the defensive side and make him insist on repeating the behavior again and again
2- Do work on yourself: Change how you look every now and then, don’t go to extremes, though (e.g. don’t change your hair color every month)
3- Do make your husband feel that he is your first priority all the time, some men resort to watching porn when they feel isolated or ignored
4- Don’t take sex for granted, enjoy your sexual life and work on it
5- Do change the sexual pattern often, positions, rituals and timings
6- Do engage yourself and your husband in social activities and break boredom and monotony, some men resort to watching porn because they are bored

*previously published in Living Well Magazine...

Thursday, November 02, 2006

GO GO Qwaider

I was so happy today to see that qwaider has started his own aggregator... his own, maybe OUR aggregator... Samer is one of the most spontaneous and proactive people I have ever "met"... I like the fact that when he does not like something, he DOES something... not only he is tactfully straight and honest, he takes words into deeds and does something against whatever injustice he encounters... Mabrook Samer... THANK YOU!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Where shall we go?

So today is third day of Eid… the Eid rituals of visiting families and getting visited by all the "ma7arem" finished… we were thinking yesterday that hooray… we have the third day of Eid all to ourselves… it is 4,00 o'clock and we have been thinking for the past 5 hours after we finished breakfast about a proper place where we can go with the "kids", who are 2 and 7 months old… we called some friends for suggestions and they all said one thing… everywhere is busy… there is no where u can go during Eid… everywhere, by the way, is a bunch of fastfood restaurants with play grounds, Mc, BurgerKing and the like, some Shami food restaurants, Mais Elreem and Tawa6een ElHawa, and Amman Mall's DreamPark… mmm… what else??
So that is it… we decided what to do! Stay home… Fry chicken and some potato and watch a movie… That is all what this country offers us during the Eid… no wonder half the Ammanites are in Sharm and Beirut… Happy Eid, Jordan!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Women's Favorite E-mail of the Year

This, according to my friend, Wafa, was voted Women's Favorite E-mail of the Year!
Read on and tell me if you think this is right or wrong:

A man was sick and tired of going to work every day
while his wife stayed home. He wanted her to see what he went through so he
"Dear Lord: I go to work every day and put in 8 hours while my wife merely stays at home. I want her to know what I go through, so please allow her body to switch with mine for a day. Amen."

God, in his infinite wisdom, granted the man's wish.

The next morning, sure enough, the man awoke as a woman. He arose, cooked breakfast for his mate, awakened the kids, set out their school clothes, fed them breakfast, packed their lunches, drove them to school, came home and picked up the dry cleaning, took it to the cleaners and stopped at the bank to make a deposit,
went grocery shopping, and then drove home to put away the groceries, paid the bills and balanced the checkbook. He cleaned the cat's litter box and bathed the dog. Then it was already 1 P.M. and he hurried to make the beds, do the laundry, vacuum, dust, and sweep and mop the kitchen floor. Ran to the school to pick up the kids and got into an argument with them on the way home. Set out milk and cookies and got the kids organized to do their homework, then set up the ironing board and watched TV while he did the ironing.
At 4:30 he began peeling potatoes and washing vegetables for salad, breaded the pork chops and snapped fresh beans for supper.
After supper, he cleaned the kitchen, ran the dishwasher, folded laundry, bathed the kids, and put them to bed.

At 9 P.M. he was exhausted and, though his daily chores weren't finished, he went to bed where he was expected to make love, which he managed to get through without complaint.
The next morning, he awoke and immediately knelt by the bed and said:
Lord, I don't know what I was thinking. I was so wrong to envy my wife's being able to stay home all day. Please, oh please, let us trade back."

The Lord, in his infinite wisdom, replied: "My son… I feel you have learned your lesson and I will be happy to change things back to the way they were. You'll just have to wait nine months though. You got pregnant last night."

I do understand that women have a lot to do at home, but to be fair, all my friends tell me how cooperative their husbands are and how they help them with the house chores and with the kids! I think today's men have grown up to finally believe that it takes more than one to have kids, and it takes more than one to raise them, too!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

The incurable complex

A man who talks a little too much about his mother will raise a "mama's boy" flag in any woman's mind… Oula Al Farawati provides reasons why women don't like mama's boys and tips to help some cope...

It was all too romantic at the beginning. Muna* got married expecting that Yahia, a 32-year-old merchant will cherish and honor her as the only woman of his dreams. Muna’s dream of Yahia collapsed soon after marriage when she discovered that she had to fight for the no.1 position in his life. Yahia had already reserved that position for another woman: his mom.
“Life has never been that miserable for me. My mother-in-law knows everything about our lives and she comes often to give me advice about how I should treat my husband,” Muna complained. Muna’s mother-in-law shared the couple their wedding anniversary, attended the disgruntled wife's birthdays and was there when Muna presented her husband with gifts during his birthday. She even gave her advice on what kind of lingerie Yahia likes and gave her countless remarks about cooking “yummy dishes.”
“My life is an open book to my mother in law… She believes she is the only good woman for her youngest son… I tried to talk to my husband but he retorted with anger and accused me of hating his mother,” said Muna, a mother to two boys. During the engagement and as the couple were preparing for their house, Yahia asked his mother for help, so she “helped” the couple pick the house furniture, choose the wedding party location and had the final say in every single detail. At that time Muna thought it was only normal that her mother-in-law was involved, especially that Yahia was her youngest soon.
But she explained that soon, things began to worsen, especially when the couple had their first baby. "I felt that the baby would bring Yahia and I closer together because our relationship has always been strained with me struggling to please him," she said. "But instead, it brought my husband and his mom together. I was not allowed to do anything without consulting my mother-in-law… She chose the baby's name, clothes and did not feel comfortable when I breastfed my baby… two months after the baby's birth, Yahia started taking him to my in-law's and my baby would sleep there most of the time," she complained. ·
Do mama's boys exist?
Sociologist Musa Shteiwi argues that no man would admit that he is so attached to mama. Men, especially in the Arab World, tend to believe that they have the ability to make decisions on their own without the external influence of anybody, how about a woman. Dr. Shteiwi acknowledges that the "phenomenon" does exist, but warns that women have to be careful and make a distinction between someone who loves his mother and is good to her and someone who has an unhealthy attachment to mammy. ·
Where to draw the line?
Many men argue that their wives accuse them of being mama's boys for simply calling their moms very often or buying them a gift every now and then. Marwan, a marketing director and a father of two children said his wife "does not understand" his delicate situation and puts up a fight whenever he calls, visits his mom or ask her for her opinion about "things".
Explaining that he was an only child, Mohammad said that he needed to take care of his mother and visit the old lady who lives alone very often. "And there is nothing wrong with asking my mom for her opinion… My mom raised me and she knows me very well, much better than my wife does and my mom seems to always help me when I am unable to make up my mind about something," he said. Dr. Shteiwi says the differentiating line is when the mother can, and is allowed by her son, to meddle in the life of the couple and become "a partner" who can make decisions that should be otherwise made by the couple, alone.
"It is a difficult formula especially in our society... if the wife accuses her husband of being mama's boy for no reason, it will backfire on the relationship between the woman and her husband and probably on the wife's relationship with her mother in law," Dr. Shteiwi said. "Wives have to understand this difficult formula... After all, I will draw a big question mark on a man who is not good to his mother," said the social specialist. ·
It melts down to the society!
So what makes men unable to stand up to mama? Dr. Shteiwi noted that the "parental" society that most of us in the Arab world are raised in draws a big distinction between the roles of both parents. In this system, women have to shoulder most of the responsibility in bringing children up. "So when the mom raises the child, tells him what he can, or cannot do, and has the final say on play, school and other life decisions, the son forms a kind of attachment that is hard to break," said Dr. Shteiwi. "Our society knows this, acknowledges and fosters it... The father's role lies in bringing in money and sometimes disciplining bad behavior," he added.
So when mothers have this kind of responsibility, a desire to rule and intimidate grows in them and at the same time, children do not develop the ability to make decisions and fully depend on their mother to sometimes make lifetime decisions for them.
In the case of the couple Yahia and Muna, the disgruntled wife complained that her mother-in-law never found her good enough "for her baby." "I was never good in doing anything... My cooking was bad and my taste was bad... And what made me go crazy is that she started making decisions on the way we raise the children... She decided what school they should go to and what subjects they should chose and picked their Eid clothes, and my husband was happy about all that." Dr. Shteiwi said that a man raised by an intimidating mother subconsciously develops a Freudian relationship with his mom.
The situation becomes worse when the once-child-now-a man gets married and brings home an "enemy". "So when her son gets married, the mom subconsciously feels the threat, especially that the woman will steal from her someone who she used to order and get listened to, and that means that a loss of a big source of enforcement and self-esteem. And that why animosity immediately develops between the two women," Dr. Shteiwi explained. He added that men immediately get on the defensive when they feel that their wives hate their moms, which can worsen the situation and further foster the relationship between men and their mothers. "Why not? Now they even have a mutual enemy," he said,
Dr. Shteiwi believes that no cure is available yet for such a dilemma. A woman cannot change in few years what her husband was raised according to for a minimum of 25 years of his life. "I am not being pessimistic… the symptoms can be lessened but they can never be cured. I am not advising divorce, but women who were cursed with this problem will find it as the only solution." In the case of Yahia and Muna, the couple is still married… But a year ago, Yahia's mother picked him another bride as she thought Muna "will never become better."
Yahia's new wife, is said to also suffer from the "mama's boy complex."
Consultant Clinical Psychologist Dr. Josi Salem-Pickartz provides an understanding of the situation of men in Jordan. "Every now and then I get cases where husbands are more involved with the family they came from than the family they founded especially in the first two years of marriage" she said. She added that this has two consequences: Wives feel neglected and the husband's relationship with his kids is affected. For cultural and religious reasons, she continued, men tend to give more attention to the families they come from, especially their moms. "But a man needs to make up his mind about where to place these two women in his life," she said. "Men need to emancipate themselves from their moms and teach themselves how to solve their problems on their own," she advised. Interestingly, men who are mama's boys sometimes become wife's boys. Dr, Salem-Pickartz explained that men who are spoiled by their moms expect to be spoiled by their spouses which places a lot of pressure on the wives.
However, Dr. Salem-Pickartz said there were no specific rules to follow to get out of the situation except for mutual respect and communication: "Men and women have to understand that marriage is a new project to work on and pay attention to… There are no rules for a good marriage and couples should always communicate on the best ways to make their relationships become stronger."
Dr. Shteiwi offers the following tips to women on how to teach husbands to stand up to mammy. · Never tell your husband that he is a mama's boy. Such an "accusation" can worsen the situation.
· Foster your relationship with your mother. This will make your husband more willing to accept your indirect remarks.
· Work on fostering your husband's independent side. Keep telling him how good he is in making decisions. ·
Don’t put your husband in situations here he has to choose between you and his mom

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Ramadan Kareem... God bless! Doesn't Ramadan feel so painful this year? Or is it that the older I get the more heartache I feel... It is increasingly becoming painful to be simply, a Muslim!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Najib Mahfouz: Simply sophisticated novelty

Obituary…. by Oula Farawati
It is 9,00 o'clock Cairo time… old men are smoking nargilleh on the sidewalks of the Gamaliya street… the air is still, yet is occasionally disturbed by the subtle clatter of the hubbly bubbly and women begging their children to go home after spending an entire day playing under the scorching sun of the old streets of Cairo.
A dark, quiet young man walks down the street… he does not contribute to the noises around, does not comment on any of the simple incidents which typify the old street of immortal Cairo, he is barely noticed by passers by and the inhabitants of the street, but his eyes don’t miss any detail…
He marches through the smoke of his cigarette… he puffs smoke in the air and registers incidents in his mind… his delicate steps are slow and subdued, but his mind is vibrant and pulsating… this very mind is soon packed of thoughts which then rapture on paper documenting history in details and eloquently telling the sadness and happiness of the simple lives of many Egyptians who survived the foreign occupations, autocracies and too much enchanting nationalism… with two scrutinizing eyes, this chap created history and dug for himself immortal memories in the minds and hearts of so many… He was nobody but Najib Mahfouz, the good son of old Cairo and the father of modern Arabic literature.

Mahfouz walked quietly towards death last month… His immortality survived an assassination, sickness, and too much passion for his beloved Cairo, but he then decided to walk away with grace and poise. The old streets of Cairo mourned him, along with the tears of oppressed poor old men and women, who would have never made any imprints in history had it not been for the simply sophisticated words of Mahfouz, who single handedly engraved minutes and seconds of their lives in human literally chronicles.

He was his own man. A simple truth that is bigger and superior to politics was his only concern. "I am a very old man, an introvert," he once told a journalist, who wasn't sure whether Mahfouz was joking or not. "So winning the Nobel was really terrible for me. I won the prize, yes, but I lost everything else," he shared.

Si-Sayed, Amina and all the young boys of his fairy tales are mourning him… They grieve the man who told simply refined stories of good and evil, right and wrong, truth and betrayal… He told us dreams and taught us manners and made traditions suddenly and ultimately right and forever eternal.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Bravo Maktoob!

I think the new Maktoob Arabic search service, Araby, is absolutely amazing... I do a lot of searches in Arabic, especially when I write big features in Arabic... I usually used google Arabic search, it helped a lot... But was absolutely much better... I entered the same keywords and got much more results and much more content... I wish it had been here earlier, my stories would have definitely been much better... Bravo!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


I received this by email today and I though it was quite inspiring... Thanks Ammar!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Not in the Mood

The fastest growing epidemic in nuptial bliss, sexless marriages, is now plaguing the Jordanian wedded. Why is it that some couples just cannot keep the flame alive? Oula Farawati investigates the truth behind why so many have lost that lovin' feeling.

Last year, Um Ala' had what she explained to be a big fight with her husband. According to her, things have changed between them since then, perhaps forever. The 42-year-old mother of four says her marital life was "technically and practically the same", however, after the fight one major element had been deleted; sex. "Things are basically normal; my husband goes to work, I do the house chores, and we spend time with the kids like always. People don’t sense that our relationship is strained in any way. But when we close the bedroom door behind us, we both feel the presence of an ever-expanding wall between us; we sleep with our backs to each other. We have not had sex for almost a year now," Um Ala' shared.

Sharing Is Caring

Women in Amman and elsewhere in Jordan are becoming more vocal, albeit cautious, about what seems to be an emerging characteristic in today's marriages; the loss of intimacy. Wives alternate between hushing each other when this topic is broached, or daring to occasionally divulge openly about their issues in female circles. "When we get together for coffee in the morning, we joke about what happens during the night. Sometimes, however, a neighbor will disclose that she and her husband are just out of touch," Um Anas, a resident of Jabal Jofeh confided.
In all-male circles, the issue of sexless marriages is very rarely talked about; some men describe the situation with their spouses using a well known-phrase, "My wife and I are now like brother and sister."

Root of the Problem

Experts are pointing out that many Jordanians are coming forward and taking steps to rectify the situation by visiting specialized clinics to get advice on how to spice things up, or at least try to catch a glimmer of their once vivacious sex life. Sadly, with some couples, the lack of sexual activity is a direct manifestation of a much larger underlying issue. Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Josi Salem-Pickartz explains by saying "Many couples come to me saying that they no longer have sex because they are not happy with each other. Some of them say they married someone they neither like nor respect and admit that they regretted their choice in spouse selection since day one!"
Dr. Salem-Pickartz is quick to point out that not all problems are that deeply rooted explaining that couples these days are preoccupied with their children, jobs, and families rendering physical intimacy insignificant. "Life takes these couples away from each other and they become too exhausted to think about or want sex, and this has negative consequences on their marriage" she explained.

Hell Hath No Fury

Randa*, a nurse with three children and a full time job believes that sex is a luxury she cannot afford. She says she has sex with her husband once a month at the most, explaining that the late night work shifts, house chores, kids, and breastfeeding take up all of her time. Her husband, she added, constantly complains about their situation. "When we first got married, we used to have sex twice a day and we were very happy about it. But after taking on the night shift at work and having three kids, I just can't find the energy to have sex. I am tired and overworked, and my husband is not being very cooperative," she said. "He complains about it, but is not willing to help out by taking on some of the responsibilities. When I finally go to bed and am dying to get some rest, he is wide awake and energized" she complained.
Asking around, one can observe that a lot of women, regardless of whether they are women with full-time jobs, stay-at-home moms, or women without children, are very angry. They’re infuriated that their husbands are neither considerate nor sympathetic and would never even think of playing a more supportive role. They are mad that men take laborious tasks such as grocery shopping, meals, laundry, telephone bills, and kids' school exams for granted and do not trouble their heads with these details.
Some of these irate ladies have resorted to using sex as a weapon, and the lack of it as a punishment. Interestingly, research results posted on the Johns Hopkins University website claim that women do have some legitimate gripes. Most two-income couples without children divide up the household chores pretty evenly. After the kids come, however, men may be happy to play with the new family member, but they actually do less around the house. Men’s contributions to household chores increased dramatically in the 70s and 80s, but haven’t changed much since then, according to Andrew Cherlin, a sociologist at Johns Hopkins. He found that 55% of fathers actually start spending more time at work after a child is born. His interpretation of this phenomenon is that some fathers may suddenly take their role as the breadwinner more seriously while others may feel slighted by how much attention their wives lavish on the new baby.

Aggravating Apathy

Husam’s* brief marriage ended last year with a bitter divorce. I am embarrassed to admit it, but lack of intimacy was the reason why I left her" he said. The 32-year-old IT professional said his wife was responsible for the collapse of their once drunk-with-love relationship. "When we were engaged, I used to travel 300 kilometers everyday from Ma’an to meet her in Irbid were she lived with her parents.” According to Husam, their sexual relationship faded rapidly "She was so monotonous, she made no attempt to make herself more desirable to me.” He further confided that his wife was not at all interested in sex “at the beginning of our marriage that was not important because her body was new to me, but after two years, things changed and I needed her encouragement to initiate love, but she was not interested, or interesting enough.” Ultimately it was his wife’s nonchalance that severed the relationship “I used to feel like she is a pillow lying next to me and not a woman. I would look at her and feel nothing but disgust and lack of interest. Until now, believe me I don’t know why she hated sex." Husam said.
Ironically, Psychiatrist Mohammad Habashneh acknowledges that routine sex is the top reason for sexless marriages. He is receiving an increasing number of patients who complain about that lack the element of surprise and creativity, in addition to redundancy in sexual intercourse were the key reasons why couples are drifting apart.
"Many couples are living with each other as hating friends. They have to live with each other for the sake of their children or other commitments. Their sex life becomes as boring as eating the same kind of food everyday," he said.

Cheese, cheese, cheese…

Routine is what also made Odeh* distant from his wife. "She tastes the same everyday. After trying other women, I discovered that each one has a different taste and aroma," laughed the middle-aged, Russian-educated engineer. Odeh is still married to his wife because he has three children. Yet he boldly blames her for his constant infidelity by explaining that he had asked his wife to become more playful during intercourse only to be reprimanded and told that she was not a whore.
"I am man with needs, if she is not wiling to fulfill them, then I have the right to go look for happiness somewhere else.” Odeh seems to be content with his current situation explaining “the last time I had sex with her was two years ago, and she still tasted like unsalted cheese. Since then, I live with her happily as brother and sister."
As explained by Dr. Habashneh, lack of communication is a major hindering factor in suffering sex lives; couples are urged to communicate freely and openly about their feelings and fantasies. He points out the other repercussions by saying “lack of intimacy leads to masturbation and watching pornography, and these are also a main motive behind sexless marriages, it is a vicious cycle.” According to Dr. Habashneh, solo-sex is also a main cause for sexless marriages “We just get so many people suffering from these interconnected problems." Social constraints and a traditional upbringing make some couples totally unaware of pleasure techniques. Many are also reluctant to go beyond traditional sex because it is socially unaccepted.

Let’s Get Physical
Dr. Salem-Pickartz says pregnancy, delivery, and breastfeeding make men feel sidelined. "After delivery, women become very protective of their bodies, especially if their experience with child birth was difficult. They become preoccupied with their new baby, weight loss, in-laws' visits, and so on. Many marriages also suffer from the lack of sexual desire at the time of post-delivery, especially when wives go through post-partum depression," she noted.
Gynecologist Efteem Azar explained that men rarely speak about less sex in their married lives and that it is ultimately the women who speak-up "Some of my female patients are too shy to talk about this [initially], but when they visit me several times, they feel less reserved and ask for advice on solving such problems [like sexless marriages]," he said.
In addition to the most common of reasons for sexless marriages, namely, familiarity, Dr. Azar added that sometimes women become less inclined to have sex because they don't enjoy it. This is especially the case when their husbands cannot give them the pleasure they desire or are not responsive to their sexual needs. "Women are sometimes slower in responding sexually to their husbands during intercourse. Men are usually very quickly and easily aroused. When there are conflicting thresholds of arousal between the man and the woman, it is not uncommon for the man to climax before the woman, so she doesn’t enjoy intercourse. With time, women simply become less interested or lose desire altogether," he said.
Dr. Azar noted that often men suffer from premature ejaculation, which causes their wives to feel completely sexually under-nourished. This, according to Dr. Azar, requires medical intervention. Experts acknowledged that men need to become more receptive to their wives sexual needs through different options like foreplay and finding out what "techniques" give wives more pleasure, stressing that communication between couples has to become deeper and more authentic.

The Missing Link

Advice on how to stay connected, varies widely. Traditionally, marriage counselors have focused on bridging emotional gaps between husbands and wives, with the idea that better sex flows out of better communication. Dr. Salem-Pickartz says, "Couples should basically work on their marriage. Marriage counseling gives tips on how to raise intimacy and communication," she said. Sexuality, according to Dr. Salem-Pickartz, is eventually a mirror of the entire relationship, "Sensuality, after all, is the last link in the chain."

*Name was changed upon the interviewee's request


check this!

This guy took a photo of himself everyday for six years... it is amazing how some people can have this kind of consistency to do something everyday of their life without forgetting one day or just procrastinating about it... I wish I can do something similar... something that makes sense, though!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Friday, September 01, 2006

أمهات يقتلن مواليدهن بالملح

العناية بالمواليد الجدد ليست عملية سهلة ولكنها قد تصبح أصعب إذا تم اغفال النصائح الطبية والاعتماد على الشعوذات والممارسات الشعبية الموروثة في التربية. وفي هذا التحقيق، توضح علا الفرواتي كيف ساهمت إحدى الممارسات الخاطئة في معاناة الكثير من العائلات.

المقادير: أربعة ملاعق من ملح الطعام مضافة إلى نحو كوبين من الماء الفاتر أو زيت الزيتون.
والمقادير السابقة ليست لصنع المخلل ولكنها "خلطة" تضعها بعض الأمهات على جسد المواليد الجدد ضمن عادة اجتماعية ومتوارثة كانت السبب على مدى أجيال وراء موت العديد من الأطفال وإصابة الكثيرين منهم بالصفار، تكسر في خلايا الدم الحمراء، قصور شديد في وظائف الكلى وفي بعض الحالات تلف خلايا الدماغ الذي يفضي إلى الشلل، الصمم أو العمى.
وتعتقد النساء اللواتي يمارسن هذه العادة أن غسل جسم المولود الجديد بالماء والملح أو دهنه بخليط الملح والزيت "يجعل جسم المولود قويا ويزيد مناعته ضد الأمراض."
وتعتقد أمل ان دهن جسم مولودتها الجديدة بالماء والملح جعل رائحة جسمها جميلة جدا وخلصها من "رائحة الزنخ التي علقت بجسم مولودتها أثناء عملية الولادة."
وأمل مثل الكثير من الأمهات في الأردن، تركيا، سوريا واليونان اللواتي يعتقدن ان هذه الممارسة صحية ومستحبة حيث يقدر أخصائي طب الأطفال يوسف أبو إصبع نسبة السيدات اللواتي يغسلن أجسام مواليدهن بمحلول ملحي في الأردن بنحو 30%، وذلك استنادا إلى دراسة أجراها مؤخراً.
ويبين الطبيب الذي يرأس وحدة العناية بالمواليد الجدد في مستشفى الأردن أن هذه العادة منتشرة بشكل مقلق وأن جهدا حكوميا للحد منها يجب أن يبذل وعلى مستوى وطني.
وقال د. أبو إصبع أنه كان يستقبل بعض المواليد وهم يعانون من أعراض مرضية بدون أسباب واضحة.
ويضيف:"كانت الأم ووليدها الجديد تغادر المستشفى وهو لا يشتكي من أية أعراض ولكنها كانت تعود بعض أيام ووليدها يعاني من الحمى، الاصفرار وازرقاق في الأطراف."
"وبالفحص العادي لم أكن أجد أي سبب مباشر لذلك وبعد الفحص المخبري للدم كان يتبين لدي ارتفاع غير معروف الأسباب لنسبة الملح (الصوديوم) في الدم. وعند سؤال الأهل كان يتضح لي أن السبب كان استخدام الملح والماء أو الزيت."

قتل غير متعمد

ويروي د. أبو إصبع قصة المولودة رحمة التي غادرت مع والدتها المستشفى "سليمة ومعافاة ليحضرها أهلها وعمرها ستة أيام وهي تعاني من حمى، ازرقاق في الأطراف، اصفرار في الجلد والجفون، قلة حركة وضعف في المص."
ويضيف:"تبين لنا بالفحص السريري أن درجة حرارة المولودة 39.5 مئوية. وبدت منهكة ومعتلة ومصابة بجفاف شديد، تبقع في البشرة وعدم استجابة للمنعكسات العصبية."
ويروي الطبيب كيف أن التحاليل المخبرية أظهرت ارتفاعا شديدا جدا في نسبة الأملاح في الدم حيث كانت نسبة الصوديوم 194 (المعدل الطبيعي 135-140) إضافة إلى وجود قصور في وظائف الكلى وحموضة شديدة في الدم وكلها نتائج لمضاعفات الجفاف الشديد والارتفاع الحاد للأملاح في الدم.
وقال د. أبو إصبع أن المولودة أصيبت بتشنجات متكررة استعصت على العلاج بينت بعدها الصور المقطعية للدماغ وجود استسقاء مائي في المخ ووجود نزيف تحت أغشية الدماغ. كما بين التخطيط لكهربائي لاحقا وجود موت دماغي.
ويضيف:" توفيت رحمة نتيجة للمضاعفات برغم جميع الجهود الطبية المبذولة. وأفاد الأهل بأنه تم تمليح المولودة عن طريق فرك جلدها بالملح والزيت وفرك باطن فمها بالملح ولأيام متتابعة."
ويروي الطبيب قصة المولود سليمان الذي احضره والداه إلى عيادته وهو يعاني من تشققات في الجلد وندوب في البشرة بدأت بعد عدة أيام من الولادة اتضح بعدها انه المولود دهن بالملح والزيت لثلاثة أيام متوالية.
ويضيف:"بمتابعة الطفل تبين لي حدوث تباطؤ شديد في نمو قطر الرأس في الشهور الثلاثة الأولى من عمره رغم أن قطر الرأس عند الولادة كان طبيعيا... وفقد الاتصال بالمريض بعد ذلك."

ويبين د. أبو إصبع أن تغسيل المواليد بالماء والملح أو فرك جلدهم بالملح والزيت يؤذيهم لكون بشرتهم ناعمة ورقيقة وتحتوي على نسبة عالية من الماء وهي نفاذة له ويمكن من خلالها فقد السوائل وامتصاص الملح مما يزيد نسبة الأملاح في الدم بدرجة عالية جدا.

التمليح عادة منتشرة

واستنادا على دراسة قام بها الطبيب بتوزيع استبيان على 150 أمٍٍٍٍٍٍٍٍ أن 16% من الأمهات لا يعرفن أي فوائد لتمليح المولود. وأن 50% من الأمهات يعتقدن أن هناك بعض الفوائد لتمليح الطفل منها تقليل العرق، تقوية العظام والعضلات، تقوية المناعة، تسريع التئام الجروح وتطرية البشرة وحمايتها من التحسس. فيما قالت 16% منهن أن للتمليح بعض المضار مثل جفاف وتشقق الجلد واحمراره، تهيج العيون والفم وزيادة الملح في الجسم.

وتبين بعد الاستبيان أن نسبة الأمهات الجامعيات بلغت 46% واللواتي اتممن المرحلة الثانوية فقط أو أقل كانت 54%. وأن أعمارهن تراوحت بين 20-42 عاما.

ويعلق د. أبو إصبع أن"هذا يعني أن عادة تمليح المواليد ليست مقتصرة على الأمهات غير المتعلمات أو الكبيرات في السن."

وبحسب الدراسة فان 47% من الأمهات سبق وملحن أطفالهن مرة على الأقل كما أن 13.5 منهن كن يعرفن عن مضار التمليح إلا أنه تم تمليح أطفالهن.

اعتقادات مغلوطة

أم فايز في السبعين من عمرها وهي أم لثمانية أبناء وبنات وجدة لنحو 15 حفيدا. وتفخر السيدة السبعينية بمجهوداتها في تربية أولادها وأحفادها الذين يتمتعون بأجسام قوية. وتعتقد أم أحمد أن تمليح الأطفال و"تزييت" جلدهم هو ما جعلهم أقوياء ومتعهم بصحة تامة.

وتقول أم فايز:"لو لم أقم بتمليح أولادي وأحفادي لظل جلدهم ذا رائحة سيئة طول حياتهم ولتعرضوا من كثير من الأمراض الجلدية."

وتعترف السيدة بأنها لم تستمع لاعتراضات إحدى بناتها وأحدى كناتها اللتين اعترضتا على التمليح. "لو لم أساعدهم في تمليح الأولاد لظل اطفالهما يعانون طول حياتهم. لقد ملحت هؤلاء الأطفال حتى الإشباع."
وبرغم أن أولاد أم فايز واحفادها لم يعانوا من أمراض خطيرة إلا أن د. أبو إصبع يعلق أن عملية التمليح تؤثر على بعض مواليد أكثر من غيرهم وتؤذي الأطفال المولودين مبكراً أكثر من غيرهم لأن جلدهم يكون ارق وبالتالي يكون أكثر نفاذية للماء.
وبحسب الدراسة فان 29% من الأمهات اللواتي "ملحن" مواليدهن عن طريق تحميم الطفل بماء مضاف إليه كميات متفاوتة من الملح، وأن 37% قمن بفرك بشرة المواليد بالملح والزيت وأن 2.7% منهن وضعن ملحا في الفم وفركن باطن الخدين واللسان به. وأفادت الدراسة أن تمليح المواليد يتم عادة من قبل الأم أو الحماة أو سيدة كبيرة من العائلة.
ورغم أن الأطباء ينصحون بعدم التمليح إلا أن بعض الأمهات يصررن عليه. وبحسب د. أبو إصبع فان أربع أمهات من العينة التي تمت دراستها قمن بتمليح مواليدهن برغم استماعهن للبرنامج التثقيفي ضد التمليح وذلك "لأن العادة جرت على ذلك."

التسول في الأردن بين استدرار العطف.. الدعارة... والمخدرات

التنمية الاجتماعية:75% من المتسولين "أغنياء"

مع بدء فصل الصيف وقدوم السياح، يجد الكثيرون في التسول مهنة سهلة ومدرة للربح... علا الفرواتي رافقت إحدى فرق مكافحة التسول التابعة لوزارة التنمية الاجتماعية لتكتشف أن كثيرا من المتسولين أغنياء فقدوا الكرامة والتعفف...

الإشارة الضوئية على الشارع الذي يفصل بين الصويفية وعبدون حمراء. تتقدم طفلة لا يتجاوز عمرها سبع سنوات وترفع قامتها لتصل إلى شباك سيارة مرسيدس يقودها شاب تجلس بجانبه فتاة.
تمد الطفلة يدها وتقول باستجداء:"أعطيني شلن." ويصرخ الشاب عليها بصوت عال:"اذهبي من هنا." ولكن الطفلة التي لوحت أشعة الشمس بشرتها بوضوح لا تبدو راغبة بالذهاب دون الحصول على ما أرادت. ويأتي الفرج على يد الفتاة الجالسة بجانب السائق والتي نهرته بقولها:"حرام عليك... انظر كم تبدو فقيرة."
وعلى مضض، يمد الشاب يده إلى محفظته ويخرج دينارا يعطيه إلى الطفلة المتسولة ويصرخ في وجهها:"روحي عالبيت."
وركضت الطفلة، التي كانت ترتدي ملابس ممزقة وعجزت مهنتها في التسول عن شراء حذاء لها، فرحة بغنيمتها نحو سيارة أخرى واستجدت سائقتها لتعطيها نقودا تشتري فيها "سندويشة" لأنها "لم تأكل منذ يومين." لكن محاولتها فشلت بسبب تحول الإشارة الضوئية إلى خضراء فاضطرت للركض إلى الرصيف لتنتظر الإشارة الحمراء التي تمكنها من متابعة "عملها" غير متأثرة بالنهر والصراخ وضياع الفرص.
وعلى إشارة الصناعة، تجول أربعة أولاد سمر يرتدون طاقيات تقيهم أشعة شمس الظهيرة بين السيارات وطلبوا من عدة سائقين شراء محصولهم من "الفقوس" الذي بدا ذابلا وقديما قبل أن يلحظ احد هؤلاء الأطفال حافلة وزارة التنمية الاجتماعية والتي رافقتها مجلة أنت. وبمجرد رؤيته للحافلة صرخ الولد الذي لا يتجاوز عمره السبعة عشر عاما "كبسة" وبدأ بالركض نحو الأرض الفارغة على يسار الإشارة. وركض باقي الأولاد وراء أخيهم الأكبر وطارت قبعة أصغرهم وأسرعهم ليتبين ان من يركض هي طفلة عمرها نحو ثماني سنوات لم تفلح سرعتها وخلعها لحذائها أثناء الركض من أن يمسك بها مراقب السلوك التابع لوزارة التنمية الذي استطاع جرها إلى الحافلة.
وبمجرد صعودها إلى الحافلة بدأت الطفلة المذعورة باستجداء عطف مراقبي السلوك، فيما كان إخوانها يصرخون ويهددون برجم الحافلة بحجارة كبيرة جمعوها من الشارع.
وتبين بعد سؤال الطفلة وإخوانها الغاضبين أنهم يعملون في بيع "الفقوس" الذي ادعوا ان والدهم يحضره من السلط.
وقال أكبرهم الذي سمى نفسه "محمد":"أحضرنا والدي أنا وإخوتي إلى هنا في الصباح وذهب إلى البيت. أنا أبيع الفقوس حتى أعيش... البيع على الإشارة الضوئية أفضل من السرقة." وقام بعد ذلك بالاتصال بوالده من هاتف خلوي كان بحوزته وأخبره باقتضاب ان "التنمية تلاحقهم."

ويوضح مسؤول برنامج مكافحة التسول والتشرد في وزارة التنمية الاجتماعية خالد الرواشدة أن بيع السلع البسيطة والرخيصة يعتبر نوعا من أنواع التسول الذي يعاقب عليه القانون حيث أن المتسولين يتسترون تحت غطاء بيع هذه السلع لاعتقادهم ان هذه الطريقة تحميهم من العقاب القانوني، ولاستخدام هذه السلع في استدرار عطف الناس الذين يصدقون ان هذه طريقة "مشروعة وكريمة" لكسب العيش.وتعرف الوزارة التسول بأنه القيام بأعمال الاستجداء وطلب الصدقة بطريقة مباشرة أو غير مباشرة باستخدام وسائل وطرق خفية أو ظاهرة.
ويضيف الرواشدة:"المشكلة هي أن الناس يشجعون سلوك التسول الظاهر أو الخفي ولا يعرفون أن 75 بالمائة من المتسولين وبائعي الإشارات أغنياء عن الاستجداء ويزيد دخلهم عن خط الفقر ويمتلك معظمهم منازلا، سيارات ومصادر دخل ثابتة."
ويشير:"الفقر لا يعتبر الدافع الرئيسي للتسول لأن المتسولين والذي يتبين بعد القبض عليهم أن دافعهم للتسول هو الفقر لا يعودون إلى ممارسة الاستجداء وخاصة بعد أن يخصص لهم معونة شهرية من صندوق المعونة الوطنية."

التسول بوابة للمخدرات والدعارة

وتمتد الآثار السلبية للتسول إلى أبعد من كونه ممارسة غير حضارية تسرق الأطفال من المدارس والمتنزهات وتزعج المواطنين والسائحين ليصبح بيئة خصبة لاستغلال الأطفال ونمو عصابات الدعارة وبيع المخدرات. ويذكر الرواشدة حالة عصابة من سبعة أشخاص من عائلتين تتراوح أعمارهم بين 15 و20 عاما تستروا تحت غطاء التسول وبيع السلع الرخيصة على إشارة ضاحية الحسين لبيع عدة أنواع من المخدرات والترويج لفتيات يمارسن الدعارة.
"بعد المراقبة الحثيثة تم القبض على هذه العصابة وأودعوا مراكز الأحداث والسجون بعد أن مارسوا "التسول المستتر" لفترات طويلة."
وفي العاصمة، تنتشر ظاهرة التسول في عمان الغربية بنسبة 95 بالمائة و5 بالمائة في باقي مناطق عمان. ويوضح الرواشدة أن ذلك ينبع من كون قاطنيها "بشكل عام أغنى" ويعيش فيها المغتربون والسائحون والذين عادة ما يعطون المتسولين بسخاء.
ويضيف:"ولاحظنا أيضا أن إعطاء المتسولين نقودا في كثير من الأحيان لا يكون بدافع المساعدة بل للتخلص منهم حيث أن الشحاذين يستخدمون أساليب مضايقة مثل الطرق على الزجاج أو رفض الابتعاد خاصة ان مظهرهم يكون مزعجا وهيئتهم متسخة ورثة. كما أن الكثيرين منهم يبصقون على الناس أو يشتموهم في حال رفضوا إعطاءهم ما يريدون."

التسول "مهنة مربحة"

ويلاحظ انه ورغم إيداع المتسولين عدة مرات في مراكز التأهيل أو السجون فإنهم لا يلبثون بعد انتهاء مدة احتجازهم بالعودة إلى "مهنتهم". ولا يرجع الرواشدة ذلك إلى ضعف التأهيل بل إلى كون التسول "مهنة سهلة ومربحة في ذات الوقت."
وبحسب الرواشدة فان الدخل المالي المرتفع المتأتي من التسول يدفع المتسولين إلى اتخاذ الاستجداء و "الشحدة" مهنة ثابتة يعيشون منها ويدفعون أولادهم إليها.
ويتم إرسال الأطفال الذين يتم القبض عليهم إلى دور رعاية خاصة بالوزارة، حيث تجرى لهم دراسة حالة قبل تحديد نوع الإجراء الذي سيتخذ فيهم. ويوجد في المملكة خمس دور رعاية، ثلاثة "للذكور"، واثنتان "للإناث". وتعنى هذه الدور الخمس بتوفير الرعاية لجميع الأطفال الذين يتم القبض عليهم في جميع أنحاء الأردن، وتأهيلهم للمشاركة في تنمية المجتمع واقتصاده.
ولكن المشكلة الرئيسية بحسب الرواشدة تكمن في الإجراءات القانونية غير الرادعة حيث يجب تعديل المادة 389 من قانون العقوبات وتشديد عقوبة التسول بحيث تكون كفيلة بإبعاد المتسولين عن الشوارع.

وبحسب دراسة أجرتها دائرة مكافحة التسول لـ 235 متسولا قبض عليهم في شهر رمضان من عام 2004 فان 110 من الحالات تبين ان لديهم دخلا من أكثر من مصدر وان 50 حالة يتقاضون رواتب من صدوق المعونة الوطنية فيما وجد ان 75 حالة يتقاضون رواتب تقاعدية من مؤسسة الضمان الاجتماعي أو الجيش وثبت أن 100 منهم ليس لديهم دخل.

وبحسب دراسة إحصائية أخرى للدائرة فان هناك أعدادا لا يستهان بها من المتسولين "المتكررين" أي الذين قبض ليهم عدة مرات. ففي الفترة ما بين عامي 1990 و 2004 تبين على سبيل المثال ان هناك 50 متسولا قبض عليهم 45 مرة و 75 متسولا قبض عليهم 35 مرة.
وتشير إحصائيات وزارة التنمية الاجتماعية إلى أن أعداد المتسولين الذين قبض عليهم عام 2000 كان 940 متسولا ارتفعت إلى 826 في عام 2001 ، 1684 في 2002، 1228 في 2003، 1800 في 2004 و2095 في 2005.

ويرجع الرواشدة الارتفاع المضطرد في أعداد المتسولين إلى عملية "التجنيد المستمر" لهم من قبل أقاربهم وأقرانهم وأصدقائهم حيث تزداد "تكاليف الحياة وتزداد المغريات المادية."

ويقول:" نلاحظ ان المتسولات مثلا يركبن سيارات الأجرة ويحملن أجهزة خلوية باهظة الثمن. وتجدد الكثيرات منهن جهازهن الخلوي كل شهر واشترت العديدات منهن سيارات خاصة بهن."
ونظرا للظروف السياسية التي دفعت بالعديد من حملة الجنسيات العربية إلى النزوح إلى الأردن وخاصة العراقيين وازدياد نشاط القطاع السياحي فان المتسولين وجدوا في التسول عملا مربحا ومدرا للدخل أغرى الكثيرين منهم لامتهان الاستجداء وتشغيل أولادهم كشحاذين رغبة في دنانير تدخل جيوبهم بسرعة وتوفر لهم مستوى معيشيا مترفا.

In a box

يورد الرواشدة في تقرير له عن آفة التسول قصصا طريفة نذكر هنا بعضها:

· القي القبض على أحد المتسولين هائما على وجهه ويحمل كيسا كبيرا يحتوي على كافة أمتعته ينام ويصحو معها. وعند تفتيش محتويات الكيس تبين انه يحتوي على 1656 دينارا.
· تم القبض على متسولتين في عمان وهما تتظاهران أنهما مقعدتان ويستخدمن كرسيين خاصين بالمقعدين. وعند ايداعهما في مركز التأهيل تبين أنهما في حالة صحية جيدة، أنهما غير معاقتين وأنهما من أصحاب السوابق.
· تم القبض على مجموعة من المتسولات يقصدن أماكن ذبح الأضاحي في عمان أثناء أيام عيد الأضحى وهن يقمن بالتسول وطلب قطع لحمة من كل صاحب أضحية. وتجمع الواحدة منهن ما يزيد عن وزن أضحية كاملة ثم تقوم ببيعه للقصابين بأقل من السعر العادي وتجمع أكثر من 70 دينارا عبر ذلك.
· تعهد احد المتسولين ان يترك التسول بعد ان ينتهي من تشطيب منزل كان يمول بناءه عبر مهنته كمتسول.
· ضبط بحوزة احد المتسولين دفتر حساب بنكي تشيرا آخر حركة منه انه يمتلك اثنين وأربعين ألف دينار.

In a box
تنص المادة (389) على أن من وجد يقود ولدا دون السادسة عشرة من عمره للتسول وجمع الصدقات أو يشجعه على ذلك يعاقب في المرة الأولى بالحبس مدة لا تزيد على ثلاثة أشهر أو ان تقرر المحكمة إحالته على أية مؤسسة معينه من قبل وزير الشؤون الاجتماعية للعناية بالمتسولين لمدة لا تقل عن سنة ولا تزيد عن ثلاث سنوات.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Dangerous Soils

The days of war do not seem to be over for Jordan yet, as remnants of many conflicts are still killing innocent Jordanian civilians. Oula Al Farawati investigates the continuous efforts to rid Jordan of landmines.

Here are some facts: 40,000 square meters in Jordan are still plagued with approximately 200,000 landmines. Over the years, landmines are believed to have killed and injured more than 800 people. 10% Of Jordanian land is still plagued with anti-personal and anti-vehicle landmines. Official numbers say 539 people have had landmines accidents, 113 of whom have died.
The numbers are staggering. They have, however, decreased since Jordan woke up to these sad incidents and decided in 1993 to put an end to landmine deaths and casualties. The Jordanian efforts, heavily supported by royal direct encouragement, have succeeded in bringing the number of square meters planted with landmines from 60,000 to 40,000, and have created legal bodies to accelerate Jordanian efforts to fulfill an international obligation to declare Jordan free of landmines by the year 2009.
"Despite all our efforts, many people are still dying every year because of landmines and unexploded ordinances (UXO)," Mohammad Breikat, national director of the National Committee for De-mining and Rehabilitation told Living Well. "One landmine costs as little as $1 to $5, but to remove it costs around $1,000. De-mining is a long, difficult, and costly process," Breikat added.
According to the Landmines Monitor, the mine and unexploded ordinance problem in Jordan derives from the 1948 partition of Palestine, the 1967–1969 Arab-Israeli conflict, and the confrontation with Syria in 1975. The minefields are limited to three major areas; the Northern Highlands, the Jordan Valley, and Wadi Araba in the south. There is also UXO in a small number of areas centered in the Ajloun and Irbid governorates. According to military estimates, some 305,000 antipersonnel and antivehicle mines were laid on Jordanian territory (73,000 Israeli and 232,000 Jordanian mines).
The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) reported that mine contamination blocks access valuable agricultural land, delay irrigation and hydroelectric projects, restrict housing construction, and isolate historic and cultural heritage sites. In August 1998, Jordan signed the Mine Ban Treaty, which was ratified on November 13, 1998, and entered into force on May 1, 1999. The Kingdom's Law of Explosive Materials of 1953 serves as the legal mechanism to enforce the treaty.
Mines in Jordan directly affect over 500,000 people, the majority of whom are said to be women and children. "All landmine fields in Jordan are fenced and guarded. The problem is that some people cut parts of the fence to sell them. Others enter the landmine fields and step on a mine that immediately explodes. Some even enter the fields to herd or to picnic," Breikat lamented.
"We are carrying out several awareness efforts and a big campaign for people living around mine affected areas that is due to start soon."
To accelerate de-mining efforts, Breikat said the committee has signed an agreement with the Norwegian People's Aid where the organization will de-mine the areas between the Dead Sea and the Red Sea (Wadi Araba that were minefields planted by the Israeli army).
Another organization taking care of landmine survivors in Jordan is the Landmine Survivors Network (LSN), Jordan Chapter, whose efforts have reached some 590 landmine survivors since the Jordan office was established in 1999. The office helps those who survived a landmine explosion accept the fact that they have lost an organ in three major fields, health, economic opportunities, and right and social integration.
"When someone loses an organ, he or she immediately think that life has stopped and start thinking of the easiest way to commit suicide," Director of LSN's Jordan Office, Adnan Aboudi said.
"We at LSN try to provide these victims with moral support and consequently monetary support to help them stand on their feet again. We answer hundreds of questions raised by the victims and their families and social circles," said Aboudi, himself a victim of a car accident that made him lose his two legs. He said the LSN does most of its work through peer support, using the help and expertise of LSN's employees who have been victims to accidents that made them lose limbs and other parts of their bodies.
"Once we are told about an accident, we plan, with the victims and their families, a recovery plan from all aspects and we encourage them to regard an injury as a new start and as a shore-up," he said. He pointed out that the office has helped many people and has extended its surfaces to anyone who has lost a body part to include survivors of car accidents, diabetes, cancer, and other diseases.
"Our main concern is that those victims become prone to illness and disability, and that is why our efforts concentrate on moral rehabilitation that can make victims rise up to the challenge and prove to themselves and others that their disability cannot deter them from doing what they need to do in life," he concluded.
This spirit was the motive behind many social and professional successes that mine survivor, Mohammad Bakkar has achieved since his leg was mutilated after a mine explosion when he was only 17. "I was lucky to survive an explosion that killed four of the workers working with me in ploughing a field in Northern Ghor. I was driving a tractor when an anti-vehicle mine exploded and left me half dead with a lost leg and a broken arm," he said. This accident made Bakkar the only person with a disability in his village in Northern Shouna.
"I wanted to become a pilot; my aspirations and plans have changed since the accident. The explosion defeated my dream, but did not defeat my inner self. I insisted on pursuing my higher education," he told Living Well.
Bakkar obtained a high school degree (Tawjihi) after which he got a job in the Ministry of Post and Communications. "Through my work in the ministry, I received a scholarship from the Arab League to study Post Sciences at Damascus University in Syria. I got married and I have nine children, all of whom have university degrees," he said. He added that he also works in the wood business, which has enabled him to buy three houses and 90 dunums of agricultural land.
"I was good at sports and won the Jordanian golden swimming medal and the Pan-Arab silver medal in 2000," he said. "This accident made me realize that life does not stop at losing a limb. It made me stronger and more adamant to realize my dreams," he said. "Had I not lost a limb, maybe I would not have achieved what I have achieved now," he proudly stated.

The cleaner option

By Oula Al Farawati
Egyptian gas started late to flow in pipes stretching from southern to northern Jordan to provide much needed clean gas to power plants in the north, marking a new era during which Jordan will gradually move to the use of natural gas instead of other oil derivatives.

This is the second leg of the Arab Pipeline Project which includes laying pipelines from Al Arish in Egypt to the Turkish borders to supply Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and then Turkey and Iraq with relatively cheap gas from Egypt, which enjoys potential natural gas reserves of 70 trillion cubic feet. This project will make it one of the world's top 10 natural gas exporters in the next two years.

According to Director of the Natural Gas Department at the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources Marwan Al Baka’in, the project will raise the efficiency of the two major power plants in the north Al Rihab and Samra by 50%.

“With the completion of the project inside Jordan, we will start on gradually building the networks which will relay cheaper and environment-friendly natural gas to factories, houses and vehicles,” said Mr. Baka’in.

Egyptian natural gas is already flowing to Jordan through an underwater pipeline to Aqaba. Under the Arab Gas Pipeline Project signed in 2001, Egypt is to supply Jordan, Syria and Lebanon with natural gas for 30 years. The entire pipeline is projected to cost some $1billion.

Mr. Baka’in will not disclose the potential savings of the project on the national economy.

“This information cannot be revealed, but everyone knows for sure that the potential savings are huge and this was the main motive behind the project,” he said.

However, the ministry’s Secretary General Khaldoun Qteishat had told JBM in a recent interview that if a plan to switch most major industries to the use of natural gas succeeds, it could cut the Jordanian oil bill by up to 50%.

The project comes as the government is gradually lifting its long-time subsidies on oil derivatives, pushed by the escalating oil prices and the loss of the Iraqi oil grant due to the war on Iraq.

The first and second stages of the project were carried out on a (build, own, operate and transfer) BOOT basis by the Jordanian Egyptian Fajr for Natural Gas Transmission and Supply, which was established by an Egyptian consortium.

According to the official, the government signed an agreement with the Egyptian side in April 2005, which allocated (1) bcm of gas to be used by industrial customers.

“The pipeline is anticipated to supply gas to most of large industrial customers during the second half of 2006. We have already talked to industries and sent them the draft industrial gas sales agreement for review,” Baka’in said.

He added that the Jordan Cement Factories Company Ltd. Plant in Rashadeyya, the Arab Potash Company, the Jordan Phosphate Mines Company, and some industrial cities have already agreed to convert their machines to operate using natural gas, expecting more private sector companies to follow suit.

“We hope that industries consider the use of natural gas very seriously… The investment that companies will put into converting their operation will be covered in one year because natural gas is much cheaper than fuel oil and gas oil,” Mr. Baka’in told JBM in an interview.

Mr. Baka’in revealed that financial consultant Charles River& Associates International has completed a study on the establishment of a gas pipeline network to be laid in Amman and Zarqa to provide natural gas to households and vehicles and expected the project to start by the end of 2006 and cost more than $200 million.

He also said that a joint venture agreement by Fajr and the Aqaba Development Company has been signed to establish a compressed natural gas station and a workshop for converting cars from the use of gasoline to the use of natural gas.

“It costs something like $1000 to convert one car… the use of natural gas will be more economical for taxi drivers who will be able to cover the cost of the conversion in less than one year,” he said.

Powering Up

To meet demand growth, Jordan will to require 100-150 megawatt annually. But how is Jordan managing it terms of electrification today Oula Al Farawati met with General Manager of the National Electric Power Company (NEPCO) for an overview of the power sector.

Ahmad Hiyasat of NEPCO has many reasons to feel proud. He says the country has reached 100% electricity coverage for populated areas, enjoys the minimum interruption rate and more importantly has managed to keep the prices of electricity stable despite a surge in fuel prices locally and internationally.

Thanks to a policy that depends on using alternative power resources such as natural gas, a system of importing electricity when buying it becomes more feasible and a continuously improving distribution grid, Dr. Hiyasat says Jordanians enjoy what many in industrialized countries don’t.

Dr. Hiyasat says that while fuel prices in Jordan are affected by international oil prices but explains that the effect is not linear. The fact that Jordan has moved from a total dependence on heavy fuel and diesel to generate electricity to using natural gas has helped stabilize the prices and ensure "cleaner" power generation.

"Now, only 20% of our power generators use heavy fuel or diesel. The other generators in Aqaba Thermal Power station (which generates 40% of Jordan's needs) plus Rihab and Samra plants use Egyptian natural gas. So together they make some 75% of our needs. The good news is that the increase in fuel prices will slightly affect electricity generation," Dr. Hiyasat told Jordan Business..

"We buy 7-10% from Syria and Egypt and the price of electricity in this case is calculated according to international oil price, but also not in a linear way and that is what is helping us keep the prices at reasonable rates," he notes.

The electricity sector in Jordan ranks first in primary energy consumption. Its consumption share stood at 34.1% of the total energy consumption in 2005.
The story of power generation in Jordan dates back to 1938, when a group of entrepreneurs established a small company to provide electrical energy to Amman. This company was converted in 1947 into a shareholding company called the Jordan power electricity company (JEPCO) and was granted a concession to generate and distribute electrical energy in Amman and its suburbs. JEPCO's concession was renewed in 1962 for fifty years and was extended to cover four governorates in the central part of Jordan including Amman. JEPCO is a private share-holding company with 57% of the shares held by private individuals. It supplies electricity to about 64% of the total electricity consumers. It buys all its bulk power from NEPCO (former JEA). In 1961, another privately owned electrical power company called Irbid District Electricity Company (IDECO) was established to generate and distribute electrical energy in the northern part of the country. IDECO is a share-holding company with 85% of the shares held by NEPCO and some municipalities. It supplies electricity to about 23% of consumers. In the southern part of the country, electrical energy was provided by several municipalities through small unreliable diesel engines.
In 1967, the government established the Jordan Electricity Authority to be responsible for electricity generation and distribution in areas not covered by the private distribution companies. In September 1996, JEA was converted to a public shareholding company wholly owned by the government called NEPCO.

Natural gas
With the completion of phase two of the pan-Arab Gas Pipeline Project, CEJCO decided to switch to natural gas instead of heavy fuel to fire its power generators. The use of natural gas, according to officials, has raised the efficiency of the two major power plants in the north Rihab and Samra by 50%. The Aqaba Thermal Power Station started operating using natural gas two years ago, when the first phase of the project was completed. According to the project conditions, Egypt will supply Jordan with natural gas at preferential prices for 15 years. (The price does not go above a ceiling no matter how much the price of natural gas rises internationally).

NEPCO also recently renewed a power purchasing agreement with Egypt that gave the company price cuts and an obligation to supply the Kingdom with electricity whenever needed. According to Dr. Hiyasat, the cost of importing power from Egypt can sometimes be cheaper than firing some of the turbines on diesel oil.

Dr. Hiyasat said the Egyptians have lowered their margin from 5% last year to 3% this year while another margin on the price of electricity during the morning and night tariff has also been cut.

Private sector power
Dr. Hiyasat said the year 2007 will witness Jordan's first privately owned power generating plant: "The policy of the government is that any new [power] generation should be carried out by private investment […] the electricity Regulatory Commission is considering the offers to choose the first independent power producer (IPP) to be operational by the year 2007," he said.

Industry sources said the government last month started negotiating with front-runner Mitsui AES, a Japanese American group, to build the country’s first power plant.

Dow-Jones Wire quoted a Mitsui spokesman as saying that the power plant will cost $280 million. He said that the 400,000-kilowatt power plant, to be constructed near Amman, will run on natural gas supplied via the Pan-Arab Gas Pipeline.

The two companies expect the power plant to start operation in June 2008 and supply electricity to Jordan state-run NEPCO for 25 years, he added.

AES will have a 60% stake in the project, with Mitsui holding the remaining 40% stake. Loans from the U.S. and Japanese state-backed financial institutions, as well as Japan's Sumitomo Mitsui Banking, will finance 75% of the project, the spokesman said. The World Bank will back Sumitomo Mitsui's loan.

"The need for private sector investment in this sector is a result of the increased need for electricity for domestic and industrial use... Our need for electricity grows by 100-150 megawatts every year. Also, recently the increase in our need for electricity has grown from 7% annually to 10%," he added.

He attributes the increase in consumption to economic growth and therise in standards of living.

"We have more and more factories and more tourism... Add to that that many people have increased their electrification... people are buying more and more electrical appliances. In order to meet this increase we have to plan more power generation [...] and networks in order to guarantee the quality of services," he said.

The demand for electricity has continued to rise. In 2005 the total peak load was 1751 megawatts compared 1555 megawatts in 2004, an average increase of 12.6%.

Dr. Hiyasat explained that Jordan has a unified power system meaning that any new company will not supply power to people directly but rather contribute to this system.

"According to the electricity law, NEPCO is the single buyer... NEPCO is the only party authorized to buy electricity from all available sources and sell it to large consumers who are the three distribution companies plus big industries including the cement, potash, and phosphate factories," he said.

The prices from the IPP should be reasonable and compatible with what is available here. This will be our first experience… We will see how things go."

As for how the future looks like for the power sector, demand will continue to rise, according to Hiyasat. The sector has not been able to export outside Jordan.