Saturday, January 31, 2009

Hair Removal

Just about everyone, men and women, in the Arab world removes their hair. Mostly it's removed from the armpit and pubic areas for cleanliness, however for women the hair on the forearms and legs are also removed regularly. Before a wedding the bride will have absolutely all her body hair removed.

Within the GCC there are two main forms of hair removal which are done in the salon; 1. threading and 2. sugaring

Threading [khite]
This form of hair removal is supposed to be less painful than plucking ~ha ha~ and always involves two people; the person removing the hairs and the person with too many hairs.

The person removing the hairs will take a roll of cotton sewing thread and remove a piece of thread about two meters long. They will then fold the thread in half put the fold around their middle finger and twist the thread until about a foot of twist appears in the thread.

One end of the thread is put between their front teeth, the other end in their right hand and the loop is held by the middle finger of thier left hand. The hair puller will then roll the thread and move their head back at the same time, using the loop to trap a series of unwanted hairs and pull them from the skin.

photo taken from:

With sugaring [hal-lah-waH] sugar, lemon and water are boiled down to make a syrupy, softball candy, sticky mess, which is a kind of caramel colour.

photos taken from:

Once the syrup is the right strechy consistency the person removing the hairs will take a small quantity from the pot, make a small ball and rub it on to the skin. The hair is then stripped away and the person having their hair removed will scream ~the first time I had this done I had never felt such pain and was covered in blue buises for two weeks afterwards~

Halawa Recipe - Stove
This recipe comes from:

2 cups water
3 cups sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Wooden spoon & candy thermometer (optional)

1. Place all ingredients in a saucepan. Heat the mixture slowly, over low heat, until small bubbles start to form. Stir the mixture two to three times every minute using a wooden spoon. Bring to boil (250 F)

2. When the color changes to a golden brown, lower the heat and continue to simmer and repeat stirring.

3. Keep a careful watch on the colour. Once it starts to get a little darker, turn off the heat.

4. Allow to cool a little (about 15 mins), then pour small quantities onto sheets of cotton. Some people prefer using plates but it’s a bit of pain to peel off the plate when it cools.

5. When it becomes cool enough to handle, pull a piece off the plastic and pull and stretch it. This will immediately cause it to change color, from a clear golden brown to an opaque gold. It should be easy to stretch and pull. If it is too hard, you have left it on the heat for too long and must make a new batch. If it is too liquid, it has not been heated enough and must be heated once more, or a new batch made.

Store the body sugaring in a cool, dry place until you're ready to use it. It should keep for about 1 month before you need to replace it.

Halawa Recipe - Microwave
This recipe is taken from:

1/2 lemon
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup sugar

Put all the ingredients into a microwavable bowl, turn the microwave onto high for 3-4 minutes. When it cools down, use it like hot (or cold) wax! You will find all the hair you want to remove comes off.

Some Suggestions for the Leftovers?
Eat it like candy ~yuck~ or you can wrap it and store it until the next time you need to remove some hairs.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

How to Read & Write Arabic: o4 THAA

This week we'll continue with the 't' sound and move on to the fourth letter of the Arabic alphabet; 'thaa' which is pronounced like the, ‘th’ sound in the English word 'three'.

Thaa makes the sound ‘th’ in the English word 'three', but it doesn't make the 'th' sound in the English word, 'that'.

Say the words, 'three' and, 'that' several times one after another and you'll hear a clear difference between the two. When you say the word, ‘that’ air is forced out of your mouth. With the word, ‘three’ the sound is far softer. In Arabic there is a letter each of these th sounds.

General rule; Unlike English alphabet letters, Arabic letters do not change the sound they make. No matter which letters preceed or follow, the sound always remains the same.

Now all we have to do is introduce you to the independent form of the letter 'thaa':

Thaa: Reading and Writing
The letter 'thaa' is a connector and so connects to the letter which follows it. The diagrams below show the three different positions in which you can read and write thaa. I’m sure by now you will have noticed the line structure for 'thaa' is very similar to the letters, 'baa' and, 'taa'




To help you remember the letter 'thaa';
1. think of it starting with the letters ‘th’, the sound made by the letters 'th' in the English word 'three'
2. when 'thaa' is written it has three dots above the line

Again, don’t forget: when a letter contains lines and dots the lines are always written before the dots.

Examples of the Letter 'thaa'

The following two photos show the initial letter thaa. The first one is from a road sign for al Anthar Road in Dubai

and the second one can be seen at the burial mounds at A’ali village, Bahrain:

“There are approximately 170,000 burial mounds in Bahrain, the majority dating back to the second and third centuries BC but with some as recent as 2,000 years old. Bahrain is considered to be the site of the largest prehistoric cemetery in the world, and the sheer number of burial mounds has led archaeologists to speculate that inhabitants of the Arabian mainland used the island as a pre-historic burial ground. The oldest and largest burial mounds, referred to as the ‘Royal Tombs’, are found at A’ali and measure up to 15 metres in height and 45 metres in diameter.”
Taken from

This photo below shows the sign post for a road in Bahrain suq which runs alongside the Yateem Centre, turns the corner and goes onto join Bab Al Bahrain road:

and the picture below shows another medial thaa:

Don’t worry too much about the dots and their position either over or just after the vertical line. The correct positioning is just after the vertical line but occasionally it’ll be written above, or after the line. Just as most of us write English handwritten letters are not always perfect. You must also take into account the added problem for non-native readers of Arabic, creativity within calligraphy and typography.

During the past month I searched and searched for a signpost which had the final form of the letter thaa. Half way through the month, having found nothing I involved other people in the search – and none of them could find one either ~pulls out hair~

So instead of road signs I’ve taken an everyday word which ends in the letter 'thaa': female [moo-en-eth]

The next photo shows the letter thaa in the independent position.

Following the thaa is the word ‘Bahrain'. The first letter of the word Bahrain is alif; initial and which you already know: laam (which we will do in another article) and then you’ll see a baa.

After the baa are four other letters, none of which we have done; haa, raa, eee and noon. Try not to panic or get confused. Another word of interest on this photo is the word bayt (house) spelt baa-yaa-taa (see wgaw blog archive: 19/o3). It can be seen at the top right-hand side of the sign; don’t forget to read it from right to left!

Hide and Seek
The final two pictures contain all four letters we have studied so far: alif, baa, taa and thaa.

The first line of the picture below contains 2 alifs, one baa, one taa and two thaas. See if you can find them and decide in which form they are written (choose from independent, initial, medial or final):

The second picture also contains all four letters (alif x4, baa x1, taa x1 and thaa x1). Try to find them and decide in which form they appear (independent, initial, medial or final)

Should you wish to practice writing the letter 'thaa':
1. Complete the hide and seek activity
2. Using lined paper write the letter 'thaa' in all four forms, as many times as you can; initial, medial, final and independent. Because taa is a connector you'll be able to connect 'taa' initial, followed by taa medial, and completed by taa final. A minimum of 20 repetitions is suggested, always remembering to write the lines first and then the dots.
3. Re-read wgaw blog posts, 'How to Read and Write Arabic'

1. The fourth letter of the Arabic alphabet is called thaa
2. The are four different forms of the letter thaa; independent, initial, medial and final
3. Thaa changes form depending on where it is placed in the word but the basic structure is always the same; three dots and at least one vertical line above the line.

What's Next?
This week's article completes the first section of the Arabic alphabet and was designed to build confidence in your ability to pick out and then read the first four letters.

Next week we’ll include a copy of the entire Arabic alphabet in case you want to rush ahead and learn the letters by yourself. If not, you'll have a copy of the alphabet and be able to prepare in advance for the blog updates, should you wish.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Spell Check

I'm convinced using 'spellcheck' in a foreign language is a very difficult thing to do, especially when the Arabic alphabet you're used to contains no letter 'P' or 'X' and no 'V' or 'Ch' sounds. In addition, letters in Arabic always keep the same sound (unlike English for example, choice, change)

Here are some mistakes which are both delightful and genuine:

A delegate representing H.E. xxxx’s office would like to attend the presentation by Mr. xxxxxx. We need a seat from him with delegates. What do you think, he can spear seats with delegates?

Dear All
This is a good work and the price seems to be reasonable. I think we need to go a head ASAP but when it comes to the contents it need opinions of 2 to 3 bored members after the first or second draft.
(bored / board)

The visit erection is three days.
(erection / duration)

Data storage in financial whorehouses.
(whorehouses/ warehouses)

Headline in Al Ayam newspaper in 2005, “Where is there freedom?”
(there / their)

A sandwich shop called ‘Sand Witches’

An aquaintance was very upset one day and started complaining about the hospital, saying they were terrible. I thought he might mean the doctors, or the cleanliness or any number of things. But no, he was angry about the fact various plural nouns such as patients had been spelt with an appostrophe 's on the signposts; patient's.

And as he so rightly put it, “It’s a governmental institution, they’ve had the signposts made in metal and those spelling mistakes are going to be there for ever. They should be correctly spelt, it is bad for us.”

Thursday, January 22, 2009

How to Read & Write Arabic; o3 TAA

Having said I'd be posting 'How to Read and Write Arabic' every Saturday, I've decided to change the day to a Thursday.

There are various reasons for the change of mind, but the main reason is so it sits at the top of the blog page for longer; I don't write a post on Fridays as it's the weekend in the Gulf {see wgaw blog archive: time} and the longer the post is at the top of the blog, the easier it is for readers to find. Appologies to everyone who waited until Saturday to read this installment.

So on to the next letter, 'taa'.

Taa is pronounced exactly as you would pronounce the 't' in the English word, 'teeth'; keep your tongue behind your upper teeth and say the letter ‘t’. When taa is written as an independent letter it is written with two dots below the line, like this:

Don’t forget - the lines are always written before the dots

Taa: Reading and Writing
As we said in last week's update Arabic letters change their form slightly depending on where they occur in the word (initial, medial, or final). And, like the letter 'baa', the letter 'taa' will keep it's basic format no matter where it occurs in a word. A taa is easy to spot, it always has two dots and at least one vertical line above the line you write on.

Below you'll see the letter taa in each of the three positions, initial, medial and final, with arrows to indicate the order and the direction your pen should move. Remember, as with baa, always draw the lines first, then the dots:




As you now know there are six letters which never connect to the following letter. In this sign for the youth hostel the ‘taa’ follows a non-connector and so takes the independent form like this;

TASK 1: find two alif's and three 'baa's in the photo above

We can now join 'taa' with 'baa' and almost write the word bait [bay-t] meaning house. The letter which sits between the 'baa' and the 'taa' is a ‘yaa’ which we will cover in a later lesson.

Here’s the signpost for 'Bait al Qur'an', (House of the Qur'ans), a private collection of illuminated antique Qurans, open to the general public and located in Bahrain, opposite the Diplomat Hotel and National Museum.

In the word 'bait' we write three letters:
1. baa, initial form; because it starts the word
2. yaa, medial form; because it follows on from and connects with the letter baa
3. taa, final form; because it ends the word

Examples of the Letter 'taa':

In the two examples below, 'taa' starts the word:

Below are a couple of examples of the letter 'taa' placed in the middle of a word.

TASK 2: How many alif's can you find in the photos above? In what form do they occur; initial, medial or final?

In the following example taa is written in the final form and can be found at the end of the word ‘Next’.


TASK 3: find the initial, medial and independent forms of the letter, 'taa' in the photos below:

1. The third letter of the Arabic alphabet is called taa
2. The are four different forms of the letter taa; independent, initial, medial and final
3. The letter taa changes its form depending on its location in the word, but the basic structure is always the same; two dots above the line and at least one vertical line above the line.

Should you wish to practice writing the letter 'taa':
1. Complete the three tasks in the article above
2. Using lined paper write the letter 'taa' in all four forms, as many times as you can; initial, medial, final and independent. Because taa is a connector you'll be able to connect 'taa' initial, followed by taa medial, and completed by taa final. A minimum of 20 repetitions is suggested, always remembering to write the lines first and then the dots.
3. Re-read wgaw blog posts, 'How to Read and Write Arabic'

What's Next?
The next letter of the Arabic alphabet to be explained is the letter 'thaa'

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Maamul are, to my mind, the most orgasmic date cookies in the world.

Not a single person who's been offered a maamul (also spelt: ma'amul/ mamul/ mamoul/ ma'mul/ maamoul/ ma'amoul/ maamul, but all pronounced in the same way: [maa-aa'g-moul]) could eat only one. Packets of the things are guzzled, inhalled, swallowed up and everyone, and I mean everyone, always comes back for more.

I started taking them to England with me as gifts and now each time I go my suitcase is half full of the things: 15 very large boxes last time and I'll receive phone calls reminding me to bring them.

When I offer the biscuits for the first time, to a maamul virgin, they'll put them in their mouth and chew without any interest. They look so ordinary, so boring. Then the eater will stop speaking, look at the cookie in puzzlement, think about what they're eating and then ask, with that ~you know what~ look on their face,
"What did you say these cookies were called?" and then the, "umms" and the, "oohs" start. Finally, they'll ask for another, but this time they'll ask with a forbidden, naughty tone in their voice.

At least two friends who never eat cookies have consumed an entire box (24 pieces) in 24 hours and then asked for more.

I just love the recipe, although I've not actually tried it for accuracy, from; SA/dessertsandcookies
where else, or who else, makes cookies using kilos of ingredients?

Ingredients; Pastry
1 kilo flour
200 gram butter
2 tablespoons ghee
1\2 cup oil
6 tablespoons powdered milk
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1\2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon yeast

Ingredients; Date Paste
1 kilo unseeded dates {see wgaw blog archive: dates} or date paste

Optional extras for the Date Filling
1 1/2 teaspoons brandy
ground almonds, pistachios or walnuts
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
2 - 3 teaspoons orange blossom water
2 - 3 teaspooons rose water {see wgaw blog archive: rosewater}

The one thing I didn't find in any recipe on the web and makes all the difference to the date paste is, fennel seed; I'd strongly suggest you add some.

1/4 cup confectioner's sugar for dusting (optional)

1. Melt the butter and ghee with oil over a medium heat
2. Pour the mixture over the flour and the rest of the ingredients, mix well. Cover the dough and let it stand for at least one hour.
3. Add half cup of cold water on the mixture, then turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for a minute or two to be sure the dough is well blended
4. Form the dough into small walnut sized balls, then make a hole in the centre, using your finger
5. Stuff a small piece of the date paste into the central hole in each pastry ball and reform it into either rectangles, balls or crescents
6. Put the shapes on a baking tray, then cook in the oven until lightly browned (10 to 12 minutes)
7. Let the cookies cool and dust with powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to gas mark 6, 400ºF (200ºC)

Additional Information
1. Fabulous photos and more maamoul drooling can be found at:

2. Ready made maamoul bicuits, including the chocolate coated variety ~groans~ can be bought and shipped directly from the factory in Saudi Arabia:

3. Date paste for making your own ma'mol can be bought and shipped from:

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Islamic Banking

Within the GCC most countries run a dual banking system, using both the western and Islamic banking systems side by side. Bahrain has the largest number of Islamic banking headquarters (at least 24 + 11 Islamic insurance companies), whilst Oman currently bans Islamic Banking.

Islamic banking takes its rules and strategies directly from the relevant verses in the Koran (a key verse being: 2:279) and in general attempts to work with borrowers, to the benefit of all relevant parties (the lender, the borrower and the bank).

The 4 Tenets of Islamic Banking
In Islamic banking, four basic tenets must be followed:
1. Interest, either for the borrower or the lender, is forbidden.
2. The lender shares in the profits and the losses made by any enterprise it lends money to
3. Excessive uncertainty, risk and speculation [GHar-rrarr] is forbidden
4. No business should support products forbidden in the Qur'an, e.g. alcohol, gambling, vice and pork. In Islam these products are forbidden and known as halal [haa-lal] {see wgaw blog archieve: halal or haram}

In addition to the four rules above, Islamic banking attempts to encourage investments benefiting the community at large ~but that would be an opinion or point of view not shared by everyone~

Image taken from:

1. Interest or Usury; riba [ribb-bah]
In Islamic banking only one kind of loan is allowed, a 'good loan’ or qard-el-hassan [KHaard-al-Ha-saan]. With a qard-el-hassan the lender can not charge the borrower any interest, or any additional fee because money has been lent.

On hearing this, many people want to know how the lender makes money. In Islamic banking the lender takes a share of the profits rahter than a monthly interest payment. You could say waiting for the profits from a business is very similar to waiting for interest, however the difference comes from there being a pre-determined profit-sharing ratio, rather than a specific monthly rate of return.

Interest, or riba, is written about in four different places in the Koran and I have quoted these references so you can feel the strength of dislike, in the Qur'an for the concept of ursury/ interest/ riba:

1. Al Baqarah, 2:275,
“Those that live on usury shall rise up before God like men whom Satan has demented by his touch, for they claim that trading is not different from usury. But God has permitted trading and made usury unlawful.”

2. Al Baqarah, 2:276-279,
“God has laid his curse on usury and blessed almsgiving with increase. God bears no love for the impious and the sinful. Those that have faith and do good works, attend to their prayers and render the alms levy will be rewarded by their Lord and will have nothing to fear or to regret. Believers have fear of God and waive what is still due to you from usury, if your faith be true; or war shall be declared against you by God and His apostle. If you repent, you may retain your principal, suffering no loss and causing loss to none.”

3. The Imrans, 3:130-2,
“Believers, do not live on usury, doubling your wealth many times over. Have fear of God that you may prosper. And then it goes on to say (Al Nisa, 4:161), “Because time after time they have debarred others from the path of God; because they practice usury - although they were forbidden it - and cheat others of their possession.”

4. Al Rum, 30:39,
“That which you seek to increase by usury will not be blessed by God; but the alms you give for His sake shall be repaid to you many times over.”

2. Profit & Loss Sharing
In Islamic banking the lender will share the profits and suffer the losses made by the business to which it lent money. That is, the investor becomes a business partner or in western banking terms, a 'sleeping partner'.

3. Excessive Uncertainty, Risk or Speculation [gha-rrarr] is Forbidden
Every single transaction carried out by an Islamic bank must be free from uncertainty, risk and speculation and all parties involved (1. the bank, 2. the depositor of money and 3. the business/person being lent money) must know what they will gain from the financial transaction. However a guaranteed profit is not allowed.

This forbidding of risk means the options and futures trading, as well as forward foreign exchange transactions, are considered un-Islamic because the rates are determined by interest differentials.

4. The Selling of Haram Products Should not be Supported
Before investing in any business, Islamic banks check to make sure the business does support nor trade in products forbidden by the Koran (i.e. alcohol, gambling, vice, or pork and their dirivatives) {see wgaw blog archive: haram} and does not invest in any business which supports these activities or industries.

This means the preferred long term investments for Islamic banks is often in areas such as real estate and manufacturing.

Image taken from:

Problems for Investors with this System
As an investor, Islamic banking limits the number of options for investing your money. In reality you will need to choose between the following two options:
1. invest with risk; that is, invest in a business, or
2. keep your money idle; and slowly loose your capital through devaluation.

Although most Islamic banks do offer deposit accounts for investors, the return on investment is very small (maybe ½ or 1%, per annum). This means your 'rainy day fund' or 'retirement pot' is highly likely to devalue over the years. Your money will be safe but the ammount of capital you own, in real terms, will slowly become smaller as inflation eats into your capital.

Additional Information
For far more detailed information on the intracies, the benefits and the problems with Islamic banking try:

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Colour Green

Green [male: ack-THarr] [female: khth-THa-rrah] is used extensively in the Arabic world and appears on four of the six GCC flags. Kuwait, Oman, and the UAE have green in their flags to represent the fertility of the land and agriculture, whilst Saudi Arabia uses green to represent Islam. (no one seems to know why the colour green is used to represent Islam)

Using the Word 'Green'
The word 'green' in Arabic lends itself to various other Arabic words including, 'vegetables' [kuth-THr-rrah-waat] and 'paradise' [kud-DHee-ra]. In English, grapes are termed either red or white. In Arabic, grapes are either red [en-aab ah-marr] or green [en-aab ack-THarr] ~one time I translated this wrong and quite upset the native speaker~

Meanings Behind the Colour Green
Brides traditionally wear green on their henna nights {see wgaw blog archive: henna nights} to indicate their blossoming.

If you're missing someone you can use the following phrase:
past tense, missed you: Ma halik kan akthar [maa haa-lick kaan aKH-DHarr]
present tense, missing you: Ma halik Khthur [maa haa-lick KHth-DHrr]

Literally translated this means, 'your place is/was green', or to paraphrase; the grass has grown where you should be sitting.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Hourly, Daily or Weekly Marriages

image taken from:

A traveller's or pleasure marraige, called a misyar [mis-ee-yarr] for Sunnis (legal in Saudi and Egpyt) or Mut'a [muut-ta'] for Shiites/Shi'ia (mostly Iran and Iraq) is one in which the couple choose how long they will be married for; a quarter of an hour, an hour, a couple of hours, a day, a week, a month, a year, however long they want.

~as an outsider~ There doesn't appear to be very much difference between a misyar and a muta, except the mut'a has a specified time frame and the misyar doesn't.

The couple having chosen to get married will go to the Mullah, get married and will then receive a piece of paper which states they are married. Once the day, or hour of the dissolvement of the marriage arrives then it is no longer valid and it’s all over.

The key thing here to note is that for a woman, she has absolutely no rights with regards to children, money or property. However, it is said as finding husbands becomes harder, Gulf women are contemplating this marriage as an option. (In Saudi, apparently only half the female population of marriageable aged is married).

Consequently, in October 2004 there was an advert across the top of one of the Saudi newspapers announcing 20 Saudi women were looking for a misyar marriage.

The newspaper stated the rules of the marriage would be as follows;
1. the couple would get married
2. she would continue to live in her parents house
3. at no time should she tell the husband’s other wife she existed

The newspaper reported that within a week they had had 4,000 male applicants.

Image taken from:

Who uses the Misyar and Mut'a?
"All the misyar marriage contracts I conduct are between men and women remarrying,” said Abu Fawaz, who’s been a marriage official for four years. “For a misyar marriage all you need is witnesses, her dowry and the acceptance of both parties.

Usually the woman either has her own place or lives with her family. Most of the time the woman’s family knows while the man’s family is in the dark about it, be it his first wife or any other family members.”

Further Information
Articles which give a lot more details on the ins and outs ~so to speak~ of misyars and mat'as can be found at:

Urban Legend
One expatriate woman married her Gulf husband with a mut'a temporary marriage and when they went for the ceremony, the Mullah would only give them a certificate for 33 years. When she told me about it she was laughing ... but it does mean after 33 years of marriage she will have no rights what-so-ever to any of the joint property and would be unable to keep any of the household items, no matter how small.

Finally, if the marriage was dissolved by her husband she would have no legal visiting rights to any of their children {see wgaw blog archive: pre-nups}.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

How to Read & Write Arabic: o2 BAA

Last Saturday we introduced the first letter of the Arabic alphabet, alif, along with a couple of basic rules {see wgaw blog archive: o8/o3}. Today we’ll look at the second letter of the alphabet, ‘baa’ ~could this possibly make an alif-baa, or alphabet?~ and revise some of what we did last week.

Key Rule 1. In Arabic, letters are connected when handwritten and also when they're printed. This does not occur in English, e.g. this blog post (printed) doesn't have connected letters.

The second letter of the Arabic alphabet is called baa and is pronounced in exactly the same way as the English letter ‘B’. When it stands alone or by itself, we call it an ‘independent’ letter and it is written like this:

Baa: Reading and Writing
As we said last week, all Arabic letters change their form slightly depending on where they occur in a word (think; a-A, b-B, c-C, d-D, e-E, f-F, etc.). This means baa often looks slightly different from the letter shown above.

However, you shouldn’t worry too much about this as the general form is always the same; one dot (below the line you write on) and at least one vertical line (above the line you write on).

Key Rule 2. Letters can occur in three different positions; at the beginning of a word (when it is called the 'initial'), in the middle (termed the 'medial'), or at the end of a word (when it is known as the 'final').

Each letter also has an 'independent' form but this is only used when the letter occurs completely by itself e.g. writing a list or completing a crossword puzzle.

In the boxes below you'll find examples of how the letter 'baa' is written in each of these positions, with the arrows indicating the order and direction your pen should move.

Key Rule 3. Always draw the lines of the letter first, then the dots

Initial, used when baa starts a word;

Medial form, used when baa occurs in the middle of a word (the black colour indicates the previous letter);

Final form, used when baa is the last letter in a word (the black colour indicates the previous letter);

Connected or not Connected?
Last week we introduced the concept that six letters in the Arabic alphabet never connect with the letter which follows them (alif being the first one of the six). These letters are known as 'non connectors'.

Baa is one of the 22 'connecting' letters and will always connect to the letter which follows it.However, if baa occurs after a non-connector and it
a. falls in the middle of a word; it's written in its 'initial' format
b. occurs at the end of a word; it'll take the 'independent' format (because it can not connect to the letter before it and there is no letter to follow).

We/you can now join the letter baa with the letter alif and write two words; bab [baab] meaning door and baba [baa-baa] meaning father.

a. baab - door
In the word baab we write three letters:
1. baa; in the initial form because it starts the word
2. alif; in the connected form because it follows the letter baa
3. baa; in the independent form because it follows alif (alif never connects with the following letter) and completes the word.

Bab al Bahrain (literally: door of Bahrain, or, The Gateway to Bahrain)

b. baa-baa – father
The example below is very stylized, but the green circled part spells baba. FYI, the other part of the writing spells habbas [hah-bas] and together they form the name of a restaurant [ba-ba hah-bas]

For the word 'baa-baa' we write four letters:
1. baa; in the initial form
2. alif; in the medial or connected form
3. baa; in the initial form (because it follows alif a non-connector)
4. alif; in the connected form

Picuture Examples of the Letter baa




In the picture above there are two baas. The circled baa is in the final format and immediately following this is another baa. The second baa is located at the beginning of a new word and so is written in the initial format.

1. The second letter of the Arabic alphabet is called 'baa'
2. The are four different forms of the letter 'baa'; independent, initial, medial and final
3. Baa changes its form depending on its location in the word, but the basic structure is always the same; one dot below the line and at least one vertical line above the line
4. When writing always draw the lines first and then fill in the dots. Do not stop writing to add a dot to a word. Finish the word, then return to the beginning of the word and go through it again, adding dots in the relevant location(s)
5. Arabic letters are connected whenever they are written; both in the handwritten and printed format.

1. Find three additional examples of the letter baa in the photos above.
2. Using lined paper practice writing the words, baba (father) and bab (door) as many times as you can. A mininum of 20 repetitions is suggested, remembering to write the lines first of the word first and then the dots.

What's Next?
On Saturday 24th Janauary 2009 the third letter of the Arabic alphabet, 'taa' will be explained.