Saturday, February 28, 2009

Dust Storms

We've been having dust storms for quite some time across the entire GCC and the house is coated with a heavy, sand coloured dust that just won't go away, no matter how many times you try and remove it.

Because it's been said so many times before, I'm not sure why I'm writing it, but anyway here goes; there is no word in Arabic for snow (the nearest description seems to be, 'fluffy ice' [thel-jH moo-gut-tan]). However, there are several descriptive words in Arabic for the various types of sand, dust and wind:

Sand & Dust
dust storm:
arsifa al ghubar [arrse-see-fah al GHu-barr]

sand storm:
arsifa al ramleah [arrse-see-fah al rram-lee-ah]

sahara [sa-ha-ra] rather than the English [sa-har-rah]

off road sandy area:
mutaqa ramleah [mut-Ta-Qa rram-lee-ah]

sand dune:
taaz [ta-aaz]

sand dunes:
kuthban ramlee [Kuth-baan rram-lee]

hawar [ha-warr] (just enough to let you know it's there)

nesmah [nes-mah]

reah [rree-ah] + rear [ree-arr]

north wind (cold-ish, april/may):
shamal [sha-maal] (weather reports on the radio will say something like, "strong shamal winds today")

south wind (hot, june/july):
kaws [cows]

Media Reports
Three weeks ago the Gulf Daily News (An English lanugage newspaper in Bahrain) wrote the following article:

A THICK dust haze brought work at many construction sites to a standstill for several hours yesterday, while five flights had to be diverted due to poor visibility at Bahrain International Airport. Health officials also reported an increase in the number of patients reporting to hospital with respiratory problems.

The extreme weather was the result of a severe sandstorm over Southern Iraq, Civil Aviation Affairs Meteorological Directorate officials told the GDN.

They said it blew in across Kuwait and Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province, reducing visibility in some places to just 50 metres. The dust began to settle across the country at around 9am, but cleared substantially by around 10.30am.

Three Gulf Air flights - one each from Lahore, Kuwait and Muscat - were diverted, along with a Bahrain Air flight from Dubai and an Air India Express flight from Mangalore. However, sources said all flights reached Bahrain within a few hours after visibility improved.

Meanwhile, construction sites reported work stoppages for almost two hours, but supervisors said activity restarted at around 11am when the weather began to clear

Thursday, February 26, 2009

How to Read & Write Arabic: HAA o7

When reading the Arabic alphabet Haa follows on from the letter 'Jiim' and is very similar in shape, the same infact, but with no dot. In English I've written the letter Haa with a capital letter to indicate it has a strong sound.

Haa: Reading and Writing
As you now know for sure, Arabic letters change their form slightly depending on where they occur in the word (independent, initial, medial, or final). So once again, the letter, Haa will keep it's basic format no matter where it occurs in a word.

A 'Haa' like Jiim can be spotted because of the jaw shape above the line you write on. Below you'll see the letter 'Haa' in each of the four positions :

Pronouncing Haa
Haa is pronounced in a way which is different from any English letter and the sounds come from deep within the windpipe rather than in the mouth, and as the name suggests, it is a deep, strong Haa sound. To pronounce the letter imagine you have a tickle in your throat, at around the area of your adam's apple and you're trying to clear it.

Now say the sound 'Haa'. You should be able to feel your Adam's apple moving as you say the letter. Because of the limitations of the printed page I strongly recommend you check your pronunciation with a native Arab speaker.

Examples of the Letter, 'Haa'
In the example below, Haa starts the word and in the second example, 'one way' is located in the middle of a word, but follows alif, a non-connector and is therefore is in the initial format:

Below are three examples of the letter 'Haa' when it is found in the middle of a word:

In the example above, the Haa is found in the middle of the word 'Bahrain' (starts with an alif, al Bahrain). In the Arabic language adjectives follow nouns, so directly translated the sign above says, 'Fort Bahrain'.

In the example above we have a translation of the Arabic, 'suq crafts' (adjective followed by the noun) into English to make, 'Crafts Centre'

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

In the following example Haa is written in its final form and can be found at the very end of Sh. (shorted form of Sheikh) Salman's name (al FateH, with a strong H).

The photo below comes from a road sign for the village of Nabih Saleh in Bahrain.  You can now say the Saleh in the Arabic way, with a HH sound at the end:

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

The three photos below each have a singular Haa in its independent form:

How many taa's can you find in the three photos above? In what form do they occur; independent, initial, medial or final?

Hide and Seek
Look at the photo below and find the six letters you now know; alif, baa, taa, thaa, Jiim and Haa. When you’ve found them decide in which format they are written; initial, medial, final or independent:


1. The sixth letter of the Arabic alphabet is called 'Haa'
2. The are four different forms of the letter Haa; independent, initial, medial and final
3. The letter Haa changes its form depending on its location in the word, but the basic structure is always the same; one dot above the jaw shaped line
4. Haa is a connector and so joins with the letter which follows it.

Practice/ Homework [tam-reen/ waa-jib]

Should you wish to practice writing the letter 'Haa':

1. Complete all the tasks in the article above
2. Using lined paper write the letter 'Haa' in all four forms, as many times as you can; initial, medial, final and independent. Because 'Haa' is a connector you'll be able to connect a 'Haa' in its initial form to a 'Haa' in its medial form and complete by writing a 'Haa' in its final form. A minimum of 20 repetitions is suggested, always remembering to write the lines first and then the dots.

What's Next?

The next and seventh letter of the Arabic alphabet 'KHaa' will be posted on Thursday 5th March.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Zaatar (also spelt; zata, zatar, za'atar, zahtar, zaatah, zarter, but all said in the same way [zaa-ta]) is the Arabic name for a spice mixture of dried, crushed wild thyme (a.k.a. mountain oregano), sumac {see wgaw: SUMAC}, toasted sesame seeds and salt.

How to use Zaatar
In my experience zaatar is most often used as a spread for bread. It is mixed with olive oil [zeit zay-toon] and the resulting paste is then spread over a piece of lebanese bread [KHo-bis] or toast and then baked in the oven.  This works for vegetarian and vegan guests really well.

After cooking it is known as, 'fatayer bi zaatar' [fat'-tay-yerr bil zaa-ta] and/or mana'eesh [maa-na-aysh] and is simply gorgeous. The salt mixes into the herbs and the sesame seeds give it a little bit of a crunch. Fabulous for late, weekend breakfasts.

You can also cover small squares of flaky pastry in zaatar and cook them in the oven (so simple and so impressive: remove flaky pastry squares from freezer, defrost, cut each square into 4 smaller pieces, put on tray, sprinkle on zaatar, cook for approx. 10 mins)

In the week it's possible to buy just-cooked zaatar croissants from many of the large supermarkets and they sell them as hot, to-die-for, mid-morning snacks.

Zaatar can also be used to cover small pieces of white feta cheese (great with salads)

and also tomatoes. Finally, zaatar is also added to natural yougurts ~not my favourite~ and can be sprinkled over fried eggs ~a very Arabic taste~

More Information
I really liked this posting by Mercedes in Damascas: WHAT IS ZA'ATAR?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Girls Names: M-Z

Today's post follows directly on from a previous posting {see wgaw blog archive: girls names} which gives the meanings of Arabic girls names from A-L. Again, Arabic girls names nearly always translate in to the positive, feel-good aspects of human nature. It's also one of the easiest ways to learn some vocabulary, just think of the person and you've got a new word.

The name and all possible spellings are posted, then the direct translation in English. A key point to notice is that many girls names end with the sound 'aa' or 'ah', this indicates the female form in Arabic. ~and again, the first two names on the list are exceptions to the rule~

I'll publish boys names in two sections, A-L and M-Z in the near future.

Maab; Place to which one returns
Maali; Noble things
Mada; Utmost point, degree
Madihah beautiful/ Madeeha; praiseworthy, commendable
Maha; Wild cow, eyes
Mahabbah; Love, affection
Mahasin; Beauties
Mahbubah; Beloved
Mahdiyah; Rightly guided
Mahibah; Noble, respected
Maimoona/ Maymunah; Auspicious, blessed, a wife of the Prophet
Maisah/ Maisa; Walks proud
Maizah; Discerning
Majidah/ Majida; Glorious
Makarim/ Makaarim; Good, honorable
Makkiyah; from Makkah
Maladh; Protection, shelter
Malakah; Talent
Maliha; Praising
Malikah; Queen
Manab; Deputyship, share
Manal/ Manaal; Attainment, achievement
Manar/ Manaar; Guiding light
Maram/ Maraam; Aspiration
Mariam/ Maryam; Arabic form of Mary
Mariyah; Fair complexion, a wife of the Prophet
Marwah; A mountain in Makkah
Marzuqah; Blessed by God, fortunate
Masahir; Ancient Arabic lute
Masarrah; Delight, joy
Masudah/ Masouda; Happy, lucky, fortunate
Mawaddah; Affection, love, friendliness
Mawahib; Talents
Mawiyah/ Mawiya; the essence of life, clear
May; Old Arabic name
Maymunah; Fortunate, a wife of the Prophet
Maysa/ Maysaa; Walking with pride
Maysam; Beautiful
Maysan; Star
Maysarah; Left hand side
Maysun/ Maysoon; Has a beautiful face
Melek; Angel
Meryl/ Meriel/ Muriel; Myrrh
Mina; A place near Makkah
Minnah; Kindness, grace, blessing
Mirah; Provisions, supply
Mishael; Torch, light
Mona; Wish, desire
Muazzaz; Powerful, strong
Mubin; Clear, obvious
Mufiah; Obedient, compliant
Mufidah/ Mufeeda; Useful, helpful, beneficial
Muhibbah; Loving
Muhjah/ Muhja; the blood from your heart
Muhsinah; Charitable, benevolent
Mukarram; Honored
Mukhlisah; Devoted, faithful
Mumayyaz; Distinguished
Muminah; Pious believer
Muna/ Mona; Wish, desire
Munawwar; Radiant, illuminated
Munirah/ Muneera; Illuminating, brilliant
Munisah; Friendly
Muntaha; the Highest degree
Murjanah; Small Pearl
Murshidah; Guide
Muruj; Meadows
Mushirah/ Musheera; Giving counsel, advising
Muslimah; Devout believer
Musn/ Musnah; Rain, clouds
Muyassar; Wealthy, successful

Nabihah/ Nabeeha; Intelligent
Nabilah/ Nabeela; Noble
Nadia; First
Nadidah/ Nadeeda; Equal, rival
Nadirah/ Nadira; Rare, precious
Nadiyah; Announcement
Nadwah/ Nadwa; Council, generosity
Nafisah, Nafeesa; Precious thing, gem
Naflah; Overabundance
Nahid; woman with full, round breasts
Nahidah/ Naheeda; Big
Nahlah/ Nahla; A drink of water
Nailah/ Naila; One who succeeds
Naima; Comfortable, tranquil
Najah/ Najaah; Successful
Najat; Safe
Najibah/ Najeeba; Distinguished, of noble birth
Najiyah; Safe
Najla; wide eyes
Najma/ Najmah; Star
Najwa; secret romantic conversations
Najya; Victorious
Namar; Name of a mountain
Narjis; Narcissus
Nashida; Student
Nashita; Energetic, full of life
Nashwa; Fragrance, perfume
Nasiha; gives valuable advice
Nasira; Victorious, helper
Nasmah; Breeze
Nasreen, Nasrin;
Nathifa; Clean, pure
Nawal; Gift
Nawrah; Blossom, flower, happiness
Nazahah/ Nazaaha; Purity, righteousness, honesty
Nazihah/ Nazeeha; Honest
Nazirah/ Nazeera; Like, equal, matching
Nibal/ Nibaal; Arrows
Nibras; Lamp, light
Nida; Call
Nihad; Height
Nihal; Drink
Nimah/ Naeema; Blessing, loan
Nisrin; an aromatic plant
Niyaf; Tall and pretty
Noora; Light
Nouf; Mountain peak
Nudar, Nudhar; Gold
Nuha; Intelligence
Nujud, Nojood; Noble, wise
Numa; beautiful, pleasant, happiness
Nunah; Dimple in the chin
Nurah, Noorah; Corolla, blossom
Nuriyah; Radiant, brilliant
Nusaibah/ Nusaybah; Old Arabic name
Nuwairah, Nuwayrah; Small fire
Nuwwarrah; Flower blossom
Nuzhah; Pleasure trip

Oma; Commanding
Qadr; Fate, destiny
Qadriyah; To believe in Gods will
Qismah; Destiny, fate
Qubilah; Concord
Qudsiyah; Glorious, sacred

Rabab; White cloud
Rabiah/ Rabeea; Garden, springtime
Rabiyah; Hill
Radiyah/ Radhiya; Content, satisfied
Radwa/ Radhwaa; A mountain in Medina
Rafa/ Rafah; Prosperity and luxuriant life
Rafah/ Rafat; Mercy
Rafal; Try on clothes
Rafiah; Sublime, exquisite
Rafidah; Support
Rafif; To shine, to shimmer
Raghad/ Raghda; Pleasant
Raha; Peaceful
Rahaf; Delicate, fine
Rahmah/ Rahimah; Merciful, compassionate
Rahimateh; Grace
Rahiq; Nectar
Raidah/ Raaida; Leader
Raifah; Merciful
Ramlah; Old Arabic name
Ramziyah; Symbolic
Randa; A tree with a beautiful scent
Ranim/ Raneem; to recite in a sing-song voice
Raniyah/ Raniya; Gazing
Rasha; Young Gazelle
Rashidah/ Rasheeda; Wise, mature
Rasmiyah; Official, formal
Rawah; Charm, beauty, splendor
Rawdah, Rawdha; Garden
Rawhah; Nice
Rawhiyah; Spirituality
Rawiah/ Raawiya; Speaks ancient Arabic poetry
Rihana/ Rayhanah; Sweet basil
Rayya/ Rayyaa; Full of drink
Razan/ Razaan; Sensibility and respect
Reema/ Rim/ Reem; Gazelle
Rida; Favored by God
Rihab; Vastness, expanse
Riham; Lasting, fine rain
Rouqaya/ Ruqayyah/ Ruqayya; Gentle, one of the Prophet’s daughtetrs
Rua; Dreams, visions
Rubaa; Hills, height
Rubadah; Ash colored
Rudainah/ Rudaynah; Old Arabic name
Rufaidah/ Rufaydah; Support
Rukan; Steady, confident
Rumailah/ Rumaylah; Old Arabic name
Rumaithah/ Rumaythah; Old Arabic name
Ruwaidah/ Ruwaydah; Walking gently
Ruyah; Dream, vision

Saba/ Sheba; A town in Yemen
Sabaa; A nice wind
Sabah; Morning
Sabihah; Beautiful
Sabirah/ Saabira/ Sabriyah/ Sabr; Patient
Sadad; Right thing to do, lucky
Sadah; Happiness
Sadira; Ostrich, runs from water
Sadiyah; Fortunate
Safa; Pure
Safaa; Clarity, purity, serenity, name of a hill in Makkah
Safeea/ Safiya/ Safeea/ Safiyyah; Untroubled, Serene, Pure,
Saffanah; Pearl, Name of a Wife of The Prophet
Safun; Breezing
Sagirah; Little One
Sahar; Dawn, Awakening
Sahlah/ Sahla; Smooth, Fluent, Flowing
Saidah; Happy, Fortunate
Saihah; Good, Useful
Saja; Calm and quiet
Sajidah; Prostrating to God
Sakinah/ Sakeena; Peace of mind
Salihah; Correct, agreeable
Salimah/ Saleema; Flawless, Faultless
Salma; Peaceful, safe, Healthy, Name of a Wife of the Prophet
Salsabil/ Salsabeel; Spring in Jannah
Salwa; Solace, Quail
Sama/ Samah/ Samaah; Generosity
Samar; Evening Conversation
Samarah; Soft Light
Samawah; Summit, Height
Sameh; Forgiver
Samihah/ Sameeha; Generous
Samira; Entertaining companion
Samiyah/ Saamiya; Elevated, Exalted, Lofty
Samra; Soft, Light Tanned Color
Sana/ Sanaa/ Saniyah; Brilliance, Splendor
Sarah/ Sara/ Sirah; Wife of the Prophet Ibrahim
Sarsoureh; Bug
Sauda/ Sawdah; Wife of the Prophet Mohammed
Sawsan; Lily Of The Valley
Sayyidah; Lady, Woman
Seema/ Simah; Sign, Characteristic, Expression
Sfiyah; Righteous
Shadan; Young Gazelle
Shadha/ Shadhaa; Aroma
Shadhiyah; Aromatic
Shadiyah; Singer
Shafiqah; Compassionate, Sympathetic
Shahd; Honey, Honeycomb
Shahidah; Witness
Shahirah; Well known, Famous
Shahlah; Blush
Shahrazad; The teller of the 1,001 Nights
Shakirah; Thankful
Shamilah; Complete, comprehensive
Sharifah/ Shareefa; Noble, honored
Shawq; Longing
Shayma/ Shaymaa; to look out
Shifa; Curing, healing
Shimah; Nature, habit
Shiyam; Nature, character
Shudun; Powerful, straight
Shuhrah; Fame, reputation
Shukrah; Thankfulness
Shukriyah; Thanks
Shunnareh; Pleasant
Shuruq; Rising, shining
Sibal/ Sibaal; Eyes with long lashes
Siddiqah; Upright, very truthful
Siham/ Sihaam; Arrows
Shirin/ Shireen; A wife of the Prophet’s companion, Hassan Ibn Thabit
Suad/ Souad; Good fortune
Subhah/ Subhiyah; In or of the morning
Suda; Happy, lucky
Suha; Name of a star
Suhaimah/ Suhaymah; Small arrow
Sukainah/ Sukaynah; Charming, likable
Sulafah; Choicest
Sultanah/ Sultana; Princess
Sumaira/ Sumayra;  from Samra
Sumaiyah/ Sumayyah; a companion of the Prophet
Sunbul; grain
Sundus; Silk brocade
Sura/ Suraa; to travel by night

Tabassum; Smiling
Taghrid; Singing (like a bird)
Tahani; Congratulations
Tahirah/ Taahira; Pure, chaste
Tahiyah; Greeting
Taima/ Tayma; Oasis in northwest Arabia
Takiyah; Pious, righteous
Talah/ Taalah; Young palm tree
Talibah; Seeker of knowledge
Tamadur; Brilliant
Taqiyah; Heedful of God
Taqwa/ Taqwaa; Piety, devoutness
Tarub/ Taroob; Merry, happy
Tasnim; Fountain in paradise
Tawbah; Repentance
Thana/ Thanaa; Thankfulness, praise
Thara/ Tharaa, Tharwah; Wealth
Thawab; Reward
Thoora; Revolution
Thuraiya/ Thurayya; Star in the Pleiades
Thuwaibah/ Thuwaybah; Deserving of Gods, reward, name of a companion of the Prophet
Tibah; Goodness, kindness
Tuba/ Tubaa; Blessedness, heedfulness of God

Ubab/ Ubaab; Waves, heavy rain
Uhud; Commitment, delegation
Ula; Uppermost, highest
Ulfah; Harmony, intimacy
Ulima; Wise
Umamah; One of the Prophet’s granddaughters
Umniyah; A wish, an aspiration
Usaimah/ Usaymah; Old Arabic name
Ushd; Sensible conduct
Uwaisah/ Uwaysah; Bilberry, whortleberry

Vega; Falling

Wad; Promise
Wadha/ Wadhaa; Bright
Wadiah; Calm, peaceable
Wafa/ Wafaa; Faithfulness
Wafiqah, Wafeeqa; Successful
Wafiyah; Loyal, faithful
Wahbiyah/ Wahibah; Giver, donor
Wahidah; Exclusive, unique
Wajd; Passion, strong emotion
Wajeeha/ Wajihah; Eminent, distinguished,
Wala/ Walaa; Loyalty
Walidah; Newborn
Walladah; Prolific
Waqi; Falling
Warda; Rose
Warqa/ Warqaa; Pigeon
Wasfiyah; Depictive
Wasimah; Pretty, beautiful
Wiam; Harmony, agreement
Widad/ Widaad; Love, friendship
Wifaq; Harmony, consent
Wijdan; Ecstasy, sentiment
Wisal/ Wisaal; Reunion, being together
Wisam/ Wisaam; Medal, badge of honor
Wurud; Roses

Yafiah; High
Yakootah; Emerald
Yamha; Dove
Yaminah; Right and proper blessed
Yarah; Warm
Yasirah; Lenient
Yasmine/ Yasmin/ Yasmeen; Jasmine
Yumn; Good fortune, success
Yumnah/ Yumna; Right side
Yusra/ Yusraa; Most prosperous

Zada/ Zayda/ Zaida; Lucky
Zafirah/ Zaafirah; Victorious, successful
Zahidah; Ascetic, abstentious
Zahirah; Shining, luminous
Zain/ Zayn; Beauty
Zainab/ Zaynab; an ornamental tree, one of the Prophet’s daughters
Zakiyah; Pure
Zanubiya; Name of a Syrian Queen
Zara/ Zahra; White, flower, beauty
Zaynah/ Zaina; Beautiful
Zenobia; Father's ornament
Zinah/ Zinat; Adornment, ornamentation
Zubahda; Excellence
Zuha/ Zuhaa; Adornment
Zuhrah; Brightness
Zuhur; To flower, blossom, glow
Zuleika; Fair, intelligent
Zumurrud; Emerald

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Hair Removal

I first wrote about hair removal on this blog a couple of weeks ago {see wgaw blog archive: hair removal} and attempted to explain the fact all Arab women remove all their body hair, on a regular basis. But somehow I think I failed to put across how it is approached or accepted here.

When an Arab woman waxes her forearms, lips or face it is seen as a very positive thing to do. Girls will discuss in great detail amongst themselves how their hair is growing back and many have electrolysis over their entire body.

Describing someone as having waxed their forearms would be a compliment for a woman in the GCC. Women here wax their entire bodies for all special occaisions and especially when they marry. It has extremly sexy connotations for just about all the Arab men I know.

Urban Legends

A friend's husband once told her Arabic women always shaved their pubic hairs in the summer and when they were getting married. She asked him to elaborate as she couldn't imagine he'd know such intimate details without there being something fishy going on.
His reply?
“Anything and everything to do with weddings and body parts was open to discussion between women and men in the run up to a marriage.” ~ummm~

One day in class one of the students said to me,
"Don't get angry when I tell you this. My wife got angry when I told her, but you mustn't get angry."
I promised not to get angry and wondered what on earth it could be that the student was going to tell me.
Then he said, "It's personal, and you mustn't get angry."
Again I promised not to get angry and asked again what it was he wanted to tell me.
Finally he blurted it out; "Your hair, the hair on your face. Have you ever thought of having it removed?"
And he made a rubbing motion on his cheeks with his hand. I replied I had never thought of having it removed.
"I told my wife to remove her hairs. I told her she'd look much nicer without them on her face. So would you."
He continued,
"And I think your husband would prefer you that way too. You should do it."
I said I would think about it.
"You must, it would be much better."

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentines Day

14th February is Valentines Day in much of the western world, but is a banned activity in Saudi Arabia {see wgaw blog archive: banned}.

The rest of the Gulf appears to have embraced the idea and everyone will send everyone (espcially girls to girls) enormous bunches of flowers, chocolates, teddy bears and greeting cards. Last year the office was covered in red roses and looked quite fabulous.

In Arabic there is no distinction between the English words, 'love' and, 'like' there's just the one word, 'Habb' which can and is used in the following ways; 'I love' [a-habb], I love macdonnalds [a-habb macdonnalds], I love you [a-habb-bick (m)/bitch (f)], I like you [a habb-bick (m)/bitch (f)] .

Valentines Day seems to spark quite deep emotions in people (check out the anoymous comment at the bottom of the page); some people love it and some don't.

Media Reports
Decided it was better to let the Saudi's speak for themselves than giving my thoughts on the banning. Here's two reports which explain what ~doesn't~ go on quite well.

The CNN posting (12-02-09) about Valentines Day in Saudi Arabia:

"Saudi Arabia has asked florists and gift shops to remove all red items until after Valentine's Day, calling the celebration of such a holiday a sin, local media reported Monday. With a ban on red gift items over Valentine's Day in Saudi Arabia, a black market in red roses has flowered.

"As Muslims we shouldn't celebrate a non-Muslim celebration, especially this one that encourages immoral relations between unmarried men and women, " Sheikh Khaled Al-Dossari, a scholar in Islamic studies, told the Saudi Gazette, an English-language newspaper.

Every year, officials with the conservative Muslim kingdom's Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice clamp down on shops a few days before February 14, instructing them to remove red roses, red wrapping paper, gift boxes and teddy bears. On the eve of the holiday, they raid stores and seize symbols of love.

Ahmed Al-Omran, a university student in Riyadh, told CNN that the government decision will give the international media another reason to make fun of the Saudis "but I think that we got used to that by now."

"I think what they are doing is ridiculous," said Al-Omran, who maintains the blog 'Saudi Jeans.' ~link at right hand side of this blog, under the heading 'my blog list'~ "What the conservatives in this country need to learn is something called 'tolerance.' If they don't see the permissibility of celebrating such an occasion, then fine -- they should not celebrate it. But they have to know they have no right to impose their point of view on others."

Because of the ban on red roses, a black market has flowered ahead of Valentine's Day. Roses that normally go for five Saudi riyal ($1.30) fetch up to 30 riyal ($8) on February 14, the Saudi Gazette said.

"Sometimes we deliver the bouquets in the middle of the night or early morning, to avoid suspicion," one florist told the paper."

An article by Donna Abu-Nasr which can be found at:

"Just days before Valentine's Day, a young Saudi woman desperately searched for a red teddy bear to buy for her boyfriend. But all Nof Faisal could find were blue and white ones, minus the "I love you" she wanted hers to declare.
It's not because the store couldn't keep up with demand. It is because fear of the religious police forced the store's owner to strip the shelves of all red items, including the hottest-selling item: heart-festooned red plastic handcuffs inscribed, "Take me, I'm yours."

As Feb. 14 approaches, the police begin inspecting gift shops for items that are red or are intended as gifts to mark the holiday — a celebration of St. Valentine, a 3rd century Christian martyr — which is banned in Saudi Arabia. Such items are legal at other times of the year, but as Valentine's Day nears they become contraband.

At best, shops caught selling Valentine's gifts are ordered to get rid of them. Some salesmen have been detained for days.
The Valentine's Day prohibition is in line with the ascetic Wahhabi school of Islam that the kingdom follows. Celebrating any holidays but the two most important for Muslims — Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr_ is taboo because they are considered "religious innovations" that Islam does not sanction. Even birthdays and Mother's Day are frowned on by the religious establishment.

As Feb. 14 approaches, newspapers reprint a fatwa or religious edict issued by scholars a few years ago, declaring "eid al-hob," Arabic for the feast of love, a "Christian, pagan feast" that Muslims should not celebrate. Teachers remind students they must not mark the festival, and girls are warned against wearing anything red.

Nevertheless, Valentine's Day quietly creeps into the capital, Riyadh: While gift stores don't trumpet their Valentine's wares, they acquire a deep red hue as shelves are stocked with artificial flowers, heart-shaped frames and other knickknacks.

Lingerie stores display red lacy underwear and sheer short nighties. Boxes packed with teddy bears, some inscribed with "I love you," appear on supermarket shelves. Newspapers advertise diamond and ruby heart-shaped pendants.

And salesmen urge shoppers to snap up their gifts early because no one knows when the religious police will begin their rounds.

"My colleague spent a night in jail last year because of the color red," said one salesman, who insisted on anonymity, fearing his colleague's fate.

It is a challenge for courting Saudi couples to be together at any time of the year because of strict gender segregation. Unmarried men and women cannot take a drive together, have a meal or even talk on the street unless they are close relatives. Dating consists of long phone conversations and the rare tryst. Infractions are punished by detention.

"I wish things were different," said Faisal, a 20-year-old student, who said she would like to be wined and dined by her boyfriend. She has arranged to have red roses, a red box containing perfume, chocolate and a CD of love songs delivered to him.

Abdul-Aziz al-Shammari bought his girlfriend 10 red roses — one for each month he's known her — five days before Valentine's Day and stored the bouquet in his refrigerator to keep it fresh.

"I don't consider it a day venerating (St.) Valentine," said al-Shammari, a 24-year-old student. "I see it as an international day of love."

For at least businessmen, the commercial draw of the holiday was too strong. Waleed al-Khuleiwi's store was perhaps the only one in Riyadh still brimming with Valentine's goods with just days to go. His cheeky defense:
"I'm not selling the items with the intention of celebrating Valentine's."

Thursday, February 12, 2009

How to Read & Write Arabic: o6 JIMM

Now you've completed the first four letters of the arabic alphabet, and seen the alphabet in its entirity, we'll move onto the fifth letter of the Arabic alphabet, 'Jiim'.

Jiim is the first letter of the alphabet which has no equivalent sound in English. However, Jiim is prounoucd as it sounds, and can be easily bastardised, sound-wise, by us native English speakers by saying 'J' as we do in English.

Pronounce 'Jiim' in the same way as you would the 'J' in, Jack or the 'dg' in 'bridge'. In English I've written the letter Jiim with a capital letter to indicate it has a strong sound.

Jiim: Reading and Writing
As you now know for sure, Arabic letters change their form slightly depending on where they occur in the word (independent, initial, medial, or final). So Jimm, like all the previous letters, will keep it's basic format no matter where it occurs in a word.

A 'Jiim' can be spotted because it has a jaw shape, as well as one dot above the line you write on.

Below you'll see the letter Jiim in each of the four positions (read from right to left; Independent, Initial, Medial, Final) and remember the lines are always drawn before the dot:

Examples of the Letter, 'Jiim'

In the first two examples below, Jiim starts the word and in the third example, 'conference room' is located in the middle of a word aljatimaat/conference [al-ja-tee-maa-aHa-t], but follows a non-connector, so is in the initial form:

Below are a couple of examples of the letter 'Jiim' placed in the middle of a word:

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

In the following example Jiim is written in its final form and can be found at the end of the directions for a small village in Bahrain, Samaheej.


Decide which of the photos below contain additional examples of the five letters you now know; alif, baa, taa, thaa and Jiim. When you’ve found them decide in which format they are written; initial, medial, final or independent and then total your amounts for each photo:

1. The fifth letter of the Arabic alphabet is called 'Jiim'
2. The are four different forms of the letter Jiim; independent, initial, medial and final
3. The letter Jiim changes its form depending on its location in the word, but the basic structure is always the same; one dot above the jaw shaped line
4. Jiim is a connector and so joins with the letter which follows it.

Practice/ Homework [tam-reen/ waa-jib]
Should you wish to practice writing the letter 'Jiim':
1. Complete all the tasks in the article above
2. Using lined paper write the letter 'Jiim' in all four forms, as many times as you can; initial, medial, final and independent. Because Jiim is a connector you'll be able to connect a Jiim in its initial form to a Jiim in its medial form and complete by writing a Jiim in its final form. A minimum of 20 repetitions is suggested, always remembering to write the lines first and then the dots.

What's Next?
The next letter of the Arabic alphabet is 'Haa' and will be posted on Thursday 26th February

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Wedding Rings

What do Wedding Rings Look Like?
In the Gulf wedding rings are plain bands, just like we use in the west, but are exchanged when a couple become engaged. Fancy engagement rings with stones, as we know them in the west, are given to the bride on the wedding day. The bride will also receive a matching necklace, braclet and pair of earrings as part of a set known as a shbca [shab-caa]; and the giving of this set is an essential part of the marriage ceremony.

Which Hand is the Ring Worn on?
Wedding rings are worn on the right hand during an engagement {see wgaw blog archive: pre-nups} for both males and females, and indicates betrothment. Once the couple are married they will remove the ring from their right hand and start to wear the ring on their left hand, indicating married-ness.

Silver or Gold?
When choosing wedding rings, some men will choose one made from silver [masculine: fid-Dee/ feminine: fid-Dee-yah], rather than gold for themselves.

This custom comes from the Prophet Mohammed who was seen on one particular day to be holding gold in one hand and silk in the other. Whilst doing this he was heard to say, “These two are banned for men of my tribe.” Some Arab men follow this tradition and others don't, it's a personal choice.

I can't ever imagine an Arab wearing this ring shown above. Wedding rings in the GCC are absolutely plain with no decoration (the word says Habb, or love).
Images taken from: and

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Girls Names: A-L

Today I decided to post a list of Arabic girls names, simply because they nearly always translate in to the positive, feel-good aspects of human nature. It's also one of the easiest ways to learn some vocabulary, just think of the person and you've got a new word.

The name and all possible spellings are posted, then the direct translation in English. A key point to notice is that many girls names end with the sound 'aa' or 'ah', this indicates the female form in Arabic. ~and of course the first two names on the list are exceptions to the rule~

I'll publish girls names starting with the letters M-Z at a later date, along with boys names A-L and M-Z.

Abal; Wild rose
Abarrane/ Abrahana;
Abia; Great
Abidah/ Abida; Worshipper
Abir/ Abeer; Fragrance, perfume
Ablah/ Abla/ Ablaa; Perfectly formed
Abra; Example, lesson
Abrar; Devoted to God
Adab/ Aadab; Hope, need
Adar/ Adra; Exist
Adawiyah; Summer plant
Adiba; Well mannered, cultured
Adilah/ Adila/ Adeela; Equal, just, honest
Adiva; Gentle and agreeable
Adn; Paradise
Adra/ Adara; Virgin
Afaf/ Afifah; Chaste, virtuous, decent, pure
Afnan; branch, twigs
Afra/ Afraa; White
Afrah; Celebrations, festivals
Afraima; Fertile
Afya; Shadows
Ahd; Pledge, commitment
Ahlam; Witty, imaginative one
Aidah/ Aida/ Ayda; Visiting, returning reward
Ain; Eye, precious
Aini; Spring, flower, source
Aisha; The name of Mohammed's youngest and most favored wife.
(also spelt Aeesha/ Aeeshah/ Aesha/ Aeshah/ Aiesha/ Aieshah/ Aishah/ Aisia/ Aisiah/ Asha/Ashah/ Ashia/ Ashiah/ Asia/ Asiah/ Ayeesa/ Ayeesah/ Ayeesha/ Ayeeshah/ Ayeisa/ Ayeisah/ Ayeisha/ Ayeishah/ Ayisa/ Ayisah/ Ayisha/ Ayishah/ Ieasha/ Ieasha/ Eiashia/ Ieashiah/ Iesha/ Ieshah/ Ieesha/ Ieeshah/ Ieeshia/ Ieeshiah/ Yiesha/ Yieshah)

Akilah; Intelligent, logical
Al Zahra; Nickname of one of the Prophet’s daughters, Fatimah
Alaia; Sublime
Alhena; A ring, a star in Gemini
Alimah/ Aleema; Skilled in music or dance
Aliya/ Aliyah/ Aliyyah; Highest social standing
Almas; Diamond
Almira; Princess
Altaf; Kindness, politeness
Altair/ Altaira; bird
Aludra; Virgin
Alula; First born
Alya; Loftiness
Alzena/ Alzan/ Alzina; Woman
Alzubra; A star in Leo
Amal; Hopes, aspirations
Aman; Security, peace, safety
Amani; Wishes, aspirations
Amatullah; Female servant of Allah
Amber; Jewel
Ameerah/ Amira; Princess
Amina/ Ameena; Trustworthy, faithful (name of the mother of the Prophet)
Amjad; Magnificence, splendor
Amsah; Friendly, good company
Amtullah; Female servant of Allah
Anan/ Anaan; Clouds
Anbar/ Anbarin; Perfume
Anisah/ Aneesa; Close, intimate, good friend
Anjum; Stars
Anmar; Leopard
Anwar/ Anwaar; Rays of light, blossoms
Aqilah; Wife, spouse, the best
Ara; Opinions
Aram; Signs, flags
Areebah; Witty, smart
Arij/ Areej; Fragrance, sweet smell
Arub/ Aroob; loving to her husband
Asalah; Nobility of descent
Asfoureh; Bird
Ashwaq; Love, affections
Asia/ Ashia/ Asha; Lively
Asil; Smooth
Asilah; Noble origin, pure
Asima/ Azima; Defender
Asimah/ Asima; Protector
Asiya/ Asiyah; Nurse, comfortor, consoles
Asma/Asma/ Asmaa; Excellent, lofty, eminent,
Asra; Travel by night
Asrar; Secrets
Asriyah; Modernist
Athir; Favored, preferred
Atia; Ancient
Atifah/ Atifa; Affectionate, compassionate, sympathetic
Atikah/ Atika; Virgin, pure, clear
Atyaf; Fantasies
Awatif; Emotions
Awwar; May
Ayah/ Ayeh; Clear evidence, sign of God
Ayisha; Living, prosperous
Ayska; Lively
Azhar/ Azhaar; Flowers, blossoms
Azizah/ Aziza/ Azeeza; Precious, beloved, dear
Azzah/ Azza; Young, female gazelle

Bab; Gateway
Badia; Unprecedented, admirable
Badria/ Badriyah/ Badriya looks like a full moon
Bahijah; Magnificent, splendid
Bahirah/ Baheera; Dazzling, brilliant, noble
Bahiya/ Bahiyaa; Beautiful, radiant
Balqis; Queen of Sheba
Balsam; Balsam, balm
Ban; Type of tree
Banan; Delicate, finger tips
Baraah; Innocence
Barakah/ Baraka; Blessing, white
Bariah/ Baraaa; Excelling
Barika; Bloom, successful
Barirah; Faithful, devoted
Bashair; Good news
Bashirah/ Basheera; Bringer of good tidings, joy
Basilah; Brave
Basimah/ Baseema; Smiling
Basinah; Kitty, kitten
Basmah/ Basma; A smile
Batul/ Batool; Ascetic virgin
Bayan; Clearness, eloquence
Baysan; To walk with pride
Bibsbebe; Lady
Bilqis/ Bilqees; Queen of Sheeba
Bisar; Adolescent
Budur; Full moon
Buhaysah/ Buhaisah; Walking with pride
Buhjah; Joy, delight
Buhthah; Happy
Bushra; Good omen, good news
Busr; Unripened dates, star
Buthainah/ Buthayna; Beautiful and tender body

Cala; Castle
Cantara; Small bridge

Dad; Old Arabic name
Daffer/ Dahab; Gold
Dalal; Treated in a kind and loving way
Daliyah; Grape vine
Daniyah; Closer, nearer
Dena/ Deena
Dhakirah; One who remembers God frequently
Dhakiyah; Bright, intelligent
Dhuka; Name of the sun
Dimah; Cloud which carries rain water
Dua; Prayer
Duha/ Dhuha; Forenoon
Dunya / Dunyana; World
Durar / Durrah; Pearls
Durriyah; Shining, bright

Ensia/ Enseea/ Ensea

Fadilah/ Fadheela; Cultured and refined
Fadiyah; Redeemer, self sacrificing
Fadwa; Self sacrifice
Fahdah/ Fahada; Leopardess
Fahimah; Intelligent
Faiqah; Surpassing, excellent
Faizah; Victorious winner
Fajr; Dawn, morning prayer
Fakriya/ Fakhriyah; Honorary
Falak; Star
Fanan; Branch or twig of a tree
Farah; Joy, cheerfulness
Farhah; Lively
Farhanah; Happy
Fareeda/ Farida/ Faridah; Unique, pearl or gem
Farihah/ Fareeha; Happy, joyful, cheerful
Farizah; Arch
Fathiya/Fathiyah; Beginning
Fatimah/ Fatima; Daughter of the Prophet
Fatin/ Fatinah; Fascinating, captivating, alluring, enchanting
Fawzah/ Fawza/ Fawziyyah/ Fawziya/ Fazia; Successful, victorious
Fayha; Fragrant
Fayruz; Turquoise
Fellah; Arabic jasmine
Fida; Redemption
Fiddah; Silver
Fikriyah; Ideas, intellectual
Firdaws/ Firdoos; Highest garden in paradise
Firyal; Old Arabic name
Furat; Sweet water
Futun; Fascinations

Gamar/ Qamar; Moon
Ghada/ Ghaada; Beautiful
Ghadir; Stream
Ghaliyah/ Ghaaliya; Beloved, fragrant, expensive
Ghaniyah; Pretty, beauty
Gharam; Love
Ghayda/ Ghaydaa; Young and delicate
Ghazal; Flirt, words of love
Ghazalah; Female gazelle
Ghufran; Forgiveness, pardon
Ghunwah/ Ghunyah; Indispensable
Ghusun/ Ghusoon; Branches of a tree

Habibah/ Habeeba; Beloved, darling, name of one of the Prophet's wives
Hadeel; to coo like a dove
Hadiyah/ Haadiya; Righteousness, calm
Hadiyyah; Gift
Hafa; Gentle rain
Hafizah; Heedful, Mindful
Hafsah/ Hafsa; Name of one of the Prophet's wives
Hafthah; Preserved, protected
Hayfa/ Hayfah; Slender, of beautiful body
Hajar; Wife of the Prophet Ibrahim
Hala; Sweetness
Halah/ Haala; Aureole
Halimah/ Haleema; Gentle, patient, the name of the woman who nursed the Prophet
Hamidah/ Hameeda; One who praises a lot
Hana/ Hana/ Haniah; Happiness, bliss
Hanan; Mercy, affectionate,
Hanifa/ Haneefa; True believer
Hanin; Longing, yearning
Haniyyah/ Haniya; Pleased, happy
Hasibah; Respected, noble
Hasnah/ Hasna/ Hasna; Beautiful
Hawa/ Hawwa; Eve
Hawadah; Pleasant
Hawazin; Name of an Arabic tribe
Hawra; Eyes with a marked contrast of black & white
Hayah/ Hayat; Life
Hayam/ Hayaam; Deliriously in love
Hayed; Movement, motion
Hayud; A mountain
Hazar; Nightingale
Hessa; Destiny
Hibah; Gift, present
Hibat; Gift of God
Hidayah; Guidance
Hijrah; The migration of the Prophet from Makkah to Madinah
Hikmah/ Hikmat; Wisdom
Hind; Old Arabic name
Hiyam; Love
Hubab; Aim, goal
Huda/ Hooda/ Huda; Right guidance
Hudun; Become quiet
Hulyah; Jewelry, ornament, finery
Huma; Bird who brings joy
Humairah/ Humayrah; Of reddish complexion
Hunaidah/ Hunaydah; From Hind
Hur/ Huriyah; Virgins of paradise
Husna/ Husniyah; Most beautiful
Hutun; Clouds with rain
Huwaidah/ Huwaydah; Gentle

Iba; Pride, sense
Ibadah; Worship
Ibtihaj/ Ibtihaaj; Joy, delight
Ibtihal; Prayer
Ibtisam; Smiling
Idhar; Fluff
Iffah/ Iffat; Chaste
Iftikar; Thought, contemplation
Iftikhar; Pride, glory
Ijaz; Imitability of the Qur'an
Ijlal; Respect, honor
Ikhlas; Sincerity
Ikram/ Ikraam; Honor, hospitality
Ilham/ Ilhaam; Intuition
Iman/ Eman; Faith, belief
Imtithal; Polite, obedience
Inam/ Inaam; Kindness, bestowal
Inaya; Concern, solicitude
Inayah/ Inayat; Care, concern
Insaf; Justice, equity
Intisar/ Intisaar; Triumph
Isad; To bring happiness or help
Isaf; Relief, help
Isar; Fascinating
Ishfaq; Compassion, affection
Ishraq; Radiance
Ismah/ Ismat; Purity, modesty, infallibility
Isra; Journey taken at night
Istilah; Agreement
Itab; Censure
Itaf; Clock
Ithar; Preference
Itidal; Straightness, tautness
Itimad; Reliance, dependence
Izdihar/ Izdihaar; Flourishing, blossoming
Izzah; Might, power

Jabirah; Comforter, consoler
Jada/ Jadwa; Gift, present
Jala/ Jala; Clarity, elucidation
Jalilah; Splendid, lofty
Jamila/ Jameela; Beautiful, graceful, lovely
Jana; Harvest
Janan; Heart, soul
Jannah; Garden, paradise
Jawa; Passion, love
Jawahir/ Jawharah/ Jowaher Jewels
Jawl; Move freely
Jawna; The sun
Jihan; A river in Iran
Jilan; Courtier
Jinan; Gardens, paradise
Johara; Jewel
Jud; Generosity
Judi; A mountain
Juhainah/ Juhaynah; Name of an Arab tribe
Juhanah; Young girl
Jumana; Silver pearl
Jun; Inlet, bay, gulf
Junah; The sun
Juwairiyah/ Juwayriyah; Name of one of the wives of the Prophet
Juwan; Perfume

Kalila; Sweetheart, beloved
Kamilah; Perfect, complete
Karawan; Variety of birds
Karida; Untouched
Karimah/ Kareema; Generous, noble
Kawakib/ Kawkab; Satellites
Kawthar; River in paradise
Khadija; First wife of the Prophet
Khalidah/ Khalida; Immortal, everlasting
Khalisah; Sincere, pure
Khawlah; Female deer
Khayriyah/ Khairiya; Charity, beneficent,
Khitam; Conclusion
Khulud/ Khlood; Immortality
Khuzama; Lavender
Kifah; Struggle
Kulthum/ Kulthoom; Daughter of the Prophet
Kulus; Clearness, purity

Labibah; Sensible, intelligent
Lama/ Lamya; Darkness of lips
Lamah/ Lamiah; Brilliancy
Lamis/ Lamees; Soft to the touch
Latifa/ Lutfiyah; Kind, pleasant
Layan; Gentle and soft
Layla/ Leilal/ Layali; Born at night
Lazim; Essential, imperative
Linah/ Lina/ Leena/ Lana; Tender
Lubab; The best part
Lubabah/ Lubaaba; The innermost essence
Luban; Pine tree, long neck
Lubanah; Wish, desire
Lublubah; Affectionate, tender
Lubna; Kind of tree
Luja; Of great depth
Lujain/ Lujayn; Silver
Luloah; A pearl
Lulu/ Luluah/ Lulwa; Pearl
Lunah; Date palm

Urban Legend
There are a couple of first names for girls which sound a bit, well, suspicious to non-native Arabs; Abra [a-bra] and Abeer [a-beer]. But they do exist and are used. Someone we know had started to call their new born baby girl, 'Abra' until my husband (an Arab/Persian) asked them if they would be calling their next born, 'Panties'.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Empty Food Containers

Whenever you visit someone's house and the time comes to leave, you'll more often than not be offered something to take home with you. Accept, as it will be meant in the best of possible intentions; it's just simply Arabic hospitality.

When you return to the same host it's customary to take the plate or bowl back with you. However the cultural rules say you must have filled it with something edible; sweets or nuts, snacky things.

Sunday, February 8, 2009


The 'banned website' sign for internet users in the UAE

Having thought for a very short time yesterday (5 minutes at 9am) this blog had been completely banned by the Bahraini authorities ~the banned website sign was all over my blog, not sure why, but possibly because a previous post contains the words, 'whorehouse' and 'errection'~ I have decided to dedicate today's posting to the subject of banned substances in the GCC (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE).

I've not included the obviously haram items such as gambling, weapons & guns, pornography, alcohol & drugs, pork and women showing their body in public or being unable to either work, or drive in Saudi Arabia. But I have included the things which are not quite so obvious, even when you live here.

The 'banned website' sign for internet users in Bahrain

giving flowers to people staying in hospitals (Saudi, May '04)
yoga (Saudi, May '04)

phones with digital cameras (Saudi)
Skype (UAE)

theatres (Saudi)
cinemas (although there is now 1 in Jeddah, but does not operate on a daily basis)
music in public spaces (Saudi)
satellite dishes (Saudi)
Film, 'The Life of Brian' (Bahrain)

changing rooms in clothes shops (Saudi)
mannequins for female clothes (Saudi, talk of doing so in Bahrain)

Barbie dolls (Saudi, Dec '03)
stuffed animal toys (Saudi)
teddy bears (Saudi)
Pokeman cards (Saudi, March '01)
Harry Potter and anything to do with Harry Potter (Saudi, Sept '02)
'grand theft auto 4' computer game (UAE)
Model aircrafts with engines (Bahrain)

Christmas, Christmas decorations (Saudi)
Christian crucifixes (Saudi)
models of Buddha (Saudi)

abortions (GCC)
women giving birth without being married (GCC)

vibrators (GCC)

Valentines day (Saudi)  {see wgaw blog archive: 11/o4}
fireworks (Bahrain)

chickens from Europe (Saudi)
peanut butter (Bahrain, '08)
soft drinks from Europe (Saudi, Aug '02)
milk powder from America (Saudi)
cigarettes (Riyadh, May '03)

National Geographic magazine, April '03 edition (Saudi)

women riding bikes/motorbikes (Saudi)
women on roller skates (Saudi)

The 'banned website' sign for internet users in Qatar

Urban Legend

I love this story from the Saudi English Language newspaper, Arab News (03-06-05), simply because it sounds so much like a genuine urban legend:

"But the piece de resistance of all stories must be that of a Saudia captain who purchased a book highlighting the achievements through humor of the Marx Brothers.

He was accosted by an overly alert customs officer at the Old Jeddah Airport who insisted on confiscating the book.

'But why?' he implored, 'It’s only a book! There are not even any pictures,' he added emphatically.
'You are trying to bring in a dissertation by Marx and you expect me to let you go free?' he retorted.
'No! No! This is not Karl Marx. This is Groucho Marx and his brothers Harpo and Chico.'
'You mean his brothers don’t share his opinion?' the officer asked in earnest.
'They are comedians! They are not philosophers or politicians,'he reiterated.

The official not quite sure of what to do solicited the help of one of his superiors who drew the same convoluted conclusion. Someone high up had to come and release the poor guy who was now being accused of trying to spread corrupt ideologies among his countrymen.

The captain was only released after his benefactor agreed to sign an indemnity declaring that Groucho, Harpo and Chico bore no blood relation to Karl Marx and did not subscribe to his dogma!

And there it was. The actions of one dedicated individual that prevented the aberration of communism from infiltrating our borders!"

The 'banned website' sign for internet users in Kuwait (with thanks to blogger 'Web-OJ' for sending me a copy)

More Information on Bannings