And 366 days to NYE 2022

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http://ahlanwasahlan.org/2022

In China, setting off firecrackers and fireworks during the Chinese New Year period is an important custom, reportedly because in traditional Chinese culture, firecrackers were originally used to scare away evil spirits. Is Covid-19 then a consequence of the Chinese not exploding away enough firecrackers before the start of this year?

I live in a city which in 2014 broke the Guinness World Record for the largest ever fireworks display, and where fireworks are a weekend occurance at a local entertainment destination which is open six months a year. This NYE, we have been promised another show of explosives. …


Are we afraid of enlightenment?

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Photo by Klemen Vrankar.

Last New Year’s Eve (NYE), I heard the fireworks rather than watched them. I had already tucked myself in for the night but had not yet fallen asleep when the crackling sounds made their way into my hiding place.

I live in a city which in 2014 broke the Guinness World Record for the largest ever fireworks display, and where fireworks are a weekend occurance at a local entertainment destination which is open six months a year. This NYE, we have been promised another show of explosives. …


A prerequisite in Rocket Science is not required.

This article is about not giving up on your intellectual capacity to analyze things for what they are and not for how they are made to look, and it is also about Ghaf trees.

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Left: A video by MYCAFU explaining how one Ghaf tree can absorb 34.65kg of CO2 emissions per year. Source: Youtube. Right: A calculation of how many litres of Petrol result in the emission of 34.65kg of CO2. Source: commercialfleet.org

Advocacy work can be lonely, time consuming and definitely not financially rewarding. I am not somebody who is eager to take it on, nor am I somebody who is financially secure. Our organization does not currently have a single paying member (despite offering a membership option of $11 per year) and does not pay salaries. Three and a half years ago when I officially first set it up (we only instated paid membership options in July of this year), I did not do it because I had a revenue generating “business” model; I did it because there was a need for it. I am not laboring night and day, risking my “popularity” because it is something I like to do, but rather because it is something I am compelled to do. Now that we have that out of the way, here is what this labor of necessity, i.e. …


We cannot keep pretending everything is alright.

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The pen I borrowed from my dad.

The pen is a wonderful invention, the keyboard too; but the pens of today are not the pens or feathers or chisels which facilitated the delivery of words in the past. A pen, like the one in the picture, a Pilot pen I had borrowed (more like allowed myself to avail of) from my dad, is an engineered piece of work, but unlike its predecessors, this modern day instrument is not biodegradable. When buried, that is, if it makes it to the graveyard, i.e. landfill, intact, it will remain there for generations to come. What a legacy!

I already lost the cap which goes with the pen. “Always replace the cap after use,” the pen’s barcode label reminds me, an instruction which will not help bring back the cap. I lost the same cap once before, but found it when I was moving the furniture around to mop the floor. It helps that I am not going out much nowadays, so my environmental misdemeanor of losing a piece of plastic did not get a chance to develop into a crime. But the cap represents only part of the challenge. …


We cannot keep pretending everything is alright.

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The pen I borrowed from my dad.

The pen is a wonderful invention, the keyboard too; but the pens of today are not the pens or feathers or chisels which facilitated the delivery of words in the past. A pen, like the one in the picture, a Pilot pen I had borrowed (more like allowed myself to avail of) from my dad, is an engineered piece of work, but unlike its predecessors, this modern day instrument is not biodegradable. When buried, that is, if it makes it to the graveyard, i.e. landfill, intact, it will remain there for generations to come. …


A ruffling of some Gen Xer and Baby Boomer feathers.

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Photo by Kelly Sikkema

I was cynical when a self-deluding book salesperson proclaimed that millennials felt entitled and that we were struggling at work because our parents gave us medals for coming last. Maybe it is because I see Gen Xers and Baby Boomers parading their titles and suit jackets around, eager to be identified as experts, eager to speak on stage, and eager to strut their experience in number of years.

While generational markers provide a context into the circumstances we are born and grow into, they do not define who we are as individuals, so my intergenerational rant will stop here. I will, however, proceed to address the absurdity of what our society seems to tolerate: self-recognition-seeking-adults-by-name-and-age-only. …


I am upset and cannot get over the fact that I could not connect with 22 human beings because a virtual window would not open.

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Artwork by: Gerd Altmann

My hands were shaking and my body was sweating, yes, but not because I was nervous; I was helpless and loosing my cool. I tried everything, de-activated the pop-up blocker and successfully initiated the test session again but the launch button for the actual group session scheduled at 4:30pm was simply unresponsive. …


We are not animals, but we are not capitalizing on our humanity either.

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Photo by Ömer F. Arslan

Eid al-Adha holidays are upon us here in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and one of the prescribed observances for Muslims to commemorate this occasion, is the sacrifice of halal domestic animals to share among family, relatives, friends and the poor, for those who can afford it. For those working to address everyday environmental concerns, it is also an occasion to revisit matters like meat consumption and veganism.

I have stopped knowingly consuming meat for a while now (I say knowingly because one can never be sure if while eating out, something had been laced with meat or its derivatives). I cannot pinpoint as to when exactly I had stopped because I made a decision and worked over the past couple of years to abide by it. For a while, I had been eating fish, but I also gradually worked my way out of it. Do I crave any of it? No, nor do I feel inclined to buy any vegan product which will fool my tastebuds, eyes and nose into thinking that I am not “missing out” on something. Am I vegan? No, because occasionally I will relent to having a piece of cheese, despite having my doubts about whether or not the cows that bore the milk were treated humanely. …


And blue is how we feel.

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Picures of improperly disposed single use masks taken in two different locations in the UAE on 17 July 2020.

This is a brief post to highlight two key news pieces we have come across during our research on the environmental impact of improperly disposed single use masks and gloves. The first concerns man-made microfibers from disposable face masks found in the guts of sharks, and the second an analysis of how intact masks and gloves which find their way to river beds or the bottom of lakes can become fossilized in newly formed rocks.

We have raised our concern as an organization before the easing of the lockdown to the problem that could arise because of the widespread use of disposable masks and gloves, and were alarmed as the lockdown eased by the volume of free disposables available to the public in the name of safety, when physical distancing and washing our hands with soap and water should have taken more prominence. We tried our best to communicate the message that a dependence on masks is not the answer when other organizations chose not to object or remained silent. …


If you think I like to do this, think again.

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The link to the article is at the end of this post.
  1. The Middle East’s coronavirus, really?

The title gives the article more than its fair share of importance. The author who is writing from Dubai, begins by bringing attention to a global problem, then uses the quote “in some Gulf cities,” moving on swiftly to quote two “experts” from the UAE, and then to provide free (or paid, I don’t know) PR to the director of a company based in the UAE. She then quotes somebody from the US and another from the World Economic Forum. The pictures used include two taken in Beirut in 2018, another in KSA, one in Dubai and one in a city in India (?). …

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Safi Roshdy

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