Posted on 29/ 03/ 2016

I have never been more exhausted than I am at this moment, nor have I been this full of hope. Seeing you at the university today, the way you pushed the students to engage was simply inspiring. The fact is, we all have dreams that we’re trying to achieve. Big or small, groundbreaking or utterly ordinary, it’s these thoughts which keep us moving, and inspire us to get through the day. 

But in the process of looking forward, we must also face the realities which oppose us, neither avoiding nor ignoring the real obstacles obstructing our success.  So we grit our teeth, plant our feet, and prepare to confront whatever life provides. And is our strength tested. Every fiber of our being questions whether to continue, for wouldn’t it be easier to fall in line, and accept the world we’ve been given?

And that is the most dangerous misstep. No matter how overwhelmed, how defeated you may feel, losing sight of your dream commits you to a life of underpaid, unfulfilling boredom.  Even if the possibility seems distant, we must persevere and allow our dreams to be heard. For though life is uncertain and fear is inevitable, we can overcome any circumstance, as long as we have a reason.  And when you finally lift your head and look around, you will have learned far more than you could have dreamed. 

So today, I voice my dream for a better Jabalein, and I hope that others will stick with us until we make it a reality. It will take time and patience, but together we can build something remarkable. 

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Posted on 29/ 03/ 2016

How much of our lives do we live by choices that we’ve made? Many people hold expectations of what they deserve, what the world should supply, how society should work. They sit back and watch as others decide their future, then criticize the choices that they weren’t willing to make.

We may not all want the same things, or understand progress through the same lens. But to move our lives forward, to improve as a community, we must find the courage to make our own choices. We must defend what we believe, or stand up and voice our dissent.

Today you spoke of your own choices, of how difficult it is to meet other’s expectations. And while we should always consider outside judgments, we can ultimately only measure our success based on our own metric. 

You have made your choice to run for change. Now it is up to us to decide, whether to join your fight, or demand something different. And as those decisions weigh upon our conscience, we might stop and think before condemning who dares to finish what they’ve started. For even those who falter on their path have at least endeavored to try. Let us all seize that same bravery, and run with it. 

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Posted on 29/ 03/ 2016

It is difficult to know the impact of a new role. And as the country’s Youth Ambassador, I’m not sure what difference I can make. But I’m certain that making a commitment to something one believes, whether it works out or not, is the only way to bring about change. The inescapable fact about chance, or rather the paradox of it all, is that not taking chances doesn’t actually give us more control. On the contrary, taking the safe road, the road well traveled, keeps us from getting what we want, and what we truly deserve.

Of course there is always a chance of failure, of making a fool of yourself. And odds are, you might bite off more than you can chew, and put yourself and everything you have on the line. But if we don’t take risks, if we don’t push ourselves to do what we really want, we’ll stay exactly where we are.

And staying still? There’s no safety in that. So we do our best to take on new challenges, putting one foot in front of the other until we’ve actually walked somewhere. It may not be where we planned to go, or even where we imagined we could be. But the possibilities will set you free.

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Posted on 08/ 03/ 2016

صعب كتير علينا نكتشف انت في أي جانب، أو مع أي طرف...من ندعم، من نصدق، هناك نوايا، وهناك نظريات، وكذلك قيم بحاجة لإعادة ترتيب، والجميع في بحث عن موقع للامساك بالحقيقة. في مسائل ما بتيجي ضمن خيارين... يا أبيض يا أسود، إما صح أو خطأ، جيدة أوسيئة، على الرغم من انه نحنا بنفضلها تكون هيك. ان يكون الأمر بهذا الوضوح يشعرنا بالارتياح، لاننا نكون قادرين على التصريح بقوة وثقة: "هذه هي الحقيقة!" دون تحفظ. ولكن كما هو الحال مع أي شيء سهل، نقف أمام ضياع وخسارة أكثر من ما يمكننا أن نكسب. ونادرا ما نتمكن من التقاط الصورة الكاملة.

وفي حين تكون الأمور أكثر تعقيداً، وغير مرضية بالدرجة المطلوبة، يتوجب علينا أن نتقبل حياتنا التي نعيشها في الغالب بين معتقداتنا وثوابتنا الأخلاقية، وحيث نعيش في هذا الفضاء غير الواضح الفوارق التي تدفعنا للتعاطف بسيطة جدا. في الغالب يلقي اللون اللرمادي بظلاله المتعددة على جوانب كثيرة من حياتنا. وعلينا أن نختار لأنفسنا ظل له معنى يعبر عنا.

في الأمس اخترنا درجة ظل ليومنا تعبر عنا وفي الغد يتغير اختيارنا عن ما اخترناه في الأمس، ودرجة الظل الذي يعبر عنا في يومنا الجديد ستكون مختلفة. لكن في نهاية المطاف، يمكن يكون من الأفضل إلنا أن نحافظ على وجودنا في نطاق اللون الرمادي رغم إرباكه لأنه يعطينا الحرية في أن نكون بين البينين في كل شيء.

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Posted on 08/ 03/ 2016

We live in a society that works hard to keep its secrets buried. We hide from the shame, petrified that our disgrace may come to light.  But today you took a stand, and exposed the secrets long overlooked by society. For too long we have sat in silence, our inaction declaring our tacit approval. But you condemned what we should have acknowledged, and answered for all those too terrified to share their story.

So we walk free, and can find peace knowing that our shame, the shame of our indifference, has finally reached the air. And for as hard as it may be, as absolutely terrifying as it may seem, you might just find that a lot of people are waiting to support you, should you finally choose to let go. 

Some may have secrets so deadly that they will be forever haunted, while others have the power to impose their wrongdoings on those around them. But I can only hope that we learn to cut these secrets at the roots, and begin, as a society, to forgive.  Because in spite of all of the darkness, I still believe that life is filled with light.

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Posted on 08/ 03/ 2016

Every day you make decisions on other people’s behalf. You wake up, go to work, and have to decide what will be good for every individual in this country. So perhaps it seems obvious to say that decisions are hard, especially when the decision in question can change your life’s course. You can almost see it, the two paths stretching out in front of you. But no matter how long you stare, their ultimate destination remains unknown.

So you fret and weigh, analyze and measure, until all that is left is a list of factors, leading you no closer to an actual answer. Perhaps then the question to ask is not what decision to make, as if there is a right and wrong answer, but rather, how do you choose what is truly important, what you can’t live without?  Do you value safety and consistency, preferring the dependable calm of a known future? Or do you want to change your path, and live without wondering if you could ever really succeed? 

And after all that reflection, you might find that the answer, the wisdom that you so desperately sought, was with you all along. So in the battle of head over heart, of what is reasonable over what is exciting, I choose to feel, and hope that my instincts add up to more than a cut and dry calculation. 

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Posted on 08/ 03/ 2016

It is hard to determine which side to take; who to support, who to believe. There are intentions, theories, and values to sort through, all in search of a position to hold true. Of course society has provided categories to simplify our judgment-black or white, right or wrong, good or bad. And it feels good to have that clarity, to be able to solidly state “this is right!” without reservation. But as with anything easy, you stand to miss more than you gain, and rarely capture the whole picture.

So while it’s more complicated, less satisfying even, we must accept that life falls mostly between moral certainties, in that unclear space where nuance and empathy also reside. And within those shades of grey, we can define our own reality, choosing the color which best expresses the uniqueness of our experience. 

You may not select the shade fit for the day before, nor the tint describing the day after. But we must continue to dance this tango, for it is only in this undefined that we find the freedom to be ourselves, and anything in between. 

 

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Posted on 08/ 03/ 2016

Tonight I would like to apologize to you, Dr. Fadi, and to the readers of my blog. I started writing to you all because I wanted to open a conversation, to talk about the real obstacles we face every day. But today, my inaccurate accusations only added to the noise, and distracted from a discussion that we deeply needed to have.  

Time after time we have witnessed the same story, the same corrupt, favor filled deal that wastes our money and time.  But in a rush to stand for truth, I didn’t research my story, and instead disrespected a talented scientist and his hard earned accomplishments.

 The thing is, we can’t help but see the world through our own experiences. It is what we know, and what we have learned. But we equally cannot allow our experiences to dominate our understanding, and force meaning upon actions where it simply doesn’t exist. For assuming everything is negative, no matter how right it feels, brings us no closer to the truth. And we stand to lose the diversity of experience that makes life interesting.

I let all of you down when I spoke from my mistrust. I can only hope that you allow me to prove what I stand for.

 

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Posted on 09/ 02/ 2016

Tonight I address you as one person to another, as witnesses of our fellow man’s hardship and suffering.

It’s easy to sit back and criticize, to judge from our isolation or else ignore what we cannot personally experience. We can’t imagine what others feel, the anger of a lost home, the fear of abject poverty. Those are other people’s problems, and don’t we have our own issues to deal with? So we search for excuses, ways to justify our own lack of action. After all, it can’t be that bad, can it?

But today my eyes were opened, and I had honor of listening to families as they shared their stories. For all the difficulties in my life, I am humbled to understand a mother’s loss, a child’s tears of pure despair.  There are a lot of reasons why we don’t stop and help. But if you take the time to listen, not one of them feels valid.   

Each of us knows who we are at heart, and I’m not here to tell you what you should or should not do.  So the challenge is to honor what we believe in, and commit ourselves to seeing it through.  And should there come a time when you are in trouble, you have to hope that someone will choose to see you, and promise to help. 

You don’t always get it right Madam President, but you keep your eyes open. And that’s more than most can say.

 

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Posted on 02/ 02/ 2016

Everyone needs to feel safe. It’s a fundamental right, and what allows us to live and plan for the future. It might be a reminder that someone cares, or when we finally secure our bread for the day. But today at the border, we came to understand just how precious that right is, and what it means to live without it.

As a leader, protecting people’s freedom is the greatest and most daunting accomplishment. And though it has been set aside by many, I’m proud to say that you returned to your roots, and ensured that everyone was safe and settled before considering the political consequences. 

We know that water shortages are possible, and solutions remain unclear. But I for one support someone who puts families first, and prioritizes all citizens’ welfare before her own reputation. Thank you, Madam President, for the refreshing change of perspective.

 

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Posted on 25/ 01/ 2016

It has been a long and difficult evening, so I will keep this short. Thank you for being with the people who needed you most, and thank you for taking responsibility when no one else would.

We live in an imperfect world. Mistakes are made, resources are wasted. But a life was lost tonight, and that is something we cannot change, no matter who claims the fault. So we pray tonight for Lama Badawi’s happiness, for she lost the love of her life, and the light in her future.  But your speech made me realize that no matter your world, we all know pain. We lose, we love, we regret, and we mourn, and in the end, that’s what makes us one.

We cannot rewrite history, no. But we can vow as a people to work harder, and ensure that we protect every human life, regardless of their class. On a dark night like tonight, it’s all we can hope for.

 

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Posted on 23/ 01/ 2016

It has been a long and difficult evening, so I will keep this short. Thank you for being with the people who needed you most, and thank you for taking responsibility when no one else would.

We live in an imperfect world. Mistakes are made, resources are wasted. But a life was lost tonight, and that is something we cannot change, no matter who claims the fault. So we pray tonight for Lama Badawi’s happiness, for she lost the love of her life, and the light in her future.  But your speech made me realize that no matter your world, we all know pain. We lose, we love, we regret, and we mourn, and in the end, that’s what makes us one.

We cannot rewrite history, no. But we can vow as a people to work harder, and ensure that we protect every human life, regardless of their class. On a dark night like tonight, it’s all we can hope for.

 

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Posted on 20/ 01/ 2016

We heard today that the presidential compound was under threat. It could have been chemical, biological, no one knows. But the truth is, it was a hoax, and the only real threat was a government unconcerned with its people.  All the time spent reacting to fear, chasing an illusion, could have been focused on the problems that your citizens face each and every day. For there will always be a distant hazard. History nearly guarantees it. But the danger lies in distracting ourselves with the possibilities, in gossiping about scandal instead of confronting our objective shortcomings.

Today we were fortunate because limited resources were wasted, and limited  attention was paid. But what would happen if the illusion pushed us to the streets? If one day, it wasn’t an illusion at all? These are questions we ask one another, but without a means to be heard, our words will continue to fall on deaf ears.

So I am asking you now: What next?

 

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Posted on 11/ 01/ 2016

A decision has been made and gone. You chose to support General Najem, and the deal is inked in history. But the work is far from over.  Yes, you selected a course of action, and yes, it’s the path we must follow. But you are left now with the far trickier business of rationalizing your decision, of finding the reasons to ease your conscience.

For though we outsiders will criticize and judge, decisions reflect our own negotiations, and the deals we make with ourselves.

The problem is, we often mistake our choice for the only choice, and become convinced that only we are justified.  But with money and power still in play, no one knows what morals we will compromise.

So when you welcomed the General, a man known to violate human rights, you made a decision. Whatever your intentions, whatever your strategy, I hope your justifications are ready, for come election day, we will hold you accountable. After all, there is never only one option.    

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Posted on 03/ 01/ 2016
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Posted on 03/ 01/ 2016

Hope: the feeling that life will get better. It’s a simple notion, uncomplicated by political theories or differences of opinion. But its presence or absence marks night and day, and draws the line between light and dark.  There is a point to move towards, something better on the other side.

Yesterday, when you promised cuts to government perks, it was a nearly unprecedented cause for optimism. Never did we dream of a politician campaigning against their own interests. And though things too good to be true usually are, for the first time we felt the real possibility of change. We began to believe.

If it were another corruption scandal, another embezzled investment, we would have sighed, resigned to the status quo; a disappointing government is hardly new. But hope? Trust? That we’re unaccustomed to.

Raising our expectations is fine and good Madam President. But when there is further to fall, the slap of reality hurts infinitely more.  A fragile heart can only handle so much.

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Posted on 30/ 06/ 2015

We haven’t formally met before, but on behalf of Jabalein, I would like to welcome you to our humble theatre of politics.  For as long as I can remember, government has been a spectacle to witness. No matter the story, no matter the promise, we sit in audience and listen, never once interrupting the carefully scripted performance. 

But what would happen if we pulled back the curtain? If someone stood up, raised their voice and spoke back?

So I write you this letter Madam President, direct from the soul of the country. Consider it the other side of a conversation: an answer to your question, a consequence to your action. And we start from day one.

The country has never been lead by a woman, so everyone has a blank slate. But don’t think the novelty of your election will make us less critical. On the contrary, we will hold you to a higher standard. Why?  Because you know better. As Minister of Development, you learned about citizen’s everyday lives. As a trained economist, you studied the forces behind our current crisis. And as a mother of two, you know firsthand what the next generation faces.

We think you can do this. We think you can make a difference. But do not take us for granted, because we are watching. And when we don’t agree, we will certainly let you know.  Have a good first night, Madam President. 

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Posted on 20/ 03/ 2012

 

 

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Posted on 12/ 04/ 2012

A battered figure limps alogn the foad, a shadow of a woman with an event darker past. Who this woman is, and what shem means to the president, only Rafiq knows. Samer has been asked to monitor the throny inverrtigation as it winds coser to the Foreign Minister to be, Tareq Saqr. A former ambassador and favorite of Bassames's, Tareq has friends in the high places, friends who could tamper with the Minstry of Jstice probe or worse, Noursa's reputation. But the ambassador isn't the oly one running from thsi skeletons. Rafiq receives a package loaded with the quilt of past loyalities, while Maya is haunted by childhood memories back from the grave. with the buredn of sahme too heavy to bear, both turn to their loved ones, throug the actual love is a little harder to come by. Noura manges to shame Tareq into resignation, but sevetes lie ust below the surface. And as Maya knows only too well, secrets will follow you anywhere.

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