OT – Global Millennial Network

I’ve been told I’m a millennial (well yes, I did “reach young adulthood in the early 21st century”, I can confirm that).

I’ve also been told that we millennials are innovative but not interested in policy (may be mostly true) and that on the contrary governments are, surprise surprise, interested in policy but not as innovative as it would be auspicable for them to be (fact!).

Well now a good friend of mine has set up a startup, Global Millennial Network, that aims to tackle both problems through a team of talented young professionals from all over the world. I believe in their potential, which is why I am taking this moment to encourage you to learn a bit about them.

Let’s show the world that we ‘generation Y’ are not as useless as we seem, shall we? 😉



p.s. sorry, guys – still haven’t gotten into my new routine and even got sick, so my usual posts will have to wait a little longer before I resurface! I’m doing everything I can and miss Arabic, calligraphy, etc so I’ll definitely be back sooner or later!!!

Sporty, Middle-Eastern, women

I’ve never been a big fan of Nike. But yesterday I saw their new ad and I have to admit I just loved it. Sure, they are good at what they do and I shouldn’t be surprised about that – but at the same time this is actually something that could lose them some customers, and that certainly sparked some debate. You’ll understand as you watch.

The phenomenon has, of course, been talked about. Some articles keep it pretty short and neutral (this CNN one for example); some go a little more into detail as per what people’s comments have been on the issue (Huffington Post); TheDrum has the merit of mentioning the full names of a few of the incredible spostswomen featured in the ad; AlArabiyaAlArabiya adds some info to the current Saudi context on the matter;  and an official article on the Nike website gives insight on each of the sportswomen’s lives. Overall, my first Google research on this only produced positive results, with titles that focused on the ‘baldness‘ of this move and on its character of celebration, inclusion and empowerment.

And do you know what the great news is? Even my second Google research, criticism on new Nike ad, gave me some pretty excellent responses. The only negative ones referred to another Nike ad from last summer, with babies, which apparently backfired. As for the rest, keywords include

#millennials #powerful #challenge #stereotypes #daring #statement #success #culturalexpectations #pioneering #overcome #viral #overwhelminglysupportive #controversy #smashstereotypes #defy #trumphate

Real criticism only amounted, article after articles, to two comments made by random internet users- nothing terrible, either, one being clearly a personal opinion and the other a matter-of-fact statement that “this is not how things really are“. Yeah they sure aren’t for all women in the whole Middle East, and that alone, in my opinion, is exactly what makes this ad truly great; because who better than the media can inspire change by portraying what normal people cannot see or even dare to imagine in their daily lives?

Lyse Doucet

Quick one (I unfortunately will have less and less free time from now on, honestly don’t know how I’ll keep up with Arabic and this blog since I’m struggling already)-

I randomly found a new source of MiddleEast-related news with opinions that I think seems interesting and trustworthy, so I wanted to share this.

The ‘source’ is also a fairly inspirational person, from what I’ve been able to learn so far: her name is Lyse Doucet and she’s the chief international correspondent for the BBC, and quite an experienced one it would seem! She’s British-Canadian and she looks like this:

Image result for lyse doucet

Image result for lyse doucet

Her most recent articles (I’m looking at this page here) are titled

  • Is Saudi Arabia on the cusp of change?
  • Syria peace talks: armed groups come in from the cold
  • Aleppo siege: “We are crying and afraid”
  • Can dealmaker Trump seal Middle East peace?
  • Why is Russia engaged in Aleppo?
  • New UN chief Antonio Guterres will listen to the world
  • New Canadians‘ settle in as refugee acceptances slow
  • Two men from Baghdad – the artist and the entrepreneur
  • […]

In principle, I’d now like to read ALL of them. In practice, she seems to publish something new about once or twice a month, which is great because it means I should be able to read her pieces regularly from now on. In any case, thank you Lyse 🙂

Kubra Dagli

It’s been quite a while since I last posted on people I personally find very inspirational who come from and operate in Middle Eastern countries. Now, Turkey can be argued not to be exactly part of the Middle East, but whateverrrr 😛 Go Kubra!

p.s. yes, so far all my inspirational people have been women. But it just happened to be so!! It isn’t my fault if I stumble upon way more inspirational female stories than else…

Eid al Shukr

Eid al Shukr

Thanksgiving: historically controversial all you want, but such a great word and concept.
I am personally very grateful for quite a variety of reasons, one of which is definitely (I’ve said it before) how absolutely fantastic my Arabic teachers are. Today my classmates and I decided to give them a little surprise party consisting of lots of sneaking around to get it right, last-minute replacement photo frames and signatures written with the wrong kind of pen and… they loved it, we loved it, and we all basked in that delightful explosion of love for no less than half  an hour after official classtime!! It was truly WOHOOO ❤ ❤ ❤

Plus, I really enjoyed baking again after such a long time.

So my point is: giving thanks is important and beautiful, and I hope this particular Thanksgiving here will stick to my memory so that, together with all other things, it may help me not to give Arabic up after the end of this course, however much effort that may involve.

Special thanks to all my classmates and, once more, to our teachers Sarah and Muna :* + video credits to “Yasmine Boston”!

Hijabistas: essential readings for burkini haters

Little sociocultural parenthesis.

You know how it was all about burkini bans and related controversies this past summer. Now, sure- burkas and hijabs are different things, but I think non-informed non-Muslims such as the majority of Europeans (just to make an example) need to start this conversation somewhere, to break the ice and maybe at least understand how much they don’t know about the topic. And it’s alright not to know, we can’t all know everything about everything – but I believe it’s really important not to judge what we don’t know.

Let me quiz you first: what’s the difference between a hijab and a niqab? Do all Muslim women cover their hair? Are they happy to do it? What is the purpose of a headscarf? What’s a chador and what’s a burka? Is there any parallel with Christian nuns and their veil? […]

If you’re not sure about some of the answers, I encourage you to go do some research, just like I did when, by looking around me and talking to people, I realised I was a little confused. And then, if you’re interested in fashion and ready to be inspired, I recommend reading these two articles:

(1) Sweden’s hijabista: selling Muslim fashion is an Al-Jazeera article from last year about Swedish fashion designer Iman Aldebe and her modest fashion revolution, where “modest” isn’t the opposite of “ambitious” but rather a lifestyle choice that I truly respect and admire and feel increasingly drawn to, at least ideologically.

I use fashion as a tool to eliminate prejudices against Muslims … I want to challenge the image of the oppressed Muslim woman in the West who voluntarily isolates herself from society. … I tried to make a difference in society by coming up with solutions instead of letting society dictate what you can and can’t do.

(2) Hijabistas: young Muslim women meld fashion and faith is a super recent CNN Style piece which explores the fashion choices of three head-scarfed social media stars through the eyes of a photographer. Don’t ask me why everybody is Swedish here too – I guess Sweden is more progressive than other places!

They really combine their faith and culture with Muslim values in a very organic way, which feels important to show these days where the image of Islam is very dark and people are very afraid of Muslims,” Berge said.

This is the tip of the iceberg, yes. It is certainly also the tip of many more things I’ll want to say on the topic in the future, as I gather more first-hand experience. But isn’t it from the tip that you get to the bottom of underwater things? 😉