Qahwa Saada is a Jordanian blog that discusses daily issues facing an average Middle Easterner on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from politics and economics to leisure and comedy.


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Coffee is more than merely a drink; in Jordan it is surrounded with custom and treated with reverence. It is not only a symbol of hospitality and trust, it is a traditional sign of respect and a way to bring people together. Black, cardomom flavored Arabic coffee, also known as "Qahwa Saada", is deeply ingrained in the Jordanian culture.

Usually having a bitter taste, beautiful aroma, and served in small portions into handle-less cups. It is closely associated with the Dallah - an iconic coffee pot of Arab culture. Serving coffee to guests is a large part of the culture's warm hospitality. (source)

Please feel free to contribute your feedback to ysmousa@yahoo.com

Thursday, December 31, 2015

On emigration: I love my country, but...

Jordan. Al Ordon. So much comes to mind at the mere mention of the word. The good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful. I love it, and yet hatred has been filling my heart as of late. Our relationship has had its hurdles in the past, and this might as well be yet another. This post, dear readers, is another attempt at jotting down those thoughts that have been a persistent nuisance. Perhaps the act will relieve this mounting frustration of mine.

Growing up, I now realize that my thoughts had always been selectively in favor of the nation (or two) that bore witness to my early years. Ignorance was bliss. The world seemed so merry, blessed, and at peace. Now, maybe not so much. Now, my days are lined with selective avoidance of gloomy news that keeps making headlines. Death. War. Religion. Political, economic, and social woes. The list goes on. Maybe the days have had me grow a greater affinity for such happenings. Maybe I ought to give more importance to all the good (if any) happening. Maybe, just maybe.

It does seem that the more we are exposed to, the more our expectations are bound to rise. Indeed, the key to happiness, as noted by many philosophers, is to lower expectations. Expect the worst, hope for the best, they say. But I wonder, how am I to do so after seeing what the rest of the world has accomplished? How am I to restrain from being selfish? The selfishness that makes me want the same for the country that gave me my first years? Is it wrong I wonder? To have the same expectations for us, as I do for the peoples of the "developed" world.

One day, I would love to wake up to the realization that many, if not all, of these expectations have been actualized. That the people of this country, in additional to their advertised hospitality, have grown a maturity that no longer judges based on ancestral past. A maturity that has put aside differences, and now collaborates to achieve the greater good of the nation. A nation where religious texts do not dominate school books in every field, whether scientific or otherwise. Where a civil court has now assumed the full responsibility of providing equal rights to the people of the nation, regardless of gender, religion or origins.

On this same day, I would step out onto a balcony and admire a view complete with lush greenery, solar panels, and pedestrians occupying vast sidewalks. Sidewalks complete with pedestrian streetlights, street vendors, and a bicycle lane unobscured by motor vehicles. Travelling by public (bus rapid) transport is now the norm among the country's cities. I would indulge in the fact that Jordan is now almost energy independent, and take pride that we have made use of our renewable sources to their fullest. Our status as a water poor nation has been reversed, due to policies highly regulating water consumption, and requiring the construction of private water wells by every household with government subsidies provided. These policies were put in place by our now-esteemed and well-regarded parliament.

The newspaper, or e-paper, is now dominated by reports of peace, collaboration among the nations, scientific achievements, and advancements in healthcare and higher education. Jordan has been contributing actively to global research and publishes a record number of peer-reviewed papers each year. Freedom of speech and a lack of self censorship is now evident by the numerous articles delivering constructive criticism to policy makers, who now hold open-access weekly press conferences, at the plentiful public libraries dotting the governorates, to highlight their achievements as well as areas of weakness. These libraries have expanded rapidly in the past few years as a result of the nation's high literacy rate being converted into bibliophilia, the love of books that has been enforced among our population through public and private schools alike, as well as the emphasis on extracurricular reading in both higher education and the workplace.

Issue is, dear readers, I love my country, I do, but this reality is too far from the truth. The reality today is that the above does not exist and is a mere figment of my imagination. You may call me a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. (Thank you Lennon) These frustrations have been expressed by many. I love my country, but I am selfish. I want more, at a faster rate. I love my country, but it can do more. Much more. I love my country, but it cannot provide what I strive to achieve. I love my country, but it puts too many obstacles in the way. I love my country, but maybe the increasingly tempting thought of emigration is inevitable. I love my country, but...




Monday, December 21, 2015

Dear Future Me

Dearest Me,

You've been feeling sentimental for a few days now, it has been consuming an undeserved amount of our time and this has been irritating us in a seemingly crescendo fashion. I say "seemingly", because this state of mind has not been a chronic ongoing nuisance, but rather an occasional thorn in our side - much like this cholinergic urticaria I assume I have - or that sporadic blues that is bound to subside. This state is not a constant, but its outlines probably will be for a while. Allow me to put your current state of mind into perspective for you.

The last post on this blog was three years ago, and a heap of events have shaped who you are since then. It is likely useless to be stating the obvious to you, but regardless, I will do so because I feel this may lighten the burden of these idle thoughts. Who you are today, and who you will be in another three years time, are presumably also very different characters. Medical school? Well, you made it. Yes, you are done. A few glitches on the road, and then that was that. The ending was far from glorious, rather the opposite. What awaited at the end was a diverging set of tunnels, bridges, and winding alleys. The challenge goes on, ever-more daring. Residency? Research? Priorities? The list has only been lengthening with time.

You have learned that holding grudges against past ill-witted adversaries serves only to agitate your well-being. Those thoughts are best left aside. As are those obsessions about the future that you so mindlessly cherish. Whatever will be will be - admittedly directly in proportion to the effort put in, and absence of "mindless drone" behavior - or autopilot if you will. The future tends to unfold, sooner than you or I can comprehend. No, time will never revert. Time machines are yet to be invented, if ever, so do make the most of what you have. Our days though, they tend to be much more forgiving. Yes, try and try again you will. Fail, you bet. Shit is bound to hit the fan. But what distinguishes you or I will always be the ability to wear failure as a badge of honor. Keep moving forward. Pretty please.

Also, feel free to take a moment to admire what you have accomplished. Indulgence in self-importance is a no no, though. Yes, I am playing the role of Captain Obvious. No, you are not the center of the universe. Take another moment to look around and be thankful. Thankful for the circumstances that have you and I where we are, for the people that held our hand along the way, and for those who parked their bulldozers along your path. A two-second outburst of profanity will suffice for that last one.  Every experience is, I believe, a fruitful one, be it sweet or rotten. However unappetizing it may seem, do make the most of it.

Circumstances are not perfect, and in all probability will never be. Indeed, perhaps perfection is a major fault in the way we comprehend and assess matters - directly linked to our Type A high expectations - demanding a flawless version of ourselves that leads to an inevitable implosion. Sometimes that reality does sink in, and makes us wonder about the meaning of it all, whether there is an ultimate purpose or not. The only reality I see today is that of imperfection, and my, how beautiful the unsound nature of that truth can be. For with the perfect romanticized model of reality that you and I are tempted into worshiping, how are we to appreciate what makes this truth unique, full of color and splendid variety. For this same reason, I have come to believe that moving past acceptance and tolerance, and embracing the colorful spectrum of peoples' individual attributes, is the only way forward for us.

Well, me. I have begun questioning my sanity with this piece of blabber, so I will stop with these philosophical thoughts and end this cheesiness. I will be moving on to the practical part of my day by tackling the subjects we've set aside to study, and interacting with those people that are a part of your present day. I do hope that the actions of our present will leave you a step closer to the ├╝ber-us we aspire to become in the future. I trust that you have most of your stuff in order.

Love,

You

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Yazanian Adventures in Rum

The Malnayaba tribe's fortress in the middle of the Wadi Rum desert, Jordan.
They were perilous times; wars, revolutions and uprisings invading the lands, with a heightened sense of alarm spreading among mankind near and far. Saturday evening, a tribe of four youthful fellows: Blondie, Willa, Asia and Moi, decided they would rather be spending their Adha hours on the magical sands of distant Wadi Rum, far far from havoc and troubled minds.

The decision was made; Sunday evening, after Sir Willa had a rather heated quarrel with Jett Horses, the folks found themselves on a one way trip to Aqaba in the south of the Kingdom named Jordan. Six hours, two feasts, and a stroll on the windy beach later, the tribe was headed towards Madame Blondie's castle, which she had kindly allowed them to stay at for a few nights under her generous hospitality.

Understandably, Asia found itself in a different time zone, and come sleep time, it decided to entertain itself until drowsiness claimed its consciousness. Drowsiness never came, and Asia found itself pacing the grounds of Blondie's residence until the early hours of the following morning.

After the tribe's fortress was erected on a rocky peak in the vastness of the deserty Rum setting, a lengthy bathe in the rejuvenative dunes of pure red sand, and a curious observation of smily camels in the hour-long act of micturition, the star they call the Sun fell out of the sky, taking with it all its shining glory. An icy wind forced itself upon the tribe, and soon the tribe were in a shivery struggle to maintain whatever heat they had left in their smelly bodies.

A giant ant invasion was thwarted, and the tribe started a magnificent fire as a show of their glorious victory, but it was not to be, and an incoming attack of rabid dogs found Moi being injected with salivary canines into his arse. Moi never made it to see what happened next, but legend has it that the tribe of Malnayaba never survived the incident either. People will live to tell the tale.

Rum, rum, rum your goat,
Gently down the dune.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Oh, just look at that moon.

P.S. Yes, it's a silly post. I thank you, mortal being.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Pursuing Medicine: Social Influence and Implications

Disclaimer: This post has been re-blogged from the IFMSA-JO JUST LC blog where it was first published on July 15th, 2012.
International Federation of Medical Students' Associations, Jordan - Jordan University of Science and Technology Local Committee.
As a start to this post, I would like to give you, my dear readers and fellow IFMSAns, a very brief insight into my academic history.

I was never the brightest of students, nor was I ever that perfectly disciplined pupil or straight A student, except for a few primary years some might say. It so happened, that through tenth grade, something in me decided it would be worth making that leap of faith. Then and there, in hopes of raising my prospects for university admission, the decision was made; and I made it my intention to exert a greater effort into academics. I did well, unexpectedly well actually, and here I am - five years later - your average medical student about to begin his fourth year of study in the clinics.

Mind you oh wise readers, do not be fooled. Time - the unalterable, unfaltering nuisance that it is - changes but the tiniest fragments of this vast universe we call home. Through childhood, not once had I contemplated the thought of becoming a doctor. I was convinced wholeheartedly, that the future would have me become a world renowned architect, designing modern skyscrapers for the most magnificent cities around the globe. Childhood dreams a few might call it, eh?

Some of you, my good fellows, have had the medical dream for as far back as they can remember. I find that respectably fascinating. However, I fool you not my friends; not even upon graduation from school did the thought of a medical career sound intriguing. After registering myself into a Mechanical Engineering degree at the University of Jordan, and convincing my inner being that I was to become the innovative mechanic of the future, fate has it that a twisted change of events occurred.

None other than our Jordan University of Science and Technology called home, offering me a spot as a medical student. There I was, seated under grandmother's lemon tree, with mom yelling from our apartment downstairs that I had been accepted into medicine.

Unbelievable as this may sound to an audience of medical students, the decision was never an easy one. There are the days where I tell myself that the decision was as haphazard as flipping a coin; some might call it luck or faith, and still some might attribute the happenings to a higher being. But even with that said, I am well assured, that had it not been for the cultural and societal outlooks on medical education and physicians, I would have not end up where I am today.

Life so has it that people around this world are segregated from one another by numerous cultures, multiple societal values, and those plenty customs and habits; be they good or bad. Our Middle Eastern values today, have almost nothing in common with those of their Western or Eastern counterparts, albeit globalization is playing its large part in bringing about a universal culture worldwide.

Do excuse me, good people, for there are times when my head finds itself running about in circles, subjects are so thoroughly intertwined with one another it becomes quite the deed focusing on a particular topic. My current days studying psychiatry have seen me diagnose myself with a rather large portion of mental illnesses. A few will be tempted to call it 'medical student syndrome' and others may refuse to do so. But that is another subject to be discussed on its own.

Subject at hand, my dears. Society does have its ultimate role in every decision that flows through your head, be it rational or not. It is widely believed, in our beloved Jordan and Middle East at large, that those students who are high achievers at school deserve to enter nothing but medicine or engineering. Prestige, social class, financial income, job availability, and societal approval are words and concepts that come to mind when dealing with such a matter.

Kind readers, I believe that there are quite the share of questions that must be posed on the topic of admission into medical school. I have no doubt that you are aware of the four year premed system that is valid in the United States, or the fact that the majority of renowned institutions of higher education across the globe require their applicants to interview for medical spots. I will refrain myself from pointing out the other rigorous requirements medical school applicants undergo abroad.

I think I am safe to say that the admissions system does need a significant overhaul, albeit some would philosophize that they are against the notion. How many of us would have passed through an interview, a psychometric or a medical-knowledge evaluation exam? The thought is indeed quite the fright. And yet people are adamant in convincing you that quality still prevails over quantity, that the country still respects the rule of law and fair criterion selection - my sincere boo to that.

Fellow IFMSAns, I must thoroughly thank you for taking the time to read this blabber of thought. It isn't too objective but I suppose it'll do for a first timer on our new blog. No?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Kindle 4 Non-Touch Review

As you might have heard (or not), I recently purchased a Kindle 4 Non-Touch (NT) ebook reader from Amazon. And having finally finished my exams, I would like to take the time to point out the goods and the bads of this model in contrast to the Kindle Touch and Kindle DX for you prospective buyers.

Thus far I have only read two books on the device, being "Another Day in the Frontal Lobe" by Katrina Firlik and "Our Last Best Chance" by King Abdullah. I am currently reading "Physics of the Future" by Michio Kaku and will be starting the long awaited "Lost Symbol" by Dan Brown. Suffice it to say, the Kindle reading experience is quite amazing.

Amazon regrettably does not ship its Kindles internationally, so a cousin in the States agreed to have it ordered to him first and then brought it along to Amman. They arrived safe and sound a few days after Christmas - the perfect timing. A friend I know had not such a comfortable experience ordering to the country. Although Aramex played its part well, the Jordanian customs services did not- they charged him an extra 30JDs.

I'll start with the price. At $79, the Kindle NT is the only basic, full-fledged ebook reader currently available at such a cost. Kindle Touch and DX cost $99 and $379 respectively - quite a jump for the DX that is. If what you're looking for is a basic ebook reading gadget for novels, literature and solely text-based books, I would totally recommend the Kindle NT.

PDF reading however, isn't much of a joy on either the NT or the Touch. The zoom in option is a pain to work with, and white margins take a good amount of space leaving the text too small for an enjoyable read. An option for increasing font size with PDF books is unavailable. Technical or medical PDF books would be better read on a Kindle DX owing to its larger screen, which better accommodates graphics and multiple columns.

There are two pluses I would like to mention though. I have found great success in converting powerpoint presentations into PDF and then viewing them on the Kindle in landscape mode. External software can be used to convert PDF into Kindle-friendly formats, such as .azw or .mobi. Or they can be used to modify the PDF files themselves by cropping the unnecessarily white margins occupying the screen. I would totally recommend Calibre for your ebook managing and editing needs.

The Touch is slightly wider, thicker and taller than its NT counterpart, and its weight exceeds the NT by 43 grams. It also features a headphone jack (mp3 compatibility), and 4GB (3000 books) of storage as opposed to 2GB (1400 books) in the Kindle NT. The touch technology can be a nuisance if you prefer using a utensil or finger to track your reading, as it will inadvertently lead to a change of page or screen. Also worth the mention is that the refresh rate is quite a bit faster with the Non-Touch.

To put it in short, if you're an avid touch technology fan who will be reading more than 1000 books simultaneously (chapeau!), with a preference of listening to mp3s or robotically read text, then the Kindle Touch is the gadget for you.

As a final note, I recently stumbled upon Duokan, an alternative Kindle operating system (OS) which offers increased PDF compatibility, epub, jpg support, as well as others. There may be a risk of losing your warranty though, and the OS is still in its developing stages for the Kindle 4, but is working perfectly for Kindle 3 models. It may be worth looking into.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Guantanamera

Street art by David Walker. Check out Street Art Utopia for more awesome photos of street art, graffiti and urban art.
Looking back at my previous posts, a whole lot of them begin with my expression of regret over not updating this blog so often. Five posts were written since January last year, shame shame.

New Year's eve was spent in Irbid studying for my Endocrine exam, so was most of the past year really. I've grown rather accustomed to this lifestyle, to the degree that going back to Amman on weekends has become something of a burden for me, as well as spending excess time with the family. It isn't that I'm holding anything against them, it's just that I've become quite fond of the space and peace of mind that come with living alone.

Medical school has been as demanding as ever, and I can hardly say that I'm spending all of my time studying. Grades are barely mediocre in comparison to the rest of the class, and if trends don't change soon, I can't see myself being accepted into any noteworthy let alone competitive residency program. Word on the street is that fourth year may turn out to be somewhat of a better experience being clinically based and all - haven't lost hope yet.

The idea of residency has honestly got me in a state of panic and anxiety, and a quick look at the few medical relatives I have only furthers the troubled thoughts. Two are interviewing for slots in the US, one aiming for general surgery and the other for internal medicine. Both have top notch USMLE scores. The third is currently doing his final year of ophthalmology residency with the Royal Jordanian medical services. All three barely see the light of day. The exponential incline in competitiveness of American programs is also a thought that has me worried. More and more graduates have been considering Germany for specialty programs after their internships in Jordan. Who knows, maybe I'll go for that when my time comes.

The year 2011 was pretty successful - in terms of Arab revolutions that is. Myself, I would say that this year was nothing but a complete failure, achievements were close to nil on all levels. Neither did I live up to last year's resolutions nor did I do anything else worth the mention. What has been happening is quite the contrary; social life and events are getting ever so dull, volunteer work is negligible and I'm barely doing any proper exercise besides walking nowadays. My plans to get back to violin last year have only been postponed over and over again.

On the not-so-negative side of things, I recently ordered myself a Kindle 4 e-book reader from Amazon. It arrived with a cousin on Christmas day, so I can't really complain about the timing. I was pretty lucky, Amazon regrettably does not ship it's Kindles internationally - very grateful things worked out as well as they did. I'll be writing a review once I'm done with exams on Thursday, but all in all it's a pretty awesome gadget. Supposedly it'll be snowing in Amman then, arriving from Irbid to the white capital is something I'll definitely be looking forward to.

Anyhow, avoiding the negativity and self-destrucive bouts of depression is a must for me. Perhaps I should make use of and take pride in the compliments I'm getting - about how spotlessly clean my bathroom and toilet are - to lift up my sense of self worth. Yes, fantastic.

Monday, January 2, 2012

TedxDeadSea: The ReformJO We Need

Disclaimer: This post has been re-blogged from the TEDxDeadSea blog where it was first published on April 20th 2011.


It has been over two months now since the wave of Arab Revolt, as I would like to call it, hit our Jordan. Since demonstrations began invading front pages on our newspapers, making themselves a main focus of our daily talks and thoughts, and since the ReformJO hashtag made its way to the frontline of Tweets from JO tweeples. How far have we come as a result? Have we been wise critics? Or have we assumed affiliations and ideologies based on rumors and hearsay?

On an unplanned visit to the Civil Society Development Center at university today, I was struck by the realization that I had formed a deeply flawed opinion of the Jordanian constitution and all that relates to it, that the factual information and history that I know of my country exclude details of primary significance. I am also saddened to say that even though my late grandfather, Suleiman Mousa, wrote a comprehensive and detailed history of Greater Syria and the Arab revolt comprising more than forty books – with focus on Jordan and the Hashemites – I have only found time to lay my hands on two of these works: “T.E Lawrence: An Arab View”, and “A History of Jordan in the 20th Century”, having read a mere twenty pages of the latter.

Building on a previous post by Adam, questioning the degree of education, creativity, and maturity of thought in the country, I would like to think that we are an educated nation, and not one where the majority of individuals “follow-the-leader” and have no sense of self-thought and rationalized opinion. But what I have begun observing from certain actions of demonstrators is quite the contrary, and a well thought out opinion, tolerant and respectful to conflicting views is honestly quite hard to find.

This brings me to the title of this post, the real reform Jordan needs. I can’t deny the benefits peaceful demonstrations have made thus far, from efforts to establish a teachers’ union, to less gender discrimination, to fighting corruption – yes it all counts. But the real reform starts when each individual citizen starts asking himself what he is capable of doing for this country instead of positioning himself as a know-it-all observer and critic, pointing fingers and blaming everyone around him. A quote that is often attributed to John F. Kennedy “Ask not what your country can do for you, but ‘ask’ what you can do for your country” but is factually from Khalil Gibran’s “The New Frontier”, states exactly that. “I may not agree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it” is another quote I would like to mention, commonly credited to Voltaire but widely thought to have been said by Ewelyn Hall. A quote I truly admire; freedom of speech and respect to one another, this is the characteristic that should be defining us, and not violence and hatred – which will achieve absolutely nothing.

As an end to this post, I shall vow to reform Jordan by working on the individual Jordanian citizen – myself. I shall focus my efforts on achieving a better knowledge of medicine; working harder at medical school and becoming a proficient physician capable of ensuring quality healthcare to fellow citizens. I shall focus my efforts to establish a better understanding of the history of this country, its constitutions and its culture by comprehensively reading and affiliating myself with all I can in these regards. My ultimate goal? Giving back to my beloved country as a reformed Jordanian.

To view the original post, please follow this link.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Jordanian Harassment Problem

How much of a bad boy blogger have I been? If it wasn't for a dear cousin of mine who took the time to complement this blog, it would have been totally out of mind. Put aside the fact that I'm on vacation, studies are minimal, and so on - I am just treating you unfairly oh blog, I beg your forgiveness. So many events have gone by without my blogging participation, I feel ashamed of myself - B4JO, or Blog for Jordan day, TEDxDeadSea, and  all the memorable and not-so memorable experiences that I went through, all down the drain. Yalla anyhow, subject at hand - the Jordanian harassment problem.

While riding a cab on my way back home last week from the ophthalmologist, we came to an abrupt stop as several women crossed the road. It seemed the driver was in a state of rage buildup - or something of that sort, when he suddenly turned his head to the right, looked me straight in the eyes, his cigarette now flaking all over the interior, and muttered: "Wallahi saro zlam".

The phrase referred to the women crossing, and literally translates to "by God's name they have become men". He further went on to emphasize his point, informing me most intelligently how women have brought themselves to have jobs, work in governmental positions, and even drive cabs. Now I would've been totally satisfied with his words had it not been for his pissed off, sarcastic tone of voice - and how he went on to comment about them not wearing hijab, their high heals, tight clothes, and so on.

Why is it, that female harassment has become the norm throughout Jordan? That everywhere I manage to be, I happen to see this phenomenon regardless of what the female is wearing? Hissing sounds, car stalking, Pepsi can throwing, and you can be creative with the rest. Is it sexual oppression? Lack of governmental / societal intervention? What is wrong with you people, what is wrong with us?

Like a friend recently told me how she was stalked by some fellows most vulgarishly, so she decided to inform the policeman in the nearby kiosk of their car number. The vehicle was found, the boys were stopped, but were released a few minutes later with no punishment whatsoever. Or like the story where a female working at a telephone company went complaining to her boss about her ever-so-rude and annoying coworker - later to find a nice note on her desk stating bluntly that she was fired for misbehaving.



Also worth mentioning is the deeply saddening issue of orphan harassment. I would like to thank Lara Hadi for her post ID000: Labeling Orphans when it's not their fault, which made me aware of this dire subject. Definitely worth a read, so please pay Sleepless in Amman a visit.

Why have we come to this I ask?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Solar-Powered Jordan: Economic Independence a Heartbeat Away?

Check out my first blog post on TEDxDeadSea, a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience:

"As most of you know, Jordan today is edging and hoping for major reform; a whole makeover in terms of government, economy, and citizen lifestyle. But the fact still remains that our most obvious resources are not exploited in the least significant manner, and an estimated 96% of our energy needs are imported from abroad which accounts for more than 7.5% of our national income. The levels of energy and electricity consumption are expected to double in 15 years. Why should we bear this? And why are we not pushing harder for alternative energy solutions? This must change now.

Our beloved Jordan is considered to be one of the sun-belt countries, or a country which possesses high solar radiation on its horizontal surface. Each day, we wake up to a bright and shiny morning to get on with our lives, but why do we fail to notice the gleaming glory of the sun, a factor which we, as Jordanians, can make use off to lift our economic standing and pave the way for a new, energy independent Jordan? An answer which honestly beats me.

According to the Department of Statistics (DoS), domestic solar water heaters were used by 12 per cent of Jordanian families as of September 2010. What makes me lift my brow so surprisedly is the dodgy statistic that 26 per cent of Jordanians used to rely on solar systems in the 1990s. A 14% decrease, how can this be plausible? Are we a country that is moving forward in time and development or are we shrinking into corruption and black holes? I need to be assured as doubt has begun overcoming me.
Each solar water heater has the capacity to heat up to 150 liters of water, per day. According to the United Nations Development Programme, installing solar water heaters can significantly reduce agricultural waste since smoke produced through heating the water be decreased significantly. Household appliances used for heating water are also notorious for their green house gas emissions as they typically use oil or gas, and like hell we are in desperate need to cut our oil and gas consumption.

What is it exactly that I want you might be asking? What I need is an absolute reliance on domestic solar water heating systems in Jordan, an over 90% of houses with solar panels on their roof tops, a law insisting on the necessity of solar panels and provides loans for low-income familes to install them. That is what I want. Why should Spain, Israel, and Turkey be better than us in these regards, where solar water heating is standard practice in all homes? Why is our solar industry diminishing instead of expanding?

Now you are probably bobbing your head and ridiculing the idea as too expensive, that we don’t have the financial capabilities to do such a move. But the facts state otherwise. The cost of installing solar panels for domestic use ranges between JD450 and JD500, and the Kingdom’s annual expenditure on solar panels stands at around JD4.113 million. Let us put that into perspective, guess how much the country spends on tobacco producs each year? JD360 million, and ironically smoking-related diseases cost the country almost the same amount as stated by the Ministry of Health. Still, the news gets better. Solar experts in Jordan highlight that it takes less than three years to recover the cost of a domestic solar water heater. In other words, if you hopefully don’t die in the next three years, you would have purchased a solar water heating system and used it all free of charge for 1095 days, does it get any sweeter?

Today, Israel has the highest number of solar-power water heaters per capita in the world. By 1967 around one in twenty households heated its water with the sun and 50,000 solar heaters had been sold, I’m curious as to how many were sold in Jordan. With the 1970s oil crisis, Harry Zvi Tabor, the father of Israel’s solar industry, developed the prototype of the solar water heater now used in over 90% of Israeli homes. 4% of the country’s total energy demand is satisfied by solar panels for water-heating as estimated by the Israeli National Infrastructure Ministry, and solar water heating saves Israel two million barrels of oil a year. Need I say any more?

To sum it all up, I think Jordan has made a good effort to promote the solar industry by exempting energy-saving devices from sales tax and customs duties, and solar power is expected to account for 10 per cent of the country’s energy mix by 2020, not to mention the Shams Ma’an Solar Plant project which is said to become the largest solar power plant in the world upon completion. But even with that said, satisfaction is not in me, and I can hardly say my country has exerted enough to embrace solar energy and promote its technology and industry. What I want is to see this magnificent resource being abused.

To continue reading, please follow this link.

Disclaimer: This post has been partially re-blogged from the TEDxDeadSea blog where it was first published.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

First Blog Anniversary and a Road Trip to Irbid

Who would have known time could run so fast! Browsing through the archive it just struck me that I missed Qahwa Saada's first year anniversary, which was supposedly on the 17th of January, boo. Accordingly, I'm actually six days late, but come to think about it, I guess I had an exam then, can't be too harsh on myself now, can I?

If you're worrying how yesterday went with all the packing, the road trip to Irbid one-on-one with a Jordanian gendermerie personnel, the unpacking, and the cleaning, I would like to comfort you and tell you that I made it back to Amman in one piece, I think.

First of, the guy came about three hours late, which prevented me from enjoying my falafel sandwich the way I was supposed to. Bought it from the Abu Jbara Medina St restaurant, and I payed a good deal more than I usually do for falafel sandwiches. So it turned out breakfast was rushed through for no reason. After I loaded everything into the KIA truck with his kind supervision, we set of on our journey.

Can't say I enjoyed the ride, it took about 45 minutes longer than it usually does, probably because I was in a truck full of furniture rather than a speeding 2011 Ferrari GTO rusty old Daio bus. To add to that, the trip was spent listening to overly loud Qur'an cassettes, traffic horns, and a load of interesting swear words. Plus, the driver had no idea where he was going. Irony. Things progressed pretty smoothly from there, I found out my key to the apartment neither opened nor closed the front door, and all I got was an order to get new keys from the shop around the corner.

As much as I love the city of Irbid, the second largest in Jordan after Amman, and the hometown of my ancestors, one can't help but note how dirty the city is, and by dirty I mean plastic bags and tin cans blanketing the lands all around. This brings me to how clean I found my kitchen and bathroom to be; my stove was drenched in greasy remains, with a lot of grease stains infiltrating the counter top. Stepping into a puddle I also found a leaking pipe in the bathroom, and the best thing of it all was the toilet. No other words would describe it than utterly befouled. Now luckily the water bill isn't on me, and I wouldn't consider myself a person who gets disgusted easily, so I took the situation lightheartedly and started with the cleanups and repairs.

Then it came to me that I should hurry if I was to make it back to Amman, and to add to my luck I was greeted by a lovely young taxi driver who offered to drive me there for 4 JDs, a total rip off. Some stubborn travelers stood by my choice in not taking the taxi, and we found a lad who agreed to drive us to Amman for 2JDs and a half; not too good a price, but it was the best offer I was getting for the night. So we got to Amman, and after walking a bit, I finally made it home at 10pm - stinky and soggy with a broken back and a dead phone that is.