Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Job Opportunities in Saudi Aramco

Production Engineer http://www.oil-offshore-marine.com/show_job.php?id=19287

Oil & Gas Production Planner http://www.oil-offshore-marine.com/show_job.php?id=19290

Inspector Engineer http://www.oil-offshore-marine.com/show_job.php?id=19291

Drilling Supervisor http://www.oil-offshore-marine.com/show_job.php?id=19289

Reservoir Engineer http://www.oil-offshore-marine.com/show_job.php?id=19288

Reservoir Simulation Engineer http://www.oil-offshore-marine.com/show_job.php?id=19292

Or view the full list of available jobs with Saudi Aramco: http://bit.ly/cMMRq9

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

ANGIN DARI GURUN


Mendesah angin dari gurun
berhembusan sejak berkurun
membawa panas dan dingin
melebar wajah kemanusiaan
mencambah warna peradaban
dan mengubah lanskap permukaan
dengan simpang-siur kehidupan
berganti penghuni dan imigran
mengukur jarak perjalanan
sebagai satu perhimpunan
di saujana pasir yang memungkinkan
mimpi pendatang mengisi kenyataan.

Kusimpulkan angin dari gurun
dalam rohani yang meruntun
menata hitam putih kelabu
dilatarbelakang fragmen berlalu
bulan, bintang, matahari
masih setia mengiringi jasmani,
kepasrahan melambai pergi
hitam manis peristiwa di layar ilusi
tersusun merentas fatamorgana
ke seluruh ruang buana maya
dan keberangkatan kali ini
memori harmonis merungkai realiti!

Fudzail
Dubai, UAE

A ‘quarter-life crisis’

Move aside dad, there’s no such thing as a mid-life crisis anymore...

We’ve seen Lindsay Lohan battle it out with the demon drink off and on for years, while high-profile England footballers Ashley Cole and John Terry have both suffered relationship problems in public recently. It seems that all the riches and fame in the world can’t buy us happiness.

But according to one recent survey, carried out by mobile phone company Vodafone, it’s not just young glamorous celebrities who are ‘suffering’.

The ‘World of Difference’ survey found that a whopping 73 per cent of adults aged between 26 and 30 felt dissatisfied with life, and believe in a ‘quarter-life crisis’.

The term derives from ‘mid-life crisis’, a period known generally in western culture where many otherwise settled adults have been known to ‘lose the plot’ after questioning life’s ‘bigger picture’.

Now it appears that we don’t have to wait until we are in our 40s and married with two kids to panic about our situation.
It can happen in our 20s.

Lohan is an actress, model and sometimes pop star but at 23, she appears to have a troubled personal life. And the England boys, although pampered multi-millionaires, will be feeling a little sorry for themselves after their humiliating World Cup exit at the hands of Germany.

Joking aside though, is the ‘quarter-life’ crisis a real issue?

Donna Needs, life coach and CEO at Whitehorse Consulting says: “I don’t think there is such a thing as mid-life crisis now.

“There is a shift going on in general, where people at a much younger age are looking at their lives and saying ‘do I want to go down the usual path of university, job, marriage and family’?.

A lot of people are looking at that and saying ‘that’s not for me’. They really want to travel and experience things, and people are saying this at all ages.”

Donna has plenty of experience in coaching individuals through difficult times in their lives. And the Canadian is optimistic about our ability to change things, whether before or after a ‘crisis’.

“People are starting to question the value and satisfaction of traditional roles. It’s exciting to see people who are stuck, and who might hate themselves and their situation, and help them to help themselves. “To look at their ‘saboteur’ or little gremlin that says ‘you can’t do that, you’re not good enough’.

Dealing with the saboteur and looking at potential and opportunities, is what we need to focus on. “And so even though we are in a recession and there is a lot of suffering, there is a lot of opportunity out there and we are now seeing a lot of entrepreneurs coming through here at all ages.”

Emma Peters has been in Dubai for four years, and she believes she’s suffering her own kind of crisis.

She says: “I certainly feel far more stressed and dissatisfied with my life than I did five years ago.

I think it’s because I’m at the age where all my friends are getting married and having children whereas I’m still just getting fat and getting drunk.

“When you leave university the world is your oyster and you don’t put pressure on yourself to make the right decision because you know you’re only young and have time to make mistakes or bad choices.

“At this age you feel like you should have done everything you wanted to because it’s time to settle down.

My friend’s child recently started highschool and that freaked me out I don’t feel mature enough to get married and have children yet some of my friends have been divorced and some have five kids!”

Job Openings at International Turnkey system






































Saturday, June 26, 2010

Kasut Tutankhamun

Hadiah Utama -Hadiah Sastera Utusan-Exxon 2009

A reconstruction of an open toe sandal found in King Tut's tomb elaborately decorated in gold, red and green leathers.


(Mingguan Malaysia 19 April 2009 dan kumpulan cerpen 'Dotkomania))

Sebaik membayar tiket, kami bergegas ke dalam dewan mumia diraja. Terletak disebelah kanan atas Muzium Kaherah. Terlentang dua belas jasad mumia dari keluarga Firaun. Usia pengawetan yang mencecah ribuan tahun.

Muhaimin kelihatan teragak-agak. Gementar buat seorang anak kecil yang baru berusia 10 tahun untuk berdepan sendiri dengan mumia. Bukan lagi dalam adegan sebuah filem, siri kartun atau pembacaan yang menguasai imaginasi.

Mumia dalam balutan asal terlentang di depan mata. Menakutkan buat yang lemah semangat. Masih lengkap semua anggota badan yang zahir.

Manakala dua abangnya, Saifullah, 16 tahun dan Faidhi, 15 tahun terus sahaja meluru memerhati rapi mumia dalam cermin. Membaca setiap catatan. Penuh minat.
Muhaimin bergerak ke arah ibunya. Berbisik.
“Mana mumia Tutankhamun?”
Ibu tersenyum. Muhaimin terus teruja dengan kehebatan Raja Tut, yang menjadi Firaun diusia sebaya Muhaimin dan mati dalam usia sebaya Saifullah. Sesuatu yang mungkin menarik minat ketiga mereka. Firaun berusia belasan tahun.
Sejak tiba di Kaherah, Muhaimin suka mendengar cerita Saifullah dan Faidhi tentang kehebatan dan kekayaan Firaun muda itu. Mungkin fikiran Muhaimin tidak henti membayangkan Raja Tut sejak pulang dari melawat dan masuk dalam piramid. Yang kosong tanpa mumia. Menghampakan biar terpaksa menaiki tangga dan lorong sempit untuk ke puncak piramid.
“Mumia Raja Tut tiada di sini. Masih berada di Lembah Raja-Raja di Luxor. Nanti kita pergi ke sana. Di muzium ini hanya ada khazanah peninggalan Raja Tut, kita melawat selepas ini!”
Mumia para keluarga Firaun yang pernah dianggap tuhan itu memaparkan sejarah kuno Mesir. Keagungan dari keangkuhan yang tersisa sebagai peringatan kepada para manusia ribuan tahun kemudian. Manusia moden yang terus datang untuk melawat mumia Firaun dan sisa kegemilangan. Para pelancung terus terpaksa tunduk untuk sekadar masuk ke makam dalam piramid. Seakan tunduk menghormati firaun secara simbolik.
Jutaan pelancung datang ke Mesir kerana firaun. Rezeki anak cucu cicit firaun melimpah dengan peninggalan makam dan sisa-sisa peradaban. Sehingga banyak tempat-tempat sejarah aulia yang dilupakan. Walhal, Mesir bukan sekadar firaun. Mesir juga mempunyai nabi dan sejarah kegemilangan Islam.
Kami beredar ke bahagian pameran harta karun Tutankhamun. Semuanya masih lengkap sewaktu ditemui dalam tahun 1922, tidak berubah seperti mana ditinggalkan ribuan tahun dahulu. Tidak dicuri oleh pencari harta karun atau dibawa keluar dari bumi Mesir.
“Berapa agaknya nilai harta Raja Tut waktu ini?” Tanya Saifullah kepada saya. Sememangnya khazanah dalam muzium Kaherah itu sendiri terlalu tinggi nilai sejarah dan nilai wang ringgit.
“Billion hingga trillion ringgit!” Saya menjawab dalam kekaguman. Kagum dengan peradaban firaun. Kagum walau terkilan kerana Mesir dan rakyatnya pada hari ini jauh ketinggalan dalam serba serbi berbanding nenek moyang mereka. Ada sesuatu yang tidak kena. Sesuatu yang boleh dibuat pengajaran.
Datang dan pergi peradaban dan empayar hebat di muka bumi. Hari ini Amerika berkuasa, tetapi dengan kegawatan ekonomi, Amerika mungkin akan jatuh dan diganti dengan kuasa besar baru. Mungkin China, mungkin India. Mungkin juga, Israel yang memperkudakan Amerika. Atau mungkin salah satu negara Islam. Tetapi saya tidak dapat mencari negara mana dalam situasi semasa.
Tentu tidak Mesir. Bangunan-bangunan baru yang tidak sehebat piramid dan kuil-kuil kuno. Kemiskinan yang menjadi sebahagian dari wajah mesir moden. Budaya temberang yang mewarnai kehidupan. Orang-orang Mesir sudah dimakan sumpah Firaun. Mereka tidak akan bangkit lagi. Terutama selagi menjadikan Israel sebagai sahabat dan mengenepikan Palestin.
“Abah, tengok kasut Raja Tut!”
Muhaimin menarik saya. Faidhi sama mengikut. Manakala Saifullah dan ibu masih dalam dewan yang dipenuhi barang-barang kemas kepunyaan Raja Tut. Bersama kilauan emas, perak dan berlian mengerlip.
Saya sama kekaguman melihat kasut bersalut emas bertatah berlian yang pernah dipakai oleh Firaun itu.
“Pada masa orang-orang Mesir sudah memakai kasut dan membina ratusan piramid, sebahagian besar dari Eropah, Amerika dan Asia masih tinggal dalam gua-gua berbogel, masih makan orang!” Saya berkata perlahan. Pada diri sendiri.
Peradaban kuno Mesir memang hebat. Tetapi kufur dan penuh kezaliman. Keadilan mengikut selera firaun. Tiada hak untuk rakyat selain sebagai hamba. Sesuatu yang terus berulang walau dibawah payung demokrasi yang dipenuhi autokrasi seorang diktator, nama lain untuk firaun moden.
Semuanya menjadi pengajaran buat mereka yang mahu berfikir. Malah bumi Mesir juga telah dihadirkan dengan para Nabi serta aulia. Terus subur diairi sungai Nil yang terus mengalir songsang ke utara.
“Kenapa Raja Tut mati dalam usia muda?” Muhaimin tiba-tiba bertanya. Matanya masih pada kasut Tutankhamun dalam cermin di dinding.
“Mungkin dibunuh. Ramai yang mahu menjadi raja dikalangan bapa saudaranya!” Jawab Saifullah yang tiba-tiba juga muncul bersama ibu.
‘Pembunuhan kerana kuasa dan tamak berlaku sejak Habil dan Nabil. Bergaduh sehingga berbunuhan sesama adik beradik kerana harta juga!” Ibu bersuara, biar sedikit lari dari topik perbincangan. Mungkin untuk memberi ingatan kepada ketiga-tiga anak lelaki yang selalu juga bergaduh kerana perkara-perkara kecil.
“Itu salah satu teori yang dikemukakan. Penemuan terbaru mengatakan Raja Tut mati kerana luka oleh gangren, bukan dibunuh!” Sampuk Faidhi yang bercita-cita mahu menjadi seorang doktor. Membetulkan cermin mata untuk meneliti kasut Tutankhamun.
Keduanya banyak mendapatkan pelbagai maklumat melalui enjin carian Google dan Wikipedia.
Kami membiarkan perbincangan mereka yang merangkumi sejarah yang sebenarnya turut diselitkan dalam Quran. Sesuatu yang mengambarkan relevannya Quran sepanjang zaman sebagai mukjizat.
“Walau apapun, apa sahaja teori mengenai kematian Raja Tut tidak penting lagi. Hari ini, Raja Tut menjadi legasi dan dia salah seorang Firaun yang terus dikenali. Sehingga kita masih sempat melihat kasutnya!” Saya cuba mengalih pandangan kepada satu perkara kecil dalam kehebatan khazanah Raja Tut.
Sepasang kasut.
Muhaimin mengangguk, memang dia cukup teruja dengan kasut Tutankhamun. Untuk seorang anak lelaki yang terpengaruh dengan kasut-kasut jenama sukan yang dipakai oleh bintang-bintang bolasepak dunia, selera Muhaimin pada kasut sama seperti Saifullah dan Faidhi. Kilauan kasut-kasut yang mengambarkan status dan kadang-kala nilai harga diri manusia.
Kasut-kasut mereka lebih mahal dari kasut saya sendiri, seorang ayah yang tidak pernah berkasut jenama terkenal. Yang masih sahaja diulit memori tentang zaman anak-anak dahulu tidak berkasut ke sekolah. Kemiskinan yang menyuntik semangat buat pemilik sepasang kaki ayam untuk lebih jauh melangkah dari generasi terdahulu. Duri dan batu-batu jalanan telah mengeraskan semangat untuk perubahan, untuk keluar dari kemiskinan.
“Kasut abah yang paling mahal pernah dibeli sewaktu berusia Tutankhamun, waktu itu berharga RM30 berjenama ‘Power’, sebaik dapat masuk ke tingkatan empat sekolah berasrama penuh!” Saya kembali bernostalgia didepan kasut Tutankhamun yang mungkin sudah bernilai puluhan jutaan ringgit.
Tidak mungkin saya boleh melupakan sepasang kasut hadiah dari aruah ayah. Yang dibeli dengan berhutang. Dibeli kerana aruah tahu saya cukup inginkan kasut itu. Masuk sekolah berasrama tanpa kasut ‘mahal’ tentu memalukan bagi aruah. Saya tidak memaksa aruah dan berpuas hati dengan kasut RM5 yang dibeli. Kasut tanpa jenama dibeli di pasar minggu.
“Kasut itu tidak sempat dipakai, kerana dicuri senior!” Saya menyambung cerita yang berkali diulang pada anak-anak. Kali ini bercerita pada sepsang kasut Tutankhamun. Bercerita penuh emosional.
Kenangan pahit yang menghantui sehingga kini. Terhiris perasaan dengan seorang senior yang sanggup mencuri sepasang kasut seorang anak miskin hanya sebagai satu penderaan di minggu suaikenal. Budaya Ragging yang diturunkan oleh penjajah. Kalau makin teruk mendera, makin hebat sang senior. Memukul dan mengarahkan apa sahaja, kekadang berpanjangan selama setahun.
Kejam sekali kerana sipencuri kasut saya itu anak seorang ahli politik yang kaya raya. Yang masuk sekolah tersebut bukan kerana kecemerlangan SRPnya, tetapi kuasa dan pengaruh yang ada pada ayahnya, seperti yang ceritakan dengan angkuh. Angkuh kerana dia anak seorang bergelar datuk dan saya hanya anak petani yang menyewa bendang dari orang kaya seperti keluarganya. Perbedaan darjat menambahkan dendam saya pada keadaan. Tidak berdendam pada senior tersebut. Tetapi dendam itu bertukar sebagai perangsang untuk belajar lebih kuat dan cemerlang.
Ayahnya bukan Tutankhamun. Senior nakal itu juga bukan Tutankhamun. Bukan keturunan firaun. Kekayaan mereka terlalu kecil berbanding dengan Tutankhamun dan firauan lain. Tetapi kekayaan sedikit itu menjadikan mereka berkelakuan seperti firaun kecil. Kekayaan dari merampas hak orang lain dan mempergunakan kelebihan yang sebenarnya rezeki untuk dikongsi bersama. Bukan untuk menzalimi sesama manusia.
Dia mendera saya kerana terasa berkuasa, biar sekadar senior yang kemudiannya gagal SPM. Yang kini bergelar datuk kerana diwariskan kekayaan. Datuk yang masih berkelakuan firaun dalam perjuangan politik ketuanan sempitnya.
“Memang cantik kasut Tutankhamun!” Suara isteri menerpa dan mengejutkan saya dari ilusi dan imaginasi. Saya cepat-cepat mengesat airmata. Tanpa disedari isteri.
“Kita tidak tahu siapa pereka dan pembuat kasut ini, kreatif sekali, dan tiada pula produk kasut terkini dengan fesyen Tutankhamun!” Jawab saya perlahan. Masih terbayang kasut RM30 yang dicuri senior dan mengubah persepsi saya terhadap nilai kasut selamanya. Mengerling kasut buatan negeri China yang saya pakai. Memang sengaja membeli dan berbaloi memakai kasut murah kerana bimbang kalau hilang di Mesir.
Sebenarnya harga semua kasut saya yang ada dalam empat pasang itu, termasuk kasut kerja tidak lebih dari RM100 sepasang. Harga yang mungkin sekadar untuk sebelah kasut anak-anak dan isteri sahaja.
“Kasut buatan negeri China tanpa jenama yang abah pakai ini mungkin boleh berharga jutaan ringgit, walau tidak boleh menandingi nilai harga kasut Tutankhamun....!” Saya berkata pada isteri dan anak-anak sebaik melangkah keluar dari muzium.
Kelihatan ramai orang-orang Mesir yang sedang menanti untuk masuk percuma sebelum muzium ditutup. Harga tiket masuk muzium memang jauh mahal untuk pelancung berbanding dengan harga tiket untuk rakyat Mesir. Begitupun, masih ramai mahu masuk secara percuma untuk melihat khazanah dan harta karun para Firaun. Warisan Mesir yang membawa masuk bilion ringgit ke dalam kantung Presiden Mubarak. Billion ringgit yang tidak sampai ke majoriti rakyat yang hidup dibawah paras kemiskinan.
“Bagaimana?” Tanya Muhaimin yang nampak keliru. Kasut yang dipakainya juga berharga RM600. Jenama terkenal dan dipakai oleh Ronaldinho
“Kalau abah jadi Muntadher al-Zaidi yang berani melontar kasut kepada Presiden Bush!”
Ya, Muntadher, wartawan stesen TV berpengkalan di Kaherah yang menjadi hero baru orang-orang Arab dan memberi inspirasi kepada majoriti penentang kezaliman Amerika. Membaling kasut pada seorang presiden angkuh dan kurang cerdik yang bertaraf firaun moden di hari-hari terakhir pemerintahan. Presiden yang mempunyai imuniti walau telah membunuh ribuan manusia atas nama peperangan menentang teroris, walhal diri sendiri adalah teroris bertaraf dunia. Presiden yang menjadi proksi zionis sebagai polis, pendakwa dan hakim seluruh planet bumi.
“Kalau balingan itu kena tepat pada kepala Presiden Bush, tentu kasut Muntadher lebih mahal dari kasut Tutankhamun untuk ribuan tahun nanti!”
Muhaimin berkata dengan penuh perasaan. Ternyata ‘lawatan sekali seumur hidup’ ke muzium Kaherah dan piramid menambahkan pengalaman dan pengetahun realistik pada anak-anak yang membesar dalam bercampur nilai antara sirah dan playstation, google, facebook, serta bintang-bintang bolasepak bertaraf jutawan sebagai idola.
Muhaimin tidak berjenaka tetapi kami serentak ketawa.
Ketawa pada diri sendiri dalam kembali menghirup hirok pikok kesesakan trafik, kesesakan manusia bertarung untuk hidup dalam udara tercemar Kaherah. Kota kontradiksi yang terus dipenuhi tapak-tapak kasut dan kaki ayam seramai 26 juta orang penghuni yang terus memanjangkan langkah para firaun!

Friday, June 25, 2010

When Saudis hate Saudi tourists abroad

http://snarla.files.wordpress.com/2007/01/saudi-women.jpg

Saudis deliberately avoid destinations popular with tourists from the Kingdom, travel agents say.

With the summer vacation approaching, many Saudi families are choosing locations where the number of Saudi and Gulf tourists is very low.

Once popular locations, like Cairo and Kuala Lumpur, are not favored anymore by those from the Kingdom because of the increasing number of Saudi tourists visiting every year. Travel agencies confirmed that most Saudi tourists now look for alternative destinations.

Mohammed Al-Mazmoumi, an employee at a private environmental company, prefers not to interact with Saudis in countries he visits. “Whenever I decide to travel, I ask the travel agency to recommend locations with low numbers of Saudi and Gulf tourists,” he said.

“Some of the behavior of Saudi tourists abroad reflects the bad image people have about my country. Most of them do not respect the laws of the counties they visit, not to mention their shameful behavior.”

Al-Mazmoumi was in London last year. He said Saudi and Gulf tourists do not respect traffic laws, throw garbage on the ground, talk loudly in public places and smoke in no-smoking areas. He said that such behavior is widely criticized by local residents.

Abdullah Al-Saad, a private sector employee, does not like to see Saudis when he is abroad on vacation. He prefers to live and experience the culture of the country he visits, leaving behind his own culture.

“When I was in Australia on vacation, I met a Saudi man with his wife who was wearing a black abaya,” he said. “The husband distanced himself from his wife when he saw a number of Saudi tourists walking nearby. It seemed to me that he was ashamed of the way his wife was dressed. I do not understand why Saudis act like that? If he feels ashamed of his wife, then he should leave her behind and travel alone.”

Some Saudis avoid flying local airlines so they do not have to sit with other families from the Kingdom.

Local resident Abu Ahmad said the trouble with Saudi tourists starts right from boarding the plane. “They are disorganized and cause delays, changing seats, crying children, fighting sometimes or staring at others,” he said.

“If their behavior is like this before the airplane takes off, imagine what they would be like when they are in another country. When Saudis are abroad they do not act like tourists. You rarely see them visiting museums, monuments and exhibitions. It is either restaurants or shopping. In my opinion this is not the way tourists visiting another country should behave.”

Emad Ibrahim, who supervises the reservations department at Rixon Tour, said that most Saudi families ask his company to make a hotel reservation far away from the city center. “They are ready to pay more just to avoid meeting Saudi or Gulf tourists,” said Ibrahim.

Jawaher Hakami, travel and tourism consultant at Shami Holidays, confirmed that a large number of Saudi families prefer to spend their summer vacation abroad without being noticed by other Saudis. “Most Saudi families tend to travel to foreign countries because of their fear of meeting other Saudi or Gulf tourists. Most passengers ask us to recommend a country less popular with Saudis,” she said.

“It is well known that most Saudis, especially singles, travel to Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and Morocco during the summer. The huge number of single Saudis bothers most Saudi families.”

By DIANA AL-JASSEM

Thursday, June 24, 2010

African continent is beginning to roar

By JONATHAN POWER |

The World Cup, now being played out in South Africa, is not a mirage.

It is succeeding beyond anyone's wildest dreams. Not only has the game thrilled its adherents all over the world, the new infrastructure has not failed to impress visitors - from the amazing stadiums, to the new roads and the high-speed rail link to the airport. All was completed on schedule, testimony to the country's growing expertise in management and sophisticated technology. The "crime wave" foreseen by many has not occurred.

But for those who can take their eye off the ball, think not of football but of the African continent as a whole. It is beginning to roar. As the tigers have growled in Southeast Asia the last three decades, with an almost stratospheric rise in economic growth and living standards, the roaring African lions seem intent on emulating their Asian cousins which only a couple of generations ago were at the same economic level as West Africa.

Of course, as the BBC reported the other day from Niger, drought and bad management can reduce a poor African country to widespread hunger. But for most of Africa this is not only not true it is distorting reality - a common problem among broadcasters who are attracted to visual suffering far more than they are to the nonvisual, dry-as-a bone, statistics of the International Monetary Fund.

Africa has played its cards well during the US-led "Great Recession". It confronted the recession from a position of strength, following years of policy reform. Nigeria has used significant amounts of its saved oil revenues to counter the dampening effects of the recession. Kenya's proactive measures by the central bank helped mitigate the recession's impact on the banking sector - it remains liquid and well-capitalized. Many countries have a sound fiscal position and were able to increase government spending - mainly on health and education - to buttress economic activity. Interest rates were brought down and today the business-friendly environment attracts a huge amount of foreign investment. The World Bank ranked Rwanda as the world's top performer in encouraging entrepreneurship. The IMF predicts that next year economic growth will average in sub-Saharan Africa 5.75 percent. In Tanzania it will be 8 percent, in Uganda 7 percent, in Mozambique 8 percent, in Ghana 7.3 percent, in Mali 6.3 percent, in Nigeria 8 percent and in Kenya 5.8 percent. Even the Zimbabwe of the Marxist dictator, Robert Mugabe, has begun to show signs of recovery from its years of mismanagement with an expected growth rate of 4 percent and an inflation rate falling from over 1000 percent to 8 percent.

Foreign direct investment in Africa has increased from $10 billion a year to $88 billion - compare this with India's $42 billion and China's $108 billion. Is this just a reflection of the world's lust (especially China's and India's) for oil and minerals? Only in part - the natural-resource sector accounts only a third of Africa's growth. The Boston Consulting Group in a report published earlier this month says there are a number of African countries whose performance rivals the Bric countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China). The report says that 500 African companies have been growing at more than 8 percent a year since 1998, helping produce a rise in export growth of 18 percent. Some of these countries are in North Africa but most are in sub-Saharan Africa - in particular South Africa but also in Nigeria, Angola and Togo.

Africa is positioning itself to take advantage of China's exports moving up the value chain so that it can become a major source of low cost manufacturing - from shoes, to textiles, to the now ubiquitous motorbikes. Consumer growth is growing, with the first item of choice the mobile phone. Africa has the fastest rate of increase of mobile ownership in the world and has pioneered such innovations as mobile enabled money-transfer and savings accounts.

One of the benign results of increased economic activity and better health and education programs is the fall of infant mortality. Sub-Saharan Africa may still be a laggard compared with the fast rate of improvement in Asia, North Africa and Latin America but the rate is accelerating, particularly in those countries that have invested heavily in primary health care - Tanzania, Malawi, Ethiopia, Zambia, Rwanda and Botswana.

Africa still has an enormous amount to do - to get its infant mortality rate much further down, to educate its girls so that they are receptive to birth control and basic hygiene and, for many of the poorer countries, to make them more attractive to foreign investment. Corruption is rife and needs perpetual vigilance. Good governance has to be dramatically improved. Domestic savings rates have to be lifted and tax collection improved.

The West and the prosperous countries of the Middle East should listen to the deep roar of Africa's lions - and invest in Africa's future as the Chinese and Indians have already decided to do.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Saudi women use 'breastfeed the driver' fatwa in driving bid

"Do the women have to breastfeed the driver in the presence of their husbands or can they do this alone?"

"Who will protect the wife if the husband entered the house unexpectedly and found his wife breastfeeding the driver?" she asked.



Saudi women plan to turn a controversial fatwa (religious ruling) to their advantage and launch a campaign to achieve their long-standing demand to drive in this conservative kingdom.

If the demand is not met, the women threatened to follow through the fatwa which allows them to breastfeed their drivers and turn them into their sons.

The campaign will be launched under the slogan: "We either be allowed to drive or breastfeed foreigners," a journalist told Gulf News.

Amal Zahid said that their decision follows a fatwa issued by a renowned scholar which said that Saudi women can breastfeed their foreign drivers for them to become their sons.

"As every Saudi family needs a driver, our campaign will focus on women's right to drive," she said.

The controversial fatwa, which was regarded as both funny and weird, issued recently by Shaikh Abdul Mohsin Bin Nasser Al Obaikan, member of Saudi Council of Senior Scholars and adviser to the king, has sparked a debate in society.

The renowned scholar said Saudi women can breastfeed their foreign drivers for them to be become their sons and brothers to their daughters.

Under this relationship, foreign drivers can mix freely with all members of the family without breaking the Islamic rule which does not allow mixing of genders.

Breast milk kinship is considered to be as good as a blood relationship in Islam.

"A woman can breastfeed a mature man so that he becomes her son. In this way, he can mix with her and her daughters without violating the teachings of Islam," the scholar said.

‘Ridiculous and weird'

Al Obaikan based his fatwa on a Hadith (saying) of the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) which was narrated by Salim, the servant of Abu Huzaifa.

Later, Al Obaikan clarified that his fatwa was being distorted by the local media which ignored the condition that the milk should be drawn out of the woman and given to the man in a cup to drink.

Speaking to Gulf News, a number of Saudi women condemned the fatwa. Fatima Al Shammary was quoted by the local Arabic daily Al Watan as saying the fatwa was "ridiculous and weird".

"This fatwa has become a hot topic of debate among women. Is this is all that is left to us to do: to give our breasts to the foreign drivers?" she said.

Another Saudi woman, who spoke on condition of anonymity, questioned: "Does Islam allow me to breastfeed a foreign man and prevent me from driving my own car?

"I have not breastfed my own children. How do you expect me to do this with a foreign man? What is this nonsense?" she said.

Another woman said the fatwa should also apply to the husbands who should be breastfed by housemaids. By doing so, all will be brothers and sisters," she said.

Hamid Al Ali, a journalist for an electronic newspaper, recalled that an Egyptian driver who had a crush on a female teacher he drives to school asked her to breastfeed him. When she retorted angrily, he said: "I want to be your son."

Saudi writer Suzan Al Mashhadi sarcastically asked Al Obaikan: "Do the women have to breastfeed the driver in the presence of their husbands or can they do this alone?"

"Who will protect the wife if the husband entered the house unexpectedly and found his wife breastfeeding the driver?" she asked.

Read about life in 'Islamic' Iran HERE

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Cerpen: Lorong Belakang Valiasr

Cerpen: Lorong Belakang Valiasr
Oleh Fudzail

Berita Harian 2010/06/19

SAYA berehat setelah puas menyusuri jalan Valiasr, jalan terpanjang sejauh 17 kilometer yang memisahkan metropolis Tehran kepada bahagian barat dan bahagian timur. Cuaca nyaman pada musim bunga, bulan Khordad, bulan ketiga dalam kalendar Parsi.

Menjejak ruang dalam kesibukan kota yang dipenuhi paradoks. Antara kaya dan miskin. Antara chador dan skirt. Syiah dan Barat. Maju dan mundur.

Seketika di jalan Valiasr, pelbagai imej dan persepsi yang mengheret minda pun terburai dan terdampar. Mengejutkan, kota Tehran tiba-tiba berwajah kosmopolitan. Pembangunan di mana-mana, kalau diukur dengan menara dan apartmen. Tidak semua buruk seperti yang digambarkan media Barat dan tentunya tidak seindah yang dipaparkan propaganda tempatan. Bergantung kepada lokasi, lokasi dan lokasi.

Benarlah kata seorang sahabat Facebook dari Iran, dunia tidak memahami Iran. Sebenarnya saya semakin keliru dalam perspektif yang mula menganjak ke fragmen-fragmen berwarna suram. Wajah-wajah menyambar imaginasi. Senyuman mendambarkan kemesraan.

Lantas dari sehari kembara, dalam keletihan, saya mula melihat Iran dari sentuhan santai. Memesrakan suasana tanpa persepsi yang mengasak keinsafan di tengah-tengah kota Tehran. Sebuah kota tua dengan penduduk melebihi sembilan juta orang. Kota yang berlatar belakang pergunungan Alborz memaparkan kontradiksi. Merakamkan sejarah dan peristiwa dari peradaban silam ke revolusi dan masa kini. Setahun selepas suara protes dengan demonstrasi memenuhi pusat kota, protes terhadap presiden. Protes yang masih membakar kemarahan marhaen.
Maka di luar dari skrin CNN, BBC, Fox, CNBC mahupun Al-Jazeera, saya menjadi wartawan dalam diri seorang blogger yang mencerna segala maklumat dalam sebuah catatan tanpa prejudis.

Massoud, rakan bisnes yang menjadi wakil syarikat di Tehran menarik saya ke lorong belakang. Katanya, ada kehidupan, realiti semasa yang menjalari lorong-lorong belakang. Kebetulan kami berada di bahagian selatan Valiasr. Kawasan hangat di mana Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeni pernah menetap selepas pulang pada kala revolusi.
Menurut Massoud, daripada perbualan yang didengar menyusuri kaki lima, kesemuanya rungutan dan komplen mengenai harga barang yang semakin naik, penyelewengan pentadbiran dan pembohongan ahli-ahli politik, yang memungkiri janji-janji pilihan raya.

Kebetulan ada jerebu memenuhi ruang. Seakan membawa ke satu daerah dalam zon twillight. Kelabu dan berdebu.

“Jerebu membawa mood kurang baik.” Sepatah komen Massoud sambil menghisap rokok.
Singgah di sebuah kedai runcit kepunyaan bapa saudara Massoud, bernama Mehdi.
Apabila kami masuk, kelihatan rak-rak hampir kosong. Yang tinggal hanya beberapa barangan dalam kotak-kotak kecil. Mengejutkan.

“Saya tidak mempunyai wang yang cukup untuk membeli stok baru. Dalam inflasi yang tinggi menjadikan harga borong turut naik ke paras yang melebihi jangkauan. Malah ada produk tertentu yang naik sehingga enam belas peratus setelah dua pembelian. Mengerikan sekali. Kedai ini dikunjungi lebih ramai peminta sedekah daripada pembeli. Malah kalau lihat dari mesin tunai yang kosong, saya boleh sahaja menjadi peminta sedekah!”

Mehdi bercakap perlahan dalam bahasa Inggeris yang bercampur baur. Masih boleh difahami.

“Berapa sewa kedai ini?” Tanya saya sambil melihat ruang kecil berukuran 7 meter panjang dan 6 meter lebar. Siling rendah.

Mehdi tersenyum.

“Dalam USD 200 sebulan. Tiada tandas, tiada penghawa dingin, tiada pemanas udara dan tikus berkeliaran. Inilah yang termurah.”

Saya dapat merasakan kekecewaan daripada suara Mehdi. Katanya dia tiada pilihan. Berniaga memerlukan banyak pengorbanan dan tidak semudah yang dijangka.

“Negara ini melucukan, ada yang boleh menjadi jutawan sekelip mata. Lihat di seberang sana, ramai yang beratur panjang di kaunter supermarket dan bergaduh untuk merebut susu. Bagaimana boleh kami terus menyambung kehidupan yang sudah dalam keadaan daif kalau kerajaan memotong subsidi demi subsidi?”

Pertanyaan itu bergema ke seluruh gegendang. Melihat wajah serius Mehdi memaparkan suasana yang selama itu tidak termasuk dalam persepsi dan bayangan mengenai Iran. Sebuah negara yang kaya dengan hasil minyak dan sedang membina sebuah jana kuasa nuklear. Mungkinkah embargo dan pelbagai sekatan sudah membawa kesan yang diinginkan oleh sekutu Yahudi bernama Amerika? Pastinya, Iran bukan sekadar bermusuhan dengan rejim zionis, malah dengan jiran dikalangan negara-negara Islam juga. Sama ada kerana berlainan mazhab atau berlainan ideologi atau sejarah silam. Ya! Iran semakin terasing di tengah-tengah sekutu seagama.

“Pagi tadi ada dua orang wanita berchador datang mahu membeli ubat gigi. Saya tidak menyedari yang mereka telah mencuri banyak ubat gigi dengan menyorok di bawah chador. Bayangkan keadaan mereka yang lain dalam kemiskinan. Bayangkan suri rumah terpaksa mencuri dan hukuman mencuri adalah potong tangan!”

Percakapan sebegitu mungkin banyak tersiar dalam blog mereka yang mahu memberitahu keadaan sebenar. Blog-blog yang semakin banyak ditutup kerana dituduh melontar fitnah dan mengancam keselamatan negara. Walau ada kebebasan bersuara, tidak pasti kebebasan selepas bersuara. Kata Massoud, ramai yang sudah dihadapkan ke mahkamah walau pertuduhan tidak lebih mahu menutup mulut dan menyusahkan para pengkritik yang mahukan sebuah negara Iran yang lebih baik.

Dengan enam puluh peratus penduduk kota Tehran di bawah usia 25 tahun, tentunya sebuah kota yang vibrant dan perlukan keseronokan. Ceria dan penuh dengan kemeriahan anak-anak muda. Generasi yang lahir selepas revolusi dan mahu seiring di pentas dunia, daripada gambaran filem, internet, buku, majalah dan akhbar.

Saya semakin menjadi gelisah dalam cuba memahami apakah yang sebenarnya sedang berlaku. Sebagai pemerhati dari Dubai, selalu menganggap Iran mempunyai sistem demokrasi yang baik, bebas dan adil. Pilihan raya demi pilihan raya yang telus memberikan peluang untuk rakyat memilih pemimpin dan haluan negara. Bukan di bawah diktator dan raja yang memerintah untuk survival diri.

“Saya hanya mampu menampung perbelanjaan keluarga daripada pendapatan isteri yang bekerja di sebuah bank dengan gaji sebanyak USD300 sebulan. Sewa apartmen tiga bilik kami di sebuah kawasan sederhana adalah sebanyak USD450, bayar USD50 untuk air, elektrik dan telefon, manakala yuran sekolah anak sebanyak USD100, ditambah perbelanjaan lain, makanan sebanyak USD300 sebulan. Semakin hari semakin sesak, kedai ini tidak dapat lagi membantu untuk pendapatan, lebih teruk lagi, pemilik kedai tidak akan bertolak ansur, kalau lambat sahaja bayar, mahu terus menghalau!”

Mehdi meneruskan kisah sedih kehidupannya. Seperti kata Massoud, kisah yang boleh diulang oleh jutaan penghuni Tehran yang lain, mereka yang semakin tertekan dalam keriuhan pemimpin mempertahankan pembinaan jana kuasa nuklear dan mahu menjadi hero kepada setiap isu berkaitan perjuangan keadilan sejagat.
Sedangkan kemiskinan semakin melumpuhkan sebahagian dari mereka yang masih bertahan kerana patriotisme.

Massoud kemudian membawa saya ke apartmen kecil seorang lagi rakannya, Rostam, seorang peguam aktivis hak-hak asasi. Selepas diperkenalkan, Rostam terus sahaja menyumpah-nyumpah, talian internet yang sentiasa terputus dan terganggu.
Tidak berfaedah untuk menelefon pusat khidmat pelanggan kerana belum pernah panggilannya dijawab walau sudah beribu kali mencuba.

“Saya tidak boleh langsung membuka e-mel sejak sebulan lalu. Apakah ini masalah perisian dan virus? Atau masalah teknikal perkakasan? Atau apakah ini sebahagian daripada kerja-kerja perisikan? Mungkin kerana kegiatan saya menyebabkan saya menjadi sasaran?”

Pertanyaan yang tidak mungkin dapat saya jawab. Walau syarikat saya membekalkan modem untuk pasaran Iran. Tidak kena-mengena dengan pengendali internet dan syarikat Telekomunikasi, sekadar pembekal bebas. Itupun seperti kata Massoud, banyak duit kopi yang terpaksa diagihkan untuk mendapat pelbagai kelulusan.

“Bukan sahaja internet semakin diganggu untuk mengurangkan protes maya, malah perbualan telefon juga tidak selamat. Telefon bimbit saya sentiasa tiada talian kalau mahu berhubung dengan pelanggan.”

Saya mendengar cerita Rostam mengenai anak-anak guam yang semakin bertambah. Sama ada dari segi bilangan mahupun golongan, salah seorang anak guamnya adalah anak perempuan mantan presiden sendiri yang dituduh di bawah jenayah politik. Semakin ramai golongan terpelajar yang mula bangkit untuk memprotes keadaan semasa. Lawan tetap lawan.

Ketidakadilan semakin ketara apabila mahasiswa yang memprotes dianggap pengkhianat. Walhal, anak-anak muda yang pernah menjadi pemangkin revolusi.
Suara rakyat suara keramat dan suara anak muda boleh mencetus revolusi.

Rostam menunjukkan tajuk muka depan akhbar, kenyataan ketua polis Tehran dalam bahasa Parsi yang bermaksud, “Setiap demonstrasi haram memprotes ulang tahun pilihan raya presiden akan ditangani sekeras-kerasnya!”

Sejarah seakan berulang, begitu kata Massoud. Pemimpin tidak lagi mendengar rintihan rakyat. Sudah semakin jauh daripada apa yang diperjuangkan oleh Khomeini sewaktu menumbangkan Shah Iran.

Saya kembali ke hotel bersama imej-imej yang menjadikan kerlipan cahaya neon kota Tehran seakan pudar dan kelabu. Suara-suara rintihan marhaen menghimpit perasaan apabila melihat laporan mengenai sumber minyak yang sepatutnya menghasilkan puluhan bilion setiap tahun. Defisit bajet setiap tahun boleh memufliskan negara. Ke manakah perginya hasil negara selama ini?

Di kawasan legar hotel yang masih terpampang wajah Khomeini, beberapa rakan Massoud lain yang mengetahui saya datang dari Dubai, segera bertanya mengenai peluang lain dalam situasi dan iklim ekonomi yang masih tidak stabil. Terutama pertanyaan untuk membuka akaun bank di Dubai apabila tekanan daripada Kerajaan Amerika semakin kuat kepada Eropah dan Asia untuk menghentikan apa sahaja urusan ekonomi dengan Iran.

Mereka bercakap begitu sarkastik apabila nama presiden disebut, seolah-olah tidak lagi takut kalau ada perisik yang mendengar. Sudah tidak peduli kerana kata mereka, dalam keadaan semakin sukar untuk cari makan, ada baiknya juga kerajaan memberi mereka makan dalam penjara, apalagi setelah subsidi diberhentikan. Jenaka yang tidak lucu.

“Amerika akan gunakan apa sahaja untuk menekan Iran supaya tunduk kepada kehendak rejim Yahudi yang menggunakan Amerika sebagai proksi, selain pemimpin dan raja Arab yang lain. Iran tidak mungkin menghentikan program nuklear walau rakyat akan menderita. Itulah objektif Amerika, mahu rakyat Iran memberontak dan menggulingkan kerajaan yang ada, digantikan dengan seorang lagi boneka seperti di Iraq.”

Saya mendengar setiap hujah yang dilontarkan di meja makan malam.

Semakin rancak perbualan antikerajaan, sehingga pelawaan yang menyebabkan saya terkejut beruk. Apabila salah seorang mereka memberitahu kalau saya memerlukan teman tidur, seorang wanita Iran untuk beberapa malam selama di kota Tehran.
Boleh sahaja memilih, tua atau muda, bujang atau berkahwin, terpelajar atau artis.

“Semuanya boleh diaturkan, kamu boleh berkahwin mengikut tempoh masa, sah dan halal. Boleh bagi sijil pengesahan daripada pihak berwajib lagi!”

Pada mulanya saya menyangka sekadar gurauan. Walau pernah mendengar perkara yang sama, tetapi tidak pernah peduli kerana tidak pernah memerlukan khidmat sebegitu. Masih mempertahankan etika dan hukum agama. Apalagi berurusan di sebuah negara yang namanya ada perkataan Islam. Tentu menjalankan undang-undang Islam yang ketat, begitulah persepsi.

“Serius?” Saya bertanya dalam sedikit teruja. “Bukankah itu pelacuran yang dihalalkan?”

Massoud ketawa sambil berkata, laporan akhbar Entekhab mengatakan ada dalam 84 ribu pelacur di kota Tehran.

Saya menelan air liur. Dalam semangat mahu berurusan bisnes dengan sebuah lagi negara Islam, semakin terkeliru dan janggal. Semuanya begitu mengelirukan setelah minda dipenuhi persepsi berbeza. Seperti kata seorang sahabat, dari melihat urusan imigresen di lapangan terbang, selain keadaan lapangan terbang sendiri boleh menggambarkan keadaan sesebuah negara. Banyak negara Islam yang gagal sekadar melihat dari suasana dan buruknya lapangan terbang. Malah ada pegawai yang bukan sahaja tidak mesra pelanggan, malah awal-awal lagi meminta rasuah untuk memudahkan urusan imigresen dan visa.

“Kamu mahu melihat bagaimana urusan bisnes kupu-kupu malam di sini?”

Tiba-tiba soalan yang membawa ajakan daripada Massoud menjadikan saya tercabar untuk satu advencer di bumi yang pernah melahirkan ramai ulama dan intelektual Islam.

“Apakah tidak akan ditahan dan dipenjara?”

Massoud menggeleng, sambil menunjukkan ke arah salah seorang tetamu, Mohzen. Lelaki dari Qom.

“Abang dia kenal ketua perisik, tidak perlu takut, sebab itu juga kami berani mengutuk presiden. Laporan akan sampai ke meja ketua perisik sebelum tindakan boleh dibuat, dan selalunya kami terlepas sahaja!”

Saya tidak pasti sama ada mahu menerima pelawaan yang memang menarik. Menjejak kota Tehran pada waktu malam sambil melihat keadaan yang boleh memberi pengalaman baru kepada seorang ekspatriat Melayu. Jual beli, tawar menawar untuk khidmat bisnes tertua di dunia.

Begitupun, nafsu keinginan yang membara tiba-tiba menjadi lesu apabila terpandang sebuah artikel dari majalah yang ditunjuk Massoud. Ternyata, kemiskinan memang menjuruskan kepada kekufuran. Walaupun di sebuah negara kaya dengan hasil bumi, selagi jurang kaya dan miskin begitu besar. Semuanya menjadi statistik yang menggambarkan segalanya semakin songsang pada akhir zaman.

Ketua Statistik Iran mengumumkan seramai 10 juta dari 72 juta rakyat Iran hidup di bawah garis kemiskinan sepenuhnya, iaitu hidup dengan pendapatan USD600 sebulan untuk keluarga seramai enam orang dan 30 juta rakyat Iran hidup di bawah garis kemiskinan relatif dengan pendapatan USD900 sebulan.

Malam itu di kota Tehran, dari jalan Valiasr ke lorong-lorong belakang, saya tidak dapat tidur lena. Ketukan di pintu bilik hotel menambah kegerunan. Suara-suara rintihan bergema di setiap ruang.

Di bawah selimut, tiba-tiba teringatkan tanah air yang sudah lama ditinggalkan kerana mencari rezeki di perantauan. Bertanya tentang apa sahaja, walaupun tidak mungkin ada jawapan. Ke mana nanti anak-anak sendiri dan apakah ada cahaya di hujung terowong krisis ekonomi, krisis timur tengah dan krisis-krisis lain?

Tersambar memori lampau, permulaan yang memungkinkan jejak global. Kemiskinan mengubah hala tuju seorang anak kampung ke pentas bumi. Digamit rindu dari hembusan angin pergunungan Alborz, menyegarkan di balik seribu imej menggerunkan.

Ya! Apa khabar orang kampung?


PROFIL

FUDZAIL berkelulusan sains komputer & matematik dari New Zealand, pernah berkhidmat sebagai Pengurus IT di TV3 dan kini ekspatriat Malaysia yang bermastautin di Emiriyah Arab Bersatu (UAE) sejak 2000. Terbabit dalam pembinaan projek mega seperti Dubai Internet City dan Palm Jumeirah. Kini pakar runding untuk syarikat Turki, China dan Perancis di UAE. Pernah memenangi Hadiah Sastera Utusan, Johor dan Hadiah Sastera Perdana Malaysia 2006/7. Antologi puisi Waikato diterbitkan oleh DBP pada 2001 dan antologi cerpen Dotkomania (DBP - 2009). Trilogi Travelog A0teAr0A dalam proses pembikinan. Beliau boleh dihubungi melalui e-mel fudzail@gmail.com dan blog 1426.blogspot.com

Friday, June 18, 2010

Nikes instead of nukes

Part 7: Israel Secretly Prepares for a Military Strike

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's hardline government is secretly making preparations for a military strike. "It is 1938, and Iran is Germany," Netanyahu said a few years ago, thereby indirectly equating Ahmadinejad with the former German dictator Adolf Hitler -- and offers to negotiate with Tehran with the appeasement of the Nazis.

The Israeli military's fighter jets have attacked proven or presumed enemy nuclear facilities twice in the past. In June 1981, in "Operation Babylon," they bombed the Osirak reactor near Baghdad, and in September 2007, in "Operation Orchard," they destroyed a complex of buildings at al-Kibar on the Euphrates River in Syria.

But experts say that to destroying Iran's nuclear weapons program, or at least dealing it a decisive blow and setting it back by several years, will require a bombing campaign that would last several weeks and involve more than 1,000 air strikes against about a dozen targets. Even this would not be a guarantee that all key facilities had been struck and the nuclear components the Iranians have hidden in tunnels were eliminated.

Nevertheless, Israeli experts claim that a "military solution" is feasible, even without the help of Israel's extremely skeptical big brother, the United States. Several of Israel's Arab neighbors fear the Iranian bomb and the resulting power shift in the Middle East almost as much as they fear Israel. According to intelligence assessments, Saudi Arabia is even willing to provide the Israelis with flyover rights for an attack from the south.

The Costs of a Strike

The consequences of such a campaign could prove to be fatal. Iran's options include more than a conventional retaliatory missile strike. The Iranian leadership would likely organize a terrorist campaign in Iraq, and it would encourage two groups funded by Tehran -- Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip -- to launch strikes against Israel. This could lead to a potential conflagration in the Middle East, which could spread to the rest of the world, or at least the global economy.

Besides, almost all experts agree that a bombardment by Israeli fighter jets would encourage the Iranian people to close ranks the Tehran leadership, which is currently extremely unpopular, and weaken the "green" opposition movement. Is it possible that the Iranians are in fact provoking such a strike to achieve precisely this outcome? And would this lead to their withdrawing from the IAEA and moving full speed ahead with their bomb development plans, this time with the full support of the people?

On the quiet, politicians and defense experts have already begun discussing whether and how the world could come to terms with Iran as a nuclear power. Martin van Creveld, a military historian and Jerusalem professor who is the author of "Living with the Bomb," argues that a nuclear Iran would ultimately not be a greater threat to world peace than a nuclear Israel. But this is a minority opinion in the Jewish state, where opinion polls indicate that more than half of the population supports a preventive strike against Tehran if negotiations remain ineffective.

In Washington, the prospect of a world "After Iran Gets the Bomb" -- the title of a cover story in the influential magazine Foreign Affairs -- is now being discussed relatively openly. Experts propose political "containment" of Iran to limit the potential damage.

One thing is certain: Since US President Obama came into office, the Americans are on board when it comes to possible negotiations with Tehran, and they are no longer delegating everything to the Europeans. New York Times writer David Sanger, cites a US diplomat in his book "The Inheritance: The World Obama Confronts and the Challenges to American Power," saying: "There are some things in life that don't work when you have other people do them for you. Among them are sex, drinking and negotiating with Iran."

A senior Israeli military official says that he's familiar with the quote, but that he would modify it slightly at the end: "... They include sex, drinking and bombing Iran."

Act 6: What the Persians Really Love -- and Who They Hate

Isfahan on the "Day of the Atom." The city is the pride of the nation, the jewel of Persia, Nesfe Jahan, "Half of the World." It is a city with religious tolerance and intercultural tradition. But on this day in April 2009, the city's facades are spoiled by signs like the one displayed on its downtown Imam Square, which reads "Death to the Zionists." Less than a kilometer away, on Palestine Square, of all places, the faithful gather in a synagogue for prayers. There are about 1,200 Jews living in Isfahan, and about 25,000 in all of Iran.

"We would forget all of our reservations about the theocracy and fight the intruders," says an old man with a face ravaged by time, looking as if he had just emerged from the Old Testament. He carefully straightens his skullcap as he walks into the synagogue. He is quick to add, however, that he doesn't want to be misunderstood, and that his words have nothing to do with any affection for that man Ahmadinejad.

Persia is a puzzle hidden inside a puzzle made of question marks.

If the Israeli Air Force or the US Air Force were to bomb Iran, it's a safe bet that the Iranian nuclear facility near Isfahan would be at the top of its list of targets. The complex, less than 20 kilometers (12 miles) from Isfahan, a city of 1.5 million people, is buried in a dramatic desert landscape. A launching pad for anti-aircraft missiles juts into the sky on one of the hills surrounding the valley. Behind the pad, a series of fences, armed guards and then more barbed wire protect the center of the top-secret facility and its uranium conversion plant, which was dedicated by President Ahmadinejad, an event at which SPIEGEL journalists were, uncharacteristically, permitted to accompany the Iranian leader -- into the inner sanctum of Iran's nuclear program.

Here, too, the contradictions are surprising. It goes without saying that first-rate nuclear physicists work at the Isfahan complex. But immediately prior to the presidential visit, a technician is seen cursing as he searches for a wrench while repairing the roof of the high-tech plant.

The president's visit is a solemn one, as if he were attending a religious ceremony. Afterwards, he returns to the city in his convoy. Curious young people crowd into the square where Ahmadinejad is speaking, and when they get bored, they disappear into the bazaar to shop around for the true objects of their desire: Nikes instead of nukes.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Where the Afghanistan's riches are hidden

The $1trillion jackpot: U.S. discovers vast natural deposits of gold, iron, copper and lithium in Afghanistan



American geologists have discovered a hidden treasure trove of minerals in Afghanistan that could transform the fortunes of the war-scarred country.

The untapped deposits - including huge veins of gold, iron, copper, cobalt and key industrial metals like lithium - have been valued at more than £820billion.

US experts believe the find could turn Afghanistan from a bedraggled nation torn apart by generations of conflict into one of the most important mining centres in the world.


Read more: HERE

CIA report: Israel will fall in 20 years

A study conducted by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has cast doubt over Israel's survival beyond the next 20 years.

The CIA report predicts "an inexorable movement away from a two-state to a one-state solution, as the most viable model based on democratic principles of full equality that sheds the looming specter of colonial apartheid while allowing for the return of the 1947/1948 and 1967 refugees. The latter being the precondition for sustainable peace in the region."

The study, which has been made available only to a certain number of individuals, further forecasts the return of all Palestinian refugees to the occupied territories, and the exodus of two million Israelis — who would move to the US in the next 15 years.

"There is over 500,000 Israelis with American passports and more than 300,000 living in the area of just California," International lawyer Franklin Lamb said in an interview with Press TV recently, adding that those who do not have American or Western passport, have already applied for them.

"So I think the handwriting at least among the public in Israel is on the wall...[which] suggests history will reject the colonial enterprise sooner or later," Lamb stressed.

He said CIA, in its report, alludes to the unexpectedly quick fall of the apartheid government in South Africa and recalls the disintegration of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, suggesting the end to the dream of an 'Israeli land' would happen 'way sooner' than later.

The study further predicts the return of over one and a half million Israelis to Russia and other parts of Europe, and denotes a decline in Israeli births whereas a rise in the Palestinian population.

Lamb said given the Israeli conduct toward the Palestinians and the Gaza Strip in particular, the American public — which has been voicing its protest against Tel Aviv's measures in the last 25 years — may 'not take it anymore'. Some members of the US Senate Intelligence Committee have been informed of the report.

The moments when the Israeli soldiers were beaten up on Mavi Marmara

The deadly raid on the Gaza aid flotilla triggered a propaganda war between Israel and pro-Palestinian activists. Surprisingly, it was Turkish newspaper Hürriyet that published the most spectacular photos.

On Friday, June 4, an agitated man with a bald head and full gray beard walked into the headquarters of the Muslim aid organization IHH in Istanbul. The 53-year-old man identified himself as Kevin Neish, a peace activist and amateur photographer from Victoria, Canada. Four days previously he had been on board the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara, he said. He had taken photos that night when Israeli soldiers stormed the vessel. "Do you have a computer?" Neish asked breathlessly and handed a memory card containing digital photos to a surprised office worker.

The photos that appeared on a computer screen at IHH provide a fairly accurate portrayal of what happened on May 31 some 100 kilometers off the Israeli coast. They show two pro-Palestinian activists armed with iron bars standing in front of a door. One of the photos shows an Israeli soldier covered in blood and lying on the floor, the other shows a dead activist who appears to have been shot in the head. The photos show that a deadly scuffle took place on board -- one in which activists were killed by Israeli soldiers, but which was provoked by the Turkish and Arab passengers of the Mavi Marmara.

The IHH staff didn't like every photo they saw. Only Neish, who had managed to smuggle the memory card past the Israeli authorities and into Turkey, felt satisfied. "I hid the card everywhere while the soldiers were questioning us," he said. "I had it in my mouth, once in my shoes, and once in my underpants."

Three days later, on June 7, the photos were published in Turkish newspaper Hürriyet -- together with other photos taken by Turkish photographer Adem Özköse, who works for the Islamic publishing house Hayat Dergisi.

The fact that "the moments when the Israeli soldiers were beaten up," as Hürriyet put it, were published in a Turkish newspaper of all places is the climax of a bizarre war of interpretation that pro-Palestinian activists and the Israeli government have been waging against each other ever since the deadly raid.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan railed against Israel's "banditry and piracy." But Hürriyet belongs to the media group of entrepreneur Aydin Dogan which has been critical of the government in the past. Initially, Dogan's newspapers had criticized the Israeli raid just like Turkey's pro-government papers. But since then they have been warning against excessive Israel bashing and against the prime minister's increasingly authoritarian style of government.

Erdogan, King Faisal, and Mahathir

Tuesday 15 June 2010
By Dr. Hamad Al-Majid


Nasser…al-Khomeini…Saddam Hussein…Ahmadinejad. Recep Tayyip Erdogan has now found his name forcibly added to this list following his latest crisis with Israel due to the Arab and Islamic people's admiration of his humanitarian and honorable position against the Gaza blockade. In my opinion, this is an attempt to overlook, disregard, or play down the honorable stance taken by this courageous leader. In the Arab and Islamic world, excessive popular sentiment occasionally results in the public blindly and mistakenly supporting one leader or another. This was the case following Saddam Hussein's occupation of Kuwait and Ahmadinejad's inflammatory remarks towards Israel, with the public completely forgetting Saddam Hussein's autocratic and violent nature, and Ahmadinejad's silence and submissiveness towards the US's occupation of Iraq.

However if we dig a little deeper into this phenomenon of popular sentiment we would find that this centers upon the public's desire for anybody to confronts Israeli arrogance "by any means necessary" and so they do not look too closely at the leaders or flags of those who do so. This can be seen in the huge number of people who expressed their support for the Shiite Ayatollah al-Khomeini after he severed relations with Israel in favor of the Palestinian Liberation Organization in the early 1980s, and so the public sided with him in his war with bitter enemy Saddam Hussein.

However it was this same public who supported the Baathist Sunni Saddam Hussein in the 1990s. Both of the above positions which were adopted by the public at the time were wrong, however it would also be wrong and unfair to assassinate any strong public sentiment and continually proclaim this to be wrong and consider all those who hold and support this sentiment to be agitators or irrational without carefully examining this sentiment, in the same manner that some analysts have examined Erdogan's position.

There are heavyweight Arab and Islamic leaders who gained enormous support across the Islamic world but who cannot be included in the above list, such as renowned Islamic leader King Faisal Bin Abdulaziz – may God have mercy on him – who courageously brandished Saudi Arabia's oil wealth as a weapon against the blatant western bias towards Israel. Another example is the former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed, the courageous Asian tiger who adopted brave and resolute positions against Israel and against the US policies in the region. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is certainly closer to the previous two honorable and respectable examples.

When we call for a strong stance against Israeli arrogance or the unjust US bias towards Israel, this does not mean provoking a crisis in international relations or harming one's interests, nor does it mean inciting public sentiment through Ahmadinejad's inflammatory provocations or Saddam's provocative statements. Rather what we are talking about is a strong Arab and Islamic stance which explicitly says "No" to Israel's policies, and America's unjust bias towards Tel Aviv.

This is because the Israeli injustice towards the Palestinians in general and the Gazans in particular, is something that can no longer be tolerated. We are talking about political positions whose consequences and aims have been carefully studied and analyzed in the same manner as Mahathir Mohamed carefully studied his political choices which achieved brilliant results, and as Erdogan is currently doing today against the unjust Israeli blockade of Gaza. By any standard, the cunning Erdogan has achieved political and media victories in support of the Palestinian Cause, and so the Gaza blockade is now top of the agenda for all those concerned with the Arab – Israeli conflict, after the Palestinian issue was close to being completely forgotten.

Erdogan also achieved victories for himself, his country, and his agenda, and backed Israel into a corner with his humanitarian flotilla, provoking international anger and indignation at Israel's behavior. Erdogan was not reckless when sending the humanitarian flotilla to break the Gaza blockade, and we did not hear any tense or inflammatory statements against Israel or the West. Rather all that Erdogan did was act on behalf of a billion Muslims and Arabs by saying "No" to the Gaza blockade, and this is a rejection that has echoed throughout the world.

If the Arab and Islamic world was full of strong, rational, and carefully considered positions against the Zionist arrogance, and if intelligent rejection in the "Erdogan/Mahathir Mohamed" manner against the biased US and western policies towards Israel is raised, then this is more than enough for us to make some gains for the Palestinian Cause.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Truth, lies, blueberries

Sophia Money-Coutts

Blueberries are great for children as they are very healthy, but also good for the brain and memory. iStockphoto

Should you really only eat red meat once a week?

Absolutely. The best thing to do is make something like a beef stew perhaps, trim the fat off it and add a lot of vegetables. Make them the focus of your meal. Alternatives to beef are chicken, game meat and veal. It does have benefits, such as being a rich source of protein and containing a high level of B vitamins, along with iron and zinc. But there aren’t any nutrients in meat that can’t be obtained from other foods. And there are big problems with red meat in general. It increases cholesterol because of the fat content, and it takes a while to digest because it has no fibre content. Fat without fibre basically. MM


Are vitamins a waste of money?

It depends on what your diet is like. Ideally, we should derive all our nutrients from our food but sometimes we need a bit extra to get our bodies on balance. In that case you do need to check on the quality of the brand that you’re buying. A lot of brands make vitamins chemically in laboratories and put them into pills. Then it’s difficult for our bodies to absorb them. You can get some rubbish ones, look at the ingredients and you’ll see the binding agents and stuff they’ve put in to bulk them up. Instead, look for a supplement that actually uses food, such as New Chapter – a great brand that you can get in the UAE. It’s literally like they’ve got a pot of food, boiled it up, dehydrated it, dried it, powdered it and put it into a pill. And they’re the same price as many of the others. LH


Can you can eat fast food every now and then without harm?

Well, the thing with fast food is the amount of saturated fat, salt and sugar. In some cases, if you’ve had a full-fat fizzy drink, a burger and fries, you’ve totally maxed out your daily allowance for calories. And it’s the combination of sodium and the saturated fats in these things that are the real issue. If you’re aware of your body you just don’t want to put that kind of stuff into it.

Are blueberries really worth all the fuss?

I would only have good things to say about them, particularly with regards to the diets of children. They are the ultimate memory food, because they contain such high levels of antioxidants and compounds called polyphenols which are good for the brain – they help neurones connect better basically. And there’s a type of flavanoid found on the blueberry skin called anthocyanin which is cancer-fighting. Plus, they contain the compound called pterostilbene which is anti-ageing. They’re easy to add to your diet – in smoothies, or in a fruit salad. The bags of frozen blueberries are good too. I would use them on a daily basis in different ways. MM

Are coconuts a superfood?

You can class them as one, which is fantastic because here you can buy them fresh for around Dh5.
Some people say the fat content of coconut is high, but that is a load of rubbish. Coconuts don’t make you fat and they don’t increase your cholesterol, that’s very misguided. In a coconut, there is saturated fat but its molecular structure is very different from a regular saturated fat. Take something like butter, which has a very short chain of fatty acids with fewer atoms on it and compare it to coconuts, in which the chain of fatty acids is a bit longer, which means coconut is treated differently by the body.
It goes straight to the liver and really boosts your metabolism. It’s so good for you. LH

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Exposed Arab political, military and moral bankruptcy

Israel’s barbaric attack on Gaza aid flotilla

Exposed Arab political, military and moral bankruptcy

By Latheef Farook

Israel’s barbaric attack on the humanitarian Gaza aid flotilla once again demonstrated to the world the blind complicity of the United States led Europe and exposed the political, military and moral bankruptcy of the Arab dictators.

In the face of Zionist Jewish crimes all cherished human values, human feelings and human kindness disappear from Western leaders who shamelessly defend all Israeli crimes or face humiliation as it happened, to cite an example, in the case of former US President Bill Clinton who was humiliated by Monica Lewinsky affair.

The latest being the price paid this week by veteran White House journalist Helen Thomas when she boldly said on May 27 that the Israelis should “get the hell out of Palestine” and return home to Germany., Poland or the United ‘States” .Pressure brought upon 89 year old Helen Thomas, long considered the dean of the White House press correspondents, was such that she had to apologize for this comment.

Such was the Jewish grip on the political and other key establishments in the US and Europe and thus the world.

The latest demonstration of this sickening state of affairs, affecting the entire world, is Israel’s attack on Turkish Gaza Aid Flotilla led by MAVI MARMARA. All what the US President Barack Obama’ and his administration together with other Western leaders said were “to regret and not condemn”.

Thus the lawless entity of Israel, established by means of violence, terrorism, massacres, deception and conspiracies in the robbed Palestinian lands, has been allowed to commit any crime with impunity and get away because of the unstinted all round support from US and Europe and shares the guilt.

In the case of Arab dictators, they collaborated for the past three years with Israelis to starve around 1.5 million brutalized Palestinians in Gaza .It was under such shameful and disgusting circumstances compassionate human beings from all over the world, stretching from Los Angles, New York, London, Paris and Middle East to South East Asia, collected food, medicine and other essential item and sailed to Gaza on their mercy mission while the Arabs turned blind eyes. They were spearheaded by Turkish humanitarian organizations.

These peace activists belonged to different religions, nationalities, languages and cultures, but bonded together in their desire to help ease the sufferings of unfortunate Palestinians in Gaza when they came forward to organize this mercy mission. Among them were men and women, young and the aged including noble laureate and parliamentarians. They felt the pain of those sufferings Palestinians in Gaza blockaded by Israel and Egypt’s oppressive dictator Hosni Mubarak

It was on these compassionate human beings that Israel unleashed its traditional barbarity in an act of banditry and killed some, injured many and took others into custody. This happened in the international waters in total violation of international law.

There were swift condemnations and demonstrations from all over the world. However there was an eerie silence in the Arab capitals .No Arab regime condemned this barbarity. In their drive to please their American, British, French and Zionist masters, these dictators also prevented their people from staging demonstrations to express their solidarity with the Palestinians.

This was the plight of the people all over Middle East where the rulers have turned their countries into open prisons as Israel had done in Gaza to punish the Palestinians for electing Hamas in the first ever free and fair elections held in January 2006 under the supervision of former United States President Jimmy Carter.

The attack on the ship Turkish MAVI MARMARA took place on Monday 31 May 2010.However there were no word from any Arab regime till Thursday 3 June 2010 when Amr Musa, Secretary General of the politically impotent Arab League stated that Israel has no right to impose blockade on Gaza. The question is where was he and his Arab League to the sufferings of Palestinians during the past three years?

Only country which came forward to help the Palestinians in Gaza was Turkey where Ottoman Rulers were toppled during World War 1 by the Jews and the British with the support of corrupt and bribed Arab dictators including Saudi rulers.

There was a time when Muslims all over the world looked to the Middle East, the land of Islam and Islamic history, for leadership. This proved disastrous disappointment. However Turkey’s initiative to help Palestinians provides some hope to the helpless Muslims worldwide.

Meanwhile six days after the attack on the Gaza Aid Flotilla there comes a shocking disclosure in the Doha based Al Jazeera Television’s popular weekly program “Inside Iraq” on Saturday 5 June exposing how some Arab regimes helped the US invasion of Iraq.

While discussing war crimes committed in Iraq by former US President George Bush and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, former White House Aid Brad Blakeman said that “if Bush and Blair were to be tried for war crimes then the Arab rulers who helped them in their invasion of Iraq too need to be tried.

He reiterated that the rulers of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar and Kuwait too should be tried for war crimes in Iraq as they provided bases in their countries to US forces and facilitated the invasion of Iraq. He said Saudi rulers were “all out to remove Saddam Hussein from power”.

One columnist pointed out that Hosni Mubarak was bought over by the US with American tax payers’ money, on behalf of Israel, for an annual fee of US $ 1.5 billion. He in turn bribed and bought the opposition Thus Egypt was sold to Zionists. Jordan’s US installed dictator Abdulla, Saudi rulers, the Emir of Qatar and the Ruler of Kuwait helped the US-UK invasion and turned this once almost developed Arab and Muslim country where ancient civilizations flourished and once described as the golden period of Islam during Abbasid Caliphate, into a killing field and graveyard.

In fact Saudi Ruler Abdullah went all the way to Washington to award the highest national award to George Bush who was given red carpet welcome amidst traditional songs and dance in Riyadh. Israeli President Shimon Peres attended a dinner banquet he hosted there.

The irony is that he is the Custodian of Islam’s two holiest mosques in Makkah and Madina.

Thus they have become partners in the US led European crusade against Muslim Iraq and have in their hands the blood of around 1.4 million innocent Iraqis slaughtered. The pain and the humiliation of hundreds of thousands Iraqi men and women tortured, women raped, four million Iraqis rendered refugees and their sufferings are bound to haunt them to their graves?

This is the painful reality in the Middle East where the innocent people remain sandwiched between the mightiest powers on earth, US and Europe, and the mediaeval style Arab dictators who help implement Judeo-Christian evil designs against Arabs and Muslims as enemies within.

The irony is that this happens at a time when the Zionist Jews, Evangelical Christians and the RSS Hindus have joined together to unleash a vicious and ferocious global campaign against Islam and Muslims under the guise of fighting a so called war on terrorism.

The reality is that the US led West and the Arab dictators have become two sides of the Zionist Jewish coin. Thus it is matter of time before the Israeli flag flies in all Arab capitals including the land of Islam as it has been happening in Cairo and Amman.

The question is, under such circumstance, to whom the Muslims can turn to. Indications are that it is matter of time before; one after the other all Muslim countries will be turned into killing fields as they had done in Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia. Ends