WEBsessed
Razan Khatib's commentary on life on/off the web

Why Jordan could be the next silicon valley? 0

A skeptical friend of mine the other day asked me while we were attending the Global Entrepreneurship Week launch event in Jordan why do people think Jordan is special and why would it ever be the silicon valley of the region?

Through answering him I explained how Amman is similar to the US in one important aspect. We are a city that grew through immigration of displaced people from different parts of the region throughout the years.

This sense of starting new, passed down from generation to generation. While the apparent difference in this analogy comes from the fact that when people settled in Jordan it wasn’t seen as a dream come true like what immigrants in the US felt. Nonetheless, I see this spirit of making it big in many of my circles, the social and professional alike. With people from older generations, the 40 somethings as well as my generation of 30 somethings. Now i see it more in the 20 somethings.

They all want to make it big, want to follow their dreams, want to be the next Microsoft, Google or Facebook or the better Starbucks, Landor.

It gets to a point at my startup that people get out to start their own after a while, might be annoying at times to an employer but the bigger picture is that they take the risk, they go and follow their dreams.

I don’t have statistics but I am sure if you look at the number of new tech companies that started up the past 10 years you will definitely see a sharp curve.

The torch for the next silicon valley was ignited already, we are still struggling to create an ecosystem but i see it happening. Yet as Fred Wilson mentioned recently in a blog post:

But it takes time. And you can’t fast forward because we are talking about experience which can’t be manufactured. You simply have to put in the time.

We have a long way ahead of us, the private sector needs to start investing in educating the next generation we must be proactive in creating innovative ways to bridge the gap between our existing educational institutions and what the workforce needs and not wait until our government does so. Sponsor innovation by investing in internal labs to experiment with ideas. We need to enable other Arab talent an easy path to come and start their dream in Jordan not get stuck at lousy immigration policies. Look at how many people from an Indian origin live in Silicon Valley? See how they are celebrated.

The Maktoob deal earlier this year ignited this hope once again, it gave everyone a successful picture and a reality that could be theirs in the near future or something along that path.

Sunny, the feel good music station has a feel good website! 0

SYNTAX and Spring teams are happy to announce the launch of Sunny 105.1 radio station website!

sunny.jo

http://sunny.jo

Sunny a brand designed by SYNTAX and launched in 2008, mow has a very cool fresh website, featuring a blog filled already with feel good stories and tips.

The home page features links to promote Sunny’s social web consisting of its newly created Twitter page as well as its very successful Facebook fan page. a.k.a. more ways to have conversations!

You can listen to the station using the live stream as well as sent a shout (comment) almost at all pages of the website.

As in Play.jo website, you have the cinema and events guides to check out fun activities. But one of the things I love the most about the website, is the very lively background that looks like a real sky. When you go to the about page in particular, you will be able to read the text while the clouds move behind it, very cool right?

Enough talk, go and feel good now :-)

Goodbye 2008 – Bad Hair Year! 2

A reflection 2

Been reflecting about my premature come back from Canada 2.5 years ago continuously all through since then. For all the mix of reasons I thought of then when I made the decision, coupled with the numerous disappointments the move brought with it; I thought I’d be forever haunted by that decision. The big what if?

Recently however, I came into a self discovery that stopped this thread of thought forever I think.

I discovered that my heart was and forever will be in Amman.

And no matter what Canada, the US or the west offered. Its here in Amman where I want to make it. Turned out not a 50-50 of a great life. More like 40-60 with the latter for Amman.

This discovery brought peace into my mind and regardless of any future decisions to move or not. I know I will always come back to Amman and its where I will grow old amongst family and friends.

Ramadan mayhem 3

I have been following closely the dialog about the sudden and seemingly unlawful closure of establishments like Books@Cafe in Amman the past couple of weeks.

The best place to follow this conversation is Madian’s article at 7iber.com Closing of Books@Cafe

My first reaction was utter anger mixed with despair and reminder of why I am in so much conflict with the place I live in. Today, only the anger subsided. A very complex issue this has become, and my discomfort of these events comes from different angles.

Simply put, I am not for systems where majority rules and minorities get oppressed as a result. I am not for systems that allow individuals to act outside the law. And I am defiantly not for systems that are confused to the level that they have to decide who to please and who not to please at any given point.

Celebrating Ramadan should not mean squashing all “those” who choose not to fast. Let tolerance rule and everything else will follow suite.

My colleague Ibrahim made a documentary about this dialog and did a great job including a good spectrum of opinions on the subject, yes I was one of the interviewees.

To my surprise later, I was the only Jordanian woman who accepted to participate. Astonishing, really, again women for all the reasons there is for them to participate more in the life in Jordan they choose not to in this one.

http://ikbis.com/Ibrahim/shot/134769

(Embedding videos from IKBIS doesn’t work on my wordpress.com based blog!!!)

Israeli high-tech industry in the heart of silicon valley 0

I know, Not really a new discovery and not only in high-tech BUT its still a bugger, YES!

While I think Amman is the Silicon Valley of the Arab world, we don’t get that much attention from the real Silicon Valley. And my previous post on this proves it.

Yet our infamous neighbor,  gets soooo much attention as if they are actually there. This might sound like a very confusing and highly debatable subject, but can we at least the people in the high-tech industry in Jordan learn few lessons from the Israelis or is this yet another wall we create to alienate our selves from the fact that that although they are successful but they are the enemy and we just don’t want to learn anything from them?

Small Victories 1

Thanks to Hazim Bitar from the Amman Filmmakers Cooperative, he uploaded a short film I did back in May 2004 to Google Video (and a link from YouTube). I apologize for the bad quality of audio in some parts of the film due to echo; an amateur like me didn’t avoid :s

It was sad watching it again, because after that I haven’t done any activities relating to my political views and events around the world. Yet, I still believe in Small Victories and in the work people like Aida Dabbas (R.I.P.)did…

east, west…now weast? 1

For as long as I remember, I wanted to live in the west where I can find like-minded people around me, where I was free to live whatever kind of lifestyle I wanted for my self.

The problem was defined and the solution was known.

I didn’t belong in Amman, so I managed to leave to Canada.

Yet with all the fun and great experiences I had that year; I still felt like a stranger in a strange land.

Coming back to Amman, nothing changed either, I still don’t belong here as well but that escape, that doorway is closed now. That solution of just leaving Amman and finding my self elsewhere has lost its magic. Its a done deal. This realization that you can never live the kind of life you want 100% anywhere is a bugger and now its going to be a lifetime bugger, the never ending Quest of liberal Arabs to find a place for themselves…

So a fusion of Amman and Toronto? for now its more Amman, and the bit of Toronto I can create every now and then!

Children Museum: Sorry you are too old to enter! 0

A fried of mine passed by today and told me that she was so disappointed that they wouldn’t allow her and her brother to enter the Children’s Museum today because they didn’t have a child 13 or younger with them! Read her post at When Your Inner Child Doesn’t Count by Shalabieh

This is outrageous,  I mean why can’t adults be allowed to enter? A public space built by our tax money and you can’t enter?!!!

Neighborhood Monster 4

I just finished Wa7sh el 7ara, the personal visual commentary about the Jordan Gate buildings in Um Otheina, Amman. They do disturb me still, at night more than day. It has polluted my visual outlook while driving in my neighborhood. I wanted to do this for more than 6 months, so I happy i got to do it before the end of the year!

Thanks to Lubna for the sound design, perfect music to fit the story board.

So watch and enjoy! and of course do tell me what you think :-)

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