So much for Interfaith dialogue

Last weekend ( i.e. last week's weekend. Even though I am working, it is sunday after all) I had a bunch of friends come over to attend a conference in Doha, titled "Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow" or MLT for short (Insert sandwich joke here). I, naturally, was not invited, but crashed the party anyway, because of the number of people I knew attending said conference,  which some  did out of belief that something positive could come out of it, some for the media spotlight, and others because they wanted to come see yours truly. The conference itself was actually funny because they gatherd an unusual amount of  international freaks that made you really worry about The future of Islam if those were its leaders of tomorrow. The most telling moment was when this  young French Canadian Salafist (Yes, ponder the combination for a second, and ask yourself: Is that what Satan shits or what?) at the very begining of the conference raised his hand to speak, and stating that he is glad to have met Islam before he met muslims, because of what he sees in the conference from "intermingeling of the sexes" to "greetings using kisses" and finally to "Open aclohol drinking". I wanted to raise my hand to ask him where the "Kissing and drinking" section was so that I could go sit there, but Mona Al Tahawy was faster than me and ripped the poor guy a new asshole very very quickly. It was actually beautiful. (In an unrelated note, when I was telling a friend who works for Al Jazeera about how strange I found the combination of a French-canadian AND a salafist to be, he responded by saying "Oh, they are the worst kind. I have one in accounting and he is a total prick". So world, pay attention, there are apparently many french-canadian salafists running around. You have been warned!)

Anyway, the days passed and-with the exception of few minor incidents of sabotage conducted by yours truly- it was actually a very pleasant conference with some cool people in it. After a discussion with group of guys over the need for "a Fatwa-issuing religious authority" in Islam, where one pimply-faced turk who couldn't be more than 18 years old said "Well, when you are sick, don't you go to a doctor for the remedy? It's the same thing!", I decided to avoid the men all together and hung out with the islamic sisters, a.k.a the Satanic-tempting-whores by french-canadian boy. It was a very enlightning experience, if not for confirming my suspicions that the main problem with Islam is that Men are its religious leaders. The horror stories those women told me about how their work (much of which is very respctable and with aim to improve living conditions and literacy rate amongst their native population) was always undermined and thwarted by a bunch of idiotic chauvinistic mullahs who had no problem issuing life-destorying fatwas at time just because they didn't like to see a woman read (and the stories are all the same, from Bahrain, to Iran, to Denmark, to Kashmir to Indonesia and Pakistan). It became abundently clear that what Islam needs, more than anything, is more Female influence and eventually more female leadership. At least they were more interested in moving the religion forward and elevating its people, than debating the remedic values of Camel piss or if women should pluck their eyebrows. But what do I know?

The Punchline for the entire conference though came 2 days after it ended. You see, one evening a friend asked me to come to her table to start talking to this american guest called Daniel Pincus, who happend to be jewish. Apparently the other guests were ignoring him and he was very uncomfortable being the lone jew there in case a "Ghaza" conversation did start up. So I went there and chatted with him a bit, but he seemed to be doing fine and Azhar Usman started his stand up routine, so I ignored him and life went on. It wasn't until a few days later when I recieved an e-mail from one of the people who was at that table regarding this piece of news: An American fellow who was coming back to the US from a flight from Turket, flipped out on the airline because "some arab types" whose looks freaked him out boarded the plane. The name of the idiot?

Daniel Pincus.


Where is the Qatari blogsphere?

Every country in the region has a somewhat working and vibrant blogsphere. Even Saudi has one. Where is Qatar's? How come I've never heard of a single qatari blogger? Why isn't there any qatari blogs on Itoot? What's going on?

It's impossible that there isn't one because of how small they are, because Kuwait is tiny and filled with bloggers. I am starting to wonder that maybe there is another reason why there isn't a blogsphere, and it's making me worry…

The Sandmonkey Doha Blues

Ok, so the question, last time we were here has been, where do we go from here? Well, Doha, apparently. Surprised? Yeah, me too.

Here is the story: After spending a couple of months in my new company, heading the new business unit, with expansion plans and its ilk, our company went belly up,, because our MBA holding CEO didn'tt do a fiancial valuation before putting all of our free-cash-flow (a.k.a. the money supposed to finance the expansion) in a business venture that even the dumbest dummy would've told him was a very very bad idea. So suddenly the company was on the rocks, going concern became an issue, and salaries started getting delayed. So, I bounced.

Right before the bouncing, I got me that offer to go to Dubai, to which I gave my signiture Fuck you post to, all secure in knowing that there must be a job in Egypt out there for me. I submitted my resignation, took august off, chilling on the beach, enjoying the life. The following month I went on my US-monitoring-the-election trip, and then came back in October for almost a month. Facing dim job prospects from a freaked out economy (Thank you global economic crisis, you cunt you), I was approached by a headhunter for a really fancy job in Doha. Hvaing nothing to do, I agreed to go for a job interview, figuring that it will be ncie to go for a plane ride and a posh hotel. I did have nothing to do really.

So I went, I wowed and I impressed. I was offerd the job on the spot, and for posterity said I would think about it. I went home, and looked around, and found that I either was offerd job that involved advancement but paid half of my current paygrade, or jobs that paid well, but offerd no mental stimulation what-so-ever. For a while I convinced myself that I should go for that job that paid well, but offerd little, because I had a lifestyle to support. I was living the bachelor life in zamalek: girls, parties, foriegn alcohol, afghani hash, etc you name the debauchery, I had it and indulged in it. And I found myself willing to take a job that I knew offerd me nothing but a steady high income in order to support it. And slowly but surely that started eating at me.

You see, in Cairo, all you really have is your friends. You create your alternate reality, our own ghetto if you will, in order to survive this town. And I have done that successfully in the past, so successfull that all I needed to do is to continue to sustain that lifestyle. I knew all the right people, all the IN-crowd folks and those who couldn't care less. I had pull inside the hottest clubs and the fringiest anti-culture hang-out. I had the life, and I had it on lock-down, and I knew that I had peaked, and there was nothing left to do, but to do it all over and over again. 

And then there was Zamalek itself, the Island, and how it insulates you from everything happening around you. If you live in Zamalek, you never have to elave it, excpet to go to downtown, and if you really feel like taking a trip, you ventrue into Maadi. This is your life, on the L shape of the Nile coast. Never really having to inetract with anybody you don't want to interact with. All of your friends speak english to you, and thsoe who don't are not living like the rest of egypt is. It was everything any one could ever need, which to someone like me felt exactly like a trap.

Maybe I am simply a restless soul who can't abide with comfort for long. Maybe I just needed to challenge myself. Or maybe, just maybe, the time was up and I needed a job. Either way, I came back from the states in November, and relaized that in 2 weeks I was going to Doha. And it, somehow, felt right. I needed to remove msyelf from my stagnation. Embark on a new adventure and recharge. And maybe re-start this blog all over again. I have so much to tell you about. This place is insane.

But that's for later. For now I just wanted to send you guys a note: I am alive, and well, and in Doha for at least the enxt 6 months. If you live here, drop me a line. I would love to hear from you!