Category: HishMaj

Caught on camera!

There is an image of me on Google Street View!

Google Street View is a technology featured in Google Maps and Google Earth that provides panoramic views from various positions along many streets in the world. [Wikipedia]

It once created a big buzz when it first started in the UK as these images, apparently, breaks the privacy of homes and people. In the early days, the faces of people on the streets were not blurred, but many court cases later, they ended up blurring all the images of people. This view is taken from a vehicle that has a mounted 360-degree camera, that captures images, which are then put together to get the view. Zoom in on the five guys walking in the centre. Spot me if you can :). If the Applet below doesn’t work, click here.


When it rains, it pours.

Riyadh Rain - Logo by Ahmed Al Haddad

Designed by: Ahmed Al Haddad (@cdes). Shows the two famous skyscrapers in Riyadh drowning.

My post on the Jeddah floods of November 2009 is long overdue and it has always been on my list of posts to be written. But an opportunity came knocking when a similar rain hit Riyadh earlier today and caused similar damages, if not as strong as Jeddah, to the infrastructure of the city.

The Jeddah floods helped in unveiling a lot of infrastructural defects and bad town planning by the Jeddah municipality over a period of decades. It arose a lot of questions by the citizens which led to the king calling for an official investigation. It led to the arrest of many officials at the Jeddah Mayoralty and un-covered the not-so-hidden cases of corruption and bribery by them. What really saddens me is that, even though the investigation hasn’t reached anywhere yet, the end result of their actions led to the death of 120+ people (unofficially: 500+) and damage to even the latest road and bridge projects across the city.

I really hope that the devastation in Riyadh is not that serious and pray for the well-being of everyone there. The presence of a number of geeks in Riyadh didn’t go wasted either as a new website was launched within hours of the rain :

The website gathers all the tweets from all the users of Twitter in and around Riyadh that puts the tag #RiyadhRain. It also has a collection of videos uploaded on YouTube by hundreds of users that also shows how the humanitarian efforts are being carried out by the citizens, which is worth another post that I hope to be writing very soon.

Call of Adhaan – Modern Wonder 2

One of the things that I really miss while living in this cold/windy/frigid/ ehm… /nice/magnificent country is hearing the adhan (the call to prayer) summoned from the mosques five times a day. Listening to the various (upto 20) muezzins (callers of the adhan) with different tones but all at the same time is truly a blessed 2-3mts experience that you will have.

Especially having lived in a country like Saudi Arabia where there is a mosque every 2-3 blocks, I and many others used (and some still are) to complain about how everything comes to a complete stand-still during prayer times. Everything from the small baqala (grocery shop) to the largest of the largest supermarket chains (UPDATE: Bigger supermarkets are open during prayer time, but the counters are closed); the smallest start-up company to the biggest banks; and err… an online newspaper as well. There are even times when the traffic is at an all-time low during prayers. More about this can be read here.

And now I can really put the pieces together and get an idea of the complete picture. Getting those time-offs just so that you can pray on time is really something everyone should cherish. An excerpt from “Susie of Arabia”:

Another thing that struck me on this drive was the sheer number of mosques we passed along the way. I know that in Jeddah, there seems to be mosques every few blocks in every direction. But out in the middle of nowhere, it felt that even in extremely remote and sparsely populated areas, mosques stood every couple of miles or so. Some were very minimalist, with a floor, walls, a roof, and of course a minaret, and just bare openings without actual doors or windows affixed. Even very small villages seemed to have numerous mosques within their boundaries. When Muslims are traveling, they can delay saying their prayers until they arrive at their destination, but with mosques conveniently located every few miles, delaying prayer times is not really necessary.

What really made me write this post was this video that I stumbled upon. A British journalist for the BBC, Kate Humble, was in Jeddah(as part of the documentary, The Frankincense Trail) with the film crew where she was taken on top of a building in Balad (downtown Jeddah) during maghrib(sunset prayer). She was so over whelmed by the dozens of adhans that she breaks into tears.

I would like to end this post with this beautiful adhan from a mosque in Malaysia:

PS: For those of you who are wondering what the title of the post is all about, I was trying to make it sound similar to the latest game “Call of Duty – Modern Warfare 2” that hit the stores a few days back.

Swine what?

swine flu1

As the number of swine flu affected patients in Saudi Arabia increases, people are panicking more and more. So what does the government do about it to calm the people down? It releases newspaper reports such as this and that telling us what measures they are taking to prevent its entry into the Kingdom and how all entry points into Saudi Arabia are being watched.

Well, guess what? I landed in King Abdul Aziz International Airport in Jeddah on Friday night on a flight that was full of passengers from UK and Switzerland and no one in the flight was even stopped by the Ministry of Health, let alone checked/given vaccines.


Swine flu doesn’t have any physical symptoms. So they cannot randomly choose someone from the crowd and be tested. Coming from UK where there is more than a 1000 cases of swine flu,  I was really amazed how everyone here is so concerned about it wheras I was least bothered about it during my stay over there.

Oops, did I just say that aloud? According to a fatwa issued by a Saudi Mufti, I and all other passengers were banned from traveling in/out of swine flu affected countries, in the first place!

Pictures/Cartoons: Saudi Gazette