Valéry Giscard d’Estaing – Baraka Band

I haven’t posted anything in a while, but I also haven’t found anything cool to post in a while. I JUST DID. And it’s beyond awesome. Now apparently, there’s this Egyptian band called  Baraka Band and they’ve been formed since 2007. They’ve been doing new covers for old Egyptian revolutionary folk songs, particularly those by the composer Sheikh Imam and vernacular poet Ahmad Fouad Negm, and I love their new modern takes on the classics.

This song is about Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, president of France’s visit to Egypt. The words of Ahmad Negm are just a brilliant pisstake at how his visit means splendor and prosperity for all Egyptians, so much that even poor people will afford to eat potatoes. Maryam Saleh’s delivery is just impeccable on this, she never misses a beat and did more than authentically translate Negm’s sarcasm into song. The song itself is cheerful circus music, which I find brilliantly illustrates the charade that surrounds these official visits.

Check it out, and share if you like. =D

What is Nessa’? Digitizing Arab Women Rights History

For the past few weeks I’ve been trying to put the chaos of ideas that are into my brain into well-formed ideas, and words, but I just can’t keep up with my eagerness towards making this one project called Nessa’ succeed, so I decided to write this blog post to make sure the idea gets to as many people as it can. I believe that our society is inherently unjust, in so many ways, and towards so many groups of people, but the thing that irks me the most is how unjust we are to women, and that includes women being unjust with themselves. I’m not saying we’re bad people, or that we’re evil, there’s just lots of ignorance going around.

And ignorance is what I decided to tackle. Not all ignorance is intentional, sometimes you can be ignorant about something because you’ve never had the chance to learn about it, or because it’s an obscure science. Women’s rights isn’t quantum physics, and it shouldn’t be treated that way. I like to read, and I always feel surprised when I read about an Arab women’s right activist from the 1800s or so, or even the early 90s. The information you find online about them is scarce and often wrong, or biased. That has to change now, for the better, and with all what’s going on around us, people are finally starting to believe in the power of online activism.

It’s vital that we preserve their memory now before it’s too late. Whether by organizing wikipedia projects, scanning and transcribing old books, or by interviewing people, we will try to make each and every precious nugget of information available and reachable to everyone. It is, however, a big and ambitious project, and it needs volunteers and support if it’s going to work. I managed to convince a small group of commited people already, and we’re busy setting up some sort of structure to set things into motion. I urge you all to connect with the project page on Facebook until we have the website ready, and feel free to share your thoughts, here, or there, or on our email: equality@nessaa.org

Drought and Treachery by ElFar3i

Elfar3i, the brainchild of Tareq Abukwaik, has always been something special. He’s always never afraid to speak out his mind, with socially-conscious music that always leaves you thinking. He is by far my favorite lyrically in the Ammani music scene. Also, full disclosure, he’s my cousin, and that the fact that we share some genes just makes me prouder. =D

I leave you know with his latest song, Drought and Threachery. Jordan is one of the poorest countries in the world when it comes to water, and Elfar3i’s minimalist guitar line perfectly illustrates that. The song goes into a cheerful chorus, that is a perfect analogy to the callous attitude people have towards water conservation, as the lyrics make reference to the common belief people have that God will deliver them from whatever problem they have, without them actually doing something about it. Enjoy this song by your brother, Elfar3i, and my favorite cousin. =D

When will they get it? Municipal Elections Edition

I saw a poster for the municipal elections today. If I’m not mistaken, it’s the first batch of the new posters from the new government. The only thing new, however, is the first line on the poster, that says, “The First Change.” Then it’s an exact same copy of the posters that the Bakhit government rushed out in the extra-time of it’s duration. First of all, I thought the constitutional amendments were the first change, could this be a hidden message that they’re not over, and that his HE Khasawneh is going to re-amend some articles? He never really was clear on that.

And about the participate slogan. They just don’t get it. I don’t want to participate, and I’m part of a huge segment of society that does not in any way want to participate. I’ve been taught my entire life to steer clear of politics and focus on something more productive, like math or becoming a doctor, and now you expect me to participate with a slogan? We are the biggest segment of the population, we are the 99% who don’t really care about who gets elected for municipal elections, all we care about is that he does a good job. Our only demand is, “Don’t mess up the country while we’re busy doing other stuff” and that’s all I want out of politics.

Brodas Bros bring the streets of Barcelona to Amman

Yesterday at the KHCC in Ras-el-Ein, the Instituto Cervantes and the Spanish Embassy of Amman presented the Brodas Bros, a Catalan Hiphop dance group (Facebook). And they were AWESOME. I had my reservations before going to the show, I’m not a fan of urban dancing in particular, but the Brodas are a lot more than that. Sitting through that show for an hour and a half, it cannot be described with any other word than complete.
I was very impressed by how they  used the entire medium available at the theater, whether it’s the space available, the sounds, the lighting. It was a feast for the senses. My favorite part of the show was when they shut all the lights, and performed with flashlights in their hands, it just seemed surreal, as they danced on the roof of the theater with their shadows, and that was just the most brilliant moment of a very brilliant show.

Brodas Bros Rock!
Brodas Bros Rock!

The dancing itself was great, some of the best urban dancing I’ve seen, and the styles were just so varied that I wish I was a hip-hop expert so I can name them all. They played their own music, with drums, a saxophone, a flute, and beatbox, and they also had some recorded stuff. Every dance number had a theme that they’ve explored, such as alcoholism, sexuality and such, but it wasn’t at all very serious, they weren’t afraid of using humour, particularly using their dexterity with dancing.

In the end, I have to applaud their energy, because the show started strong, stayed strong throughout, and it finished strong. The group made everybody in the stage get up, and jump, as they played their last number. And here comes the best part, they exited through the main doors of the theater and waited for everybody else to follow them outside, where they talked to the people. It was amazing to see that no matter how professional the show was, that they were true to their roots as a street group. They even found a group of Jordanian urban dancers and made a makeshift dance circle in the lobby. I applaud them highly for making last night simply unforgettable.

If you’ve missed the show, here is a video from their Vimeo page.

BRODAS BROS from BRODAS BROS on Vimeo.

5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Hire a Social Media Agency for

If you did a double-take when you first read the title, then you’re one of the people that know that I recently got hired at a social media agency. As a matter of fact, one of the reasons I was interested in applying at a company like Prodigi is that I never got the idea behind it, so what better way to learn than putting myself dab right in the middle of one? And I love it. I now know that there are hundreds of reasons why a company might want to outsource its social media efforts, but I want to highlight today five reasons that aren’t.

1) You don’t “get” Social Media

A local saying in Jordan goes “Leave the bread to the baker”. Social media is a young science, if it can be called that. For young to mid-sized companies, it’s best defined as the missing link between marketing and sales that everybody has been looking for. It is also a very effective branding tool. I always thought that it should be an integral part of any company’s structure in order for it to be effective at all, but more on that later.

The bottom-line is, if you don’t know why you need social media, you probably don’t. The downsides of having a bad or no social media strategy outweigh the benefits of simply having a social media presence. If you’re a strategy setter wherever you are, make sure you try and “get” social media and what it means to your business and brand, before you embark on any social media effort.

2) It’s cheaper to outsource

You probably don’t afford to have a dedicated social media department in your company, or thought you could cut some corners by simply outsourcing it. Sure, that might seem like a good reason to outsource, but how cheap can you go? It takes a lot of effort and time to run social media campaigns, and if you couldn’t afford to do it on your own, don’t expect that a social media agency can do the same exact thing for much cheaper. You will always get what you pay for, so keep that in mind when picking an agency or deciding to do it in-house.

3) It worked for competitor X

If you honestly don’t see why you need social media, and you’re just giving in to peer pressure, then you’re just shooting yourself in the foot. You can’t really measure ROI and success in traditional ways with social media. Sure, there are lots of numbers, and many PR and social media agencies won’t hesitate to show you these numbers, but these numbers can often more delude than inform. You can spend years playing catch-up in fan numbers with your competitors, but is that really what you need?

Having a highly loyal, and highly authentic online following is priceless, and they’re also things that you really can’t measure easily, especially from the outside. Try to focus on making it work for you, and if you’re doing good, stop worrying about competition. Just keep that in mind before deciding to outsource or not, and who to outsource to.

4) You’ve tried social media and failed

Again, this is very similar to the first reason. Before deciding to hire a social media agency, or even starting a department of your own, you really have to see how well they integrate into the existing structures in your company. Your social media channels can be the cherry on top of a comprehensive marketing campaign, and they could also be the spark of a huge sale, so make sure that whoever is handling your social media is both trained, and briefed on when to take over from your marketing team, and who they can handover in your sales team, and how to identify those opportunities.

5) I Just want a Facebook page and a Twitter account.

With social media brands have something they’ve never had before. Your target demographic are having a big party, inviting their friends, and you’re invited. Don’t mess it up. You have to decide how you want your brand to be represented. You don’t want to be the guy going around saying, “Be my friend. Why do you like them more than you like me? They suck!”.

You can be a broadcaster, with a whole crowd of people around you listening to what you say, or the engager, talking to everyone and switching from conversation to conversation, or you can even be the guy who lurks and listens, only talking when he’s talked to. There is no right answer for everyone, just make sure that it’s you making that choice as part of your overall strategy, and any really good agency should be flexible enough to give you that.

Don’t take this article as a general warning against Social Media agencies, just make sure that when you decide to outsource, that you pick a company that “gets” Social Media right.