Wednesday, May 31, 2006

`Nuff Said

You Belong in New York City
You're an energetic, ambitious woman.
And only NYC is fast enough for you.
Maybe you'll set yourself up with a killer career
Or simply take in all the city has to offer.



This is madness!! My job, my 2nd job, my friends (who I never see anymore), my family (who I never see period!), elections...and shopping!! Channel E! I've been so out of the fashion/celebrity loop the past week...It all started when...................

A group of determined young Kuwaitis decided to speak out about the political situation,
The government didn't have the balls to deal with it so they dissolved the Parliament,
Thinking that would shut the OrangieZ down,
It's only making them work harder.

A very well known organization and a group of experts and consultants on female participation in elections were creating a program in Kuwait for what was thought as 2007 elections, but given the retarded decision that has been made, they're having to move fast in implementing the program and need some local help...yes, I'm the local help. As a local consultant I have to fulfill 4 hours at their office, or just get as much work done as needed for them in research, coordination and consultation.

I have been asked to help out in 2 campaigns for the female committees, said I will try my best, and I definately want to help out as much as I can but I would like to dedicate my precious time to my constituency and of course my obligation as a female cadidate consultant. 2 of my fave candidates are running in my constituency, and one of my girlfriends (a neighbor too) decided that we see if we can help them out (as they are the only 2 in the constituency who reflect our views), so we'll see about that.

I had a hectic day yesterday but I had a little talk with the American senior consultant (who is a big shot in DC, worked as Hilary Clinton's campaign consultant) who made my day by saying "all eyes are on Kuwait. With the evolution of the political situation in your country, and the strong voice of your youth groups...there isn't a better time to be you."

I left their office (or shall I say my temporary one) at 8, had to pass by a friend who had had an operation, got back home at 10 and hit the sac!

The past 3 years in Kuwait have been filled with career disappointments, after being perceived as the "Kuwaiti girl who is going places" in college, I became the Kuwaiti girl who was denied such places, for many reasons: gender discrimination, failure to appreciate a graduate degree, and lack of appreciation for previous experience from different countries. New blood, blah! Ambition, blah! Who cares? Of course such institutions wouldn't notice a good thing even if it hit them right in the face. I came to terms that in Kuwait, I can't make a career out of the things I am passionate about, and although I am not where I thought I would be, I can try and try to make the best out of my existence in this world.

A little over a year ago, I wanted to leave, applied for a couple of jobs in DC and NYC and was stressing about how I was going to make the transition and the announcement to my parents. They knew it, they knew how stressed and depressed I was, an active girl being brushed off because of her gender and age and lack of faith in this society, lead to a passive, depressed girl who remained at the age of 24 a dreamer. They booked me a trip to NYC, they knew how much I missed my independence, and I took their offer. I had a blast, but faced a dilemma: all my friends in the City had moved on to bigger and better things and I realized I don't live there anymore. There was a huge essence of familiarity but little sense of belonging. I returned to Kuwait only to be taken by the women's rights movement...and that's when I dived right back into action.

I have to admit with all the stress, pressure and fatigue that comes from this madness, I sleep at night knowing that I am accomplishing something...and whether I get rewarded or not... well... that's for me to decide.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Democracy in the Middle East: Creating a Monster?

As much as I'm so proud of my fellow Nabeeha 5 members and the work everyone has put in to make the movement as successful as it has been, as much as I felt...actually, I believe that anything successful and public in the Arab political field may breed negative reactions (amongst other positive ones of course). I had a feeling this would happen:

Following the footsteps of Egypt's opposition movement "Kefaya" (more like following the Nabeeha 5 innitative) which peacefully opposes the current Egyptian regime, a group of Kuwaiti youth in Jahra established a new opposition movement, the Kuwaiti Kefaya Movement...the objective of the movement is not to oppose the Kuwaiti regime, but rather, to fight corruption committed by certain members of both the Cabinet and Parliament.
The Daily Star

This may seem promising, more youth are taking non-violent actions at attempts to solve problems peacefully rather than create ones violently, as we have seen regarding terrorism in the Middle East the past few years. However, a member of the movement explained to The Daily Star that "the majority of citizens suffer due to the corruption." Yes, there is corruption, but I don't believe that the majority of Kuwaitis suffer from it, in comparison to other Arab countries, our lifestyle in Kuwait is stable with many benefits provided by the regime for us. We must first appreciate what we have, before addressing what we don't.

I am glad the youth are getting more involved and awareness is increasing in terms of social and political issues amongst the youth, but I am worried that such a movement may lead to another and another, and we will end up in a mess. Hope all goes well and I salute everyone who stands for what they believe in, but we must remember one thing: democracy is a shared value, my freedom is of others and others' freedoms are of mine. When practicing democracy one must keep in mind others and practice it in a responsible manner, because at the end of the day we are all fighting for the same cause, a better country for our fellow citizens, for our children.

On a doggy note. I took my puppy to the vet yesterday to get groomed, and bought him the cutest stuff from the pet shop (International Veterinary Hospital: they're the best!) I bought him a World Cup t-shirt cuz he likes soccer and 'tis the season; and I also bought him shoes!! I can't get him to keep them on though! Paris? How does Tinkerbell do it?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

2006: Year of Change

So the people spoke. The young generation raised important issues and pulled the older ones in the action. And thats a bump in the road for the government, because how could people peacefully demostrate about an issue they believe in? They thought these views were limited to diwaniyas and liberal newspapers, not to a generation of motivated, determined, active people who want their voices to be heard. Isn't this democracy?? Yes!! It sure the hell is!! Democracy is not having a parliament for decades with no women! Democracy is not a pretty face you brag about in the region and to the West! Democracy is a lifestyle, it's practiced, and it was practiced by young Kuwaitis during the past 4 weeks. Whether the public agrees with the issue or not, the people spoke, and let me tell you was beautiful.

On a different note, 8 women are running for Parliament. I gotta admit I was surprised, cuz one of the things that was bothering about dissolving the Parliament is that many women are not ready for these elections. But 8 women have already declared their Campaign 2006. Don't know if any of them will win, most of them have great political potential, others are just pictures in glossy magazines, and 1 who is backed by the Muslim Brotherhood, well..let's stay away from those.

Speaking of staying away, this whole parliament dissolving deal is really affecting me cuz during the Nabeeha 5 movement, as much as I was enjoying it and working on it with a passion, I couldn't wait until it was over cuz I'm very behind on my other love: shopping! I was really looking forward to going back and living the simple life with less meetings and more friends, shopping and R&R. Until the elections are over I won't be completely free to shop, get my nails done, hair, etc. Aaahhh...I miss the days when my agenda had things like 4:00 - Nails, 7:30 - Facial... Now it's like MEETING MEETING MEETING MEETING!! I know I know I'm an online shopping freak and it's so easy blah blah, but believe me with all the stress, phonecalls and planning, there's no time to pop my vitamins! I'm on my break and as I'm blogging I'm buying these ever so cute tops for the summer... I shouldn't be doing this I already owe Neiman Marcus and Saks a @$# load of money! Anyway.. real quick, I went to a reunion of my highschool class...haven't seen most of them in about 10 years, and we picked up right where we left you guys, nothing will every compare to the memories we share.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Night of Determination: 2

For once, I'm speechless. I really don't know what to say about last night Tuesday May 16th, 2006. The critic in me has disappeared!

One year ago, I was striving with other women and men for my political rights, and at 6:30 pm May 16th, 2005 I was content, and I said to myself I have never felt as Kuwaiti as I have the day I got my rights. History repeats itself...May 16th, 2006, I say: I have never felt as Kuwaiti as I have tonight.

The day I was supposed to celebrate my political rights anniversary, I celebrated it on the streets as a Kuwaiti citizen! Equal to those around me! Equal to those MPs speaking! Equal to Qa'imat Al I'itilafiyah carrying their banners at the Night of Determination 2 !! I felt alive, I felt equal, I felt valuable, I felt Kuwaiti.

To be honest with you (you'd understand after reading my previous post) I'm so used to attending or organizing such events for the past year with the same crowd of phenomenal young people which I have grown to be friends with over the past year. So, I wasn't expecting anything different. I was wrong. I have failed to realize before last night that we have finally reached other people, I have failed to realize that it is possible to be standing next to someone 180 degrees different than myself fighting for the same cause is not just in my dreams, it has become a reality.

Speakers were great, their words were motivational, and touched every person in the crowd. It was inspiring to hear older personalities in established positions support the youth, and all Kuwaiti citizens in a simple, informal environment.

The past year has been our journey to democracy. Thanks to those who made it happen: Night of Determination was a Night of Inspiration.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Night of Determination

Well, I was determined to bring everyone I know, but not even my best friends would come join us in our solidarity. Did I mention these friends were girls? Girls!! Seriously, I'm interested in fashion and watching Channel E! too but come on, you can have other interests, it's dooable! Read newspapers in the morning, flip through your fashion mags, gossip, go to the gym, learn Mandarin, attend cultural, political, social events! Broaden your horizens! (OK don't get me started on people who have been going to London for years and only know Oxford St. and Knightsbridge!) Yet, my wonderful guy friends showed up, and just like us all Kuwaitis commented, critisized, mocked and expressed disappointment.. aaaaaaahhh when are we going to start appreciating activism folks? Even if there is one person walking the streets, creating awareness of an issue someone truly believes in is something which should be respected! Not mocked!

I got to the i3tissam at about 6:35 and was surprised, not at the small number of people (cuz I thought I was late) but at the number of families present enjoying their time as well as expressing their stance. Little kids in huge Nabeeha 5 t-shirts, elderly sitting on the chairs that have been kindly placed (ya36eekom alf 3afya shabab) and everyone in the middle people from all ages were there.

I have to admit, I too was disappointed with the relatively low turnout. The organizers worked extremely hard and went all out to the smallest details, from the t-shirts to the flags, and the mural to the music. God! The music!! Took me back straight to my childhood, when everything was smooth, simple and carefree. Funny how the sound of music can bring back not only memories but a feeling, a feeling that your soul has been carrying for decades, locked and completely forgotten, but it only takes a few notes to ignite it.

A few hours later, the crowd started to get bigger, and bigger...

Speakers? Oh, not a dull moment with them all from the youngest most anonymous to the renowned, well-respected personalities. For those of you who know me, I'm all about freedom of expression, however, as a minority group labeled as "liberals" and "young" (labels that have been following us since we started being activists) we need public speeches to show maturity, respect, motivation and substance, to become respected by more factions and not look like we're "enemies of the state." A couple of speeches bothered me, ME!! The girl whose opinions friends and family refer to as "min7arfa!" But guys, there is a fine line between bold and disrespectful, cheap shots; and what has to be taken into consideration is our situation in the social and political arena, we're young, our methods are new in terms of our culture and we have to take baby steps to win them over, and eventually join forces. Disrespectful, harsh remarks like the ones were made, is just 1 point down for us.

As optimistic I am about creating awareness and practicing a democratic lifestyle, as much as I wish that we're not just pictures in newspapers to the public, faces that are limited to certain backgrounds and social status. I know it's not our fault but after every event I attend, I can't help but hope that the crowd evolves into unfamiliar faces.

Speaches kept getting better, the atmosphere was patriotic, peaceful (insert image of children holding flags), fun and full of soul. I missed the 29 MPs who came in around midnight right after their meeting so I can't report what that was like except what I had been told is that it was beautiful, meaningful and full of emotions, a perfect act of support for a young group of activists...a perfect end to a great night.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Naomi Watts: UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador

Australian actress Naomi Watts, who is known for her hollywood glamour and simplicity on the red carpet has been nominated as UN special representative to raise awareness of Aids and HIV worldwide.

There are about 40 million reported cases of HIV, the virus that can lead to Aids. Unfortunately, there are strong misconceptions of this virus in which it is ignorantly looked at as taboo. Yes, HIV and Aids are sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) but their infection can be in other forms such as unsanitary needles (mainly found in poor parts of the world) and may infect different people, heterosexual men and women of all ages including children.

Since UN Secretary General Kofi Anan was appointed he has concentrated his efforts and budget in Africa, and strengthened Aids programs in a region with the highest HIV/Aids rates: 60% of people in Sub-Saharan Africa are infected with HIV. During the 2001 UN Millenium Summit in Johannesburg, HIV/Aids was on the top Millenium Development Goals to halt and reverse the spread of this virus by 2015.

There is a growing phenomena of celebrities using their celebrity status to create awareness on humanitarian issues by becoming UN Special Representatives, other celebrities include Nicole Kidman as UNIFEM Ambassador promoting womens' issues, and Angelina Jolie as UN "goodwill" ambassador to UNHCR: UN High Commission for Refugees. (Note: home-wrecker and husband stealer do not count as goodwill!!)

Good Luck Naomi! There's 18 more days until the 2006 High Level Meeting on AIDS at UN headquarters in the world's fashion capital: NYC! Hope you keep up that fabulous 2004 Oscars, Versace image we still have of you.

Arab Youth: Creating a Revolution...

Never have the streets of the Middle East witnessed so much civil involvement, protests, expressing opinions, voices being heard, and for once an attempt at a civilized, democratic lifestyle. Finally!! People are standing up against their oppressive governments and fighting to have a say in the way their country is run. From Beirut to Egypt, from women's rights to 5 constituencies, from "us" to "them."

Join our active youth, men and women, family and friends, fellow citizens, and anyone who loves this country. Solidarity in front of the Parliament, wear orange, voice your choice and be there tonight at 6:00pm: The Night of Determination.

Although I don't believe we live in a culture/region that knows much about democracy, tolerence and non-violent expression, this is your chance to embrace freedom of speech. Let's show the world democracy can work in the Middle East and we will be the ones to practice it.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

World of Contradictions

Globalization... funny how it works. One click of a button and your words are shared worldwide. I've only recently started reading blogs, people from all over the globe voicing their opinions on controversial issues, revealing secrets from their personal lives, celebrity gossip, and some blogs are about...well...nothing!! Just plain old entertainment!

I have the biggest mouth when it comes to voicing my opinions so I thought to myself...why not share these views with the world. This blog will discuss a variety of issues in 2 areas that are near and dear to my heart: Current Affairs & Fashion.

So World...Welcome to my life ;)