Saturday, October 13, 2007

A Review of the Kingdom

This is a counter-review to non-Arab fellow blogger Ananyah's review of the recently-released movie the Kingdom (IMDb)...

As a Saudi national both living and studying in the US, many of my American friends, who had seen the Kingdom last weekend, hungrily sought feedback from me as soon as they found out that I saw it too. Before I had opened my mouth with as little as a peep, I wasn't quite sure what the nature of their reactions would be towards what I had to say about this piece of American media.

In short, the movie fed on emotions, a lot of mixed emotions. It relied very much on the cast, visual effect, and the latest advents of cinematography; substance-wise, it was a dismal pond of sensationalism. The movie was not worth the admission fee, to say the least; however, my curiosity was. The cast who played the Saudis were a helter-skelter group of what seemed to be Jordanians and Moroccans for the most; perhaps some Palestinians as well. So, initially, the movie lacked authenticity.

The movie also depicted the leader of the Kingdom as young, pretentious and unexperienced; 'tis quite the contrary to what the current news show nowadays. The plot was an exaggerated, condensed version of all tragic incidents that have occurred thus far in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The movie showed Saudis as barbaric, misogynistic, chauvinistic, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as hell incarnated. The character Colonel Faris Al Ghazi was the classic US protagonist; he's been to the US and loved it, he's even been to a basketball game. The movie provided viewers with an adolescent perception of world affairs at best. Only 53% of critics have provided positive feedback about the movie so far (for more information, check out this Wikipedia entry).

For those of you who are seeking a good die-hard-like action movie, this is definitely a good choice. However, if you are someone seeking education about the Kingdom and its people, I wouldn't recommend this movie at all, but instead recommend you go read Thicker than Oil: America's Uneasy Partnership with Saudi Arabia by Rachel Bronson (

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Happy Eid

"This is the first time that the Empire State Building will be illuminated for Eid, and the lighting will become an annual event in the same tradition of the yearly lightings for Christmas and Hannukah," according to a statement.
-- Yahoo! News

Very interesting. :)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Ramadan Update

Status: Still alive.
Latest Activities: Weeds, Seasons 1 and 2.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Sundered Reverie (Part Dieciséis) - The Conclusion

Note: For earlier parts to the story, click here.

Clock strikes 8. Fares is sitting very impatient. Clock strikes 9. Fares is now frustrated. 15 minutes shy of the clock striking 10, Layan calls...

[Layan]: Hey, you.
[Fares]: Where the hell have you been!!?

[Layan]: What the hell is wrong with you!? Why are you screaming??? This is no way to talk to me!

Fares tries to muffle his wrath to the best of his ability...

[Fares]: Oh yeah? Then tell me, where have you been?
[Layan]: Oh, so now I have to go through my whole daily schedule with you? Funny, I was never informed.
[Fares]: That smart mouth of yours won't get you anywhere.
[Layan]: Oh yeah? Well, mister, that attitude of yours is getting you somewhere really dark.
[Fares]: ...
[Layan]: Hello?
[Fares]: Yeah?
[Layan]: Listen, I need to take care of something. I'll call in you a bit.
[Fares]: Wait...

But she hung up way too soon...

Fares leaves his uncle's old room dumbfounded. His mom meets him with a smile, which then turns into a concerned look; "What's wrong, Faroos?" Fares puts on a faux smile and comforts her; "Nothing, I'm great. Why?" He asks her if they're leaving soon. She tells him that they could leave immediately if he wants, it was getting a bit late anyway and they've been at his grandparents' since lunch. The family drives back home, and Fares goes straight to his room; still no call from her. He lays on his bed and -sure enough- drifts into slumber. He wakes up to one last ring before his mobile phone went silent. He picks it up; "Shit! 3 missed calls from her! Wait, that's it? Three?" He calls back...

[Layan]: Hello.
[Fares]: Yeah.
[Layan]: Hey.
[Fares]: Hi. I didn't think you'd still be up.
[Layan]: Why not?
[Fares]: Well, for starters, it's 3 o'clock in the morning; that's usually a little too late for you.
[Layan]: Well, that amongst many other things has changed.
[Fares]: Heh, oh.

Fares stops himself and swallows the bitter question like 2-year-old taking a dose of a horribly tasting cough medicine, but that didn't last for long...

[Fares]: What do you mean by "amongst many other things?"
[Layan]: Well, I don't know, Fares! It's not the same!
[Fares]: What isn't?
[Layan]: -sigh- Listen, I've been thinking about this for a while, so don't try to change my mind about this; I made a decision.

Fares could feel his heart fall into his stomach as he realizes the nature of the words that are about to come of this girl's mouth...

[Fares]: -hyperventilating- Huh?
[Layan]: Fares, this isn't going anywhere. In fact, it is beginning to choke me. I've talked to my sister and many other friends about this.

Fares thinks to himself; "Fuck! She talked to her sister about this; the one who was never able to keep a guy down for more than a month!?" Layan carries on talking, while Fares listens still unable to make as little as a peep...

[Layan]: This is getting too serious, and we're both so young. I was never yours, Fares; you deserve better, trust me.
[Fares]: But... I want you...
[Layan]: We don't always get what we want, Fares. Like there's someone for everyone, there's someone out there for you; that someone is not me. I'm sorry it had to end this way. Listen, I already blocked you on MSN. And don't try calling back, please, it'll be easier that way. Goodbye Fares.
[Fares]: ...
[Layan]: What? You don't want to have one last goodbye?

She had lost him at "end this way." He had stopped listening. She repeats her question...

[Layan]: Fares, you sure you don't want to have one last goodbye?

Fares is too choked up and frustrated to breathe properly. He swallows his pride, gathers what's left of his composure and replies...

[Fares]: No!
[Layan]: Ok, Fares, whatever you're comfortable with. -hangs up-

Fares stays in denial for a good hour or so. Then, he starts panicking and calls Layan. She doesn't pick up, so he calls again 15 times in a row before he realizes that he had received a text message. It was from her and read "I knew this was going to happen. Please don't call again, it's for the best." That's when it hit him hard; she's never picking up. She's never coming back.

For 3 months after they last talked, Fares was still sending text messages to her to no avail. The tone of what he sent her alternated between bitter/very angry and desperate/hopeless. He introverted and poured his heart out into paintings and dark poems, they were what kept him holding onto his last thread of sanity. He began looking at his trip to the US to go to college with indifference; "Texas" sounded just like "hell" to him. "Out with the reverie, in with the reality;" he thought.

His last months in Khobar, Saudi Arabia, were full of sadness, remorse, longing, and emptiness. His family tried spending as much time as they can with him, but he was never really there; sure he was there in the flesh, but that wasn't enough. A couple of months before he left, he had one fling with an unlucky girl, which rendered his emotional state even worse. He vowed never to fully fall in love with anyone ever again, it would just expose him to the eventual hurt.

"Next time, I'll be careful not to get too close. Like a butterfly around a flame, never get too close or you'll get burned." It's been 4 years now, and Fares still hasn't forgotten; he never trusted anyone completely with his heart since he did with her. And, Layan... Well, Fares heard from a close friend that she had hooked up with a guy three months after their breakup; "She's obviously doing better than I am." Fares still writes poetry, but it's different. The experience helped him grow out of his naive shell.

"I wouldn't have done anything to change it."

This is a true story; Fares' real name is Fahad. :)

Track of the Moment:
Santana Feat. Musiq - "Nothing At All"

The End

Monday, July 2, 2007

Goodbye Ms. Touch

I scurry, I hurry back
I can't run
I stumble, but keep going
I get there
You're caged
I would've pictured you enraged,
but you're as calm as an oblivious canary

I hesitantly call out
There's no way it's you
Once a free spirit,
now circumscribed,
barely alive,
a concubine willingly confined

What about the lines
that you designed?
What about the finds
you left behind?
What about me?
Selfish, I know

After all, there wasn't much
A couple of words, flirts and such
A memory or two of me and you
And a tattoo on my back of your touch

I guess now it'll just be me
I'll keep it beating
I'll make you proud
I'll float
You will care
You will be proud
I hope

I guess the doubt was the only way out
Perhaps you couldn't fight anymore
It's ok, it's fine
I will find mine
Somehow, someway
Not today
But for now,
between you and I,
it'll be goodbye

Track of the Moment:
Counting Crows - "Goodnight Elizabeth"

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Up on a Shelf, Out on a Limb

You came knocking on my door,
when she had just stormed out crying;
A scene you thankfully haven't seen.
I shouldn't have let you in,
my room was still a mess.

You stepped on my feet
till my toes turned blue.
If only I knew
about your concrete shoes.
They brace and they bruise.
How can I walk away now?

Your skin, soft as an infant's,
felt like sandpaper.
And those deep pools for eyes
feel like black holes.
I wish I knew what I was doing.

This is not fair,
it's not yet there
and you're shoving it into my chest.
Like a rusty blade, you're thrusting
back and forth,
back and forth,
back... and forth.

I'll close my eyes.
I'll bleed it out.
I'll isolate myself
from all the doubt.
I'll wear a smile
and hope it works,
and hope this drink
will stop the hurt.

I'll set my heart
aside for now.
And maybe, someday,
you'll all hear me out.

And maybe, someday,
I'll have something to say.

For now, I need to decay.

Track of the Moment:
Keane - "Bedshaped"