Salzburg Global Seminar: Advancing sexual expression and gender identity freedoms

Sex and the Citadel

Sex and the Citadel

I had a wonderful time in the past few days here at Salzburg Global Seminar, not just because of the lovely scenery of the Alps mountains or the beauty of the city of Salsburg but also because of the amount of people I got to know closely and connect with. People who came from all over the world (around 33 countries) to participate in a session that aims to set up a blue print for a more risiliant and healthy socieites of the future, societies that integrate within people with different forms of gender and sexual expressions without any prejudice, hatred, or violence.

The forum was pretty diverse and I am not talking here in terms of gender identities or sexual orientations only, but more about the diversity of the expertise and capacities of the participants; a large amount of successful professionals, political leaders, academics, activists, artists and media experts. One of the most impressive participants whom I grew to love and admire is the Egyptian author Shereen Al Feki. She presented her book “Sex and The Citadel” that sums up her five years of research about the contemporary sexuality of the Arab world. I realize that what she means by the “Citadel” is the institution of marriage and from what I heard about the book, it seems to carry the underline research to back up my observations of the Arab societies that I talk about in my book Aroos Amman (Amman’s Bride). It is all about the social obsession in marriage and how this institution is becoing harder and harder to achieve. Describing it as a “Citadel” is very smart and accurate indeed! I look forward to reading the book especially that she told me that she is interested in mentioning my novel in a potential update of her book (fingers crossed).

During the sessions, there been always this questions of identities and cultures and the validity of the acronym of LGBT in addressing the issues of sexual expressions and gender identities. I personally believe that such acronym is problematic  It is culturally biased in a way and restrictive and dividing in another. Those issues should go under the sexual expression and gender identities freedoms umbrella that is more inclusive in my opinion. For instance, I find no reason not to include the “W” in the Arab world, and here I am talking about women at large for they are more and more becoming to face a stronger aggression and hostility towards limiting and redefining their natural sexual expressions.

I would like to thank all of the staff at Salzburge Global Seminar for putting great efforts into organization such an important forum. The network built here is priceless and hopefully would help advancing human rights all over the world towards better societies for all of us. Thank you Klaus Muller (the chair organiser of the event)!

Last year, I participated in Stockholm Water Week and helped developing a young professional vision for the global food and water security and now I am helped coming up with a global statement to advance sexual expression and gender identity rights. It seems I am doing pretty well on the global front! Not bad at all. I guess that when you love the world, it loves you back 🙂


  1. It is interesting to see how the innovated “sexual identity” discourse has emerged in the last few decades in the Arab world, whereas such discourse did not exist in any way in the Arab world. Of course the reason -in my opinion- is due to the efforts exerted by LGBT western organizations to globalize their “values” to the whole world. The fact that almost every event or even person involved in this discourse is directly or indirectly supported by an outside NGO, and that such discourse did not emerge solely from within the Arab world is an indication that this “sexual identity” is a foreign idea. I respectfully challenge all of the Arabs who fight for the LGBT rights to try to spread or to advocate for a certain “Arab value” to the western society (one example would be the emphasis on how marriage and a genuine family is the building block of a healthy society-this is from an Arab society perspective) instead of importing their values that -for instance- suggest how the obsession of marriage is the source of all evil in the society or on how LGBT rights is a humanitarian issue and should exist every where in the world! I bet they will fail, because the western society is intellectually and politically autonomous and strong enough to be able to decide for itself! Lets try to learn the latter from them!


  2. Arabic Antimatter, the xenophobic point view you are building your discourse doesn’t give the entire truth. The claim that family as a building block is an Arabic value and not a western one won’t get us anywhere. In fact, many of the religious right wing groups in the west have been taunting the notion of “family values” in the face of those fighting for freedom because of their non conforming sexuality.

    As I said in the post, I am not a fan with the acronym LGBT because it creates a new set of conforming categories and divide the different groups who are fighting for their sexual and body rights. LGBT rights in itself is a humanitarian issue and is a worldly right. It is better represented in the notion of body and sexual rights rather than the LGBT identities.

    In regards to the issue of the obsession of marriage, there is a difference between seeing marriage as a good institution that is needed in healthy societies and between being obsessed about marriage in a way that makes the life of a big group of people a living hell. It is about time to re-evaluate the shape of this institution and see how we can improve it to fit others who are left out of its boundaries.

    As for the globalised values of western LGBT organisations, I do also disagree with you here. For instance, gay marriage is no where to be seen as a right called for in the Arab world, equality as a discourse is also absent. What gay arabs are still fighting for is visibility, the right to speak out, organize, and express themselves.. or that is western too?


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