SI Leader Lab – Going back again after 11 years!

I am going back to Sweden in two weeks. This time participating as a coach in the Swedish Institute new leadership program “SI Leader Lab” which aims to connect gender equality advocates in South Asia, the MENA region and Sweden.

I can’t be more excited to be part of this after 11 years of my participation in the Young Leader Visitors Program, which started in 2008 with the aim of connecting young leaders for positive change. I was selected to be one of around 25 participants at the time from Jordan, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and Sweden. And that was mainly due to my writings on this blog. It was an amazing experience getting to travel to Stockholm, meeting all of those young change makers, who were leaders in their respective communities, getting trained on team building and social media, and build friendships that last for a lifetime.

The beauty of the program lied in the network it built and the connections it paved the ground to. It wasn’t limited to that year, as it continued every year since then, adding more change makers to the network. Some of which I already met and got inspired by their work, but many others whom I am yet to meet.

And this years, it even gets better. The YLVP has morphed into a program that focuses on what I am really passionate about – gender equality. It is also larger, reaching out to young gender advocates in more countries, hosting 60 participants this year from Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Nepal, Pakistan, Palestine, Sri Lanka, Syria, Tunisia, Yemen. And this time, I am going to give back to the program, co-facilitating a public narrative workshop to help these gender advocates develop their stories.

I actually can’t wait to get to know each and every one of the participants and learn about their work and challenges they are facing. It feels like an entirely different generation, but I understand the challenge. I understand how hard it is pushing the gender agenda in this region and around the globe, and I salute any effort that is put into building and strengthening such networks.

The movement is growing in breadth and strengths, and many laws have been changed in the past few years towards equality. Yet, we are no even close. The challenges are still huge, but we will work, each from his place, to make this world a better place to live for all of us.

I am going back this year with a feeling of pride, as I look back to 2008 and know that my passion hasn’t faded out. I am going back with an arsenal of books in my history log. Books that I wrote with the intention to push social boundaries towards more openness, tolerance and acceptance. And others that are yet to come. It makes me feel that I do belong to this network, and earned my spot here.

One of the SEVEN: Don’t miss it!


I am honoured to be part of a play presented by Swedish Institute and embassy that highlights women rights around the world. The play called SEVEN will be shown in Amman for the first time this month on Saturday 20th, Oct and Sunday 21th, Oct. I will be taking a role in the Arabic version of the play alongside some amazing Jordanian women:

Nadine Toukan, maverick producer
Samar Dudin, director of RUWWAD
Rabiha Dabbas, previous minister of municipal affairs and previous governor
Nabila F. T. Abdel Masieh Managing Director EN-CAPS Consult
Lana Nasser, playwright, actress

That is quite an honor to be among these women and read a woman’s part.

If you can’t make it to the Arabic version on Saturday, make sure to make it on Sunday. The role I am playing in Arabic would be played by the beautiful Swedish Ambassador in Amman Charlotta Sparre.


Here is the event’s page on Facebook. Join in and invite your friends 🙂

How on earth can we live togather?

The most recent science tells us that unless we can reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million, we will cause huge and irreversible damage to the earth.

I don’t know why, but I have always had dead ears when it came to environment issues. Either browsing online or reading an article in newspaper, I used to always skip-it when the title is merely close to the subject of environment or climate. I am not sure whether this a general problem in this part of the world where people don’t realize it as a real threat because they deal with other threats they percieve to be more important, or it is just me being unaware of it.

For me, things has changed in Alexandria, when Carl Mossfeldt from Tallberg foundation presented the damage we are inflicting on our environment and the threats that are heading to our way because of the effect of climate changes.

It was an eye opener for me. I have never really realized the dangers that climte change entails. I have heard about ice melting and the increase of sea levels, but thought that it is happening NOW! I have witnesses the Tsunami couple of years ago on news channels, but didn’t connect it with us damaging the environment. I have heard about the conflictn darfur, but didn’t realize that the main cause of it is drawft where people moved from a place to another ending up fighting over limited resources.

There are threats of environment changes all over the world, and all of us are interdependent. Jordan is one of the lowest countries in the world in term of water resources. Water conflicts is a major threat in this area.

I may not be the best person to talk about these issues, even after the presentation, my information are still very limited. I just want to share Tallberg foundation and with you. I wanted to do so yesterday in the Day of Earth but I didn’t have time for that.

350 is an initiative to help building a global movement to fight climate crisis. Read more on their website

One thing that I would like mention, it is the words of Queen Rania at Tallberg event ‘How on earth can we live togather’ in 2007, she mentioned how sad it is the we are breaking apart at the time we really need to work togather.

Tallberg is preparing a Rework the world event in Sweden next year. It is an open initiative to boost viable ventures that drive sustainability and create green jobs. People with idea and projects along those lines can apply to attend the event. Check out their website for more information

Untamed Arab API break taboos – SVD article

Me and Nas in an article about Arab blogs in SVD (the second largest morning newspaper in Sweden).

It is only me who write on this blog, and I didn’t say that I do not want to disclose my identity online! I answered those questions to the writer of this article in an email! Obviously something went wrong!

Here is it in swedish.

My inner leader and Sandi bell!

This is funny, today we had this leadership and gender workshop. The lecturer asked us to take a moment and meet the inner leader of us! It was a weird request, we had to sleep and relax (mediate) and she was guiding us of what to imagine. She asked us to image a place. I don’t know why, but I imagined myself in the beautiful garden of Sandi bell! (Dont laugh), Do you remeber it guys? The beautiful small garden where Sandi took care off and dreamed of her lover Mark. Anyhow, she then asked us to follow a path, and I imagined a road with a green sides to Sandi’s house! I entered the house and my inner leader (which is me) came in! Surprisingly wearing the same jacket I was wearing today! I couldn’t keep up with the instructions of the lecturer as I fall asleep and started snoring! how shameful!

When I woke up, some talked about their experience, she had asked them to imagine their inner leader giving them a box and to open it and check what was inside. I continue my imagination then, and imagined mine giving me a black box, and in it a message saying that I have a beautiful live infront of me :). I believe there is, and look forward for it.

Back to the lecture, which was mainly about leadership and gender. Sweden seems to be so concerned with gender equality, I think they have a Ministry for Integration and Gender. The other day I found this booklet in the Swedish Institute where they have all of those statistics about men and women and their numbers in different occupations and roles. Inspite of the social awarnace and government and non-government work to achieve gender equality, there is still inequality in achievements of women in leading roles. The lecturer pointed out that there has been a study that found that women in middle managerial positions have better skills than men. And that there has been a study in Finland which found that companies with a female CEO makes 10% more profit! That doesn’t mean that women are more competent than men, but it means that women have still to put more efforts and gain more skills in order for them to occupy a position that a man would fill with less skills.

Women around the world have achieved a lot in the past decade, but still they have a long way to go.

Restoring virginity in Sweden?!!!

You won’t believe what I have found in a the second largest morning newspaper in Sweden. It is something that I would expect to read in one of the Jordanian’s newspapers or any other country. There is an article talking about the risks of “virginity restoring” operations, forced marriages, and under-age marrying. Maybe you wouldn’t be that surprised if you know that around 25% of the Swede population has different ethnic background. There is a huge community of immigrants from the Arab and the Muslim world. The issue of immigrants is a big deal in Sweden, in one hand the society is trying to absorb the new comers, and in another hand, there are issues of differences in cultures and traditions and behaviour.

Swedes in general are tolerant people. They try to be very politically correct when they address anyone. Newspapers try to cater for the diversity of people living in Sweden, and there are some special organizations that work on monitoring what goes out in media in order to ensure no discrimination or hate speech going on.

I was happy to know that they have this special system at schools where they have this prequisite for high shcool which is to have students meet people of different minorities. Like for intance bringing a veiled girl, Imam, homosexual, black man, …etc to give those teenagers a chance to be closers to these minorities and ask them about whatever they have in mind.

I wish we can introduce such an initiative in Jordan. It would be a good idea to build more tolerance and harmony in our society. I suggest to bring a jew, a shite, a christian, a black, an american and a homosexual!

Sweden and Social Media Network Solutions

4 days passed since my last update for this blog, I wanted to document my daily activities in Sweden, actually I need to do that because daily documentation is indeed an assignment for us that we have to do, but we really don’t have much time, the program is intensive, and we barely have time for ourselves.

I will try to come back later and talk about the previous days, especially the team building activities we have gone through.

Today we had really a very interesting lecture, it was about different social media software. We gone through many many different solutions where at a point I felt that I am so ignorant in this area. The world is so much different today than 5 years ago, there are many ways to connect with people and share your information. I was happy to learn about Twitter – micro blogging, and signed up over there. It was kind of fun, I then remembered WatWet, and suggested it to the group, and signed up on WatWet as well, so now you can have The Arab Observer on both. I was surprised to learn about the different services provided by other websites as an add ons to Twitter!

We have also had a brief explanation of you tube, blogger, bambuser and seesmic! We were live from hyper island school on bambuser through a cell phone! I was on chat with my friend in Jordan at the same time, and he was able to see me on video and engage in chat! It was amazing! It is really amazing how no a days anyone can do a live broadcast from anywhere in the world!

After the team building activities we were divided in five groups. Mine is of five people, me from Jordan, and others from Palestine, Syria, Egypt and Sweden. We have an assignment of creating a group blog and document our daily work on it. We came up with a name for our group The Frozen 5! Stupid name, no? but we were actually a bit frozen trying to accept all of this work because in addition to these simple assignments, we have to start working on a big one, and which is to come up with ideas and then a prototype for a social media solution! We have to do some research and analysis of the current situation and try to figure out what would work for 2010! Any suggestions guys?

Here is our blog link:

It still needs a lot of work, but check it out for our updates from Hyper Island. The course is really overwhelming. The Swedish Institute guys are amazing, they are taking a very good care of us, and the Hyper Island people are excellent!