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How Sincere are Online Friendships – Arab News

23 Feb
via suphakit73/freedigitalphotos.net/not related to Arab News

via suphakit73/freedigitalphotos.net/not related to Arab News

It is the weekend. You cannot wait to meet your friends. Because of the work and family obligations, you have not been able to see them for a couple of months. You all confirmed your attendance, most probably via text messages, or even better, in the WhatsApp group.

The day has come, you all met, ordered tea and coffee, and started discussing the latest hashtag on Twitter. Few minutes passed, and you cannot help but to feel that itch in your hands, missing the touch of your mobile phone. And while you are sneakingly stretching your hand to grab the phone, you realize that you and your friends have not been talking for a while. You look up to find one of them smiling at his own mobile, and the other is typing like crazy on the phone with a determinate look on his face.

If you and your friends are social media enthusiasts, then you must be familiar with such a scenario.

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Long queues: It is not just out of love for food – Arab News

23 Feb
via Vlado/freedigitalphotos.net/not related to Arab News

via Vlado/freedigitalphotos.net/not related to Arab News

Do you know the business idea that ensures 100 percent success in Jeddah? It is opening a food outlet! In a booming or a slowing economy, in an upscale or a middle-class area, restaurants are there to stay, to make profits and to be part of the heart and soul of this city, and its people.

Dining in or from restaurants is not a choice of convenience anymore; it has become a way of life. The traditional Saudi pride in their homemade food is fading. Stories about how talented the lady of the house is in cooking have become history now. Any family gathering or a special occasion is no longer filled with food freshly coming out of the home oven, but with food bought from a restaurant.

Although to some people it is witnessing a cherished tradition going downhill, generalizing a label of good or bad on this trend is misleading. The decision to dine out, whether you can or cannot cook at home, is based on your personal freedom, in itself, it is not right or wrong, but when analyzed, it could tell something about you, about the society.

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Do women feel secure while using Internet? – Arab News

23 Feb
via chanpipat/freedigitalphotos.net/not related to Arab News

via chanpipat/freedigitalphotos.net/not related to Arab News

You are going to die and I am the one who is going to kill you. I promise you this. This is a tweet sent to Amanda Hess, an American journalist, from a Twitter account that seems to be specialized in stalking her.

In an intriguing article titled “Why Women Aren’t Welcome on the Internet,” Hess discussed many interesting topics, told a number of stories about the dark side of the Internet. Online stalking, cyber-bullying, death threats, moral accusations, rumors, and lies are all daily products distributed through the Web of the Internet. Unfortunately, women are more likely to fall victims for such kind of abuses.

Whether in real life or in the cyber one, women seem to be an easy target for abuse and discrimination. No matter how civilized we believe we are, prejudice against women seems to be rooted deep in the back of our heads, at least in the heads of most of us! A staggering legacy of cultural prejudice and misconception is still passed from a generation to another where women are the victims.

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Cultivating Curious and Creative Minds – Arab News

23 Feb
via Phaitoon/freedigitalphotos.net/not related to Arab News

via Phaitoon/freedigitalphotos.net/not related to Arab News

Do you remember any field trips you have had during your school days? That is if you ever had one of course! It is no secret that school trips are not very popular in the Kingdom especially if you study in a state school.

However, I do remember a couple of my fieldtrips back then. All took place during my intermediate school years. I have a vague memory of visiting a zoo once during my elementary school days, but I am not sure! The trips that I do remember were a visit to a perfume manufacturing factory and a visit to the Jeddah Center for Science and Technology, may it rest in peace, It has been closed for so many years now!

The reason these memories were rushing back to me was a study I stumbled upon recently. The study concludes that a one hour trip to an art museum can increase students’ empathy, tolerance and critical thinking.
The study was conducted in the United States on over 10,000 students. In short, the researchers randomly assigned a number of participating schools to visit a museum, and then demographically matched the students who visited the museums with those who did not. The tour of any museum was designed to be an hour long, where students were guided to view and discuss five paintings.

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‘Paid per Tweet’ Gaining Popularity in KSA – Arab News

08 Jan
via Jeroen van Oostrom/freedigitalphotos.net/not related to Arab News

via Jeroen van Oostrom/freedigitalphotos.net/not related to Arab News

How much time does it take to write a tweet comprising 140 characters? 10 to 30 seconds I would assume; I hope you won’t be shocked to know that there are people who get paid for these 30 seconds.

It is an established business model; start ups working on enlisting celebrities with Twitter thousands of followers, and then, negotiating sponsored tweets with advertisers. A win-for-everyone situation; a celebrity getting paid for his or her 30 seconds of attention span, advertisers reaching thousands of people in mere seconds, and middlemen getting paid for closing the deal.

The prices of these sponsored tweets are truly scary, Kim Kardashian, a TV personality who nobody can tell what she really does without a dispute, receives about $20,000 (SR75,000) for writing a single tweet. Mike Tyson, the famous former boxer, gets around $5,200 (SR19,500) for a tweet as well. I assume that such transactions are the highest pay per service ever recorded in human history. For Kim, it is like getting paid $666 per second!

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What we want for the Kingdom in 2014 – Arab News

06 Jan
via Rawich/freedigitalphotos.net/not related to Arab News

via Rawich/freedigitalphotos.net/not related to Arab News

It is the beginning of a new year. For lots of people, it is a new door opening to the future. We usually start the year filled with hopes for a better tomorrow, of an improved self and plans to realize our dreams.

Celebrating the New Year might not be a big thing around here, we have our own new starts marked by the beginning of the Hijri year, one of the Eids, but the concept, the core idea, is still the same, it is a start line, a new beginning.

Each one of us has his own goals in life, some have reached those goals and others lost to procrastination, pessimism, or mere tiredness of repeated failures. The same applies to the collective hopes most of us share and aspire to as a society.
Hence, as everyone is busy building his or her own resolutions list, it is good to think about how a society resolutions list might look like.

Here is mine.

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Simple Ideas Can Make the Difference – Arab News

31 Dec
via stockimages/freedigitalphotos.net/not related to Arab News

via stockimages/freedigitalphotos.net/not related to Arab News

I cannot get myself over how dull and boring most of Arabic businesses presence on social media is, especially on Twitter. Most of the time, it is nothing but promotions and cold customer service responses that would usually ask you to e-mail or take the topic to the Direct Messages so nobody can see the problem!

On the same time, I am always fascinated by the innovative initiatives some companies take to make a connection with their customers. Let’s admit it, exchanging tweets or Facebook updates with a company usually feels like talking to a robot. There is a feedback but it is usually hollow and impersonal, lacking the warmth of a human exchange.

My personal experience with Saudi (and Arabic) companies usually goes like this: I have a query, I go to their Twitter page, I follow them and ask whatever question I have, I unfollow the moment I get my answer. There is nothing in their timeline that would persuade me to keep following them.

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Time To Rethink our Education Policies – Arab News

30 Dec
via Phaitoon/freedigitalphotos.net/not related to Arab News

via Phaitoon/freedigitalphotos.net/not related to Arab News

The only thing I can say to anyone trying to figure out what is wrong with the Kingdom’s system of education is … good luck with that!

It is a huge, multi-layered web of dreams and fears. The government seems to be fully aware of how vital this sector is for the country’s future as during the past few years a huge chunk of the annual budget is being allocated for education. Just few days ago, the budget of 2014 followed the same pattern, SR210 billion ($56 billion), or 24.6 percent of the total budget, has been allocated to education. Unfortunately, despite all these huge spending, nothing seems to be moving in the desired direction.

If we compare today’s situation with the one prevalent some 15 years ago, we will be disappointed. Maybe we have better and colorful books with nice illustrations, a projector and powerpoint slides in some classes, a topic or two added here or there in the curricula, but the methodology is still the same. A teacher mostly disengaged and uninterested, lecturing students for 45 minutes, using under equipped laboratories and libraries and who has neither heard about soft skills nor extracurricular activities.

A few days ago, Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, former Gov. of the Makkah region, has been appointed the minister of education. Our hopes are high. However, we would like to put forward some suggestions for the improvement of the education system.

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Watch out! Internet Can Make or Break You – Arab News

24 Dec
via Michal Marcol/Freedigitalphotos.net/not related to Arab News

via Michal Marcol/Freedigitalphotos.net/not related to Arab News

Hearing about the power of social media is one thing, and experiencing it first hand is another; if you do not believe me, ask Justine Sacco.

Sacco was a public relation director at the Internet media company IAC who just before boarding a plane to South Africa has tweeted: “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!”

Before even landing, and while she was enjoying her on flight cocktail, the whole Internet was taken by a storm.
Whether you categorize her tweet under a senseless racism, or a misguided attempt to humor, what she said is hard to pass without judgment, hard to forgive, hard to forget.

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Sleepless Nights in Kingdom – Arab News

23 Dec
via Ambro/Freedigitalphotos.net/Not related to Arab News

via Ambro/Freedigitalphotos.net/Not related to Arab News

IF you are reading this in the office, you may want to carry out this small survey, ask five or six of your colleagues about their daily sleeping routine. I have done it; the best among them sleep at midnight, the worst at about 3 in the morning.

Staying up late at night is a way of life for a lot of Saudis somehow has become a part of our culture. Be it a weekday or a weekend, it is always a rush hour at 10 p.m. People from all ages and walks of life are out and about, touring the city’s streets shopping and dining. One may experience long queues at drive-through restaurant after midnight.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have to admit, we have a problem with our sleeping patterns. A hidden yet paramount reason that could be the secret behind a lot of our social issues such as lousy driving, low productivity, bright students with terrible academic records, could be nothing but a series of sleepless nights.

According to a 2005 study carried out the United States, 30 percent of American adults have had disrupted sleep, and 10 percent have had symptoms of daytime functional impairments consistent with insomnia. In another 2008 survey, 32 percent of those studied reported having a good night sleep only a few times a month or less. Another study carried out in 2012 found that the longer someone stays awake, the slower their productivity becomes; the ability to find information quickly and accurately, the ability to think creatively and solve problem all take a downward spiral. Not only that, Dr. Charles Czeisler, a professor researching sleep deficiency at Harvard Medical School, claims that a week of four to five sleeping hours a night results in impairments equivalent to a blood alcohol level of 0.1 percent. In other words, after a few nights of not enough sleeping, your productivity level is no better than that of a drunk.

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