Articles, Translations, Uncategorized

Blind researchers no longer have to be accompanied when looking through references and books to complete their scientific papers or just when reading. Within weeks, they’ll be able to do all that on their own as a large number of books and references in Braille become available at the Egyptian National Library. Even more significant is the fact that they can request specific references to be translated to Braille using a printer at the Library.

Dr. Ahmad Shawky, head of the library, said to Al-Hayat, “The Library is following a methodical plan to make its resources available to all groups, including the visually impaired. Their section is being developed to include a library of the most well-known books and references, whether written in Braille or audio materials, as part of a greater plan to digitize the different contents of the library, including books, references, scripts,  documents, regular publications, as well as music and audio materials.”

The Hall of the Visually Impaired is one of the halls within the Special Groups Department of the Library (established in 1870). There is also a section for art and another for music but they weren’t very active. The Library is working to change that by not just limiting the services to reading and instead, extending them to include courses and workshops for the visually impaired. This direction is reminiscent of another undertaken by the national media organization Akhbar El Yom when it released the first general publication in Braille directed toward the visually impaired. It is also worth noting that the content writers of Akhbar Braille are visually impaired. The first issue was released last March.


This is a translation of an Arabic article by Rihab ‘Ulaiwah and was published on Al-Hayat Newspaper on 8 July, 2017.

Bringing Music and Art to the Streets of Amman

BarakaBits, Writing

While walking down Amman streets, Sami found time and time again that they were void of life and beauty. A lover of music, he thought to himself, “Why not bring art to the streets?”

That’s exactly what this exciting event “Music Rings in the Streets of Amman” aims to do. While speaking to Sami Nada, one of the organizers of the event,he explained to BarakaBits that the goal of this event is “to introduce people to street art and its beauty and spread a message of peace and love. It also aims to break the rigidity of the art culture on the streets.” He defines street art as a spontaneous artistic expression of freedom, peace and love and one that creates an intimate relationship between the artists and audience.
Sami adds that
“there is a growing group of artists and lovers of art in Jordan who do not seek any monetary gain out of their art. All they want is to send a message of peace and love through their art but they do not have the space to freely do so.”

According to the organizer, “this event, which is the first of its kind in Jordan, will provide that space.” The event will share both the culture of street music and street art with a complete performance by inspiring percussionists and other artists in the field of street art such as freestyle dancers, fire performers and mime artists. Local artists  from Jordan will bring life to the streets of Amman through Arabic music as well as other exciting performances.

So if you’re an artist or an art lover, don’t miss the event! This one-of-a-kind street art event will take place in Jabal l’Weibdeh on Thursday October 20, 2016.
For more information visit the event’s Facebook page.
This article was originally published on BarakaBits on October, 15, 2016.
Qomrah 2 logo

Qomrah 2 Call for Ideas: Your Chance to Create the Media You Want to See

Uncategorized, Writing

Yesterday, September 30 2016, was the award ceremony for the first season of Qomrah, Ahmad Alshugairi‘s new Ramadan show, which strives to create meaningful media through a competition of short videos anyone around the world can participate in. Some of the winning videos from season one covered themes such as hope, child refugees and autism. These are just a few of the themes that fit the categories of the first season.

This year, the chance to participate-and with that, the chance to win- is open to an even wider audience. Starting today, October 1st and until the end of this month, anyone with an idea for a video can send the details and if the team likes the idea, it will then be posted on the website for the second phase, where filmmakers can choose from the ideas suggested and be financed by Qomrah to create the video. If your idea wins, you have the chance to win up to 500,000 Saudi riyals.

The idea can be about anything from a work of art, to a social experiment or volunteer work and the categories include health and fitness, history, self-development, philosophy, technology and more.

So what are you waiting for? Think of something you’re passionate about and think it’s important for more people to know about and submit!

For more information: Watch the Qomrah 2 promo video and visit the Qomrah website and you can also watch the videos from season 1.

ridzdesign, 30 faces 30 places lebanon irusa

Ramadan Memories Shared by 30 Faces from 30 Places

BarakaBits, Uncategorized, Writing

The Muslim community is rich with diversity. This diversity in culture and tradition can be seen in the different ways people celebrate the holy month of Ramadan around the world. This Ramadan, Islamic Relief USA delivered food packages to 30 countries. To capture the unique ways Ramadan is celebrated in each of these 30 countries, Islamic Relief worked with photographer Ridwan Adhami. During this Ramadan, Adhami took photos of Muslims in the United States who originate from these 30 countries. Every day of the month, Adhami shared with the world a new photo and memory of Ramadan from a new country.

The countries range in culture and location from Zimbabwe and Albania to South Africa and Somalia. Also among the countries are those in the Middle East and North Africa region:  Lebanon, Jordan, Yemen, Syria, Palestine, Iraq, Tunisia and Sudan. Here are some of the photos and memories shared:

30 faces, 30 places tunisia ridzdesign ramadan

Day 4: Ramadan in Tunisia

“We had a revolution, but before that for over 20 years, hijab was against the law, and mosques were closed for the vast majority of the day. So there’s still not a lot of mosque life. I felt it. It’s always been a fine line, people tip-toeing around what’s allowed.”

30 faces, 30 places palestine ridzdesign ramadan

Day 9: Ramadan in Palestine

“The kids go out in groups with the lanterns. And it was safe, you never worried about bombs. It was so peaceful. We would take the lanterns and knock on doors. We would say, ‘wahaweeya wahawee’ and they would open the door and give us candy. Every night in Ramadan I looked forward to it.”

Day 11 entry Ridzdesign Imam Magid

Day 11: Ramadan in Sudan

“There’s a very nice tradition in Sudan where the people in the neighborhood would bring the food every night outside on the street and break fast in the street, and they would not allow anyone passing by to pass without sitting and eating. There would be some people who would stand in the road and insist for people to get off their buses and stop the cars to join the iftar, and they would insist for you to not be driving after sunset.”

30 faces, 30 places Day 13 Ridz design Souheil lebanon

Day 13: Ramadan in Lebanon

“Ramadan has a great flavor…different from any other time of the year.”

30 faces, 30 places syria ridzdesign ramadan

Day 14: Ramadan in Syria

“Every family would send a child before maghrib time to the neighborhood shop to get fresh falafel, hummus, and atayef. The most important thing is the atayef.”

30 faces, 30 places iraq ridzdesign ramadan

Day 21: Ramadan in Iraq

“It’s as if you are going back to live those beautiful memories. Although we share so many traditions and customs, there is something very special for each town, for each city.”

To view more photos and read more memories from the series visit Ridwan Adhami’s Facebook page, Instagram and the Islamic Relief USA website.


This article was originally published on BarakaBits on July 7, 2016.

WATCH: Leila Abdul Razzaq’s Graphic Novel “Baddawi”


In this video by Judy Suh, we hear from Palestinian-American artist, Leila Abdul Razzaq, as she discusses her graphic novel “Baddawi’.

Last April, Leila Abdul Razzaq published her graphic novel, “Baddawi”, a story about her father growing up as a refugee in Baddawi, a refugee camp in Northern Lebanon. Like so many Palestinians, Leila’s family was forced to leave their town of Safsaf in Palestine in 1948 and find refuge in Lebanon, where her father spent his childhood before moving to the United States.

Although stories such as that of Ahmad, Leila’s father and main character in “Baddawi” are common among Palestinians in the diaspora, Leila explains that they are not as known to others which is why “Baddawi” is catered to a western audience.  She says, “People who are experiencing these adverse circumstances, they’re not objects of pity; they’re subjects of their own narrative”. She goes on to explain that she is not telling this story “because it’s unique but that it’s one that was lived and is being lived by Palestinian refugees.”

“Baddawi” has been shortlisted for the 2015 Palestine Book Awards.

To order your copy of Baddawi click here. You can also follow Baddawi on Facebook.

This article was originally published on BarakaBits on 06/09/2015.

TechWadi Annual Forum 2015: Zafer Younis


TechWadi is the leading non-profit organization building bridges between Silicon Valley and the MENA region. This year, the TechWadi Annual Forum will be held on September 26-27 in Silicon Valley. Attendees will gain insight from leading entrepreneurs on topics such as Arab success stories from Silicon Valley, investing in MENA and Iran’s rising tech ecosystem and implications for the broader MENA region.

One of the speakers at this year’s TechWadi Annual Forum is Zafer Younis. Zafer holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Finance from the London School of Economics as well as another bachelor’s degree in Engineering from the University College London.

When he was 23 years old, he started his first company called Modern Media, which owns the radio channel Play 99.6, winner of the US National Association of Broadcaster’s International Broadcasting Excellence Award.

Today, he is the Co-Founder and CEO of The Online Project, a company that develops and executes social media strategies for Fortune 500 companies and high profile organizations operating in the Middle East and North Africa. He is also a mentor at Oasis500, AstroLabs, and Flat6Labs.

Zafer says, “I am looking forward to reconnect with the members of the TechWadi network [as well as …] to the presentations by the thought leaders of MENA technology.”

To hear more from Zafer Younis and other successful entrepreneurs, register to attend the TechWadi Annual Forum here.

You can also follow Zafer Younis on Twitter.

This article was originally published on BarakaBits on 09/09/2015.

TechWadi Annual Forum 2015: Omar Tawakol


TechWadi is the leading non-profit organization building bridges between Silicon Valley and the MENA region. This year, the TechWadi Annual Forum will be held on September 26-27 in Silicon Valley. Attendees will gain insight from leading entrepreneurs on topics such as Arab success stories from Silicon Valley, investing in MENA and Iran’s rising tech ecosystem and implications for the broader MENA region.

On the panel of speakers is Omar Tawakol. Upon earning his Bachelors degree in Engineering from MIT, Omar went on to earning a Masters of Computer Science from Stanford University. During his time there, he was a computer science researcher at both the Stanford Logic Group and HP Software Labs.

Currently, Tawakol is the CEO of BlueKai. “the first and largest online data exchange that is designed with consumer transparency and participation in mind” as stated on iMedia Connections. BlueKai, which was acquired by Oracle in February 2014, is the industry’s leading cloud-based big data platform. It enables companies to personalize online, offline and mobile marketing campaigns with richer and more actionable information about targeted audiences.

When we asked Omar what he’s most looking forward to in the Forum he said, “Great people, pursuing disruptive ideas, despite the odds – that is the hallmark of an entrepreneur culture.  Techwadi has alway done a great job attracting these ingredients and marrying them with capital and experienced advisors.  Techwadi is making a very important contribution to help the MENA region produce more ground-breaking start-ups.  I always look forward to meeting the smart, hopeful, energetic entrepreneurs who attend the forum.”

To listen to Omar Tawakol and other leading entrepreneurs from the MENA region speak in this year’s TechWadi Annual Forum, register for the event here.

You can also follow Omar Tawakol on Twitter.

This article was originally published on BarakaBits on 09/09/2015.