Category Archives: Humor

Funning about the Princes and the Muftis: Obama for Crown Prince or Jordanian Gauleiter……………

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SAUDI ARABIA’s response to the Arab spring might be described as allergic. The tiniest whiff of protest last March prompted the government to outlaw demonstrations. Even as women, in effect, continue to be banned from driving, and dissidents jailed or banned from travelling, a new media law has clamped tighter restrictions on the press. Echoing events in tiny Bahrain, where the ruling family crushed Shia protests, Saudi security forces have responded to rising unrest in their country’s east, among the kingdom’s own 10% Shia minority, with blunt measures, including live gunfire that killed five protesters in recent months. Instead, the immediate beneficiaries of the Arab spring in Saudi Arabia may be a new generation of comedians and artists. They certainly stole the limelight on 19th January, at the opening of “We Need to Talk”.…..…The Economist

I think they need to smile and laugh more than they need to talk. I will believe that Saudi comedy (an oxymoron?) has arrived if they start some joke with “Prince Nayef and the Mufti walked into this bar and…………” or “The Mufti stumbled into a Hussainiyah thinking it was the mosque and…………”
 
More seriously, I am not familiar with Saudi humor. I have known Saudis, mostly in business, but none of them ever cracked a joke within my earshot. Or maybe they did and I didn’t recognize it as a joke. I had thought joking was frowned upon over there: sort of like women driving, laughing in public, smiling in public, dressing different, thinking different from everyone else, thongs, tank-tops, mentioning the words ‘freedom’ or ‘protest’ or ‘Shi’a’, among other things.
Actually once in a shopping mall in Riyadh I tried smiling (in the United States I got used to the nasty habit of smiling at people in public, except in NYC subways). It was close to the noon prayer time, and the shaggy religious cops (Commission for the Propagation of Vice) were waving their (khaizaran) bamboo sticks ominously. They were coming toward me as they scowled at shoppers, hinting that soon all men should be inside a mosque and all women at home awaiting their pleasure. I flashed a smile at the nearest hairy one. His scowl deepened as he got closer. I decided that I had made a mistake and focused on a shop window: unfortunately it was a women’s lingerie shop with an Asian salesman behind the counter. I will write more about that later.
Back to the humor: Yet the Mufti of Saudi Arabia is often smiling in his photos. Shaikh Al Al Shaikh almost smiles as often as Ahmadinejad, and both smile much more than either crown prince Nayef or Ayatollah Khamenei (not that hard). It is possible that Saudi humor is a bit more ‘discernible’ than, say, Jordanian humor. I have never seen or heard any of the latter. I think they ought to openly outlaw humor in both countries: that way everyone, especially visitors, will know where they stand. In some Gulf places like the UAE, it is not illegal to laugh or even smile in public, especially if one is a man. Yet if you look directly at someone they would quickly scowl. Once you look at them, the face loses that ‘neutral’ inexpressive vacant look and a scowling (also vacant) mask covers everything. I suspect it is an attempt at showing some gravitas under scrutiny: it is a common Gulf issue.
I bet Obama could never get elected shaikh of Abu Dhabi or crown prince of Saudi Arabia (or Gauleiter of Jordan): he smiles too much in public.

Cheers
mhg



m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Moroccans are from Mars, the GCC from Venus? Democracy and Humor………..

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Scientists have confirmed that a rocky meteor that broke apart in the atmosphere and crashed last July came from Mars. The space-faring stones, perhaps blasted free of the Red Planet by an ancient planetary collision, are the first documented Martian debris to fall to Earth in 50 years. The rare meteorites have been scooped from the African sands by collectors and dealers, who are selling them for thousands of dollars. The Martian meteor’s fiery fall through Earth’s atmosphere last year was seen by Moroccan nomads and military personnel………

That may explain why the Saudi princes are backtracking on their decision to have Morocco join the Gulf GCC. Martians against Venusians, it would never work out. Moroccans are inching closer to a constitutional monarchy, and that is something the Saudis sent their tanks into Bahrain to prevent last year (and still at it this year). I recall they also listed Jordan as a candidate for membership. They probably dropped that for ‘sense of humor’ reasons: Jordanians are supposedly allegedly reputedly reportedly credibly even less humorous than most of the Gulf potentates, possibly less humorous than Adolf Hitler, so why bother?
Cheers
mhg



m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Beast of Kandahar: Iranian Mullahs Have a Drone Sense of Humor……….

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Iran says it will send the U.S. government a toy model of the CIA drone the Islamic Republic captured last month. The announcement, made via state media, comes in response to the White House’s request for the return of the unmanned aircraft. The U.S. drone, a RQ-170 Sentinel dubbed “the Beast of Kandahar,” is one of the most technologically advanced surveillance crafts in the world. The toy model, the Associated Press reports, will be one-eighteenth the size and retail for the equivalent of $4 in Iranian toy stores. There’s still no conclusive explanation for how the drone got into Iranian hands in the first place………..

So who said the mullahs don’t have a sense of humor? I always knew they were funnier than, say, the king of Jordan or prime minister of Bahrain. They seem funnier than even Newt Gingrich or Rick Perry. As for Mitt Romney, oh well…………
Cheers
mhg



m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

A Very Funny Iranian Political Story…….

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There are unconfirmed reports that the qualifications of 30 to 40 current MPs, who had registered to run for the March parliamentary elections, have not been approved by the government’s appointed executive committees, the Mehr News Agency has learnt. The qualifications of the parliamentary candidates have to be approved by the mentioned committees, the Interior Ministry, and the Guardian Council respectively. These MPs were initiators of controversial proposals at the parliament……….”

This Iranian news agency has a subtle sense of humor. Political humor should be subtle in the Middle East, it is safer that way (except in places where humor may not exist anyway, like Jordan and Gaza and possibly the West Bank and Israel). It says the qualifications of these listed members were not approved (not yet, hints that maybe not later either) for the March elections in Iran. It also says that these members were “initiators of controversial proposals at the parliament”, wtf that may mean. Yet it seems as simple as putting two and two together (2+2=4, normally, except when it is inconvenient).

Cheers
mhg



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WTF: Serbia bans Alcohol in Parliament, GCC to Follow?………….

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Serb deputies drinking        They may look stoned out of their f–ing heads, but they’re stone sober.



The Serbian parliament has banned alcohol after media reports of excessive drinking, a top official said Friday. “The ban applies to every one without exception, from bringing in alcohol, to serving or consuming it,” Veljko Odalovic, the parliament’s secretary general, told the Tanjug news agency. “Both restaurants in the parliament will no longer serve alcohol, it is absolutely forbidden,” he added. The new rules included a ban on anyone who is drunk from entering the parliament. Some health officials here estimate that one in six people in Serbia have a drinking problem.………

Now for some Middle East legislatures to emulate these good Serbs. Especially on my Gulf. The Saudi rubber-stamp fully-appointed, anally-retentive Shoura Council should start by quitting the vast quantities of coffee and tea they imbibe at public expense. The rump Bahrain parliament (normally about 30% freely elected, now about 10% elected) can give up all that unhygienic kissing (of you know what and where). The rest of the Gulf, especially the Salafis and Muslim Brothers among them, can stop drinking any Vimto immediately. As for the Yemenis, there will always be some qat.
Cheers
mhg



m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

The Iran Bomb: Comparing a North Korean Voter to an American Voter………

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What is one difference (or the similarity if you prefer) between a North Korean voter (I know, North Koreans don’t vote, but humor me) and an American voter?

North Koreans are told and believe the following, among other things: that the Americans want to bomb North Korea and obliterate it with nuclear weapons and only the WMD of Kim Jong Il are keeping them at bay. Kim Jong Il and his sons Kim Jong Un, Kim Jong Nam and Kim Dim Sum may also believe that.
 
Americans are told by the media and some politicians and ‘may largely’ believe the following, among other things:
The Iranians are building nuclear weapons which they will immediately use to destroy Israel. After that they would love to use their Hiroshima vintage bombs to trigger Armageddon or take over the world and make it a safer place for the awaited Mahdi (their Messiah). One pre-condition of all that is to bomb Europe back to the good old day of May 1945. Hence all the missiles deployed in Turkey and soon in other places near Iran. All that may have been corroborated by Saudi Intelligence, the shaikhs of Abu Dhabi, the Saudi ambassador in Washington, John Bolton, and one Texas screw-up named Mansoor Arbabsiar (I know you expected me to say Rick Perry). Provided that the End of Time and Rapture and the Christian right and the Republican Party do not beat them to it.

Cheers
mhg



m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

WTF: Railway Link to Yemen? From Funny GCC to Asinine GCC…………

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Transport and Communications Undersecretaries in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states discussed here Monday the establishment of a railway authority, as well as linking Yemen with the yet-to-be-established GCC railway network. Director General of UAE’s national transport authority, Dr. Nasser Al-Mansouri, in a keynote speech to the meeting, underlined importance of the railroad project that would link the six GCC countries. He said the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has established the federation trains company and issued relevant legislations to pave way for the construction of the UAE’s railroad network. GCC Assistant Secretary General for Economic Affairs Abdullah Al-Shubaili, in remarks on sidelines of the meeting said the officials discussed feasibility study of the railroad linkage with Yemen, safe regulations of small ships and inspection on vessels…..….”

I can’t believe these F-heads seriously talked about a rail extension into Yemen. Yemen is having a popular rebellion, nay multiple rebellions, against their favorite dictator. Yemen is experiencing several civil wars on several fronts. Yemen has a serious al-Qaeda presence. Yemen faces American drone bombings from bases most likely in Saudi Arabia. Yemen will be unstable for years to come mainly because of the dictatorship. It is absurd enough that they want to invite Morocco and Jordan and Monaco and Brunei and Zimbabwe and Colombia to join. And now this. What is the matter with these watermelon dignitaries of the GCC?
Cheers
mhg



m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Bahrain Opposition, Jordanian Fondlers, About Moroccan Humor, GCC Potentates, etc………….

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And they’ve given me a name
The call me the fondler, yeah the fondler
I feel around around around around around…..
The Fondler (Bob Rivers)

Bahrain’s main opposition al-Wefaq “Society” issued a statement saluting Jordanians who protested against their government sending troops and security agents and torturers to help repress the people of Bahrain. Jordan is a major source of “interrogators”, also affectionately and fondly called “fondlers” by some extremely non-affectionate potentates, to certain regimes of the Persian-American Gulf. Jordan is the second source of mercenaries into Bahrain, after Pakistan (and not counting Saudi occupation troops and the foreign mercenaries that the UAE potentates have sent). I am not sure this is a major reason for the Saudi idea of Jordan joining the GCC, but it must have helped. Al-Wefaq notes that imported mercenaries also include Syrians (most likely anti-regime) and Yemenis and Baluchis. (Bahrain’s potentates prefer Sunni mercenaries and they prefer them third-world hungry, unlike the Abu Dhabi potentates who prefer white Blackwater types, and Colombians, and Australians and White South Africans, etc).
I still stick by my “extremely educated” prediction that Jordan will never be a full member of the GCC. It ain’t gonna happen, even if the peoples of the GCC and Jordan are never allowed to vote on this issue (nobody i going to vote on this issue, not even the Moroccan people who are probably more ‘with it’ politically). Besides, my Gulf region needs humor more than anything else these days of grim Salafi ascendancy, and Jordanians are not exactly known for their sense of humor (if any), as I have been at pain to point out here. I don’t know much about Moroccan humor, I assume it is better than Algerian humor (probably no contest here). Both countries may become toothless meaningless “associate members”, just a way to save face for the Saudi potentates from the embarrassment of their desperate invitation.
From a point of humor, Egypt would be the best candidate. Egyptians are almost the only Arab people, nay the only Middle East people, with some sense of humor. Even the 30 years of Mubarak could not completely get rid of it, even decades of the growth of Salafi Wahhabism could not do it.

Cheers
mhg



m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

On Gulf Intellectuals, Tribal Liberals and Arab Uprisings, the Edifying Hashtag, Oxymoronic Humor………..

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What is interesting is that many (Gulf) clerics and shaikhs played the sectarian game, and did not try to distinguish the political issue from the sectarian issue. I was surprised at this huge amount of hatred among some of these people, and these hatreds were reflected in their positions and their statements and their relations with ‘others’. It is sad to say that the Arab Spring has deteriorated to civil war and strife in places like Bahrain, Yemen, Libya, and Syria……… Unfortunately the ‘intellectual’ in the Gulf region could not break away from what has been ordained for him, just as he can’t break away from his sector or tribe or personal interest. In Saudi Arabia, I have not seen any brave position from the Islamist or ‘liberal’ intellectuals regarding the events in Bahrain, these Islamist and ‘liberal’ intellectuals were open and shameful reflections of the mouthpieces of the regimes…………..”

Professor al-Rasheed is well-acquainted with the history and ‘cultural’ life, such as it is, of Saudi Arabia (especially) and the Gulf region. She is right about most of the GCC so-called ”intellectuals”:


  • Most Gulf Islamists, especially the Salafis, essentially nurse from the Saudi teats. Most of the time I suspect they are basically a ‘fifth column’ for the Wahhabi state, wittingly or unwittingly. (I do have moments when I feel more gracious toward them).

  • Many Gulf ‘intellectuals’, but not all, be they Islamist or otherwise, are palace ‘intellectuals’, sycophants of one faction or another of the palace. Often, they are sycophants of the Saudi palace, either directly or through the tribe or through other affiliations. I once called them “tribal liberals” last spring.

  • I suspect some Gulf intellectuals think they are “liberals” if they carry a laptop around, sprinkle their speech with a few English terms (they/we especially love the term “hashtag”, it is so edifying) and believe women should ‘eventually’ have the right to drive but in due time. All in due time. Let the princes decide: they know best.

  • All Gulf ‘intellectuals’, shy away from criticizing public beheadings in the streets of Riyadh, maybe because those who are beheaded are mostly poor foreign migrant workers (men and women), but most likely because they shy from upsetting the potentates.

  • Most, but not all, Gulf ‘intellectuals’ also believe that people in places like Syria and Libya should revolt against their oppressors but not people in Bahrain or Saudi Arabia or Yemen. They take their cue from their regimes, or from the Saudi regime.

  • Most Gulf ‘intellectuals’ were cool and tepid toward the uprisings in Tunisia and especially in Egypt, until the palace accepted the change. Then they were suddenly all for the people’s uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, after the fact.

  • Most Gulf ‘intellectuals’ were quiet about Syria, until the “palace” and princes started opining, and they all fell in line.

  • Most Gulf ‘intellectuals’ were always for the regime and against the people in Bahrain, because the “palace” was clearly on the side of the despots: it put troops on the ground to prove it. In this case, they are unfortunately divided by sector.
  • Most ‘intellectuals’ on my Gulf fiercely support the right of people to self determination and free elections in places like Iran, Syria, Libya, Gaza (but not the West Bank), but they don’t think any other peoples in the Middle East need to vote in free elections or talk freely against their rulers.

  • There are real free-thinking ‘intellectuals’ on my Gulf: I have known some of them and I read for some of them. And no, it is not an oxymoron to say ‘Gulf intellectual’, anymore than it is to say ‘Egyptian intellectual’ or ‘Jordanian intellectual’ or ‘Iranian intellectual’ or ‘French intellectual’. It is not even nearly as oxymoronic as saying “Jordanian humor”. More on this last point in another post.

Cheers
mhg



m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com