kameel Hawa | Side Story
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My wife got a Ph.D.

On the  morning of Saturday, November 21, 2016, at 8:30 am, we were at a rendezvous in the institute of Oriental Studies of the Saint Joseph University.  My wife Najah was at very last, and after a toil of nine years, sitting to defend her Ph.D. Thesis in front of a four member jury of distinguished professors. The subject of the thesis was one of the notable poems of Arab history, namely alAkhtal, and particularly his poetry of praise, as a poetic form. AlAkhtal, who belonged to Taghlib the known Christian tribe, became the poet of the Umayyad court. Najah in a 15 minute address presented her thesis, and this was followed by a two hour discussion, where each professor would, in turn, discuss his or her remarks on the thesis, and Najah will then verify, and explain her stand. When this was over, the committee, withdrew from the small...

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A cup of coffee please

Yesterday I had a small encounter with an order of one coffee at my Riyadh hotel, this time AlFaisaliyyah. I called room service and asked for a cup of Nescafe’. When the waiter came a while later, on the tray he  had the coffee powder in a small open pot. I noticed the ‘blond’ color, and told him this must be Nescafe’ Gold! He confirmed. So I told him I only  drink the normal Red Mug Nescafe’. He apologized saying that the Hotel only serves this type. So I called reception and explained, using an argument that I had used Before in similar cases, saying that the Hotel cannot serve a ‘variety’ of a drink, and not serve the main regular type. You can have Nescafe’ gold for those who might like it, but you cannot not have Nescafe’ proper first. Similarly if a guest asks for a cup of tea,...

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A short story of a free choice… Why Kameel not Camille

Up you go! Creative Social’ the group that invited me for a talk to their Beirut meeting, asked me to send something to a book they are putting together under the title of “the best advice ever”.(I wrote this!) I must have been around five years old or so, when my father used to walk me some distance away from home, where the school bus stopped every early morning to pick me up and take me to the kindergarten. It was quite a walk actually, maybe a whole kilometer or two. On the way he sometimes told me an interesting piece of information or opinion, or recited one or two lines of poetry, usually with a motto, in either Arabic or English. One line of Arabic verse I remember so clearly, he explained with a lot of vigor said what was to the effect of: say not I am of this...

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The coke article

A few years ago, I wrote an article about Coke’s return to its old classic logo. Long since forgotten, I was surprised to come across this plate (pictured below) in our Beirut office, which made me want to revisit what I had written. After some digging, here it is. The double name on the plate made me smile. So the name “Coke” is brought in again!! But “Cocacola or Coke?”, the consumer answer I would guess is: “who cares”! WHAT’S WRONG WITH COKE? Why the nostalgic return to the old Coca Cola graphics and “Marilyn Monroe” bottle became a problem rather than a solution.   Several years ago, Coca Cola took a rather risky decision to revisit its former brand symbols, bringing to the forefront the original long cursive calligraphy in its logo. The old, abandoned sexy Coca Cola glass bottle, once admired in the fifties, also made its way back onto supermarket shelves....

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No one told me?

During school days I learnt that Al-Akhtal, the poet of the Omayyad dynasty, was Christian, and the story was told in the context of proving the tolerance of the Caliph, as in his lines of verse, AlAkhtal boasted that he entered upon the Caliph drunk, ‘dragging his tail’, as if he was, on the Prince of Believers, a prince. But besides this story, which left me and my classmates with a good doze of happiness at the time, I hardly heard of other names, not even what exactly was the poet as a Christian, and how did he practice his faith, and who were his folk. And only after many, many years I started hearing about the poet’s tribe Taghleb, that was apparently a major tribe at the time, that was Christian and resisted joining the new expanding faith, and suffered for that in more than one way. Then I heard...

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