OK for those of you that read my post about my birthday celebrations and want to partake I have an update. There is a lot of coordination and collaboration involved in making these things happen so I would like to thank everyone who expressed interest in joining me and more importantly those of you helping me make my thirty second birthday a celebration of us rather than me. And so here are the various events and ideas that all or any of you can help in and by doing so give me a fantastically rewarding birthday:


  1. Jabal Al Qalga Kite making and flying with the kids of the neighborhood with Hamzet Wasel Initiative
  2. Renovating and fixing of Women’s Center in Gaza Camp in Jerash with V-team Initiative
  3. Undecided event with Zikra Initiative
  4. Buy a tree and plant it in Palestine with APN – Arab Group for the Protection of Nature (
  5. Give me your old clothes, recyclable paper, tins and plastic and I will send them to a community center or the recycling center
  6. And finally for those that just want to hang out a walk in Jabal Amman and a walk in Jabal Al Weibeh (two of my favorite places in the city) the weekend following my birthday



I will post more info these initiatives and events and include dates, times, places and costs this coming week. And for those of you on Facebook I will create events for them. All are welcome even if I don’t know you and you want to do these things Ahlan Wa Sahlan.

On December 24 I wrote a blog post that I never published. It was entitled Here is to 2009. I thought I would wait a bit before publishing it and then the Gaza Massacre happened and other things became more important than my personal rants and raves about 2008 and 2009. Yet I have been thinking about the post and I have decided to post it below. I post it and yet want to comment on how three days after the positive note the year was ending on was turning sour, the big bang I wanted to start 2009 with was not that of guns and bombs.


Yet I look at it on a personal level again and though I first felt impotent, angry and I didn’t know what to do with my energies, I put my first resolution to the test. I did get more involved with different initiatives and will continue to get more involved on different levels.


In positing this I am still thinking there is much to be done and some of what I want to achieve is trivial but these trivialities are a privilege and I am thankful for the privileges in my life.  2009 did not start on a positive note with occupation, genocide and abuse being the dish of the day. But I am an optimist and I think that things will change and turn around. I think that because in my own way I know I can help initiate change even on a small scale with a word, a picture, an action. Small change can become big change and there are ways to turn misfortune into small wins. We just need to find that silver lining.


So if you wanted to know what I was thinking that happy day here it is, but do watch this space to know how things have changed and progressed in the mundane life that is Shalabieh’s World!



Here is to 2009


Last year I ended the year with a Thank you note (And I want to thank…)


It was a review of a year gone and passed it was year that ended positively for me 2007 was great. It was the year I turned 30 and it was definitely a milestone year. Looking back at 2008 I can only say it just keeps getting better. My thirties are definitely better than my twenties. And as the fortuneteller in Bangkok said: “30 good, 31 better, 32 BETTER. Good money, good job, good lover!” So 32 here I come. But not before I say good bye to 2008.


The year 2008 was a wonderful year. This year saw some much growth and change and all for the better. This year was a turning point in many ways with many wonderful things happening:

  • It was the year I reconnected with Palestine after an absence of 8 years
  • It was the year I met my nephew for the first time and really knew what it meant to be an aunt
  • It was the year I got connected at home with a new laptop and allowed internet to reinvade my private space (not so sure that’s a good thing)
  • It was the year I took a passion to the next level and bought my first SLR camera and I love taking pictures with it
  • It was the year I made a lot of new friends near and far and got close to a lot of them
  • It was the year I realized how much I liked development work and working with people underprivileged and underserved to better all our lives
  • It was the year I explored more of the Middle East than any other with travels to neighboring and not so neighboring countries and I realized how much I love the Middle East
  • It was the year I reclaimed me once again from the clutches of an unfulfilling love.
  • It was the year in which I stood my ground
  • It was the year I asserted myself


It is a year that is ending on such a positive note that I can only look forward to 2009 with anticipation and excitement. I am looking forward to a number of things on so many different fronts that I will have different kind of new year resolutions’ list. 2009 will be the year that

  • I will get more involved
  • I get out of debt no matter how miniscule
  • I will work on a photography project that will result in an exhibition
  • I will write more here and start a writing project too
  • I will take up learning to ride a bike again
  • I will reclaim the kitchen again and start cooking for myself
  • I will go somewhere new I have never been before and I am not just talking about travel


2009 is my year because I want it to be, not because a fortune teller told me it would be. So I will defiantly be drinking to 2009 and bring it in with a nice big bang!


Happy New Year everybody and see you in 2009.



Its that time of the year when consumerism is at its best and we all go on these shopping frenzies all over the world. Whether it’s the holidays or the sales is up for debate, but I do know that there is a better way to spend your money than on that unwanted and unneeded pair of reindeer socks.


A friend of mine sent me an email a couple of days ago with a great idea (thanks AK). She has asked us all to give ourselves health insurance. Now you may think she works for a health insurance company or is trying to get something out of it but no, that is not the case. She has asked that we all buy a plan from The King Hussein Cancer Center (KHCC).





Some of you may be covered through your office health insurance plans or through a parent’s plan, a spouse’s or even your school and so may have no need for more health insurance. But this is a plan with a twist. Buying an insurance plan from the KHCC helps cover you in case of the need for cancer treatment. But that is not what is really cool about this health insurance. The money you pay towards your health insurance actually gets used to cover cancer patients’ medical costs. It helps those that are in need fight this unforgiving and indiscriminant disease.


The plans are affordable and go a long way in fighting the battle against cancer. So if you are out shopping, buying gifts, spending money think about buying yourself, or someone dear, a gift that keeps on giving.


Here are the options for insurance (valid for a year):

Age                              Paid Amount JD/Year                   Insurance Amount


1 day-34 years                        10 JD                                       10,000 JD

                                                23 JD                                       20,000 JD


35 years-49 years                   25 JD                                       10,000 JD

                                                58 JD                                       20,000 JD


50 years-64 years                   45 JD                                       10,000 JD

                                               104 JD                                     20,000 JD


65 years-Above                       70 JD                                       10,000 JD

                                                161 JD                                     20,000 JD       

All you need to do is fill out a form with your national number, date of birth and sign it. Six months after they receive the form the insurance will be activated. You have to pay the insurance amount in full (10-161 JD which ever insurance works for you).


For more information contact



King Hussein Cancer Foundation
P.O. Box 35102
Amman 11180 Jordan
Telephone: + 962 6 4617555
Facsimile: + 962 6 4618999


I hope you never have to use this insurance but help those who do. Get your insurance now and be a giver to those who need it the most.


Life is all about choices. There are many things we choose, and others that are chosen for us. In my life there have been many milestones and many crossroads. Some I have chosen paths less traveled and others I took the safe exit. At some I was led down the path and others I blazed the trail. There were some where I followed unconsciously and others where I thought long and hard about where I am going and how I am going to get there. Some of these choices lead to dead ends; others have me spinning my wheels in place, whereas some have me going around in circles. My favorite choices are the ones that open up more possibilities and expand my world.

Today, sitting back and looking at my world I can see that my complexities arise from the choices I made as much as the choices I didn’t make. For example some of my choices were my full time position over freelancing. Choosing to visit Sri Lanka instead of Turkey. Going to a dietician but opting out of my weekly exercise game. But there are other things that happen and you don’t choose, who you fall in love with, who falls in love with you. Who your parents and family are, among other things we attribute to fate. And those things add more complexity to our lives.

I think that regardless of the outcomes of my decisions and those taken for me, I wouldn’t change a thing. I even include the bad decisions I have made, and trust me there were many. I wouldn’t want to change a thing because the sum of all the good, bad and the ugly has lead me to where I am. I am proud of who I am, of my accomplishments, and even my failures because I know that I have learned from them. My choices and those of fate have morphed me into who I am and as screwed up and as complex as that may be, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Mind you there are things that I would like to change today, but those are choices I might make today. And to that end I choose to end this rambling now.  

Amman is a land locked city, in fact if it weren’t for the Dead Sea and the Port of Aqaba all of Jordan would not have any water bodies to look out to. These two tiny places offer some relief from the desert landscape that surrounds us. I’ve recently visited both places and was irked by these visits as much as I have been relaxed by them.

When visiting either place you can spend nothing to enjoy them, or a fortune. There are public places where you can sit and see the waves lap up and the sun set very beautifully. But God forbid you want to go to a cafe and just sit and drink a cup of coffee. As soon as you are at the door of one of the resorts these cafes and restaurants are housed in you are asked to fork over a payment for a meal ticket or an entrance fee, or better yet have a reservation to spend the night.

This is ridiculous and aggravating. With so few options in either place this policy is discriminatory. The minimum entrance to any of the Dead Sea resorts is JD 15 on a weekday. I have yet to pay JD 15 for a cup of coffee and I’ll be damned if I am forced to consume more food just to sit somewhere for 30 minutes! It is not good value for money in any way. I can always bring my own cup of coffee and find myself a nice quiet rock to sit on elsewhere on the beach.  But this isn’t about the money. To me it’s about exclusion, when you create such a policy you are widening the gulf between the haves and the have-nots.

I’m not rich, but I am not poor either, I can afford the “fees” to get into these resorts, yet I consistently choose not to enter. I work hard for my money and so I choose how to spend it, I even try to make wise choices! But to be forced to spend a minimum amount for the privilege of a brand name resort, that is something I can do without. I don’t want to have to pay my way into places like that, to me it is not a wise investment, nor is the value for money worth it for me. When I spend my money I like to spend it freely and by choice.

This policy of exclusion based on finance is clearly creates a bigger and bigger divide between the rich and the poor. The middle class caught in between is more and more often having to choose sides. Once again I choose to be in the have-nots.