Houston Extends Valuable Links With Arab Culture!

Houston Extends Valuable Links With Arab Culture!

Arab culture is coming to Houston. Over the last few decades Houston, Texas has become renowned for its success in technological sectors like medicine, energy and space. Houston as now to become a culture capital stemmed from its flourishing multi-cultural communities, variety of top restaurants, and diverse museums.

Back in 1901 a discovery of oil was found in Texas that brought prosperity to the city of Houston and by 1950 the oil industry was foremost in the US, and Texaco was born. The oil rich Arab states of Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi heavily depended on Texaco to help them explore and develop their own rich oil fields.

This has developed a great relationship between the Arab states and the US over the years which has gradually deepened. The petroleum company Saudi Aramco has their HQ in Houston and sends around 50 of their workers over to Texas A&M University each year to earn degrees in petroleum engineering and other relative studies.

The university also offers Arabic programs in Islamic culture and learning the Arabic language, and the University of Texas at Austin has a stimulating study program of the Middle East with over 300 different programs. Great partnerships have developed between Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah University of Science and Technology and the Texas A&M as with many other Arab and American educational institutions.

The Houston Museum of Fine Arts is one of the top ten most renowned art museums in the US today. More than one million visitors per year enjoy the range of 63,000 contemporary and ancient art pieces and collections  brought together from six different continents.

Back in 2007 the museum brought together a permanent educational and interesting Islamic exhibit from the Far East,  Africa and Iberia and called it ‘Arts of the Islamic World’. Presently the museum has a unique collection from 40 world wide institutions called the ‘Gifts of Sultan: The Arts of Giving at the Islamic Courts.’ that contains over 250 items that date from the eighth through to the 20th centuries.

The exhibit explores a look at Islamic gift giving that contains gifts that were offered as historic pieces or were manufactured as gifts. This unusual collection shows that giving a gift is a timeless tradition between humans and that some mark a place in history as the receiver and giver and promote feelings of expectation for the future.


US Masters Degrees For 5 ExxonMobil Scholars!

US Masters Degrees For 5 ExxonMobil Scholars!

5 Masters Degrees for 5 special Egyptian students who were  selected by ExxonMobil for its MENA Scholars Program.  This highly regarded program offers students the support to study for a Masters Degree at a US university in fields related to chemistry, engineering and geoscience. The scholarship program attracted around 1,300 students from the region but only 23 were outstanding enough to meet the high standards set by ExxonMobil.

The chairman of this huge gas and oil corporation Mr Andy Wells stated that they will pursue alternative opportunities for more exceptional students in all sectors and locations that they operate in. ExxonMobil’s aim is to make huge investments into the bright young people of Egypt by giving them the best education and opportunities to develop their skills and knowledge.

He also said that it was an honor to award these students with the Masters Degrees from the  ExxonMobil program,  that allowed them the support to continue high level studies of these very critical areas of engineering, geoscience, chemistry, mathematics and technologies while also giving them a chance to follow their dreams.

ExxonMobil is one of the largest publicly traded companies by market capitalization in the world and in the last 5 years has been ranked either no.1 or no.2. It is committed to operating a global gas and oil portfolio in the most efficient yet effective procedures possible. The scholarship program was started in 2008 to support the next generation of scientists from 14 different countries of the MENA region.

The students Mohammad from Tanta, Haitham from Cairo, Hazem from Helwan, Moetaz from Qaliub City and Ramy from Cairo studied at The Colorado school of Mines, University of Houston, Texas A&M University and The University of Texas. As well as full tuition the program offers a visa, academic support a stipend for expenses and housing, expenses for textbooks, computer allowances, travel to the US and an extensive orientation program.

Andy Wells stated that after the students receive their Masters Degrees the scholarship includes a 3 month internship with ExxonMobil, yet the students are not committed to stay on and may choose to move to another corporation, however he was delighted that 2 of the 5 have opted to join the workforce.

The ExxonMobil MENA scholarship program is only one of many diverse educational programs they continue to support all over the world that helps economic development and gives young Arab people opportunities. They are involved in many youth programs in Egypt like Save the Children which offers a second chance to 12 to 17 year old girls who for some reason dropped out of school and another is INJAZ a non-government ran organization that supports Arab youth business skills where over 130 ExxonMobil employees have offered their services free since 2004.

Great news! To have the support of such a leading corporation for our young Arabs and the MENA economy.

The TCLP and Their Critical Language Program!

The TCLP and Their Critical Language Program!

The TCLP (Teachers of Critical Language Program) is a multi-cultural language learning program managed by the American councils for international education and funded by the ECA (Education and Cultural Affairs) of the US State Department. This important program aims to promote awareness and increase the amount of Americans studying and teaching Arabic and Mandarin Chinese, the top two languages on the critical list.

The main goals:

A. To promote the teaching of these critical foreign languages throughout schools and improve the education and futures of young American students. These languages will play a huge role in the world in future years so it is imperative to start learning as young as possible.

B. To educate the foreign language teachers about the United States lifestyle and culture while improving their language ability and introducing them to US teaching procedures. The Egyptian and Chinese teachers will be able to expand their knowledge to their students back home resulting in higher proficiency levels and greater understanding of cultures.

C. To gain education an insight into each others culture and increase understanding in communities through schools and international teachers. As more knowledge is learned understanding between cultures will increase through communication.

D. To offer US schools and other participants the opportunities to increase their prospects and develop new relationships while sharing language learning methods.

This program will create a huge positive impact to the education of American students, the teachers will improve their language and teaching proficiency levels and all will develop a greater understanding of each others society and customs.

Schools in the US will have the capacity to develop relationships with Arabic and Chinese schools that will ultimately create an appreciation of these major international cultures.

Learning Arabic or Mandarin Chinese not only improves education and understanding all round but will also open up a whole new world, personally, professionally, socially and economically.


Great News for Egypt as Outsourcing Industry Reaches Goal!

Great News for Egypt as Outsourcing Industry Reaches Goal!

According to the Information Technology Industry Development Agency the outsourcing industry in Egypt has finally reached an ICT export revenue of 1.1 billion dollars.

The head of PR at the ITIDA Ahmed Reda promoted the location of Egypt as having lots of advantages. It has also been voted the fourth most popular place for outsourcing services, up from sixth in 2010. In the last two years the ITC area in particular has received some massive deals from multinational businesses and received a record 17 new investments. This year alone showed an increase of 12 percent. Employment in this area has increased by 10 percent despite the unrest. Reda stated that this is due to the great training offered resulting in a very talented selection of young workers who speak several languages and the fact that they can serve a few different time zones.

Communications giants Motorola opened a new regional office and center in the capital which will become the main office for MENA. Other major companies that have extended their presence in Egypt are HSBC, Stream International, Orange Business Services and Sutherland who increased their staff to 460 a massive growth of 146 percent. The French Automotive supplier Valeo added another 142 graduated Egyptian engineers by December this year and plans to keep increasing over the next two years.

The goal was to reach a 1 billion dollar target but because IT companies are hiring this was surpassed and this sector appears to be unaffected by problematic issues in Egypt. The vision is to keep Egypt as a major outsourcing location and continue positive support to all the young talent and investors.

Smart Village now houses many head quarters of multinational businesses and organizations. The new IT Maadi Park due to be ready in 2012 will have 40 buildings housing around 300,000 workers making it a multinational hub for ICT.

This is great news for Egypt in such difficult political times and will encourage westerners who are employed in this sector or at any of the multinational companies to invest in learning the Arabic Language and boost their career prospects with effective communication.



The U.S and Egypt Perform a Delightful Musical Collaboration!

The U.S and Egypt Perform a Delightful Musical Collaboration!

Last Thursday the  US Embassy showed a special concert in the Dome of Al-Ghouri in Islamic Cairo. This wonderful event featured a collaboration between Nubian Drums and the U.S. blues/rock band The Bombie Trio. This unusual collaboration produced a repertoire of music that was received happily by the number of Americans and Egyptians in the audience who were seen clapping enthusiastically along to the unusual infusion of blues and drums.

The embassy’s cultural program produced this event in the pursuit of  encouraging diplomacy and awareness between Egyptian and American culture. The beautiful dome was packed full and the combination of the traditional drums along with the Bombies input produced a similar sound to shaabi music. The Bombies all participated enthusiastically, and tapped their feet and nodded their heads to the new beat.

The infusion of these two totally different music styles turned out to be a pleasant surprise as both bands enjoyed new ways to play each others music.  When the Bombies covered a track by Stevie Wonder the drummers quickly got into the groove, tapping away at their traditional Nubian drums and added  a powerful mix to the Nubian drums in return. As the Nubian drummers played a chugging beat of Marvin Gaye’s while the Bombies sang ‘How sweet is to be loved by you’ political issues were forgotten proving goodwill can over rule such things.

This unusual twist in bringing these two different cultures together was a delightful musical adventure. The Bombies proved to be the perfect ambassadors for the US embassy as Americans love this style of music, and so now do Egyptians. Lets hope relationships between these two cultures can become strong on a political and business level in the future. John Kerry the American Senator was in Egypt to meet with the Muslim Brotherhood SCAF

Last week, American Senator John Kerry visited Egypt to meet with SCAF and the Muslim Brotherhood to discuss the sensitive issues of diplomacy which are still a sensitive issue in the minds of some Americans. However things seem positive for the future!



Nile University Honors a New Star of Science!

Nile University Honors a New Star of Science!

On December the 12th at the Nile University Egyptian engineering graduate and teacher’s assistant Haitham Desouky was awarded first prize in the ‘Stars of Science’ competition for his invention of Vivifi,  special surface stickers with touch screen ability. The stickers are placed opposite each other on the interface and rely on electrostatic energy from non-conductive surfaces like plastic, glass and wood which then converts them into a touch sensitive feature.

The president of the Nile University Tarek Khalil said in his speech that it was great to see Egypt having strength in its young scholars during this period of transition.

Desouky said he was honored to be there, and he was delighted his work will be turned into reality for all to use, especially the people of Egypt. He said that he hoped Egypt would recognize the need for inventions and that more money should be invested into taking young inventors more seriously.

This years celebration was sponsored by technical giants, Microsoft, Vodafone, TeData and the Smart Village where it was held. The sponsors said they are excited  about Desouky and what the future will bring and have offered to help him with the publicity of Vivifi and future inventions.

Desouky showed interest in science and started inventing at an early age spending hours in his workshop at home dismantling his toys to study how they were made. His first ever invention was a heart rate monitor that would release an alarm if the rate dropped below normal. He is an engineering graduate from Al-Azhar University in Cairo and a teaching assistant at The Nile University.

The ‘Stars of Science’ competition was developed by the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community development. This innovation competition is also the first pan-Arab reality television show focusing on the next generation of  young Arab inventors out of 8000 competitors. Its mission is to enhance human life and create an area of education solely for students and scholars to develop skills for a knowledge based economy.



The Arabic Language is Now Classed as ‘a Critical Need’!

The Arabic Language is Now Classed as ‘a Critical Need’!

The Arabic language is now classed as ‘a critical need’!

The U.S. government is urging students to incorporate learning Arabic into their study program as a strategic move towards the future. Learning any new language is always beneficial however as the greatest developed country in the world and tragedies like 9/11 the U.S has placed learning the Arabic language to be top of the list.

There is a huge need for people with Arabic skills in all sectors including translators, interpreters, foreign organizations and companies that have merged with Middle Eastern corporations and business’s. Since 9/11 the number of positions within national security, NGO’s and US agencies rose dramatically and still is. The Arabic language is one of the six official languages spoken within the United Nations organizations alongside Mandarin Chinese, French, English, Spanish and Russian and is also in the top five languages spoken throughout the world today.

Another important fact to consider is that all these five languages are extremely important in the world of international trade, business and diplomacy. This proves how significant it is to learn Arabic especially where the correct dialect is required to maintain conducive prosperity and continue regard for the environment and world peace. Even though English is still the most influential language spoken in the International Arena, learning Arabic can only improve foreign affairs and relationships. By understanding the Arabic language you will also gain insight into Middle Eastern business ethics, life principles, culture and policies, which can only help towards building respectful associations.

At The Arabic Language Academy we have successfully taught students, employees, adults and children from all walks of life who were required to learn Arabic. We only have qualified native teachers who are totally committed to their students and their requirements. We also have associations with many universities in the U.S. and our founder Ms Somia Schell (language and culture educator) has recently been awarded a scholarship at Harvard University in the Middle Eastern Studies Department, on a program to promote the critical understanding of the diversity of the Middle East region for educators and the general public through professional development programs, online resources and public events.

! كل تفاعل يحمل فرصة

(Every interaction holds an opportunity!)

The Stars Come Out For The Dubai International Film Festival!

The Stars Come Out For The Dubai International Film Festival!

The Dubai International film festival opened with the latest Mission Impossible movie ‘Ghost Protocol’ on the 7th of December accompanied by its director Brad Bird and stars, Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg and Paula Patton. Parts of this latest MI film were shot in Dubai, and Dubai also helped finance the film which cost $140 million dollars, so it seemed apt to premiere in this Emirate City.

Brad Bird, Tom Cruise, Paula Patton and Simon Pegg!

This 4th MI movie is based around the Kremlin, where the team are instructed to retrieve documents from inside that contain nuclear codes that could start a world war. The film promises lots of high-end action with a thrilling sandstorm scene that shows Cruise climbing up the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa.

The film festival this year featured 171 films including 78 Middle Eastern premieres, 25 International premieres and 48 world premieres from 56 nations. Competing this year for the Muhr Awards and the $600,000 prize money are 89 of these films. The film headlining the world section this year was the long awaited comedy ‘The Descendents’ starring George Clooney and produced by Alexander Payne.

Most Arab countries were featured in this years Middle Eastern section with the Lebanon representing the lion’s share which involved various narrative documentaries and feature films. Among the premieres were Daniel Joseph’s debut feature ‘Taxi Ballad’, Danielle Arbid’s drama ‘Beirut Hotel’ and  a war drama called ‘Tannoura Maxi’ (Heels of War) by Youcef Joe Bou Eid’s.

Palestine made a comeback after being absent for a year with quite a few, but the most talked about were Arab Language films, ‘Qays and Layla’  a fiction movie based in Gaza, the first in more than 15 years, and a modern twist to a traditional Arab fable ‘Habibi’ by Susan Youssef.

Two films were shown about the Arab Spring, ‘No More Fear’ about the Jasmine revolution by Mourad Ben Cheikh, and ‘The Sun’s Incubator’ by Ammar Al-Beik about the Syrian uprising.

A host of stars from around the world will be gracing Dubai’s red carpet in the next few days. Owen Wilson will be awarded Variety’s International Star of the Year, German film director Werner Herzog will be given the Lifetime Achievement prize alongside A. R. Rahman, Indian composer of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ and huge Egyptian acting star Gamil Rateb.

Peter Wier (Oscar nominee) the Australian film director will authorize the Muhr Arab jury who include, Egyptian actor Amr Waked,  and German Film producer Emily Atef.

Egyptian actress Lebleba with famous Egyptian actor Jamil Rateb!

Other famous guests included, Egyptian actress Lebleba with famous Egyptian actor Jamil Rateb, Danish model Helena Christensen, Indian stars Priyanka Chopra and Shah Rukh Khan, and Alexander Payne (The Descendants).

The festival this year ends on December the 14th 2011!

Great Business News! Saudi Car Imports to Reach 700,000!

Great Business News! Saudi Car Imports to Reach 700,000!

Ali Alireza, Managing director of Haji Husein Alireza Co. stated that Saudi Arabia’s car imports in 2012 are expected to reach 700,000, after sales in 2011 crossed 650,000 cars

He went to state that because of the strong rising oil prices and strong economy the increase of car sales in the Kingdom will continue to increase. Other analyst from the industry have also commented that by 2013 the sales in the Kingdom could hit 880,000 which will mean a huge 50% rise since 2008.

The Saudi International Motor Show opened its doors on the 19th of November for 5 days which drew a large amount of visitors to the exhibits. Alireza was speaking from the show and said that really factories manufacturing spare parts should have been in place before the actual car factories them selves.

The center stage at the motor show were exhibits from the Japanese, however China and Korea received a lot of interest in their BYD, Geely and Lifan.

A Saudi housewife was very impressed with the Chinese and Korean cars because of their competitiveness in price. She went on to stay she will be recommending them to her husband.

The exclusive dealers for the Chinese made Geely cars is Alireza’s company that launched the product earlier this year.

The show gives people wanting to change their car  a chance to look at these new makes of cars closely and get all the info first hand. Mr Abdul Aziz Al-Ghamdi a member of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and industry stated it was a great opportunity to check out the cars before making a decision.

The makers of Suzuki, Hyundai, Toyota, Honda, Prestige Motor World and the other Chinese models said they were grateful for the chance to launch and display their models and brands and thanked them for the platform provided to show their cars.

Toyota show cased their new 2012 full range that caters for each market which caused great interest among the visitors . They stated that is was a great opportunity to interact with consumers from all age groups and business backgrounds. There display included their very latest FT-86 concept car and the brand new Camry 2012 never seen before by the Saudi public.

Also show cased were smaller cars from world wide manufacturers aimed at the current trend of  consumers buying small car models for their families. Adnan Tamimi an automobile technician in Saudi said this was a good move as the Saudi market is rising, more families are looking for smaller cars.

Through the success of the show and rising market the company for exhibitions is going to organize the 34th SIMS show from December 17th – 21st in 2012.


Traditional Recipes From Egypt – Chicken Kofte!

Traditional Recipes From Egypt – Chicken Kofte!

If you are studying the Arab language or planning to visit then why not get in the mood and learn to cook some of Egypt’s gorgeous, mouth watering cuisine.

Chicken Kofte is a popular dish, and is so easy to make.


Boiled chicken or left over chicken

2 dessert spoons of fresh finely chopped parsley

A cup of thick white sauce or mashed potatoes

1 chopped onion

salt and pepper

a dessert spoon of  breadcrumbs (this is optional)

For the frying you will need 2 eggs, breadcrumbs and sun flower oil

For texture 2 beaten eggs ready for frying.

Step 1:

Place the ingredients into a bowl and shape into a dough ball with your hands, then begin making smaller balls and press them into your hands like burger size then put in the refrigerator for 15 minutes

Step 2;

For frying, beat the 2 eggs with a pinch of salt and pepper

Then place the Kofte Balls in the eggs until completely covered on all sides, then cover in breadcrumbs.

Then fry the Kofte in sunflower oil on each side until golden brown (about 5 mins)

For the white sauce:

2 cups of milk

4 dessert spoons of butter

2 dessert spoons of flour

Step 3:

Melt the butter in a saucepan, then add the flour and blend in well with the butter, add the milk and simmer on a low heat and keep stirring to eliminate any lumps. Boil it for 10 minutes then it is ready, if you prefer you can place in a food processor for extra smoothness.

Pour the sauce in a bowl and pour on a plate and place the Kofte around it with sprinklings of fresh parsley, and serve with fresh salad.  For a more spicy version add a pinch of coriander and chili to the Kofte mixture. Many Middle Eastern countries also use minted natural yogurt as an alternative to the white sauce.