The EcoSocioRev of Irbid

Posted: January 3, 2015 in Uncategorized

Sunday, January, 6, 2030

Today is the first working day in 2030. On my way to work, I check my smart home application on my mobile as usual. I consumed yesterday almost 14 kWh of electricity and I produced around 10 kWh but that’s fine since I’m still making money out of the subsidized feed-in tariff. I look out of the window fascinated by how Irbid has transformed into an incredibly sustainable city in no time. Irbid is Jordan’s second largest city after Amman. It has always attracted students from all over the Middle East and Asia for having some of the best universities in the region.  Only 15 years back, living in Irbid was full of challenges on so many levels; employment rates were extremely low as all SMEs and big corporate were based in Amman, there were more than 600,000 Syrian refugees in Zaatari Camp alone, and as every other Jordanian city, Irbid had no natural resources at all. Jordan was the world’s second water-poorest country and used to import 97% of its energy.

All those issues have been resolved when the municipality introduced the iMEP (Irbid Master Eco Plan) and that was more of what I like to call, EcoSocioRev; an Ecological, Economical and Social Revolution. Many programs were initiated right after to cover almost every aspect in the city such as iShare, iGenerate, iProduce, iPlant, iWalk, iRecycle…etc.

We live now in a smart house, properly insolated, energy efficient and powered by a hybrid system made of BIPV, Solar Thermal and Vertical Wind Turbine. Houses now are tinier as we have access to the compound’s shared facilities such as sports center, kids’ playground, library…etc. All residential areas now are made of compounds which have their internal bike sharing systems, small farms to plant enough vegetables for the residents, waste corners and a Solar-Powered EV stations.

Irbid has become a pedestrian and biking friendly city, all vehicles are now electrical including ambulances and fire engines, and almost none has a car nowadays, if we need one, we can rent the compound’s electric car. Different compounds, universities, schools and business parks are connected through electric locomotive powered by CSP, PV, and wind power. This was built only five years ago after sodium batteries became commercially viable. Irbid became a zero energy city since then and the distributed energy generation helped in achieving this.

Employment issues have successfully been resolved especially after Amman’s bubble burst. It has been proven that it’s more feasible to open a business in Irbid than in any other place in Jordan. Thus, many startups have been founded over the past 10 years by students and fresh graduates and big corporate have opened branches in Irbid. People now call it the Jordanian Silicon Valley; many researches are being done here and many others work in power plants, farming and water desalination. Water is no longer an issue as its being now pumped from Aqaba, through a canal covered by solar PV to generate energy and reduce the evaporation.

No Waste is Going to Waste is one of my most favorite initiatives. It was launched back in 2017 by the housewives and female refugees who created thousands of jobs to themselves. Some local trendsetters have introduced EcoFashion to the community by recycling clothes into modern designs which are now being sold all over the MENA region.

Irbid has come a long way since 2015 through many small leaps and few big ones. Who would have thought urbanism can challenge the world’s most serious problems in a couple of decades and succeed?

–This blog is created for Masdar Engage Blogging Contest

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  1. Be ordinary: Don’t settle for anything other than the best.
  2. Imitate: Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.
  3. Remain Silent: God has given you a voice, use it.
  4. Be selfish: If you think you can do it on your own, show us.
  5. Act like men: It’s not about women acting like men. It’s about women acting like women and being successful.
  6. Put dreams on hold: No one will make your dreams come true but you.
  7. Have no control over their feelings: God has created us emotional. Our job is to tame these emotions.
  8. Have negative self-talk: Counterproductive and demotivating talks are not allowed.
  9. Judge other women: When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself.

أصدرت مؤخراً دراسة تشيد بأن خط الفقر في الأردن ٨٠٠ دينار. فساد الغضب والاستياء بين أفراد المجتمع… كالأب الذي اخبر ابناءه بأن ‘مصروف الروحة عالمدرسة’ دينار ولكنه يعطيهم ما مقداره نصف دينار. كيف للأردني أن يعيش بأمان بدولة تخبره بأن ٩٠٪ (نسبة عشوائية للدلالة) يعيشون تحت خط الفقر. عدم المسؤولية والرحمة والقسوة و و و بهذه الاحصائية لا يقاس كأنه يتم اخبارهم بأنهم لا يملكون أدنى فرصة ليعيشوا حياة كريمة في بلدهم. حالهم حال الولد الذي لن يكفيه مصروفه للذهاب للمدرسة.

ولكن معظم الشعب يقدس لعب دور المظلوم. دور المواطن المنهوب. لدرجة دفعته للسذاجة والابتعاد عما قد يغذي به عقله ويبعده عن الجهل. تعريف خط الفقر هو الحد الأدنى من المال الذي قد يغطي ابسط انواع الطعام والشراب فقط. لا نتحدث عن تعليم ولا صحة ولا طاقة ولا مواصلات ولا مسكن ولا ملبس ولا ولا ولا… خط الفقر الأردني لمن لم يكلّف نفسه عناء القراءة ٨٠٠ دينار للشخص الواحد سنويا اي ٢.١٩ دينار يوميا. هذا يعادل تقريبا ضعفي ونصف خط الفقر العالمي الذي يساوي دولار وربع. ربما لأن الأردن بلد معروف بالغلاء المعيشي. ربما لو تم الحساب شهريا لكان اسهل على المواطن الذي يعيش منتظرا راتب نهاية الشهر للمقارنة. لذلك يا عزيزي الأردني كل فرد من اسرتك يجب ان يكون مخصص له على الأقل ٦٥ دينار شهريا للطعام والشراب فقط. اذا دخل الاسرة اعلى من ذلك اذا انت لست فقير. ولست انا من وضع هذا المصطلح ولكنني واثقة بأن منظوره أكبر من حدود دولة واحدة. فقد أخذ بعين الاعتبار بأن هناك طفل يموت كل ٦ ثواني في العالم من الجوع. فبهذا بإمكان الأولاد الذهاب الى المدرسة لكلفة المواصلات دينار أسبوعيا ولكن مصروفهم نصف دينار يوميا.

معظم المحظوظين من أبناء الشعب قد يصلون بحياتهم لاستقرار مادي يمكنهم من بناء بيتهم الخاص. سواء كان بقرية مكون من غرفتين او بإحدى اكبر المدن من عدة طوابق وملحقات. ولكن المشترك بينهم جميعا بأنه عندما يصدر قرار ‘تعمير البيت’ يجتمع رب الاسرة مع جميع أفراد العائلة ويخبرهم بأن هذا القرار يحتاج الى ‘شد الأحزمة’ على الأقل هذا ما والدي اخبرنا به. لا يمكن للعائلة بأن تستمر بنفس مستوى الصرف وهي تقوم ببناء شيء سيؤمن حياة كريمة ومستقرة لجميع أفرادها. ففعلاً هذا ما يحصل، اذا كان وضع العائلة المادي متدني فقد يقومون بتجنب بعض الالتزامات الاجتماعية، اما اذا كان الوضع متوسط فقد تبيع المرأة ذهبها او قد يتوقفون عن الذهاب الى المطاعم، وحتى العائلات المترفة قد تضطر الى إلغاء السفرات الصيفية او تحديث السيارات او اثاث المنزل. الموضوع نسبي نوعا ما ولكن المأخذ واحد. عادة ما يتذمر أفراد الاسرة الصغار من حرمهم من بعض الأشياء فهم سعيدون بمنزلهم هذا ولا يَرَوْن الحاجة بالانتقال الى منزل اكبر او حتى أصغر ولكن ملكهم. ولكن رب الاسرة يتغاضى عن شكواهم لأنهم ‘ما بيعرفوا مصلحتهم’.

انا قل ما اتفق مع الحكومة باي من قراراتها وارى الفساد قد تفشى بجميع مؤسساتها من اصغر الموظفين لأكبرهم. كل يظن بأن ما يقوم به ‘عادي’ و ‘ولا اشي بالنسبة للي غيره بيعمله’ الا من رحم ربي. الاستهتار بتطبيق القانون في اصغر الأمور مثل عدم الالتزام بالوقوف على الدور يسبب انحطاط اخلاقي تماما كسرقة ملايين من البلد. احاول عادة تجاهل الحكومة وعدم التفكير بها بل على العكس اتخيل نفسي انا الحكومة. صحيح ان ليس بمقدوري اتخاذ قرارات مصيرية ولكن على الأقل أقوم بدوري الفعّال في المجتمع. هذا ما لا يستطيع استيعابه المواطن الأردني. فَلَو خُيِّرَ بين رفع أسعار الكهرباء او قطعها المنظم والمجدول عنه على ان يتم استيراد غاز من اسرائيل لاختار الغاز الاسرائيلي.

بالتأكيد المواطن لا يعرف مصلحته ولا يفكر استراتيجيا ولا منطقيا لأن همه بأمور اصغر من المنظور الأبعد والأشمل تماما كالأولاد الذين يعتبون على ابيهم لقرار بناء بيت لهم. ولكن أملي كله أن تكون الحكومة كالأب الخائف على مصلحة أولاده ولا يستمع ‘لدلعهم’. أملي ان تقرر الحكومة في البت النهائي بحكمة وعدل بقضية قد تقضي على دولة باكملها.

أمن الطاقة له عدة تعاريف وحيثيات. للأردن بنظري هو إيجاد مصادر متنوعة للطاقة على ان تكون آمنة، متوفرة، مستقلة، واهم من هذا كله موثوقة. بالتأكيد لا يمكن الوثوق بإسرائيل ولا بغازها ليس فقط لأنها عدو محتل للأراضي الفلسطينية (مع انه سبب كافي للبعض) ولكن على الأقل لأنه ‘لا يلدغ المؤمن من جحر مرتين’ فقد تم الاعتماد عليها بتوفير مياهنا وقد زاد الحال سوءاً منذ ذلك الحين و’الحبل عالجرار’.

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My friend Bastian Purrer has asked me a question a few days ago (after seeing this picture above on instagram):

How can you be so green but not vegetarian?

Let me at first make things clear, I can and will NEVER become a vegan; cheese is what keeps me going and it’s not harmful.

But why am I not vegetarian?

1. I’m a muslim and in my religion, eating meat is halal (allowed) without extravagance.
2. The meat I eat comes from locally grown animals. And they’re fresh. No packaging, and energy used for transport and cooling is being conserved.
3. What I eat is organic meat and diary.
4. The products are mostly free-range and ranch raised.
5. The farms are relatively small; almost no chemicals are being used and less manure is used to filterize the soil.

So, I consider myself a “Flexitarian” at the moment. I’m not ready to commit a full-on vegetarian lifestyle but I reduce my meat consumption. And once I move to a place where all the above does not apply (except the first point), I’ll reconsider becoming a vegetarian.

The killing-not-to-be-killed truth

Posted: November 11, 2012 in Uncategorized

Being honest is not the best policy you can consider when someone is trying to save himself from the truth. And she masters this art. Being righteous is never quite enough. She’s just like a deceiver, self-bound up in chains. I want to save her but I’m afraid she’ll strangle me with her superciliousness and haughtiness. Just like she always did. She doesn’t stop pushing and pushing. Her hands are getting bigger and bigger, stronger and stronger. And I can’t keep a distance. All what I can do is paint my face to hide my pain. For the sense of purpose and devotion shall save me one day.

Since we were young, we’ve been told that it’s always greener on the other side. I thought by then, why to waste my entire life planting here while I can enjoy a greener life? I kept digging and digging until I got to that other green side. Yes, after a few months, I managed to keep a distance. It’s not happiness. It’s not contentment. It’s not vivacity. It’s not serenity. It’s not ecstasy. It’s an irresponsible- unstoppable- gilt edged- impermanent- tale. This is different, I’m not sure if it’s better. But this is the best I can afford for now.

If only she knew that a smile, a caring word and a warm embrace would have solved it all. If she only knew that being given whatever tangibles someone needs before naming them is just never enough. Since when have tangibles become persuasively satisfying? And to add insult to injury, I am supposed to translate these tangibles into to-give-back-emotions. I’m expected to give what I’ve never received. I can give it but I just refuse to. Not out of stubbornness. Out of utopian logic. Out of pain and sorrow.

The Road Not Taken (Poem)

Posted: October 12, 2012 in Uncategorized

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost

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I’ll cut right to the chase. What’s been happening in 2012 ‘so far’?

  • 97% of Greenland’s surface ice sheet thawed in Jul, 2012.
  • Arctic Sea ice stuck near record-low levels.
  • Wildfires in Siberia and Colorado.
  • The hottest downpour in the planet’s recorded history in Mecca, KSA. 
  • Monsoons in Bangladesh leveas hundreds dead and nearly 7 million people homeless.
  • +600 million people in India being left without power in the world’s largest blackout.
  • The Amazon River reached a record height and continues to rise leaving thousands of people homeless.
  • Water is still being pumped to cool Fukushima nuclear reactor.

How much do we still need to suffer before getting serious about climate change?