MixUp Arabia episode 7 | Oct 12, 2005 | The Ramadan Cast

Welcome to the world’s first Ramadan cast, almost live from my car! Well, actually it’s more like 15 minutes of random thoughts around Ramadan and its commercialization. You can sense that I am actually fasting. I am a bit ‘slow’.

Listen here in MP3 (15 min 15 sec/ 5.1 MB).

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5 Responses to “MixUp Arabia episode 7 | Oct 12, 2005 | The Ramadan Cast”

  1. Basem Says:

    One must acknowledge the fact that we are no longer living in an isolated small community where traditions chain one’s horizon in one way or the other, and change is bound to happen as the influence of the “free” market economy will infiltrate and brush many aspects of our lives, but…

    This does not mean taking it for granted that what is currently taking place in Ramadan to be viewed as yet another “phenomena” that will eventually “normalize” by “realistic” and crude pragmatic elaborations!

    And here I am not voicing a dogmatized minority whom feels that the spirit of the month is being mitigated… surely there’s no harm for the suppliers to benefit “more” when they see a hint of justified rise in demand, that’s what makes a market place a dynamic one(where people typically make or loose money)! And surely I won’t feel offended when a restaurant offer a customized Iftar special, and if the super-market will emphasize on goods that are likely to be demanded during the month…

    In reality however, we are witnessing here a systematic, mass exploitation and capitalization of this month by corporates and individuals alike all within their capacity economically AND culturally!

    The corperates as Ahmad righteously pointed exploit the fact that people will be hungry, so they must feed the hungry at a premium! and household purchasing pattern will definitely shift to a stocking-craze towards the start of the month to lessen the number of grocery-trips during the month itself –fair enough-, but NO how can the big fish miss out on yet another seasonal high sales that can be catalyzed with the proper set of promotional traps! And while people are fasting they get bored, don’t they? And after the feast they want to get entertained through out the dull night, No? So the entertainment “industry” makes its entry with propaganda-level attention and care being put to fill their Ramadan TV schedules and live events tents, exhibits, etc!

    Then you have the cultural aspect of the matter, and here I am not in the business of Islamic decrees of Halal and Haram, but rather, the society-wide cultural shift towards i am intruiged to say cheap entertainment or the hunger for it during this month!

    It is just unbelievable! Again we are not talking about the odd almost-innocent Egyptian themed quiz shows of the eighties and early nineties that made it to the terrestrial TV stations and numbered satellite channels… and I am not talking about the the extended-hours outdoor family gathering after Taraweeh prayers… No, we are being bombarded from all angles to lore even the utmost hard-headed audience to watching “something” on TV and that without mentioning the obscenity and the very nature of the content itself… and then the Ramadan “tents” concept that demolishes the very essence of observing this month (in contrast to what originally the “tent” could have been).

    And what are we doing as a society? simply… empowering this deceitful state of affairs by acting as passive receptacles that embraces what’s on offer without a wimbling conscious thought of our own welfare.

    Soon as one friend of mine sarcastically pointed out “in few decades Vimto might be considered as a Sunnah of the prophet Moh’d pbuh next to dates and water”

    Enough already…

  2. Ameen Malhas Says:

    But Basem, the market merely provides what the people demand. What you’re suggesting is a subconscious herd mentality that people just follow what the marketers tell them. Let us not forget that marketing merely plays off what people need, or think they need/lack, and heightens that notion to the level of mass consumerism or greater demand. (Ahmad, what does your firm do again? ;) )

    But then again, what’s your alternative? what you suggest is a throwback to the simpler times, where Satellite TV did not exert this much influence and the internet was bound by geography (so infact we had localnets) and all we heard were voices similar to ours, as they were mostly our fellow urban dwellers.

    And then you propose censorship to what you consider to be insulting. Isn’t that exactly what a dogmatized minority does?

    Last but not least, religions themselves are the oldest forms of marketing, with proselytizing being the main ‘product,’ and heaven/hell being the appeal mechanisms. Please don’t take offense to this parallel, but it holds very true.

    2 conclusions.
    1) People seem to have a problem with other people’s method of having fun. Hey if I want to go to a tent, then I will. You, on the other hand, have the option not to. And if more people are like me, tents will thrive, and if more people are like you, they will shut down their doors. (Econ 101)

    2) What’s wrong with Vimto? (I am joking, I forgot what my second point was and I’m too lazy to scroll up… oh the couch potato generation).

    3) Ok, I remembered, all without scrolling. What’s wrong with an economic evolution and a commercialization of the month? Why are we so afraid to let that happen? You have to remember that the Hajj is also commercialized. And doesn’t economic prosperity yield a higher utility (level of happiness) to the people of all segments of society (I know this is a Reagan-esque argument “trickle down”) ?

    I came here to comment about something else, and say thanks ahmad for posting a pic with the podcast. I can show it off to my friends now and say look there’s a pic and this broadcast is from Amman.

  3. Humeid Says:

    Thanks Ameen and Basel for both of your thoughtful comments. I just want stress some points:

    – Yes I think that what is happening (the commercialization of Ramadan) is a natural outcome of the media revolution and the evolution of a consumer society. I am not shocked. Nor am I particularly concerned about it. Although I prefer not to go to Ramadan tents because they bore me :) .
    – Personally, I am against the overt commercialization of life. I am a believer in the power of markets but I don’t think we (as in we himan beings) should slavishly accept markets as a new religion. There are many things the market cannot deal with. I am happy, for example, that my children can watch a commercial free children channel on German TV. I am also, for example only, against the rampant billboarding of Amman which simply gives our city this ‘uncontrolled third-world-capitalism-and-marketing-look’.
    – Yes, you can count SYNTAX as part of the ‘marketing’ world. But we see ourselves as designers and problem solvers first and formost. Given the choice between branding a 5 star ramadan tent and desiging a better map for Amman’s public transportation we will choose the latter.

    Thanks everybody :)

  4. Ameen Malhas Says:

    You’re too gracious. Thanks.

    Malhas

  5. seamus Says:

    i have a question, maybe you can help me. i’m learning to speak arabic and i can’t find downloadable arabic-language audio anywhere. BBC-Arabic is streaming audio and I can’t seem to carry it with. Any suggestions? Thanks for your help. seamu

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