A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

Archive for the ‘earthquake’ Category

the current financial crisis: an Arabic view

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on October 8, 2008

Today I am taking a pause from Faylasoof’s stamp collection to report on the latest from the Arabic news channels. You might be expecting me to comment on Arabiya’s and Jazeera’s coverage of last night’s debate – and I will. Tomorrow.

What struck me as I watched the news last night – first on the Lebanese channels, and then on Jazeera and Arabiya – was how much attention they are giving to the financial crisis, both here in the US and around the world.

Well, diamond, OF COURSE, you might be thinking. And you’re right – this is a global news event. But seeing LBC and Mustaqbal devote more time than the usual token few minutes to world news, listening to the terms the announcers used to describe the crisis (more on this below), and noting the new graphics that Jazeera has created (ditto) brought the global-ness of this crisis home to me.

Let’s start with the terms. The most common term I heard as a description of the financial crisis was the same as we use in English: “al-azma al-maliya”, or “financial crisis”. This was also used as the “story title” on the text bar for LBC and Future’s newscasts. (We do get NBN and New TV, but I haven’t sorted out when their news broadcasts are. If you want to know, please ask H :).)

But this wasn’t the only phrase used – and the others were much more poetic. LBC described the crisis as the “zilzil al-mali” – the “financial earthquake”.

And Al Jazeera, which delayed its coverage of the presidential debate to broadcast a special report on the financial crisis, has created a new set of graphics just for this story. Its title:

That’s right: “financial hurricane”.

Jazeera’s coverage focused on New York (I know: the locator bar says “Washington”, but as the building shown itself clearly states, this is the New York Stock Exchange) and the stock market’s tumble there:

Jazeera did cover the presidential debate after its special news broadcast ended – but the fact that the channel chose to prioritize direct coverage of the financial crisis over a debate that largely focused on this crisis suggests to me how seriously it, and its viewers, are taking this “hurricane”.


Posted in Americans, Arab world, Arabic, earthquake, economics, media, news, politics, research, television, words | 1 Comment »

Plagues & locusts?

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on February 16, 2008

This past week has been an earth-shaking one for Lebanon – and not only in terms of the firepower put on display. The country has been hit by three earthquakes in rapid succession, including one yesterday afternoon, a little after 12:30.

The earthquakes’ epicenters have all been in the south, but have been large enough (yesterday’s was 5.1) to be felt in most parts of Beirut.

Of course, those of us with a tendency to obliviousness missed them. In my office, the shake was so slight that neither I nor another colleague felt it. Head in the clouds, you might say; while the colleague with her feet more firmly planted on the ground immediately asked us: did you feel that?

Reactions to the earthquake among my friends have been largely humorous.

Because life in Lebanon isn’t exciting enough, one said.

Even the earth is weird here, said another.

I think its the end of days, said a third.

Err … well … that last one wasn’t so humorous, actually.

And since the earthquakes have been felt up and down the fault line, which stretches south to Israel and Palestine, they have gotten tangled up in the region’s political messes as well – as proof that God is taking sides.

For example, the first commenter on Raed Rafei’s blog post about the earthquake for the LA Times took yesterday’s quake as a sign that God protects Israel:

These quakes are centered in southern Lebanon, and this last large one occurred right about the time when the terrorists had [once more] declared war on Israel.
G-d speaks, is anyone listening?

Well, Elisheva, I think being chosen may have gone to your head. Sending a quake to south Lebanon that also hits Israel seems a bit of a mixed message on God’s part.

If the quakes are a message from God, I think their message is more of a kick in the pants. I imagine that God has a few things to say about sharing, living together in harmony, and working to create a brighter future for all Lebanese. And I imagine that God’s patience with leaders who instead spend their time pontificating on podia, whether live or by video uplink, is wearing thin.

And just in case God decides to shake Lebanon’s cage a bit more in the next few days, I’m writing down the safety tips that H’s mother has provided. In case of a quake, take shelter in a stairwell or a doorway. Don’t go outside until the quaking stops, as you might be hit by falling debris. And make sure the gas is turned off, so a quake doesn’t cause a gas leak.

The gas is off. Guess it will be an eat out/order in weekend :).

Posted in Arab world, Beirut, earthquake, friends, Israel, Lebanon | 2 Comments »