Signs in Arabic from Around Education City (and a quick quote on Babel)

My Arabic teacher asked me to start collecting images of signs in Arabic from around Doha. She says that practicing reading every sign I see will keep my Arabic fresh between classes. I know it’s been a productive day when my eyes start reading a sign from the right (Arabic is written from right to left, like Hebrew and Farsi). But even on a day when I look first to the left of a sign to read the English, I sometimes stop to try and sound out the Arabic text which nearly always accompanies English here.

But, like the khaleeji* first grader whose vocabulary I aspire to, sometimes the pictures can tell stronger stories than the words. Check out these posters for a diabetes prevention event (stickman of OddlySpecific would be in good company in Doha). These photos, like all of my photos, contain information in their alt-texts. So hover your mouse to learn more!

*Khaleeji (خليجي) is slang for a woman from the countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council (khaleej would be a man from one of those countries. In a real sentence I heard from a friend: “That dummy, he assumed I wasn’t khaleeji because I was playing football with men!” Does not describe Jordinians, Yemenis or Lebanese people.

Inspirational Quote:

“The conventional wisdom of the Tower of Babel story is that the collapse was a misfortune. That it was the distraction, or the weight of many languages that precipitated the tower’s failed architecture. That one monolithic language would have expedited the building and heaven would have been reached. Whose heaven, she wonders? And what kind? Perhaps the achievement of Paradise was premature, a little hasty if no one could take the time to understand other languages, other views, other narratives period. Had they, the heaven they imagined might have been found at their feet. Complicated, demanding, yes, but a view of heaven as life; not heaven as post-life.” Toni Morrison’s 1993 Nobel Prize Lecture


  1. Neal Stephenson had a lot to say about the Babel incident in _Snow Crash_

    “Babel’s a city in Babylon, right?….They built a tower to Heaven and God knocked it down.”
    “This is an anthology of common misconceptions. God did not do anything
    to the Tower itself. ‘And the LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and
    they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will
    do; and nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them.
    Come, let us go down, and there confuse their language, that they may not
    understand one another’s speech.” So the LORD scattered them abroad from
    there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city.
    Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the
    language of all the earth.’ Genesis 11:6-9, Revised Standard Version.”
    “So the tower wasn’t knocked down. It just went on hiatus.”
    “Correct. It was not knocked down.”

    “[Lagos] believed that Babel was an actual historical event. That it
    happened in a particular time and place, coinciding with the disappearance
    of the Sumerian language. That prior to Babel/Infocalypse, languages tended
    to converge. And that afterward, languages have always had an innate
    tendency to diverge and become mutually incomprehensible – that this
    tendency is, as he put it, coiled like a serpent around the human

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