LOST IN TRANSLATION Siri
has picked up a new language. A recent software update for iOS9.2 now allows you to converse with Apple’s “intel- ligent personal assistant” on your iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch in Arabic. The catch? Well, how well can you speak Khaleeji? The Arabic-language Siri targets users in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the Gulf, where Apple has also opened two new flagship stores. Another interest- ing quirk is that only the male Siri appar- ently bothered to learn Arabic—there is no female voice available. A coinci- dence, given this is software aimed at a nation where women aren’t allowed to drive, wear makeup or go out unchaper- oned? You decide.
Various media, Dec. 8
Dubai-bound Egyptian was arrested at Cairo International Airport for drug smug- gling after security officials discovered more than half a kilo of hidden inside his shoes. Photos showed 620
grams of flattened hash bricks concealed between the inner and outer soles of the leather slip-ons. Apparently, these boots aren’t made for walking.
Youm7, Dec. 21
say there’s a sucker born every day. Indeed, an item with the headline “World Biggest Giant Snake Killed in Egypt Red Sea” was making the rounds of inboxes and news feeds last month. According to the “article,” this “extraor- dinarily Giant Snake” ate “320 tourists and 125 Egyptian divers” before being caught and killed by none other than “an elite team of professional Egyptian sci- entists.” Turns out this “news” has been intermittently circulating the Internet for years, in some cases with accompany- ing photos of the “Giant Snake’s” corpse being hauled away—which on closer inspection looks an awful lot like an image of a real snake photoshopped onto that of a toy truck surrounded by plastic soldiers. On the bright side, for once, members of the local press refrained from running the item as fact.
recent campaign seeking to boost local tourism demonstrated yet again that Egyptian officials don’t go outside much. It featured a slick, internationally pro- duced video picturing clear, azure seas, breathtaking ancient monuments and friendly, attractive locals. It ends by urging people to Tweet their experiences via the hashtag #ThisIsEgypt. Shockingly enough, it didn’t take long for the ironic sensibility of Egypt’s social media savvy population to kick in, with local Tweeps providing images of traffic jams, piles uncollected trash and public clocks bear- ing non-existent times. Darker contribu- tions offered commentary on human rights and social problems. The upshot was that the Tourism Authority succeeded in getting a lot of press—just maybe not the kind they had in mind.
Various media, Dec. 11