The Real Superheroes are still in Comic Books…

“His comic books have captured the imagination of so many young people with superheroes who embodies the tolerance and teachings of Islam.

… Superman and Batman have reached out to their Muslim counter parts…. And I hear they are making progress too.”

- President Barak Obama, 2010

Last summer I had an opportunity to spend part it at the Columbia Business School (CBS) in NYC where I was part of the Rothschild Fellowship. During this time, I had an opportunity to meet social entrepreneurs from the UK and France,  continued fostering a passion and had an opportunity to expand my cultural and religious beliefs.

On an early New York morning we hard a guest speaker to begin our day- Dr. Naif Al-Mutawa, a former CBS alumni. Here was Dr. Mutawa, dress shirt tucked into his jeans, a glowing aura of passion and only small patches of grey in his beard that would hint at his age.

Over the next couple hours Dr. Mutawa spent some time speaking to us about his creation of  the 99….. the world’s first superheroes based on Islamic culture and society.

At first I was a little hesitant. But that was quick to change. What would eventually be Dr. Mutawa’s TED Talk presentation at Oxford the following week, we were introduced to a group of superheroes that have brought a complete different identity to the Islamic world.

Dr. Mutawa’s TED Talk- must see talk on the history of the 99 and how it has evolved:

I was so thrilled to hear about this concept!

Just a few weeks ago DC comics released the first of six comics where the the Justice League of America (… Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Green Lantern, Aquaman…) began partnering with the 99 (…Dr. Ramzi Razem, Rughal, Widad the loving, Jami the assembler…).

It is not the first time that powerful superheroes put their egos to the side to over come evil. In fact, I remember as a kid when Marvel’s Spiderman teamed up with Strom and Beast from X-men and on a diferent occasion with the Fantastic Four.

Tonight I sat down and read the comic. Although I remember it taking me much longer to read a comic book, I was so excited that for the first time in my life, the superheroes I grew up admiring have refreshed my youth by continuing my admiration of the ability for these individuals to over come evil together.

Sounds chessy. But its not.

We may be too old to read comics, but every kid grew up on comics at some point in their life. Our childhood comic heroes are today’s Hollywood superstars. I can only hope that today’s real heroes can learn from those we look up to as kids and overcome their differences to truly appreciate the beauty that exists in all cultures and religions.

The truth is that one superhero can make a difference. A team of superheroes – with different abilities- can make an lasting impact.

To end, I wanted to show a couple quick snap photos of the first time where we see such a unique relationship between superheroes being created.

Justice League of America

Superman meets part of the 99

Introducing the 99

| if I knew all the words I would write myself out of here. |

800 Years of Scholarship…

The reason I have failed to update the blog has been based on multiple reasons. Mainly because of the transition of moving from the US to the UK. It has taken sometime to get adjusted and I still feel like I am in vacation mode. I have now officially started my master’s program at the University of Cambridge studying a very amazing multidisciplinary program. My day started with entrepreneurship and ended with microeconomics. Trust me, Game Theory is ‘tizzite’. The rest of the week I get to study Treatment of Cancer, Viral Infectious Diseases, Cardiovascular Disease in the mornings and Decision Theory and Commercializing Sciences in the evenings.

As a member of Downing College (Cambridge is organized much like Hogwats in Harry Potter), the view outside my window looks a bit like this:

What does 800 years encompass?

-    83 Nobel Prizes
-    15 British Prime Ministers
-    3 Prime Ministers of India
-    2 Prime Ministers of Singapore
-    1  Prime Minister of Australia
-    Sir Isaac Newton (The laws of motion)
-    Charles Darwin (Evolution by natural selection)
-    J. J. Thomson (discovered the electron)
-    Ernest Rutherford (orbital theory of an atom)
-    Niels Bohr (understanding atomic structure)
-    Howard Florey (involved in the discovery of penicillin)
-    Hans Krebs (discovering the citric acid cycle)
-    Max Born (fundamental research into quantum mechanics)
-    James Watson &  Francis Crick (determining the structure of DNA)
-    Roger Y. Tsien (2008 Nobel Prize Winner, discovery and development of the green fluorescent protein)
-    King Edward VII, King George VI and Prince Charles did their undergraduate degree
-    Apparently one of the first places football (soccer) rules were established
-    Endowment of almost $8 billion

+ many other things that I may have not heard about or found through the Cambridge Website/Wikipedia.
In the mean time, I have purchased a nice dandy squash racket and plan to indulge myself into this really great sport. Apparently you can burn up to 1000 calories per hour!!!

As I slowly get back in the habit of trying to write some of my thoughts, I leave you with my last picture on US soil with my dear “mum”.

Obama ’08

| if I knew all the words I would write myself out of here. |

The Cost of Giving…

We have all been exposed to the cliche saying “it is better to give than to receive.” Well in today’s society we are seeing this giving done in very astute ways. Let me start with a couple examples.

The first classic example is the Fruit Stripe chewing gum, with lavish colorful stripes and temporary tattoos that many of us bought when we were kids. If we take the time to actually exam the wrappers, a portion of the proceeds were actually donated to the World Wildlife Fund. This was 1996 for many of us.

Now in 2008 we see new and unique ways that humanitarians are using their skills to contribute to greater causes. For you Cal Alums- Hope Winery, a local company started by a recent UC Berkeley Alumnus, Jacob Kloberdanz has a ties together selling wine and his support for a greater cause. Jake’s wines are unique in that each wine supports a different social cause, with a large portion of the profits from each bottle donated to support breast cancer, autism, or AIDS research.

Finally, two of my personal favorites are Shepard Fairey’s poster of Barack Obama and Tom’s shoes. Many of you know Fairey for his street art for Obey. However, Fairey is a contemporary artist who did an amazing piece of Obama and has 5000 copies that are for sale (sold out) and all proceeds go directly to the Obama campiagn.

Tom’s Shoes was introduced to me by my best friend Jason as “flats for guys” (although they do have shoes for the ladies too).

Tom's Shoes

The cause behind Tom’s shoes is giving one pair of shoes to children throughout the world for every shoe you buy. As my friend Kent had done in a generous gesture, he purchased one for himself and donated the other pair on behalf of our friend Randy. Now you can change up your style with a unique twist knowing that you can’t feel guilty for the next retail therapy session you go through.

So what is my point- my personal hobby has always been taking photos, and from times to time I feel like I can capture a nice photo. However, for now on as I do a series of prints from my expeditions or collections, I will be donating proceeds from each series to organizations that relate to the theme of my series. For example-

Vernal Falls

Any profit from this photo (hopefully some day) will be donated to STARO (Save The Amazon Rainforest Organisation) [I am sure many of you may wonder why not donate to Yosemite, the quick answer is that Yosemite trees are not being cut down at the rate at which the Amazon is]. However, I hope to open up suggestions also to great causes that I may not be familiar with.

| if I knew all the words I would write myself out of here. |