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Volume 65, Number 3May/June 2014

In This Issue

Classroom Guide

For students: We hope this guide will help sharpen your reading skills and deepen your understanding of this issue’s articles.

For teachers: We encourage reproduction and adaptation of these ideas, freely and without furthe permission from Saudi Aramco World, by teachers at any level, whether working in a classrorom or through home study.


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Class Activities

This Classroom Guide looks at the creation of a high-tech industry in the Arab world, and it asks students to think about what kinds of people start an industry and how they do it. The Visual Analysis segment is embedded in the rest of the activities; it gives students a chance to explore what photographs can reveal about people.

Theme: Creating an Industry

This is a very exciting time in the Arab world: Technology developers and investors are creating a high-tech industry there. This may sound rather ho-hum to you if you’ve grown up with computers, cell phones and the Internet. But it’s quite a big deal. It’s not often that a brand-new industry comes into being in a particular place. It happened in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s in Britain and the United States, when steam power made it possible to mass-produce cloth in factories. It happened in Saudi Arabia in the 1930’s when drilling for oil started to become central to the country’s economy. Now it’s happening again, and “#techboom #arabnets” gives you a front-row seat to the birth of an industry. 

Tools: A Glossary

There’s some vocabulary in “#techboom #arabnets” that you will need to learn to join a discussion about the birth of the high-tech industry in the Arab world. Some of the words you may know already, but they’re used differently here—for example, exit, network and incubator. Other words and terms may be new to you—such as entrepreneur and venture capital. List the words and terms you don’t know as you come across them. Find out what they mean and write down the definitions. By the time you finish the activities, you will have a glossary of words related to the world of high-tech business. 

Tools: A Map

Download and print a blank map of the region to keep with you as you work. (You can also copy a map from an atlas if that’s easier.) As you read about high-tech developments in different countries, use the map to orient yourself. Make your map a visual guide to the content of the article. Find a way to code each country that will show a viewer what’s going on there. (Remember, that viewer might be you if at some point you want to review what you’ve learned, which is always a good idea.) Think of the map as being like the kinds of maps you might see accompanying an article in Saudi Aramco World or find in one of your textbooks.

Now, with tools in hand, read “#techboom #arabnets.”

Who are the people who start big things? What are they like?

One way to understand how big ventures start is to look closely at the people who start them. Two words come to mind, and both appear in “#techboom #arabnets.” The first is innovator. What does innovator mean? Working alone or with a partner, look it up and write down a definition. Be sure to look at the word’s Latin origin. How does knowing the word’s origin enrich your thinking about innovators? The other word is entrepreneur. Again, look it up, write down a definition, and think about what knowing the word’s origin adds to your understanding.

“#techboom #arabnets” reports that the tech industry in the Arab world is only about 10 years old. In industry years (as opposed to people years or dog years), that’s still very young. What kinds of people get involved in such a new effort? Working on your own or with a partner, go back through the article to find out. Look for places that specifically say something about an innovator’s personality. And read between the lines—that is, look for what these people say and do, and work backward. How would you describe someone who says and does those things? For example, Hind Hobeika invented Instabeat. Why? Because she wanted a tool that would do what Instabeat does, and there wasn’t one. So she made her own, and now she’s going to sell it to others. Given that behavior, how would you describe Hind Hobeika? You might say she is creative, resourceful, determined; that she meets challenges, and so on. Record your answers in a two-column chart. In the left-hand column, list what the person described in the article said or did. In the right-hand column, list the words you would use to describe someone who said or did those things. When you’re done, bring the class together, and have pairs share their descriptions. Have a scribe write the words on the board or chart paper. What conclusions can you draw about people who start big things? 

What do innovators make? Who pays for innovators to do their work?

Now that you know who is involved in the Arab high-tech boom, turn your attention to what they make. We’ve already mentioned Instabeat. What else are the creators profiled in the article creating? List the products and see if you notice any patterns. For example, do the innovations fall into categories like apps, hardware and so on? How would you summarize what kinds of creations are being developed in the Arab high-tech world? Write a one-sentence summary. Discuss with your partner any of the innovations that you think are particularly interesting and explain why you think so. As a class, brainstorm about what high-tech product you might make. 

Creating new products costs money. In the high-tech industry, perhaps more than in most, someone has to give the innovators money to live on and pay for office space, computers and so on, while they invest their own time and talent to work on their products. Some products work, and some do not. This is why giving money to innovators is risky: There might be a multimillion-dollar product at the end, which the investor gets to share in, or nothing at all. Investments therefore go hand-in-hand with innovation. Much of the article focuses on the different ways that innovators get funded to do their work. Where does that money come from? Here are a few questions to guide you: What is a venture capitalist? Why are venture capitalists important in high-tech development? What role do governments play in encouraging technological innovation? What is an exit? Why might investors and developers want one? 

What factors make a place appealing for building a high-tech industry?

Finally, the article “#techboom #arabnets” is organized by place, with a section each for Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. What are the pros and cons of locating high-tech businesses in each place? Find a way to add this information to your map of the region. Or make a graphic organizer that shows the information. When you’re done, use the data to answer these questions: If I were investing in high-tech, where would I locate my business? Why? What characteristics would make a place a good place for me to invest? Keep in mind that you might decide to locate somewhere beyond the borders of the Arab world. If so, explain where you would be instead, and why. You can share your answers either in writing or in a presentation to the class.

Visual Analysis

Now that you’ve got a list of adjectives to describe the innovators and entrepreneurs of the Arab tech boom, see what visual analysis can add. The photographs in “#techboom #arabnets” show nine people who are involved in the high-tech startup industry. With a quick glance at the photos you’ll notice that each one shows one person, and that most of those people are looking at the camera. But spend some more time looking. Working with your partner, match each photo to the parts of the article that focus on that individual. What does each photo reveal about its subject? What do the photos add to your knowledge of the birth of high-tech in the Arab world? What do they add to your knowledge of the individual’s role in that birth? And what do they add to your knowledge of the individual’s personality? [Note to teachers: If you don’t have time to have all pairs look at all nine photos, assign each pair one photo and have them share their visual analysis with the class.]



Many words in English originated in other languages. Take, for example, the word autodidact, from the article “Hayy Was Here, Robinson Crusoe.”  Look up the meaning of the word and write it down. Then notice that the word has two parts: auto- and -didact. Look up their meanings, too. Working with a partner, list at least three other words that use auto- as a prefix. What do those words mean? How will knowing the meaning of auto- help you understand words you may not know? 

Sometimes when you read English, you will see words or phrases from other languages. These are used by English speakers, even though they are not English. Take the phrase tabula rasa, also from “Hayy Was Here, Robinson Crusoe.” Look up the meaning of the phrase—it is one you may well hear again. As you go about your business in the next week, pay attention to the words you see and hear, and make a note if you hear any that have auto- or -didact in them. See if you can find a situation in which you can casually use the phrase tabula rasa. You’ll find that people might be very impressed. 


MJ 2014 McRel Standards Correlations

Hayy Was Here, Robinson Crusoe

World History

Standard 25. Understands major global trends from 1000 to 1500 CE

Standard 31. Understands major global trends from 1450 to 1770

Flowers from the East


Standard 9: Understands the nature, distribution and migration of human populations on Earth's surface 

Standard 10: Understands the nature and complexity of Earth's cultural mosaics 

Standard 11: Understands the patterns and networks of economic interdependence on Earth's surface 

World History

Standard 11. Understands major global trends from 1000 BCE to 300 CE

Standard 25. Understands major global trends from 1000 to 1500 CE

Standard 26. Understands how the transoceanic interlinking of all major regions of the world between 1450 and 1600 led to global transformations

Last Lakes of the Green Sahara


Standard 2. Knows the location of places, geographic features, and patterns of the environment 

Standard 7. Knows the physical processes that shape patterns on Earth's surface 

Standard 8. Understands the characteristics of ecosystems on Earth's surface 

Standard 15. Understands how physical systems affect human systems 


Standard 1. Understands atmospheric processes and the water cycle

Standard 12. Understands the nature of scientific inquiry

#techboom #arabnets

McRel Standards

Business Education

Standard 15. Knows unique characteristics of an entrepreneur

Standard 16. Knows characteristics and features of viable business opportunities

Standard 17. Understands that cultural difference, export/import opportunities, and current trends in a global marketplace can affect an entrepreneurial venture

Standard 18. Understands how ethics, government, and different forms of business ownership affect the entrepreneurial venture


Standard 13. Understands the scientific enterprise


Standard 11: Understands the patterns and networks of economic interdependence on Earth's surface 

Poland’s New Tatar Trail


Standard 10: Understands the nature and complexity of Earth's cultural mosaics 

Standard 9: Understands the nature, distribution and migration of human populations on Earth's surface 

Common Core Standards for CG Activities 

Hayy Was Here, Robinson Crusoe

L.9-10.4.c. Consult general and specialized reference materials (e.g., dictionaries, glossaries, thesauruses), both print and digital, to find the pronunciation of a word or determine or clarify its precise meaning, its part of speech, or its etymology.

#techboom #arabnets

L.9-10.6. Acquire and use accurately general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression.



Julie Weiss ([email protected]) is an education consultant based in Eliot, Maine. She holds a Ph.D. in American studies. Her company, Unlimited Horizons, develops social studies, media literacy, and English as a Second Language curricula, and produces textbook materials.



Check the Public Affairs Digital Image Archive for March/April 2014 images.