The Mstdfr Show

Mstdfr (Arabic: مستدفر) is a Middle Eastern geeky podcast spoken in "Arablish". Every week, Ammar and Rami host different regional guests to talk about various topics including: current affairs, culture, technology, media, challenges facing the new Arab generation, and everything in between.

Hosted by المسثضيف Ammar Sabban
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This week we host Dr. Sari Sabban (No relation to Ammar) a molecular biologist and biotechnologist. Sari tells us how he got into science and the interesting journey on how he ended up as a molecular biology. We discuss DNA, the human genome project, and protein folding. Then Sari proceeds to blow our minds with amazing biological facts: Gros Michel bananas, fecal transplantation, crowdsourcing technologies in science, anti-vaxxers, vitamin C and much more!


Today we start with reminiscing about our online personas 15 years ago. We then talk about privacy or the lack thereof in today’s world. We also discuss ridiculous resumes we encountered. Unprofessional resumes for some reason grind Ammar’s gears. Oh well. Khayra then tells us about her struggle with learning the Arabic language. Fun times!


In this episode we talk to WSJ journalist Ahmed Al-Omran and uber new media geek Lou Kay. We talk about journalism in the Middle East and Saudi, the future of newspapers in Saudi, news consumption, the ‘filter bubble,’ WhatsApp journalism, and many other new media topics. Oh and we geek out fonts.


We couldn’t just let Reem go after one hour, so Ammar & Rami held her hostage for two more hours! We delve deeper into particle physics for almost two hours. Then Reem tells us more about her fascination with kung fu.


In this episode we kick off trying to answer the question ‘what is an Arab’ and Arab identity. The discussion automagically veers to the “genie” on Twitter. Ammar then quizzes our local theoretical physicist Reem on the science behind the flux capacitor from Back To The Future. Reem then tells us about her work at CERN and the Large Hadron Collider (LHC.) Which leads to particle physics, positrons, anti-matter and a lot of other mind-numbing physical concepts that Reem did a marvelous job explaining and graciously dealt with our stupid questions and Ammar’s lame jokes.


Today’s topic generally is not viewed as a geeky topic, our challenge was to geek out on it. We talk sports. We get into a heated debate on the ‘national choice’ issue that many North African soccer players face during their careers. What makes Zidane, Benzema, Nasri et al choose France over Algeria or vice versa to represent on the international football stage?


The guys start off the day by discussing dumb questions that don’t deserve answers. However, seeing dumb questions in retrospect makes Omair and Faisal think differently. Science gets explained in lay men’s terms. Even better, super hero science, human tetrachromats (see show notes), outer space, and existentialism has its 15 minutes of fame.


Today’s conversation brings us to a few pet peeves in Saudi etiquette – serving things with your left hand and taking things personally. We then find out the MSTDFR origin story after realizing there aren’t a lot of podcasts like us. “IT guy” Ali turns out to be a prankster, and shares an adventure with us and highlighting the phenomenon of people teaming up with him. He gives good tips on how to come clean to the pranked.


Today we talk about art and personal passions. Fayiz Melibary starts by telling us the story of Elon Musk. Then we talk about Huda Baydoon and her artistic contribution to Banksy’s Dismaland. Then we ask the question whether photography an art or not, which gets us into war photography and Kevin Carter’s 1993 notorious photo.

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