Maseh Joukh

I don’t like to talk about my day job much but every often, such as right now, I feel compelled to share a thing or two. If this job has taught me anything it’s what we call maseh joukh, other wise known as, ass kissing. Don’t get me wrong, I would never partake in such an activity but my job allows me to carefully observe those in our society that do.

Recently, I was obliged to do an interview for a section in our magazine that I absolutely abhor and which I have traditionally never touched, but certain circumstances have demanded it. The questions are childlike, and the interview is always designed to make certain business elites in the country feel all high-and-mighty for once in their life. It only takes 30 minutes, if not less, but upon transcribing and writing, the whole process feels like 2 hours were stolen from my life.


An advantage of this job is that you get to a point where you can size someone up in the first five minute of meeting them, and determine whether or not they’re substantial individuals. It only took me 2 minutes to realize a recent interviewee was anything but substantial. Not only did he commit the cardinal sin of responding to every question with one sentence (which is extremely annoying for a writer), but, he spent 8 minutes of the 26 minute interview ass kissing.

These are not exaggerated numbers. I actually examined the digital recording and calculated the time. It was pretty easy because while some of it was scattered here and there throughout the interview, he actually asked to “take this opportunity” after my final question, and go on an 8 minute rant. He thanked the King and the Prime Minister until I had nodded off to sleep. He even paused for about 15 seconds (of pure golden silence) and looked through printed notes he had prepared for this “opportunity”. He went on about the great economy, and the investment environment and how everything is great and everyone is happy and even carefully made a few suggestions.

There is a line where you compliment someone on their accomplishments, and then there’s the 500km truck stop that is so far past that line…


Lately, this ass kissing has been increasing with people I’ve been meeting and I suppose it may or may not involve chatter in political and academic circles that a change in the cabinet may or may not be happening. So everyone is vying for a promotion. To succeed by your own merit is a philosophy lost on many in this country.

Of course I did not include any of his praises in the interview and it wasn’t out of spite. I simply felt it would have been embarrassing for both the publication and the interviewee to having something like that published. Maybe it’s just me, but not only would I personally regret for the rest of my life a situation where I issued such astounding praise, but I would regret it even more if it was published and well-documented.

Ironically, people who partake in this exercise always claim to be nationalists, and love their country.

And so I wonder, how can someone ever claim to love their country yet still want to contribute to the very elements that harm it?


  • Nas, I applauded you for not publishing the “Ass kissing Ceremony” part of the article.

    In relation to that, some weeks ago, and while reading a cover story in a Jordanian magazines, I noticed how unintelligent and unfocused the story and the interview was; basically it stood out as an advertisement, full of ass kissin for that business and its managers.

    It’s just degrading the level of trust between readers and publishers; furthermore, it’s affecting the content quality in a negative way.

    Will the future of research, investigations and articles in our magazines will be like that, a space for the highest bidder or a space for ass kissers. I hope not.

  • I’ve always pondered about this, but never really could touch the exact reason behind it! Especially when I keep swinging between social habits/traditions, psychological theories and lack of education, as explanations for such irresponsible behavior!!

    When I was at school, back in Jordan, I used to believe that it takes generations to get our social structure clean from such unhealthy fondness, but it seems like the problem is way complicated that the younger generations are just obtaining French Education in Ass Kissing!!

    Man O Man they know how to work it!!

  • If ass-kissing has not proved to be a successful recipe, it wouldn’t have survived.
    Autocratic rulers like to hear repeated praise, and like to hear how great everything is …especially if it is coming from some of the people in charge…you know tribal leaders, businessmen, government officials …

    I am pretty sure that deep in their heart army generals knew that kissing the Shah’s feet knew is messed up, but sacrificed a little bit of dignity for the hefty rewards.

Your Two Piasters: