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Writing Samples

Turning District Cooling into a Good Shade of Green

Mary Coons speaks to industry experts about the long- and short-term implications of adopting district cooling in the Middle East. She concludes that despite several ramifications, it deserves to be considered seriously as it offers sustainable solutions.

Smart sustainable energy is crucial for district cooling. And district cooling is vital in the Middle East's harsh desert climate. Air conditioning in the Middle East is an essential service, with obvious life safety implications. Therefore, even greater attention needs to be directed to enhancing efficiency, maintaining reliability, and ensuring safety and security of supply.

"The district energy industry - both heating and cooling - is a proven, reliable and scalable energy technology that can contribute immediately to greater energy efficiency and mitigate carbon emissions on a highly effective scale," Rita Chahoud, Executive Director of the International District Energy Association's United Arab Emirates chapter, states. "Proof comes from the US industry standing the test of time. Businesses have been operating efficiently for more than a century with district energy."

To read the entire article, go to "Articles" under the Pen & Ink Services tab. Published Summer 2010, Climate Control magazine


A Cultural Delight for the Senses

Cultural immersion distinguishes a tourist from a traveler. And what better way to experience the Arab culture than exploring the historic Manama Suq in Manama, Bahrain.

Located in the Arabian Gulf near Saudi Arabia, this small desert island nation is readily recognized as the leading financial hub of the Middle East. With its rich pearling history prior to the discovery of oil in 1932, the Kingdom of Bahrain has made it a priority to develop and showcase its heritage to visitors under the direction of the Ministry of Culture & Information.

Manama's liberal cosmopolitan city, a popular stopping off point for cruise ships, embraces visitors with its warm friendliness and Arab hospitality. If you find yourself in the Kingdom, an evening exploring the historic Manama Suq is an experience not to be missed.

To read the entire article, go to "Articles" under the Pen & Ink Services tab.


24 Hours in Dubai

Dubai has enough sights and activities to keep visitors happily busy for weeks. But what if your trip to this bustling city coincides with business and allows for a brief amount of free time to explore? Your best option for an overview of the city's past, present and current highlights is Dubai's Big Bus City Tour. The hop on/hop off style, modeled after London's double-decker buses, allows visitors to spend as much or as little time as they want at certain sites while completely bypassing others.

To read the entire article, go to "Articles" under the Pen & Ink Services tab.


A Diplomatic Legacy: One on One with HE Eduardo Maglaya, Philippine Ambassador to Bahrain

His Excellency Eduardo Maglaya, in his final year as the Philippine Ambassador to the Kingdom of Bahrain, sits down with Bahrain Traveler's International Editor and reflects on his five years on the Islamic island.

To read the entire article, go to "Articles" under the Pen & Ink Services tab.


Going to America

"I was playing soccer in the street with a friend. When we finished, I started walking home and noticed a car coming behind me with three people wearing masks. They stared right at me with a look like they wanted to kill me. I was scared and started running. Thank God my dad was just opening the door to our house, and I ran in."

Dani Faraj, now 16, vividly recalls this horrifying event six years ago in his west Baghdad neighborhood.

To read the entire article, go to "Articles" under the Pen & Ink Services tab.


Freedom on the Fourth

Independence is a powerful privilege. Two hundred thirty-one years ago, Thomas Jefferson, a member of the Committee of Five, drafted the Declaration of Independence, a public statement of the 13 colonies' case for independence from Great Britain. Signed and adopted on July 4, 1776 establishing America's National Day, the Declaration of Independence is the country's most cherished symbol of liberty. Probably the most famous sentence, and one that all American school children come to learn, is from the Constitution. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable [human] rights, that among them are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness." Four of the most famous freedoms Americans enjoy are the freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, and freedom of a fair trial.

William T. Monroe, the outgoing U.S. Ambassador, having served the past three years, sat down with the Bahrain Traveler recently to reflect on a personal level what America's independence means to him.

To read the entire article, go to "Articles" under the Pen & Ink Services tab.


Guest Editorial

Cultural stereotypes and ignorance - not geographical distances - separate countries these days. Open any world newspaper or listen to any international television news channel, and you will be bombarded with headlines, commentary and spin about the global Arab Muslim community. It's what's making news in our tension-filled post-9/11 world. No wonder so many Americans believe that the Islamic world is our enemy!

To read the entire article, go to "Articles" under the Pen & Ink Services tab.


Traveler's Notebook - Ghana (client newsletter). To see this newsletter, go to "Articles" under the Pen & Ink Services tab.


Ancient Saar Settlement

Preferring to move beyond the paved roads of touted tourist sites and exploring unknown paths of ancient cultures, always thirsting to learn more, I am more 'traveler' than 'tourist'. Motivated by curiosity about the world and its people,I enjoy embracing a guest country's culture to drill deeper down and learn firsthand about a past civilization.

You don't have to travel to Mexico, Egypt or Greece to explore an important ancient ruin. Bahrain has one in her own backyard!

To read the entire article, go to "Articles" under the Pen & Ink Services tab.  

The Multipurpose Camel

Camels are complex. They encompass stature, athletic ability, a means of transportation, “beauty”, and an important source of food, says Mary Coons.

Arabs will tell you that the desert is the true heart of Arabia, with its combination of adventure, cultural insight, and nature’s surroundings. It is all true. And a direct contributor to this is the multipurpose camel.

To read the entire article, go to "Articles" under the Pen & Ink Services tab.


Istanbul's Basilica Cistern

Fifty-five steps separate you from the ground above and the dark world of the Sunken Palace below.

Yerebatan Sarnici – the Basilica Cistern – in its natural darkness with fish swimming about in 12 inches of chilly clear water has a story to tell. Its name derives from the fact that a basilica once stood on the spot. The cistern is located across from Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia Museum in Sultanahmet (the Old City) and the largest covered cistern in the city.

To read the entire article, go to "Articles" under the Pen & Ink Services tab.








Presentation Testimonials

"This was the most rewarding educational interaction I've had with a group of students, EVER! Honestly, very eyeopening for them, as NONE of them have ever been outside the U.S. You have inspired them to think bigger and past the limits of American mainstream culture. What a perfect way to promote a country and learn firsthand about the complex fabric that intertwines culture and religion. Thank you."

Brenda Butterfield, MSW, instructor

Marriages & Families Worldwide

University of Minnesota-Duluth

"You clearly helped to promote a greater understanding of these two cultures through your well-illustrated and clearly presented PowerPoint program. We at the Alworth Institute appreciate the work that you are doing to enhance both Arab and American understanding of the other. This is so important at a time when simple ignorance can exacerbate political tensions."

Cindy Christian, PhD

Program Associate

Royal D. Alworth, Jr. Institute for International Studies

University of Minnesota-Duluth

"To have you and Ms. al Sheroogi both on campus to discuss both Ms. Coons' excellent book and the larger issues of truth and perception between our communities was a powerful experience for all who attended. As you said, the future of relations between all sorts of groups and individuals depends on their ability to see each other without preconceived ideas and assmptions. The truth, in many ways, shall set us free."

Marcellus Davis, Director of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs

Michael Wall, Director of Alumni Relations

Anoka-Ramsey Community College

Coon Rapids, Minnesota

"I enjoyed the human application of what education can do to bring people together. I think it's so important to have these presentations for people with inaccurate assumptions of the Arab culture and Muslim religion."

Anonymous audience member

Rasmussen College

"I would definitely recommend the speaker. Although Indoc gives us information about the Arab culture, the speaker had more overall information with more cultural information. Indoc needs to include her to help prepare Americans coming to the Middle East to know more about the culture here."

Anonymous military soldier

NSA Bahrain

Kingdom of Bahrain

"Schools should be busting down doors to have her speak. Cultural awareness should be part of every school's curriculum through all grades!"

Anonymous audience participant

Buffalo Unitarian Church

Buffalo, Minnesota

"This lecture was one of the most interesting lectures I have ever attended. It made more sense when Mary told us that Arab was a culture and Islam was a religion, and that culture could rank higher in some cases over the religion."


University of Minnesota - Duluth


"Mary, thank you so much for  hosting our Modern Knowledge School staff here in Bahrain and providing an exceptional presentation. Your footprints are changing the lives of our future and promoting peace." 


Dr. Cynthia Gessling, Director of Curriculum

Modern Knowledge School, Juffair, Kingdom of Bahrain


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