location: doha, qatar
Raquel Chatriwala gave birth to Omar in the once-and-future urban sprawl of New Orleans, Louisiana, in the United States of America.
She gave birth to Adnan 60 seconds later, on October 20, 1982.
Two years on, the family of five moved to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Their father, Shaizad Chatriwala, is a petroleum engineer and frequently moved the family to where the oil was. They acquired their first computer while living in the kingdom. After six and a half years, Iraq invaded Saudi Arabia’s neighboring country, Kuwait.
The Chatriwala family moved to Houston, Texas, USA shortly thereafter.
Kuwait cleaned up nicely after the war, in the ensuing four and a half years and the family moved to Kuwait early in 1995. They purchased their first CD-ROM drive then as well.
Computers came and went, as did houses, grades, medical problems and three years later, after a brief three week residency in Houston, the Chatriwala family, sans oldest son Imran, moved back to Saudi Arabia.
Omar and Adnan attended a boarding school in Bahrain, as Saudi Arabia did not have high schools for foreign students at the time, and Imran finished up school in Kuwait. On some weekends, the twins would cross the causeway connecting Saudi Arabia and Bahrain to visit their parents.
Omar and Adnan met Ousama Itani in Bahrain, and the three began Shard Software in 2000, working on various games. Shard quickly evolved into a thriving creative community.
The twins graduated high school June 2001, and moved to Austin, Texas to pursue higher education.
Omar studied new media journalism at the University of Texas. The Synthetic Jungle was created in January 2004 as a journalistic outlet and personal website.
Shard: Commune was launched in October 2004 as an expansion and evolution of the original Shard community; continuing to foster communication, creativity and collaboration.
In the spring of 2005, Omar helped plan and organize a conference at UT Austin about Journalism and the Arab World, including developing the website.
He graduated the undergraduate journalism program in May 2005, hopped on a plane, and arrived in Orange County, California for a job as web editor for SqueezeOC.com
Since blogging on the OC for the magazine didn’t completely monopolize his free time, Omar joined the fledgling Muslim American Journalists Association and launched MuslimAmericanJournalists.org, in July 2006.
A year after joining SqueezeOC, Omar fled the opulence of Orange County for the desert dunes of Doha, Qatar – two days ahead of the launch of Al Jazeera’s English news channel.
He now writes for Al Jazeera English.