The diary of a Saudi man, currently living in the United Kingdom, where the Religious Police no longer trouble him for the moment.
In Memory of the lives of 15 Makkah Schoolgirls, lost when their school burnt down on Monday, 11th March, 2002. The Religious Police would not allow them to leave the building, nor allow the Firemen to enter.
When satellite TV first appeared in the world, the Saudi religious establishment realized that this was a BAD THING. Sources of corruption such as pornography, Christianity, and democracy could be introduced. So they banned it. Policemen even went around shooting at dishes on peoples' roofs. However the satellite mix of cheap and trashy Lebanese entertainment plus endless Hollywood reruns plus some real news from CNN was too much of a temptation. The rooftops of Saudi cities are a forest of dishes. But it's still illegal, in theory. And of course the royals get in on the act. Shaikh Walid al-Ibrahim, owner of MBC (Middle East Broadcast Company) is a brother-in-law of King Fahd.
When the Internet first appeared in the world, the Saudi religious establishment realized that this was a BAD THING. Sources of corruption such as pornography, Christianity, and democracy could be introduced. So they banned it. However that wasn't so simple. It gradually dawned upon the great and the good that the Internet was going to be very important to business, and we are desparate to get into the WTO. So they agreed, finally in 1999, to introduce it in a way that could be controlled.
All the Saudi ISP's connect to a massive bank of servers run by KACST, the King AbdulAziz City for Science and Technology. They can therefore screen everything that goes in or out, and stop the "wicked" sites from being seen. Try and go to a porno site, and a big ugly screen will pop up, telling you that access has been prohibited. As technology goes, it's not bad. However it will often block innocuous sites. I was once trying to access a French realtor site, because I wanted to rent a villa for a vacation. This screen popped up. However the screen does have an email contact for reporting mistaken blockings. I duly sent off my report. Four years later, and I'm still waiting for the reply.
So the obvious way to get round this nonsense was to get a direct satellite link. They're very popular in the Western housing compounds. And increasingly, groups of neighbours will set one up and pool it. We reckon it's pretty secure, it's just one dish among thousands. And of course that's what I use. I cannot believe that the government do not listen into everything going thru KACST. But if I ever think that the vultures are circling, I'll close down.