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.
It may strike people as strange, that all the Saudi government ministers are called "Prince something
". Is it, perhaps, that they are given that title when they are appointed to a government post, as in Imperial Russia? No, it's the other way round. You only get to be a minister if you are a Prince. So, how do you get to be a Prince?
Imagine that you have a one-acre field. Surround it with a fence to keep out predators. Put lots of hay and other foodstuffs in. then introduce a breeding pair of rabbits. In one year you will have thousands of cute little bunnies running around.
So it was in Saudi Arabia. Once King Abdul Aziz had grabbed the entire country from competing rulers. he became a serial polygamist. 4 wives at a time, but not the same 4 all the time, variety is the spice of life. Every offspring, and every offspring's offsping, became a little Prince or Princess. There are no official figures, but there are estimated to be 3 - 5000 of them. and they all get an allowance from the state.
Now some of them actually work for their money, and become government ministers or ambassadors. Others don't have to do this, so they have their own businesses, legal or illegal. It's generally believed that they run the major booze and drug importation rackets. Some others do nothing, just drive around in their Mercs, knowing that the cops will never touch them, however badly they drive.
Just like our bunnies, the Princely gene pool is variable in depth. Crown Prince Abdullah, for example, is a very capable and intelligent man, who might even be a good reformer, were he not held back by the likes of Prince Nayif, the Interior Minister and "Prince of Darkness". However in other places, the gene pool is very shallow. Take the case of Prince Sultan ibn Salman, secretary-general of the Supreme Commission for Tourism. He's just had an article published in the paper, that reveals how many of these guys live with the cuckoos.
Kingdom to Focus on New Tourism Strategy
The problem we have with tourism, is that we all want to go and do our touring in other countries. Nobody who can afford to travel will stay here for a vacation. The only people who come here, come on pilgrimage to Makkah. Our Prince Sultan wants to change all that. here are some gems from his article.
Prince Sultan ibn Salman, secretary-general of the Supreme Commission for Tourism (SCT), also denounced the recent arrest and mistreatment of a number of expatriate travel agency employees who had their heads shaven.
Yes, he's now learnt that it doesn't help your Tourist industry if you imprison Travel Agency staff and shave their heads. It sort of depresses morale.
“We’re neither defensive nor apprehensive” about the fact that stringent social restrictions, chiefly on women, would appear to make Saudi Arabia an unlikely destination for tourists despite the stunning scenery it boasts, Prince Sultan said.
Yes, that would "appear" to be so. The Emirates or Oman have equally stunning scenery, and in those places you don't have to dress your wife from top to toe in non-breathing black artificial-fibre shapeless clothes.
“Our biggest focus is the local market. We export 4-4.5 million (tourists) per year. All these people are not necessarily going out to drink,” he said, referring to the ban on alcohol in the Kingdom.
No, they're not necessarily going out to drink. Could be they are going out:
- so that their wives do not have to wear non-breathing black artificial-fibre shapeless clothes
- so that their wives can drive
- so that they and their wives can sit on the beach in swimwear
- so that they can relax together in a pub or bar
- so that they can go to the movies
- so that they can go to a show
- so that they can go to a tennis tournament / soccer match / golf tournament together
- so that they can, for a brief period of time, live like normal people
Six million pilgrims come to the Kingdom every year to perform Umrah and Haj, so “our success will hinge on winning the local market, Muslims, Arab communities and also advancing in different kinds of tourism — medical tourism, conferences, sports and shopping.
Could be something in that; niche tourism. How about "Holidays for Sadists" - five public executions in ten days. "Holidays for masochists" - come and get 500 lashes.
He said the Interior Ministry was investigating incidents last month in which some expatriate travel agency employees, mostly Asians, were arrested, jailed and had their heads shaven after their employers failed to meet a government deadline to hire Saudis to replace them.
“It was a mistake, I think, by some very low-level official who made a mistake with a couple of people who were sent to detention and treated like prisoners,” he said.
Well thank God it was just a "mistake", and by "low-level officials". Suppose they had been "high-level officials", not making any mistakes, would they have nailed the poor guys to crosses?
Don't let me put you off a vacation here. But I'll continue to take mine in the West.