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.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Talking about apologies 

We Saudis don't do apologies. Hence no apology for our fifteen citizens in airplanes on 9/11/2001. In fact we don't acknowledge them at all. Look thru the Saudi newspapers on 9/11/2005, not a mention of them. You'd think the hijackers came from Iceland.

However, as a general rule, we don't apologize. It's not a particularly Saudi thing, it's an Eastern thing. Because if you apologize, you lose face. And we don't like to lose face. So we may be completely, demonstrably, 100% in the wrong, and still not apologize. We might look complete prats, but we don't apologize, because we'd lose face.

But we do make one exception when it comes to apologies. It's quite a simple rule, really. If I do you some wrong, I won't apologize. On the other hand, if you offend me, I certainly expect a full and instant apology.

You may not know this, but Saudi Arabia declared War on Hungary back in February this year. Why? Well, it was this insult from the Prime Minister of Hungary, Ferenc Gyurcsany.

Riyadh Seeks Apology From Budapest

Gyurcsany triggered the spat following a 0-0 drawn soccer game on Feb. 2 that had been billed as a friendship match. Speaking during a function organized to celebrate the 15th anniversary of his political party, Gyurcsany said: “I think there were many terrorists among the Saudi players and our boys fought fearlessly against these terrorists.”

Well, that put the cat amongst the diplomatic pigeons!

Saudi Arabia has said that it will not receive Szili (Speaker of the Hungarian Parliament) until Budapest officially apologizes for the nasty remarks made by Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany against the Saudi soccer players.

We don't like nasty remarks and we clearly expected an apology. And Hungarians, being Eastern Europeans, don't have the same cultural issues about "losing face", so we fully expected one. The whole thing escalated and finally we declared war on those miserable Magyars.
Prince Turki Al-Faisal commanded our invasion force. It headed off up the road, north-west, and stopped for the first night just across the border in Aqaba, Jordan. There the lads discovered a bar where you could sit and drink cold Budweiser, and look into the grounds of the next-door Radisson Hotel, ogling at the ladies in swimming costumes. Just the same as the hordes of hormone-charged and emotionally-immature Saudi youth on weekends up from Jeddah. So they stayed for a bit, and then a bit longer....Finally, when they ran out of money, they headed back to Riyadh. Meanwhile...

A statement released by the Hungarian Embassy yesterday expressed the hope that the apology offered by the prime minister would bring to an end this sorry episode. The Hungarian Embassy’s press release has quoted Gyurcsany as saying: “As I said earlier, I regret if my statement was misunderstandable and insulting. It was not my intention to insult the government and people of Saudi Arabia. However, if my remarks had that effect, I express my apology to them.”

We had got our apology. The War with Hungary was over. Prince Turki was rewarded with the position of Ambassador to the US.

Personally, I liked the description of our team as "terrorists". Normally, they look as threatening as the inmates of the geriatric ward when it's cocoa time. But their reputation obviously put the frighteners on the Hungarians. So the name might catch on - The Minnesota Vikings, the New York Giants, the Saudi Arabia Terrorists. It's probably worth a goal each half.

Anyway, we do believe in apologies - yours.

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