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.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Two Mysteries 

Mystery One

Why is Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain and the Commonwealth, "one of the severest enemies of Islam", according to Al Qaeda, in today's Sunday Times?

Ayman al- Zawahiri, second-in-command to Osama Bin Laden, targets the Queen as ultimately responsible for Britain’s “crusader laws” and denounces her as an enemy of Muslims.

What has the poor Queen done to upset him? What "Crusader Laws" is he blathering on about? Perhaps she told Charles that he's not allowed to become a Muslim. Anyway, I think the guy is completely off his trolley. He should come on TV and explain what he means. He could be interviewed by Prince Philip, whose understanding approach to "foreigners" ("If you stay here much longer you'll all be slitty-eyed") is well documented.

Mystery Two

There has been a lot of discussion for some time about Saudi Arabia joining the World Trade Organization. We'd let in foreign-owned companies, expose our own companies to foreign competition, remove trade barriers. Great idea. Even better if we did the same for religion, gave Wahabbi Inc. some competition from teams of dark-suited young Mormons, but that may have to wait a bit.

But there were always two hindrances. One was, could we import things like pork and alcohol? Lots of expatriates would certainly enjoy some bacon with their eggs. And I and my pals would certainly buy the occasional bottle of Chardonnay or whatever, if we didn't have to pay the Princes' silly black-market prices. However, the press always seemed vague on the answer to that.

(Maybe they'd be allowed, you'd just have to get past the Muttawa guarding the liquor store or pork butcher shop. A few years ago, a Saudi-majority-owned branch of Marks and Spencer opened up next door to the Sahara Mall in Riyadh, obviously with the full agreement of the Ministry of Commerce. The Muttawa used to hang around and tell people that it was Haram to go in, because it was "Jewish-owned". Sadly, many people believed them and did a U-turn. However it did keep the crowds out and make for a more pleasant shopping experience, once inside).

The other question has been whether we would start to import goods from the I-country. This mystery seemed to have been solved by a recent article in the "Washington Times".

Amity with Israel opens WTO door

Saudi Arabia has agreed to end all economic boycotts of Israel, allowing the World Trade Organization (WTO) yesterday to admit the oil-rich kingdom as its 149th member, diplomats said. Saudi officials did not comment on the Israel boycott, which had been the key obstacle during the kingdom's 12-year bid to gain entry. U.S. and Israeli officials said the boycott issue had been resolved. "I am very satisfied with the fact that Saudi Arabia has complied with all the rules of the WTO," said Itzhak Levanon, Israel's ambassador to the global trade body.

That's good. Finally we can get some nice oranges, not big bloated things that taste of dish-water. And they apparently have some fine wines.

However this revelation seems to have caused a panic back in Riyadh. Maybe our rulers did agree to it, but we can't let the plebs know, it's bad for morale. Better get some tame munchkin economist to issue a "clarification".

Confusion on boycott of Israeli goods

SAUDI economists have expressed doubt on the credibility of a report that the Kingdom has agreed to end all economic boycotts of Israel to gain WTO entry.....But Fahad Al-Eatany, an economic analysts and an official expert on WTO....said the Saudi government s political stand from the boycott was announced by the minister of commerce two months ago and no change has been made since then.

And what did the Minister of Commerce say two months ago? He's not telling us, and I can't be arsed to go trawling thru 60-days-worth of "King Abdullah travelled to Makkah but forgot his hankie" drivel just to find something that says "In two months time, the Minister of Commerce will explain the government's policy".

So will we get Jaffa oranges? It's a mystery.

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