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.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

A Memo 

From: Royal Press Secretary
To: Editors of all Saudi Newspapers
Date: 20, Rabi al-Thani, 1427

Subject: His Majesty's views on women in newspaper photographs. World Food Program donation. Risk-Free Fund. Taboo items. "Modernizing Father Figure".

1. It is clear that certain foreign newspapers and agencies have deliberately chosen not to understand His Majesty's very clear views on this subject, when he met with local reporters earlier in the week. Indeed, we are bound to agree with today's Arab News that

Once again the wire services and international news agencies got it wrong by misquoting Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah....The wire agencies completely misinterpreted and misrepresented the king’s views.

2. Let me make it perfectly clear, for the avoidance of any doubt, that when the King started to talk about journalistic standards to a gathering of Saudi reporters, and expressed his displeasure because....

There are photographs published in some newspapers ... and one needs to think if he would want his daughter, sister or wife to appear like that. Of course, no one would

....it does not mean that he was referring to Saudi newspapers. It should have been clear to anyone with any common sense that he was referring to foreign newspapers instead. The fact that there were no foreign reporters in the room is completely irrelevant. The "one" referred to, who needs to think....

if he would want his daughter, sister or wife to appear like that.

....is of course a foreign "one" , not a Saudi "one". The quote....

Of course, no one would

....should not be understood as a King speaking on behalf of his subjects, but instead that of a simple man, a father, brother and husband, who feels a moral responsibility for his fellow human beings everywhere, wherever they live.

I trust that is now clear.

3. Sadly we are witnessing a deliberate misunderstanding of the King's remarks by the press worldwide, and the last count of Yahoo! News showed that 137 newspapers are all reporting the same thing, that our beloved King wishes to ban photos of women from Saudi newspapers. This is a wilful misrepresentation of the truth, and one scurrilous newspaper even went so far as to comment that "this octogenarian King is getting so confused that it is unfair to make him run a country, he should be snoozing in front of the TV with a large tabby on his lap!"

We therefore need to engage in a major damage repair exercise, and all Saudi newspapers are instructed to publish articles, along the lines of the "Arab News" article quoted above. The following quotes should all be used:

At no point during his meeting with the editors did the king warn local media against publishing pictures of Saudi women, as reported by the news agencies.

The wire agencies completely misinterpreted and misrepresented the king’s views.

A senior official from the Ministry of Culture and Information also denied reports that the king had banned publication of women’s pictures in the local media.

“King Abdullah has not issued any royal decree against the publication of women’s pictures in Saudi media,” the official told (insert newspaper name here).

A Gulf editor who was present at the meeting said that the king was misquoted. “This is exactly what the king was advising against — sensationalism,” he said.

“King Abdullah didn’t talk about stopping publication of women’s pictures,” said the editor in chief of a leading Saudi daily

“What’s being reported about what the king said is totally inaccurate,” he added.

“There is no such ban and the evidence is that all Saudi newspapers continue to publish pictures of Saudi as well as non-Saudi women,” he pointed out.

I appreciate that all these comments may seem extremely repetitious within the one article, but it is a well-known fact that making the same point again and again and again is very effective in persuading people, winning arguments and adding credibility to any story.

To complete the process of "getting the reader's mind right" you should use, as the "Arab News" did....

“The king was referring to indecent pictures in general....

....which will cause male readers immediately to think lewd thoughts about "humungous mammaries", and therefore enable you to slip this under their radar....

....and not women’s pictures in particular....

....even though one’s daughter, sister or wife generally refers to women, in particular, but their critical faculties are now focussed elsewhere, so add....

....He didn’t allude to women at all.

....and the reader's mind will be so absorbed with other thoughts as to swallow this complete whopper of a lie into his subconscious without blinking. Now, of course, is the time to change the subject.

4. At the same meeting, His Majesty announced the donation of the excedingly generous sum of $10 million towards the World Food Program's drought relief program in north-east Africa. Fortunately the King did not hear the sotto-voce comment from the back of the room that "When it comes to giving money the Saud Family are tighter than a duck's buttocks", because the culprit would have spent the remainder of his career reporting the goat cheese auctions up near the Iraqi border. Whilst $10 million may seem a small sum in comparison to the US's $1 billion annual donation, or indeed Japan's $136 million, and even our annual oil revenues exceeding $150 billion, commentators should bear in mind that recent announcements such as gas price cuts and guaranteed Stock Market profits all cost money, and anyway, "charity begins at home". However, perceptions are shaped by brand names, and so all Saudi newspapers are required, as the "Saudi Gazette" has already done, to headline this program as:
Saudi Arabia the Kingdom of Humanity

5. The Risk-Free Stock Market Fund recently announced by His Majesty has not yet been given an official title. However it is not to be referred to, even in jest, (as I overheard one reporter at the meeting), as the "Everyone's a Winner, even the Mugs" fund.

6. Might I just remind all editors, in line with His Majesty's request - "I ask you to go easy on ... unclear issues based on rumors and not to write things that hurt your country" - that the following subjects are off-limits for reporting:

Grecian 2000

All other vinegar-based "mens' cosmetics"

Any notional shape that His Majesty's beard may resemble (not least because representations of living creatures are Haram)

Popular Google searches made by Saudis. Especially those in search of the sins of Sodom and Onan as committed by the Jews in the first Zionist-Imperialist occupation of Palestine.

7. His Majesty wants it to be known that he should be referred to, whenever possible, as "A Modernizing Father Figure". This will conceal the lack of any actual modernization whilst maintaining the pretence that it is imminent. He has, however, fathered innumerable children.

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