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.
"And I know which end you'd go for each time, Bedu-boy!" AbdulAziz was tempted to say, reflecting the city-dwellers' prejudice about night-time recreations out in the desert, but he kept the thought to himself. Instead he smiled benignly, as befits someone of Royal Breeding.
Encouraged by the response to his last inspiration, he pressed on. "I've had yet another Good Idea!". Ibrahim yearned for that time long ago, when he lay, a tiny bundle, comfortably wrapped in his mother's arms. Saeed, having cleaned his teeth and gums, inserted his Miswak
up his left nostril and twizzled it around, to see what he could dislodge.
"Yes indeed! There's now a trend around the world to privatize the stock exchanges, to open them up to private investors. Like the London Stock Exchange did recently. We should do the same thing, and sell off the Saudi Stock Exchange. Not only that, but we could use our windfall oil revenues to create a whole new financial center here in Riyadh! We'll show those nouveaux-riches
jumped-up camel-thieves in Dubai a thing or two! Saudi Arabia will become the Wall Street of the Eastern Hemisphere!"
Ibrahim looked as though he might cry, but kept himself under control. "Just three problems there, AbdulAziz.
One. On a world scale, our Stock Exchange is about as big as Sulaiman's Shawarmas-To-Go
in the Batha Souk.
Two. In its short and undistinguished history, our Stock Exchange has presided over the biggest financial bubble since the South Sea Company
Three. Saudi Arabian investors have shown that they have all the financial sophistication of over-indulged Kindergarten kids with their first spending money."
"So you're not sold on the idea, then?" asked AbdulAziz.
"In a word," replied Ibrahim. "it's Crap. In two words, it's Completely Crap. In three words, it's Spectacularly, Sublimely Crap. In fact, it gives a whole extra meaning, a special new purpose in life, a truly undiscovered dimension, to the word "Crap". It's the Crappiest idea since the Pharoah said "I bet I can catch up with the Jews before they get to the Red Sea!" Or since the Romans said "Here's a good place for a city, with a nice view of that cone-shaped mountain, let's call it Pompeii!" Or since...."
....Ibrahim was struggling for another example, until he remembered a blog he would sneak a look at while pretending to be too busy to go to mid-day Prayers....
"....they called an airplane "The Flying Camel"!"
AbdulAziz sighed. "I was afraid you'd say that. That's why I told Uncle first. And he told his Uncle. And his Uncle likes the idea. Especially when I suggested that we name the whole thing after him. He likes it so much that he wants us to do it. Here, I've already written Uncle's Uncle's speech about it, that he wants you to read out...."Kingdom to Privatize BourseRIYADH, 10 May 2006 — A new financial district will be constructed over an area of three million square meters in the north of Riyadh, making it the biggest project of its kind in the world, Finance Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf announced yesterday.It was also announced that the Kingdom would go ahead with the privatization of the Saudi stock market as part of its economic reforms program designed to boost investment and create job opportunities.Reading out the speech of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, Al-Assaf said the King Abdullah Financial District would be the Middle East’s first financial district to match the major global trade zones.
Ibrahim, strangely, was smiling. He also was staring upwards, as if at some unseen figure, and seemed to be making "Goo-Goo" noises under his breath.
AbdulAziz also smiled. Ibrahim was right, of course, but you don't get very far in Saudi Arabia by being right. Feeding the bottomless vanity of Kings and Princes was far more effective.
Not that anyone noticed, but the invisible Indian was also smiling. "Three million square meters" was a lot of tastelessly-showy heavy mahogany-and-gilt furniture. They'd need lots more cleaners. Maybe a double shift, double money, retirement in Kerala twice as soon....
Saeed slept. With the Miswak
still up his nostril, he looked like a lopsided Walrus.