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.

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

One step forward.... 

Womens' faces on Saudi TV!

Haute Cuisine on Saudi Television

We've had womens' unveiled faces with the news presenters, but to have the same thing as part of a cookery program is unprecedented. All the teenage lads will be staying in that night, they don't normally see a woman's face apart from their mother and sisters.

Two steps back..... 

...or how a camera cellphone can lose you your university place and any chance of a career.

Snapshots of unveiled colleagues land Saudi woman out of university

This is just the tip of the iceberg. I'm hearing reports of this happening from colleges all over the place. The Religious Policemen are getting really worked up over this. Unfortunately the poor girls involved are getting their career options closed down, not that they had many in the first place. Become a teacher, or, if you've really got connexions, work in a Womens' branch of a bank.

This reminds me of when TV satellite dishes first came out. They were banned of course. Some Cops even went round shooting at them! Nowadays you see them everywhere.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Off camping in the desert..... 

No Internet out there, so no Blog. Back sometime on Tuesday.

Saturday, March 27, 2004

A quiet day, time for a good read 

...except that we can't buy this book in the Jarir Bookstore.

House of Bush, House of Saud : The Secret Relationship Between the World's Two Most Powerful Dynasties

However...we can order direct from Amazon. And it comes delivered in an anonymous Fedex parcel, so the Thought Police will never know. Mine's on the way!

Friday, March 26, 2004

Ex_Archbishop "hits the nail on the head" 

The ex-Archbishop of Canterbury recently made a speech in which he addresses the subject of Islam, and in particular why it inhibits, not facilitates, progress. As opposition to progress is something that the current Saudi Arabia typifies, I have extracted several pertinent comments.

Carey speech on Islam in full

I apologize for quoting at length, but there is actually much more worth reading in there, and I would commend the whole article to you. It resonates with we Saudis who have seen what is achieved in the West, and then see our own country held back by an unholy alliance of corrupt and backward rulers, hand-in-hand with religious zealots who would like everything to revert to the First Millenium.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Brave Reformists stick it out 

Prince Nayif, the most stupid and conservative of all the senior Princes, is still not releasing the remaining imprisoned activists.

Talks to release Saudi reformists fail

The "gulf of misunderstanding" is that when the government talks about reform, that is what it is. Talk. Whereas the reformists actually want something to happen. But that's not on the government's agenda.

And the reason that those Reformers remain imprisoned, is that they have not yet signed some form of spurious "confession". (The same that Nayif got the Western so-called "booze-bombers" to sign, even though the bombings continued while they were in prison. But we'll save that story for another day). And God knows what sort of pressure they are being put under. We don't have "Public Defenders", "Prison Visitors", "Habeas Corpus" or any other such nicety.

I wish them courage. They'll need it.

Trouble at "The End of The Pier" 

...which is what some of us call Bahrain. It's at the end of a 15 kilometer causeway, 400 kilometers from Riyadh, and many of us go there for the weekend, to have some fun by the seaside. There are bars and restaurants serving alcohol, women don't wear veils, drive themselves, and even stand for the elected parliament. You get the picture. Normality. Like the rest of the world.

Sadly, however, the Religious Policeman mentality ("I'm holier than thou so I'm going to tell you what you can or cannot do, for the good of your soul") is rearing its ugly head in Bahrain.

Islamists threaten Bahrain diners

The diners were mostly Gulf Arabs, including Saudis. It must have been very scary, once they realised it wasn't the cabaret. Let's hope it was a one-off.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Not Such a Bizarre Story 

....although in one detail it is.

50-Year-Old Woman Hides Jewelry in Womb

What is not so unusual is that her sister visited her, but did not report her imprisonment. That's because it's quite normal for male relatives to keep females locked up. Perhaps not for 11 years, but for substantial lengths of time.

Many Saudi houses have grilles over all the windows. That's not to keep burglars out, because burglary rates are low. It's to keep wives and housemaids inside, when the husband is away. Sadly it's a fairly common practice. And every now and again there is a fire, and they all die, because they can't get out.

(And no, I don't keep my (one) wife locked in the house. Nor our Filipino maid. However, unless they want to walk, they need someone to drive them around, they can't drive themselves of course. So the Filipino maid's husband is our driver, and they live in a flat in part of our house, which is a good arrangement).

Quote of the Week 

....from one of our more intelligent Ministers, Prince saud Al-Faisal.

"The ideas and proposals presented for reforming the Arab situation reflect flagrant accusations against the Arab countries and people.....These initiatives look good from outside but they are malicious in essence....One of these ideas says that we should introduce reforms in our countries in order to cope with the times."

The purpose of Reform is usually "to cope with the times" but, hey, what do I know, I'm not a Prince.

Read the whole thing here

The Menace of Under-age Drivers 

If someone drives into you, there's a 1 in 10 chance he's under 16.

Underage Drivers Add to Chaos on the Roads

For readers from other countries, I must explain that we do not have a system of driving schools and rigorous testing. When you go to the Centre to get a licence, they ask you to drive round a circuit, and then reverse between some cones. If you can do that, you get your licence. That's why Saudi driving is probably the worst in the world.

However lots of parents let their kids drive, even when they are too young for a licence. So what do the Shawarma Champions, our intrepid Police, do?

And that's the other thing. When they hit you, they won't be insured, so you'll have to pay for the repairs yourself.

(That's another thing about this country. Until recently, motor insurance was optional. The Imams used to say it was against Islam, because it was "gambling". However the government, in an uncharacteristically progressive move, brought it in. But not for 13-year-olds)

A large number of accidents involve under-age drivers going too fast and driving into walls, killing themselves. That helps to solve the problem.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

More from "Insultin' Sultan" 

who said that Saudis shouldn't be allowed the vote because they were illiterate and might vote for the wrong people.
The Arab News has now published his interview. However they rewrote the embarrassing gaffe about illiterates. Perhaps because The Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) was himself illiterate. Allah may have spoken to him directly, but Prince Sultan still wouldn't let him vote.

Prince Sultan interview

I've picked out some quotes because they are quite revealing.

How will you know what the Saudi people "deem", without a vote? Telepathy?

Patronizing women as usual. The government will do "everything possible" except let them drive, let them work, let them wear sensible clothes, let them vote.

This is the old Tribal mentality. In a tribe of 2000, criticism was seen as disloyalty to the tribe and to the Sheikh. Doesn't work in a country of 20 million.

No names or numbers for the rest, just like the the Police State that this is. And no doubt God will guide them to the "right path" with the assistance of sleep deprivation and sadistic warders beating the soles of their feet.

So who are the "deviant foreigners"? Give us a clue.

Ah-ha. Now we get to it. It was the Jews after all. As we are continually taught in school, "There will always be Jews, and the Jews will always lie". Sultan, Hitler is proud of you.

A bad night.... 

...kept awake by "boy racers" in the neighborhood, driving their cars up and down and doing handbrake turns. We called the Police, but by the time they finished their shawarmas and turned up, the miscreants had gone.

Mind you, it's easy to understand why they do it. Unlike their counterparts in the West, they don't have cinemas, youth clubs, sports clubs, swimming pools, soccer pitches or skateboard parks on which to let off energy. The mosques don't organize anything for them. They don't have anywhere just to hang out and meet girls in a relaxed setting; so they make a nuisance of themselves following girls in the Malls, if they're allowed in - normally the doormen will keep them out.
Then when they grow up, they'll be unemployed wasters, millions of them. What a problem we are storing up for ourselves.

Saudization failing 

...announces the Arab News, although that's obvious to all of us as we drive around town and go shopping.

Saudization Fails to Stem the Tide of Foreign Workers

However I didn't appreciate the scale. Only 8% of workers in the private sector are Saudis, which is an amazing statistic. All the rest are imported from the Third World (although there are a few from the West in executive and professional roles, the ones that haven't been driven away by the bombs, that is.)
Ask any Saudi boy where he wants to work when he grows up, and he will say:
Saudi Airlines
The Armed Forces
The Police
(although he will only get into those if he comes from the same tribal group as the Royal Family, that's to ensure loyalty)
The Civil Service
A Bank
and failing that,
A shop (but taking the money, not actually selling things)
Anything else is considered to be demeaning, and suitable only for Third World expatriates. They certainly don't want to work as Nurses, which is extremely demeaning, and Womans' work (although women aren't allowed to do it). If the Filipino nurses all went home, the Health Service would collapse in a heap.
This country will only get Saudized when the government stops paying people to stay at home. It needs a major change of attitude. As it says in the article:

Monday, March 22, 2004

"No Democracy for Saudis, says Prince Sultan 

...they may vote for the wrong people

In a staggering display of arrogance, even by the standards of the House of Saud, Prince Sultan ruled out elections for the "Poodle Parliament", sometimes known as the Shoura Council, on the grounds that Saudis are illiterate and would therefore vote for the wrong people. This, from a leading member of the Royal Family that boasts of its achievements in adult literacy.
Top Saudi Prince Rules Out Elected Shura Council

Well, I've got news for Prince Sultan. If we ever get elections, you'll be the first to go buddy. You and your palaces and all your privileges.

So no wonder you'll resist democracy as long as possible.

There's nothing like a Public Execution... 

....to pass the time on a Friday.
After all, we're not allowed cinemas or piano bars or concert halls or theatres, so what better way to spend Friday, after Friday prayers in the mosque, than a really good Public Execution.
Bring all the family, it's entertainment for all ages!

But don't get too close, you may become a victim yourself.

Read all about it!

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Drivers cause Road Accidents 

Not roads, as this article suggests:

Road Defects Causing Accidents, Reveals Survey

As they say themselves, 84% of accidents are caused by driver behavior. So that makes 16% caused by bad roads. So they quote the 16% rather than the 84%, we Saudis don't like "losing face". But let's face it, when it comes to reckless and dangerous driving, we are the World Champions.

Major causes of road accidents?

- Police are afraid to pull up anyone driving fast in a Mercedes, in case he's a Prince and they get reprimanded
- Parents with lots of children crawling all over the front and back seats, never in seat belts or child seats, they're instant projectiles when there's an accident. That, and our large families, is why you keep seeing reports saying "One accident, 2 cars, 19 dead".
- Fathers driving with small children sitting on their lap. When there's an accident, they're much squishier than an air-bag.
- People driving at speed and talking on mobile. Maybe with small child on lap.
- Drivers who change lanes without giving a signal. They never had signals on a camel.
- Idiots driving at speed on outside "emergency lane", flashing lights to try and get idiots in front to move over, and being flashed by idiots behind.
- Idiots switching lanes every 5 seconds, as though they were Formula 1 drivers. they are not.
(For a really frightening drive, and plenty of examples of the two above, try Riyadh's northern ring road on Wednesday and Thursday night, as the morons make their way to the "Resters" (bars without booze) in Riyadh's north-eastern outskirts).
- Lazy policemen who just like to look good, flashing their blue lights, but never actually do anything. Especially when they see a Mercedes.

Saturday, March 20, 2004

Bigot gets her retribution 

Scenes in a Mall

Read the whole article, a little vignette of Saudi life. Not that I advocate violence or even spitting against these people. But they ought to know how others feel about them.

More "Enemies of the State" arrested for crime of talking 

Saudi 'arrested' for TV comments

..."expressed surprise that the National Human Rights Association - a newly-created government-backed pressure group - had remained silent on the arrests."

They may be surprised, no-one else is. Do they really expect a government-sponsored group to speak out against the government?

Forget the talk of Reform. This is the Reality of Saudi Arabia.

Friday, March 19, 2004

US slaps Saudi government wrist 

US Criticism Disappointing: Kingdom

So now it's 13 people in prison for advocating such revolutionary changes as parliamentary democracy and human rights. Things that the West have had since the 1700's, at least. And the reason that there is "confusion" about the numbers is that in Saudi Arabia there is no "Habeas Corpus", no due process, no reporting of cases, no legal representation, no time limit for prosecutions. So you can disappear into their "black hole" and never be accounted for; just hope you've got friends or relatives who notice you are missing.

(They won't get me, I use a direct satellite link. Expensive, but it avoids the eavsdropping ears of the Ministry of Thought Monitoring).

It's good to see that the US has delivered its mild rebuke. What many of us would like, of course is for the US and the West to forget their oil interests just once, and really play hardball with this Medieval Theocracy. Let's have a blaze of publicity, UN Resolutions, the lot.

Just in case you hadn't got the picture yet:
Advocate Political Reform, and you go to Prison.
Screw a 13-year-old girl, and you become a newspaper Celebrity.
Any problem with that?

Disgusting old paedophile inflicts sexual torment on 13-year-old girl 

So is that a headline in a Saudi Newspaper?

No, it's actually -

Man Marries 58 Times in 50 Years

He's also a serial polygamist, but we live in the Middle Ages, and the law allows that.

(It is generally known that The Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) was in fact illiterate, and that he dictated the Quran for others to write down. What is not so widely known is that he was also innumerate. Otherwise, when he allowed men to have 4 wives at a time, he didn't realise that with a male : female ratio of 1:1, 75% of the male population would have to be single).

Sadly our law allows men to marry 13-year-old girls. Anywhere else in the world and they'd be put in prison. Here, you'll get put in prison for saying that the law is wrong.

And so he'll continue to inflict his shrivelled old dick on that poor girl. Then, when she loses the next divorce lottery, she'll be discarded.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Every Muttawa (Religious Policeman) should have one. 

Collector Claims to Have Smallest Copy of Qur’an

They ought to provide every Muttawa with one. Then he can stick it up the same place he keeps his brain cell.

No more haircuts for now 

Crackdown Against Travel Agencies for Saudization Suspended

None of the barbers are Saudi. What happens when the barbers get Saudized? Who will shave their heads?

Ignore the official bullshit, here's the reality 

Pro-reform Saudi scribe arrested

The only people allowed to talk about "Reform" are the government. Private citizens who do this, risk a stay in some filthy prison with psychotic guards.

So they'll avoid reform as long as they can get away with it. Otherwise they risk losing their privileges, their palaces, their immunity from prosecution.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

More "Mad Mullahs" get the Push

...although of course, with our national talent for obfuscation, they are guilty of "negligence"

900 Imams Suspended for ‘Negligence’

Here you will notice our Saudi characteristic of "saving face". They have not been suspended for "negligence", which implies that they forgot to get the carpet cleaned. They have been suspended because they don't follow the official line, and continue to preach out against "unbelievers", "westerners", and of course "Jews". They're not very smart, because all the sermons are broadcast over a loudspeaker, and everyone in the neighbourhood can hear them. But then, who said you had to be smart to be an Imam?

The government used to allow this sort of preaching to happen all the time. Then they started to clamp down after the May 2003 bombings in Riyadh. Too late. "What ye sow, so shall ye reap".

Meanwhile, the Imam Muhammad ibn Saud University in Riyadh continues to churn out Imams by the hundreds each year, if not thousands. As if we were short of lazy parasites.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

One down, 23 to go

Our security forces are still lamentably slow in picking up terrorists in our midst.

Saudi forces kill two armed fighters

It's fairly common knowledge that these guys keep getting tipped off from within the security forces. Like the time that about 20 were in a house and surrounded, but miraculously shot their way out and got away scot-free.

Monday, March 15, 2004

No Letup in Raids Against Travel Agents in Riyadh

No Letup in Raids Against Travel Agents in Riyadh

So the good news is that nobody's getting his head shaved any more. But the bad news, according to the Saudi Gazette, is that the Travel Agents are now losing millions, because they can't get replacement staff, or staff with enough experience. Same problem with the jewelry shops since Saudization. Half of them are closed, the other half are manned by Saudis who don't know an Amethyst from a Ruby, like the guy who was trying to sell a ring to my wife the other night.

The problem with Saudization is that nobody in our government is smart enough to figure out that these guys need training begore they can do these jobs. We've got graduates in all the academic subjects, and a whole university in Riyadh turning out Imams (as if we needed more of them) and lawyers, but how many technical or vocational colleges are there? That's right, zero. So until then, we should start by Saudizing the unskilled jobs. Let's start by replacing the Bangladeshis we see sweeping up the litter we endlessly drop. That'll soon stop us from being the litter champions of the world.

Oh, I forgot, street-sweeping is beneath us, that's for Third World nationals, We're a nation of businessmen and managers. Like the expression "All chiefs and no Indians".

Sunday, March 14, 2004

The Religious Policemen vs. Progress (again)

Crackdown on Camera Phones Intensified

In what other country in the world would Camera Phones be "controversial"?

We can all be reassured that our intrepid Religious Police (aka the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice) have banned them, because (shock, horror), men are using them to photo women.

However, they'll soon learn that they are, to use that wonderful Western expression, "pissing in the wind". Just like when they tried to stop TV satellite dishes.

Elections in Saudi Arabia!!!

Kingdom’s First Municipal Elections to Take Place in October

So will they lead to General Elections? "They should"

So we could vote in a different government? "I didn't say that"

Will women be allowed to vote? "Um, I'll get back to you on that"

Will there be political parties? "You're joking!!!"

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Why do we make them cover their faces?

There is nothing in the Quran that says that women should cover their faces.

Covering their face is something imposed by the Religious Police, there is no basis at all for it in the Quran or the other sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

That will teach him

Teacher Given Jail Term, Lashes for Blasphemy

What a "system of justice"! Three years and 300 lashes for the victimless offence of "blasphemy". We can't have teachers asking pupils to question things, can we? On the other hand, the teachers who encouraged their pupils to cheer 9/11 didn't even get a reprimand. Beat up and rape your Filipino housemaid instead, and you'll probably get off without even being arrested. No wonder that so many of us are ashamed of our backward country.
Punish the Innocent, ignore the Guilty

Travel Agency Employees Still in Detention
M. Ghazanfar Ali Khan, Arab News Staff

Their crime? Their employers had not complied with the Saudization directives, requiring them to employ more Saudis and less foreigners. So the authorities put them, not the Saudi owners, in jail, and shaved their heads as part of the service. That's because they're Third World foreigners. We wouldn't treat our own countrymen like that.
One news item that we haven't seen yet...

There has been no report of a message of condolence from the House of Saud to the Spanish Government and people, following the recent terrorist atrocity. We were taught at school that the life of an Unbeliever is not as important as that of a Muslim. Is this the reason?

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