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.

Friday, May 21, 2004

What's good about Saudi Arabia 

Some people ask whether Saudi Arabia is all bad; others wonder why I continue living here, especially having experienced the West. In order to present some sort of balance, here are three major things that are good about my home country.

1. Family. Saudi society revolves around the extended family, and we are very family-minded. We spend a lot of time socializing together in the family. We also venerate age. Therefore our older relatives gain more respect and care, the older they get. We would never dream of putting them in a so-called "Care Home" or "Assisted Living" ("Assisted Dying"?) community, we look after them ourselves. Sometimes the close attention and curiosity of one's family can be extremely cloying, however it is reassuring as well. My extended family is the main reason I continue to live here.

2. Infrastructure. A century ago, the Arabian peninsula must have been one of the most God-fordaken places on earth. Limited water, extreme temperatures, vast expanses of uninhabited nothing. With the oil revenues, and all credit to earlier governments, much has been sunk into infrastructure - water desalination, an excellent road system, education and literacy, hospitals and public health.

3. Public safety Unless you are unfortunate enough to get in the way of a terrorist bomb, and with the exception of our roads (where standards of driving are appalling), this is a very safe place to live. Somebody once quoted to me that there are more murders each year in Washington DC than there have been in the whole of Saudi Arabia since its inception. Muggings are extremely few and far between, and unlike in the West, I can walk with my family thru the city center or in the neighborhood, at 2.00 in the morning, with absolutely no fear of a drive-by shooting or being set upon by a gang of drunken hooligans.

Of course, these good things apply equally to Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the Emirates and Oman, but in addition these countries have varying measures of democracy, womens' rights, free speech, civil rights and religious freedom, with no cruel and unusual punishments. That's all I ask for Saudi Arabia....

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