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.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Odds and Ends 

Here's an interesting Blog article, depicting life for the Western expats in the "Gilded Cages" of their compounds. The thing about a cage is that the canary is safe most of the time, but the cat knows exactly where his next meal is, should the door be not quite shut...

Security Meeting
The new entrance to the compound is like the entrance to a fortress. Three police cars are positioned at the entrance and cars entering the compound can barely pass between them. A few metres behind sits a military Jeep under a sand-coloured camouflage net, machine gun at the ready. Several bored soldiers are standing in the street, sweating in the midday sun, observing visitors closely from the side of the road. Positioned directly behind the soldiers are massive concrete roadblocks, around which the cars have to slalom before entering the area. After the police have checked passports, only residents of the compound are permitted to proceed further.

A Government spokesman offers some pearls of wisdom following the death of Simon Cumbers and the shooting of Frank Gardner (now in a coma).

‘They were shot because of the way they appear’
INTERIOR Ministry Public Relations chief Dr. Saud Al-Musaibeeh sought Monday to put in perspective the circumstances that led to the terrorist attack on two British Broadcasting Corporation journalists in Riyadh on Sunday.

What happened with this BBC team was that they were trying to get more information that would make their coverage of the event a unique one. This made them repeatedly visit that site and consequently they were followed and shot. But I still think that they were not shot because they were journalists. Actually they were shot because of the way they appear, as Westerners.

Curious. Is the guy in touch with the terrorists? He seems to know their exact motives. Or perhaps he just wants to reassure other journalists - cameras and microphone interviews in the streets are OK, it's just being a Westerner that's a bit "iffy". However this sort of thing is one of our characteristics - pronounce on something very authoritatively, even when you're talking out of your *ss.
Q: How do you explain the absence of security when that attack on the BBC crew took place?

A: If you have 1,500 journalists, how can you offer a policeman to each?

1500 foreign journalists in Saudi Arabia? Did they switch the Olympic Games to Riyadh? If we had that number, we wouldn't be able to get within a kilometer of the Intercontinental Hotel. Try 15. And now give them some protection.
From my side, I would like to seize this opportunity to direct a message to those countries that shelter leaders of such groups, like Britain. I would like to tell them that sheltering and protecting a number of those mentally deviated people is not acceptable anymore. And here they have killed one of your own citizens who did nothing but look for the truth.

This is where we always end up. We will not accept responsibility. We cannot lose face. We must therefore either go into denial (no pun intended) or blame others. Preferably both. The blame lies clearly at the door to 10 Downing Street. Mr Big is sitting outside a cafe in London's Edgeware Road, smoking a sheesha, and directing operations from his mobile phone. So why haven't you arrested him?
This is why we will lose the Civil War, he blogs, sinking into a profound depression. Zero leadership.

A new and sinister threat from Al Qaeeda. Now these guys have good leadership. Unfortunately they're on the wrong side.

Philippine Embassy Receives Threats Against Nationals

JEDDAH, 8 June 2004 — Philippine Ambassador to the Kingdom Bahnarim Guinomla confirmed yesterday in a telephone interview from Riyadh, that the Philippine Embassy had received anonymous threats against Filipinos in the Kingdom.

“We received two threats: One was a letter mailed from Jeddah and the other was an e-mail message. We turned over the letter to the diplomatic police for investigation,” said the envoy.

Now if there's one expat group that we couldn't do without long term, it's the Filipinos. Westerners are important, but they tend to be the managers, the architects, the system developers, the builders of the future. If they went, we wouldn't progress, but we wouldn't fall apart. The Filipinos, however, are different. They are very hard working. They are also good technicians and engineers. When your PC breaks down, chances are that a Filipino will come and fix it. They are also invariably cheery, when you are still trying to come to terms with a new working day, and a broken PC - "How you doing today, Boss, OK?". They run the Steak House in Thalateen Street, and are the only set of waiters I know who seem to enjoy their job. They have basketball and bowling leagues, and go out into the desert in families to play baseball - they know how to enjoy themselves. A large number are Roman Catholic, keeping their faith in a country where it is forbidden. I once saw a Filipino in KFC forget where he was and cross himself before attacking his chicken leg - then he saw me, but I smiled and winked. I was tempted to give him a Bishops' blessing, but thought that might be a bit much.

Filipinos, please stay. You help make this place human.

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