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 22, 2004

By Popular Request 

I was wondering what I should finish with before my vacation. Another searing expose of our disfunctional Royal Family? A selection from "Minaret Wit - favorite jokes from our Imams"? A review of "Prince Nayif's Book of All-time Favorite Prison Recipes"?

Then I saw this comment from an earlier item.

You can never go wrong with Camel
photos. It's like a photo-journalism homerun. That and baby kittens.

What an inspiration! This blog will never miss an opportunity for shameless emotional exploitation. So here you go!

You don't see many dogs around in Saudi Arabia. They are considered to be unclean. Also, there is an unkind and rather racist story that when Hyundai and Daewoo set up here, and we started having Korean expatriates, all the dogs disappeared. However there never were many. There are packs of wild dogs that hang around the more remote rubbish-strewn areas of the city, and are best avoided.

However we have plenty of cats.

By the way, I cannot be traced from these cats. They are long gone.

There are some truly domestic cats, but most of the cats are feral. There are tribes of them in every neighbourhood, usually based around a garbage container. All the cats in these photos "adopted" us at some time. That means that they usually spent their confinement and early motherhood in our yard. In return for food and an umbrella for shelter from the sun, they allowed us to look at them and take photographs. However it was very rare to be able to touch or stroke them.

I'm not an expert on cat breeds, but I rather think that our local cats have thinner faces, longer ears, and rougher fur, than the typical Western breed.

Once the kittens had become self-sufficient, mother and kittens would all disappear. Later the mother would return, pregnant again, or one of the kittens, now grown-up and itself about to be a mother.

The cat population seems to be reasonably static, although there is very little birth control practiced on them. Natural causes, traffic accidents, and, it is rumored, the culinary tastes of our South Asian guests, seem to keep numbers under control.

It would be nice if they would stay with us. But, being Saudi, they are natural nomads...

Royal Rubbish 

Temporarily disconnected from most of his pipework, King Fahad inspires us with his vision for the future.

Actually, it looks as though Abdullah, on the left, is operating the Johnny Walker pump

Reforms to Suit Saudi Needs

RIYADH, 21 June 2004 — Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd pledged yesterday Saudi Arabia would tailor reforms to its own needs and set out a comprehensive package to foster economic growth.

That's the Good News

The king’s annual policy address to the Shoura Council recalled a promise of partial municipal elections, but did not set a date for the first ever poll in the country — in principle due to take place later this year.

...and that's the Bad News. The first faltering steps towards democracy, the "partial municipal elections", had been promised in October 2003 to tke place within a year. Obviously it's not going to happen. "In Principle" must mean they would have taken place, had they been promised by someone with principles, and not promised by an unprincipled liar.

Oh well, give him another shot of Red Label. Let's see what else comes out.

The speech reiterated that Saudi Arabia was introducing the reforms it perceives as adequate — a reference to the government’s view that reform must come from within and not necessarily follow a Western pattern.

“Saudi Arabia is pressing ahead on the path of development and modernization in a manner compatible with the interests of its people, its needs, its specifics, its Arab identity and of Shariah,” on which the entire system is based, the speech said.

What Reforms? There aren't any Reforms! There are zero Reforms! So what are the "reforms it perceives as adequate"?

The government promised in October 2003 to organize elections within a year to elect half the members of new municipal councils. Reports around that time said elections would also be held within three years to fill one third of the Shoura Council’s 120 seats and that half the members of regional councils could be elected within two years.

...and now you've cancelled them. So what Reforms? Give him another shot.

He pointed out the government set up a higher commission on women’s affairs, guaranteed women participation in the recent National Dialogue Forum in Madinah and in the National Human Rights Commission and would consolidate this participation further.

Ah well, the National Dialogue Forum was a great success, it agreed to change nothing, the "team photo" had no women in, anyone with any sense left in tears. It was about as successful as our soccer team in the World Cup, and ten times as boring. So that was this year's reform?

. (glug)
. (glug)
. (yawn)
. (zzzzz....)

Afraid so. Looks like that's it for another year. No reform, no modernization. Just inertia, decay, and destruction from within by religious lunatics. Welcome to Saudi Arabia 2004.

Time for a vacation.

Vacation Time 

As I indicated earlier, I will be going on vacation with the family shortly. Today will be my last day of blogging. I will resume, Inshallah, in late July.

There was a vey timely article yesterday about tourism in Saudi Arabia.

Commission Hopes for 7% Growth in Tourism

RIYADH, 21 June 2004 — The Supreme Commission for Tourism says it is undeterred by “sporadic” terror attacks in the Kingdom and will press ahead with plans to achieve seven percent growth in domestic tourism.

In any other country, this would be an article about trying to attract more foreign tourists, and the difficulties posed to this by terrorist attacks. However the subtext here is that the government is trying to make more Saudis take vacations in Saudi Arabia, and not spend their currency abroad. It long since gave up on the idea of attracting tourists from outside.

Earlier the commission had said it was targeting international tourism, but that appears to have been put on the backburner.

Prince Abdul Aziz sought to allay fears of more terror attacks, while stressing tourism plans would remain unaffected by the violence.

SCT officials said they were hopeful Saudi tourists would come to prefer domestic destinations. “The holiday destinations in the Kingdom will continue to appeal more,” the prince said.

As I've said before, the idea of attracting tourists here, apart from pilgrims, is a total nonsense. Yes, we have a few old ruins, but nothing like as good as in Jordan and Egypt. We have excellent diving in the unpolluted Red Sea, but you can dive in the Red Sea from Egypt. We have lots of desert to trek in, but you can do that also from the Emirates or Oman. And we have good shopping, but not as good as Dubai. And overlying all of this is the fact that Saudi Arabia, in spite of the basic friendliness of its people, is so unwelcoming to tourists. Imagine a trip to Orlando where Disneyworld ejected its visitors at regular intervals for prayer time; where the Muttawa, no doubt dressed up as Mickey Mouse, asked to see your marriage certificate; where your wife was forced to dress in black, head-to-toe artificial fabric. The only possible group who might be attracted would be "cultural tourists", but it would definitely be a case of "look but don't photograph", unless one wants to sample the cultural experience of a Saudi Jail.

There are 3 main reasons why we Saudis go abroad, and the Supreme Commission for Tourism can't do a lot about them.

1. The obvious one, particularly for those of us who have spent some time in the West. We like to go somewhere, East or West, where we can enjoy more freedom, where our wives can wear normal clothes, where we can sit on a beach if we wish, have an occasional drink if we wish, and read newspapers without holes on them. We can alight at any airport in any other country of the world, and it's like stepping out of prison.

2. The temperatures at this time of year in Riyadh get up to into the 120's, although the humidity is low. On the coasts, it's the same temperature but with 90% humidity. Normally our life is spent running between the air-conditioned havens of home, office, school or shopping mall. During the school vacations, this is no life for a youngster. They need to be able to run around in the open air, go swimming, climb things, or just hang around. Therefore we seek cooler, but still sunny, climes.

3. The third reason applies to single men only, or those in unsatisfactory marriages. The Emirates is the favorite destination, although sometimes Bahrain suits the requirement. Young ladies fly in from Russia, on 3-month visas, and then head back home on the proceeds. A friend of mine once went to Bahrain with his family, tried to book in at the "Al xxxxx Family Hotel", to be told that they didn't take families, and only rented rooms by the hour! This form of tourism is very popular with young Saudi men, for obvious reasons, they also combine it with "alcohol tourism", although with the obvious limitation that Shakespeare warned against.

Needless to say, the A family are going on vacation for a combination of reasons 1 and 2. And when the children are otherwise occupied, I will close my eyes and dream that I am living in a Saudi Arabia with an elected government, the Four Freedoms, and full equality for women. Holidays are for daydreaming....

If you're going on vacation, have a great time. If you're not, still remember to take it easy.

Ma'a salaama.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

In Memory Of.... 

Paul Johnson, innocent victim

murdered by Saudi religious fanatics and terrorists

Friday, June 18th, 2004

Thursday, June 17, 2004


Let's cheer ourselves up with some more camels.

Many of you were so taken with the earlier photo, that I've included some more.

The camel has been a resident of the Arabian Peninsula since time immemorial. In India, you'll only ever see camels working, and working hard, pulling laden carts that are as big as a house. However Saudi camels, naturally, do not work. Some of them we eat - a tough meat, quite tasty, but needs to be well marinaded. But mainly, we keep them for our own amusement. The fast ones get to race, the other ones are just pets.

Pets? But surely they don't stretch out at home in front of the fire? Indeed not, because of course we don't have fires, just industrial-strength a/c. No, we keep them in an enclosure. To the north-east of Riyadh there is a huge area, perhaps 4-5 kilometers square, that is just camel enclosures. It's called the "Camel Souk", or Camel Market. But it's not just a market, It's a vast suburb for camels. And that's where we keep them, looked after by typically a Sudani "keeper".

And then we go out there at evenings and weekends to spend quality time with our camel, to talk camels, drink coffee, gossip, and generally hang out. It's a Man Thing, naturally.

The Bedus are the main breeders of camels. Their herds wander all over the desert.

....and where there is a highway, we build a bridge so they can cross over.

I like camels. They have a look that says "I was here before you, and I'll be here when you're gone. But in the meantime I'll tolerate you, because your strange antics amuse me."

(Note that this Bedu's number plate has bleached in the sun - evidence of how vigilant the "shawarma warriors" are.)

I once suggested to Mrs A that I liked the idea of keeping a camel out at the Souk. She said "That's alright, if you'd rather spend your spare time out there with your camel and other men, rather than here at home with me and your family." Ouch. There's no answer to that.

Spot the Ball 

When I was being educated in the UK, the papers used to have a competition called "Spot the Ball". It was an action picture from a soccer match, but the ball had been airbrushed out. You had to look at where the players were looking, and guess where the ball should be. You marked a "X" in the hope of a cash prize.

This photograph reminded me of that.

It's from FORUM RECOMMENDS NATIONAL CHARTER ON WOMEN’S RIGHTS , referring to the Third National Forum, that one that discussed Women's rights. As it says:

THE National Dialogue participants Tuesday presented HRH Crown Prince Abdullah 19 recommendations that included establishing a national body to deal with women and family affairs and drafting of a national charter on women's rights and duties.

Presumably that's the "Team Photo" of the self-same participants. Yet, somehow, I feel that something is missing. I can't quite put my finger on it, but somehow it's not complete.....

No cash prizes, unfortunately, I'm saving for my imminent vacation.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

The Third National Dialogue Forum.... 

....has just ended. "Dialogue" may be putting it rather strongly. "Forum" might convey the impression of shared values. However it was definitely the Third.

Health warning: Women with high blood pressure should not read further. Nor men, for that matter.

Dialogue Forum Ends Amid Heated Debate

JEDDAH, 15 June 2004 — The Third National Dialogue Forum wrapped up three days of session yesterday in Madinah amid heated arguments about previously taboo topics.

Some 70 participants, including 35 women, from all parts of the Kingdom took part in the discussion on women’s issues.

(Note that, like all conferences in Saudi Arabia, the men are in one room, the women in another. They "communicate" via microphone and loudspeaker. "Just like in my house", I hear some of you say.)

Here are some excerpts, just to show the state of play here on Womens' rights

One delegate, writer Yahya Al-Amir, brandished a copy of a textbook on Islamic culture for second-year secondary school students saying the text spoke of women as weak creatures who need a guardian to lead them to the right path, because if allowed to act without guidance they may end up being corrupted and corrupting others. He asked (said?)the curriculum could allow children to view women as a potential source for corruption.

In yesterday’s session on women and employment, Dr. Muhammad Al-Arifi, who earlier nearly brought about the collapse of the forum, again fell foul of another participant, this time Dr. Walid Fitaihi.

Fitaihi, a physician and writer, presented a paper titled “Women Are the Partners of Men” — a saying by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) — which was met with applause from the women.

Al-Arifi objected to Fitaihi’s suggestions that women should be allowed to work as nurses, air hostesses and in other jobs and said Fitaihi was basing his arguments on the opinions of scholars from “outside the region.”

Dr. Suhaila Hammad, a member of the National Human Rights Association, criticized the lack of balance in the representation as the participants seemed to have been selected with a slant toward the conservative, even though she believes moderates are in the majority in the Kingdom at large.

“The most important thing is to correct the misconceptions about women’s rights in Islam, which are confused with traditions and customs,” she said.

The degrading opinion of women, the misinterpretation of Qur’an verses and Hadiths and the domination of tradition is what is preventing women from the rights Islam gave her. She finds that the most important changes should be in the curriculum, the judicial system and in the labor laws.

Many presentations at the forum were good, she said, but some were vague and impractical. For example, to insist on preventing women from driving and at the same time warn them not to ride with strangers, as one presenter did, was to leave women with no options, especially when there is no dependable public transport.

and in another article...

Remarks on Women’s Rights Cause Uproar

MADINAH, 15 June 2004 — High drama at the National Dialogue Forum was triggered by Dr. Muhammad Al-Arifi, of the Teachers’ College in Riyadh, who said women had gained more rights than they were entitled to.

Some female teachers at schools and universities were neither intellectually fit for the job nor decently dressed, he said, while others who studied abroad were attempting to spread “Western feminist ideas” among their students.

He also complained that some women were allowed back to work after they broke the law during the 1991 Gulf War, sources said.

“Saudi women have earned more than their rights, as evident by the fact that the women who led a demonstration driving cars in Riyadh 12 years ago were given their jobs back afterward, and this is something that did not happen to men.”

These women were “a source of anxiety because their ideas are implanted in the minds of students,” Arifi added.

One woman was so overwhelmed with the comments she broke into tears.

I know exactly how she felt.

Religious Freedom - one man's experience 

Our much-loved Muttawa have attempted yet another religious "conversion".

Religious police tortured expatriate for "spreading Christianity".

June 9 (Compass) — An Indian national abducted and tortured 10 weeks ago by Saudi Arabia’s religious police for “spreading Christianity” remains jailed in Riyadh’s Al-Hair Prison without trial or even formal charges against him.

Brian Savio O’Connor, 36, was accosted on Al Massif street just outside his living quarters in the Mursalat district of Riyadh early on the evening of March 25. As he started down the street, a muttawa (member of the religious police) stopped him, asking harshly, “Why did you not attend ‘Salah’ [evening prayers]?”

Surprised, since shops along the street were already re-opening as their owners returned from Muslim prayers, O’Connor took out his Saudi identity card, proving that he was a Christian. When another three men came up and tried to grab his I.D. card, O’Connor ran back to a shop where he had seen a work acquaintance. But the group of men chased him into the shop, grabbing and beating him right there.

It doesn't get any better after that, in fact it gets worse. Upsetting stuff to read. One of his misfortunes, of course, is that he is an Indian National, and the Indian Government needs the Saudis more than vice versa. Not that it helps being a US or UK national, but they do tend to get listened to more readily.

If you know of any way to help this poor unfortunate (e.g. thru Amnesty?), then please do.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Good News! 

I realise that this blog is continually bringing Bad News. And Bad News is bad for morale. So let me immediately change the balance. You see, I have some Good News!

Well, not me exactly. None less than Prince Turki Al Faisal, Saudi Ambassador to London. You may remember that on Saturday, our Muslim Affairs Minister, whose name escapes me for the moment but is really not worth remembering, announced that "the Saudi government ........have destroyed half of the terrorist force". Well, it gets even better. Prince Turki has now announced that "five out of six" terrorist cells have now been destroyed. That's an increase of 33.33% in just two days! Or 16.66% a day! On that basis, they'll all be destroyed by tomorrow (Tuesday)! Now isn't that Good News!

Don't believe me? Oh you miserable cynics. Have a look at this 5-minute BBC clip.

Prince Turki Al Faisal Interview

There! You heard him, didn't you? Very polished, wasn't it? Just a shame about the intense blinking when he's answered an awkward question. It looks like a very acute facial tic. It's a shame that when he did the course on "Broadcast Interview Technique for Leaders of Corrupt Arab States", he didn't do the optional module on "Controlling Body Language and Avoiding Involuntary Facial Movements that give away those little Porkie Pies". Obviously the reference to Pork put him off.

So that was the Good News. Now here's the Bad News. The Bad News is that the Good News is complete and utter Crap. The other Bad News is that Arabs don't like to give people Bad News, so we give them Good News instead, even if we lie about the Bad News. That way, everyone's happy....until they discover that the Good News is Bad News after all, then it's Bad News all round.

I hope that's clear for everyone.

What is clear to me is that even in the government, they haven't a clue about what they are fighting. They don't know the size of the external forces, and they don't know how much their own security forces have been penetrated. Apparently the US has offered to help. Well, with all due respect to our US allies, I don't think that Mr "Slam Dunk" and his CIA, fresh from their "WMD in Iraq" triumph, are going to be much help to us. To revert to my normal pessimistic gloom, I think we're up the creek without the proverbial paddle.

I'm also worried about Prince Nayif, the Idiot Child of the Saud Family. He's been far too quiet recently. He normally has Verbal Incontinence - although it's completely embarrassing, he just can't stop the words from dribbling out uncontrollably. But we've not heard anything since he blamed the Jooos for the terrorism in Saudi Arabia. Everyone laughed at him, but he's used to that. But then they told him that everyone has always blamed the Jooos for everything - Hitler, various Tzars, innumerable Medieval Kings and Princes - and the Jooo thing really has been flogged to death, nobody's buying it. Now he's in a deep sulk. I hope no stray cats go near him. He's looking around for some new scapegoat. He liked it when he could blame the western booze merchants, but the more he put in prison, the more the bombings went on, so eventually he had to let them go. But still, there was the germ of an idea there. All he needs now is another group of westerners who are operating businesses and are fiercely protective of their territories. Once Prince Nayif has identified them, he'll strike.

So guys, if your wife has got a Tupperware or Avon franchise, I should start packing right away........

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Another blow for Religious Freedom 

An Imam from the Grand Mosque in Makkah struck another blow for religious freedom recently. He preached in east London, barely 50 kilometers from the Anglican Church's holiest site, the tomb of St Thomas A Becket in Canterbury Cathedral.

Sudais Leads Prayers for Inter-Faith Peace and Harmony

12 June 2004 — One of the imams of the Grand Mosque in Makkah led prayers for inter-faith peace and harmony in London yesterday..............Around 10,000 worshippers gathered at the East London Mosque, and surrounding streets in the city’s Whitechapel district to hear Sheikh Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais, organizers said.

Needless to say, the English Religious Police (the "Bobbawa") soon swooped onto him and his infidel followers. He was consigned to Newgate Jail, infamous home to the dregs of London's criminal underclass, to be suspended from chains and have the soles of his feet beaten. His 10,000 infidel followers were rounded up and immediately deported to their country of origin. Said David Blunkett, the UK's dreaded Minister of the Interior, "Foreigners must realize that they are guests in this country, and this country is home to the Anglican Church's most sacred site. Her Majesty is Custodian of the Holy Cathedral. We will therefore not permit any form of religious observance other than that of the Church of England. No Muslim, Hindu or Buddist will be permitted to enter any church, or travel into the City of Canterbury. Catholics and Orthodox will be permitted, as long as they don't do any of that "sign of the cross" or "Hail Mary" stuff. Anyone seen hanging prayer beads from their rear-view mirror will be immediately deported. We respect the right of all religions to carry out their religious practices, as long as they do it in their own home, and in groups of no more than two. No Qurans, or religious books from other religions, may be imported. And to the hostile press that are always attacking our society and cultural values, I say, five hundred years ago we would have burnt all infidels at the stake. We are now much more tolerant".

I offer this little piece of irony in the certain knowledge that our rulers and religious leaders would never "get it". It seems to them perfectly normal to be able to finance a Mosque in London's Regents Park, or Washington, or Rome, yet not see the double standard they operate. To summarize on the state of Religious Freedom in Saudi Arabia:

(for a good summary see

Saudi Arabia International Religious Freedom Report )

1. Islam is the official and only religion in the country.

2. All Saudi citizens are by definition Muslims.

3. Anyone renouncing Islam is an Apostate. Apostacy is punishable by the death sentence. (Which is why we discourage our rebellious teenagers from going around saying "Hey, I'm not sure about this religion thing...etc." It could be Hazardous to Health. Better just to keep quiet.)

4. Shia Muslims are just about tolerated, as long as they don't carry out their particular practices such as self-flagellation. In practice they, and indeed the Eastern province where they mostly live, suffer a variety of forms of discrimination.

5. No non-Muslim public worship is permitted. It is permitted in private, as long as it is not "obvious" (in practice, any "gathering" is dangerous.)

6. Religious symbols such as crosses, stars, are forbidden (and obviously these days are bad for the health).

7. No non-Muslim may enter any mosque.

8. No non-Muslim may enter the cities of Makkah and Madinah. (However there is one unpublicized exception. Our national bus company, SAPTCO, runs Mercedes buses. Naturally, being a nation of managers and civil servants, we haven't learnt to maintain them ourselves. So we import German mechanics. What happens when a bus breaks down in one of those cities? We send in an infidel German mechanic to fix it, under cover of darkness. We Saudis are not stupid. If we didn't, then over time, years, perhaps decades, every SAPTCO bus in the country would eventually end up broken down in Makkah or Madinah. We wouldn't be able to get them out. Imagine the congestion. Then all the beggars and overstayers would go and live in them.)

9. The Muttawa protect our religious values by looking for symbols of infidel idolatry and symbolism being sold in shops. They have lots of fun around Christmas and St Valentines Day. (But they missed the "St Paul's Cathedral" jigsaw in Al Shegrey Bookstore, because I bought it!) However for $10 you can always buy a cheap-and-nasty plastic mosque alarm clock, that wakes you up with a muezzin call. Somehow, that's not "symbolism".

10. Any foreigners bringing in Bibles, Prayer Books, Crucifixes, Rosary Beads, Icons or similar will have them confiscated by Customs.

11. Foreign workers must give their passport to their employer for keeping. In return they get a residency permit, the Iqama. The Iqama of a Muslim is green, that for an infidel purple. I kid you not. This color scheme was obviously designed with future events in mind. Now terrorist captives are color-coded for easy selection of murder victims.

When asked about our religious intolerance, our leaders will always defend the indefensible with some fatuous statement like "Well, would you expect the Pope to allow a mosque in the Vatican?". The Vatican is 70% of the size of the Mall in Washington, and full of buildings, but never let the facts get in the way of a stupid debating point.

Saudi Arabia is, you will gather, unique in this respect. Go to any other Muslim country, and you find churches and temples, even synagogues. Just at the "end of the pier", in Bahrain, there are churches. They have guided parties for anyone, around the Grand Mosque, and take the view that it helps people understand Islam, may even bring in some converts. But then, the Bahrainis are more sensible than we are. They have votes and free speech and stuff.

So how do religious expats manage? If they are lucky to be in the right place, they may be able to attend services. It is rumored that these take place within foreign embassies and military bases. In other cases, they find some other outlet. I was once driving thru Riyadh with a western colleague, when he announced that he was going to turn right at "St Joseph's". "St Joseph's?", I asked. After some slight embarrassment, he explained that he amused himself by giving "church" names to Riyadh's mosques. "St Joseph's" was a mosque by a road intersection, just like one in his home town. "Sacre Coeur" was a white mosque on a bit of a hill, just like in Paris. "St Patrick's" was a big downtown mosque. Some of the names were more fanciful. I liked the sound of "Our Lady of the Desert". "Saudi Martyrs" was a bit ambiguous. The "Cathedral Church of Saint Abdullah" was plain silly. However it kept him sane; we all need something like that.

Clearly, I believe that we should have full religious freedom in Saudi Arabia. Let's try and be normal, just like the rest of the world. But we could do it in such a way that we still preserve our cultural heritage. Like Religious Policemen. Obviously we should keep those, otherwise this blog will have no further reason to exist. And Religious Policemen from different religions will introduce some diversity.

Quaker Religious Policemen won't tell you off. They'll just come and stand alongside you, waiting until the spirit moves one of you to say something.

Jewish Religious Policemen will correct you, but they'll start with a joke about their Mother.

Catholic Religious Policemen will be quite tough, especially if it's Sunday Morning and you haven't gone to Mass. They won't let you go until you buy a dozen raffle tickets.

Anglican (Episcopalian) Religious Policemen, on the other hand, will be quite lax. They'll say things like "Hey, if it's cool with you, it's cool with me".

Mormon Religious Policemen will be easily recognized. They will be two young men with dark suits, short haircuts and briefcases. They will tell you off, once they've said what nice children you have.

Asalaamu alaikum, Peace be with you, God Bless you and yours.

Interview with Al Khobar terrorist 

Here is a link to John R Bradleys's site, with the translation of what is claimed to be an interview with one of the Al Khobar terrorists.


I do not guarantee that it is authentic. However its cold, callous, holier-than-thou tone is what I would expect. WARNING It is not for the squeamish. It made me feel nauseous, both for the actions described, and for the terrorists' pious self-satisfaction with what they did, in particular hunting out Christians and Hindus to murder. It is chilling the way that the Devil works, persuading moral imbeciles that they are in fact killing in the name of God.

I would not normally want to give publicity to the scum of the earth, but the way that they condemn themselves out of their own mouth is something that as many as possible should read.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

'Terrorism in Saudi Arabia controllable' 

....according to our Muslim Affairs Minister

'Terrorism in Saudi Arabia controllable'

LONDON, England, Jun. 12 (UPI) -- Despite an American killed Saturday and a car found packed with explosives in Saudi Arabia, the government says terrorism has not reach "crisis levels."

That's a relief. I was starting to get worried. Silly old me for panicking. Just another normal day in Riyadh. One drive-by shooting of a westerner, one car bomb towed away. Just like a regular Saturday in Dullsville, Ohio, or in Dulwich, London.

If you look back through the efforts of the Saudi government in tackling terrorism they have destroyed half of the terrorist force

That's good. All the terrorist organizations are registered with his Ministry (so they can get charitable status and tax exemptions), and all been accounted for, that's how we know we're exactly halfway thru destroying them. So now we're on the "Back Nine", back to the Clubhouse for teatime.

The recent attacks by al-Qaida had caused little disruption to the Saudi economy or day-to-day way of life, according to the minister.

His day-to-day life is unchanged - still has a chauffeur-driven limo and a police escort. It's not quite the same for the westerners, though, checking for bombs under their cars every journey, looking round nervously every time they stop at the lights, wondering who's going to try and kill them as they park somewhere.

"Our assessment of the situation is that it is controllable," he said.

My assessment , Minister, is that your drivel is uncontrollable. It flows like a mountain cataract swollen by the snows of Spring. Your sound waves leave your body without being impeded by any thought process. I could have a more intelligent conversation with those two camels in the picture further down. Perhaps you could help raise the Saudi average IQ by emigrating to Afghanistan.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Women can drive - Official! 

Thanks to a correspondent for this link to an archived BBC broadcast from yesterday.

Simon Mayo interview

"Fast forward" to 00.33.00 , 33 minutes into the Simon Mayo program.

There is an interview with Prince Turki al Faisal, Saudi Ambassador to UK. Much of it is bland and unaggressive questioning followed by smooth answers. He quotes an opinion poll where Osama Bin Laden only gets 4.7% popularity, not the 50% reported by Al Jazeera and obvious to anyone who lives here.

Anyway, after the interruption for the traffic broadcast and the cricket scores (ahh, cricket, that took me back. If only we played cricket here, I'm sure it would be a different place. There's something about the pace and civilised manners of the game that would do wonders for our national personality. The Pakistani expats play it, on pitches that look like concrete, but they are seriously good, no Saudi team would ever dare take them on, we'd get totally humiliated by them and that would not do at all) and the usual reference to the "booze bombers" (if they want to complain about their treatment by the Saudi Courts, there is a Saudi Court where they can go and complain!) the question of women driving came up.

(This is not a comment on women drivers, just a common sight round here, the camels always seem to be enjoying themselves!)

Prince T then said that "Women are allowed to drive..." and then followed that with "in the countryside, not in the towns". I think Simon Mayo was a bit shocked by that concession, so he didn't follow it up as he should. The way "in the countryside" sounds to someone in Europe, it sounds as though women can drive thru the equivalent of the leafy lanes of English Cotswolds or the Massachussets Berkshires, just not in the big cities. Well, that's a reasonable concession, isn't it?

The problem is that it doesn't translate well to Saudi Arabia. We don't have winding leafy lanes thru the countryside. We have desert, and a few freeway-standard roads that traverse the desert. Off the freeway, you get a network of tracks. They usually end up at some litter-strewn picnic spot (near the cities) or bedu encampment (otherwise). And yes, women do drive on the more remote tracks, you see bedu women doing it, Mrs. A does when it's remote enough. But women are only driving there because they can get away with it, there are no cops, so they won't get caught. But it's hardly the concession that Prince T made it out to be, and it's certainly not a legal right.

When we go on vacation, Mrs. A. who is actually a very competent driver, won't be allowed to drive. No licence, you see. You can only drive abroad if you have a licence from your own country. So in effect, the discrimination is global.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

The Saudi "Slave Experience". 

This sort of situation is repeated at regular intervals all over the country, sadly; only rarely does it make the headlines.

Governor Pledges Swift Action to End Workers’ Plight

DAMMAM, 9 June 2004 — Eastern Province Governor Prince Muhammad ibn Fahd has promised the Indian ambassador to bring a speedy solution to a labor dispute in a Jubail-based company which has not paid its workers for over eight months.

We go to Europe and the USA, to the best business schools. However the only technique we learn for "cash flow improvement" is not to pay our employees for several months. That's right, months.

Let's hope the workers took the case to court, then.

Some of the workers filed a case against the company at Jubail Labor Court, which found in their favor and directed the sponsor to pay them SR2,000 each and an air ticket to India. However, the workers say the court order was never implemented.

What? You expected the Court Order to be implemented? That was a bit naive. Better to go back to India, or look around here for another job.

They are virtual prisoners of their sponsor as they have neither passport nor iqama, or residence permit.

Mmm, that could be a problem. No passport to go back to India with. No Iqama (foreign worker permit) to get another job in Saudi. In that case, they'll just have to manage as best they can, until the money comes in again.

There are reports that many of the workers have resorted to begging in order to survive.

In a signed memorandum sent to various authorities and the media, the workers said they were in misery since they have no money and are not getting regular meals. “We are literally starving,” said a technician who joined the company two years ago.

Oh, I can see the problem. But at least they've got a roof over their heads.

The Indian Embassy intervened after the camp where the workers stay threatened to evict them as their employer has not paid the rent.

Yes, they were going to get evicted. Couldn't pay the rent, you see. We're all compassion. But that must be as bad as it gets.

To add insult to injury, a former general manager of the company ran away with their passports. The Indian Embassy has issued emergency certificates, but for an exit visa their iqama has to be renewed, which requires SR1,800 each and the sponsor’s consent.

But they don't have SR 1800 ($ 480), and they can't get a signature from a sponsor who has run away. So it can get worse, after all. That's Saudi Arabia for you. Shouldn't live here if you can't take a joke. But that's it, surely?

In recent days the Passport Office arrested some of the workers because they could show no valid documents.

...because their employer had run off with them. So we'll arrest them, it's obviously their fault. At least they may get some food in prison - I said we were compassionate.

Let's hope they didn't pay good money for the Saudi "Slave Experience".

Most of the workers came from India on an assurance from their recruiting agents as well as the sponsor that Comet was a big company involved in contract work at Saudi Aramco. They paid between 80,000 to 100,000 Indian rupees (SR7,000-9,000) to the recruiting agent to secure a placement in the Kingdom.

Unfortunately they did pay good money. About $2000 each.

Come and work in Saudi Arabia. If you're Western, you might get murdered. If you're Asian, you might get paid.

The pace quickens... 

...as we now have two atrocties in a week.

Gunmen Kill American in Saudi Capital Riyadh

RIYADH (Reuters) - Gunmen killed an American working for a U.S. company in the Saudi capital Riyadh Tuesday, the fifth attack on Westerners and other foreigners in the world's top oil exporter in five weeks.

The latest killing in the kingdom, which has been battling to stamp out attacks by Saudi-born Osama bin Laden (news - web sites)'s al Qaeda for more than a year, was likely to heighten fears among tens of thousands of expatriates, many of whom work in the oil industry.

The American worked for U.S. contracting firm Vinnell, a unit of Northrop Grumman Corp that trains the Saudi National Guard, an elite force protecting the pro-U.S. monarchy.

Police said the American was killed when shots were fired at him outside his house in eastern Riyadh.

By referring to the "Weekly Atrocity", I'd hoped we wouldn't see an increase in frequency. No such luck.

Anywhere else, and it would be called a "racial attack". However our terrorists don't do racial attacks. Instead, they fight a "holy war" against the "non-believer". That way, their conscience is clear.

I'm looking forward to Friday Prayers, when all the loudspeakers on all the mosques will pronounce, with absolute authority, that taking innocent life in this way is a sin. But I won't hold my breath. Otherwise I wouldn't be around on Saturday.

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.

This and That 

Thanks for your emails and suggestions. One of you sent me this cartoon which I thought I'd share.

I enjoy reading the comments. I don't reply in there because it's potentially insecure. However I do appreciate the overall civilized way in which the debate is conducted. It's always interesting and often funny.

There will be a "planned outage" for this Blog soon. I will be on vacation for most of July. As someone suggested in the comments, I need a break (but don't we all?). Mr and Mrs A and the small A's will be going to foreign parts. No clues, but Mrs A won't need to wear a veil. It would be unsafe and impractical for me to attempt to update the Blog. However it will be nothing to worry about and I will be back at the start of August Inshallah.

I haven't read "Sleeping with The Devil". They don't sell it over here, for some reason. However I am looking forward to buying and reading it on my vacation.

Monday, June 07, 2004

This Week's Atrocity 

Two BBC men shot in Saudi capital

BBC cameraman Simon Cumbers has been killed and security correspondent Frank Gardner seriously injured in a gun attack in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

One dead, one critical. My thoughts and prayers, and I am sure of all readers, for these victims and their families, and for all the victims of our Civil war, be they Muslim, Hindu, Christian, no religion, Western, Eastern, Arab, workers, security forces, civilians, men, women, children, whoever. May Allah, God, bring them comfort and rest. May he also bring an end to this increasing insanity wrought by the Devil and his forces.

Sad that on this occasion, the BBC were targetted. The BBC also gets verbally attacked from many sides. The verbal attacks are fine with me; when the BBC is getting attacked from all sides of the political spectrum, it means that it is reporting fearlessly, and is achieving the right balance. I get annoyed with the BBC sometimes. However I couldn't do without the BBC News on our satellite channel. Sometime it's the only thing that keeps me sane. CNN is OK but tends to be a bit bland. The BBC has bite, and there's lots that needs biting. I will cherish a "Hard Talk" interview with Mrs Milosevich to the end of my days. I look forward to the "Hard Talk" with Prince Nayif or Prince Abdullah or any of the ambassadors about the "Zionist backing" of our Civil war, I'm sure Tim Sebastian won't let them off the hook as others have done. And then they'll accuse the BBC of bias. Fine.

My Favorite University 

Good News from Terrorist Academy

Academic Warns Against Linking Terrorism With Imam Saud University
RIYADH, 7 June 2004 — Imam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic University in Riyadh has registered four candidates for a research program into the causes of terrorism. The research could lead to Master’s degree or PhD.

I can't think of a better place to study terrorists in their native habitat. After all, if you're going to research Giant Turtles, you've got to go to the Galapagos Islands, right?
The university has come under fire after the Ministry of Interior revealed that nine on a list of 26 most wanted terror suspects were IMSIU graduates.

Look, we've explained all this before. It's a freak of statistics. They could equally have been graduates of West Point. Or the French Culinary Institute. Or the Little Red Hen Kindergarten.
Al-Hamoud said it was important to remember that students do not spend more than five or six hours a day for five days at the university. “The rest of the time they are outside where they are interacting with (other) members of society or otherwise exposed to the mass media,” he said. “Their social behavior is accordingly shaped by their perception of what they see, hear or think.

Quite right. The university cannot be blamed. There are outside influences - they chat with their friends in coffee shops, who just happen to be student imams as well. They go to the mosque, and get preached at by the Imam University class of '97. (What they don't do is use the sports facilities. A healthy mind needs a healthy body. But if you don't want a healthy mind, no need to exercise, right?)
Their individual response is the sum total of all that is happening around them, be it the Israeli actions against Palestinians, the bombings of innocent people in Afghanistan, or torture of prisoners in Iraq. How does the university then come into the picture?”

But they are not, apparently, influenced by Muslims setting fire to Hindus in India, or shooting Christians in Pakistan, or blowing up Jews in Israel, or killing just about anyone that moves here in Saudi Arabia. They are very selective in their compassion.
Charges against the university were part of a Western “campaign against Islam and Muslims,” he said.

It's all your fault. You're always blaming me, it's just not fair. I never asked to be born.
Asked whether IMSIU had plans for academic reforms, Al-Hamoud said: “Yes, we do have a plan. But if you are relating it to the ongoing campaign against Islam, the answer is no.

On the other hand, maybe. It all depends what you mean by "has". Really, you're asking the wrong question. This is the Dean of Mass Communications, quoting from the Advanced Waffling and Evasion module. Or maybe he's just plain confused.
A revised syllabus would include some textbooks dealing with terrorism.

You can already get those on the Internet. "The Anarchist's Cookbook", things like that.
“We also plan to invite scholars for a dialogue to promote better understanding between Islam and the West,” he added.

I would like to invite a team of bulldozers. And what better place to send all these keen Muslim scholars, than as missionaries to the more remote parts of sub-saharan Africa. As for the teaching staff, whose complete lack of leadership and whose moral and intellectual bankruptcy is demonstrated in this interview, there are major sewage problems in Jeddah that require laborers who don't mind the stench of what is around them. There I go, dreaming again.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

More Graphic Details 

I haven't located the original site of the terrorist boasting, but this BBC account contains a precis.

Graphic insight into Khobar raid

Nothing greatly surprising by now, the incompetence of the security forces, the implication that the terrorists made their exit before the Geriatric Helicopter arrived. It's also "typically Wahabbi" in the way they relish killing not only infidel westerners but also the poor despised Filipinos and Indians.

There is a story widely circulating that they also cut out the tongues of those who spoke back to them, but I've no first-hand knowledge of that.

They also claim not to have killed the Egyptian child who was shot dead - they are as disingenuous as our government spokesmen, but then, perhaps the relationship is close anyway.

Cartoon from the UK 

Thanks to a correspondent for this from the UK's Mail on Sunday

As he says, "It is surprising how many truths can be conveyed in one cartoon!"

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Bush gives Pope "a good listening to" 

As the Arab News gleefully reports

Pope Tells Bush: World Troubled by the Deplorable Events in Iraq

Pope John Paul II reminded US President George W. Bush yesterday of the Vatican’s opposition to the war in Iraq and said the world has been troubled by recent “deplorable events,” an apparent reference to the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by US troops.

Sitting alongside the president in the Vatican, the elderly pope, struggling to utter each word, called for a speedy return of the country’s sovereignty and said the recent appointment of an interim Iraqi government was an “encouraging step.”

The Arab News continues

Prince Abdullah has been so troubled by recent events in Saudi Arabia, and was so impressed by President Bush's careful attention to the Pope's advice, that he is to travel to Rome himself next month for his own Papal Audience. His Holiness is reported to be looking forward to the visit, and will have much advice to offer. After all, he spent much of his life living in a country where power was concentrated in the hands of an out-of-touch gerontocracy, where human rights existed in name only, and where all religions except that of the ruling elite were suppressed. Indeed, many historians credit the Pope with the downfall of that decaying and discredited regime....

BBBBrrrrrrrrr........Damned alarm clock. 6 o'clock. Saturday. The start of another working week.

But I can dream...

Friday, June 04, 2004

The Saudi Gazette is favorite... 

... to win 2004's "Most Masterly Understatement" Award, with its recent headline

Security worries some expats

Who are the "others" then, the ones who are not worried? The ones who have already been killed, presumably.

Embedded within the article is the most gratuitous and useless piece of advice ever offered to our expatriate community by, it appears, an Arab of some nationality.

"... if I were a Westerner I will just maintain a low profile and stay out from big office buildings that would attract terrorists and saboteurs."

Just two things wrong with that advice that is well-intentioned but as much use as the proverbial chocolate teapot.

1. Most, if not all, of the major companies that employ expatriates are sited in large office buildings. We pride ourselves on our skyscrapers and large office buildings. This advice is the same as saying "Don't go to work", which is probably better advice.

2. It is difficult to maintain a low profile in a place where you stick out like a sore thumb. Look around the streets of any city here. Most of the women are head-to-toe in black. Most of the men are head-to-toe in white. A few are wearing "western"clothes, and are typically Asian of one country or another. The very occasional westerner is dressed in western clothes and is either pale or badly sunburnt. It is as easy for them to keep a "low profile", as it is for an African-American in Vermont.

I talk to a number of western expats, and they are very very frightened indeed. I cannot blame them. I know of several families who remained here all through the first Gulf war, saw the Scuds flying over and hitting, but have decided that this place is now too dangerous for themselves and their families, and are packing up to go. These days, going to do the weekly shopping is as scary for them as going "over the top" of a WWI trench was for their grandfathers. They are tending to huddle in their compounds getting "cabin fever". Many are sprouting beards as camouflage. A colleague of mine has truly taken the "low profile" advice to heart. He actually puts on the Saudi qutrah and thaub ("towel" and robe) when driving to and from work. Five years ago, that would have been funny, now it's tragic.

The sooner we can organize homeworking for these guys, from Europe and the USA, the better. Otherwise the stream of leavers will become a flood and yours truly is going to have to learn how to operate an oil terminal.


One of my favorite Muttawa stories. Speaks for itself, really.

Mutawwa ‘Attacker’ Says He Was Framed

I also commend to you the website of John R. Bradley, under "Other Blogs" in the top right. John used to be a western journalist with the Arab News here, although he is now living back in the West. He knows the country well, and has some good, balanced, in-depth articles. I am aware from comments that he is not everyone's favorite, however articles such as "Are the Saudis Sunk?" give a far more in-depth background than I have the time to provide. Equally, his recent article "Prisoners in their own luxury homes" gives a similar perspective to mine on recent events, although the paragraph on "condescension" does sound like one individual scratching his own sores!

Yet another news item 

...from the Ministry of Truth (but this time, the Directorate of Bad News, but Played Down so as Not to Alarm the Populace)

Police Officer Killed in Line of Duty

RIYADH, 4 June 2004 — One Highway policeman was killed and another critically wounded during a shootout at a highway checkpoint, Al-Watan reported.

Twenty-five-year-old Cpl. Muhammad Al-Shatri Al-Mutairi died in the line of duty while Cpl. Muhammad Al-Otaibi, 30, was critically wounded as members of a car with Qatari license plates opened fire when they were asked for papers during a check on the highway leading to Kharj.

Just to explain. Road checkpoints are a regular feature of our roads, and have been for years, even before the present troubles. There are a number of permanent ones (for example we always go thru two on the 250 miles from Riyadh to the Dammam area on the east coast) and the police are fond of setting up ad-hoc ones on the city's roads, whenever and wherever. Their original purpse was to catch Overstayers. Overstayers? Yes Overstayers, people who come on pilgrimage to Makkah, but then stay on after their visa expires. Now to you good readers in other parts of the world, this would appear to be prima facie grounds for committal. However, imagine that you are a devout Muslim, and have arrived for your pilgrimage of a lifetime, from some dirt-poor village in Chad. Saudi Arabia, with its highways, modern buildings, wall-to-wall mosques, and plentiful menial employment opportunities, will look to you like DisneyWorld. So these poor unfortunates usually end up working illegally or begging, living 80 to a building in the rough end of Jeddah, until they get picked up and shipped home by the bucketload. And one way of catching them is roadblocks.

However, here we have two policemen shot at a roadblock. Any suggestion that this might be a Terrorist Incident would be Bad for Morale, so it's treated as a normal, even minor, news item. Had the cops killed the terrorists, on the other hand, then they would have become part of the creative accounting that one commentor has noted. With the two in Taif yesterday, that would make the headline "Three terrorists flee, all four later surrounded and killed". However they didn't, so this incident gets the same billing as the sports results.

But this is perfectly normal. Imagine you drive up to a road block, and then realize that you've left your papers at home. You could do what some people do, use a combination of charm and / or "Oh aren't I forgetful!" dottiness, promise to show them at the nearest police station that evening, and drive away, having been suitably reprimanded or booked. But all this takes time, and implies apologizing, which for us Arabs means Losing Face. Much easier and quicker to pull out the AK-47, and, as the French say, "Nix the Flics". Especially if you've got the kids in the back; it makes Dad look kind of Cool.

So there's nothing remarkable in this story - let's move on to the next item.

We Are Gutted!, says shocked Saudi coach

In front of a hushed and enthralled crowd in the stadium in Muscat last night, Saudi Arabia's Quran Memorizers went down to a shock defeat by arch-rivals Bahrain.

"We're completely gutted", exclaimed Saad Al Zair, the Saudi team coach. "We'd come along expecting to win the GCC Contest this year as always. The boys were looking good in training camp, and although we weren't complacent, because there's no such thing as an easy match at this level, we'd every expectation of parading the cup thru Riyadh once again".

A closely-fought contest came down to a final decider as Bahrain's Ali Al Moussa went head-to-head against Saudi's Ibrahim Al Otaibi. "Ibrahim was looking good as they went into the seventh Surah" continued Al Zair, "but some of the ref's decisions looked definitely dodgy to me, and there was one elbow incident that I definitely want to see again on the action replay. After that, Ibrahim lost his rhythm a bit and it seemed to go downhill from there. But don't get me wrong, the Bahraini boy done good, you can't take that away from him, but when the ref gives a bad decision at a cruciate point in the match then you're bound to feel that you was robbed.

Anyway, we'll be back next year. It's a funny old game, it's not over till it's over."

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Two More News Releases... 

...from the Ministry of Truth's Directorate of Morale-Building Good News for Gullible Citizens (formerly the Directorate of Complete Bullshit for Complete Idiots)

Two Terrorists Shot Dead

RIYADH, 3 June 2004 — Saudi security forces yesterday gunned down two terror suspects in a gunbattle at Hada near Taif, the Interior Ministry said, linking the pair to the recent attacks in Alkhobar.

What link? They were the same species? They all spoke Arabic? Are we really meant to believe that the same Alkhobar terrorists who apologized to our Elite Forces, and thereby escaped, made it across the entire width of the country, 700 miles as the crow flies, far more by road, going thru at least 6 permanent roadblocks (unless they went more conspicuously, and even more slowly, cross-country) to end up in Taif, one dressed as a woman, who then happened to be spotted by police in an isolated area? Did they interrogate the corpses? Did they, as a commenter has suggested, already have the "Alkhobar Massacre" T-shirts?

The government is clearly very embarrassed and scared by its lack of success. They are grabbing at straws. Let's hope that those two were actually guilty of something.

Another heart-warming item....


ABDUL Wahid Al-Humaid, Labor Ministry under-secretary for Planning Affairs emphasizes that all areas of work are open for Saudi women as long as the jobs do not conflict with the Islamic teachings and traditions of the society or lead to the mingling of men with women.

The rate of unemployment among Saudi women is 21.7 percent according to the statistics released in the year 2003, he says, noting that all government offices have been told to identify jobs that can be filled by Saudi women so that they may directly deal with female service seekers.

"as long as the jobs do not conflict with the Islamic teachings and traditions of the society or lead to the mingling of men with women" - well that gives women a lot of scope, as I've noted before.

- In Womens' branches of Banks (and you need serious "Wasta" (influence) to get one of those)
- teaching girls in Girls' schools
- In the extremely rare, e.g. the Kingdom Shopping Center in Riyadh, all-women shopping floors.

It reminds me of Henry Ford's "any color as long as it's black"

The unemployment figure of 21.7% is complete fiction. For employable women of employable age, try about 98%. Saudi women give up thinking about a career at an early age. That's why we have one of the highest birthrates in the world, bringinging forth the next generation of unemployed young men and women.

Ho, Hum. Nothing like morale-boosting news items to cheer one up.....

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Saudi Elite Forces capture Terrorists 

Well, only one actually. Three others escaped, as they always do, because that is how it is foretold in the old prophesy from the Sage of Riyadh

"Tho' many be surrounded,
and the surrounding be complete,
all shall escape
but the one with bad feet".

I've now seen the footage of their assault on the building in Alkhobar, getting out of the helicopter. Well I must have missed a bit, when they first threw out their Zimmer frames. I thought it was absolutely scandalous. I was always taught that it was good manners to help infirm or old people out of a vehicle. Yet there they were, having to struggle out of that chopper all by themselves, nobody to lend a hand, poor old dears. Suppose one of them dropped their teeth on the ground - with their eyesight, they could spend all day looking. I thought for a moment that I'd spotted my old Grandmother, I thought "She'll kick the sh*t out of those terrorists, no trouble", but sadly she was snoozing in the next room. It's a good job there was an invalid elevator fitted in that building, otherwise they'd still be up on the roof even now.

There are many theories as to how the three escaped, and indeed whether they departed hours before the helicopter appeared. The Riyadh "Arab News", whose brave investigative journalism sends shudders of fear thru the Saudi ruling elite, notes that

Attacks Leave Many Questions Unanswered

ALKHOBAR, 2 June 2004 — With the worst now over and the body count completed, the injured are being treated and the traumatized hostages are working hard to bring their lives back to normal.

The security forces are on high alert throughout the country to make sure that there is no repetition of “Black Saturday” while the hunt continues for the escaped terrorists.

However, although they pose the question "Were the attackers at the compound and the Petroleum Center the same?", their curiosity does not stretch to asking "How did three terrorists, presumably soaked in the blood of their victims, completely surrounded by three rings of security troops in a medium-sized apartment building, vanish completely into the night (or day)?". But there are limits to the curiosity of the average "Arab News" journalist. He still thinks that babies happen when ladies take their veils off.

Nevertheless, the following captured Al Qaeeda document may give some clues. It is part of their Training Manual.

"Chapter 17. Evading Capture.

Scenario: You are completely surrounded by Saudi Arabia's Finest. As you are exiting by a back staircase, you run into an entire platoon of these fierce menacing killers.

Response: One of the following phrases will normally suffice -

"They went that-a-way"

"What? Us, terrorists? I ask you, do we look Jewish?"

"If you don't let us go we'll -
- scream and scream 'til we're sick /
- wet our pants /
- poo our pants"

"My Daddy is bigger than your Daddy and he'll beat you all up"

"Hey, Ali How you doing? Yea, we got rostered as Duty Terrorists today, what a bummer! See you down the Social Club tonite?"

"OK, fellas, you know the routine. One of us gets taken, the rest go. Eeny-meeny-miney-mo....."

"Hi guys, we'd like to stick around, but we're due for cocktails at Uncle Nayif's this evening. Let's do lunch sometime!"

"Let me hold your gun for a minute while you try this shawarma"

"You can open fire on us but first we have to agree the rules" (They won't have seen "Butch Cassidy" - too violent)

"Let us go or we blow up the building!" (holding imaginary detonator in hand and pointing at imaginary explosive - we said they were fierce, we never said they were bright)


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?