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, January 17, 2006

Virtually Expert 

Running a newspaper is a tough business these days. It always cost money to send out reporters and photographers to collect the stories, but nowadays they are forced to publish on the Internet so that cheap people like me can read for free. Less revenue minus the same costs equals reducing profits. What are they to do?

The "Saudi Gazette" thinks it has found the answer. Well, they've had a Good Idea. But they should realize what more or less everyone else knows. A Good Idea is not enough. To be any good, it has to be put into practice well. Because if it's cocked up, then it's just another Bad Idea.

The Saudi Gazette's Good Idea was to save money on "experts". Instead of calling up and getting quotes from " an expert", and then having to slip them a hundred dollars or whatever for their words of wisdom, they would invent some "virtual experts", who would talk for nothing! And of course, they could make their "virtual experts" say whatever they wanted, they could make them the most brilliant, witty and articulate people in the world. They could invent the best experts in the world!

Sadly, the Gazette invented them as completely and utterly stoopid. That was their first mistake. The second mistake was that they gave them silly names, names that don't come up with real people when you Google them, you'll see what I mean.

The Gazette first wheeled out its experts when tackling the question of religous intolerance in Saudi Arabia. Who could forget such gems as....

But Hakeem added any person can practice his faith alone like what is happening in many places around the world such as the Vatican that does not have any mosques as Saudi Arabia has no churches.

....and my special favorite....

As a country that follows Islam, starting with its flag that has Allah's name on it, we are obeying the orders of Qur'an and Sunna by stopping any one from practicing any religion other than Islam in public.

....for its sheer lack of logic combined with total self-certainty.

For its latest article, the Gazette is treating us to a completely new set of "experts". The article itself concerns Mahmoud "I'm Mad and I'm Bad" Ahmadinejad's nuclear plans, and the official Saudi viewpoint from our own esteemed Foreign Minister.

Saudi foreign minister Prince Saud said that the West was partly responsible for the current standoff with Iran over its nuclear policy because it had helped Israel develop its own nuclear weapon store.

Now it will come as no surprise to you in the West that you are "partly responsible". Only partly, you note. The rest of the responsibility is of course down to the Jooos. So it's you and the Jooos. It's always you and the Jooos. No matter that Iran as an independent country takes these decisions purely on its own behalf, with no outside coercion. No matter that the unhinged leader of a country who says that another country should be wiped off the map, is now developing weapons of mass destruction that could do precisely that. No matter that Israel has quietly had these weapons for years but has never ever threatened to wipe any country off the map. It's still you and the Joos.

Little wonder, then, that the Gazette feels the need to call in its "experts", to give the Prince a bit of moral support. So what sort of "expert" are they dishing up for us today?

Saudi scholars and security experts have echoed comments by Prince Saud Al-Faisal in a BBC radio interview that the West must be held partially responsible for the tension between Western nations and Iran over nuclear proliferation.

Wow! Scholars and security experts! What a tasty treat! I can't wait. Who is first up?

Iran specifically and the Muslim Arab countries in general are considered a threat to the USA, said Sheikh Muhammed Ayoub of Riyadh. They can t stand to see any of these countries doing huge programs, especially when it come to nuclear weapons; but on the other side its OK if they used it because they have the power to do so.

Now I've never got the impression that the US feels threatened by Jordan or Bahrain or Abu Dhabi or Dubai or the other Emirates or Oman or Lebanon or even by Saudi Arabia, militarily. And when I last looked, they were all "Muslim Arab countries". So I'm curious as to whether Sheikh Muhammed Ayoub of Riyadh is a scholar or a military expert. Let's Google him.

Ah! Perhaps he is the Sheikh Muhammed Ayoub , the Imam from Madinah, who is famous for his 32-CD recitation of the Holy Quran? It's possible, because reading a 1400-year-old book aloud for several hours can give you unique insights into 21st-Century Middle East geopolitics. But it can't be him, because our guy is from Riyadh, not Madinah. So he does look like another "Fake Sheikh". But a virtual one this time, not a real one. And it's probable that when our journalist was looking around for the name of an "expert", his eyes lighted upon the pride of his CD collection, (and indeed, who could miss 32 of them all in a row?), and his search was over.

Let's have another. Let's have a military expert.

Ali Muhammed, retired colonel and expert on military affairs, said, The USA is using Iran as a play card to start moving to Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Their problem is that they think the world is too stupid to notice their moves when everything is so obvious.

Well, being a military man and needing to keep out of the public gaze, he won't have a high Google profile. But I suspect that our journalist's eyes landed on a photo of the most famous Muslim boxer of all time, one with two very common male Arab names, and all he did then was to reverse them, just to try to fool us. But he didn't. Not only that, if you want a military expert, you need a good military title, a General of some description, but not a mere Colonel and a retired one at that. Particularly when our armies and our Colonels don't have a great reputation in the wider world. (thanks David).

Leadership may be the greatest weakness of Arab training systems. A sergeant first class in the U.S. Army has as much authority as a colonel in an Arab army.

Anyway, enough nit-picking. What does our "expert" Colonel / Sergeant have to say?

The USA is using Iran as a play card to start moving to Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Their problem is that they think the world is too stupid to notice their moves when everything is so obvious.

After all that, I'm sorry I bothered. Obviously, in retirement time is hanging heavy on his hands, and he enjoys playing those board games like "Diplomacy". But why would the US feel compelled to invade their ally Jordan and depose their friend King Abdullah, because while it may be "so obvious" to Col. Ali, I'm sure the rest of us are "too stupid" to work that one out. And isn't Jordan in precisely the opposite direction to Iran? Is it because they'd get Double Points and one Free Go? I think I'll advise the Virtual Colonel to stick to Solitaire.

Time for one more. Our journalist looks out of the window and sees the Al-Manee Furniture Manufacturing showroom. "That's a great name", he thinks, "all I need now is a first name". But by this time his brain is hurting and he's really running out of inspiration. All he can manage to come up with is Manee Al-Manee; how puny is that? And he has been invented as a "a political analyst from Dammam". OK, Manee, analyze away.

When you think about the whole situation, USA wants to put itself in every single detail about the world, said Manee Al-Manee , a political analyst from Dammam. Israel is using nuclear weapons against children with stones.

Duh! We've really hit rock-bottom here! Perhaps our journo knows he's on a loser, and has lit up the Wacky-Baccy in desperation. Now he's telling us about nuclear craters in Gaza and the West Bank, with forlorn pairs of child's sandals lying by the edge, just because a kid threw stones. Rule 1: Don't smoke stuff. Rule 2: If you do smoke stuff, don't write anything, just stare into the distance with a silly smile and wait for it to wear off.

Like I said, "Virtual Experts" is a Good Idea turned by lousy execution into a Bad Idea. Poor old Prince Saud, first he comes out with a complete load of bollocks, and then his little gang of imaginary friends manage to out-drivel him, and make the whole thing a bad joke. But that, for Saudi journalism, is as Good As It Gets. Perhaps they should listen to the advice of world-famous Psychology expert Tab Qwerty who says, "A period of prolonged silence will not cure innate stupidity, but it can conceal it for a length of time".

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