Arabian Peninsula

Saudi-Arabia-woman-art-gallery-display-AFP

Saudi Celebrates Local Artists

The Kingdom has unveiled plans to showcase the arts and grow its media industry to counter negative stereotypes. The initiatives are part of the wide-ranging National Transformation Program 2020. “The intention also is to transform the society,” Culture and Information Minister Adel Al-Toraifi told reporters on the sidelines of a briefing about the NTP on Tuesday. Under the NTP, a Royal Arts Complex would be developed, as well as a Media City. Al-Toraifi said although some Saudi artists and performers have exhibited and gained popularity abroad, they “did not find the platform and space to support them” at home. That will change with…
Read more

oman-MMAP-md

Oman in Divided Region

In a fractious, unstable region rife with conflicts, one country appears to be unscathed. It is telling that Oman emerged not only intact from the ramifications of the Arab Spring, but also shied away from the tense polarisation that has hijacked the rest of the Middle East. Oman’s position on the various regional issues is self-evidently peaceful and different from the other Gulf monarchies. In fact, behind this peaceful and unique position lies a hive of activity of which many are unaware. As part of the revolutionary wave, a series of popular demonstrations were held in Oman with the masses…
Read more

Bin Laden Group

The Bin Ladens: A Saudi Bellwether

The layoffs followed last year’s collapse of a Bin Laden construction crane that killed 107 people and prompted the government to ban the brothers from travelling abroad as well as review the company’s massive government contracts. The travel ban was lifted earlier this month, eight months after it was imposed, according to sources close to the company. Bin Laden, according to reports in Saudi Arabia’s controlled media and sources close to the company, laid off 77,000 foreign and 12,000 Saudi employees or almost half of its 200,000-strong labour force. The government’s failure to pay the company on time meant it…
Read more

Women: A Benchmark of Saudi and Iranian Reform mpc-journal.org Image ©: AP

Women: A Benchmark of Saudi and Iranian Reform

In a slick document, entitled Vision 2030 that was drafted by Western consultants, Saudi Arabia identifies sports “as a mainstay of a healthy and balanced lifestyle and promises “to encourage widespread and regular participation in sports and athletic activities.” Yet, the document makes no reference to facilities for women in a country that has so far refrained from introducing physical education for girls in elementary and secondary schools. Similarly, the document, amid leaks that the kingdom’s powerful Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman favours the lifting of a ban on women’s driving in due course, promises enhanced educational and job…
Read more

Mideast Yemen

Positive Action in Yemen Yields Positive Results

If any one area is a microcosm of the chaos in the Middle East, it is Yemen. Here, as across the region, Islam has been at war with itself, as the deadly rivalry between Saudi Arabia’s Sunni fundamentalist ruling family, and Iran’s equally uncompromising Shia-based Islamic revolution, played itself out. Nowhere was the fault-line between the Shia and the Sunni traditions of Islam more obvious – and nowhere was it more blurred, as self-seeking interests cut across it. Who is fighting whom in Yemen? There are four main principals: The Iranian-supported Houthi rebels; the lawful president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi;…
Read more

Waleed Abdullah

Player’s Haircut Spots Saudi’s Existential Dilemmas

Waleed Abdullah probably didn’t know what was happening to him when a referee delayed kick-off of a Saudi premier league match to cut the Al-Shabab FC goalkeeper’s hair. In a country that demands conformity, Abdullah’s hair-do, involving shaved parts of his hair in a style popular among youths across the globe, was deemed un-Islamic and by implication subversive – a threat that needed to be dealt with immediately and demonstratively. The public humiliation of Abdullah not only evoked the disgracing of players who failed to live up to autocratic expectations in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and Moammar Qaddafi’s Libya but also…
Read more

o-CANADA-SAUDI-ARABIA-facebook

Canadians Keep Asking Questions About Saudi Arms Deal

Headline news revealed last week that London’s mayor Matt Brown and top city manager Art Zuidema emailed 14 city councillors not to speak publicly about the $15-billion arms deal involving General Dynamics Land Systems in London. Councillors were directed in January to refer interview requests to a city hall spokesperson who would give a corporate response to media inquiries about the local contractor’s deal to build light armoured vehicles (LAVs) for Saudi Arabia. Brown pledged during his 2014 mayoral campaign to create a new era of accountability and transparency at city hall but the directive co-signed by “Matt and Art”…
Read more

Amnesty International criticism returns Qatar to square one mpc-journal.org Image ©: Bruno Barbey/Magnum Photos

Amnesty International Criticism Returns Qatar to Square One

A new report from Amnesty International slams Qatar for not living up to promises to improve workers’ rights and adds to a growing international criticism of Qatar’s inability to properly implement adopted policies. World Cup host Qatar and FIFA are in public diplomacy terms back to square one with a just published Amnesty International report that takes the Gulf state to task for failing to implement lofty promises to significantly improve workers’ working and living conditions and the world soccer body for not ensuring that Qatar lives up to international standards. The report, The Ugly Side of the Beautiful Game, provides…
Read more

Wahabbi Clerics, Saudi Arabia

Saudi Export of Wahhabism

There has long been debate about the longevity of the Saudi ruling family. My initial conclusion when I first visited Saudi Arabia exactly 40 years ago was: This can’t last. I would still maintain it cannot last even if my time line has changed given that the Saudi monarchy obviously has far greater resilience than I initially gave it credit for. One major reason for the doubts about the Al-Saud’s viability is obviously the Faustian bargain they made with the Wahhabis, proponents of a puritan, intolerant, discriminatory, anti-pluralistic interpretation of Islam.

Menu Title