Blog archive: Saudi Arabia

  • 13th September 2015
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    More than 100 people died on Friday when a crane toppled over during a storm and crashed on to the Grand Mosque in Mecca.  An engineer on the construction site around the mosque described this as an act of God. "It was not a technical issue at all," he told Agence France...
  • 3rd September 2015
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    For the first time in Saudi Arabia's history, women will be allowed to take part in municipal elections scheduled for December. The big question, though, is how many will actually do so. With only 11 days left in the voter registration process, it seems that women have not exactly been queueing...
  • 26th August 2015
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Women have been excluded from previous municipal elections With municipal elections scheduled for December, Saudi women have begun registering to vote for the first time in the kingdom's history. Although the elections themselves are not particularly significant, the inclusion of women as...
  • 27th July 2015
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    In an Orwellian twist of logic, Gulf states are once again pushing to restrict religious freedom under the guise of promoting tolerance, combating extremism and protecting human rights. At a conference in France at the weekend, a Saudi official from the Ministry of Islamic Affairs called for...
  • 20th July 2015
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Recent night-time pictures of the White House illuminated in rainbow colours, plus millions of rainbow-tinted profile photos on Facebook, have alerted Saudi Arabia's religious police to a previously unrecognised peril in their midst: the discovery that "emblems of homosexuality" are on public...
  • 5th July 2015
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    King Salman: which way will he jump? Short of nuclear war, it is difficult to envisage a more cataclysmic event in the Middle East than the collapse of Saudi Arabia. The centrality of Saudi Arabia in Islam, in the global economy and in the region itself, would make turmoil in the kingdom...
  • 29th May 2015
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    When making policy decisions it is generally a good idea to have as much input as possible from the people who are going to be affected. Listening to a broad range of views – not just those you want to hear – may seem like an unnecessary nuisance but it usually results in more workable policies...
  • 21st May 2015
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Saudi newspapers are prominently reporting a speech given by King Salman yesterday, in which he made a series of absurd claims: The Saudi government guarantees freedom of expression. Saudi Arabia respects other religions. The law does not discriminate between Saudi...
  • 10th May 2015
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Photograph published by the Yemen Times, said to show Yemenis rounded up for deportation from Saudi Arabia in 2013. In 2013 millions of foreigners living or working in Saudi Arabia were ordered to regularise their legal status or leave the country. Since then, hundreds of thousands have...
  • 5th May 2015
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The Pakistani hajj application form – and its controversial question Saudi Arabia has denounced Pakistan for asking Muslims to declare their sect when applying to take part in the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. An offensive question on Pakistan's hajj application form asks: "Are you Shia?"...
  • 4th May 2015
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    John Sawers, former head of MI6 "The House of Saud is becoming something of a meritocracy," an article in the Financial Times announced last week. But please don't laugh: the article was written by John Sawers, former head of Britain's secret intelligence service, MI6. King...
  • 2nd May 2015
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Imagine that while filling in an application form you come across a question with a YES/NO tick box which asks "Are you black?" or "Are you a Jew?" You would be right to view the question as offensive and assume it had probably been included for discriminatory purposes. The same can be said of...

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