Blog archive: All

  • 11th February 2019
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Jeff Bezos, the American multi-billionaire who claims he was the target of a blackmail attempt, has been talking mysteriously of a possible Saudi connection. On January 9, Bezos and his wife jointly announced they were divorcing after 25 years of marriage. Next day, the National Enquirer, a...
  • 6th February 2019
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The British government has refused a visa for a Sudanese writer who was due to spend a term at Durham University as a Visiting Fellow. Hammour Ziada, who writes in Arabic, is the author of two published novels and two collections of short stories. His most recent work, Shuq al-Darwish ("The...
  • 4th February 2019
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Proposed constitutional changes in Egypt, announced at the weekend, could keep President Sisi in power until 2034. Sisi is currently in the second of two four-year terms and, if the constitution remains unchanged, he must leave office in 2022. Under the proposals submitted to parliament...
  • 1st February 2019
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    In Saudi Arabia it's not uncommon for a man to divorce his wife without telling her. This isn't because Saudi men are especially forgetful – it's a way of avoiding expense, since an ex-wife who thinks she is still married can't claim alimony or other entitlements. To put a stop to this abuse...
  • 22nd January 2019
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Reverberations from a controversial pop concert are continuing in Egypt, more than a year after the event. It was in September 2017 that a performance by the Lebanese band, Mashrou' Leila, in Cairo triggered a moral panic. The band's lead singer is openly gay and several fans in the audience...
  • 21st November 2018
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    A Russian-led move to restrict investigation of chemical attacks in Syria was heavily defeated at the Chemical Weapons Convention review conference in The Hague on Tuesday. As a result, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) will now be able to carry out further...
  • 15th November 2018
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    November 16 is the UN's International Day for Tolerance and to mark this occasion one of the world's less tolerant countries – the United Arab Emirates – is holding a "World Tolerance Summit". About 1,000 people are expected to attend the two-day conference organised by the ...
  • 9th November 2018
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    In 2014 two human rights researchers from Britain went missing in Qatar. They had gone to investigate the conditions of migrants working in the Gulf state and it turned out that the authorities, displeased by the researchers' activities, had arrested them. International...
  • 22nd October 2018
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Last November Thomas Friedman, the New York Times columnist, travelled to Riyadh for an interview with the heir to the Saudi throne – an interview that has since proved memorable for all the wrong reasons. Under a headline announcing "Saudi Arabia’s Arab Spring, at...
  • 19th October 2018
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    A lobbyist who has received at least $120,000 for PR activities on behalf of Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar is one of the scheduled speakers at a controversial meeting to be held in the House of Lords later this month. The meeting, billed as a discussion on postwar "reconstruction and...
  • 15th October 2018
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The disappearance and suspected murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul is the latest in a long line of reasons for questioning Britain's relationship with Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf monarchies.  It's a relationship that has never been viewed with...
  • 7th October 2018
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    As the humanitarian situation in Yemen continues to worsen, there are signs that the Houthis who seized control of the capital in 2014 face a growing challenge in the form of public discontent. On Saturday more than 50 people were arrested outside Sana'a University while protesting against...

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