Blog archive: Saudi Arabia

  • 4th November 2019
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    I don't often get emails from the Saudi government, but one arrived yesterday offering me $5,000. It came from the Royal Commission for Riyadh City (RCRC) which is looking for "collaborative input" on plans to transform the Saudi capital into "a sustainable, responsible, inspiring place to...
  • 11th October 2019
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Twitter's hashtags offer a quick and easy way to find out what people are saying on a given topic. But for those who dislike what is being said there's also a quick and easy way to obstruct the discussion: they can summon an army of bots to flood the hashtag with irrelevant tweets. This is a...
  • 9th October 2019
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Contractors in Saudi Arabia have begun levelling the ground for a new section of the Haramain high-speed rail line, with instructions to have it completed within three weeks.  The new track, several hundred metres in length, will bypass Jeddah station which was badly damaged by fire on...
  • 2nd October 2019
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Saudi Arabia's high-speed railway linking the holy cities of Mecca and Medina took 10 years to build and cost more than $16 billion. It was meant to be a triumph of design and engineering but on Sunday, less than a year after carrying its first paying passengers, the line was shut down when one...
  • 21st September 2019
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Twitter announced on Friday that it has closed down a series of accounts connected with the UAE, Egypt and Saudi Arabia as part of its effort to shed more light on "state-backed information operations". Regarding the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, it said: "We have removed a network of...
  • 30th August 2019
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Separatist fighters in southern Yemen who appeared to be on the brink of defeat on Wednesday recovered some lost ground on Thursday as the United Arab Emirates launched airstrikes to support them. This direct intervention by the Emiratis in a conflict between two rival factions which are...
  • 31st July 2019
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The Arabia Foundation, a pro-Saudi think tank established in Washington only two-and-a-half years ago suddenly closed down yesterday, citing "ongoing differences" among its donors that have "made continued operations difficult". In a series of posts on Twitter the organisation's founder, Ali...
  • 8th July 2019
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The point of diplomatic cables, and the cause of excitement when they are leaked, is that they are meant to be private – from which we might assume they contain information that is not generally known and is perhaps too interesting to be shared with the public. Sadly, that wasn't the case with a...
  • 27th May 2019
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Keep a look-out this week for a Saudi-made video previewing the "emergency" Arab summit in Mecca due to be held on Thursday. If you see it on social media, chances are that the person posting it is being paid to do so. Several Twitter users with Middle East connections have reported receiving...
  • 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...
  • 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 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...

Pages