Since the end of March, the Wall Street Journal's
new Middle East Real Time
blog has written about Turkey's "unstoppable" export boom in soap operas
, Saudi Arabia's "life after jihad" rehab program
, the persistence of obviously fraudulent bomb detectors across Iraq
, YouTube branding discussions among Syrian rebel factions
, a rising media star Sunni cleric in Lebanon
, a post-revolutionary Cairo arts festival
, and attempts to overcome conservative objections and change the Saudi Thursday-Friday weekend to match the rest of the business world
. Previous non-paywalled WSJ
Real Time blogs include Korea
, Emerging Europe
posted by mediareport
on May 9, 2013 -
"The fertile Wadi Hanifah valley running through part of Riyadh was for years a rubbish dump and a public health hazard, but now it's been transformed
into a vast park, with lakes that attract cool breezes. It's an oasis so large it's hard to police - making it a place for Saudi citizens to relax, in more senses than one." [more inside]
posted by vidur
on May 28, 2012 -
For more than a decade, questions have lingered about the possible role of the Saudi government in the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, even as the royal kingdom has made itself a crucial counterterrorism partner in the eyes of American diplomats. Now, in sworn statements that seem likely to reignite the debate, two former senators who were privy to top secret information on the Saudis’ activities say they believe that the Saudi government might have played a direct role in the terrorist attacks.
posted by Trurl
on Mar 2, 2012 -
Saudi journalist Hamza Kashgari was arrested in Kuala Lumpur and deported to Saudi Arabia for at the behest of Interpol
. Mr. Kashgari faces the death penalty in Saudi Arabia for a series of tweets insulting the prophet Muhammad, including 'I have loved things about you and I have hated things about you and there is a lot I don't understand about you I will not pray for you.' (BBC
, Al Jazeera
) [more inside]
posted by jeffburdges
on Feb 12, 2012 -
Mohammed el Gorani, the youngest prisoner held at Guantánamo, has written a memoir
of his time there, the lead up to his imprisonment, and subsequent release years later.
posted by gman
on Dec 14, 2011 -
This weekend marks the time of the Hajj
, a core pillar of Islam in which great tides of humanity
venture to the ancient city of Mecca to honor God.
Predating Mohammed's birth by centuries, the pilgrimage comprises several days of rites
, from congregation like snow on Mount Arafat
and the ritual stoning of Shaitan
to the circling of the sacred Kaaba
cubical monolith Muslims pray toward daily
) and kissing the Black Stone
(colored by the absorption of myriad sins, and believed by some to be a fallen meteorite
While the city has modernized
to handle this largest of annual gatherings -- building highway-scale ramps, gaudy skyscrapers for the ultra-rich
, and tent cities the size of Seattle
-- it remains mysterious, as unbelievers are forbidden from entering its borders
Richard Francis Burton became famous for touring the city in disguise
to write a rare travelogue
, but contemporary viewers have a more immediate guide: Vice Magazine
journalist Suroosh Alvi, who smuggled a minicam into the city to record The Mecca Diaries [alt]
, a 14-minute documentary of his own Hajj journey.
Browse the manual
to see what goes into a Hajj trip, or watch the YouTube livestream
to see the Grand Mosque crowds in real time.
posted by Rhaomi
on Nov 4, 2011 -
Reuters Special Report: U.S. cables detail Saudi royal welfare program
"The cables, obtained by WikiLeaks and reviewed by Reuters, provide remarkable insight into how much the vast royal welfare program has cost the country -- not just financially but in terms of undermining social cohesion.
Besides the huge monthly stipends that every Saudi royal receives, the cables detail various money-making schemes some royals have used to finance their lavish lifestyles over the years."
posted by Dragonness
on Mar 1, 2011 -
They cannot perform in public. They cannot pose for album cover photographs. Even their jam sessions are secret, for fear of offending the religious authorities in this ultraconservative kingdom.
is Saudi Arabia's "first all-girl rock band."
posted by Navelgazer
on Nov 23, 2008 -
"It's just like judging
a beautiful girl," said Fowzan al-Madr. "You look for big eyes, long lashes and a long neck." The art and science of Saudi Arabian camel beauty pageants
. More Riyadh market photos here
. Lots of information about Dromedary (Arabian) camels here
. Listen to Dromedary camel sounds and read about Saudi camel history at this site
posted by amyms
on Mar 17, 2008 -
Six new cities are planed in The Construction Site Called Saudi Arabia
. "The vision is to turn the kingdom into a major industrial power by 2020. Drawings
of these new towns depict a cross of the futuristic “Blade Runner” and traditional Arabic design." The cities will focus on petrochemicals, aluminum, steel and fertilizers, and will together have four times the geographical area of Hong Kong, three times the population of Dubai, and an economic output equal to Singapore’s. [more inside]
posted by stbalbach
on Jan 22, 2008 -
paved prophets house, put up a parking lot..
“What makes this demolition worse is the fact that the home of the Prophet is to make way for a parking lot, two 50-storey hotel towers and seven 35-storey apartment blocks; a project known as the Jabal Omar Scheme, all within a stone’s throw of the Grand Mosque. Yet despite this outrage, not a single Muslim country, no ayatollah, no mufti, no king, not even a Muslim Canadian imam has dared utter a word in protest. Such is the power of Saudi influence on the Muslim narrative.”
posted by zog
on Feb 11, 2006 -
A top U.S. diplomat recently revealed Saudi Arabia still teaches students to hate non-Muslims and the West. So why are we making it easier for Saudi students schooled in that hatred to visit the U.S.?
posted by Postroad
on Nov 11, 2005 -
The Rift: The state of Islamic Alienation in Europe
and for that matter any Western nation. Do Muslims get to retain their complete identity, values, and customs unfettered by their residency in the West? I think not. Inversely, if 1-5% of the population in Saudi Arabia was western what could they expect of their adopted (i.e. a choice) Wahhabi nation... Where does this end?
posted by philmas
on Aug 14, 2005 -
Burton had his time.
Now "R.F. Burton", a long time pseudonymous expat in Saudi Arabia, is writing occasional pieces on the place he calls the Magic Kingdom. They are by turns appalling
, and provoking
Eleven so far. The index (along with the latest entry, if you have the stomach for it) is here
Request to those who know Saudi first hand- is the brush too broad or are the pieces nicely observed? Or something in between?
posted by IndigoJones
on Apr 22, 2005 -
Factfilter: Sen. Bob Graham's new book shows coverup.on Saudi's behalf Bush had concluded that ''a nation-state that had aided the terrorists should not be held publicly to account,'' Graham wrote. "It was as if the president's loyalty lay more with Saudi Arabia than with America's safety.''
And there's stuff about Iraq, too. After wearing 9/11 like a tiara during the convention, will the facts finally be aired?
posted by amberglow
on Sep 6, 2004 -
House of Bush, House of Saud, House of Cards?
A superb, reasoned discussion of "How Does the Saudi Relationship With the Bush Family Affect U.S. Foreign Policy?" - regardless of which side you might agree with, it's one of the very few calm, rational media conversations on this topic.
posted by twsf
on Jul 7, 2004 -
The Newsweek-Fahrenheit wars
- Michael Isikoff's "seven errors, distortions and selective omissions of crucial information" detailed by Craig Unger, "House of Bush, House of Saud
" author (read excerpts of his book at Salon.com
, for members or by a "day pass") Isikoff has heavily cited Unger's book but, it seems, not bothered to read Unger's generously provided source files
. "Liberal" PBS is not excluded, as credulous (or ignorant) "On the Media" host Bob Garfield's July 2 interview with Isikoff demonstrates
. What shall we call such pervasive, ongoing and seemingly willful patterns
of inaccuracy, distortion, and selective omission?
posted by troutfishing
on Jul 7, 2004 -
is the process of hiring Saudi Arabian nationals to join the Saudi workforce and is an interesting counterpoint to the US phenomena of outsourcing. The goal of Saudization is to discourage reliance on foreign workers as well as to combat domestic unemployment, which is worsened by the rapidly swelling ranks of restive, undereducated youth. Unfortunately it's not as easy to put into practice as
posted by rks404
on Apr 19, 2004 -
Rebellion brewing in Saudi city
The tiny city of Sakaka in the remote al-Jouf province that borders Iraq may seem an unlikely setting for the beginning of a revolution against the ruling al-Saud family.
But one does not have to spend too long here to realise that this is what is happening.
posted by Postroad
on Jan 28, 2004 -
Debunking The Debunkers?
A few days ago I had posted a piece asserting that the Saudi royals, along with members of Bin Laden's family , were given hasty approval to flee the U.S. directly after 9/11, with the highest clearance from top govt officials. That post was "shot down" by comments stating that Snopes noted the falsity of that claim. Now it seems Snopes has reneged and Google has removed cache items about the story. See for yourself what seems to be taking place.
posted by Postroad
on Sep 6, 2003 -