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What the Saudis are Talking About

Categories: Middle East & North Africa, Saudi Arabia, Arts & Culture, Education, Governance, Human Rights, Law, Politics, Women & Gender, Youth

So far, the topic of “woman driving” has resurfaced, a rape case sentencing made headlines, women doctors were asked to leave a lecture hall while men doctors were allowed to stay, and bearded men raided a stage. And that is just the tip of the iceberg.

On the case of woman driving, Ahmed (a.k.a. Saudi Jeans) says [1] that “when asked about issues such as women's driving and providing more entertainment outlets for youth, some decision makers here [in Saudi Arabia] say: this is not a priority for us in the present time,” and thinks “that some officials use prioritization as an excuse to ignore, avoid, or delay taking decisions.” A recent survey [2] has shown that 50% of females do own cars, but they can't drive them.

In recent news [3], a rape case in Qatif, Saudi Arabia, has triggered a debate about Saudi Arabia's legal system. In a post [4] that talks about the sentencing in the case, OT said that he “cannot see how this could be religiously correct!” In another post [5], Aya thinks that “punishing the victim is a specialty of Saudi courts” and went as far as calling the Saudi legal system “a rapists’ best friend.” Riyadhawi has also addressed the matter in an Arabic entry [6].

Moving to another topic, a group of women doctors, attending a medical conference in Riyadh were asked to leave the lecture hall since a male speaker — Dr. Yousef Al-Ahmed, PhD on the teaching staff at King Saud University — refused to address a group consisting of both men and women. Eventually, they did leave. Ahmed disagrees, in a post [7], with those who say that “the female attendees are to blame for leaving to the request of the organizers, who are the only to be blamed for this ridiculous incident.” Aya said [8] that the case reminded her “of the struggle for civil rights in America.”

Rasheed revisits [9] another Saudi Arabian human rights case, this time in American news; Homaidan Al-Turki, who was sentenced to 27 years in jail in Colorado on Aug. 31 for sexually abusing and enslaving his Indonesian maid:

A top Saudi official told me that he believed Al-Turki was guilty of abusing his maid, and that the Saudi government was only helping him because he was a Saudi citizen and not because they necessarily sympathized with him.

And for sure, Al-Turki is not a nice person. According to his indictment, he enslaved his Indonesian maid for four years in his Boulder, Colorado home; kept her locked in the basement; sexually abused her; took her passport away and failed to pay her regularly for all of that time. He and his wife, Sarah Khonaizan, settled a lawsuit by the US Department of Labor by paying their former maid $64,000 in back wages.

Now moving to education, Crossroads Arabia has published an article [10] about Saudi universities’ disturbingly low positions on a Global Ranking of World Universities:

There's no question that Saudi Arabia, for many reasons, is simply not up to global speed on the use of the Internet. That includes the merging of Internet technologies with higher education, of course.

Dodi said [11] she “had higher expectations.”

In an interesting post [12], Aya talks about a very recent incident in which a group of bearded men stormed the stage of a play at Al-Yamamah College in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The post was updated recently with videos. If you were ever interested in viewing Saudi Arabia through the eyes of a foreigner, I recommend reading the blog “An Englishman in Saudi Arabia [13];” Margrave is a married Englishman who has recently moved to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. I also recommend reading “S as in Saudi [14],” which is a blog published by a Swedish woman who recently moved to Khobar, Saudi Arabia.

Finally, to wrap up, Rimyoleta documented [15] her encounter with a real Saudi prostitute, Ahmed posted [16] about Ruby Tuesday's grand opening in Jeddah, Mohammed wonders [17] (in Arabic) why his bank is not “paying him to wait in line,” DemonEyes compares [18] Saudi graffiti to its counters worldwide, Nzingha is concerned [19] about the amount of TV her kids watch, and both Aya and Rasheed have [20] posted [21] about the recent Human Rights Watch visit to Saudi Arabia.