Saudi Arabia: Dhahran Under Siege

Saudi Arabia hosted the Gulf Cooperation Council's Summit in its Eastern province, bringing the leaders of Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and the UAE under one roof – and holding the residents of Dhahran and Dammam hostage for the duration of their meeting as all the main highways leading to and from the city
were shut.

Saudi blogger Ibrahim [Ar] broke the story early yesterday saying:

الظهران في هذه اللحظات تحت الحصار
غلقت أبوابها في وجه أهاليها وزوارها
الأبناء في المدارس عالقين
الأباء خلف الجدران متلهفين لإحتضان أبنائهم
أنوار الشرطه في كل الأنحاء
يا الله ماذا ألم بنا؟؟
اللهم الطف بنا

Dhahran is now completely shut off and no one is able to get to it. Its gates are shut on its residents and visitors. Our children are stuck in their schools. Parents are standing behind the walls, eager to hug their children. The lights of police cars are everywhere. Oh my God! What has happened to us? May Allah have mercy on us.

Hours later, a much more relaxed Ibrahim explains what had happened:

طلع الموضوع ومافيه مسكرين الطرقات علشان الملك ورؤساء مجلس التعاون الخليجي جايين
طيب ما تقولون كذا من أول؟ خرعتونا يا جماعة الخير :???:
شوفو اللي صار ..
الحفل يبداء الساعه 4
تم اغلاق الطرقات من الساعه 12 ظهراً
طبعاً أي كبري او منفذ في منطقة الظهران تم اغلاقه … حتى اللي مايؤدي الى أرامكو
تم اغلاق الطرقات حتى الساعه السابعه يمكن
والعالم تدور في مكانها وكل الطرقات مسكره
يعني باختصار .. حسيت باللي يحسون فيه اهل غزه ..كان الله في عونهم
المشكله مو في اللي زارونا
المشكله في المسؤليين في ادارة المرور
واللي انا بديت اشك انهم من اهل الشرقيه … لأنهم مايعرفون يدبرون عمرهم
وش بيصير يعني لو انك قفلت طريق الظهران من أوله من جهة طريق الجبيل
قفلته قبل لا يمر الموكب بربع ساعه … يالله خلنا نقول ساعه
وبعد مايمر الموكب بربع ساعه تفتح كل الطرقات
وبعدها قفل الطريق قبل لا يطلعون من حفلهم بربع ساعه وخلاص
هذا في حال انه كان قصدهم تفادي الازدحام المروري
لكن اللي شفته امس ماكان علشان هالسبب ..
لأنهم مقفلين كل المنطقه بقطر 15 كيلو تقريباً
من طريق ابو حدريه الى كبري القاعده الجويه
يعني أهالي المنطقه الشرقيه اللي يرحبون في الضيوف ( زي ما تقول اللوح الإعلانيه )
حتى سيارات الضيوف ماشافوها

What has happened is that they closed the roads for the GCC kings and leaders who are coming. Fine, why didn't you tell us this was happening from the beginning? You really scared us. See what happened. The meeting begins at 4pm. They closed all the roads from noon. All the exits and flyovers to Dhahran were of course shut, even those leading to (Saudi oil company) Aramco and remained shut until about 7pm. People were driving around in circles and all the roads were closed. In short, I felt what the people of Gaza feel, may Allah be of help to them. The problem wasn't because of our visitors. The problem was with the officials at the Traffic Directorate, who I don't think belong to the area, because they don't seem to be able to think. What would have happened if they had closed the Dhahran road in the direction of Jubeil for a quarter of an hour – let's even say an hour – before the convoys pass and then again closed it for a quarter of an hour before the meeting was over? They would have done this if their reason was to overcome traffic congestion but what I saw yesterday wasn't because of traffic… because they had cordoned off the entire region covering a 15km diameter – from Abu Hadriya Road to the flyover next to the air force base. This means that the people of the Eastern province, who are expected to welcome guests, did not even get to see their guest's cars.

The blogger adds:

أنا عن نفسي بديت أمل و أكره هالمناسبات .. لأنه مامنها فايده إلا للحراميه لأنهم بينبسطون .. كل الدوريات والشرطه مع الاحتفال ومخلين الديره تحترق
لا الشعب بيشوفون الملك عبدالله … وبتتسكر عليهم كل الطرقات

I personally am starting to get fed up of and hate such occasions .. because they are useless to everyone except the thieves – who become happy with the knowledge that all the policemen are busy with the ceremony – leaving the entire country at risk. The people too won't get a chance to meet their king, and all the roads will be closed on them.

too shares the following suggestion to oil giant Saudi Aramco, which is celebrating its centennial this year:

وأنا أقترح على أرامكو في المناسبه الجايه وبمناسبة مرور 100 سنه .. انها تسوي الاحتفالات في شيبه (الربع الخالي(
فيها مطار وفيها كل شئ .. ولا راح يحتاجون انهم يقفلون طرق ولا شئ
وماراح يتغير شئ … راح يكون الحفل موجود والضيوف موجودين وماراح يكون فيه شعب
يعني جميع الأمور موجوده…. يعني ماتحسون بالحفل الا تسوون زحمه للعالم؟

I suggest to Aramco to hold a ceremony at the Empty Quarter desert to mark its centennial. There is an airport there and it is well equipped with everything. They won't have to close the roads or do anything and nothing will change at all – the party will be there, the guests will be there and the public won't be there. This means that all that they want will be there. We won't feel there is a party and you will not mess up people's lives.

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