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January 02 2013

Why They Make Fun of Us?

Arab News reports:

Saudi women expressed outrage at Chelsea Handler, the American host of the TV show “Chelsea Lately,” when she swore at Saudi men for being able to receive notification by SMS of their wives’ travels abroad.

Here’s the 35 seconds long clip that got these women outraged:

The first woman quoted in the story says Handler does not understand how the system works:

Sabah Abdulmalik, a 42-year-old stay-at-home-mom said, “I would like to inform Chelsea that this is only a service that people can activate or decline and that this was not forced upon us,” said.

“This service was developed by the Saudi authorities and not by husbands who want to track their wives, so when she says such a word, she should know that it was not conceived of at a local level and that it’s a matter of choice,” she added.

It might be true that the SMS notifications are an optional service (although it is more complicated than that), but you are ignoring elephant in the room: guardianship laws in Saudi Arabia do not allow women to leave the country without permission from their guardians. In the past it was the notorious yellow slip, now it is the infamous text messages.

Saudi fashion designer Reem AlKanhal says she respects freedom of speech but this crossed the line. “I think we have deeper problems than traveling, driving and covering our faces. They only focus on the aspects of our lives that make them laugh and we hate to be the butt of jokes on live television,” she said.

If we don’t want to be the butt of jokes then we should fix our “deeper problem.” Complaining about others laughing at us will not solve these problems, especially when we are not allowed to discuss and tackle them because of the red lines that you say Hanlder has crossed one of them.

A female Saudi blogger who chose to remain anonymous said that Chelsea’s clip was offensive not only to Saudi women, but to Islam as well. “We learned that Muslim women should not leave the house without the approval of their husbands and I think it’s the right thing to do,” she said.

“Her words were very aggressive and we do not accept such attacks, especially using bad words knowing that this is not how we were raised and this is not normal to us in Arab, local TV shows and talk shows,” she added.

You would think that bloggers are opinionated people who want to express their ideas and stand behind them, but this is not the case here. Here, you have a blogger who wants to be anonymous. She is like the anti-blogger. She complains that Handler, a comedienne who was talking on a late night show, used “bad words.” What are you, five? She adds that “this is not normal to us in Arab, local TV shows and talk shows.” First, this was not an Arab or local show. Second, you almost certainly watched this on YouTube, i.e. you chose to click and watch this. Nobody forced you to do this. Oh and by the way, since you seem easily offended, you should probably stop using the Internet.

Sarah Essam, a 32-year-old mother of two, wonders how Chelsea thought she was defending Saudi women in making these statements. “I know that using shocking language and discussing controversial topics are surefire ways to attract a larger audience, but this is beyond disrespectful and she crossed the line,” she said.

“Thanks to her words, she actually made us defend our husbands and stand behind this service even if we don’t approve of it,” she added.

Again with the damn line. But wait, Handler’s comments made you “stand behind this service even if we don’t approve of it”? Wow, talk about Stockholm Syndrome.

Mariam Hejazi, a 28-year-old banker, demanded an apology from Chelsea. “We have been tolerating the international media for a really long time. How can they judge a whole nation when funnily enough, it is their motto to “never judge a book by its cover,” she said.

Poor Hejazi is upset. Very upset. How dare this Handler comedienne make fun of her plight? How insensitive of her. Okay, khalas, international media will no longer talk about Saudi women issues because someone’s feelings are hurt. Promise. Pinky promise.

In the end, the newspaper has managed to find at least one woman who was not offended by the clip:

Yasmine Abdulrazak, an English teacher at a college in Jeddah, thinks the clip was actually funny and did not feel offended by it. “I don’t know why we are always offended when people talk about us. Yes, the media highlights the negative things about Saudi Arabia and they always make women feel like we need a hero to save us,” she said.

“Chelsea is a comedian and her job is to mock people and attack others to make her audience laugh. We see her make fun of celebrities, politicians and nations but they do not express offense in the same way we did today,” she added.

I found a few more on Twitter. Here’s one of them:


August 28 2011

The Diplomatic Cables, Saudi Edition (2)

As many people pointed out before, most of the US diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks are boring. In the this huge pile of documents, shocking discoveries are rare. Today, I will continue what I began yesterday by looking into the some of the interesting cables from the US mission to Saudi Arabia.

Some of the best cables are those describing diplomatic visits to different parts of the country where diplomats rarely go like Abha or Tabuk. This cable for example details the observations made by US officials during a visit to that northern city. The last paragraph reads, “Tabuk is described as a very conservative Muslim community. This was apparent during the drive from the airport and meetings and tour of the city, when not a single women was seen on the streets, in the hotel, or employed in the government offices. The few men passed on the streets during the afternoon tour glanced at the passing motorcade with looks of surprise and curiosity.”

Photo by Jay-c 2011 on Flickr

Another good cable comes under the title: “MUST LOVE DOGS.” The cable tries to explain the attitudes of Saudis toward pets, especially dogs. It goes into history, religion and culture in its attempt to understand the relationship between Saudis and animals, and finally reaches the conclusion that: It’s complicated! “This contrast between the words of the Qura’an and the Prophet Mohammad, which imply that kindness must be shown to animals, and the general distaste that most Muslims have for dogs is yet another of the many contradictions in Saudi society,” reads the last paragraph, followed by a joke.

Back to serious stuff, here is a cable about a meeting between the US Ambassador and the late minister of labor Ghazi al-Gosaibi. During the meeting, al-Gosaibi told the Ambassador about his efforts to limit the country’s dependence on cheap foreign labor, and admitted that some of the measures he took to achieve that goal were “draconian.” But the most depressing part of this cable comes at the end, where al-Gosaibi sounded pessimistic about enacting laws to cover and protect domestic workers. “He stated that “no one” is interested in passing such a law because everyone is satisfied with the status quo,” it said.

Speaking of laws, this cable from December 2007 attempts to gauge the likely effects of King Abdullah’s plan to overhaul the judicial system of the country that was announced in October of that year. The conclusion in the last paragraph reads, “Overhauling the judicial system is one of the primary ways of any society to achieve progress and modernization. However, Saudi society changes slowly, and the judicial system is no different.” They were right. Years after the plan was made public, we still hear about bizarre cases in our courts like child marriages and detaining people indefinitely without a trial, access to lawyer or even family visits.

But it’s not all doom and gloom in these cables. This cable from April 2008 about the Embassy’s participation at Riyadh Book Fair is overflowing with happy adjectives. I remember that I was not exactly enthusiastic about the book fair that year, but obviously I did not pay a visit to the American booth. Worth noting here that the US Embassy had to go through difficult negotiations with the Ministry of Culture and Information (MOCI) which has a ban on embassies participation at the book fair. Eventually, the Americans did a little trick that worked perfectly: the Embassy would brand itself as the US Information Resource Center (IRC). The cable described the impact of this participation as “huge!” and the largest outreach event of that year. “In a closed society and security-restricted environment,” it concluded, “the book fair underscored the need to continue to identify new and creative opportunities for traditional people-to-people diplomacy.”

The infamous al-Sahat internet forum is the subject of this cable that came out of the Jeddah consulate in May 2006. The cable details controversies surrounding the forum and accusations populated on its pages about American diplomats in the country. “ConGen Jeddah and its officers are regular subjects of commentary, criticism, and the occasional threat from al-Sahat contributors,” it said. Liberal Saudi writers are usually accused of having close relations with the US mission and conservatives use these accusations to smear their liberal opponents. My favorite part of this cable? Using the word “fora” as the plural form of “forum” in the second paragraph.

In addition to these detailed but concise cables, there are other brief ones that caught my attention, like this one listing names of influential women with their contact information. And since we are nearing the end of Ramadan, it is only apt to end the post with this cable in which the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs tells the Embassy that Saudi officials do not receive visitors during the holy month:

The MFA would like to advise all diplomatic missions in the Kingdom that the holy month of Ramadan is nearing. As you know, it is a month of fasting and intensive worship and there is no room during it for visits and meetings. As in previous years, it is not possible for the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and all other officials in the Kingdom to meet official visitors during this holy month.


December 21 2010

Runaway woman, La Yekthar, Wikileaks, censorship, sectarian violence, and more

  • In a story that would probably work perfectly for a Saudi action movie, a woman in her twenties has fled her husband and lived for two months in the guise of a man, mixing in male company, driving a car, and praying with males in the mosque.
  • Meanwhile, my good friends Fahad al-Butairi and Ali al-Kalthami continue to impress with their comedy show La Yekthar. Below is the second episode. Can’t wait to watch the next one.

  • Wael says “It is no wonder that Saudis moved into the cyberspace to vent out their frustrations and dreams; nowadays, they are all over the social networks talking about their daily lives, sharing links with friends and even organizing some kind of virtual remonstrations on twitter, Facebook and blogs.”
  • Faisal Abbas: “You see, what this cable is telling us is that an American informer based in Riyadh actually sent back classified information to his superiors in Washington DC to say that Saudis watch and enjoy American television programs. Seriously? Did it really require an informer to “discover” this? What’s next, a team of American anthropologists revealing that Saudis eat at McDonalds? Drive GMCs? Or Wear Levi’s?”
  • The holy city of Medina has witnessed some sectarian violence last week on Ashura. I was sad to hear the news, but I couldn’t wait to see how local media would cover the event considering its sensitive nature. Not surprisingly, none of the local papers wrote about the real reason behind the violence. This kind of censorship can lead to a hilarious form of reporting, if we can call it such. Take this gem from al-Riyadh daily for example:

    Informed sources have asked the authorities to shut down some websites that have continued to instigate the two parties at certain times by historically linking them to ancient events and demanding to retaliate from the grandchildren under banners that incite differences to serve suspicious parties that aim to shake the stability in the land of security and safety. Some imapassioned young men from the neighborhood who were dressed in ‘black’ have followed these banners, broken into doors, and frightened the people, which made them resist and call the security forces who remained in the neighborhood until dawn.

    Here is an idea for Saudi media: if you can’t cover a story properly, don’t bother covering it at all. Okay?

  • Speaking of censorship, columnist Abdullah al-Maghlooth, who wrote a profile of yours truly a couple of months ago, is reportedly banned from writing after al-Watan daily published his latest article which posed an interesting question: “Who is the youngest official in Saudi Arabia?” I guess an old official didn’t like that question.
  • Apologies for the hiatus. Last week was the last week of the semester, which means I had a lot of work to finish, and I was also moving from my place in the Bronx to a new one near Columbia. A lot to catch up on. Here we go. Scroll up!

October 08 2010

Dancing, Reform, HRW Report, Arab iPhone developers

  • YouTube video mashups of Saudi folk dancing with Western music have been a popular item on this blog. Here is the latest in this series, courtesy of Mctoom.

  • Ahmad Bagadood: “When would reforms in Saudi Arabia be real reforms and not the gift of the King? It is when those reforms focus on finding solutions to the real issues of the country rather than creating more fictional wars.”
  • Speaking of reforms, Human Rights Watch recently released their report on Saudi Arabia in which they try to review and evaluate the past five years. The report is well written and reaches a conclusion many of us already know: there have been some changes here and there, but there is still much more to do, and these changes need to be institutionalized to ensure their sustainability.
  • Jordanian blogger Ahmad Humeid writes about the new opportunities that the iPhone and the iPad offer to software developers in the Arab World, with a shout out to my good friend Bandar Raffah.

July 15 2010

Female ref, Lou visits KAUST

  • The Saudi football league champions Al Hilal are currently in Austria preparing for the new season. Playing a friendly match against a Romanian team there, the Saudi players experienced something they won’t see in the local stadiums anytime soon: a female referee. Al Hilal lost 0-3. You think we can blame her for this defeat? :P

    Female ref

  • Lou visit KAUST for the third time, and he comes back with a bunch of interesting thoughts. I agree with most of what he has to say, and I think many citizens share his sentiments. At the end of his very long rant, he writes a letter to the Saudi government: “You managed to force a new open campus, with a different take on what a Saudi culture should be.. Please, tell me that you’re doing this just to test how it works, and then later implement it all around the kingdom as a Social Module.”

July 13 2010

Land-grab, Saudi vuvuzela, and tasting weird drinks

  • According to recent stats, about 60 percent of Saudis do not have their own homes. The main reason behind this situation is the prohibitively expensive cost of buying land where you can build a house. Of course this is crazy because Saudi Arabia is a vast desert. You would think lands would be dirt cheap, right? Wrong. Why? Land-grabbing. Fellow blogger Essam al-Zamil has been on a roll with a series of thoughtful blogposts about the problem of land-grab in the country. He recently crunched some numbers to estimate the fair price for land, and his findings are nothing short of astonishing. Per his estimate, citizens pay between 5-10 times the fair price when they buy a small piece land in most decent areas.
  • Now that the World Cup is over, I’m looking forward to enjoy watching football without the deafening noise of vuvuzelas. Or so I thought. The vuvzela will find its way to our stadiums because although it might be an African tradition, it is actually made with Saudi materials. The Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) waited until the end of the competition to proudly announce that the plastic horns are manufactured using its high-density polyethylene products. So yeah, Saudi Arabia did not reach the World Cup finals, but they still somehow managed to make themselves heard in this global event. You are welcome.
  • Since drinking alcohol is illegal in KSA, the Burdened Mary decided to sample some of the weird non-alcoholic drinks available in the local market. Her verdict: “These drinks were mostly duds compared to fresh fruit juices or Saudi Champagne.”

July 01 2010

The Saudi Spider-Man

After Ultraman, I present to you the Saudi Spider-Man:

(via f)


June 26 2010

Maysoon explains herself

So Maysoon Azzam, the anchor from Al Arabiya channel who could not stop herself from laughing on screen while reading the news few days ago, finally decided to come out and explain why she was laughing so hard. Well, she did not exactly state the reason behind the laughing, but she justified it saying she is only human and not a robot.

Shocking.

Because I have always thought that Maysoon Azzam, Suhair al-Qaisay, Rima Maktabi, and the rest of Al Arabiya anchors were pure angels who descended upon us from the heavenly skies, to peek from the silver screens of our televisions and tell us the horror stories of war and conflict with a smile on their pretty faces. It has never, ever, not even for a single moment, crossed my mind that they could be mere mortals like me. Sorry. My bad.


June 25 2010

Untie

This comes from teh Green Truth today:

Many Saudis are lamenting the way family ties in the Kingdom have become weak, something that seems to have become one of the hallmarks of modern life and is in stark contrast to how people in the region used to live not so long ago.

I, for one, am not. I think family ties in the Kingdom are still strong. They are too strong, actually, that distant relatives somehow believe they have the freedom to intervene in your so-called modern life. This freedom, nevertheless, is limited to them and cannot be extended to you because first, who are you? and second, what do you know?

“Families are no longer what they used to be. The entire family system has disintegrated. You can nowadays find fathers and sons at loggerheads and cousins hostile to each other,” said one Saudi old man in Makkah who asked for his name not to be published.

Not what they used to be? The entire system disintegrated? I’m sorry, is there a heated debate about gay marriage in the country that I’m not aware of? And btw, fathers and sons disagreements are ancient. In other places they are called “generational differences,” and I think you should know this, especially since you like using 17th century vocabulary like loggerheads and stuff. Also, what’s up with the privacy freakishness, old man? But I will cut you some slack. I understand that you probably don’t want to get in trouble like those kids who appeared on MTV.

Saudi woman Latifa Ali said she has not been on speaking terms with her sister for over 10 years and has tried to make up on numerous occasions. “My sister is adamant in boycotting me. She wanted her son to marry my daughter but I refused for several reasons. My daughter is a university graduate while her son has only studied until secondary school. He was also unemployed at the time. My daughter refused to marry him and there was no way I could force her,” she said. Latifa Ali misses her sister whom she loved and was very close to. “I felt safe with her. I still long to be with her but she doesn’t want to be with me. She considers my daughter’s rejection of her son an insult,” she added.

Aww… inter-family marriages and their never ending drama. I have seen this happening in my family hundreds of times, but would that ever stop them? Never. Despite recent evidence to the disastrous consequences of such marriages on those much cherished ties, my mom is still willing to lose an arm just so I agree to to marry her niece. Not. Gonna. Happen. Not because I care about the oh-so-important ties, but simply because I hate congenital diseases. Not to mention that I find this way of getting married arbitrary and outdated.

Hassan Ali, another Saudi who lives in Makkah, said he fell out with his brother after he argued with his sister-in-law who used to meddle in his personal family affairs. “My brother became angry and sided with his wife. We’ve not spoken for five years. We’ve failed to make up even though I’ve tried a lot to do so,” he said. “I love his children who also love me but he’s threatened to kick them out of the house and deprive them of their inheritance if they even dare speak to me,” he added.

See? That’s exactly what I’m talking about. When close becomes too close, you are just asking for trouble. I can’t help but notice though that Hassan’s brother is too influenced by old Arabic movies and their stupid oft-repeated family feuds. Deprive his children of inheritance? Classic.

Uncle Saad is 72 years old. With tears in his eyes, he mentioned that his children are alive and yet do not see him. “My children left me and their mother who died just two years ago. They only ring me on occasions and just visit me out of duty,” he said. “My neighbors help me and take care of me. They give me money and clothes. My sons and daughters are also busy with their own families,” he added.

I won’t say anything here because this is just sad.

Huda Al-Fahim said it has been a year since she had a dispute with her brother. “He asked me to give up my share of inheritance after my father died. He had been pressured by his wife. I refused and complained to the authorities who then allotted me my share. He then kicked me out of the house and has not talked to me since,” she added. Huda has tried hard to reconcile but her brother refuses to budge. “I do not know how long this will continue. It is totally against the teachings of Islam to boycott your own kin and blood,” she said.

That is a typical case of the familiar brotherly bullying after the father’s death, and I’m afraid it has little to do with the lamented weakening of family ties allegedly caused by changes in modern life. I don’t see why Ms. Huda is so keen to make up with a brother who is acting like a jackass. Until he starts to use his brain again, I say good riddance.

Commenting on the issue, Raid Kurdi, an education expert, said family bonds are not as strong as before but that the problem has not reached a worrying level. “Families should look carefully at the reasons why they are falling out with each other,” he said. “We need to, however, deal with this issue. We need to reject it and make efforts to keep families together. This is important,” he added.

Enter the expert. Our expert analyzed this incredibly fascinating, although admittedly troubling, phenomenon and came up with the perfect solution: “We need to reject it.” Totally. Because, you know, “This is important.” You heard that? Im-freaking-portant. If you don’t realize this by now, and we are nearing the end of our very interesting “new story,” then you might as well want to kill yourself or something.

He also said such matters do not usually worry non-Muslim societies because family bonds are not very important for them in general. “We do not have the same respect for the elderly as we used to have in the past. We’ve also become impatient with each other,” he added. Kurdi also called for more efforts to inculcate love and respect among members of the same family.

However, this piece cannot be complete without some good ol’ bashing of “the other,” so before I go allow me to say: damn those infidels! It turns out the weakened family ties are not merely the result of changes in modern life — whatever that maybe in our little corner of the world — but also due to foreign influence, because we, as God honest infallible Muslims, never do anything wrong.

Love and respect. Hell yeah.


June 24 2010

LOL On Air

Al Arabiya anchor Maysoon Azzam lost her composure on air when one of her colleagues stumbled to the ground behind the camera. All her attempts to suppress laughter failed and she had to end the news bulletin rather prematurely. As Jon Stewart would say, here is your moment of zen:


June 14 2010

Advice to KASP boys & girls, letter to King Abdullah, more families only

  • Fouad al-Farhan wrote a very good blogpost, analyzing the different types of Saudi students abroad, and offering some invaluable advice to the boys and girls of KASP. What I find incredibly disheartening and slightly funny is how some commenters there totally ignored the whole gist of the post and focused instead on Fouad’s choice of words, despite the fact that the words they found objectionable were not meant for a specific person(s). It just shows you how some people here can be extremely oversensitive, unbelievably easily offended, and absolutely thin-skinned.
  • Last week coincided with the fifth anniversary of King Abdullah’s ascend to the throne. Many congratulatory ads have been published in newspapers. Many overly praising items have been written and broadcasted. But leave it to fellow blogger Ahmed Ba-Aboud to put things in perspective. “King Abdullah, don’t listen to them,” he says.
  • Two guys at the grocery store checkout counter. Their groceries include a large soda bottle aka “family size” bottle. They are told they can’t buy it because, like many other things in the country, it’s for families only. Hilarious, but I won’t be too surprised if it happens in real life. It is exactly this kind fanaticism we are particularly good at.


    The video was created by the awesome Malik Nejer. More of his work can be found here.


May 21 2010

Let’s Ban Everything

If I sound irritable lately, it is because I’m going through withdrawal symptoms. It’s been ten full days since I had shawerma for the last time. “Then go get yourself some shawerma,” you might say. Well, I guess you haven’t heard: shawerma is banned in al-Ahsa!

In a boneheaded move, Al-Ahsa municipality decided to ban shawerma during the summer. The whole thing started last year, when some people suffered food poisoning after they had shawerma at different restaurants in town. Following the incidents, the municipality issued an order to all restaurants telling them they are not allowed to serve the delicacy for the four months of summer (yes, summer here can last four, five, and even six months).

ShawermaI’m actually pissed off, not just because I can no longer have one of my favourite meals, but also because of the way the municipality is dealing with the whole matter. Instead of monitoring the restaurants to make sure they are following safety and health regulation, and then punish those who violate them, they go and ban everyone. They are punishing everyone. There are places they sell nothing but shawerma, and this decision would simply kill their business.

This type of collective punishment is easy for the municipality to inflect because the affected parties don’t have the means to protest. What could they do? Go to the municipal council? Please! Plus, even if they wanted, they can’t because they are not Saudis. You see, although these restaurants are owned by Saudi citizens, they are run by foreign workers. They pay an annual fee to the Saudi owner who does not care what the hell happens to the restaurant as long as he gets his money at the end of the year.

I’m really disappointed at al-Ahsa municipality. They have done some good work in building new infrastructure and improving streets and services. But this decision banning shawerma is just ridiculous. In addition to being irresponsible, it shows laziness on their part. They don’t want to do their job of making sure that the regulations are followed, so they go and issue a general ban.

If we are to use the (il)logic of our municipality, then we should close down restaurants altogether since you could get food poisoning from eating anything. While we are at it, we should also ban cars because they kill so many people. We might as well ask men and women not to marry or have children because, you know, they will die at some point. Let’s ban everything. That would make life much easier for many of us, wouldn’t it?


April 26 2010

Ahmed al-Ghamdi sacked (or maybe not), Quarter to Nine news cast

  • Ahmed Qassim al-Ghamdi, the head of CPVPV in Makkah was sacked. No, he wasn’t. Yes, he was. No, he wasn’t. Well, apparently nobody knows for sure. The grand mufti came out with a strong statement few days criticizing al-Ghamdi, practically telling him to keep his mouth shut. Confusion is still dominating this matter. Will update you as things clear up.
  • Arab News reports on Sah, a local internet channel that has gained some more attention lately. I have been following their satirical news show “Quarter to Nine,” and I have to say that I find it pretty nice. I think they could do a better job finding bizarre stuff in Saudi newspapers to make fun of, but for now they are doing okay. It’s a good example of what good content the new generation of Saudis can create using new media tools.

April 21 2010

Watch this

Okay, so here are three videos that have been making the rounds on the local interwebs lately:

This is a commercial for the Saudi teleco giant Mobily. As with most of their ads, it is of high production quality. But that’s not what make it interesting. What makes it interesting is the fact that it stars Prince Abdullah bin Meteb, the grandson of King Abdullah. This is the first time a prince appears in a commercial, and some people think such thing signifies a change in the way members of the Saudi royal family conduct themselves. I don’t know. I mean, can’t this be just a sports sponsorship deal? Prince Abdullah is a professional rider who could use a sponsor for such an expensive career, and Mobily is a for-profit company who wants to xxx their image and make more money. I, for one, did not raise an eyebrow when I saw the tv ad.

In this video, a man who allegedly belongs to the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, is seen ambushing a jalsa which is basically a small gathering where people entertain themselves with music and dancing. The bearded man snatches the oud from the singer’s lap with a swift move, and then smashed it to the ground in a scene more commonly associated with rock concerts. So much to calling to the way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching, and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious.

The Cube is a popular British game show. For some reason, the Saudi state TV thought it was a good idea to bring it to their screen. The Saudi version is the same as the British one, except that our version has a nutty host who keeps on screaming. This video was put together by fellow blogger Raed al-Saeed, who previously produced Schism and Why Gaza children don’t deserve to be killed. I wonder if what he did is legal under the new e-media law proposed by MOCI :P


April 04 2010

Fake Posters

Moleculo has made these awesome fake posters:

You are invited to Riyadh International Cinema Festival. Live the real experience inside the theater.


Jeddah Metro: Commuting has become smarter.


Dear female citizen: It’s time for you to drive.


Your duty as a citizen is to tell us about any unemployed person. Unemployment has been demolished, completely.


The Grand Musical Event: the Saudi Opera, led by maestro Fahad ibn al-Balad. Now, at Buraida Opera Theatre.


March 25 2010

My Biggest Fear

… is this:

life cycle of a saudi citizen

I don’t want to enter the cycle.


December 29 2009

November 04 2009

Superfluousness


Everything is going great in the awesomest Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Well, almost everything. Today I read three disturbing news stories which shed the light on some serious problems that we should immediately take care of. Otherwise, the whole fabric of society might disintegrate under the pressure of these most horrendous disasters…

First, let’s give it to Dr. Omaima al-Jalahma who has discovered a huge flaw within the healthcare system that has apparently held our hospitals back all these years: no rooms for ruqyah. Al-Jalahma suggests opening ruqyah rooms in all hospitals in the country, and facilitating the work of ruqyah practitioners, who, according to her, have no problem entering any hospital at present but would benefit from having dedicated rooms where they can offer their much-needed services.

Meanwhile, the Grand Mufti has said that wearing graduation gowns is haram because apparently it is part of the infidels’ rituals and customs that no God-fearing Muslim should ever imitate or even consider getting near them. The Grand Mufti, of course, does not use the cars invented and manufactured by the aforementioned infidels. He also does not appear on TV or use a mobile phone, because these, too, are invented and made by those nasty infidels.

Last but not least, a committee in Ministry of Interior has concluded that enough is enough and so they decided it is time to raid the market looking for what they described as “illegal abayas.” The committee, which included members of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, the Ministry of Commerce, the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, and the General Intelligence Service said those who sell illegal abayas have two choices: either modify them in a way that makes them Sharia-compliant or destroy them under the supervision of an official body without any compensation.

The committee, however, has not said what they are going to do about women who have already bought some of these abays and are wearing them. Rumor has it that they plan to open kiosks in every corner of every city in the country where these women can exchange their haram abayas with halal abayas at no charge.

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