Saudi Diplomacy at Home

A senior member of the royal family said Monday that Saudi diplomacy has many shortcoming. Prince Turky Al Faisal, head of King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, was giving a lecture on the history of Saudi diplomacy at King Saud University. The former Chief of Intelligence and ambassador to the UK and the US added, “but we have no right to blame others just to find excuses for our problems.”

The lecture was initially announced earlier this week under a different title: “The Saudi-US Relations,” but shortly after Turky Al Faisal took his seat at the podium he said he decided to change the focus of the lecture to Saudi diplomacy. The lecture has drawn a large audience from teachers and students, and much to my dismay, some zealots as well. There were also a lot of journalists, but I have to say that I really felt sorry for them because the lecture was boring, and btw this is something none of these journalists would dare to say when they report on the event for their newspapers ;-)

I think the lecture would have been more interesting if the speaker went into some detail and gave us some examples of Saudi diplomacy in action in recent history, but instead he went back to the days of the Prophet (PBUH) telling us stories that we all know by heart from our school days. I also wanted to hear him taking about his experience doing “public diplomacy” when he was at the States. However, the Q&A session following the lecture was more interesting, even when Prince Turky tried to answer diplomatically and avoid controversy or giving bold statements.

When asked about the failure of Saudi diplomacy to use financial support in order to achieve political goals, Al Faisal admitted that connecting financial support to certain policies is usually not successful. He also said he was surprised when some countries which the Kingdom has helped have turned against us in the Gulf War. But what I really wanted to hear, though, is how does he evaluate the Saudi support of the Afghani jihad against the Soviets. Was that also a failure?

True to Saudi fashion, female teachers and students followed the lecture on TV screens from the comfort of their campus in Olaysha at the other end of the city. Things turned depressingly comical when it was time for them to ask questions due to technical glitches with the sound system.

A few female journalists physically attended the lecture, and they were seated in a corner at the upper deck of the auditorium. The only female journalist who had a chance to ask a question said they were told to leave but they insisted on staying, and she asked Prince Turky what to expect from report that will follow the visit of Yakin Ertürk, the special rapporteur of the United Nations Human Rights Council on Violence Against Women.

Al Faisal admitted that women’s rights are being violated “in the government’s bureaucracy and in the social arena.” He said the government is trying to promote women’s rights but described them as social matters related to the progress of society. Princey Turky said he sees no problem in women’s working as diplomats, and he thinks that they will excel and give a good image for the country. Finishing his remarks, he said he is looking forward to the day when there is no discrimination or injustices against women. “As men, we should put women above our heads.”

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22 thoughts on “Saudi Diplomacy at Home

  1. So what will haopen to him now that he’s “spoken out,” particularly on women? I know he’s a member of the royal family, but does that make the situation much different?

  2. Yes i cant believe these ppl r doing that ,
    I also cant believe that these women r wearin abayas….abayas and hijab should be banned from the saudi society and latest valentino dresses should be introduced and should be worn by every girl,women,spinster alive in saudia arabia.The same goes for men,after all they have rites too u know…..

  3. Sutta, I’d love to see you in a Valentino dress. :)

    Prince Turky Al Faisal also said this:
    *Prince Turki al Faisal called upon the citizens of Saudi Arabia, especially intellectuals and opinion-makers, to present the reality of the country and its known political standpoints in the international media.
    “We must not let others speak on our behalf. Some people may be right [about some things] however many of them are more unaware of our issues and the issues of the region than a child,”*

    I suppose that means you too, Achmed! Better make sure you present us a positive view of Saudi Arabia.

    Oh, but then you do :)

  4. ما أجمل تلك النظرة التي رأيتها على وجهك وأنت تهرب في المرة الأولى ، وتغير مقعدك في المرة الثانية ..

    شعرت بالحزن تجاهك
    كان الله معك ، أو ربما الخميني كذلك هههههههه :P ..

  5. It is funny the way government officials talk about Saudi Arabia. It seems that they have nothing to do with the way things work in their country. Women can’t drive but this is not the Government responsibility, women this and women that and is always somebody else’s responsibility. The Government has nothing to do with governing. Funny, isn’t it?

  6. He said “the government is trying to promote women’s rights but described them as social matters related to the progress of society”

    It would have been normal to hear the above statement coming from any “zealot” out there ….but I definitely will NOT accept it from the son of King Faisal the man who Stood firmly for girls education because it was the right thing to do … had he followed the “We will wait till society progress and accept” policy we would’ve been waiting for education till today among the other things we are still waiting for!!!!!

  7. Women education faced less islamic resistance or perhaps… xtremely minute islamic resistance as they were always skolars in support of the view of education….but drivin might not face much of an islamic obstacle then a social one……. u just go to faislaya kingdom or any other mall alone and u will c wolves howlin around u in no time and if there is noone around u …. u can say goodbye to urself…….

  8. Both Turki Al-Faisal and Saud Al-Faisal have made similar remarks in the past year supporting women’s rights. Prince Saud said just last November to the British press that he personally believes women should drive. But both of them fall back on the argument that it’s Saudi society’s responsibility to give them those rights. But apparently Saudi society is only made up of men.

  9. “promote women’s rights” wow could I be more gloomy now(God) .
    keep promoting our rights and add a few flavors too, maybe right with injustice flavor, right with inhumanity flavor.
    you know girls I know most of us can’t leave this country, which is funny cuz I have never broken any law ,but whenever you get the chance leave and never look back. this country is a hopeless case .

  10. Interesting, Sutta, that you blame the woman alone for the actions of the “wolves”. Why is it that the “wolves” are not taught socially correct and responsible behavior by their parents?

    In my country, women drive, women shop alone, and are allowed to wear whatever they please – and it is very rare that you ever see “wolves” howling around one.

  11. Sutta: And you mentioned once before that a woman alone would find herself taken to the desert at once when without a Mahram. (And so did others)
    What about ”A beautiful women can wander with a purse of gold and yet be safe”

    Is nobody in KSA a proper muslim anymore? What about decency, honour, compassion, morality, and the protection of women?

    Are all these ancient values so totally absent from your men’s minds today? What sort of men are they? Don’t you think such people will burn in hell?
    How can a country where women are so unsafe call itself ”Islamic”, and ”the kingdom of humanity”?

  12. this is sutt..a
    hey its not my callll again………….
    thats wats happenin at olaya tehlia streets….these r the facts of the matter…………….neither m i blamin that women r like this …………..actually its quite teh opposite the men r like this because they r extremely frustrated…………..let me tell u wat happens in ksa……….ksa has an ideal islamic environment which means segregation of sexes and modest approaches…………..but inside the house they have lbc , mbc and all the other chanels that show them the fantasies of the world plus show them beautiful women and stuff ……………….this whole thing just makes the saudi men so frustrated as their mind s do not match their societies………..this problem is arisin because islam is only being partially followed….if islam is completely followed these things would be taken care of……….for example early age marriages will help reduce the frustration and things like fastin will do as welll…………hope i make myself clear……………….salaamz

  13. As salam alaikum. i came across this blog and im glad i have mashAllah wa alhumdulillah.
    Sutta made a comment about women wearing hijab and abaya, well so what, most of us choose to wear it..and so what if we go to school.work in it also..some choose not to and thats their choice but for us who do wear it because of the intentions in our heart to please Allah then you nor anyone else can do nothing about it.. your comments about under garments etc shows ur crudeness..u talk in a very sick manner infront of other people who are not your husband/wife and think its aceptable.. id say get some self respect, stop hating on us women who cover nicely and grow up inshAllah.

    jazakilahu khair akhi, hada blogg kateer zain mashAllah. ana sowa hada blogg fill favorites ashan baadane shuff.

    hiyyakum Allah.

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