One thing that I failed to mention in my last blogpost about the new online media law is that MOCI has broken one of their promises. Back in March 2010, Abdulrahman al-Hazza said the ministry has no plans to pre-approve the editors of news website like they do with newspapers. The text of the law that came out on Saturday listed the approval of the editor-in-chief by the ministry as one of the conditions to register an “electronic newspaper.” MOCI keeps saying that they are extending a hands to us and we should trust them, but how are we supposed to trust them when they can’t even keep their word?
Over 100 Saudi citizens signed an open letter to the Shoura Council, asking the Council to discuss the issue of women’s driving. I know, I know. It is indeed sad that we are still discussing this, but that’s Saudi Arabia for you. The signatories suggested a trial period for women’s driving, where women are only allowed to drive in a certain city during a certain time of the day, among other conditions and restrictions. I see what they are trying to do, which is to find a practical approach to implement this, but honestly I hate this gradual oh-let’s-consider-the-feelings-of-our-super-senseitive-society way to do things. A basic right is a basic right. Let’s get this over with and move on.
During my time in Riyadh I had a chance to closely watch the expat community there. One fascinating aspect of that community, of course, was the relationships between men and women. The interaction between the expats and the social restrictions of the city creates an interesting dynamic, although I have to admit that listening to their gossip sometimes felt like watching some lame soap opera. But if this is your thing, then you should read orchidthief’s blogpost about cheating among the expat community.
It’s International Women’s Day. The picture in Saudi Arabia is, of course, bleak. Here’s Fawzia al-Bakr speaking about the women’s driving demonstration in Riyadh twenty years ago:
Smile. Whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day today or not. Just smile. Check out this video that Asmaa and her colleagues made:
It’s been more three years since we first heard about MOCI’s plan to allow new radio stations to broadcast in the country. Last month a media company owned by Prince Khaled al-Faisal won the first FM radio license for a reported price tag of SR75m. I was surprised. Is an FM radio license in Saudi Arabia really worth such costly price? Or is this simply a tactic by MOCI to put a high barrier to entry so they would only give the license to certain people? Yesterday the second license was sold for SR66m. Winners of the remaining three licenses will be announced over the next six weeks.