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.”

Origin of Arab News, Saudi coed study

  • Arab News is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year. To commemorate the occasion, the newspaper has published a supplement that carried articles by many people, including one by Prince Turki al-Faisal, the former Saudi ambassador to the US and the UK. In his article, Prince Turki reveals that both Arab News and Asharq al-Awsat, the flagship publications of SRMG, were actually the brainchildren of himself, Kamal Adham, and Hisham Ali Hafiz. In other words, both newspapers were born at the offices of the Saudi intelligence agency.
  • A study on co-education at university level has been recently conducted. The study sample was comprised of 440 med students from KSU and KAU. 71% of them said they support co-education, compared to 29% who were against it. Makes you wonder about all those ‘majority’ arguments that some people like to bring up when discussing controversial issues in the country.

Arabizing the private sector, more on discrimination at KAUST

  • Essam al-Zamel has a very insightful post discussing an important part of the unemployment puzzle in Saudi Arabia. Employers in the private sector avoid recruiting Saudis because they accuse them with lack of productivity. Essam believes this lack of productivity is not related to education or scientific degrees, but rather due to their inability to communicate in English. “How can we expect anyone to be productive when they work with a language different from their mother tongue?” he asks. We can either change our first language to English and make it the main language for communication and eduction even if that means losing our identity, or we can Arabize our economy especially at the private sector to make it more suitable to our youth
  • After Nathan, here is another KAUST blogger writing about discrimination in the new community. “The problem is that the way KAUST is now run, the university is a beacon of oppression and exploitation to many,” says Richard Denny. Yes, I do realize that such practices are widespread in the country. However, I believe this is not a good excuse for such thing to happen at KAUST.

CPVPV in KSU, Discrimination at KAUST, Limits on Lashing

  • During a meeting between KSU female students and the spokesman of the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, an attendant asked the all important question: “When are we going to see female hai’a inside KSU?” It’s not like KSU is already dominated by hai’a sympathizers or anything. Let’s remember, the aforementioned meeting was conducted through the closed tv circuit of the university. The CPVPV spokesman was in one place, the students were in a different place, far far away from him. They could see him, he could not see them.
  • Nathan has a disturbing blogpost about discrimination at KAUST. “[T]he injustice and prejudice against foreign workers runs deep here,” he says. I agree. Saad Al Dossari has a good follow up.
  • I somehow missed this quote by Mufleh al-Qahtani, head of NSHR, who said there is a need to set minimum and maximum limits for lashing sentences. Obviously he is taking the typical Saudi approach of trying not to offend anyone. How about going 300 steps further and stop lashing once and for all, except for those very few cases explicitly specified in Quran?

Today’s Links

  • CITC has blocked islamlight.net, the website which hosted the infamous fatwa by Shaikh Abdul-Rahman al-Barrak. Although the fatwa can be considered hate speech and a call to violence, I’m generally against such censorship. CITC should stop this practice of making decisions on our behalf on what we should, or rather should not, read on the web.
  • Corinne Martin is an artist who lives in Saudi Arabia and makes these awesome paintings based on vintage pop culture icons.
  • Music concerts are rare in this country. Music concerts in universities are super rare. But hey, what do you know? Jeddah Legends, the band of which Qusay is the lead singer, have recently performed a concert in KAUST. Why oh why KSU never hosted any concerts?

Today’s links

  • The lingerie boycott did not succeed, reports Arab News. Why? Reem Asaad says because people’s reactions to social causes is weak in Saudi Arabia. I agree with her that even if the boycott itself filed, raising awareness is still a good outcome of the campaign.
  • I have previously posted a video on how KAUST students entertain themselves, but the night version is even better: UPDATE: After speaking with the video owner, I decided to remove it because it might compromise her safety. She did not ask me to remove it, but I thought it would be better for everyone. Sorry.
  • Hani Naqshabandi: “We Saudis are not greatly different from anyone else, in money or knowledge or health. Poverty has no homeland, for it thrives in every country, ignorance exists here as it does everywhere else, and health problems that others have elsewhere are also found here. We might be better than others at some things, but they are also better than us at others, but no one is “better”, in an absolute sense, than anyone else.”
  • Popular Mechanics correctly notes that King Fahd International Airport in Dammam is the the largest airport in the world in terms of landmass. It is so enormous that it is actually about 28.5 square kilometers larger than Bahrain. What they fail to mention though is that it’s so empty most of the time it feels more like a ghost town than an international airport. The General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) is rarely in the news, but it’s actually one of the worst performing government departments. (via jb)
  • Speaking of ghost towns, Nathan Deuel writes about life inside the DQ. Few weeks ago I wanted to visit Nathan’s wife Kelly at their house in Riyadh and he had to come pick me up at the checkpoint at the DQ entrance. He wrote about it here.
  • How do KAUST students entertain themselvesUPDATE: After speaking with the video owner, I decided to remove it because it might compromise her safety. She did not ask me to remove it, but I thought it would be better for everyone. Sorry.
  • Jeddah United basketball team has joined efforts with automobile distributor Haji Husein Alireza & Co. Ltd. to launch Khobar United, the first of its kind women’s sports organization in the EP. When I visited Jeddah two years ago I had a chance to attend a kids tournament organized by Jeddah United where I also met the team’s captain Lina al-Maeena. Sports in girls’ schools is still being debated, but what these guys have been doing is really impressive.