Filmmakers, open letter to MoDo, muttawa hunt

  • Whenever someone asks me what interesting things Saudis are doing, I tell them to look at our rising group of young filmmakers. They are determined, passionate, and hardworking. Abu Dhabi’s The National caught up with my friend Abdulmuhsen al Mutairi when he was shooting his latest short film. “If you believe in art, you can make something, and in the beginning you will make very low, medium-quality work,” he said. “But if you continue to learn from your mistakes and the reviews of your audience, you will have something.”
  • Sarah Haji at MMW has an open letter to Maureen Dowd regarding her latest Vanity Fair travel piece about Saudi Arabia. “So unless you’re a self-righteous Times columnist with a history of thinking that thousands of years of culture and tradition should tremble in your Western wake, you should attempt not to project all of your customs onto another people,” Sarah writes.
  • Eman al-Nafjan aka Saudiwoman announced last week she was taking a break from her blog. Then she discovered she just can’t be away from the blog. How cute is that? So on her comeback post, she takes an expat friend who is about to leave the country to the mall on a Muttawa hunt. They got lucky in Riyadh Gallery, where they had a chance to witness a classic CPVPV raid on shoppers. Good times.

MoDo does KSA, Boom?

  • Maureen Dowd visited the Kingdom earlier this year. Few weeks ago I was contacted by her assistant. I was told that Dowd was writing a travel piece about Saudi Arabia for Vanity Fair and she has some questions for me. I answered her questions, but I don’t know if any of what said made it to print. The article is published in their August issue, and to go with it they put together a slideshow on the magazine website under the title “Sex and the Saudis.” Lame linkbait. Don’t wast your time on that. Instead, go to Qusay blog where he offers the same slideshow with much better captions. The pictures are bad because MoDo did not bother to bring a professional photographer with her, and these pics were taken by her assistance Ashley Parker who actually appears in one of them.
  • Speaking of slideshows, back in 2007 I put together this one in which I collected images of the many megaprojects that were announced at the time: economic cities, financial districts, new universities, skyscrapers, etc. Three years later, where are they now? Hadi Fakihi takes a moment to check on the development of these projects, and the picture is pretty dim. There were way too many huge promises that are yet to be delivered. Construction in some of the projects has begun, but none of them is anywhere near completion. Boom? What boom?

Women’s driving, woman ambassador, a pretty happy girl

  • Elaph quotes unnamed sources saying Saudi women will start driving their cars within two months. Watany mobile news service also quoted unnamed sources saying a meeting took place last week between a senior decision-maker and the Grand Mufti indicates that women’s driving is imminent. Also last week, al-Riyadh daily published a feature discussing how to implement women’s driving, which marks a transition from the typical “is it time for women to start driving or not?” Last month, Prince Saud al-Faisal, the minister of foreign affairs, told NYT columnist Maureen Dowd to bring her driving license next time she visits the country. However, Dowd told me in an email that she knows he was being sly and that driving is not going to be forthcoming.
  • Abdullah Aboul-Samh praises the Republic of Georgia for appointing a woman ambassador to Saudi Arabia. “It is a clear evidence on our civic advancement,” he adds. I’m sorry dude, but Georgia appointing a woman ambassador says nothing about us. Please wake me up when Saudi Arabia appoints a woman ambassador in Georgia.
  • Sabria S. Jawhar: “Like all Saudi women I appreciate the efforts by American and European human rights organizations to protect us from bad Saudi men and to help grant us the freedom we deserve. Without the help of Americans and Europeans my life would have no future. Okay, I’m lying. If Western do-gooders minded their own business I’d be a pretty happy girl.”

Today’s Links

  • Prince Abdul Aziz bin Bandar has been appointed as deputy chief of the General Intelligence at the rank of minister. The Prince’s previous positions include heading the Anticommunism Department of the GI.

  • NYT has a nice video on the evolution of Olympic pictograms. You don’t know what a pictogram is? Well, this a good chance to learn something new.

  • Speaking of the NYT, Maureen Dowd was (still is?) in Saudi Arabia. According this article in al-Watan daily, Dowd visited the southern town of Rejal Almaa’. I don’t know why she was not wearing the abaya.

  • Olivier Arvisais from the Université du Québec à Montréal in Canada is conducting a study on socials issues and labor market in Saudi Arabia. He recently launched website to obtain responses that could help him with his research. If you are a young Saudi, you can help him by answering the questions there.