• 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.

Don’t Be a Victim

Yes, we have a discrimination problem. Racism, regionalism, tribalism, sectarianism, etc. You name it. We have it. Discrimination in many different forms and on many different levels. It is good that we are finally acknowledging this problem. But acknowledging it is not enough. We have to confront it. We have to work on it.

Ali al-Mousa wrote about this in al-Watan last week. He admitted that we have this problem, which is great. But then he followed this with another admission, one that was rather shocking and disturbing to me. “I’m the first to practice discrimination in marriage and tribe, for instance, and I will inherit this to my kids, as a will and a way of life.”

Some might read that and think: what a brave admission. But is it, really? I understand that we all have our prejudices, but simply admitting that they exist will not take us anywhere, it will not move us forward. What is the difference between those who deny the discrimination and practice it, and those who admit it’s there but also practice it? It is good to know our prejudices, it is great to talk about them, but it is fighting and not acting on them that truly counts.

I find it scary that an intellectual like al-Mousa feels comfortable about justifying discrimination for himself (and probably his readers as well) simply because he thinks we are all “victims of a long legacy of social hierarchy and the weight of tribe.” I refuse to be a victim. We should all reject this twisted logic. I wonder, if people like him, supposedly leaders in our country, do not push for change and start with themselves, how can we hope for anything to ever change?