The apparent Saudi allergy to holding menial, blue-collar jobs has several sources, a piece in Arab News reports. And it starts from the fact that Saudi children aren’t expected to do chores around the home, leaving them instead to cheap expat workers. From that, disdain toward manual labor grows until it’s seen as simply beneath one’s dignity, is an impediment to marriage, and leads to a cycle of disrespect from employers. Government efforts to change attitudes and to make blue-collar work more appealing are in place, but not yet successful on a large scale. Attitudes toward manual labor are shared across the gender divide.
Why young Saudis turn down blue-collar jobs
RIYADH: Rodolfo C. Estimo Jr.
Despite the “Jobs on Air” television program’s success in looking for employment opportunities, many young Saudis refuse to accept blue-collar jobs.
“Based on a survey, there are at least five reasons why young Saudi males turn down menial jobs,” said Mohsin Shaikh Al-Hassan, program host. The program — which has found at least 8,500 jobs for young Saudi males and females since it went on air four months ago — is broadcast on Al Danah television channel from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. every Tuesday.
Al-Hassan said that one reason why young Saudis refuse to accept menial jobs is because of the family. “Saudi families did not train their children while small to do chores at home. They provided everything the child needed. That’s why children don’t want to accept menial jobs when they grow up,” he said.
Facing an enormous energy crisis, the Saudi government is stepping up its enforcement of energy efficiency in domestic appliances. Arab News reports that testing is going on at various factories and machines are being rejected for not meeting energy standards.
12,407 devices fail energy test
JUBAIL: SULTAN AL-SUGHAIR
A total of 12,407 devices, including 9,824 air-conditioners and 2,583 washing machines, have failed the Saudi standard and specifications test.
The commission of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MCI) and Saudi Standards, Metrology and Quality Org. (SASO) did not find the equipment energy efficient.
The children of expat workers in Saudi Arabia do not have the right to study at Saudi universities. That is due to change, Arab News reports, when a new university is opened specifically to deal with them. According to the report, 300,000 children of expats leave the country every year to attend higher education schools. The new university is seen as particularly attractive for parents of female students who are reluctant to send them abroad, even back to their home countries.
The university, when it opens, is sure to be over-subscribed. Strict entry requirements are being planned. Instruction will be in English.
New university to solve problem of expats
JEDDAH: P.K. ABDUL GHAFOUR
Realizing the decades-old dream of expat parents, a Saudi business group led by Prince Saud bin Musaed has taken the initiative to open an international university in Jeddah, offering degrees in engineering, automobile mechanics and business management.
The new university is a joint venture between Gammon Saudi Arabia and the Bangalore-based Bapuji Institute of Science & Technology, said Sheikh Rafik Mohammed, chairman of Gammon Group, who is confident that it would be a cent percent successful project.
“There are more than 10 million foreign workers and their families in the Kingdom,” Mohammed said, adding that they lack a university required for the higher education of their children. At least 300,000 expat children leave the Kingdom every year for higher education.
Prince Faisal bin Saud will sign an agreement with Ganesh Shivashankarappa, CEO of Bapuji Institute and managing director of Shamanur Group in Davangere, next month to establish the university, which will be the first such university in the Kingdom.
Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health is reporting a sharp and continuing drop in the number of cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), caused by a coronavirus. New cases are being tolled at the rate of two per week.
According to this article from Arab News, World Health Organization officials are still not absolutely positive that camels are the vector through which the disease is being spread, but at present, that forms the best theory of contagion. The article also notes that three specialists hospitals — in Jeddah, Riyadh, and Dammam — have been established to deal with the disease.
MERS cases drop sharply
RIYADH: MD RASOOLDEEN
The number of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) corona virus cases has dropped drastically in the Kingdom, with only one death being reported from Makkah and an infection in Dhuba in the last seven days.
“This is the fifth consecutive week the Ministry of Health has observed a sharp decline in the number of MERS patients,” an official said, adding that people should still continue to take all precautionary measures against the disease.
The ministry will also continue to take maximum precautions, the official said.
During the period, the ministry tested some 1,009 samples and the number of visits by the Rapid Response teams were limited to less than five.
A total of 979 cases have been reported since June 2012, which included 428 deaths and 548 recoveries, while three are currently being treated in hospitals.
A Saudi student in the UK has identified the gene responsible for “heritage paralysis” and finds that it is exacerbated by close intermarriage. This only adds to the number of diseases and conditions resulting from the traditional practice of preferring marriages among first cousins throughout the Arab world. The article at Arab News includes a graph showing the prevalence of the disease throughout the region.
A Saudi scholarship student in Britain, Nuha Al-Rayess, has discovered a new genetic mutation that leads to muscle atrophy, weakened limbs and, finally, total paralysis in some cases. The tests she conducted showed that the principal cause for this condition is intermarriage and reproduction among family members.
Al-Rayess noted that this disease is known in medical terms as “heritage paralysis.” However, its genetic causes were previously unknown. As such, her new discovery is a significant leap forward in the world of genetic disease research.
Al-Rayess said that 70 percent of hereditary diseases in Saudi Arabia occur due to people marrying and subsequently producing children with their blood-line relatives. Indeed, the Kingdom has some of the highest rates in the world for familial marriages, making it easier for the disease to continue in future generations.
The Saudi government is facing a conundrum when dealing with temporary marriages (Nikah Misyar, for Sunni Muslims). While there are multiple fatwas authorizing such marriages as permitted under Shariah law, it is against Saudi Arabia’s public policy. The government acts to discourage it — as with this article from Saudi Gazette — but appears to be unable or unwilling to directly counter religious statements. Whether moral suasion overcomes biological drives and convenience, with a religious blessing, will be an interesting thing to watch.
Grappling with the surge in temporary marriages
Saudi Gazette report
THE Saudi Charitable Society for the Welfare of Saudi Families Abroad (Awaser) has warned Saudi citizens against engaging in any temporary marriage contracts abroad.
Speaking to Al-Riyadh newspaper, Tawfiq Abdulaziz Al-Suwailem, chairman of the board of directors, said the society works with the ministries of social affairs and foreign affairs as well as Saudi missions abroad to crack down on Saudis who enter temporary marriages.
“There should be legislation and extensive media coverage of such marriages arranged by brokers outside the country. Saudi men should realize the consequences of these marriages.
Unfortunately, over the past 10 years, these types of marriages have spread and are out of control. They have been called tourist, summer and common-law marriages and they all have one common thing: they’re temporary and the disengagement ends with a divorce,” Al-Suwailem said.
While things are much better than they were 20 or 30 years ago, there’s still too much sycophancy appearing in Saudi media to suit King Salman. Arab News reports that the King as told government agencies to take action to block the obsequious flattery and fawning that is published every time an official receives a new position or spends a day in the hospital.
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman has instructed monitoring authorities to control publication of reports and advertisements congratulating government officials and exaggerated condolence messages and punish violators, sabq.org reported on Wednesday.
“In a circular issued to ministries and government departments, the king said it has been noticed that people publish excessive ads for congratulations and condolences, violating regulations,” the electronic newspaper said, adding that allocations for such ads are made from the budget.
A circular issued by the government eight years ago banned ministries and government departments from publishing such ads and reports in local newspapers and magazines.
King Salman wants to leave his mark on Saudi history, but he wants it to be a good mark. Reacting to a video showing Minister of Health Ahmed Khatib getting into a dawsha with a citizen complaining about health care, the King sacked the Minister. He’d been in office since January 28.
Al Arabiya TV has the story:
A recently leaked video involving a Saudi minister in a squabble has been a hot topic in the kingdom.
Health minister Ahmed Khatib was filmed having a heated argument with another citizen, in which he was shouting and making angry gestures.
He was later relieved of his duties in an order by Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz on Friday, with Dr. Mohammed Ali al-Sheikh appointed Acting Health Minister of Saudi Arabia.
In the 27-second video, the former minister is seen loudly dismissing a visibly angry citizen who had come to speak to him about the state of a private hospital in Riyadh.
Saudi Gazette reprints an article from Economist that seeks to answer the question about why Saudis are such heavy consumers of and participants in social media. Various surveys show Saudis as being the most active on various social media platforms in relation to both population size and Internet connections.
The article notes that the lack of other social outlets is certainly a factor, but also that conservative Saudis — including clerics — find that the outreach possibilities are too good to ignore. While abuses of social media abound and there are recurrent calls to ban or control it, Saudis aren’t going to give up their access to the world and their soapboxes from which they can address it.
On MARCH 18th, at an Arab media get-together, Twitter announced that it will open an office in Dubai. Not before time. Smartphone growth has rocketed in the Gulf—by most counts the region has the highest penetration. WhatsApp and Facebook have become standard modes of communication. Nowhere is that more so than in Saudi Arabia. Several surveys in 2013 showed that the kingdom has the world’s highest percentage of people on Twitter relative to its number of internet users; and on YouTube too. Saudis also spend more hours online than their peers elsewhere. That might seem surprising for such a conservative country where the constitution is said to be taken directly from the Koran and where women are not permitted to drive. Why are Saudis such big fans of social media?
Outsiders often regard the 30m Saudis as far behind the rest of the world. The modern Saudi state was founded only in 1932, and then on the basis of an existing pact between the Al Saud family and the Wahhabist clerics, who peddle a particularly red-hot version of Islam. It is certainly a traditional place, especially around the capital Riyadh. But the country has also rapidly modernised since discovering its vast oil wealth. It has a GDP per capita of almost $26,000. Today thousands of its young people study abroad, speak English and are as globalised as their peers in other countries. Fully 75% of the population are under 30. They have grown up thinking it normal to go online to do everything from ordering a coffee to watching TV.
It is the wedding of these factors to Saudi Arabia’s social peculiarities that may account for its topping of the virtual rankings. Shopping malls are pretty much the only source of entertainment for young people, because the clerics dislike cinemas and bars. So mingling with friends on social media has obvious appeal, not least because it is illegal for unrelated men and women to fraternise in person. Facebook has become a way of picking up a date (previously, many young people would turn on Bluetooth and search for random connections nearby). Frustrated Saudis can also vent about the government anonymously on Twitter. But social media is not just used for getting up to naughty things. The country’s most popular Twitter account, with 11.4m followers, is that of Muhammad al-Arefe, a Saudi cleric—and not a particularly liberal one, either.
The fact that so many unhinged fatwas make it into the public realm has led to a situation where satire is confused with reality.
Al Arabiya TV reports that an article appearing in a Moroccan satire paper alleging that Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti supports cannibalism as a way to show “togethernesss” needed a blunt denial from the Grand Mufti himself. Of course the Arab media isn’t the only one that mistakes satire with facts. Articles appearing in the American satirical paper The Onion are sometimes picked up by major media.
But when real life takes on bizarre aspects — be they in laws or fatwas — a little confusion is understandable. It’s just not very good journalism.
Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Abdullah al-Sheikh has denied issuing a fatwa (religious edict) which allows a hungry man to eat his wife, or parts of her body, in the case of famine or if eating his wife would result in saving his own life.
Over the past few days, several pro-Iranian media outlets, such as the online portal of Al Allam news channel and Lebanon’s al-Jumohouria newspaper have carried the story without backing it with any evidence or specifying where or when such a fatwa has been issued.
The unsubstantiated fatwa attributed to the Grand Mufti claims that such sacrifice is the ultimate way of showing subordination and love to her husband as a “way for their two bodies to become one.”
Saudi Gazette/Okaz badly report a vote in Saudi Arabia’s Shoura Council. The headline says that the Council voted against the appointment of women as ambassadors. Actually, the Council said that the nomination of ambassadors was outside its competence: it is up to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, not the Council to make such nominations and appointments. It was within the Council’s remit, however, to deny Saudi diplomats a pay raise.
RIYADH – The Shoura Council on Tuesday rejected a proposal to appoint women in the post of ambassadors.
The foreign affairs committee at the council turned down the recommendation moved by a member Lubna Al-Ansari in this regard. She proposed that women shall be appointed in key positions in the Kingdom’s administrative, financial and technical fields as well as in diplomatic missions abroad.
The committee report noted that it is a policy matter that can be decided by the higher authorities. It also drew attention to the fact that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs enjoys jurisdiction to appoint women in key positions, including that of ambassador, and it will make appointments in key positions after taking into account of the qualifications and capabilities of the officials. The council also rejected another proposal to increase salary of diplomats and other officials working at Saudi missions abroad. — Okaz/Saudi Gazette
Saudi Gazette translates a piece from the Arabic daily newspaper Al Jazeera in which the writer argues that it’s time to end lashing as a criminal punishment in Saudi Arabia. Lashing is a discretionary punishment, he says, and is not required. Further, it goes against international agreements the Kingdom has signed concerning the use of physical punishment. Jail and fines are a sufficient remedy to the crimes for which floggings are used.
He argues, too, that it’s time for Shariah law to be codified.
Restrict discretionary punishment to imprisonment and fines
Muhammad Al-Asheikh | Al Jazeera
Muslim jurists have divided Shariah punishments into three types: Hudud, Qisas and Ta’zir. Hudud are those forms of punishment set by Almighty Allah and which must not be transgressed; Qisas are those that are carried out in retaliation for crimes and Ta’zir are those forms of punishment administered at the discretion of the judge for a crime for which no specific punishment has been ordained in the Holy Qur’an.
Muslim rulers grant judges the power to act in a legal capacity and the right to review discretionary rulings. If judicial rulings are in the interest of people and society, then the ruler will sanction them. If he feels that they are not severe enough or vice versa, then he has the authority to make changes.
Shariah focuses on the overall interests of society. The objective and purpose of legal rulings of any type is to allow justice to prevail and to enhance stability, security and peace.
Lashing as a discretionary form of punishment is left to the judge who will decide the number of lashes. There is an interesting principle within Shariah: “There can be no Ijtihad when an explicit text exists in the sources.”