Saudi Gazette reports on a divorce case before the Personal Status Court in Jeddah that wrapped several issues that almost always accompany divorces in the Kingdom into one decree. It’s not clear whether this is a result of the ongoing legal reforms in Saudi Arabia or is the result of the action of one judge.

Usually, a woman seeking divorce would have to file several separate actions with the court. The divorce, the issue of alimony, the issue of child custody, and the issue of child visitation would each involve an individual court hearing. Each step could result in untoward and expensive delays. In effect, this would allow one party to use the legal process as a cudgel against the other, regardless of the merits of the case.

I do hope that this is a universal reform in legal process in the Kingdom.

Family case verdicts issued altogether for the first time
Saudi Gazette report

JEDDAH — In an unprecedented move, the Personal Status Court in Jeddah governorate issued last Thursday several verdicts in one go in favor of a woman who was petitioning for a divorce.

The document that was issued to her outlined the various decisions including nullification of her marriage contract, visitation rights to see her children and the right to process her children’s papers at various government authorities if she wins custody of them.

The Yemeni woman claimed her husband beat her up and insulted her. According to an informed source in the Ministry of Justice, early last month the ministry ordered the personal status courts to ensure verdicts from cases that require more than one decision are issued altogether and compiled in one document.

These cases should be given priority and processed quickly. The verdicts were issued following a lawsuit the woman filed in the court against her husband. She claimed he mistreated her and did not want to live with him.


October:01:2014 - 08:56 | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV runs an interesting editorial by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE.

He points to the fact that ISIS can only be truly defeated if its ideology can be defeated. Military success against it, though assured, does not result in its end as it will just metastasize into a new form. He points to Saudi Arabia’s deradicalization program by name, but also notes that too many countries in the region accept the presence of extremist thought within their borders. There is currently insufficient effort being put toward teaching toleration of differences, human development, and good governance.

The intellectual battle against ISIS
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum

The global financial crisis taught the world how profoundly interdependent our economies have become. In today’s crisis of extremism, we must recognize that we are just as interdependent for our security, as is clear in the current struggle to defeat the ISIS.

If we are to prevent ISIS from teaching us this lesson the hard way, we must acknowledge that we cannot extinguish the fires of fanaticism by force alone. The world must unite behind a holistic drive to discredit the ideology that gives the extremists their power, and to restore hope and dignity to those whom they would recruit.

ISIS certainly can — and will — be defeated militarily by the international coalition that is now assembling and which the UAE is actively supporting. But military containment is only a partial solution. Lasting peace requires three bigger ingredients: winning the intellectual battle; upgrading weak governance; and grassroots human development.

Such a solution must begin with concerted international political will. Not a single politician in North America, Europe, Africa, or Asia can afford to ignore events in the Middle East. A globalized threat requires a globalized response. Everyone will feel the heat, because such flames know no borders; indeed, ISIS has recruited members of at least 80 nationalities.


September:29:2014 - 06:06 | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Saudi Gazette runs a story noting that most Saudi university graduates — male and female — are earning degrees in fields that do not lead to jobs.

Some see this as a problem. If your goal is employment or your concern is employment figures, this could clearly be seen as a problem.

It overlooks another facet of education, though: the rounded, developed individual.

Certainly, there are fields of study that are dead-ends for all but a few. There are also majors that lead to fields already glutted with earlier graduates. While this isn’t particularly new, the current unemployment figures around the world do suggest that, if the point is employment, then people should not be flocking into these majors and schools should probably be reducing the number of classes they offer in them.

This is not a Saudi-only problem or issue. American universities turn out graduates in field for which there are no jobs, or only low-paying jobs. It’s hard to say, though, that they’re worthless for the individual student. It can only be said that they don’t lead to employment.

63% Saudis enrolled in majors unsuitable for market
Saudi Gazette report

RIYADH — A majority of young Saudi men and women in colleges study subjects which are not in demand in the labor market, an economist was quoted as saying in a section of the Arabic press here on Saturday.

It is important that high school graduates focus on technical and vocational training, especially in light of the fact that 90 percent of those who signed up for Hafiz Unemployment Aid Program hold degrees with specializations unsuitable for the market, Dr. John Sfakianakis, chief economist at Saudi-Fransi Bank, told Al-Hayat.

Some 46 percent or 290,000 of the Kingdom’s unemployed youth hold bachelor’s degrees. The percentage of unemployed women with bachelor’s degrees stands at 88. Hafiz program has 320,000 applicants in its database.


September:28:2014 - 09:05 | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Saudi Gazette/Okaz report that Saudi Arabia is going to be involved in the manufacture of trains. The article isn’t clear whether this will be locomotives, train cars, or both, but sees a potential to employ 10K Saudis in making the equipment to support a GCC-wide rail network. The Saudis seem to be working to lay down a claim on building rail equipment, closing the door on regional competition. The article goes on to extoll the reasons why it makes sense for the Saudis to do so.

Plans on track to manufacture trains in Kingdom
Mohammad Al-Enezi | Okaz/Saudi Gazette

DAMMAM – The Saudi Railways Organization (SRO) is planning to enter into partnerships with international companies to manufacture trains in the Kingdom.

The head of SRO, Mohammad Al-Suwaiket, said the purpose of seeking foreign partners is to benefit from their expertise in meeting the Kingdom’s need for trains.

The country’s long-term plan is to connect the governorates and cities with a rail network.

“These trains will also solve the country’s public transportation needs,” Al-Suwaiket said, explaining that he is currently considering inviting a number of international companies that have a proven global reputation in manufacturing trains to participate in setting up production facilities in the Kingdom.


September:25:2014 - 09:55 | Comments & Trackbacks (2) | Permalink

Saudi media are replete with articles about the fight against IS, Nusra Front, and others. Saudi Gazette quotes Foreign Minister Saud Al-Faisal’s explanation of why Saudi Arabia is involved and the importance to the Kingdom of taking part in an international coalition against it. Keeping Saudi society on-side is going to be an important objective of the government.

Why did Saudi Arabia join anti-IS air strikes in Syria?
Saudi Gazette report

JEDDAH — Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Saud Al-Faisal stressed that his country will not hesitate to participate in any serious international effort seeking to mobilize and intensify action against terrorism wherever it occurs and whatever its motives.

This came in a speech delivered at the Global Counter Terrorism Forum in New York City on Tuesday as Saudi Arabia’s Air Forces participated in US-led bombing strikes against militants linked to the self-proclaimed Islamic State in Syria.

“We meet today as we are witnessing a concerted international effort to combat terrorism with active participation of the regional group and the United States to fight the most dangerous terrorist organization in the region inside the Syrian territories,” Prince Saud said.

He hoped that such an act will form the first nucleus of an international coalition to fight terrorism wherever it exists and whatever its justifications or reasons and without discrimination between sex, color or doctrine.

“We hope to continue this alliance for eliminating this scattered evil currently threatening the region and the world. Terrorism has distorted the image of Islam and Muslims,” he said.

Arab News reports that the son of the Minister of Defense was one of the pilots who flew in the raids. It notes that the pilots — who were named and shown in the media — have received death threats from IS supporters.

KSA throws full weight behind war on IS terror
RIYADH: Ghazanfar Ali Khan

The son of Crown Prince Salman, minister of defense, was among the eight Saudi airmen who took part in a US-led airstrike against Islamic State (IS) targets on Tuesday.

Prince Khaled bin Salman, a pilot, took part in the operations, sabq.org newspaper reported on Wednesday, much to the pride of his father, who expressed admiration at the team’s professionalism and bravery in standing up to the enemies of Islam.

A large number of Saudis, meanwhile, sent tweets praising the valor of Saudi pilots.

Saudi Arabia pledged stronger cooperation with the international community in combating terrorism.

“Saudi efforts will continue to eliminate terror outfits, including the IS,” said Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting.

And just to keep the testosterone levels in check, Arab News also reports that a female pilot led the UAE’s strike force in the raids:

Female UAE pilot ‘leads strikes’ on jihadists

Writing at The Wall St. Journal, Ahmed Al Omran — formerly known as “Saudi Jeans” — argues that Saudi participation in the raids shows that it is willing to take the risk of creating domestic unhappiness in the face of a far greater danger.

Participation in Syrian Airstrikes Reflects Saudi Fears


September:25:2014 - 09:17 | Comments & Trackbacks (1) | Permalink

Arab News carries a story noting Saudi Arabia’s involvement in air raids against ISIS facilities in Syria. The story notes that Bahrain, the UAE, and Qatar also took part in the actions alongside the US. Saudi Foreign Minister Saud Al-Faisal is extensively quoted on Saudi anti-terror efforts and calling for more states to join global anti-terrorism efforts.

KSA joins airstrikes to crush IS

Saudi Arabia’s air force participated in US-led bombing strikes against the so-called Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria on Tuesday as part of global efforts to eliminate terrorism, an official source said.

“The Saudi Royal Air Force participated in the military operations against IS in Syria, in support of the moderate Syrian opposition, and as part of the international coalition,” said the source. The coalition, he added, was formed to “eliminate terrorism, a deadly disease, and to support the brotherly Syrian people to restore security, unity and development in this devastated country.”

Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal, meanwhile, told a New York forum that Saudi Arabia would be in the forefront of global efforts to defeat terrorists. “We’ll never hesitate to participate in such serious international anti-terror operations,” he said.

Prince Saud expressed the Kingdom’s hope that the present campaign against IS militants would serve as a nucleus for an international coalition to strike and root out terrorism all over the world.


September:24:2014 - 07:27 | Comments Off | Permalink

Long-time Middle East correspondent Chris Dickey writes at “The Daily Beast” website that the Royal Saudi Air Force was involved in last nights raids on ISIS facilities in Syria. It joined the US along with Jordanian, the Emirates, and the Bahraini air forces.

Arab Kings vs. ISIS Barbarians

…The air strikes over Syria, participated in directly by the Saudis, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Bahrain, represent “the beginnings of a real Arab defense force,” the Saudi source said optimistically. Other Arab states, including Qatar and Kuwait, reportedly provided or facilitated logistical support.


September:23:2014 - 16:19 | Comments Off | Permalink

Today, Saudi Arabia celebrates its 84th year as an independent, unitary state. The government has done a pretty good job in developing a sense of nationalism and that is encouraged by pieces such as this one from Saudi Gazette encouraging the public to wear green and white to show their pride in the country.

Go Green on National Day
Nisma Rafiq | Saudi Gazette

JEDDAH — Today, Saudi Arabia will mark its 84th National Day. And it will be celebrated with solidarity, love, pride and passion. As cities across the country are adorned with national flags, green and white banners, streamers and balloons, this is the day that you can “go green” too.

So, how are you planning to wear and carry green this National Day? Green is an eye-catching color, gets attention, but it is not easy to flaunt green and look fashionable at the same time.

Dressing up in green doesn’t mean that you start walking around like a ripe tree. Here, we have made a short list of ideas to help you celebrate the National Day with style.


September:23:2014 - 10:14 | Comments Off | Permalink

Writing in the Arabic daily Okaz, Khalf Al-Harbe comments on a video clip that has been racing around Saudi Arabia for the past week or so. It shows a teacher tearing pages out of a text book — and instructing his students to do likewise. The photos are of female children. The teacher finds these morally reprehensible and tries to teach his male students likewise.

This, Al-Harbe argues, is how terrorists are made. They are taught to hate, to disrespect others, to take violent actions to ensure that “the good” is served. Al-Harbe goes on to note that the teacher — whom the government sincerely wishes to have a talk with — was also taught this kind of intolerance and extremist thought. As bad as this single teacher is, he is hardly alone in his extremism: it’s widespread in Saudi classrooms. And it needs to be stopped.

The making of a terrorist
Khalaf Al-Harbe | Okaz

I would be exaggerating if I say I was surprised by the video clip showing a teacher tearing a school textbook in front of his students because it contained pictures of girls. He also ordered his students to do the same.

Such behavior has been going on behind school walls for many years. The only new thing the teacher has come up with is that he filmed his action and posted it on social media.

Many other teachers must have done worse stuff than this, but they are too clever to make it acceptible for people to watch. The Ministry of Education promised to hunt down the teacher and punish him.

This shocking video may help us understand the roots of terrorism. The young man, who suddenly decides to commit a terrorist act, will not be doing that on a whim or just because his mastermind asked him to blow himself up.

The issue is not that simple. The arrival at the point of exploding oneself and the other innocent people needs a lot of effort make his mind frame that of a terrorist.


September:23:2014 - 10:10 | Comments Off | Permalink

In yet another semi-coherent piece of media reporting, Saudi Gazette/Okaz report on a series of terrorism trials in Saudi Arabia. According to the story, a terror cell — termed “one of the country’s largest — had been broken up (no date given). Some 60 members (no names given) have been sentenced in the course of several trials. Seven have received the death sentence.

Given the speed at which Saudi law grinds and the reported targets, it does not appear that any of these cases involve ISIS, but instead refer to earlier group actions, likely Al-Qaeda-related, that took place several years ago.

Seven terrorists sentenced to death
Mansour Al-Shehri | Okaz/Saudi Gazette

RIYADH — Seven Saudi men have been sentenced to death for their role in one of the Kingdom’s largest terror cells, which consisted of 94 persons and aimed to target oil facilities and assassinate security officers, scholars, senior officials and journalists.

The Special Criminal Court in Riyadh awarded death penalty to three terror suspects on Monday and four others on Sunday. Forty suspects were sentenced to prison terms. On Monday, the court sentenced 20 suspects to prison terms ranging from five to 25 years, in addition to a travel ban. All the convicts are Saudis. The convicts can appeal the verdict within 30 days, the Saudi Press Agency reported. The charges against the convicts included kidnapping and killing a foreigner, armed confrontation with the security forces, embracing deviant ideology, joining Al-Qaeda, disobedience of the ruler, making explosives, and receiving training in the use of weapons.

On Sunday, the court jailed as many as 20 suspects for between two and 23 years for a variety of crimes ranging from joining a terror cell, providing shelter for terrorists to embracing a takfiri ideology (labeling others as infidels).

The four sentenced to death were convicted of various crimes.


September:23:2014 - 10:02 | Comments Off | Permalink

While this Reuters (carried in Asharq Alawsat) piece does not spell out what cooperation Saudi Arabia is giving the US in its attacks on ISIS and Nusra Front targets in Syria, whatever it is, it is sufficient to cause ISIS to blame the Saudi royal family. The article does note that the Saudis are allowing the US to train Iraqi military units within its borders.

US, Arab partners launch first strikes on ISIS in Syria

Washington and Beirut, Reuters—The United States launched air and missile strikes with Arab allies in Syria for the first time on Tuesday, killing dozens of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters and members of a separate Al-Qaeda-linked group, and widening its new war in the Middle East.

“I can confirm that US military and partner nation forces are undertaking military action against [ISIS] terrorists in Syria using a mix of fighter, bomber and Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles,” Rear Admiral John Kirby, Pentagon press secretary, said in a statement.

US Central Command said Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had either participated or supported the strikes against ISIS targets.

US forces also launched strikes to “disrupt imminent attack” against US and Western interests by “seasoned Al-Qaeda veterans” who had established a safe haven in Syria, it said, apparently referring to attacks against a separate group.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the war in Syria, said at least 20 ISIS fighters were killed in strikes that hit at least 50 targets in Raqqa and Deir Ezzor provinces in Syria’s east.

It said strikes had also targeted Al-Nusra Front, in the northern provinces of Aleppo and Idlib, killing at least 30 fighters and eight civilians. The Al-Nusra Front is Al-Qaeda’s official Syrian wing and ISIS’s rival.

The air attacks fulfill President Barack Obama’s pledge to strike in Syria against ISIS, a Sunni Muslim group that has seized swathes of Syria and Iraq, imposing a medieval interpretation of Islam, slaughtering prisoners and ordering Shi’ites and non-Muslims to convert or die.


September:23:2014 - 09:52 | Comments Off | Permalink

Saudi Gazette reports that Imam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic University — Saudi Arabia’s leading university for the teaching of Islamic sciences, is purging its bookshelves of materials that promote extremism. Further, it is refusing to accept research into extremist ideologies and attendance at conferences and the like organized by extremist groups.

As always, the devil is in the details and Saudi media rarely provide details. No names of authors or titles of books are given.

Saudi Arabia also lacks freedom of speech — censorship is pervasive — so actual scholarship is being limited. Academic freedom of professors is equally being denied. This, though, is pretty much the norm for the country. Believing it is facing an existential threat from extremism, it is perhaps wise for the government and university to take these steps, but it comes with a cost, too. Imperfect knowledge does not usually lead to good conclusions.

University removes books with deviant ideologies
Saudi Gazette report

RIYADH — Imam Muhammad Bin Saud University here has begun reviewing the books in its library to eliminate books that spew deviant and extremist ideologies, Makkah daily reported.

The university has set up a special committee to go through all books listed in the library and take improper ones off of shelves so that students do not read them, a source said.

The books and references that contain certain religious content or security issues will also be eliminated and destroyed. The source said the university is keen to ensure that all the books in the library do not have any ideas that encourage extremism and factionalism.

The university has banned the registration of any research dealing with a personality or a society that has any form of ties with extremist groups and organizations unless the research criticizes these groups. Students are not allowed to summarize any audio or written files about extremist groups and persons or distribute them to other members of the university community.


September:21:2014 - 08:29 | Comments Off | Permalink
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