Wow! Just wow!

For some reason, Saudi Gazette saw fit to translate one of the more sweeping pieces of idiocy I’ve seen in the Saudi press for quite some time. The article, appearing in the Arabic daily Al-Riyadh falls in the pits of conspiracy theory in a rather breathtaking way. ISIS is the creation of foreign enemies, Zionists, and Free-Masons! Zionists are being embedded in Saudi society to destroy it from within! There’s nothing wrong with Saudi schools or their curriculum and all criticism is foreign-inspired!

Are we the ones exporting terror?
Abdullah Al-Nasser | Al-Riyadh

Are we the ones exporting terrorism to the world? I raise this serious question because the Kingdom’s enemies no longer cause any uproar over this. Neither the Zionists, the American ultra right, the hate groups in the West, nor the Magian Iran does raise this issue any more. However, we discern this when some people in Zionist garbs in our country talk or make their presentations.

Earlier, the fingers were pointed at us from afar. Then they showed their ugly face in the press and on television. Frankly, I am sure there are Zionists who have been planted among us. These are agents who had been given exhaustive training. They were selected with utmost care after studying their psyche, mentality, inclinations, deviations and moral upbringing. Then they were placed among us in suitable jobs so they would gradually rise to key positions in the Arab media, as loyal and efficient agents serving the Zionist scheme and defending it with ferocity and zeal.

I wrote many times about such people and warned against their machinations and the danger they pose to the Muslim nation. I said that they are a disgraceful lot and an evil. When we take them in our fold and trust them, we are keeping evil, treachery and meanness with us. Exposing them is a duty to the nation and the Ummah. There is no more time for civility or shutting our eyes before their mean practices.


August:13:2015 - 07:11 | Comments & Trackbacks (3) | Permalink

Saudi media reports on how social media is pointing fingers at the bad behavior of Saudi tourists in Europe. This Saudi Gazette story notes that self-criticism has been unleashed, with harsh criticism extended toward those who seem to ignore the simplest social niceties while abroad.

Saudi tourists’ behavior stirs social media storm
Saleh Fareed | Saudi Gazette

JEDDAH — Tourists from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states are the target of harsh criticisms on social media after photographs showing them cooking, littering and smoking shisha in public parks in countries they were visiting were posted online.

Social media users in Saudi Arabia have also posted videos and pictures online of Saudis acting strangely abroad.

Last week, there was outrage in the Saudi online community, after a number of local journalists sparked a heated debate about how Saudi tourists are perceived abroad.

The consensus among those online appeared to be that tourists need to respect the local customs and regulations.

Fahad Al-Harbi said: “Our people have done it wrong, I am very sorry and ashamed … we should admit that some of our tourists have crossed the line.”

Meanwhile, Al Arabiya TV reports, people are also keeping track of the behavior of Saudi women with the audacity to attend a Saudi soccer match in London. Saudi women are not permitted to attend matches in the Kingdom.

Saudi female football fans at UK match create social media buzz


August:13:2015 - 07:03 | Comments Off | Permalink

In his column for Al Arabiya TV, Abdulrahman al-Rashed notes that arguments that the lack of “moderates” in the political sphere is what leads to extremism are sorely lacking in evidential support. Empowering moderates does not lead to inclusive governments. Instead, it leads to moderates seizing power and attempting to impose their political views — which aren’t very moderate after all — on the population and to do away with their opponents.

He looks at Iran, Sudan, Gaza, and Egypt where once religious parties gained control, they did their utmost to ensure that there was only one orthodoxy: theirs. Worse, their assumption of power led to no decrease in actual extremism in the name of religion. A failed experiment that relied on unrealistic views of human behavior.

The theory of terrorism and restraining moderates
Abdulrahman al-Rashed

hose affiliated with religious groups have for long reiterated that the emergence of extremist Islamic groups is due to the restraining of “moderate” Islamic ones. Western governments were convinced of this for a while and thus began to urge Arab governments to allow religious groups in politics and include them in governance, either democratically or through partnership and quotas.

It may seem reasonable that including moderates leads to the expelling of extremists, but this theory is not supported with evidence – at least in our Arab arena. These concept of participation for these groups means a monopolizing of authority. They are not like Turkey and Indonesia’s Islamic groups who work and govern under a secular system and whose “Islamic liberalism” looks nothing like the extremism of Islamist Arabs. The aim of politicized religious groups is to attain power regardless of the rhetoric adopted and the means used in order to later create a dominating regime and eliminate others!

Based on experience, it’s been proven that most Arab religious parties are exclusionary despite all their talk about moderation and co-existence. There are many examples on the case from our modern history and I will resort to four of them to elaborate my point. The first experience was Iran. The masses who protested in the streets of Tehran and called for toppling the Shah and received Ayatollah Khomeini at the airport were a mixture of political parties who agreed on establishing a regime that allows pluralism.


August:12:2015 - 08:17 | Comments & Trackbacks (2) | Permalink

Since at least the days of ancient Rome, the question Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? — who guards (against) the guardians? — has been a tough one to answer.

According to a story in Saudi Gazette, the question hasn’t yet received an adequate answer in Saudi Arabia. The article reports that over the past nine months, over 600 court cases have been filed by Saudi women against their guardians. These cases dealt only with adl, preventing the women from marrying for various illegitimate reasons. I wonder what the number would be if all cases of abuse by guardians were counted?

627 lawsuits against male guardians
Saudi Gazette report

JEDDAH — As many as 627 Saudi women in various regions of the Kingdom have filed lawsuits against their male guardians accusing them of preventing them from getting married.

The lawsuits were filed between the end of October 2014 and mid July this year, according to local newspapers.

The women are requesting the courts transfer their guardianship to other males in the family, including uncles or brothers.

Makkah saw the highest number of lawsuits, with 229 over the period, while Riyadh had the second highest number at 154 cases.

Preventing a female relative from getting married — a practice known as Adl — is prohibited by Islam, but some male guardians still do so, alleging tribal incompatibility, or out of a desire to keep the woman’s salary, inheritance and properties for themselves.


August:11:2015 - 06:15 | Comments Off | Permalink

Saudi Gazette reports on a rash of car thefts reported to police last December. Nearly 1,7000 cars were reported stolen across the country. The article gives no indication of why the cars were stolen. Joy riding and possible use in terrorist attacks spring to mind as two possibilities, with rather different import, but we’re not provided with that information.

Nearly 1,700 cars stolen in Saudi cities in one month
Saudi Gazette report

JEDDAH — About 1,700 passenger cars were stolen from various regions of the Kingdom in December 2014, Al-Madinah newspaper reported on Monday, quoting official statistics released by the Ministry of Interior.

According to the ministry, only 348 cars were found and handed back to their owners. As many as 749 cars were stolen in Riyadh but none of them was found so far.

Makkah came second with 420 stolen cars, of which 150 cars were found. In the Eastern Province, 133 cars were stolen during the month, of which only 11 were found.


August:11:2015 - 06:09 | Comments Off | Permalink

Following meetings between the Russian and Saudi Foreign Ministers, Al Arabiya TV reports, there’s no agreement about the future of Syria’s President. Neither side is budging over its views about Assad, though both do agree that something needs to be done regionally about ISIS.

Saudi FM: Assad has no place in Syria’s future

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said on Tuesday Riyadh’s position on the conflict in Syria has not changed and that there was no place for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the future of the country.

He was speaking after talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, a long-standing ally of Assad in the conflict, amid a renewed diplomatic push to end the conflict in Syria because of gains on the ground by ISIS.


August:11:2015 - 05:59 | Comments Off | Permalink

Just in time for Haj, a new virus is being identified as a potential threat in Saudi Arabia, Arab News reports. Zika virus, related to Dengue Fever and Yellow Fever, is another mosquito-borne disease. It is milder in its effects than some of its cousins, but is no joy. The article notes that the Ministry of Health will be doing their normal three-phase screening to prevent outbreaks of disease, including pre-departure, arrival, and during Haj.

Ministry takes precautionary measures against new virus

JEDDAH: The Ministry of Health has put in place its precautionary plan and procedures aimed at preventing the entry of the Zika virus during the Haj season this year.

This involves examining those arriving from countries affected by the virus, isolating infected individuals and providing treatment at ministry hospitals when necessary.

According to Dr. Khaled Marghalani, spokesman at the Health Ministry, symptoms fever, skin rashes, redness of the eyes and pain in the joints, all of which may disappear within days or weeks. Cases that need to be admitted to hospitals are rare and the illness is transmitted by mosquitoes, said public health experts at the ministry.

Marghalani said the public health program applied by the ministry annually during the pilgrimage season is an integrated program that covers three phases: pre-arrival of the pilgrims, upon their arrival at ports of entry, and finally during their presence at the Haj sites.


August:09:2015 - 07:29 | Comments Off | Permalink

Amid public denunciation of the suicide bombing of a mosque in the Asir Province, Saudi authorities have identified the bomber as a Saudi national. Fifteen were killed and another 33 injured, Saudi Gazette reports:

Asir bomber was a Saudi

JEDDAH – The terrorist act last Thursday at the special emergency forces mosque in Asir region was carried out by 21-year-old Saudi suicide bomber Yusuf Bin Sulaiman Bin Abdullah Al-Sulaiman, security spokesman of the Ministry of Interior stated to SPA.

The blast took place on Thursday while the personnel of the special emergency forces in Asir region were performing Dhuhr (mid-day) prayer in congregation in the mosque at the forces’ headquarters.

The bombing martyred 15 people and injured 33 others. Shreds and human body parts were found at the scene of the incident believed to be the result of a blast using an explosive vest.

The authorities, following investigations of the heinous crime, said the bombing was carried out by the suicide bomber using an explosive vest.

The security authorities are still following up on the terrorist incident.


August:09:2015 - 07:16 | Comments Off | Permalink

CNN presents a — if not tell-all, then tell-much — story on what it characterizes as the greatest computer hack in history… against Saudi ARAMCO.

The attack happened in 2012 and brought the company to its knees, a blow that could have bankrupted smaller concerns. And it all started with a spammy e-mail.

Read the whole thing.

The inside story of the biggest hack in history

Three years ago, the world witnessed the worst hack ever seen.

And for the first time, we’re now learning new details about the monstrous cyberattack on Saudi Aramco, one of the world’s largest oil companies.

In a matter of hours, 35,000 computers were partially wiped or totally destroyed. Without a way to pay them, gasoline tank trucks seeking refills had to be turned away. Saudi Aramco’s ability to supply 10% of the world’s oil was suddenly at risk.

And one of the most valuable companies on Earth was propelled back into 1970s technology, using typewriters and faxes.

When it comes to sheer cost, the recent cyberattacks on Sony Pictures and the American government pale in comparison.

The average person has never heard about Saudi Aramco — or this hack. But we all felt its mysterious reverberations.


August:08:2015 - 00:02 | Comments Off | Permalink

Another mosque has been bombed in Saudi Arabia. This time, the target appears to have been security personnel — 17 of whom were killed — rather than Shi’ite congregants. The bombing took place in the southern city of Abha.

Deadly suicide bombing hits Saudi mosque

At least 17 security officers were killed Thursday after a suicide bombing targeted a mosque used by the emergency forces south of Saudi Arabia, Al Arabiya News Channel reported.

The incident took place in Abha, capital of Asir province.

In July, Saudi Arabia arrested 431 people as part of a crackdown on a cluster of cells linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group.


August:06:2015 - 06:37 | Comments Off | Permalink

Saudi Arabia’s move toward renewable energy continue, Arab News reports. A new solar power plant is scheduled to open in Aflaj, in the center of the country. The plant will produce 50 megawatts of electricity daily.

Solar power plant set to open in Aflaj
MOHAMMED RASOOLDEEN

RIYADH: The solar-power plant, “Layla,” in Aflaj province, will be opened shortly, Saleh Al-Awaji, chairman of Saudi Electricity Company (SEC), has said.

The Saudi Electricity Company (SEC) is one of the signatories, along with King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) and Taqnia Energy, to a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the launch of the first 50 megawatt solar power station at Al-Aflaj.

Al-Awaji described the start of the power plant as a move toward a newfound reliance on renewable energy for electricity generation. “It will make Aflaj the first province in the Kingdom to benefit from clean energy. There are similar projects that the company will undertake in the future.” He recalled that the strategic transformation program approved by the board of directors in April 2014 includes plans to ration the use of fossil fuels and raise the efficiency of its use in power plants, through a transformation of the power plants of the company from simple cycle to combined cycle, as well as by providing investment opportunities for the implementation of projects for converting stations to renewable energy electricity.

Al-Awaj said the implementation of these projects is expected to save 1.5 million barrels of fuel per day, which translates into 550 million barrels per year.


August:05:2015 - 06:28 | Comments Off | Permalink

Summers can get pretty hot in Saudi Arabia. The record high temperature is 52.0° C/125.6° F. As a result, the Saudi Ministry of Labor has promulgated a rule that requires outdoor work to stop between the hours of noon and 3:00PM. That rule, however, is inconvenient for many employers, so they tend to ignore it.

Now, report Saudi Gazette/Okaz, the Ministry is stepping in to halt the abuse. It has identified some 250 firms flouting the regulation and is fining them.

Employers continue to flout mid-day work ban
Ibrahim Alawi

JEDDAH — The Ministry of Labor’s Makkah branch recorded 250 violations of regulations prohibiting outdoor work between noon and 3 p.m., and has penalized the companies involved.

The branch’s director general, Abdullah Al-Olayyan, said all of the ministry’s inspectors in the region carried out field campaigns to detect such violations since the ban came into effect on June 15.

The ban covers both commercial and government projects, including the construction of housing complexes and any sites where employees work under direct sunlight.

Al-Olayyan added that the 250 employees were from different firms. He said the inspection tours are being carried out due to the ministry’s keenness to provide a safe work environment, to raise the efficiency of occupational safety and to protect employees from hazards and accidents.

He called for the cooperation of all parties by not forcing employees to work during the ban period in order to protect their safety and stressed that inspections would be intensified. The ministerial decision defining the ban calls for fines ranging from SR3,000 to SR10,000 for companies that violate the law.


August:03:2015 - 08:02 | Comments Off | Permalink
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