Category Archives: Saudi Arabia

Pet Cats, Dogs, and Immorality

Chuck Shepherd comes through for me again. He’s not posting on his old site anymore, now he’s at, if you want to check it out.

That’s where I found this story:

RIYADH (AFP) – Saudi Arabia’s religious police have announced a ban on selling cats and dogs as pets, or walking them in public in the Saudi capital, because of men using them as a means of making passes at women, an official said on Wednesday.

[Othman al-Othman, head of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice in Riyadh, known as the Muttawa] said the commission was implementing a decision taken a month ago by the acting governor of the capital, Prince Sattam bin Abdul Aziz, adding that it follows an old edict issued by the supreme council of Saudi scholars.

The reason behind reinforcing the edict now was a rising fashion among some men using pets in public “to make passes on women and disturb families,” he said, without giving more details.

Othman said that the commission has instructed its offices in the capital to tell pet shops “to stop selling cats and dogs”.

Arab News also has a story, with more detail.

The commission made the request after receiving several complaints that many Saudi youths, influenced by the Western culture, brought their pets into public places and caused distress to families with young children.

“The ban was based on the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) saying that it’s forbidden to give or accept any money related to the selling or buying of dogs,” said Ahmed Al-Ghamdi, head of the commission in Makkah province.

Muslims are discouraged from keeping dogs inside their homes because they are not considered clean animals. However, in two separate Hadiths narrated by Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him), which means the cat-loving companion, the Prophet (pbuh) told his companions of the virtue of saving the life of a dog by quenching its thirst.

He referred to a man whom Allah blessed for giving water to a thirsty dog. And the other was a prostitute who filled her shoe with water and gave it to a thirsty dog. For this deed she was granted the eternal paradise.

Nuha, a 34-year-old pet owner, said that the Qur’an while narrating the story of the People of the Cave mentions that they owned a dog.

“The Qur’an narrates in Surah Al-Kahf (The Cave) the story of some pious youths who took refuge in a cave. These people had a dog with them, and the fact that Allah mentions the dog and counts the dog among them, indicates that dogs are permitted to live among people,” said Nuha, who owns four cats and two hamsters.

Nuha was referring to the verse: “And you would have thought them awake, whereas they were asleep. And We turned them on their right and on their left sides, and their dog stretching forth his two forelegs at the entrance (of the cave as a guard).” (Holy Qur’an 18.18)

winsome pup for illustrative purposes

winsome pup for illustrative purposes

I’m eagerly awaiting the day when I can fit dog ownership into my lifestyle. I won’t be using the dog for nefarious purposes.

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Everyone Has a Facebook Page

Here’s the Facebook page of a Saudi-Arabia based fast-food restaurant that specializes in chicken with a special blend of 18 spices.

I love it! Parts of the world that have been mysterious and cloistered from the rest of us are now becoming known due to the internet. This has to be a good thing.
Now I want to try their special-recipe chicken.

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Another Blog Recommendation

American Bedu.

The post that brought me to her blog was about the Muttawa, Saudi Arabia’s Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, those old, bearded fellows who go around beating people who might be having fun.

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I Won Another Bet with Myself

President Bush went off to Saudi Arabia, again, to ask them to please pump more oil.

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – Saudi Arabia’s leaders made clear Friday they see no reason to increase oil production until customers demand it, apparently rebuffing President Bush amid soaring U.S. gasoline prices.

It was Bush’s second personal appeal this year to King Abdullah, head of the monarchy that rules this desert kingdom that is a longtime prime U.S. ally and home to the world’s largest oil reserves. But Saudi officials stuck to their position that they will only pump more oil into the system when asked to by buyers, something they say is not happening now, the president’s national security adviser told reporters.

The Saudi oil minister, Ali al-Naimi, announced that the kingdom decided on May 10 to raise production by 300,000 barrels at the request of customers, including the United States. He said that increase was sufficient.

“Supply and demand are in balance today,” he told a news conference. “How much does Saudi Arabia need to do to satisfy people who are questioning our oil practices and policies?”

Schadenfreude is strong in me.

When Bush first ran for president in 2000, he criticized the Clinton administration for high fuel prices and said the president must “jawbone” oil producing nations and persuade them to drop rates. At that time, oil was nearing $28 a barrel — less than a quarter what it is now.


Meanwhile, while fat Americans like me complain about high gasoline prices, other people around the world experience high oil prices in more tangible ways, such as starving to death. Story here.

With food prices rising, Haiti’s poorest can’t afford even a daily plate of rice, and some take desperate measures to fill their bellies.

Charlene, 16 with a 1-month-old son, has come to rely on a traditional Haitian remedy for hunger pangs: cookies made of dried yellow dirt from the country’s central plateau.

Food prices around the world have spiked because of higher oil prices, needed for fertilizer, irrigation and transportation. Prices for basic ingredients such as corn and wheat are also up sharply, and the increasing global demand for biofuels is pressuring food markets as well.

Also here.

Global oil output has been stagnant for four years, failing to keep up with rampant demand from Asia and the Mid-East. China’s imports rose 14pc last year. Biofuels from grain, oil seed and sugar are plugging the gap, but drawing away food supplies at a time when the world is adding more than 70m mouths to feed a year.

Markets are as tight as a drum and now the US has hit the stimulus button,” said Mr Currie in his 2008 outlook. “We have never seen this before when commodity prices were already at record highs. Over the next 18 to 36 months we are probably going into crisis mode across the commodity complex.

And here.

A Nigerian soldier on international peace keeping in Haiti went out looking for food to buy. There was a riot by hungry Haitians looking for food to eat.

The angry mob killed the Nigerian. Four other Haitians are killed in the riots and the Government falls.

Hungry and angry citizens were also out in the streets of Egypt.

At first the usually desperate Hosni Mubarak Government reached out for truncheons and guns. As the crisis became more serious, it sensibly deployed policemen to bake bread and attempt to flood the markets.

The situation across the world was desperate. In Jordan, 7,000 UN employees protested for more money; in February alone, inflation in the country had risen 9per cent.

In Syria it had risen 20 per cent in six months with the Government trying to cut subsidies. In Yemen, wheat prices doubled in one month.

In Africa, food riots exploded in Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, and Cameroon while trade unions called a general strike over soaring food prices in Burkina Faso. Asia of course exploded with Indonesia having the trophy.

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Teacher Fired for Practizing Wizardry

You know that sorcery is one of the many things that is against the law in Saudi Arabia. But who knew that it could get your fired from a substitute teaching gig right here in America?

Substitute teacher Jim Piculas does a 30-second magic trick where a toothpick disappears then reappears.

But after performing it in front of a classroom at Rushe Middle School in Land ‘O Lakes, Piculas said his job did a disappearing act of its own.

“I get a call the middle of the day from the supervisor of substitute teachers. He says, ‘Jim, we have a huge issue. You can’t take any more assignments. You need to come in right away,'” he said.

When Piculas went in, he learned his little magic trick cast a spell that went much farther than he’d hoped.

“I said, ‘Well Pat, can you explain this to me?’ ‘You’ve been accused of wizardry,’ [he said]. Wizardry?” he asked.

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The Saudi Paradox article in Foreign Affairs Magazine aka You Can’t Tell the Players without a Scorecard.

Michael Scott Doran wrote a great article four years ago about the internal politics of Saudi Arabia and how they affect the Saudi’s treatment of terrorism. It’s a very long article and I’m not going to copy and paste much of it here, because you’re either interested in it or you’re not.

But if you are interested, it’s a great article.

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Faith-Based Terrorist Rehabilitation

Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and Singapore have all had programs to rehabilitate terrorists by correcting their misconceptions about their religion and offering them religious guidance. In the case of at least Saudi Arabia, they are also offered jobs and goods as an incentive.

Here’s an article from the <a href=”“>Guardian online newspaper about the Saudi program.

In a few weeks or so it should be the turn of Hizam al-Ghatani to walk through the gates. Hizam, who has spent three years in prison and three months in the compound, went much further than Saeed, spending months fighting American forces near the Iraqi town of Falluja. Yet he too now insists he is reformed. ‘I am a very emotional man and I did not have a good understanding of Islam,’ he said. ‘Now I realise the wrong I did to my country and my family.’

The compound is the latest weapon of the Saudi Arabian government in the ‘war on terror’, a rehabilitation centre where young men spend months being ‘deradicalised’. The two al-Ghatanis will leave behind another 12 or so inmates – or ‘students’ as the psychologists, sociologists and clerics working with them prefer – who also travelled, or tried to travel, to Iraq. Under treatment are another dozen men who have recently been repatriated from Guantánamo Bay. No one will leave the centre until they are deemed no further threat to society.

‘To deradicalise them we need to gain their trust and we need to help them restart their lives,’ said Abdulrahman al-Hadlaq, a Ministry of Interior official involved in the programme, under which former radicals are found jobs and helped to pay for cars, marriages and accommodation.

It’s almost as if they’re being rewarded.

‘This is not a reward. It is a necessary policy of containment.’

Al-Hadlaq has charted the lives of nearly 700 militants to help construct the programme. In common with other surveys of Islamic radicals, the Saudi research has revealed a very low level of religious knowledge, so lectures in jail concentrate on key theological areas – the Islamic theory of jihad, takfir, or excommunication, and relations with non-Muslims. On their release, the ex-prisoners are sent to the new rehabilitation centre – seven others are planned as well as a series of purpose-built prisons with capacity for 6,400 militants – where they undergo further religious instruction, psychological counselling, do team sports and even art therapy.

‘The aim is to stop them reacting in such an immediate way to images they see on the television or internet by giving them different visual languages,’ said Awad Alyami, who runs the art therapy course.

According to Otayan al-Turki, a Swansea-educated psychologist working at the centre, many of the prisoners have very poor reasoning capacity and poor communication skills. ‘Most are young, many come from large families,’ he said. ‘Many come from a non-Islamic background. Some have led sinful lives and were looking for a shortcut to paradise.’

The programme, which is just over a year old, is part of a wide range of such strategies in countries as diverse as Indonesia and Iraq, Egypt and Yemen. The UK and other Western nations are watching with interest. Though few such initiatives are on the scale or have the resources of the multi-million-pound Saudi effort, all are part of a new approach by governments and intelligence agencies to extremist violence. After focusing first on al-Qaeda ‘the organisation’, then on al-Qaeda ‘the ideology’, they are now attempting to identify the factors drawing someone into extremist violence.

Admired though it may be among the counter-terrorist community, there are some misgivings. Though recidivism to date has been negligible, for the moment the programme is being used only with relatively easy cases. The hard core of convicted terrorists responsible for strings of bomb attacks and shootouts in Saudi Arabia face decades of jail or execution, not rehabilitation, and it is far from clear the initiative would work with them.

The considerable sums that former prisoners receive have raised some eyebrows, as has the fact that they are not told jihad in Iraq is wrong in itself but that such an undertaking is only allowed by Islamic law with the assent of the sovereign ruler of the fighter’s country, the ruler of the country for whom he is fighting, and his parents.

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Saudi Woman Drives in Defiance of Ban

And here’s the clip with just the Arabic narration.

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Saudi Hip-Hop Group

This article says they love to rap but can’t perform in public.

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES — Even before they stepped onstage at the MTV Arabia competition finale, members of the Saudi hip-hop group Dark2Men knew they would not win.

The contestants were to be judged on their lyrics, stage presence and performance, but Dark2Men had never performed in public because of strict social and religious codes in their native Saudi Arabia that ban nightclubs, concerts and theaters. The seven other finalists, from the less restrictive Arab countries of Egypt, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates, had rapped live for years.

An Egyptian won the competition, which is being broadcast this month, but the three men of Dark2Men said their lives had been transformed by the experience.

“It was an earthquake that shifted the world around us,” said Tamer Farhan, 24, who raps in English. “It gave meaning to all the hardships we faced to get here.”

But the advent of satellite television channels such as MTV Arabia, which was launched in the Emirates in November, and social networking Web sites have made it easier for young people to pursue interests deemed contrary to the country’s tradition and culture.

The Dark2Men members, for example, met up on a rap Web site, and they compose their music using online programs. They have posted several songs on YouTube and have a Facebook site.

But even as they rap in praise of Islam and their mothers, and against the war in Iraq and terrorism, their biggest hurdle has been convincing family, friends and Saudi society that they are not simply trying to imitate a decadent Western lifestyle.

Since winning the MTV Arabia hip-hop audition in January, they have struggled with fiancees unhappy about the attention garnered by their television appearances broadcast across the Arab world, bosses angry about their extended leaves from work and fathers worried that their sons would leave stable jobs and become entertainers.

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Valentine’s Day Will Not be Celebrated in Kuwait or Saudi Arabia

This story leaves me with such mixed feelings. On the one hand, I think Valentine’s Day is a wretched holiday that pleases no one except those people who hawk overpriced diamond jewelry and chocolate sold in oversized boxes.
On the other hand, it is worrisome/funny that there’s a National Assembly committee in Kuwait to monitor negative alien practices.
And yet, won’t I refer to the observance of Valentine’s Day as a negative alien practice from today until the day I die? Probably.

KUWAIT: Head of National Assembly committee monitoring negative alien practices MP Waleed Al-Tabtabae said yesterday the panel will meet on Wednesday with the government to discuss ways to ban Valentine’s Day celebrations in the state. The meeting will take place with representatives from the ministries of interior, information and commerce and industry, Tabtabae said.

We want to discuss measures that should be taken by these ministries to prevent such alien events from impacting the Kuwaiti society and spreading corruption among the Kuwaiti youth,” he said. Tabtabae described Valentine’s Day as an occasion that contradicts with the traditions and values of the Kuwaiti society.

Islamist MP Jamaan Al-Harbash, who is a member of the committee, urged the minister of commerce and industry to perform his responsibilities “to prevent the celebration of Valentine’s Day which contradicts with the values and teachings of Islam and do not conform with our traditions”. He said that many foreign nations ban the celebrations because they aim at “spreading moral corruption”, adding that they will closely watch what happens during the next few days to judge if the government is serious over ban
ning the celebrations.

Here’s a similar story about a Valentine’s Day ban in Saudi Arabia.

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, Feb. 11 (UPI) — The virtue police in Saudi Arabia have ordered shops to remove roses and other items that are red to prevent the celebration of Valentine’s Day Feb.14.

Shop workers in Riyadh say agents of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice visited flower and gift shops during the weekend to issue warnings, the Saudi Gazette reported Monday.

Each year on the eve of Valentine’s Day, commission agents conduct raids and confiscate any red items they find.

Islamic scholars preach celebrating Valentine’s Day and other non-Islamic holidays is a sin, especially Valentine’s Day.

“As Muslims we shouldn’t celebrate a non-Muslim celebration especially this one that encourages immoral relations between unmarried men and women,” Sheikh Khaled Al-Dossari said.

I don’t know how they celebrate it there, but there’s no reason the Valentine’s Day revelers can’t be married couples. I think they usually are, in fact.

So Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and I all have bans on Valentine’s Day festivities. On that we agree. But I’m probably the only one of the three of us who enjoys Halloween.

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