October 3, 2008

SaudiNews (Sep 27 - Oct 3, 2008) Saudi Women Drive

My words
Greetings from Sharm, the most beautiful clean white sandy beaches on the Red Sea.
Last week Mrs. Maha Al-Wabil gave me a copy of her new book about Saudi women...Well done Maha, it was also a pleasure meeting you and Abdulrahman.

So what took place last week?

A woman in her 20s drove a car into a ditch in the east of the country. The woman was speeding on the highway when she lost control of the vehicle.
Conservative clerics continue to argue that granting women permission to drive would corrupt society's strict segregation of men and women! When will this ever stop?

Talking about women issues, I just found out that an ultra-Orthodox Jews magazine in Israel completely forbids the publication of pictures of women.
I wonder if Tzipi Livni's picture will also not be shown!

Some good news; Saudi Arabia plans to privatize large parts of its healthcare sector in a bid to meet surging demand.
I hope they will start outsourcing the management of the 218 government-owned hospitals....enough is enough

More good news; Saudi Arabia’s current account surplus is expected to reach $138 billion this year compared to $95 billion in 2007.
I’m still not sure the government’s inflation alleviation package (a public sector pay rise and direct subsidies) served its purpose. The oil sector remains the core of economic activity here, and unless we start diversifying the situation won’t get any better.

A man attacked an imam with a knife at a mosque in Sakaka. The man shouted at the imam: “If you don’t turn down the loudspeaker I will kill you,”
I understand the Ministry of Islamic Affairs has urged all imams to reduce the sound of the mosque’s loudspeakers. Someone is not “listening”.

This week also an ultra-conservative cleric called on women to wear a full veil, or niqab, that reveals only one eye. Sheikh Al-Habadan said showing both eyes encouraged women to use eye make-up to look seductive!
The question of how much of her face a woman should cover is a controversial topic in many Muslim societies….and will remain so for many years to come.

Movie of the week
Love in the Time of Cholera

Gabriel García Márquez story most prominent theme suggests that lovesickness is a literal illness, a plague comparable to cholera. Florentino suffers from lovesickness as one would suffer from cholera, enduring both physical and emotional pains as he longs for Fermina. Apparently Florentino's illness transcends the physical to the psychological, for though he is sick in his heart and in his stomach, he is compulsively obsessed, and therefore becomes mentally disturbed.
I give it (B-).

Life goes on….
Abdullah Al Alami

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