Obama and Saudi Arabia

Posted on Categories Arab Digest EmailTags ,

President Obama arrives in the Netherlands today 24 March for a nuclear security summit, to be followed by a week long trip to Europe and Saudi Arabia where he arrives on Friday 28 March and will meet King Abdullah the following day. The European trip is expected to be dominated by Russia and Crimea, although among the …

Qatar and Saudi Arabia

Posted on Categories Arab Digest EmailTags , , ,

The row over Qatar’s independent policy (considered in our posting of 6 March), in particular continuing support for the Muslim Brotherhood, continues. Neither side has given ground although the practical consequences are so far limited to shadow boxing. A report in the Doha News quotes an unnamed official “Qatar will not let go of …

Saudi Arabia: some problems shared

Posted on Categories Arab Digest EmailTags ,

We thank former British ambassador Tom Phillips for the article below published in The World Today which pulls together a number of questions about the internal and external problems facing Saudi Arabia, some of which have been addressed in recent WAND postings. Labour
A problem shared in various degrees with the other oil-rich Arab states …

Football

Posted on Categories Arab Digest EmailTags ,

We have commented in the past on the way that preparations for the football world cup in Qatar 2020 have exposed the problems of foreign labour in the Gulf in a new way. The popularity of football in the Middle East and North Africa, amounting sometimes to a cult, has exposed other problems and perhaps created more, although it has not yet led to a war as once happened in Central America. There are two recent examples in the Saudi Arab News. In the first, a group of women …

The Gulf: repression and twitter

Posted on Categories Arab Digest EmailTags ,

The pattern of life in the Gulf states has not been greatly changed by the Arab spring and its aftermath. Western expats have been little affected, and business continues to boom. We have commented on the problems of non-Arab non-Western labour, which we expect to attract more and more attention in the run-up to the football World Cup in Qatar in 2020 and which may prove to be a timebomb, but that is a separate issue. One thing that has changed is the spread of the …

Saudi policy: erratic

Posted on Categories Arab Digest EmailTags ,

Saudi Arabia abandoned as long ago as the assassination of King Faisal in 1975 the Arabian tradition that the ruler or Shaikh is chosen by the ruling family as the man most likely to be effective, in favour of semi-automatic succession by the numerous sons of King Abd al-Aziz, known to the world as Ibn Saud. The formation of the Allegiance Council in 2007, presumably intended to break this pattern, proved ineffective. As a result they now have a sick king who is at least 90 and a …

Saudi Arabia: new thinking

Posted on Categories Arab Digest EmailTags

Wahhabism, the form of Islam associated with Saudi rule, does not consider itself to be a sect, but a purified form of mainstream Islam (it is comparable in this with a number of other religious reform movements in the history of Islam). It has always had an uneasy relationship with the rest of Sunni Islam. Sir Richard …

Women

Posted on Categories Arab Digest EmailTags , , , ,

One does not need to be a feminist in the activist sense to recognise that the position and problems of women in the Arab world are in need of reform. Indeed to many outside observers they are a repulsive aspect of Arabian society. Charles Doughty, the doyen of Arabian travellers, was told by a religious shaikh in Khaybar (now Saudi Arabia) nearly 150 years ago that “a woman must be kept in subjection, for else they will begin to despise their husbands.” According to the landmark “Arab human development report” …

Saudi Arabia and Iran

Posted on Categories Arab Digest EmailTags , , , ,

The competition between Saudi Arabia Iran for regional preeminence has a sectarian element: each claims to be the leader of one of the main tendencies in Islam. But the competition has other elements too. We thank Conflicts Forum for the two articles below published on successive days in the Dubai-based Gulf News in which President Hassan Rouhani …

Labour in Saudi Arabia

Posted on Categories Arab Digest EmailTags

Since the arrival of oil money some two generations ago Saudi Arabia has attracted a large foreign workforce, initially from neighbouring countries but more recently from the Indian subcontinent and further afield. The phenomenon and the associated problems are similar to those in other oil-rich states but on a larger scale. Foreign workers are attracted by …