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Iran Debate 9, September 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Iran.
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This is an excellent debate at the Carnegie Endowment with, amongst others, Ali Ansari discussing what America’s reaction to Iran should be.

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Porn star Senator? 9, September 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Random.
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Having an award of some description on one’s CV is a good thing. I am sure that many Senators in America have various awards – top essay prize, first in class etc – but Stormy Daniels, who is considering running for just that position in Louisiana, has an award which, I am confident in saying, is unique in American politics: the Golden G-String. Quite how useful this will be and how much the good people of Louisiana are impressed by this award and all that it stands for (she is a former hard core porn star) remains to be seen, if, indeed, she runs.

The reason that she is considering running is that the incumbent, David Vitter, is a Christian family man who has been caught up in a large, seedy and highly hypocritical call-girl scandal. Very eloquently, in the video embedded into this article, Stormy answers the presenter’s questions with intelligence and, as Danny Finklestein’s blog comments, she hits the proverbial nail on the head:

“I had no real interest in politics… until I realised that they really were in trouble there and the citizens and some residents of Louisiana got together and drafted me in…

“They dislike David Vitter so much that they think I’m the best person for the job. And that’s kind of scary.”

Hat Tip: The Times’ Comment Central

“Saudiana Jones vs the “Days of Ignorance”” 9, September 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Saudi Arabia.
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msaleh

…has got to be the best title of the week if not month. Mabrouk to Tabsir.net. An interesting article too.

Along the same lines, BBC Iplayer has an interesting mini-series focusing on the Frankincense Trail. There is at least an episode and a half in Saudi. One interesting thing was that the female host went around Saudi without anything covering her hair. This, it seems to me, must have been a deliberate choice by Saudi tourism PLC, or whoever. I can only surmise that this is part of Saudi’s (rather lacklustre) tourism push. Nevertheless, Saudi looks beautiful…mumkin fee mustaqbal

Dubai metro launch 9, September 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in The Emirates.
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dubai metro

The BBC reports that Dubai’s eagerly anticipated metro system will launch on Wednesday. Despite costing twice its initial estimate and coming when Dubai is in the midst of a financial crunch of epic proportions, many hope that the metro will be able to tease Emiratees and Expats out of their cars to relieve some of the congestion on the Emirate’s roads.

Some facts and figures:

– Cost overrun to around $7.6 billion

Total length of planned tracks – 318km

– Groundbreaking was in February 2002

– There will be VIP carriges as well as dedicated women only ones

– Trains planned to arrive every 1.5 minutes at peak times

– Dubai has the highest number of cars / person radio in the world (1:1.84)

(Sources: MEED, Arabian Business,

Foreign Policy Oil Issue 9, September 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Oil.
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Foreign Policy magazine has a special on oil. Here’s a brief (very) summary of the best ones.

It’s still the one – Daniel Yergin – A piece by the author of the oil bible ‘The Prize” Daniel Yergin explaining why we need oil now as much as ever.

The strait dope on Hormuz – Eugene Gholz – This piece essentially says that Iran can’t close the Straits of Hormuz as many fear. As in the Tanker Wars, the money is there for the tankers to give it a run.

Seven myths about alternative energy – Micheal Grunwald – Doesn’t really need explaining…

Saudi attempted assassination: the bum bomb 9, September 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Saudi Arabia.
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At the end of August Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef, the Saudi head of counter-terrorism, was slightly injured when a suicide bomber made an attempt on his life. Part of Nayef’s role is to make, propagate and extend contacts with the more radical elements in Saudi and receive ‘former’ terrorists who come to him to give themselves up, rather than be hunted down by the Saudi security forces.

Reports of this attack were exceedingly sketchy initially. The bomber apparently got into the Prince’s compound and ever near the Prince himself without impediment. When the bomb was detonated the bomber was, according to various reports, blown into countless pieces. This insinuates that the explosives on him must have been quite powerful. Yet the question remained of how did he get so close to the Prince with so much explosives. Whilst the Saudis were celebrating Ramadan, surely security was not that lax that a prime target of Al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula would be so poorly guarded.

It transpires – or rather the Saudi Gazette is reporting – that the bomber had secreted the explosives in himself, as in up his rectum. Apparently he had anywhere up to half a kilogram of explosives inside himself. Yet, despite this, the Prince only suffered from a small cut on his face and an injured finger. One can only surmise that the typical stuffed couch and the bombers body proved to be significantly dampening. What an ignominious way to go.

It raises a few interesting questions about security from now on. Did this failed attack sufficiently show that such tactics simply do not work? Or will terrorists see this as but a failed trial and keep on trying? For if this is the case then it could be decidedly more uncomfortable going to visit a Saudi Prince from now on.

See: The Mideasti blog for an excellent round up of the coverage on this topic.