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Eurozone crisis statistics 26, May 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Random.
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This is a screen shot of an interactive graphic thingy over at the BBC News website on, obviously, enough Europe’s current issues. It neatly and clearly highlight the key areas of the troubles: debt, the economy, recession and jobs.

It doesn’t look quite as bad for the UK…Greece, on the other hand…Drachma here they come

Sex and the City 2 banned in Abu Dhabi 26, May 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in The Emirates.
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Sex and the City 2 which is partly based in Abu Dhabi will be banned in the Emirate’s leading city. Abu Dhabi has long been the more conservative city when compared to Dubai and just can’t bring itself to allow a film with the word “sex” in the title to be shown in cinemas.

Clearly, were it to be shown riots of women running around stripping off their clothes and having rampant, frequent causal sex would break out. But, by banning the film authorities have cleverly avoided such an eventuality.

The film has also been banned as in parts of the film the local dress code is mocked – the horror! – as well as for references to – deep breaths – homosexuality.

Hezbollah’s tourist complex 26, May 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Lebanon.
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Hezbollah have announced that they are opening a tourist complex commemorating the 10th anniversary of Israel’s retreat/pull-back from southern Lebanon. They will display their own weaponry along side Israelis heavy weaponry along with the usual Middle Eastern unbiased commentary. Fun for all the family.

Hat tip: MEI Editor

Arabic: so near and yet… 26, May 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Random.
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Hat tip: V Arabic

Qatari Emir pardons coup plotters 26, May 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Qatar, Saudi Arabia.
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Hamad bin Khalifah Al Thani, the Qatari Emir, has pardoned a number people involved in plotting a counter-coup against him in 1996. More than 30 were imprisoned for seeking to overthrow the Emir, though exactly how many have been released is unknown.

The coup was instigated by Hamad’s father who been evicted from his Emiri office by coup when he was on an ‘extended’ holiday in Switzerland in 1995. It was believed that his father – Khalifah Al Thani – had help from Bahrain and Saudi Arabia who wanted to see him restored to the throne. Saudi Arabia’s complicity in the 1996 coup would seem to be confirmed as the Emir released the coup plotters at the request of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and they also left, Gulf News reports, with the deputy commander of the Saudi National Guard.

There were rumors last summer of another coup. However, the balance of evidence seems to suggest that this was little more than scurrilous rumor-spreading by Saudi and Jordanian newspaper. (If anyone wants a report on this attempt, let me know).

Facebook more popular than all Arab newspapers 26, May 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Kuwait, Middle East.
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The BBC reports that Facebook now has some 15 million subscribers across the Arab world; a million more than all newspapers – Arabic, English and French – put together. This is, of course, no great surprise. Not only is the standard of Middle Eastern journalism fairly abysmal [as I’ve argued here, here, here and here] but given the youth bulge in many Middle Eastern societies not to mention the generally closed-off nature of civil society and other forms of expression, meeting, etc, and Facebook is tailor-made for the region.

This kind of growth will be perturbing some of the region’s less enlightened governments. Only yesterday Kuwait announced that it was going to ban BlackBerry messenger in a valiantly pointless attempt to stand in the way of an ever increasingly technology dependent and technologically savvy population. It will only be a matter of time, I’d have thought, before some Sheikh or other in the GCC or some enthroned dictatorially democratic leader in the rest of the Middle East decides that Facebook ought to be wholly banned. Much luck to them.

Hat hip: MEI Editor

Nepali maids dumped outside embassy in Saudi 26, May 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Saudi Arabia.
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Arab News reports that Nepali maids are being dumped outside their embassy in Riyadh at a rate of two per day. Their employers, often paying them around £75 per month, dump them to avoid paying their tickets back home and paying a fine if/when the maid overstays their visa. The Embassy reported that of six women that the Embassy repatriated “three were physically sick of mentally deranged.”

Curiously enough, these maids are on the ‘luckier’ end of the scale. Many more are, as I wrote only yesterday, essentially confined to the houses and a seemingly high proportion of maids are severely mistreated. These kinds of issues are a true cancer prevalent throughout the Gulf with no cure whatsoever in sight.

Hat tip: al bab