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Saudi Prince in court for murder 5, October 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Saudi Arabia.
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The Saudi Prince accused of murdering his servant in a London hotel is in court. The prosecution alleges that Saud Abdulaziz bin Nasser Al Saud murdered Bandar Abdulaziz in frenzied and repeated attacks at the Landmark Hotel on 15th February.

In addition to evidence of numerous assaults on the body, including bite marks on the face, the prosecution also suggest that there was some kind of ‘homosexual element’ to the crime.

In a rather poor initial attempt at exculpating himself, Al Saud said that the servant had in fact been killed three weeks earlier.

CCTV footage from the hotel also appeared to show that Bandar Abdulaziz had been severely beaten on occasions before his death. [I’ve just seen the footage: it clearly shows him beating him in the lift].

The Prince is not sufficiently important a Royal to receive diplomatic immunity. Though, were he to be found guilty, I would not be wholly shocked if he was to serve ‘some’ of his sentence back in the Kingdom, perhaps under that notoriously draconian punishment reserved for such people, “house” arrest.

The Times of London reports that the Prince tried to avoid being remanded into custody before his trial by pledging £1 million in cash and offering to live under guard at a house in Mayfair. This was denied.

Update: He has been found guilty.

Saud Abdulaziz bin Nasser Al Saud, who killed his servent after prolonged “sadistic” abuse was jailed for life and lambasted by the judge for telling “a pack of lies” to try to get away with murder. The judge concluded that he didn’t know whether he wanted to kill him or not but that

I think the most likely explanation is that you could not care less whether you killed him or not.

He will serve a minimum of 20 years in jail.


Rogue French banker to pay back $5 billion 5, October 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in French IR.
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Jérôme Kerviel, the rogue French trader who nearly brought down France’s Société Générale bank, has been ordered to pay $5 billion in damages in addition to going to jail for three years.

At his current salary (which I doubt he’ll return to after jail) it would take him roughly 170,000 years.

The first Arab film nude scene 5, October 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Syria, The Gulf.
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Al Arabiyya has an interesting article (no, really…) on Nihad Alaeddin who is described as acting in the Arab world’s first nudity scene.

“We have to bring sex to the cinema because our audience is frustrated,” she told the New York Times. Good for her.

She first disrobed in a Robin Hood-type file filmed in Syria in the 1970s. Though, according to the article and the longing prose of its author it wasn’t overly salacious.

Profoundly shocking at the time, the scene is hardly considered as a scorching ‘hot’ one by modern standards with frugal glimpses of flesh during a mellow love scene.

I love how he wrote “frugal glimpses”: clearly, he wanted more.

She maintains that she

took off…clothes for a principle…If I wanted to do it for money I could have done it in the dark and made a lot more.

While this might sound like a ponsy artistes justification for smut, I really think that there’s an interesting grain of truth to it. It is surely so profoundly unnatural to – as clerics would prefer – try to strip sex and sexuality out of life and live a sanitized, chaste existence. They are fighting against the grain of human instinct and biology.

Indeed, a brief trip to Dubai or Bahrain to see drunk Saudis wobbling on the dance floor with red wine spilled all down their dishdashas and the legions of prostitutes frequenting hotels suggests that such repression is not working.

The most egregious case of open, obvious prostitution that I’ve ever seen in all my travels across America, Europe and Asia was in the Meridian Hotel in Damascus. At the stroke of 8pm around 20 heavily made-up women trooped into the bar and sat down by themselves. I’ve never seen a sight quite like it. Men would then go and sit down with them and have a 30 second conversation, some would tactfully drop their hotel key card down their cleavage and they would then leave the bar together. How romantic.