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Brookings Doha: essay competition 2010 18, October 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Qatar.
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The Brookings Centre Doha is launching its 2010 essay contest aimed at young Arabs (21-30 years old). The question is:

What do you consider the most important political, economic, or social change that would create a better life for your country’s citizens? Please suggest policy recommendations that your government can take to help bring this change about.

And it’s worth winning too. The winner receives some $2000, second place is a non-paltry $1000 and an honorable mention will net you $500.

More information can be found at the Brookings website.

Please do pass this competition on to anyone eligible that leaps to mind. Best of luck to everyone.

UAE court: beat your wife and kids but don’t leave a mark 18, October 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in The Emirates.
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The highest court in the United Arab Emirates has decreed that a man may beat his wife and children as long as he leaves no physical marks.

Expect sales of rulers and yellow pages to go through the roof.


Kuwaitis attack TV station over Royal insult 18, October 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Kuwait.
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Reuters reports that a mob of Kuwaitis attacked a local TV station over the airing of a satirical comedy show mocking members of the Royal family. At least 10 members of the station staff were assaulted and injured by the protesters, some of whom carried pistols and knifes.

The writer and director of the show and owner of the TV station in question, Fajer al-Saeed, has been questioned by police over accusations that she was trying to overthrow the government through the medium of a satirical comedy show Sawtak Wasal (Your Voice has been Heard). Al Saeed also received death threats.

On a talk show on Saturday night, Zain wa Shain (Good and Bad), Al Saeed accused a member of the Royal Family who works in the Information Ministry of accusing her of seeking to undermine the government in her satirical show aired in August. This (so far as I can work out) was the immediate precipitant of the mini-riot.

In one episode aired in the summer, Sawtak Wasal made a joke about “privatising and exporting Kuwaiti democracy” which has been construed as a direct attack on Kuwaiti institutions.

Certainly, privatization in Kuwait is a sensitive subject. Ordinary Kuwaitis fear that privatization of industries or companies will only drive up prices for them and enable the directors to make large profits. These fears are not without basis. In most cases, given that government-run services are provided below cost, were a profit-making business to take over, then they would have to charge the (higher) market rate. There have also been countless high-profile cases in the past few decades of corruption.

Yet, rich as Kuwait is, it cannot afford to continually avoid privatization. Indeed, where this has taken place, for example, in the telecommunications market, Kuwaiti brands are succeeding and expanding far abroad.

Sitting here in the UK which has a rich tradition of often bitter, harsh ridicule of leaders (Spitting Image, Private Eye etc), it is curious to see such a reaction. Yet, one must remember that this mob was only 150 people strong and must not be taken as representative of Kuwait as a whole. While many Kuwaitis are somewhat skeptical as to the levels of freedom of speech and see ‘liberalisation’ as some kind of a threat to traditional Kuwaiti values and traditions, I would estimate (please feel free to disagree) that these people are in the minority; albeit a vocal one.


In case people don’t read the comments, the following quotes are insightful and pertinent contributions from two of the Gulf Blog’s most celebrated readers and commenters. Thanks very much to them.

A bit of context here..

The undersecretary of MOI is from the Al-Malek branch of the ruling Al-Sabah family, and he has accused Fajer Al-Saeed of undermining the government, whatever that means, which is ironic considering she is related to the Emir on his mother’s side

Her brother Talal, on his show Saturday night, brought up a long-forgotten incident from the late 1950s in which members of the Al-Malek branch – who had up till then been unrecognized by the Al-Sabahs! – marched into town with tanks (or just the one tank) and attempted to overthrow the Al-Sabahs in a botched coup attempt… Talal accused them of being the original instigators against the family on his show and that must have been the last straw

It’s all rather embarrassing really.

Thanks Zaydoun at Kuwait-unplugged.com

And, for the following, thanks to Abu Arqala at http://suqalmal.blogspot.com/

A couple of members of the Royal Family – Al Malik Branch – have been summoned to assist the police with their investigation into the attack on Scope TV’s premises, damage to broadcasting equipment, and arson on the main set.

Shaykh Faysal Al Malik – Ambassador to Jordan and his brother, Shaykh Abdullah – Director of Research at the Airport.

Here’s the report from Al Watan newspaper – owned by the “nautical” wing of the Al Sabah family. (But not pleasure boats!)