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Saudi to lash journalist 2, November 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Saudi Arabia.
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A Saudi journalist is to be lashed in public after he apparently instigated ‘protests’ against a government electricity company which presided over “continuous power cuts” in a town.

Fahd Al Jukhaidib has been sentenced to two months in prison and 50 lashes – 25 of which will be in front of the electricity department.



Hat tip: Sultan Al Q (I think)


Al Jazeera shut out of Morocco 2, November 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Al-Jazeera, North Africa.
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Morocco is the latest (of many) countries to ban Al Jazeera from operating within its borders. The Ministry of Communication withdrew Al Jazeera’s accreditation for not undertaking “serious and responsible journalism” and following “numerous failures in  (following) the rules”.

The Communications Minister insisted that Al Jazeera systematically refused to be objective and sought to tarnish Morocco’s image.

These claims are strenuously denied by Al Jazeera.

The dispute centers around Al Jazeera’s coverage of Islamists in Morocco and their Western Saharan issues. Since the Casablanca bombing in 2003 killing over 40 people, AFP reports that over 2000 people have been arrested. The long-running saga of Western Sahara and the Polisario Front is a sore topic for the Kingdom and is a firm ‘red line’ over which reporting is all but banned.

Indeed, Al Jazeera was banned in 2000 and the Moroccan Ambassador briefly withdrawn from Doha over coverage of the issue. Relations were mended and in 2004 Qatar even brokered a hostage exchange between the Polisario Front and Morocco for the return of captured Moroccan troops. Releations worsened again in 2008 when Al Jazeera was banned from covering the Maghreb countries from Rabat and Al Jazeera’s Morocco bureau chief was convicted of “disseminating false information” regarding security forces clashes in Sidi Ifni.

Morocco’s banning of Al Jazeera is widely seen as a backward-step for the country which was, at one stage, slowly liberalizing its grip on social and political spaces. Now it joins its neighbors Algeria and Tunisia as countries with closed Al Jazeera offices; not necessarily a group of countries that Morocco wants to join.

An example of wasta 2, November 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Middle East.
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Wasta in the Middle East is guanxi in China. In the UK it would loosely be translated as some kind ‘connection’ that enables you to obtain advantage that, strictly speaking, you don’t deserve: it’s all about who you know, not what you know. While – clearly – this principle works to some degree in all societies, it is rather blatant in the Middle East; witness the man sauntering to the front of the queue in, say, the driving licence office.

Wasta is similar to nepotism. When I was asking some Qataris about this they – well educated, bright, articulate students – couldn’t believe that it was illegal in the UK. They considered it a duty for someone, if they have the power, to get a member of their family or one of their friends a job. An interesting cultural difference.

I was emailed the brief article below. This is, essentially, wasta in action. This is but one miniscule example of a pervasive system of wasta that governs the Middle East and certainly the Gulf. Too strong a wording you may think…I’m not so sure, but am always willing to listen to counter arguments.

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor said intervention by influential people has prevented the ministry from taking action against an unidentified sitting MP, reports Al-Seyassah daily, quoting reliable ministry sources.
The same sources said the MP has recruited 1,050 expatriate drivers in a trading and contracting company owned by him and his two sons.
The sources added the ministry had sanctioned the employment of only 10 expatriate workers, but the MP went on to hire 1,040 more workers. However, it has been reported only six people work in his company.

Hat tip: James E