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Egyptian elections ‘not free and fair’ 22, November 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Egypt.
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The Guardian has an article on Egypt’s elections with the strap line stating that they are not ‘free and fair’. Amazing insight.

In other news just in, the Pope is Catholic, bears do go to the bathroom in the woods and WWE wrestling is fixed.

Saudi curriculum in British schools 22, November 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Saudi Arabia, UK.
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The BBC flagship investigative programme Panorama tonight airs a show focusing on the Saudi curriculum being taught in British schools.

Around 5000 pupils are being taught at schools and clubs using the official Saudi curriculum and Saudi Ministry of Education textbooks.

Anti Semitic and homophonic content is rife. One diagram even shows exactly how and where thieves’ hands and feet are chopped off. Charming.

The Saudi government insisted that it had no direct ties with the schools even though their official curriculum was being taught and Panorama obtained one of the Saudi textbooks from a building owned by the Saudi Government in the U.K.

The Saudi education establishment has had a notorious reputation for instilling anti-Shia, homophobic, anti-Semitic and generally anti-foreigner messages for decades. Under the particular delineation of powers in Saudi Arabia, traditionally social spheres like education were administered by the Wahhabi authorities. Only after 9/11 and enormous pressure from America were changes begrudgingly begun. Exactly how far such changes have gone is difficult to judge. While the more egregious examples of racist content may have gone, a general intolerant ethos remains.



Female Saudi driver in horror car crash 22, November 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Saudi Arabia.
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A woman in Saudi Arabia who was driving against the law with 10 people in her 4×4 crashed into a barrier killing three of her passengers and injuring them all.

She was driving in the a desert area frequented by Saudis staging races.

This example will now and forever more be held up in the Kingdom as to why women must not be allowed to drive, carefully and judiciously ignoring the fact that Saudi has one of the highest road accident death Saudiand injury rates on earth.

Hat tip: SaQ


King Abdullah in US for medical tests 22, November 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Saudi Arabia.
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Saudi King Abdullah is currently in America undergoing further medical tests. Despite going through successful surgery last week for a herniated disk, after blood was found on his spine, he has once again given his powers (theoretically temporarily) to Prince Nayef. It is thought that he will be treated at the Mayo Clinic.

Despite official protestations that these tests are all vaguely routine and that there are no critical health issues, many fear that the 86 year old Monarch may well be on his last legs. Abdicating his role as leader of the Saudi National Guard to his son last week added to the concerns that his condition is far more serious than people previously thought.

Prince Nayef is expected to take over should Abdullah pass away. Prince Sultan, who is technically next in line, is barely lucid these days and could not reasonably be expected to take over. Having said this, this exact situation occurred in Kuwait a few years ago and they elected Saad in 2006 when he had wholly lost his mental faculties and had to be removed by Parliament within a few weeks.

Nayef is very conservative and many fear that he would roll back many of Abdullah’s reforms. There are two important caveats to this fear. First, Abdullah himself was feared to be just such a conservative candidate when he was elected yet transpired to be one of Saudi’s most liberal Kings. Second, it is difficult to understand the exigencies of the job; who knows what the pressures of actually being in charge will do. Perhaps Nayef will find himself hamstrung by the inertia of change.

Iranian media is already practically gleefully reporting his illness and suggesting (in hope rather than expectation, I think) that Saudi Arabia may well descend into a civil war of family versus family.