It is widely known that Saudi Arabia is a wealthy country bringing in billions of dollars a year due to its extensive oils reserves (second largest in the world). However, it is not a widely known fact that there is a huge discrepancy between the wealthy majority and those living in abject poverty in Saudi Arabia. While Saudi Arabia is a welfare state (and tax free!) there are still huge numbers of citizens living in poverty within the kingdom.
This video was made by a young activist who was actually jailed for the creation of this documentary. He has since been released.
A proposed anti- terrorism law in Saudi Arabia is causing quite a stir in the international community. The new law would basically allow the Saudi government to detain security suspects indefinitely and without trail. Amnesty International accuses the law of a way for the royal family and the security forces to silence dissent. The law includes a deliberately vague definition of terrorism ranging from “destabilizing to society” to “harming the reputation of the state.” Continue reading
With violence erupting in Qatif in early December, the royal family is not taking any chances. Saudi Arabia has barely been touched by the Arab Awakening, at least not to the extent of any other places in the region and this is due in large part to the strength of the royal monarchy. Being home to the two holy places of Mecca and Medina, the royal family confers much of its legitimacy in being custodians of these holy sites and through the Wahabi Clerical Establishment. Continue reading
As we have learned this semester, the United States and Saudi Arabia have a long, and more often than not mutually beneficial relationship. While their neighbors in the region have criticized Saudi Arabia as being a “pet” of the US, the two countries have maintained friendly and close diplomatic and economic relations. Continue reading
The highest religious council in Saudi Arabia, the Majils al Ifla al Aaala has recently issued a statement concerning the issue of granting women the right to drive. Recently women have been driving in protest of this ban, and if caught, are subject to public lashings, time in jail and ostracism from society. The statement from the council alleged that if women were allowed to drive it would “provoke a surge in prostitution, pornography, homosexuality and divorce.” In addition to these claims, the council asserts that within ten years, there would be no more Virgins in the entire Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
4 people are dead and 11 injured in as a result of clashes between Saudi security forces and Shia demonstrators in Qatif, the oil rich region of Saudi, approximately 16 miles from Bahrain. Home to demonstrations supporting Bahrain in March, this is not the first time SA has seen protests, but does mark the first time gunfire has been used against them. Saudi authorities are blaming an un-named foreign influence (Iran) for the violence as, the Shia demonstrators protested for more inclusion in society and in support of Bahrain. Continue reading
This past Monday, I had the pleasure of attending a lecture at New York University’s Alexander Hamilton Center for Political Economy featuring Srdja Popovic, one of the founding members of CANVAS, the Center for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies. CANVAS, born out of the nonviolent opposition movement to overthrow Slobodan Milosevic in Serbia throughout the ’90s, is a political consulting firm, specializing in the tactics and strategies of nonviolent opposition movements. Consulting in 46 different countries since 2003, and participating in almost EVERY conflict since then, CANVAS is a unique organization, which seeks to utilize “people power” or Realpolitik in the nonviolent struggle for democracy. Continue reading