Category Archives: Culture

The Wild Suburbia of the Pacific Northwest ……..

Shuwaikh-school1 Me1 (2)Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2 Hiking

Who says the foothills suburbia of the Northwest see no action? Some of the more exciting items I discovered in the latest edition of our local paper:

Sword of the Stoned: A resident of 255th Lane Southeast called the police at 11:09 PM to report that his neighbor had been standing in his driveway holding a sword. The neighbor had also flipped him off.
Comrade Vyacheslav Molotov’s fizzled bomb: A resident of Northeast Ninth Drive attempted to make a Molotov cocktail at 10:36 a.m. in the front yard. The person filled a bottle with alcohol, attached a paper towel to the bottle, lit it on fire and threw it on the ground, expecting it to explode. The bottle remained intact.
A Mysterious Text: juvenile resident of Southeast 45th Place received strange text messages from Austin, Texas at 8:36 p.m. A strange text; quite unusual, Carlos Danger!
Unwilling woman anointed: At 1:11 p.m., a woman returned to her home on Klahanie Drive Southeast to find a small bottle of annointing(sic) oil on her front porch. She believed that the oil was placed there by her husband, against whom she has a court order that bans him from visiting her.

On a brighter note, there was this: “Pull on your boots for some kick-stomping to a live country music band while tasting and sipping Northwest food, wine, beers and spirits — the fifth annual Boots, Barrels and Brews returns to Issaquah’s Pickering Barn on Friday, March 23“.

Lake Wobegon? King of Norway? Meh………

Stay tuned…….

Cheers

M Haider Ghuloum

Arabian PR as History: Friedman Has Epiphany, Joins the Rewriting of History of Jihadism……..

Shuwaikh-school1 Me1 (2)Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2 Hiking

The history of our Middle East (and Gulf) region is being rewritten again these days. The genesis and sources of Jihadism and terrorism, even (Sunni) Salafist terrorism, are being rewritten by well-paid Western Public Relations firms, Arab lobbyists, and flattered American journalists with access to royal palaces.

I came across an example last week: a recent N Y Times piece by Thomas Friedman. He has become quite predictable, and also quite irrelevant, about the MENA region. He rarely writes or expresses anything original anymore about the Middle East. It has been years since we have read his dialogues with his various insightful Arab airport taxi drivers: Abdu (in Egypt), Abed (in Lebanon), Abul Abed (in Jordan/Palestine), etc. But he does have a large audience among certain liberal and non-liberal people of influence in the USA. 

He is now falling closely behind Donald Trump and echoes the anti-Iran rant he ratcheted across the Persian Gulf during the odd Riyadh Summit in May 2017. 
In his recent piece in the New York Times Friedman claims that all social and sectarian restrictions and proxy wars in the Middle East were a result of the Iranian Revolution of 1979 and the theocratic regime it created. He also directly ties the phenomenon of world wide (Sunni) Salafi Jihadi terrorism to that Revolution.

In fact the Iranian revolution and the emerging Shi’a theocracy did galvanize the rival Salafist Wahhabis, as did the early promises of the failed Baathist invasion of southwestern Iran. But he conveniently ignores the decades-long Wahhabi subversion of various Islamic communities with money and extremist ideology. A subversion that preceded the Iranian Revolution and its theocracy, and preceded the first Jihadist-Socialist war in Afghanistan by decades.

He claims that Saudi Arabia stopped having movie (cinema) theaters after 1979 (Prince Bin Salman must have told him that). I got news for Friedman: Saudi Arabia has never allowed movie theaters in its cities and towns in the Wahhabi era. That was a continued part of the power-sharing deal between the Al Saudi family and the Wahhabi clerics (Wahhabism opposed recreating images or films of people). In Iran movie theaters and the film industry continued to thrive even after 1979. In fact the films won several Oscars under the restrictive theocratic Islamic regime.

Saudi Arabia first tried to introduce TV in the early 1960’s. At that time riots broke out in the streets, blood was shed: long before the Iranian Revolution. Among the casualties was one dead senior prince of the royal family. That dead prince’s son took revenge in 1975, when he shot his uncle, King Faisal, dead. Also years before the Iranian Revolution.
Women were never allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, not ever, even before 1979, even as Iranian women were allowed to continue driving and riding under the Islamic regime in Iran. Including driving taxis and large trucks in some cases. Women still do not drive in Saudi Arabia, but they have been promised.

Friedman mentions the Afghan War after 1979. In fact the first Afghan War, pitting Afghan and Arab Jihadis mainly of the Wahhabi faith against the secular Socialists, was most influential in creating the situation we now face. Al Qaeda and Taliban and even ISIS were all the results of that Afghan war. In Afghanistan, Saudi money, Saudi Wahhabi ideology, and American weapons (under Reagan) created the worldwide Jihadi movement we now suffer. When all the Salafi/Wahabi went back home from Afghanistan and aimed at new targets at home and in the West. We might some day say the same about the foreign-instigated wars in Syria (and Iraq). In fact we are already seeing the consequences. 

Friedman of course is buying and propagating the current Saudi narrative about the roots of Arab Salafi/Wahhabi terrorism. Oddly, only a few years ago he was still blaming the Saudi system for the same phenomenon of terrorism. That Saudi Crown Prince must have been very convincing, or it could be just the easy and flattering access.

Then Friedman went sycophant -ic (access can do that to one): he called the Saudi inner-family struggle “Real Arab Spring”…..

Cheers
M Haider Ghuloum

Jesus Comes to America: On Christmas and the Economic Miracle of MAGA…….

Shuwaikh-school1 Hiking Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2 ChristmasPeanuts

MAGA Economics: Rich people elected mainly by poor people taking money from the poor and giving it to the very rich, in the hope of somehow making the poor richer

I once responded to a poll posted on social media about whether Jesus would be allowed into America. That was a couple of years ago. Here is my modified updated version for this unusual year of 2017:

  • He, Jesus Son of Maryam as we call him, wants to come to America. He has heard that this new land is the last bastion of his true followers, those who truly adhere to his sect of Judaism, or so he thinks. He knows they call themselves Christians. He wants to come visit his true believers in what was and is called the Old Confederacy and the Bible Belt West, once called fly-over land. As well as some inland pockets of the two coasts. 
  • He, Jesus Christ, would probably not be allowed on a connecting flight from Europe (back in the Middle East there are many who look like him). Eventually, After some agitation, he might be put on a no-fly list.
  • If not, or if he manages to sneak through the controls, he will face the next obstacle. Some other passenger (almost certainly an American) would complain that he feels uncomfortable with someone dressed in a robe, a hairy man mumbling some strange language, on the same airplane. So, Jesus would likely be bounced off the flight anyway (maybe he’ll be handed a check for $200 as compensation).
  • Let’s assume that he manages to make it after all, perhaps walking across from Mexico or Canada. He will not be allowed into any church because his attire (robe & sandals) is deemed un-Christian. The first Mega-Buck Church would throw him out because he does not fit the image of a member.
  • Besides, he wouldn’t know what a church is. Jesus would look for a synagogue upon arrival. Lucky for him, like I did in my teens, he’d most likely land in New York City.
  • He wouldn’t be any more welcome in a synagogue than in a church. Memories of the Diaspora and pogroms and massacres and the Holocaust perpetrated by his alleged followers do not fade easily. Besides he has no money to pay the very high New York annual fees.
  • He, as Son of Maryam and fruit of Immaculate Conception, might be allowed into a mosque (no fees usually needed there), but only with the hope of converting him to the teachings of the Arab shepherd who came after him. But it wouldn’t last long.
  • He would also wonder who this blue-eyed blond namesake of his was, whose alleged birthday is celebrated by corporate America so eagerly every year. From September to January of each year. And he would wonder what he has to do with a fat jolly Germanic man who likes to wear red and white tights, and jingle his bells.
  • Once enlightened he would wonder what do Amazon and Apple and Macy’s and gas prices and NASDAQ have to do with him.
  • Most of all, he is intrigued about this new noisy Roman governor of America who is pushing a vague new creed that he calls MAGA. He knows it involves some kind of new miracle: Rich people elected mainly by poor people taking money from the poor and giving it to the very rich, in the hope of somehow making the poor richer“. Makes sense?

Cheers & Have a Merry One……
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

Donald Trump the Peacemaker: New Apostle of Wahhabi Islam and Virgin Drivers……

Shuwaikh-school1 Me1 (2)Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2 Hiking

“The imam of the grand mosque of Mecca has claimed Donald Trump, the US and Saudi Arabia are “steering the world to peace”, in comments during a visit to New York that sparked an outcry on social media. They are “steering the world and humanity to the ports of security, peace and prosperity,” he added, claiming that the two countries should unite to “combat terrorism” and to “realise security and international peace”. The conference, on ‘Civilisational communication between the United States of America and the Islamic World‘…….”

No doubt the royal princes are now throwing all their eggs into the basket of Donald Trump. George W Bush refused to do their bidding in the Persian Gulf and wage another war after Iraq. Barack Obama mocked their sectarian war demands in his Atlantic Magazine interview. They have tried to get Netanyahu to go to war on their behalf, but he is no fool: he has been all talk and no action as far as my Gulf is concerned.

During the Riyadh Summit/Circus last May, I posted here about Donald Trump as the Sixth Pillar of Wahhabi Islam. I was referring to the extremely deferential way the Saudi leaders treated Donald Trump, knowing his proclivity for praise (and money). His near-anointment as a sort of guardian of Islam (to the cheers of General Al Sisi, Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka). Even the top Saudi clerics in Mecca praised Trump in their speeches during the summit (as they were allegedly ordered to do so).

Now comes the “mother of all praises”. The Imam of the Holy Shrine in Mecca, no less, has opined that the world depends on the Saudi king and Donald Trump for peace. Now, you can’t kiss it lower or better than this. It is very likely that Mr. Trump will believe all this. The Saudi king, like all Arab kings, knows better. They also know his weaknesses: they are buying Trump, and not only with money….


In 2011, a Saudi scholar/cleric wrote a study for the appointed Shura Council about women and driving. In it he warned that if Saudi women were allowed to drive, that would be the end of virginity in the magic kingdom. The men were given a choice: women drivers or virginity. Possibly something in the local water made a woman go wild as soon as she got hold of a car’s steering wheel (rather suggestive, don’t you think?).
Apparently all this has changed, now the Wahhabi clerics believe that Saudi women can drive and keep their virginity….


I suspect President Donald Trump can now publicly take credit for this new driving policy that also allows women to keep their virginity even as they drive cars.
Interesting times we live in, no?

Cheers
M. Haider Ghuloum

Muslims and the White House: on Sunnis, Shi’as, Diet Pepsi, Diet Coke, and Fascist Goulash…….

Shuwaikh-school1 Me1 (2)Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2 Hiking


A popular beloved Kuwaiti actor (comedian) died this week. He was popular across the region, especially in the Gulf states.
Many people of all faiths across the Arab world expressed condolences. But there was a snag: he also happened to be Shi’a, and his first name indicated that he could be nothing else. That is not a problem in his home country, sectarianism is a new phenomenon and limited to Islamist extremists. But it proved to be a bit of a problem in a couple of neighboring countries and on social media.
Some Arab Salafi and Wahhabi extremists on social media as well as some of their prominent clerics (sheikhs) expressed outrage that others (Sunnis) expressed sympathy for the death of a Shi’a whom they consider a heretic. Some basically issued their
own fatwas saying the act of condolence for someone of a different sect is sacrilegious.

Other prominent clerics took the hint from their bosses and took  new route: they actually opposed the messages of sectarian hate. Especially the Imam of the Holy Mosque in Mecca.
Odd: nobody, none of these dissenting clerics, had expressed outrage for condolences sent about the deaths of many others, mostly non-Muslim potentates. Including Cheeta the Chimp (my favorite childhood film star)…

Even an alleged heathen like Herr Professor Doctor Sebastian Gorka PhD knows that the differences between Sunni and Shi’a are minimal. Or so he claims. The Herr Doctor Gorka (PhD) has reportedly opined that Sunni or Shi’a Muslims are both evil: it is like Diet Coke or Diet Pepsi (See? Even in this present and least eloquent of White Houses). He probably even knows the differences between German Nazis, Austrian Nazis, and Hungarian Goulash Nazis of the good old days.

Yet many Muslims don’t know such distinctions but emphasize others, especially those of the Salafi (and some Muslim Brotherhood) sects.

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Riyadh Summit Mystery: Two Exotic American Women at Muslim Stag Party, but What Happened to All Saudi Women?……..

Shuwaikh-school1 Me1 (2)Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2 Hiking

Where are the Saudi women?

Here are First Lady Melania Trump and Ivanka Trump in the middle of hundreds, nay thousands, of Muslim Arab men, mostly Wahhabis. And not a single other Saudi woman. Not at the airport, not anywhere else within sight. You’d think it is a huge stag party and the two American women are the exotic performers.
One rare independent Arab media that is not Saudi-controlled headlined, no doubt jokingly from the safety of London: Ivanka praises Saudi progress in Women Rights. But nary a Saudi woman anywhere around.


Which reminds me of a shocking fact of the Riyadh Summit ignored by Western, especially American, media. Where are the Saudi women? There has been not a single Saudi woman during the whole process. None of the King’s or the princes’ wives showed up at the airport to greet Melania and Ivanka. None was present at the meetings, nor at the so-called Arab-Islamic-American summit.


What happened? Did the Saudis hide and lock up all their women in the cellars? Or did they have them all chained and handcuffed to their respective beds?

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

On the Persian Gulf: the Disappearance of Saleem the Jew……

Shuwaikh-school1 Me1 (2)Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2 Hiking

Saleem Yehudi, Saleem the Jew. That was what everybody that I knew called him in those days. That is the way my father and uncles called him when I was a kid. Saleem is a common name in the Middle East, and they were distinguishing him from some other Saleem(s) they knew. There are/were Arab Saleem, Iranian Saleem, Jewish Saleem, African Saleem, etc.
My father often took me along when he had some business near the port in our small capital city on the northern mainland tip of the Persian Gulf. In those days the dhows and fishermen boats were moored to piers right downtown, just behind the Seif Palace. Often my father stopped at the small front office used by Saleem Yehudi. I recall the man behind his desk, he seemed old to me as a child, but he was probably middle aged. He always gave me a piece of candy or a cookie or two, no doubt to keep me from fidgeting and getting into trouble while he talked with my father.

Then a day came when there was no Saleem Yehudi. A day when I realized that I had not seen him in a long time, maybe a few weeks. I don’t recall his name coming up at our afternoon meal Sofra (roughly the equivalent of a Western dinner table). Normally in my family we discussed all developments, everything and everybody. Adults and kids, men and women eagerly participating, interrupting…..

One day I was tagging along behind my father on the way to the port, when I suddenly asked him “Where is Saleem Yehudi, father?

There was a long pause before he said “Gone….. They’re all gone“.
Gone? Gone where, father?” I’m not sure if I was concerned about Saleem the Jew or the piece of sweet he gave me.

Another long pause before my father said “Probably gone to Shiraz, or Tehran….” Then another pause, he usually thought out what he said to me, “Or maybe some port in Iran. They can’t go to Iraq anymore……. Maybe Israel“.

Saleem the Jew, another fellow traveler who disappeared, almost certainly involuntarily……

But that has been the story of the Middle East, from the days of Babylonia and Cyrus until now. Just like Saleem Yehudi, others of other faiths, Arab Muslims and Christians, were also displaced, sometimes forcibly, by the same conflict. They still are in parts of the Old Mandate of Palestine (now Israel and the ever-shrinking Palestinian Territories). It goes on among Arabs as well: in Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Yemen, the Persian Gulf and other places. The ethnic cleansing goes beyond interfaith, to inter-sectarian. A mad search for an ever narrower false homogeneity that never seems to stop these days. It goes on and it dooms the region, especially the countries undergoing this ethnic and religious cleansing.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Saudi Women in a City Without Women: Making Arabia Great Again?……….

Shuwaikh-school1 Me1 (2)Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2 Hiking

Saudi women face a dilemma that nobody in the Kingdom without Magic can solve, not even the new power-to-be, the young Crown Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. A serious problem of physical mobility:

  • A Saudi woman cannot drive a car anywhere in the country, she is not allowed. Illegal, verboten. Fatwas abound against it.
  • A Saudi woman can’t ride the country’s terrible public transport. She would have to ride a public transport bus with strange unrelated men, forbidden. Most of the riders of these public transports tend to be from among the millions of single woman-less laborers from other Third World countries.
  • A Saudi woman can’t ride a bicycle or a motorcycle, not allowed. Not even use a moped or roller skates.
  • She is not allowed to ride a horse or a mule or a donkey (or any unrelated jackass) or a camel either in the city.
  • A Saudi woman can’t walk to her destination, a very healthy exercise. Not really allowed: she can easily be accosted and even arrested by the Religious Police (Wahhabi Vice Squad) for ‘walking the streets’. Besides, it can be otherwise risky in a country full of hungry young woman-less men.
  • A Saudi woman can’t ride a taxi openly, technically. Since women are not allowed to drive, there are no women taxi drivers. She is not supposed to ride alone with an unrelated man, a strange male taxi driver (check this post on Mike Pence and dining alone with unrelated women and the Devil). She could be stopped and questioned if caught joyless riding with a strange man. Some of the cops will even look for the Devil in the back seat, literally.

One senior Wahhabi cleric warned several years ago that allowing women to drive would mean that there will be no ‘virgins’ left in the kingdom. I posted on that at the time here. That is how serious of a divide this issue is. A dilemma that exists in no other Middle East country, with all its economic and demographic implications. Can’t Make the Arabian Peninsula Great Again (MAPGA has a nice ring to it) without resolving it…….
Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Not Coming to Dinner: Mike Pence, a Woman, and the Devil……

Shuwaikh-school1 Me1 (2)Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2 Hiking


“After this week’s revelation that Vice President Mike Pence prefers not to dine alone with women who are not his wife—or at least didn’t as of a 2002 article in the Hill—many members of both the entire sex he has snubbed and the sex that is still afforded the privilege of sitting across from Pence at a Chili’s have expressed their dismay on social media. How could the second most powerful man in our government treat men and women so differently? But not everyone is outraged, or all that surprised, to find out Pence never eats in the solitary presence of a woman…….”

Mr. Pence has suddenly excited the “socially liberal” half of America with the recent disclosure that he will not dine alone with a woman that is not his wife. I don’t understand all the fuss: many men would do (or not do) the same. Certainly the same applies to many, perhaps most, women. Probably there is some hypocrisy there.

There is an old Middle East saying: “whenever a man and a woman get together alone, the Devil is always present with them.” A threesome. Or something to that effect, allowing for linguistic preferences and differences.

You‘ve guessed by now that the idea is that it means there is no innocent get-together of a man and a woman (unless she is a sister, mother, aunt, etc). Right?

One of my language/religion teachers first told us that saying with suspicious relish in Middle School (Junior High). I rarely believed my teachers in matters of religion, but on that one I did at that time, given my critical age and natural obsession.

It is amazing how Christian fundamentalism is so much like Islamic fundamentalism. And how much they both resemble Jewish fundamentalism (apparently if you take a mixed-gender bus often in certain parts of Jerusalem you’d know what I mean). I suspect that they both got much of their uptightness from ancient Jewish writings. People from arid lands tend to be more uptight than others, I should know. Unless we’re talking about Arizona or Palm Springs. But Indiana? The Hoosier State doesn’t resemble our faraway places that have created Muslim and Jewish jihadis in recent decades…….

Maybe that is not it, maybe Mr. Pence knows himself as well as, say, Mr. Trump knows himself. The latter explained it all to the world in Billy Bush’s tapes. Live and learn….

(Remember: everybody’s house is at least partly made of glass. At least the windows tend to be so…..)

P.S.:  I just remembered a novel I read many years ago, Rain by one of the greatest writers of the 20th century, Somerset Maugham.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Agony of Mecca: Birthplace of Islam becomes City of Greed and Bulldozers………

Shuwaikh-school1 Me1 (2)Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2 Hiking

“AS THE governor of Mecca, Prince Khalid bin Faisal Al Saud has been able to compensate for earlier failings. He came to his role in 2007 from Asir province, where his plans to erect modern tower blocks in the city of Abha were largely unfulfilled. He successfully erased Abha’s quaint old town, with its beehive houses made of wattle, only to replace them with squat breeze-block bungalows. Not a high-rise was to be seen. Now, on top of what was Mecca’s old city of lattice balconies and riwaq arches, the prince has overseen the Middle East’s largest development project. Skyscrapers soar above Islam’s holiest place, dwarfing the granite Kaaba far below. Diggers flatten hills that were once dotted with the homes of the Prophet’s wives, companions and first caliphs……….. two 50-floor towers on the site of the third caliph’s house. Such is the pace that for a time the holy city’s logo was a bulldozer…………”

This travesty, nay this crime, has been going on for some years. Islamic monuments from the home of Prophet Mohammed to the homes of his wives to the homes of Omar and Ali and other Sahaba have been razed to build malls, parking lots and luxury hotel apartments. Royal Saudi greed conspires with Wahhabi Salafi doctrine that opposes all types of monuments. To destroy the history of Islam, in the Birthplace of Islam.

It is not new, it’s been going on for years while Western powers that blasted the Taliban and ISIS for destroying ancient monuments remain silent. Aiding and abetting the desecration of history. I have posted often on this sad and outrageous issue. Here are a few of my older posts on this topic:

The Wahhabi War on History Continues: Now the Grave of the Prophet……..

Biblical Monuments, Islamic Monuments………

Cultural Dichotomy: Destroying Islamic Monuments, Funding Ancient Roman Restoration……

Breaking News: Prince of Mecca Receives Mayor of Mecca, Holy Town is Doomed……….

Destroyers of Islamic Heritage, Looters of Mecca………

Birthplace of Islam: Where Dogma and Greed Face History…………

Buying the Soul of Britain, Raping the History of Islam, Sacking Mecca……………

Cheers
M. Haider Ghuloum