Category Archives: Culture

A Saudi Prague Spring: a Guest of Honor and Shame………..

    Rattlesnake Ridge   Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter   

 
      BFF
At Book World Prague 2011, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the “guest of honour”. But guest, in this context, actually means high-paying client: an oppressive regime hoping to buy itself some cultural legitimacy with its petrodollars. And honour? Given the dismal Saudi Arabian record on freedom of speech and other human rights, honour basically means shame. Under the soft rainbow colours of an arching art nouveau roof, the Saudis have erected a huge and lavish stand, in the form of a turreted (and carpeted) mock fortress, replete with scale models of Mecca and Medina, children’s play area, some blonde women in Saudi costumes, and plenty of individually plastic-wrapped dates for all. There are even a few books, presumably as a concession to this being a book fair – and one or two of them are literary titles. But where are the Saudi writers?………

Like the almost-proverbial guys said, or could have said: “You pays your money and you does your thing….”
The al-Saud are such known book lovers, as are their Salafi mutawa’een of the Commission for the Propagation of Vice (religious police). Normally they love to ban books from the country but, barring that, they also love to burn books. Writers can go to prison for writing the “wrong” stuff; they can get flogged for writing the truly ‘wrong” stuff. To prove their love and devotion to books, only a few weeks ago they published and distributed 1.5 million copies of the religious fatwas banning protests against Arab regimes (edited by none other than Shilk A Al Al Shaikh). That was the second printing: the initial printing was half a million copies.

(No need for me to state, again, that the Mufti shaikh A Al Al Shaikh is a direct descendant of Imam Mohammed Bin abdulwahhab and that he is to bedistinguished from the late great Egyptian musician and singer Mohammed Abdelwahhab who was not a Salafi Wahhabi. There are a passel of Al Al Shaikh progeny in high positions in Saudi Arabia).
Cheers
mhg




m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Of Genomes, Iranians, Arabs, Jews, Gomorans, and Neanderthals…….

   Rattlesnake Ridge   Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter   

 
      BFF
Now that Stanford University’s Iranian Genome Project has been partly funded by a diaspora philanthropic organization, speculation is running wild in certain Iranian circles. The project’s expected medical benefits notwithstanding, Facebook is abuzz with comments about the potential unintended consequences of the racial revelations it may yield. A common Iranian lamentation is that virtually every major civilization has invaded us at least once: Greek, Roman, Arab, Mongol, Turkic, and European armies have all set up camp here. The odds are that the project will deliver a healthy shock to the racial purists among us. A similar project revealed that most Palestinians are not descended from Arab interlopers, as some Israeli ideologues argued, but from the ancient Jews who converted to Christianity and Islam. The idea of racial purity came to the Middle East in the 19th century as an extreme manifestation of nationalism. Soon, storms of Pan-Turkic, Pan-Iranist, and Pan-Arab agitation were brewing in tiny social teacups around the Middle East. Suddenly everybody was congenitally better than everybody else. Grandiose maps imagining new, ethnically correct national boundaries were drawn up and plans were made to recover national innocence by exorcising foreign words. I still remember the Pan-Iranists’ slogan of my youth: “Ahead to our own borders……. The chimera of racial purity led the to fabrication of new national myths and the systematic distortion of old ones. Some Iranians (like their Turkic and Arab counterparts) sought to escape their present inglorious existence in dreams of a golden past. In this spirit, much praise was showered in Iran on the national epic of Iran, Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh or Book of Kings………

Okay, they have discovered that most ‘Palestinians” were descendants of ancient Jews rather than Arabian tribes. What else is new, and what difference does it make? I never thought Palestinians were “Arabs” in the sense that their ancestors came from Arabia, anymore than that the ancestors of most Egyptian came from Arabia (they did not). Anymore than expecting the ancestors of blue-eyed blond Syrians to have been from Hejaz or Nejd. That is not how an “Arab” is defined by sane rational people.
But it is an interesting historical exercise: one day I shall undergo it to confirm if I am truly a descendant of the ancient Gods, or if that information was just a cruel hoax. I personally suspect that it is true.
Which makes me wonder: what if all our leaders are exposed (not a pun) to such Genome tests. Suppose the al-Saud, for example, discover that they were descended from, let us say, the Jews of Khyber. What would the Mufti Shaikh A Al Al Shaikh say (if he were rational, he would just shut up about it)? Suppose the al-Khalifa rulers of Bahrain discover that they are the descendants of some Sodomite tribe (meaning from that famous Biblical city of Sodom). That may explain their predilection for sexual assaults and rapes of male and female captive protesters. Sodomites (the people of Sodom) were notorious as sexual aggressors: that is just one version of the story. As for Qaddafi, I suspect he will end up being the descendant of the fraternization of some Roman legionnaire with a female sheep herder from the old Roman Province of Africa, Nothing Arab there, is there? There has already been speculation, mostly in Saudi media like Alarabiya (and Asharq Alawsat) that Iran’s Ahmadinejad is really Jewish and that he used to go by another name. I say: who cares? The only thing that changes is that he becomes entitled to do the Aliyah (עלייה)by the “right of return”: he could some day run for the Knesset. As for the al-Nahayan clan of Abu Dhabi (and the UAE)……..oy vey.
Cheers
mhg




m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

GCC Women, Moroccan Beauties, Jordanian Humor….

   Rattlesnake Ridge   Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter   

 
      BFF
Gulf women fear Jordan, Morocco entry into GCC. Say their men might turn to women from those two countries after joining GCC. A bid by Jordan and Morocco to join a Gulf Arab alliance has already triggered fears among women in the oil-rich region that local men could turn to those two countries for wives. Many women from Saudi Arabia and other members of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) called a prominent Saudi social and religious adviser to express their fears about the entry of Jordan and Morocco into the 30-year-old GCC. At summit talks in Riyadh last week, GCC leaders welcomed a request by the two Arab nations to join the GCC and instructed their foreign ministers to follow up their issue…….

This is another fallout of the erratic decision by the Saudi King and his sweet brothers to invite Jordan and Morocco to join the Gulf GCC. Apparently some Gulf women would like their shaikhs, the clergy, to issue fatwas restricting marriage to Moroccan and Jordanian women. Some GCC states, especially UAE and Saudi Arabia, already have rules banning or restricting marriage to foreigners (at least requiring regime permission). This is illogical. Besides, what make them think women of Jordan and Morocco are interested in Gulf men?
I am from the Gulf and sometimes I wonder why Gulf women are interested in many of the Gulf men. Having said that, I must add that if Jordanian women are anything like Jordanian men, then they have about as much a sense of humor as most of my fellow Gulf men. Which is nada, zilch, rien. My best friend BFF (see photo up there) has a better canine sense of humor than that. So what is the attraction? As for the women of Morocco, I haven’t known many, well, not enough, but from what I discern………o boy. That may be a worry.
Cheers
mhg




m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Death in Texas, China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and North Korea………

     
Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

 

       My BFF
Texas put to death a man convicted of a 2001 rape and murder by using a sedative that has often served to euthanize animals, becoming the third state to do so. The southern state administered pentobarbital instead of sodium thiopental, which is no longer manufactured in the United States, along with two other drugs as the lethal cocktail to execute Cary Kerr, 46. It was the first time Texas had used the drug. Ohio and Oklahoma have previously used pentobarbital for lethal injections due to the nationwide shortage of sodium thiopental. South Carolina plans to use pentobarbital for an execution on Friday. Kerr, who was convicted by a jury and sentenced to death in 2003 for assaulting and strangling 34-year-old Pamela Horton, had claimed his court-appointed lawyer did not represent him properly when appealing his conviction……..

I shouldn’t be, but I am always surprised and fascinated by the way Texans love to execute people. As do other Red States, but none of them as often and as eagerly as Texas. Especially people who cannot afford good private lawyers, or people whom the governor deems unfit for DNA tests. That also includes mentally handicapped people. There are people in Texas whom the use of DNA has exonerated: I know of two or three who spent twenty years or so in prison before they were found innocent.
Anyway, Texas loves to execute people: it must be something from the days of the Texas Rangers and their special brand of justice for Mexicans and Indians- and horse thieves, let’s not forget the horse thieves who blazed the trails from Tennessee to Texas (FYI: Sam Houston was no horse thief). So the Texans keep on executing, but the homicides keep in increasing.
Texas has some good company in its love for “creative” ways of executions. Iran hangs them, often from cranes. Saudi Arabia beheads then in public squares, in that witching hour between Friday noon prayers and the dinner time: what else is there to do in Riyadh in that desolate hour? The Chinese reportedly shoot them without ceremony. As for the North Koreans, who knows wtf method they use: maybe they either bore them to death or starve them to death.
Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Slumdogs of Dubai: Not Your Father’s Dubai………….

     
Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

 

       My BFF
Dubai: A man masturbating on a public street; a woman waking up to an intruder in her bedroom; a peeping Tom spying through women’s bathroom windows… life in Mirdif isn’t what it used to be. The once-sleepy suburb of families has attracted residents of various moralities, due to the downward spiral in rents………”On weekends I’ve seen mid-teens sitting on the steps with bottles of vodka in their hands,” says a 21-year-old Sudanese. XPRESS has also witnessed teenagers making out on the steps of the back entrance, as well as groups of underage boys leering at women. A drive around the area reveals an increasing number of obscene graffiti on walls and teenagers sitting on street corners smoking. “Mirdif was never like this,” says 34 year-old Rainn Walker. “Now, everyone who’s of the wrong kind is in Mirdif. Two months ago, a boy who looked to be no older than 13 grabbed my behind as he walked past me on street 37. Last week I read about a woman who was kidnapped and held in Mirdif. Who knows what I’ll hear next. I’m having second thoughts about living here, ” she says……..

It ain’t your father’s, or your mother’s, Dubai these days. It ain’t my father’s Dubai either (he made sorties there in the old pre-oil days, along with many others). These symptoms have always existed in the backstreets of Dubai, as they have in Abu Dhabi and Riyadh and, dare I say it, Mecca. There was so much going on in Dubai for the media in the boom years that these things were overlooked: nobody wanted to cover the slums with open sewers and Kabul-quality electricity and water services. Just like nobody ever covers the truly seamy side of Las Vegas. Now with the bust and the departure of many European and Gulf investors, the owners of these formerly exclusive developments have had to lower their sights. And their rents. The slums of Dubai have begun to move into the formerly exclusive parts of Dubai. The slumdogs of Dubai are moving in.
Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Only in Dubai: an Impotent Polygamist Womanizer………

     
Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

 

 
      My BFF
Dubai: An Emirati man is being sued for Dh45 million in compensation for failing to sexually perform. The defendant’s ex-wife, told the court that she suffered from her husband’s erectile dysfunction while they were married. In her civil compensation claim, the ex-wife alleged that the accused suffered from sexual impotency that resulted in failing to fulfil her needs and forced her to have what she termed as “inhumane sex”. The case is being heard before the Dubai Courts…… She said her husband did not sleep with her in the first four months of their marriage. “When he did for the first time, he treated me inhumanly and inappropriately,” she told the court. “I discovered later on that he suffered erectile dysfunction. He was exactly the opposite of what he claimed to me before we signed the marriage contract……….”He was a sweet talker and after we got married, I discovered that he is a womanizer who married more than 12 times. Although he was a former public figure, but that didn’t prevent him from allegedly manipulating decent girls and spend weeks of pleasure with them before ditching them…….”

He was an impotent husband who was a serial womanizer and had married 12 women. Twelvefuckingwomen! No wonder he was impotent. Contrary to legend, “excessive” polygamy can lead to ED, sort of like taking steroids.
I don’t assume anyone knows if his name was Whatishisface al-Nahayan.
I list this under “culture”.
Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

My Gulf: Two Views of Dubai and Kabul……..

     
Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

 

 
      My BFF

A cynical foreign view: “This is a good question! Everyone knows that Dubai is the most useless city in the world, filled with entitled, arrogant, rude, mindlessly materialistic Emiratis and the shopping malls that sustain them. If Dubai receded into the sand that surrounds it or if its man-made palm shaped islands were drowned by rising sea levels, we would not feel bad for more than one minute. This is all true and not subject to debate. There is absolutely no reason to go to Dubai. Unless, of course, you are arriving from one of the neighboring shitholes (Kabul, Baghdad, Kandahar). In that case, Dubai is absolutely indispensable. It is the only place for you. Dubai must exist because Kabul does, just a short two-hour flight away. Kabul is filthy, violent, medieval and necklaced with razor wire. Thirty percent of the dust in the air is fecal matter. The blue sacks sitting in the mud (30% of which, it stands to reason, is also fecal matter) in intersections are not bags of potatoes; they are women in burqas begging. Donkey carts, armored SUVs and military convoys jam its unpaved streets. Dubai is none of these things (it’s pretty much what happens what medieval warlords do when they come into lot of money, but that’s a different post)………

A native brown-noser view:
But why did one succeed while the other failed? Why did ‘Death to America’ not resonate? I suppose, in the end, nobody wants to live in Tora Bora — not even Bin Laden apparently — but, rather Dubai. People rose because they wanted to live well. It must have been hard for Egyptians and Tunisians to understand how a city-state like Dubai, and the UAE in general, could develop with none of the resources of their countries, let alone their political and social institutions. It was no longer about being like London or Paris but rather like Dubai……..”

As for me: I have been to Dubai, both before and after, and I have been to some of those other places. I think the truth lies somewhere in between, between the cynical foreigner and the native writer who never seems to want to displease the ruling masters. My gut feeling, which does not always agree with my economist’s judgment (I have gone sour on economics these past three years), is that the cynical foreigner is closer to the truth. The native writer al-Gergawi always seems eager to please the powers that be, the rulers; but I have read only two or three of his postings. The foreign cynic Carpetblogger clearly doesn’t give a rat’s ass about pleasing anyone, and that is a good sign. Besides, I have never cottoned up to brown-nosers, even when I got so close to being one myself some years ago. Close, but never made it.
Cheers
mhg




m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Politics on My Gulf: On Being Royally Anally Retentive ………

     
Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

 

 
      My BFF
Her Highness Shaikha Moza grandmother of His Majesty, for whom we sacrifice our lives may god keep and save him, mother of the late his Highness Shaikh Issa Bin Salman Al-Khalifa and His Highness ‘Prince’ Khalifa Bin Salman Al-Khalifa and the late prince Mohammed Bin Salman Al-Khalifa, has passed away.” Tweet by Nabeel al-Homar, Bahrain regime spokesman.

RIP for the lady: she is not guilty for the crimes of her son and her grandson.

But WTF? Now Bahrain shaikhs are all called ‘princes’. First the emir Shaikh Hamad promoted himself unilaterally to a ‘king’, although there is nothing kingly or royal or regal about him. Then all the shaikhs are calling themselves princes. No more frogs in Bahrain, but who kissed all the al-Khalifa to turn them into princes (and princesses)? Can it be the al-Saud? It has to be: the al-Khalifa are even starting to wear the shmagh ghetra, a telltale Saudi headgear, in summer now. Bahraini rulers and their retainers among the elite are going Saudi, and they can’t seem to do it fast enough. Saudi, or rather al-Saud, are chic in occupied Bahrain. Which makes me wonder if any Frenchmen started to wear small mustaches in Nazi-occupied Paris so long ago.
The Bahrainis of the “right inclination”, political or otherwise, may find other ways to ape their new Wahhabi masters. They can start frequenting the places where all the things that are banned in the Kingdom without Magic are available. Don’t let your imagination run wild, not too wild. You can get flogged in public in Riyadh for singing in public, even an innocent thing like a Salafi carol (a la Fa La La…….). That is if you are a male. As for a singing female, you can probably get flogged anywhere on both shores of my Gulf. Iranian mullahs can be almost as anally retentive about these things are the Wahhbai shaikhs: almost so, but not quite.
In occupied Bahrain, they can do as the uninvited Saudi visitors do. That may become even more necessary as the true Saudis take their business elsewhere: they will be more welcome now in economically depressed Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Hopefully not as part of an occupation army.
Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

On Suicide Among Arabs and Iranians………..

     
Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

 

 
      My BFF
Countries and U.S. states that rank near the top in happiness also rank near the top in suicides rates, U.S. and British researchers suggest……Canada, the United States, Iceland, Ireland and Switzerland each indicate relatively high levels of happiness levels, but also high suicide rates. Nevertheless, the researchers note that because of variation in cultures and suicide-reporting conventions, the findings are only suggestive. Comparing happiness and suicide rates across U.S. states presents an advantage because cultural background, national institutions, language and religion are relatively constant nationwide……..UPI News

We in the Middle East, both Arabs and Iranians, do not have high suicide rates. In fact we have very low rates, possibly the lowest in the world. The rates did spike last December and January (starting with Tunisia). The reason is not that people in our region are happy. It is not Islamic fatwas against suicide either (the al-Qaeda Salafi types do it for the perks and extra benefits they expect to get on the ‘other side’). No, these are not the reasons for our low suicide rates. It is that the malcontents, the angry ones, don’t get a chance to commit suicide. Long before they reach that level of despair, Arabs and Iranians are either killed or tortured or imprisoned by their regimes. Or forced into exile, where they are no longer part of the local statistics.
Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Emirates Try Baby for Adultery, Shaikh Warns Girls about Fathers…….

     
Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

 

 
      My BFF
A 14-YEAR-OLD Arab schoolgirl who has been detained in the United Arab Emirates on a charge of adultery will appear in court later this month. “The trial will start in spite of the age ceiling set for trials on sexual related crimes by the UAE law,” said the daily newspaper Gulf News today. “The law states that the minimum age of suspects in crimes related to sex must be 15 years. Such cases should be conducted in special juvenile courts. Otherwise, suspects are considered victims rather than suspects,” the daily quoted a “law expert” as saying. On April 5, Gulf News said police in the emirate of Ajman had arrested the teenager after she met up with her boyfriend on the roof of her family home. She has since been forced to undergo a gynaecological examination which “confirmed she was still a virgin”, the unnamed girl’s father was quoted as saying………

It is a sure sign of a somewhat fuckedup society when a 14 year old girl is tried for “adultery”, even though she is a virgin according to medical examination. It is also a bigger sign when a top Saudi cleric and televangelist (M. Alarefe) blames some young girls because their fathers sexually abused them. Then he suggests that girls and fathers should never be left alone. He issued something like a television fatwa that says fathers should be suspect with their own daughters. Now what kind of a fucked up pious society is this? The same al-Arefe had earlier described why and how a husband should beat up his wife.
And I had thought these things only happened in ‘certain’ parts of Texas and Oklahoma. Some of these judges and clerics in my Gulf are worse than those in parts of Texas and Oklahoma! I forgot to mention Belgium, which used to be, may still be, notorious for pedophilia rings.
Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com