Category Archives: Saudi Arabia

Posts covering Saudi Arabia.

Worlds Highest Twitter Penetration

Worlds Highest Twitter Penetration

When you think of what country would have the most users on twitter, which country do you think of? The answer is Saudi Arabia. Does this answer surprise you? Well a surprising 41% of Saudi Arabian internet users have accounts on Twitter. While this number puts them in the lead for number of twitter users in proportion to area and population, the actual number of users is small. Only 54% of the population in Saudi Arabia uses the internet. So actually only about 6 million internet users are on twitter as compared to the 40 million users in the US. Only about 18% of the United States’ internet users are on twitter.

The rapid spread of Twitter in Saudi Arabia can be attributed to three main reasons, the largest two being the availability of high-speed Internet and smart mobile devices.

Smart phone penetration in the Kingdom exceeds 72 percent. The hot climate also makes the Internet in general and social networking sites in particular a real resort for the youth.
Thirdly, a large group of journalists, intellectuals and athletes, as well as foreigners residing in the Kingdom, use Twitter network to communicate with each other and discuss various social and local issues and developments in the Arab world.
These factors and others have contributed to the creation of more than a million new accounts on Twitter during the past year alone.

Posted By: Brittany Lintner

SOURCES:

http://www.arabnews.com/news/478691

http://www.emarketer.com/Article/Twitter-Use-Rises-Across-US-Age-Groups/1010119

Saudi Arabia’s Grace Period for Illegal Workers Comes To an End- Thousands Arrested

On Monday, Inspection squads started massive raids across Saudi Arabia to catch labor and residency law violators following the end of the amnesty period.

Thousands of illegals were apprehended in various regions of the kingdom. Roughly 5,000 unregulated men and women were apprehended over the course of one day.

Inspectors raided several public places and squares as well as places where illegals used to gather in various parts of the city.

A long queue stretched down the road outside a visa office as foreign workers tried to leave without paying fines for overstaying. Some carried personal possessions in hopes of leaving immediately.

In the Batha district, home to many low-paid foreigners, some shops were shut and only Saudi employees were working in others. Market stalls had vanished from the normally busy street where vendors hawk fruit, vegetables, clothes and mobile phones.

Before the amnesty period expired on Monday the government issued repeated warnings to foreigners to correct their status or face punishments including prison, fines and deportation. Companies employing expatriates without proper visas will also be fined, as will people or firms that charge expatriates a fee to sponsor their visa.

Posted By: Brittany Lintner

Saudi Arabia Turns Down Seat on UN Security Council

Saudi Arabia Turns Down Seat on UN Security Council

Astonishing the diplomatic community in New York, Saudi Arabia announced last night that it would not be taking up a seat on the United Nations Security Council just one day after being elected to the body for two years. Their decision comes in protest at the UN’s failure to respond decisively to conflicts such as the Syrian civil war.
Saudi Arabia was one of five countries picked to join the body on Thursday. After the vote Saudi Arabia’s UN Ambassador Abdallah Al-Mouallimi said his government took it “very seriously” and saw it as “a reflection of a longstanding policy in support of moderation and in support of resolving disputes in peaceful means.”
A statement from the Saudi Foreign Ministry on Friday excoriated the Council for failing on multiple fronts, not just with the Syrian conflict but also in resolving Israeli-Palestinian tensions and ridding the Middle East of weapons of mass destruction. It therefore would not be taking the seat, it said.

The statement released blamed their decision on the council’s “inability to perform its duties” to end the war in Syria, saying its failure has enabled President Bashar Assad’s regime “to kill its people and burn them with chemical weapons in front of the entire world and without any deterrent or punishment.” The Syrian regime denies using chemical weapons.

The snub may also reflect growing irritation with the United States, with which it has for so long be so closely tied. Saudi Arabia was angered by President Barack Obama backing off military strikes against Syria and has been clearly unsettled by what may be a thawing of the ice between the US and Iran, its arch rival in the region.

Posted By: Brittany Lintner

Women’s Rights Progress in Saudi Arabia

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Under Saudi law, women are banned from obtaining a drivers license or using one from another country. Saudi women have decided they can no longer tolerate this outrageous law and are planning a driving protest in two weeks. They have also started circulating an online petition. On Thursday, one of the protest’s biggest backers was arrested after tweeting about and photographing her female friend driving through the capital city.

Saudi authorities have blocked the campaign website, but more than 15,000 people had already signed the petition, which demands that the government lift the ban or at minimum give a “a valid and legal justification” for the prohibition.

In preparation for the protest, Saudi women have been practicing their driving and posting videos of their defiance on YouTube. This video even shows a van of men driving by showing their approval with thumbs up.

The only explanation that has surfaced about the ban is an absolutely ridiculous one. Sheikh Saleh bin Saad al-Lohaidan, a judicial adviser to an association of Gulf psychologists told a newspaper, “If a woman drives a car, not out of pure necessity, that could have negative physiological impacts as functional and physiological medical studies show that it automatically affects the ovaries and pushes the pelvis upwards.”

In other news, the first Saudi Arabia woman lawyer was granted a license to appear in a courtroom and even open her own practice last weekend. Until now, women’s law rights have been limited to acting as a legal consultant. Even then, they were only allowed a limited amount of client contact.  The Human Rights Watch says  “Any woman seeking to practice law in the kingdom will still have major hurdles to overcome. Saudi judges have wide discretion to remove a lawyer from a case before them, and nothing would prevent them from using gender to do that. Some judges continue to segregate men and women in their courtrooms.”

Posted By: Brittany Lintner

Saudi Arabia’s First Feature-Length Film

In recent popular culture news, there is a buzz about the first feature length motion picture filmed in Saudi Arabia. This film has another claim for fame, too. It’s the first film directed by a Saudi woman!
Funding was a struggle to obtain at first. It actually took five years for everything to come together. Haifaa Al Mansour, writer and director of the film, says she sent hundreds of emails to producers looking for backing. Eventually she received a reply from Oscar nominated producers Gerhard Meixner and Roman Paul.
Directing the film itself was another hassle. Because of rules in Saudi Arabia restricting the mingling and collaboration of men and women in the work place, Mansour had to give directions over the phone from a second location. She sometimes gave directions from the back of a hidden van via walkie talkie to avoid being seen giving direct orders to her male crew members.
The film tells the story of a native schoolgirl named Wadjda who dreams of going against social norms and buying a bicycle for herself. Mansour says about her work, “I wanted to make a film that is transparent about the culture—because I know a lot of people don’t know what it is like in Saudi Arabia, or what Saudi Arabia looks like.”

A longer article about this film can be found at:

http://www.sfgate.com/movies/article/Wadjda-review-Saudi-Arabia-through-woman-s-lens-4828215.php

Sources: Motherjones.com, Youtube.com, sfgate.com

Posted By: Brittany Lintner

Saudi Arabia and Domestic Abuse

If you watch the video above, you will learn that in August of 2013 Saudi Arabia passed it’s first ban on domestic abuse. The new law was put in to place to protect house wives, children and even domestic workers that have been suffering the effects of domestic violence under the rule of an unsympathetic government.

Now, nearly a month after the passing of this law, we are finding out that authorities seem to have no plans to actually enforce it. Two women’s rights activists were convicted on September 24th 2013 on charges of “inciting a woman against her husband.” Basically these women stepped in to help a woman and her children who were being abused by the father and authorities say that was an unlawful action. The woman and her children were reportedly locked in their home without sufficient food or water. These two women who were just trying to help these victims now face up to 10 months in prison and a 2 year ban on foreign travel.

These women were convicted by the opinion of just one judge (no jury) and he didn’t even allow the woman in distress to testify.

So, despite this new law meant to help victims, Saudi law enforcement are refusing to intervene with the “sovereignty” a man has over his female dependents. The law doesn’t specifically state who is allowed to intervene in instances of abuse, and since we know that authorities avoid it and citizens will get arrested for it, these victims are basically trapped.

The government is sending mixed signals about a piece of legislation they passed merely a month ago. For this law to work the authorities need to crack down. Saudi Arabia needs to look kindly upon those who assert themselves to help the women, children, and workers in need of rescue. And what can we do? We, as an allied country, can push the issue. We can make our disappointment of their lack of enforcement for this law known. We can refuse help to them when they ask us to fight Syria on their behalf. Something. But we can’t go on knowing that a country we interact with and do business with is still treating their women, children, and workers in such a horrific way. This is something we can not support and must push to end.

Posted By: Brittany Lintner

What’s Going On This Week?

Right now in Saudi Arabia, Prince Saud al-Faisal is pushing for war against Syria. In a meeting last week with Secretary of State John Kerry, Saud al-Faisal was reportedly very aggressive in his wishes that the U.S. lead an intervention against Syria. In the past, Saudi  Arabia has kept their dislike for Washington decisions out of public ears, but recently they seem less willing to do so. Perhaps their strategy is to convince the public to support their side.

In recent Saudi cabinet meetings, the Kingdom’s strict views on the crisis in Syria were reaffirmed. The community has been called on to both ‘stop the fighting in Syria immediately,’ and to ‘fulfill their humanitarian responsibilities to save the Syrian people from “genocide.”‘
Saudi Arabia desperately wants to implement an intervention in Syria as soon as they can. Reasons range from humanitarian efforts to a urge to push back against the excesses of an Iranian-backed regime in the heart of the Levant. However, the Kingdom has yet to make a move because they still probably expect the US to do the fighting for them.

In other news, Saudi Arabia may be increasing their imports from Australia in the near future. The Australian State of Victoria exports agricultural products to Saudi Arabia. In fact the Kingdom is one of the largest regional markets for Victoria’s commodities. Victoria and Saudi Arabia are simply looking to strengthen their partnership and possibly expand into the automobile industry. Universities in both countries have also been working together to help their students.

http://www.arabnews.com/news/465159

http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2013/09/18/how-saudi-arabia-is-pushing-for-war/

Posted By: Brittany Lintner

Lets Talk Environment

Lets Talk Environment

According to recent official reports, climate change is a serious cause for concern in Saudi Arabia.

Increasing global temperatures and rising sea levels are leading to the disruption of many biological and physical systems and also causing drought and flooding.

The Saudi International Environmental Technology Conference has been conducting investigations of waste, pollution, air quality and the deterioration of natural resources. They are working on developing advanced environmental technologies to sustain development in a friendly way.

Saudi Arabia is the largest country in the world without a river. This lack in underground water resources has caused them to streamline all its projects and programs to the Arabian Gulf and Red Sea.

If Saudi Arabia had more greenhouses they would not need to do this. Greenhouses are for sure on of the most important agricultural techniques for desert climates. This is because they provide great success with protecting, increasing and controlling production, rationing irrigation water and providing sustainable agriculture. Greenhouses today do not entirely meet the needs of Saudi Arabia but efforts are being made to advance greenhouses and tailor them to meet the needs of this country.

Saudi Arabia is working with the United Nations Development Program. According to their reports, Saudi Arabia enjoys a continuing period of rapid economic growth, high income per capita, positive trade and absolutely no public debt. “This process, largely fueled by oil revenues, has been accompanied by high rates of population growth and increasing pressure on the country’s natural resources. The recent published plan — the 8th Development Plan — lays stress on protecting the environment and develop suitable systems consistent with sustainable development.”

http://www.saudigazette.com.sa/index.cfm?method=home.regcon&contentid=20130415161469

Posted By: Brittany Lintner

Economics of Saudi Arabia

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Saudi Arabians are facing tougher economic times recently as prices of commonly purchased goods have gone up about 7-10%. It is back-to-school season everywhere and items such as book bags, notebooks and lunch boxes have gone up in price since last year making it more difficult for many middle eastern families to provide the essentials for their children. Many parents have gone on the record saying that they do not waiver to buy these things for their children because of price but because these things need to be purchased, other things will have to be gone without.

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Saudi Arabia is also struggling to maintain its labor market and market competitiveness. The country has taken steps to try and ensure better employment rates but there is still a deficiency. As of Tuesday, Saudi Arabia is ranked 70 out of 148 in terms of Labor Market Efficiency.

In 2011, Saudi Arabia implemented a program designed to increase the number of nationals employed in the private sector. Nevertheless, employment is still down. This is probably because the companies in the private sector are less concerned about employing more nationals and more preoccupied in working the system. According to an article from alarabiya.net, a popular Saudi news source, private sector companies are registering family members as employees in the system in order to meet quota requirements and stay in the “green zone”.  Companies not in the green zone are barred from obtaining licenses and completing vital business operations.

Sources: Arabnews.com and Alarabiya.net

Written By: Brittany Lintner

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia

Quick Facts:

Population: 29,195,895 (est. 2012)
Government: Unitary Islamic absolute monarchy
Major Export: Petroleum Oil
Language: Arabic
Religion: Muslim

According to The New York Times, “Saudi Arabia has recently emerged as the foremost supporter of Egypt’s military rulers, explicitly backing the violent crackdown on Islamists and using its oil wealth and diplomatic muscle to help defy growing pressure from the West to end the bloodshed in search of a political solution.”

The United States has discussed cutting aid to Egypt, but Saudi Arabia has come forward to state that they will make up any reduction should it take place. This would effectively neutralize all leverage the West has over Cairo that would help negotiate a compromise.

                                         Posted By Brittany Lintner