The Sheikhs of Araby

Mohammed Hanif in Newsline:

ScreenHunter_01 May. 14 13.45 The Saudi Arabia of our imagination is an ancient place, not much different from the way the second Caliph Omar might have found it on one of his nightly rounds. It’s a place where shopkeepers leave their shops open when they go to the mosque to pray. It’s a place of zero crime where a lone woman dressed in all her finery can go from one end of the kingdom to the other end, juggling gold coins, and nobody would dare give her a second glance. Here, justice is swift and transparent. The thieves get their hands chopped off in public, large crowds of believers gather to watch spectacular beheadings. Here, even wild camels are well behaved. The Saudis have followed Allah’s law in letter and spirit and hence, they have been blessed with unimaginable wealth. Is it not a miracle that desert bedouins are the world’s richest people? Is it not true that although hardly anything grows in those deserts but even if a dog goes hungry at night the ruler feels the responsibility?

There is enough evidence to suggest that it is all nonsense.

Saudi Arabia is a cruel place if you are not related to the ruling clan. If you are a foreigner, you might be living in the apartheid era in South Africa. If you are a Pakistani or a Bangladeshi, you can live there for three generations and still not get your basic rights as a citizen. If you are a girl student you can burn to death as the religious police stops firemen from entering your school. Saudi Arabia might pretend to conform to a 1,400-year-old tribal code, but they are also the world’s largest consumers of fast cars, luxury linen and flashy jewellery. They are the prized clients of the world’s richest casinos and upmarket brothels. Saudi Arabia keeps the American arms manufacturing industry in business, yet has no capacity to defend itself or any of the dozens of other Muslim countries that are not as blessed with American weaponry as Saudia. Here is a country which provided the most number of men for the 9/11 attacks yet nobody has ever suggested that the bombs that fell on Afghanistan and Iraq should have been directed towards Saudia. It has produced little except senile rulers with more wives than a Mormon could ever dream of. They have exported nothing but doomsday visionaries, who have been preaching and practicing the art of televised throat-slitting, mostly to and on their Muslim brothers.

More here.