Arabia Saudí

Meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors of the G20 nations in the Saudi capital Riyadh on February 23, 2020. Photo by FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images.

The G20 summit in November was to be a moment when the world focused its attention on Saudi Arabia. As the leaders of the world’s 20 largest economies came together for the first time in an Arab capital and presided over the world’s greatest challenges and opportunities, King Salman would have taken centre stage with his son and crown prince Mohammed bin Salman not far behind in the spotlight.

However this will now be a virtual summit, and that is probably a blessing in disguise for the kingdom and its leadership which has not enjoyed a good year. It shares responsibility for crashing the price of oil, which, in conjunction with COVID-19, has brought the global economy to its knees.…  Seguir leyendo »

In July, Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio joined three Democratic colleagues, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Tim Kaine of Virginia and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, in a letter to President Trump urging action on a case that has gotten far too little media attention — the apparent detention of the son and daughter of Saad al Jabri.

The lawmakers expressed grave concern that Omar and Sarah al Jabri were being held against their will to compel their father’s return from Canada to Riyadh to face charges of corruption.

Mr. al Jabri served under former Minister of Interior Muhammad bin Nayef (widely known as MBN), the onetime next-in-line for the Saudi throne who has been displaced by now-Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman (MBS).…  Seguir leyendo »

Pilgrims circumambulating around the Kaaba inside the Grand Mosque in Mecca in 2019. Credit Abdel Ghani Bashir/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Despite the pandemic gripping the world, the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, the holiest site in Islam, is still officially scheduled for late July. Although the kingdom has asked Muslims to postpone their trips, unless it suspends the hajj, it poses devastating health risks.

Every year, more than two million perform the pilgrimage, gathering for a set of rituals in Mecca, traveling together to several sites in the outskirts of the city and then visiting the holy city of Medina, 300 miles away, where the Prophet Muhammad is buried.

The hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam, along with the confession of monotheism, prayers five times a day, annual charity and fasting in the month of Ramadan, which commenced on Friday.…  Seguir leyendo »

La reciente decisión de Arabia Saudita de aumentar su producción petrolera representa un cambio brutal en su pensamiento sobre los mercados energéticos y su propia dependencia de las reservas petrolíferas. Atrás quedaron los días en que las reservas petrolíferas sauditas eran gestionadas prudentemente para las generaciones futuras. Al abandonar la banda específica para los precios del petróleo y utilizar su capacidad productiva excedente, el Reino se está alejando del papel que mantuvo durante mucho tiempo como productor responsable de las fluctuaciones del mercado.

El cambio refleja la visión del príncipe heredero Mohamed bin Salmán (MBS): Arabia Saudita cuenta con una ventana de oportunidad relativamente limitada para monetizar sus grandes reservas petroleras.…  Seguir leyendo »

El pasado día 1, mi país, el Reino de Arabia Saudí, asumió oficialmente la presidencia anual del G-20, grupo que integra a las veinte economías mundiales más potentes. Este acontecimiento pone de manifiesto el lugar que el Reino de Arabia Saudí ostenta a nivel mundial, al tiempo que supone un reconocimiento del papel que desempeña para el crecimiento y la estabilidad de la economía mundial. Por lo tanto, a partir de ahora y hasta la cita de la cumbre del G-20, en noviembre de 2020, se celebrarán más de cien congresos, reuniones y eventos cuyo objetivo será debatir cuestiones tendentes a construir un futuro mejor para nuestras sociedades y contribuir a buscar soluciones a los desafíos que el mundo afronta.…  Seguir leyendo »

UN Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard said the murder was likely "premeditated execution."

Journalist Jamal Khashoggi should be hailed a hero for paying the ultimate price for his belief in free speech. Instead, his murder at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last year serves as a cautionary tale: no matter how brutal the crime, no matter how well-known the victim might be, no matter how incriminating the evidence, justice proves elusive for those who speak truth to power.

Last year was one of the most dangerous for the media. The number of reporters who were murdered and disappeared in 2018 went up on the previous year, and «journalists have never before been subjected to as much violence and abusive treatment as in 2018,» according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF).…  Seguir leyendo »

El 2 de octubre se cumple un año del brutal asesinato del periodista saudí Jamal Khashoggi en Estambul. Según concluyó un informe de la ONU, Arabia Saudí es responsable de la ejecución y existen “pruebas creíbles” que apuntan a la implicación del príncipe heredero y líder de facto del país, Mohámed bin Salmán. No es de extrañar, pues, que la imagen internacional de Arabia Saudí se haya resentido durante este año. Pero tampoco es de extrañar que, una vez remitido el temporal, ciertas dinámicas hayan retornado a sus cauces habituales.

Entre los elementos que sí que se han visto alterados, los más significativos guardan relación con la guerra de Yemen, uno de los principales escenarios del conflicto regional entre Arabia Saudí e Irán.…  Seguir leyendo »

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia makes no secret of his desire to transform his country. Since he began consolidating power in 2015, he has marketed himself to domestic and international audiences as a force of modernity, touting an agenda of cultural liberalization and economic reform. In 2016, he outlined his would-be revolution with the release of “Saudi Vision 2030,” an ambitious plan to establish Saudi Arabia as a “global investment powerhouse” and “a gateway to the world.”

The development of a “sophisticated digital infrastructure” is at the heart of Prince Mohammed’s vision. And while many of his proposals remain unrealized — loftily promised futuristic cities have yet to materialize — the crown prince’s obsession with technology has wrought some significant changes.…  Seguir leyendo »

Yemenis digging graves last year for children who were killed by a Saudi-led coalition airstrike on a market in the province of Saada.CreditCreditAgence France-Presse — Getty Images

Last week was especially bad for the monarchy of Saudi Arabia.

On Wednesday, a United Nations expert released a report calling for an investigation into the role of Mohammed bin Salman, crown prince of Saudi Arabia, in the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The next day in Washington, the Senate voted to block arms sales worth billions of dollars, the latest in a string of congressional efforts to halt American support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. And in London — on the same day — a court ruled that Britain had acted unlawfully in approving arms exports to Saudi Arabia.…  Seguir leyendo »

Un manifestante sostuvo un póster con una fotografía de Jamal Khashoggi afuera del consulado de Arabia Saudita en Estambul el 25 de octubre. Credit Osman Orsal/Reuters

En mayo me invitaron a viajar a Washington para asistir a algunas audiencias en el congreso. Había imaginado la ciudad gracias a lo que me había contado sobre ella mi prometido, Jamal Khashoggi. La visita me dejó con el sentimiento alarmante de que su recuerdo se desvanecía en la ciudad que él evocaba tan amorosamente.

Cuando conocí a Jamal en Estambul, él había estado viviendo y trabajando en Washington durante más de un año, después de haber dejado su casa en Arabia Saudita en medio de una campaña violenta en contra de intelectuales y activistas.

Después de comprometernos, y mientras planeábamos nuestra nueva vida juntos en Washington, Jamal hablaba con gran calidez acerca de la ciudad, sus museos y sus mercados.…  Seguir leyendo »

Saudi men relax on a fishing pier in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Photo: Getty Images.

Although the position of Saudi women within society quite rightly draws media attention, young Saudi men for the most part remain a silent mass, their thoughts and views rarely heard outside of the kingdom. But new research conducted in Saudi Arabia by Mark C Thompson, including 50 focus group discussions and interviews and surveys of over 5,000 young men from diverse backgrounds, reveals intriguing new insight into their views on subjects including gender segregation, identity, education, employment and marriage, as well as political participation and exclusion.

As 78% of the workforce, the views of Saudi men are crucial to the Saudi government’s Vision 2030 plan, which aims to help break the kingdom’s dependency on oil and, at the same time, diversify the economy towards important growth sectors, such as retail, health, IT, communications, tourism and education.…  Seguir leyendo »

A child outside her shelter at Al-Ihsan refugee camp in Idlib, Syria, in January. The human cost of proxy wars has grown far too high.CreditCreditMuhammed Abdullah/Anadolu Agency, via Getty Images

We write as citizens and foreign policy veterans of two countries that most Americans presume are locked in mortal combat: Iran and Saudi Arabia. In fact, after decades of proxy conflict and frozen ties between our countries, we believe now is the time to explore a new foundation for a lasting peace in our region.

Neither of us is a starry-eyed idealist. We are both hardened realists with distrust for one another, and that mistrust is shared at the top levels of our respective governments. At the same time, we have seen the destructive consequences of crises in which our countries side with one or another government or movement involved in a competition for power — for example in Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, Bahrain or Iraq.…  Seguir leyendo »

Despite the claims of Prince Mohammed bin Salman and his enablers, Saudi Arabia is not rolling back the hard-line religious establishment. Instead, the kingdom is curtailing the voices of moderation that have historically combated extremism. Numerous Saudi activists, scholars and thinkers who have sought reform and opposed the forces of extremism and patriarchy have been arrested. Many of them face the death penalty.

Salman Alodah, my father, is a 61-year-old scholar of Islamic law in Saudi Arabia, a reformist who argued for greater respect for human rights within Shariah, the legal code of Islam based on the Quran. His voice was heard widely, partly owing to his popularity as a public figure with 14 million followers on Twitter.…  Seguir leyendo »

Jailed Saudi activist Loujain Alhathloul

On Thursday night, Mariah Carey will perform on stage in Saudi Arabia. This concert is a pathetic attempt to show that the country is becoming more tolerant toward women.

But there are many women languishing in Saudi prisons, simply for campaigning for the better treatment of women.

Some of them have been brutally tortured and sexually assaulted. One of these women is my sister, Loujain Alhathloul. As a fan of Carey’s work, I’d like to see her ask for the release of my sister while she is on stage.

After eight months of praying that she’d be released, I am here to tell her story.…  Seguir leyendo »

As of this month, women in Saudi Arabia will be informed by text if their husbands are divorcing them. Prior to this technological update, husbands could divorce their wives without even notifying them. On its website, the Saudi Ministry of Justice claims that the measure will protect «the rights of female clients.»

However, the text is nothing but a symbolic technological advancement to mask a flourishing system that reinforces men’s ownership of women.

Even with a text notification, Saudi women’s marital rights remain largely the same: effectively non-existent. Knowledge of the divorce does not ensure the right to alimony or affect custody of children.…  Seguir leyendo »

Loujain al-Hathloul in 2014, when she took a widely-viewed video of herself as she drove from the United Arab Emirates to Saudi Arabia.CreditLoujain Al-Hathloul/Loujain al-Hathloul, via Associated Press

When Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visits Saudi Arabia on Sunday, he is expected to discuss Yemen, Iran and Syria and “seek an update on the status of the investigation into the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.”

I am struck by what is not included in Mr. Pompeo’s itinerary: the brave women activists of Saudi Arabia, who are being held in the kingdom’s prisons for seeking rights and dignity. Mr. Pompeo’s apathy is personal for me because one of the women detained, Loujain al-Hathloul, is my sister. She has worked relentlessly to earn Saudi women the right to drive.

I live in Brussels.…  Seguir leyendo »

The tragedy of Fahad Albutairi and Loujain al-Hathloul

A couple years ago, when I was writing for “American Dad!,” I needed an Arabic speaker for a small part. Our casting director recommended a Saudi comedian named Fahad Albutairi, who happened to be in Los Angeles for a couple of months shooting a television show. I looked him up. He was the first Saudi stand-up comedian to appear on stage professionally in the kingdom, the “Jerry Seinfeld of Saudi Arabia.” He had a couple million Twitter followers. (He has none now; I’ll get to that.) He was, frankly, way more interesting than the part.

The day of the recording, I walked to the booth to meet Fahad and direct his session.…  Seguir leyendo »

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman waits for the family photo during the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, last month.CreditCreditAndres Martinez Casares/Reuters

In November 2015, I spent a couple of weeks reporting in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. It had been less than two years since my last visit to the country and just 10 months since King Salman’s ascension to the throne, but the mood among local activists and intellectuals had darkened considerably. On my final evening, my friend Fahad al-Fahad, a marketing consultant and human rights activist, offered to take me on a tour that, he suggested, might help to explain the new atmosphere.

We drove to the Jaffali mosque, where, just outside, public beheadings are carried out, and where, earlier that year, Raif Badawi, another Saudi activist, had been flogged before hundreds of onlookers.…  Seguir leyendo »

The murder of Saudi columnist Jamal Khashoggi, along with sharply deteriorating humanitarian conditions and growing media attention paid to the war in Yemen, has led to increased pressure on Saudi Arabia to end the war there.

Top U.S. officials are now calling on Riyadh to agree to a ceasefire and participate in U.N.-sponsored talks, and the Pentagon announced last Friday it would no longer provide in-air refueling for Saudi bombing runs. Meanwhile, Congress, led by the new Democratic majority in the House, is credibly threatening to suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia, which countries such as Germany have already done. The growing pressure, a marked departure from the almost-unconditional support the Trump administration has been providing to the Saudis, has led to renewed hopes that the war might finally be brought to a negotiated end.…  Seguir leyendo »

The rulers of Saudi Arabia derive much of their legitimacy and prestige in the Muslim world from their control and upkeep of the Grand Mosque and the Kaaba in Mecca and the mosque of Prophet Muhammad in Medina. King Salman, like the rulers before him, wears the title of the “Khadim al-Ḥaramayn al-Sharifayn,” which is translated as the “Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques” or, more precisely, “The Servant of the Two Noble Sanctuaries.”

Despite the humility of the royal title, the Saudi monarchy has a long history of exploiting the podium of the Grand Mosque in Mecca by using its imams to praise, sanctify and defend the rulers and their actions.…  Seguir leyendo »