Reading Lohaidan in Riyadh: Media and the struggle for judicial power in Saudi Arabia
Arab Media & Society, Issue 7, Winter 2009, http://www.arabmediasociety.com/?article=702
Along with a reported one in seven viewers across the Arab World, Saudis were glued to their television sets during 2008 watching a Turkish soap opera called Noor. The show was dubbed into Levantine Arabic and broadcast three times daily during Ramadan by MBC, a pan-Arab satellite network owned by Walid al-Ibrahim, a brother-in-law of the late Saudi king Fahd bin Abdelaziz Al Saud. Starring an economically independent, unveiled female lead and her tender Casanova of a husband, Noor was so popular that it spurred a large number of Gulf Arab tourists to visit Turkey, including the Saudi first lady Princess Hissa Al-Shaalan, and its blonde and blue-eyed star Kivanc Tatlitu became a heart-throb for Saudi and other women. The drama had a particular grip on the public because, unusually, it was dubbed into colloquial rather than classical Arabic, and its Turkish milieu had a familiarity for Arab audiences that other foreign soaps lack. Continue reading Saudi judicial reform, 2009
“Liberal enclaves: A royal attempt to bypass clerical power”, in The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, 1979-2009: Evolution of a Pivotal State, published by The Middle East Institute in Washington DC in Oct 2009.
Liberal enclaves: A royal attempt to bypass clerical power
Within the first months of Abdullah’s term as king, the Saudi government pursued a number of policies to improve the kingdom’s economic profile. Saudi Arabia became a member of the World Trade Organisation, the limits were raised on foreign stakes in sectors such as banking, telecoms services, wholesale, retail and franchising. These reforms were intended to answer economic priorities of diversifying from dependence on oil revenues, finding jobs for young Saudis and opening up foreign investment. But they had another function too, one that was more transparent in a centrepiece of the early period of Abdullah’s reign: the establishment of “economic cities” where, freed from the influence of the Wahhabi clerics, Saudis would live, work and study as productive members of a modern economy. Continue reading Saudi Arabia’s ‘liberal enclaves’
Saudi Arabia’s Media Empire: keeping the masses at home
Arab Media & Society, Issue 3, Fall 2007, http://www.arabmediasociety.com/?article=420
Since the 1990-1 Gulf crisis when the United States used Saudi Arabia as a launchpad for a campaign to evict occupying Iraqi forces from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia has used the Arab media as a key area for responding to perceived threats to the leadership’s legitimacy and stability such as challenges to its alliance with the United States and criticism of its political system, decision-making processes and image in the Arab world. The immediate Saudi response to the Gulf crisis was launching the Middle East Broadcasting Corporation (MBC), established as a private television enterprise by a brother-in-law of King Fahd, Walid al-Ibrahim. Subsequently, Prince Khaled bin Sultan, leader of Saudi forces in the 1991 war and son of current Crown Prince Sultan, consolidated his control over London-based pan-Arab daily newspaper Al Hayat while sons of Riyadh governor Prince Salman consolidated their control over Al Hayat’s London-based competitor Asharq al-Awsat. A minor Saudi prince set up the Orbit entertainment TV network in 1994 and businessman Prince Alwaleed bin Talal and business partner Saleh Kamel established the Arab Radio and Television entertainment network (ART) the same year. In recent years these three networks, MBC, Orbit and ART, have saturated Arab viewers in Arab and Western entertainment, led by Hollywood movies, American sitcoms and talkshows. Continue reading Saudi Arabia’s media empire
(Reuters) – Saudi Arabia is hoping that the United Nations will step in to help save the historic old city of Jeddah, whose unique Red Sea architecture is in danger of disappearing.
The ancient city in Saudi Arabia is in line to be included this year on the U.N.’s World Heritage List, which so far includes 830 sites including eight in Yemen and Oman, says Sami Nawwar, who is leading the effort to preserve Jeddah’s past. Continue reading Saving Jeddah’s old city
Q & A with Reuters Correspondent Andrew Hammond (translated from Arabic)
By Najah al Osaymi
Asharq Al Awsat interviews Reuters news agency’s Saudi correspondent and author of Pop Culture Arab World! Andrew Hammond. Continue reading Interview with Asharq al-Awsat