Saudi Arabia cleric claims cinema, concerts to be corrupt

 

The Grand Mufti, Saudi Arabia’s highest-ranking cleric, termed cinema and concerts as depravity, stating that they would pollute the values of people if allowed in the ultra-conservative kingdom.

According to Sabq news website, the Grand Mufti , Abdulaziz al-Sheikh stated in a television interview that “we know that singing concerts and cinemas are a depravity”. The head of the Saudi supreme council of clerics opined this view when asked a question on the plans of the kingdom’s General Authority of Entertainment aiming to licence concerts and study opening cinemas. He feared cinemas might showcase movies – unprincipled, indecorous, immoral and atheist in nature, because they rely on films imported to change their inherent culture.

He dismissed the idea of singing concerts, pointing that music shows and cinemas encourage mixing between sexes.

Keeping in mind the Saudi Arabia vision 2030, promoting tourism and entertainment in the desert kingdom is one their topmost priorities. The entertainment authority has made arrangements for several events but a show by stand-up comedian and actor Mike Epps at a university campus in western Saudi Arabia was called off.

In addition to entertainment, Saudi has also imposed inhibitions on mixing in public and alcohol is prohibited. Women do not have permission to drive and must take permission from a male member in the family for activities like work and travel.

 

Sources : Firstpost, The Indian Express

President Obama Will Veto Bill Allowing 9/11 Lawsuits Against Saudi Arabia

President Barack Obama is going to veto a bill, passed by both houses of the Congress on Friday. The bill, if passed , will allow the survivors and families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia for damages in the United States courts.

As reported in Reuters, Josh Earnest, the White House spokesman was quoted saying, “It’s not hard to imagine other countries using this law as an excuse to haul U.S. diplomats or U.S. service members or even U.S. companies into courts all around the world.”

Incidentally, out of the 19 terrorists involved in the attacks, 15 were citizens of Saudi Arabia. Families of the victims of the New York and Washington terror attacks in 2001 have filed lawsuits against members of the royal Saudi family and various charities of the country accusing them of aiding and promoting terrorist activities.

But these efforts have failed due to a 1976 law, which protects foreign nations from lawsuits in the US courts. The bill intends to create an exception here against foreign nations, which are found even partially responsible for the death of American citizens through terror attacks within the US borders

The bill was passed without any objection by the House of Representatives on Friday and cleared by the Senate unanimously in May. Now, even if Obama choses to veto the bill, lawmakers can opt to override his decision by going ahead with the two-third majority supporting the bill. As per the US Constitution, Obama will be given a 10 days window to veto the bill before it automatically becomes a law. The exceptional power still in the hand of the president is that of the ‘pocket veto’, which will allow him to hold onto the bill, until the end of the Congress session.

 

Sources:

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-sept11-saudi-whitehouse-idUSKCN11I27U

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/obama-911-saudi-arabia-families-sue-congress-bill-terror-attack-world-trade-center-new-york-a7239726.html

Electronic Bracelets for Hajj Pilgrims to avoid another 2015 Stampede

The deadly 2015 stampede which lead to the death of thousands of Hajj pilgrims has by far been the world’s largest Islamic gathering on record. In the hopes to avoid another such situation coming September, the officials have decided to issue electronic bracelets to the millions of pilgrims expected to visit the holy sites at Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

The bracelets are expected to be two centimetres wide, water-resistant and are GPS-linked consisting of personal information and medical records that the Saudi officials and security forces could easily access via smart phones. Different colour bracelets would be issued to people from different countries, pilgrims from Arab countries will be issued green coloured bracelets, mauve coloured for African pilgrims and so on. Personal information for each pilgrim will include their passport numbers and addresses. Moreover, 1,000 new surveillance cameras have been installed to keep a check on the pilgrims as they walk along the pilgrimage routes and the crowd inside holy sites, reports BBC news.

According to Al Arabiya News, the bracelets are not for the sole purpose of identification but it also provides guidance with prayer timings, pilgrimage steps guidance, language help for the non-Arabic speakers and a compass to show pilgrims which direction to face while praying.

Critical conditions of Keralites in Saudi Arabia

 

 As stated by NDTV, in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and various parts of Middle East Hundreds of Keralites are going through sustenance crisis brought about by unpaid salaries and benefits and non-renewal of their work permits. One such example is the construction giant Saudi Binladin Group which has a large number of Indian employees.

 The government of Saudi Arabia has dismissed the firm from taking on any new projects since last September after it was accounted for a mishap at Mecca’s Grand Mosque where 107 people lost their lives. Though the suspension was lifted in May but before that the Group had laid off a huge amount of workers. “We have not got salary for the past five months and the condition at the labour camps with 4,500 inmates is really pathetic. Getting water and food is tough, We request that some Indian officials immediately come here and see for themselves what the conditions are” Lateef said, who has worked for the Group for many years.

Non-resident Keralite department officials was asked by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday to check that the issue is taken care of at all levels. Sushma Swaraj has today told NDTV that V.K Singh and M.J Akbar will go to the Middle East to evaluate the situation.

Source: NDTV

 

VK Singh to visit Saudi Arabia to assess food scarcity faced by Indians

Ten thousand Indian workers who were rendered jobless in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia will heave a sigh of relief after the Minister of State for External Affairs, VK Singh visits the place to assess the problem. Sushma Swaraj, Minister of External Affairs said that 10,000 workers from India are facing grave problems such as food scarcity after losing their jobs. The government has ordered the Indian mission there to provide them with food and other basic facilities. VK Singh will soon travel to address the problems faced by several workers who were laid off from their jobs in Jeddah and bring them back to India.

As a result of low oil prices, the Saudi Government was forced to lay off their employees as they were no longer able to pay salaries to foreign workers. This act left thousands of workers homeless, jobless and hungry.

The jilted workers staged a public protest at a construction firm named Saudi Oger to demand their unpaid wages. However, the Saudi government says that they are looking into the matter and will soon settle the situation.

Four Saudi Arabian Women Allowed Entry into Rio Olympics

A landmark verdict in Saudi Arabia has permitted four female athletes to compete in the Rio Olympics, which begins on August 5th, 2016. This group of women, comprising Cariman Abu Al-Jadail, Sara Al-Attar, Wujud Fahmi and Lubna Al-Omair, is only the second to represent Saudi Arabia in the Olympics.

The Olympic Committee of Saudi Arabia has, however, put forward preconditions before the event. The four women will each be allowed to enter only as a wildcard entry, so as to bypass any of the competitive qualification rounds.

Critics of the Kingdom’s extreme gender segregation are disappointed that the Committee’s official announcement of the Olympics team only included the seven men who have been picked to represent Saudi Arabia. Due to the controversial gender politics, the female team members’ announcement was made separately.

Al-Jadail and Al-Attar will be competing in athletics, running 100 and 800 meters respectively. Fahmi will compete in the under-52 kg Judo competition, while Al-Omair will compete in the sport of fencing.

Competing in international sporting events if a significant hurdle for women in the Kingdom, due to lack of gyms, training equipment and the compulsory rule of adorning head-to-toe athletic track suits. Moreover, the women must obtain express permission to compete and travel from their male head of the families.

The first ever women’s group from Saudi Arabia to compete was in 2012, London Olympics, making it a first for the religious Islamic country.

Sara Al-Attar
Sara Al-Attar Participated in the 2012 London Olympics

Venezuela, Qatar, Russia and Saudi Arabia freeze oil production

 

Earlier today, in a short agreement in Qatar, Venezuela, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Qatar said that they would not increase exceed crude-oil production beyond January’s highest production. They agreed upon this as long as long as major oil companies followed suit. This is the first coordinated step towards increasing oil prices. This decision implies the need for Iran and Iraq to halt production too.

Iraq’s oil production in the past has beaten records with the country producing untiringly to generate revenue for the fight against the Islamic state. On the other hand, Iran is trying to increase output given that the western sanctions over the nuclear program have ended.

Saudi’s Oil Minister Ali al- Naimi explained that maintaining the prices at January’s level is adequate as gyrations in prices is not desirable. He further added that the aim is to meet demand and maintain a steady oil price.

Analysts believe that the pact is a step in the right direction. However, they believe that global inventories are close to record levels and any lobbying towards a stable price will be dampened.

 

Sources: Wall Street JournalBloomberg.