Demonstrations of any type, political or otherwise are rare in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia – bear in mind this is a country with no legal political parties or popular mass movements. "There is no history of public protests, even in support of the government," said Jaafar al-Shayeb, a city councilor and businessman in al-Qatif – quoted this week in the Guardian Newspaper.
Broadcast on the BBC World Service’s Newshour on Friday March 11th 2011, I was in discussion with the BBC’s Claire Balderson and Paul Wood in Riyadh, talking about the Saudi "Day of Rage".
The text is in Portuguese but the footage of the video is in English. It ran on Brazilian television on November 23, 2010.
Recently I gave an interview with SUSRIStube - a companion site of the SUSRIS (Saudi-US Relations Information Service) and the SUSRIS Blog, which chronicle developments in the historic relationship between Saudis and Americans. We discussed developments in Saudi Arabia, American perceptions of the Kingdom and the release of Inside the Kingdom in paperback.
The interview was held at the Arab-US Policymakers Conference in Washington, DC (October 21-22, 2010
The terrorist attacks of September 11th changed America forever, but Robert Lacey argues they had a big impact on Saudi Arabia too, by emboldening reformers to push back against religious extremists.
Nine years on, the 9/11 attacks can only evoke bitter memories for America. But it is already clear that 9/11 was a very good thing for Saudi Arabia. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers who flew into the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania were Saudis, disgruntled young men drafted by Osama bin Laden in what was essentially a Saudi quarrel fought out on American soil. Foiled in his attempts to bring down the “near enemy”—the “Sheikhs of Satan” as al Qaeda described the Westernizing princes of the House of Saud—Bin Laden targeted the “far” enemy, the Al-Saud’s mighty patron across the Atlantic, where security, he correctly divined at that date, was more lax.
“Lacey’s lively, anecdotal account, based in large part on conversations with Saudi men and women, some reformed extremists, some from the royal household, others academics, journalists and business people seeking a more pragmatic way ahead, explains without being either hypercritical or over-defensive how dangerously Saudi Arabia is beset from within and without.
The New book to accompany the 2010 film Arabia 3D
Michael Hamilton Morgan (Author), Greg MacGillivray (Introduction), His Royal Highness Prince Turki Al-Faisal (Afterword), Robert Lacey (Foreword)
Sheltered between the cradle of civilization and the busiest trade routes of the ancient world, the Arabian Peninsula is home to millennia-old civilizations that have blossomed and thrived in some of the world's harshest conditions.
Here's a picture that has just been published around the Middle East -- with a comment from my friend Siraj Wahhab, a senior correspondent for Arab News: Siraj is currently their man in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province.
"The old saying goes “one picture is worth a thousand words.” Most of Saudi Arabia’s Arabic newspapers carried a photograph on Friday’s front-page that has become a talking point on blogs, Internet forums, shisha places, newsrooms and the corridors of power.