Saudi Departures

Apparently it has been 1567 days since I left Saudi Arabia, and about 1567 days since I last really thought about the Muttawa, the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (the Ministry of Licentiousness and Lasciviousness).

My how time flies.

So I miss Saudi Arabia … only really when I eat Aloo Palek.

Er, and it has only been 870 days since I thought about the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (the Ministry of Licentiousness and Lasciviousness) – see How to shoot your mouth off … Stupidly.

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Ian Winbolt

One of the searches I mentioned in the post Needing to Write and Paint on 24 November 2009 was the term “Ian Winbolt”. This had a familiar ring to it but I could not place the reference (well, there was more familiarity than just the name “Ian”). Today I determined to work out where I’d heard the name before.

It was here.

Yep, Thomo is suitably embarrassed for having forgotten the reference. Back on 9 March 2007 when I was in Jeddah lamenting the lack of any (let alone a decent) Fish and Chip shop in the post No Harry Ramsden’s in Jeddah, Ian Winbolt was the gentleman who commented on the post noting on 19 October 2008 that he:

had the pleasure of eating at Harry Ramsdens Jeddah in 2003, I was in Jeddah recently (summer 2008) and found the building, it is just a shell i.e no walls or windows!! , if you call enquires you can get a number that rings and rings!!

Mystery solved and the search for Ian Winbolt must have been Mr Winbolt himself looking for the Harry Ramsden post.

How to shoot your mouth off … stupidly

From time to time I stop in and have a read of one of my favourite newspapers, the Arab News. In what has to be one of the best examples of stupidly shooting one’s mouth off a Saudi by the name of Mazen Abdul Jawad who works for Saudi Airlines and lives in Jeddah (my old stamping ground) appeared on Lebanese Television’s (LBC) “Red Line” and was boasting about his sexual conquests.

Dumb, dumb, dumb. Doubly dumb as the program goes to air in Saudi Arabia. This was reported last week in a piece, Bragging on TV about sex lands Saudi in hot water in which Jawad was reported as saying:

It all starts with turning my Bluetooth on while cruising around in my car

Not only was he bragging, but he was also identified on the TV show.

So now my favourite Commission, the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (the Ministry of Licentiousness and Lasciviousness) is calling for his punishment under Shariah as is a fair number of the residents of Jeddah. Personally, I think the guy is a boob as well – and probably deserves to be punished if for nothing else, then at least for stupidity.

Anyway, it seems that one week later the guy is still out of gaol as today the Arab News reported that the Sex bragger not jailed yet.

I shall watch this with interest.

Jeddah’s Lake

I’ve been here in Jeddah for about 20 months now and apart from watching the shenanigans of the evil buffoons, the C-Men, I have not really got around all that much, apart from visiting the odd shopping mall. Really, it has been hotel, eat, office, eat, hotel, eat, sleep and repeat. This could, of course, explain my weight increase 😦

The Jeddah LakeHowever, one place I have seen a fair bit is the lake at Jeddah (well, it’s really a bay or an inlet). On the edges of it are a hotel, the Head Office of the National Commercial Bank, the mosque that serves as “chop-chop square” on Friday’s and a few older buildings.

When I first arrived here this lake smelled and was filthy. Then the local council started to take action to clean it up, putting aerators in the lake area to increase the oxygen level in the water and make the whole thing cleaner.

We watched the lake clear up over time. We started to see fish, first fry then larger, return to the lake. We also saw crabs. We saw the bottom of the lake through the water. The smell disappeared.

The lake's appearance However, since that time, the lake has deteriorated again. Plastic bags and bottles can be seen in it and it has gone a rather unpleasant brown colour. The bottom no longer can be seen and the smell is returning.

One can only imagine what is emptying into the lake again now – perhaps it is best not to think about it.

Saudi and UAE Advertising Standards

Tonight I was watching MBC 4 here and a commercial appeared for KFC. A mother and her toddler are sitting at a table. The toddler is whining and complaining whilst the mother is trying to eat some KFC. The mother then gives some KFC to the child who is then quiet.

Goodness – would an Australian, or UK, or New Zealand or even US advertising agency dare to try that content in an advertisement in those markets?

Woman Wins Saudi Achievement Award for 2008

The Arab News reported yesterday that a woman had won the Arabian Business Magazine’s Saudi Achievement Award for 2008. They then went on to note:

There was only one small problem: Al-Dossary is a woman.

Yep. Nadia Al-Dossary, the Saudi Achievement Award winner for 2008 heads an Alkhobar-based scrap metal group. The annual turnover of this group is SAR 500 million. Seems she’s been profiled in the Washington Post and the Financial Times has rated her one of the most influential women in the Middle East. None of this matters one iota as when she arrived at the Four Seasons Hotel in Riyadh to attend the awards ceremony,

she was turned away due to social restrictions (enforced by the religious police) prohibiting unrelated men and women from mixing, even in public.

Yes folks, those evil buffoons from the Commission etc etc (you know who I mean – Licentious, Lascivious – the C-Men) will not allow unrelated men and women to mix even in public. I guess they are worried that she may have suggested immoral things to an auditorium full of men for something to do in her spare time when she is not running a 500,000,000 Riyal organisation.

The Commission Does Good

It’s been a while since I posted to the blog – my only excuse has been that I have been really busy at work and not that the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (the Ministry of Licentiousness and Lasciviousness – the infamous C-Men) have been quiet. They haven’t. As is usual here they have been screwing up peoples lives and getting between people and God in an unholy fashion. Their latest episodes generally involve high-speed car chases and accidents that kill the suspects at the end of the chase (something that they are not allowed under law to do) as well as the usual flaunting of the courts and such.

However, occasionally the C-Men do some good and it seems they managed to recently in Makkah. Seems that yesterday the C-Men in Makkah

closed down … a pharmacy for running a confidence racket. The commission said the man running the shop, a Pakistani national, was offering “black magic” services to customers.

Vice police raided the store, which was disguised as a pharmacy, and confiscated amulets and other tools of the trade. The suspect said people were coming to him asking for magical cures because they were unsatisfied with the services they were receiving at area hospitals.

So, some good from the C-Men. The Arab News also reported that in

an unrelated event, a Saudi man was arrested yesterday for running a similar scam from his home. The man was caught after a woman came to him hoping for a magical cure that would prevent her husband from leaving her. After the young woman’s husband left her, she informed her father that she tried a magical cure; the father then informed the moral police.

I recall a while back that they also removed amulets and things that had been thrown off the coast here and disposed of them. Black Magic seems to be alive and well in this country – even when one of the most popular TV shows is Charmed – must be the Power of Three 🙂

Mind you, being a conman here is a bit risky as

the authorities treat confidence rackets as a religious crime, and suspects are often arrested and charged outright with being sorcerers and witches (rather than shysters) for offering various services to people who believe in magical cures and curses. Penalties for such crimes are often quite stiff, even resulting in the death penalty.

Now where did I hide my four-leaf clover? Oh yes – it’s with the rabbit’s foot.

The Commission’s Been At It Again

Those evil buffoons, the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (the Ministry of Licentiousness and Lasciviousness, the C-Men) have been at it again. Not content with beating suspects to death at their headquarters and making a mockery of Saudi justice, not content with scaring old men to death who are just trying to support a large family, not content with abusing women in Riyadh, then ignoring the court and not content with pursuing “suspects” so quickly that they have motor accidents and are killed that way, it seems now that the buffoons – the evil Keystone Kops of Saudi society – now go out cruising and looking for a fight like any old football hooligan used to.

The Arab News on 28 April reported on Undercover Officer Complains of Mistreatment by Vice Cops
which detailed some young blokes being slapped around by the C-Men for doing, well, nothing really.

“We were in Thumama at around 3 a.m., Thursday morning, having fun and joking around, when one of us spotted a commission jeep pass by,” the officer, who requested anonymity, told Arab News.

He said he and his four colleagues were just like any other guys going to Thumama to vent out on a weekend night without the intention of harming any families or looking for trouble.

“A colleague said in a loud voice ‘guys, it’s the Haya’a (commission)!’” he continued. “But we were doing nothing wrong. We did not even have soda pop bottles or play any loud music for them to consider that we were doing something wrong.”

According to the officer, the commission members pulled up in a off-road vehicle bearing the commission’s logo. One commission member accused one of the campers of calling them dogs, then picked out the youngest member of the group, Rami Al-Amri, 18, and began slapping him.

“One of the men said: ‘I’ll teach you who the Haya’a is. We are the government’,” Al-Amri told Arab News. The commission members allegedly proceeded to verbally abuse the campers and impugn their character. Al-Amri claimed that the commission member that was being physically abusive threatened to jail him for three months.

Gee – you gotta watch those soda bottles and music! Really – it is time the Kingdom got rid of these buffoons.

Mecca Police Busy

The police in the Saudi city of Makkah have been very busy lately. The Arab News reports that

police patrols in Makkah have dealt with 10,744 cases and made 8,068 arrests between Jan. 10 and April 21 this year, according to figures released by the Makkah police. Of those arrested 6,508 were suspected of being involved in various types of crime, 489 were charged with robbery, 676 were arrested for not carrying valid resident permits or for running away from their sponsors, 250 were drug-peddlers and 126 people were wanted for previous crimes.

Police also confiscated six rifles, 10 revolvers, five machine guns, 457 cartridges of live ammunition, two air guns, 1,825 Captagon pills and 100 kilograms of other types of drugs. They also seized 6,437 vehicles over the period.

This is, of course, the Holy city that Hajj and Umrah pilgrims make their way to. Of course, the statistic I find most interesting is that 6,508 were “suspected of being involved in various types of crime” however only 1,541 were actually charged with anything – just under 20% of those arrested.