Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Al-Muhajabah reports a Saudi TV broadcast featuring professional women agitating for more rights. I've also read this Middle East Online article about calls for reform being broadcast by the Saudi state media under the auspices of Crown Prince Abdullah, including meetings between Wahhabi and Shi'ite representatives, which is a new and welcome development for the kingdom. There seems to be something of a "Riyadh Spring" underway in the desert kingdom, but its far too early to say whether it will lead to significant changes in the social or political landscape. The Saudi royal family is not monolithic, for example, and these reforms could easily become a political tool between Abdullah and the Sudayri Seven, if they're not already. Still, any openings, however small and temporary, plant seeds which are most welcome. (Minor note: I want to learn more about this Middle East Online publication. It has a wide variety of news, but it often seems slightly...off, if you know what I mean. And in this article they acted like "Shi'ites" and "Isma'ilis" were completely different, rather than in the same relationship as "Protestants" and "Lutherans." They undoubtedly meant "Twelver Shi'ites" and "Isma'ili Shi'ites," but still that is an odd thing to run across in a Middle East-oriented news source.


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