Saturday, August 29, 2009

Mutawwa Against Tourism

Saudi Arabia's religious police are preventing government attempts to promote internal tourism:
"Saudi Arabia's religious police are cracking down on summer festivals that the government hopes will promote domestic tourism, in the latest battle between liberals and conservatives in the country.

"The Saudi government is trying to promote internal tourism but restrictions on singing, dancing and mixing of unrelated men and women by the powerful religious establishment has complicated the effort...

"'These acts contradict the faith and must not be done, taught, spread or encouraged,' religious police spokesman Abdullah Al Mashiti told Al Watan daily this week, referring to circus acts such as fire-eating and lying on beds of glass that he believes is a form of magic outlawed by the sharia...

"Jeddah's summer film festival was cancelled this year despite the support of local governor Prince Khalid Al Faisal."

My main takeaway from this is to further emphasize that Saudi Arabia is not monolithic, and that within the Saudi context, King Abdullah is in fact a reformer.



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