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A Week in the Saudi Blogosphere

False assumptions of a Saudi threat to US campuses, a bald Britney Spears, two new Saudi air carriers, Valentine's day, and the infamous “burqini;” all that and much more is in this week's roundup.

I noticed many Saudi bloggers referring to the recent happenings in Jerusalem. As it turns out, last Friday, February the 16th, was the Jerusalem Blogging Day. According to Saudi blogger ماشي صح (translates to “On the Right Track”), it was the fruit of joint efforts by bloggers Nuzha and Mohammed Lachyab. A new website is also dedicated to the cause.

Two new airlines in Saudi were launched recently. Until recently, Saudi Arabian Airlines were the only air carriers operating in the Kingdom. In one of his posts, Yazeed said that “Sama recently operated their first flight within Saudi, and plan to expand into the Middle East soon.” Feras talks about NAS Airlines in one of his posts, and mentions something very interesting about the airlines:

You might find this a bit funny, the CEO of the company Captain Peter Griffiths flies the companies planes!! Just goes to show you…

This past week, Saudi bloggers have also observed Valentine's Day. It is a well-known fact that as a result of efforts by the Saudi religious authorities, mainly the Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (a.k.a. Religious Police), red roses are banned from being sold on Valentine's Day; a day which, according to our lovely lesbian couple in the Saudi blogosphere, Two Dykes and a Closet, is “the day that the single people love to hate, and the in-a-relationship people love to love.” However, according to an article posted by Crossroads Arabia, red roses were still sold out due to the huge demand by young Saudis, who have been defying the Kingdom's official ban year after year. Furthermore, Crossroads Arabia suggests: “Perhaps we can start to do what we recommend to others: ‘Judge people by what they do, not by what they say.’ ” If you want to hear it from someone who is not Saudi, but happens to be living in the Kingdom, you should visit Chris’ take on V-Day in the KSA.

Now, for the latest in Islamic sportswear, the burqini (burqa + bikini = burqini). Designed by Lebanese Australian, and mother of four, Aheda Zanetti, it costs between 135 and 150 US dollars. It has already been seen at Sydney’s Cronulla Beach, worn by the likes of 20-year-old lifeguard Mecca Laa Laa, according to a post by Khloud. “The two-piece, body- and head-concealing swimsuit” has also received honorable mention in one of Sheikh Dot's recent Q & A sessions; a must-read if you enjoy the sting of sarcasm.

Russian president Vladimir Putin's first visit to Saudi Arabia, and the one-of-a-kind warm welcome he has received in Riyadh, seems to have disturbed many bloggers. Mohammed Al-Shehri, a Saudi who blogs in Arabic, has formulated a very simple equation to explain what is going on:

It's a very simple equation: Russia is a nuclear country with a nuclear excess, and Saudi is an oil country with an excess in its budget. And solving this equation, thought it might have taken years, is easier now than ever.

Other Saudi bloggers, were disturbed by the series of activist arrests the Saudi Arabian government has been making. Aya ponders the question “do Saudis have the right to request reforms?” and posts about the case of the arrested activists, which was picked up by Human Rights Watch.

Saudi Jeans (a.k.a. Ahmed Al-Omran) has posted recently about taking part in Bitter Lemons International's weekly issue. According to a post by Crossroads Arabia, Bitter Lemons is “a non-profit organization designed to provide new avenues for thought, discussion, and understanding of the Middle East and its problems.” They produce a weekly online magazine and the focus of their last issue was the Arab blogosphere.

Since I'm a Saudi college student in the US, I should emphasize the significance of the following to me. Crossroads Arabia has recently published a very insightful post about a newly released article by CNSNews.com, the Cybercast News Service. The article hypes fears of the large number of recently-admitted Saudi students in the US. The post responds to the article, which put more emphasis on spin than content:

This is a fine piece of Saudi-bashing put out by the Cybercast News Service. The organization, born as the ‘Conservative News Service’ tends to represent the more fringe-y elements of conservative America, putting more emphasis on spin than content. This piece, for example, tries to suggest that the students mentioned are somehow related to either the 9/11 attackers or are part of a new Al-Qaeda plot. What's the substance of the link? The students’ Saudi nationality.

Now, to wrap up…

Feras threw in his two cents on Saudi Post, the Kingdom's mailing services provider. Ibraman posted about the dawning of a new threat in Saudi; the massive increase in population. And Yazeed shared a YouTube video in which Britney Spears was spotted bald and getting a tattoo.

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