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Stereotyping and misunderstanding over a long period of time have, unfortunately, given many outside observers a skewed view of modern day Saudi Arabia.

Cultural differences and a weak outreach by the Saudis have hindered the development of a more accurate understanding of Saudi Arabia. Its strengths and weaknesses.

Saudi Arabia is going through a time of huge political change. Which will have long-term effects on the country and its people.

News On Saudi Arabia is a blog reporting on Saudi Arabia, its socio-economic developments and current affairs. But most importantly the cultural and traditional factors that have led to the creation of its current image reflected today to the outside world.

Each item that I bring to you is a journey through Saudi eyes, hearts and minds. Through my features and analysis I wish to explain the developments from a Saudi point of view, hoping to close the cultural gaps.

The Youngest Photographer in the Middle East: Youth, Art and Culture in Saudi Arabia

At this year’s Arab Media Forum I met Muteib Alhadeif, the photographer. At the age of 6, he got the title “Youngest Photographer in the Middle East”. He famously started after he met with Prince Muteib bin Abdullah at a horse riding event who admired this talent and gave him camera equipment as a gift. Today, he is 10 years old and dreams to pursue a career as a cameraman and a photographer. DR: How did you get the title of “Youngest Photographer in the Middle East”? ALH: I got it at the age...

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Visiting Saudi Arabia: Tourist Visa

On many fronts, Saudi Arabia could be described as one of the most interesting places in the world. With a young visionary transforming the country, and 70% of the people below the age of 30, many from around the world find themselves intrigued to pay this country a visit. For years, no tourists were allowed into the Kingdom, except for religious visits. All visitors to Saudi Arabia were either business visitors or pilgrims to the holy mosque. Regular tourism visa was in general not allowed,...

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Saudi decrees stun the nation! – News On Saudi Arabia

The many royal Saudi decrees announced last week made some wonder if this is still Saudi Arabia. The latest is that the Kingdom is to host the first Arab Fashion Week in Riyadh this month. All announcements reflect the government’s efforts to reach economic prosperity through implementing proper social freedom. Not only to gain economic growth but also to give the stolen rights back to the society. Historically, Saudi Arabia has always been considered a male dominant society. Today, in another...

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Saudi Women Driving The Economy Now

The ban on Saudi women driving has tormented the ladies for decades. The ban on female driving has become a cliché for the Kingdom, along with oil, camels, and deserts. The Royal Decree (link: https://nyti.ms/2yqK5k4) issued on 25th September 2017 lifted the ban on women driving. The change will however take effect June 2018, subject to availability of driving instructors for women. It seems like a new era for women has begun. The western media has portrayed the ban on women driving as the...

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Developing The Saudi Austerity Plan! – News On Saudi Arabia

The Saudi austerity plan is well underway. On January 1st, 2018, Saudi Arabia and the UAE introduced 5% VAT on services and goods. Five percent is not a big amount, but energy, water, and electricity prices went up because subsidies were cut. Saudi Arabia has been experiencing a price hike since 2005. Over the years, many new Saudi taxes were introduced on electricity, water, labor, and some government and private services. Prices have gone up further in the past 2 years. This puts more...

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The Makkah deal and its impact on Saudi society! – News On Saudi Arabia

Understanding the Saudi society requires a lot of patience and research. The society is weaved with intricate patterns of religion, culture, rules and a desire to break free. On the last day of this year’s Dubai Film Festival, I watched the documentary “The Poetess”. It is an international co-production. The story and characters are Saudi. However, the two film directors were German, so was the funding. The film had German and UAE production as well. The documentary talks about Hissa Hilal, a...

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The Truth Behind Saudi Arrests – News On Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arrests: Monday marked the first month since the Saudi arrests of princes. Along with many corrupt politicians and businessmen in Saudi Arabia. These Saudi arrests shook the whole world. At first, Saudi citizens did not know how to comprehend and react to these happenings. The Saudi arrests raised piles of questions concerning Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman’s behavior since becoming deputy crown prince in 2015. When he first appeared on the political scene, the political and...

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Saudi Corruption And The Jeddah Disasters – The Ugly Truth! – News On Saudi Arabia

For decades, Saudi corruption has had deep roots in Saudi Arabia. The public has been cheated-off of its rights to a safe and healthy living environment. Every major scandal has a top-rated official attached to it, an untouchable. I started working as a journalist with Arab News in the early 1990s. That’s when a friend alerted me about a lot of raw sewage being dumped in the desert round Jeddah. Sensing a good story, I approached an editor for the green light for the story. I was told that...

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How Saudi Vision 2030 is Reshaping the Saudi Image Globally – News On Saudi Arabia

It is not unusual for Saudi Arabia to be criticized in the international media. Favorite recurring topics in the past have been lack of women’s rights, religious intolerance, old and indecisive leadership, and corruption. Fair enough, all those criticisms were justified and based on fact. But the Saudi leadership has taken steps to change this in the form of Saudi Vision 2030. We now have a young and forceful man in charge. He is taking on the established order by improving women’s rights,...

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Saudi Corruption Coming to an End

Saudi Corruption: On Saturday 3rd November, guests at the Ritz Carlton in Riyadh received an urgent notice to vacate the hotel by 11 PM. The notice went on to state … “unfortunately, we will not be able to grant an extension request due to high-security procedures dictated by the higher authorities”. The new guests about to occupy the luxury hotel were an assortment of figures from the highest reaches of Saudi Arabia’s political and business establishments. Apart from the high-profile...

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Creating Jobs For The Needy Will Prosper The Saudi Economy Like Nothing Else! – News On Saudi Arabia

Creating Jobs For The Needy Will Prosper The Saudi Economy Like Nothing Else!     This week, the Al Nafa Charity in Makkah announced its venture of creating jobs for empowering Saudis. It would train 100 Saudi women and men (20% females, 80% males) to cook and operate food trucks in Jeddah. The project named “Al Kasb Al Tayb - Good Earning” gives trainees the opportunity, once they successfully pass the training, to own the trucks. The idea was generated through the trucks that have already...

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Start Of Commercial Courts In Saudi Arabia After 10 Years Of Delay! – News On Saudi Arabia

Start Of Commercial Courts In Saudi Arabia After 10 Years Of Delay!   Arab News announced on Tuesday that Saudi Justice Minister Walid Al-Samaani has officially launched commercial courts. These courts had been operating officially since mid-September. In his speech at the inaugural ceremony, Al-Samaani said that the role of the three commercial courts in Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dammam is to enhance the business environment. Encouraging investment and boosting economic development will achieve...

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Maan Al Sanea Arrested: Saudi Controversial Businessman Brought to Justice – News On Saudi Arabia

Maan Al Sanea arrested finally. Yesterday in the early evening, Maan Al Sanea was arrested by Saudi security forces. The security forces arrested the well-known businessman, who had been evading justice and the enforcement of judicial decisions against him for a long time. The judge ordered imprisonment and arrest of Al Sanea in respect of claims for large sums of money. The suspect was arrested after searching his home in the morning. He could not be found immediately. Therefore, a more...

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Trump’s Ladies Visit: What to Talk About?

Trump two-day visit to Saudi Arabia was an event that carried a lot of question marks with it – Trump’s performance on his first foreign trip – Russian affairs (and others) haunting him at home – his low ratings and many more. The one issue none expected were Melania and Ivanka. They became THE ISSUE. During the Second Gulf War, when the US Army came to rescue Saudi Arabia, troops were all over the country. In an interview with BBC Arabic Radio, a female US soldier proudly said that the...

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Saudi Arabia and Women Rights

Poor women’s rights are associated with Saudi Arabia. It remains a big question mark how the government will create a change – despite its so many tiny efforts. If you were a Saudi woman, like me, I am not sure how you would feel about all the recent talk about more rights for women. Not to forget the ongoing difficult status of women in Saudi Arabia. Honestly, I don’t know. It is a roller coaster of emotions that takes me from despair to ecstatic excitement on being a Saudi woman. Though, as...

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Saudi Arabia: Making Sense of the Recent Shuffle

Significant cabinet and non-cabinet changes, and a long overdue TV interview by MbS. Still the dots of vision cannot be fully connected. Last week, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman gave an interview to selected Saudi TV channels. There aren’t many anyway. The interview was more of a Q&A session on Vision 2030 left an impression of justification on the audience for the painful steps taken. Taking through from Aramco’s IPO, unemployment, reinserted allowances, housing, Iran but not women....

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Saudi Arabia Defends Women’s Rights

Saudi Arabia has been voted onto the UN women’s rights commission last week. On the same day, Majlis Al Shoura members rejected a proposal to establish sports colleges for women 76:73. No, this is not a joke, seriously. Along with other 48 countries Saudi Arabia will promote the role of women in societies and defend their rights.  Hmm, seriously, how? It took me a bit to make sure I have read the news item correctly and not missed anything that lead me to misunderstanding any parts or the...

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Running A Way With A Reason

Saudi Arabia has the image – rightly so – suppressing women. Last week a Saudi woman Dina, in a bold act, was caught back home by her family on her flight to seek freedom in Australia and rose outrage. Was this the only solution to seek freedom? Dina Ali Saloom’s case drew a lot of attention on social media, human rights organization called for her immediate release condemning Saudi Arabia’s human rights records and of course a Twitter hashtag was created to save her. Dina was caught on her...

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Reduction of Taxes on Income from Oil

Aramco: Tax reduction was one of three solutions to make the Armco IPO worth $2 trillion After months of speculation on the Saudi Aramco IPO – which is planned for next year– the Saudi government took on Monday a serious step towards making the transaction possible. A new regulation was announced changing the income tax payable by Saudi Aramco from 85% to 50%, with the cut backdated to 1st January. The new 50% tax rate will apply to all Saudi oil companies with a capital of more than 375...

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Thought Of The Day

The Prophet said, "A Muslim is the one who avoids harming Muslims with his tongue and hands.”