Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Saudi/Gulf news roundup

A Saudi newspaper was shut down after publishing an article critical of the religious police.

Two "youths" - it is unclear if they are minors - were sentenced to 30 lashes each for pointing a laser pointer at security patrol. The sentence cannot be appealed.

A two-year old was taken to three doctors in Saudi Arabia over the course of a week before they realized he had a battery stuck in his nose. By that time, the battery acid was already burning a hole in his cartilage.

A Saudi minister has determined that the "ideal" price for oil is between $60 and $75 a barrel. Higher than that and Westerners will work harder for alternative fuels, lower and they don't make money. (My explanation, not his.)

Dubai - that model for Gulf modernity - gave a new set of rules of behavior in the emirate. According to a Saudi newspaper:

The Arabic-language daily Al-Emarat Al-Youm said the Dubai Executive Council has urged residents of Dubai, where foreigners make up more than 80 percent of the population, to respect the customs of the country and avoid inappropriate behavior.

The rules, which apply to all public places, include a ban on all forms of nudity, playing music loudly and dancing, exchange of kisses between men and women — and even on unmarried couples holding hands.

Any breach of the guidelines, by nationals or expatriates, carries a possible prison penalty, the paper said.

The guidelines also stipulate that anyone caught under the influence of alcohol — even small amounts — outside designated drinking areas is liable to being fined or imprisoned, the paper added.