Thursday, December 09, 2010

Saudi media silent on Wikileaks revelations

In the wake of the Wikileaks revelations about Saudi princes partying, Saudi desire to destroy Hezbollah and how much the Saudi monarchy hates Iran, I was wondering how the Saudi media are reporting these news items.

The answer? They aren't.

The English-language Saudi Gazette and Arab News have both limited their Wikileaks stories to very general issues and have not delved into any of the revelations, especially none that mention the kingdom. (Al-Arabiya, partly owned by the Saudi MBC network but based in Dubai, did a minimal report on one of the cables.)

It is easy to forget, when reading English-language Arab media, that there is a wide gulf (pun partially intended) between Western ideas of freedom of expression and those practiced in most of the Arab world. Even though one can find articles in Arab and Arabic media that would not be out of place in any Western publication, it takes a little more effort to realize what is not being covered.

There is a glimmer of good news here, though. Since we can see that the Saudi monarchy does not allow any articles to be published that they disapprove of, that means that they specifically allow many recent articles about increasing women's rights in the Kingdom as well as articles that implicitly denigrate the Muttawa, Saudi Arabia's religious police.