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Today's quote:

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

The Saudis

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The legal system is still based on the seventh-century law of Mohammed and public beheadings take place in a square in the capital; if an unmarried daugher loses her virginity, her father can put her to death under tribal law; one of the country's leading educators firmly believes that the earth is flat; nobody works if he can help it - except the thousands of Americans, Europeans, Pakistanis, Japanese, Filipinos, and others who have been imported as the country's labour force. Saudi Arabia remains an enigma to this day.

Even though somewhat dated, this fascinating portrait of Saudi life by the late Sandra Mackey - she died in 2015, aged 77 -, reveals the chaos of a country in transformation: grappling with modernity, coming to terms with its own wealth, and battling to maintain an influential stance in an altogether new world. It provides the essential background to the new Saudi crisis as the mother state of international terrorism.

Sandra Mackey had secretly written about Saudi Arabia from inside Saudi Arabia under the pseudonyms Michael Collins and Justin Coe. Fearing that her true identity had been discovered, she finally left Saudi Arabia in the summer of 1984, just a year before I severed my last connections with the country and returned home to Australia.

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P.S. Okay, so she became something of an "expert" and wrote several more books on the Arab world:
Passion and politics - The Turbulent World of the Arabs
The Reckoning - Iraq and the Legacy of Saddam Hussein
The Iranians - Persia, Islam and the Soul of a Nation
Mirror of the Arab World - Lebanon in Conflict
Lebanon - A House Divided
Lebanon - Death of a Nation
(to read any of these books, SING UP - it's free! - LOG IN and BORROW)