Category Archives: Saudi Arabia – Dubious Ally

As Canada feuds with Saudi Arabia, Trump administration pursues friendly relations, downplays human rights

WASHINGTON, D.C. — When Donald Trump became U.S. president, his first foreign trip was not to Canada, Mexico or anywhere in Europe, his closest neighbours and allies.

It was to Saudi Arabia for a lavish state welcome that left Trump literally beaming.

Since then, the White House has steadfastly supported the Saudis’ bloody war in Yemen, sided with it against longtime U.S. ally Qatar and largely overlooked the Arab power’s suppression of dissidents.

Nothing is ever black and white in the Middle East, Yemen is a proxy war, Saudi vs. Iran, Shia vs. Sunni, sunshine Arab allies vs the Mullahs.

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Saudi Arabia’s diplomatic dispute with Canada: An explainer

The dispute ostensibly arose because of a tweet issued by Canada’s Global Affairs Ministry decrying the arrest and detention of two female bloggers and activists, and urging Saudi authorities to immediately free the two women — one of whom was Samar Badawi, sister of jailed blogger Raif Badawi — as well as “all peaceful human rights activists.”

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Saudi Arabia woman ‘arrested for hugging’ singer Majid al-Mohandis

Saudi Sinatra

A woman in Saudi Arabia has been arrested after running on stage to hug a male singer during a concert, according to reports.

Majid al-Mohandis was performing at a festival in the western city of Taif when the woman darted on to the stage.

Videos posted online showed her holding on to Mr Mohandis while security staff tried to pull her off him.

Women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to mix in public with men who are unrelated to them.

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Saudi church-building deal dismissed as “fake news” after Vatican denies

Claims that Saudi Arabia had agreed with the Vatican to allow the building of churches for the first time in its history were dismissed as “fake news” this week. News reports in the Egyptian press claimed on 4 May that Saudi Arabia had made a deal with the Vatican to construct churches for “Christian citizens”.

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Saudi Program Calls for Gender-Mixing, No Prayer Closure

A Saudi government program to improve the quality of life in the kingdom called for the legalization of gender mixing and an end to the mandatory prayer closures for businesses, significant steps to ease social restrictions in the conservative country.

The 236-page document sent to reporters Thursday night outlining the government’s new Quality of Life Program called for lobbying to amend the laws, saying the areas “require immediate regulatory changes.”

Even a recommendation would represent a notable shift in the official rhetoric on two sticky religious issues that could spark a backlash from conservative Saudis. The items were buried on page 156 of the document and were not mentioned during a news conference to announce the program Thursday. They were removed from versions posted online later. Government officials didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment

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Report: Saudi Arabia ‘agrees deal with Vatican to build churches for Christians living in the Muslim country’

Saudi Arabia has agreed a deal with the Vatican to build churches for Christian worshippers in the Arab country, it is claimed by Middle Eastern media.

The supposed agreement between Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran and Mohammed bin Abdel Karim Al-Issa of the Muslim World League would mark a first in Saudi history.

The cardinal has visited Saudi Arabia this year and met the royal family, urging the Muslim country to treat its citizens equally.

The churches will be built alongside the establishment of a committee to improve relations between the two, Egypt Independent reports.

There was no immediate confirmation from the Vatican.


Talks have been ongoing for some time, whether religious freedom is granted remains to be seen and frankly I doubt it will come to be.

“In 2008, the Vatican held secret talks with the Saudi Arabian authorities on building churches in Saudi. Pope Benedict’s most senior Middle East representatives at the time, Archbishop Paul-Mounged El-Hashem, said: “Discussions are under way to allow the construction of churches in the kingdom. We cannot forecast the outcome,” adding “there are around three or four million Christians in Saudi Arabia, and we hope they will have churches.” Ten years later and they still don’t have churches, and many of them are being tossed out of the country anyway as expatriates are replaced by Saudis in the process of “Saudizing” the economy.”

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