Saudi Arabia: Kingdom of Kings…

Saudi Arabia is one of the great conundrums of the modern world, superficially as modern as they come, but at heart as medieval as any country ever was…

That means closed, to much of the outside world, except those Islamic believers lucky enough to score a visa for the annual Hajj, the pilgrimage, which every believer is obliged to make at least once in his life…

And that is what defines Saudi Arabia, Wahabi religious fundamentalism, as much or more than the eponymous Saudi royal family, and much more than the fancy shopping malls which define many of their wealthier neighbors on the peninsula…

And it’s conservative to the core, especially towards women, who aren’t even allowed to drive cars, and who have few or no rights except what their closest male relative is willing to grant them…

And now they’re sticking their noses into their poverty-stricken neighbor Yemen’s business, they with one of the world’s largest military arsenals, and by far the largest purchaser, wreaking havoc on the order of genocide against their own kith and kin…

But all is not lost, as progressive factions within the country make steady, if infinitesimally small, gains toward a modern society. Women are even allowed to sing–that’s good–in certain places at certain times, so there’s hope…

 

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