Saudi Wave is a blog by professional journalist Habib Trabelsi, AFP journalist (20 years), and his team. It is a highly professional blog, in appearance and substance, which is an excellent resource for information and news on Saudi Arabia in 3 languages: Arabic, English, and French. Its trilingual nature is a boon for those mastering only one of the languages, and for those who are fluent in all 3. Often the same article is provided in its original translations to each language, or may be translated by the team. Below are excerpts from the Why Saudi Arabia? and About Us Pages, along with my overview of the major categories addressed.
Why Saudi Arabia?
A major political, religious, economic and financial power
The world’s leading oil producer and exporter, Saudi Arabia is a major political and economic actor in the Middle-East and the world.
By far the largest and the wealthier among the Arab monarchies of the Gulf, the Kingdom leads the 6 member Gulf Cooperation council (GCC- also includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates)
Saudi Arabia is strategically involved in the regional issues linked to the wars and crisis of neighbouring Iraq and Iran and is an influential player in the Arab-Israeli conflict as well as in Lebanon.
Birthplace of Islam and home to its two holiest shrines in Mecca and Medina, Saudi Arabia enjoys an exceptional stature as the first Islamic power where millions of Moslems go for pilgrimage (Hajj) every year.
“The Land of the two Mosques”, governed on the basis of the Islamic Law (Shari’a) and the Wahhabist doctrine has the most observant Islamic rule and has been the breeding ground of most of the radical and fundamentalist movements all over the Muslim world.
The least transparent country...
International experts and researchers have expressed growing interest in this country, which is considered to be one of the least “transparent” in the world as freedom of expression is continuously repressed in the most extreme ways. The media is subjected to a rigorous censorship, coupled by a harsh climate of strong self- censorship.
It is highly forbidden to question the government in power or the legitimacy of the strict application of the Shari’a Islamic law.
...slowly unveiling since 9/11
The September 11th’s attacks that hit the U.S. wrecked the Kingdom and stood as a significant turning point. The main perpetrators of the attacks were Saudis, pressure was put on the Saudi government to adopt a policy of “openness and freedom”.
In the aftermath of 9/11 that, Saudi press found itself enjoying more freedom, and started exploring subjects that were once considered as taboo. All the shortcomings of its political system and the abuses in it’s society are coming out in the light. Even the powerful religious police is being questioned.
Yet, Red lines remain
Journalists still have to observe some Red Lines, drawn by the regime and the ultra-conservative religious circles, tightly controlling the country.
The balanced new margin freedom is aimed at absorbing the mounting wrath of the poorest living on a sea of black gold.
The wave of moderate transparency reflects the slow change in the Saudi society, most obvious through the new tone of the newspapers and websites.
Saudiwave is an independent website providing information and analysis that is essentially axed on the political, economic, and social situation in Saudi Arabia. An important section of Saudiwave is devoted to events taking place in the Arab Peninsula, security matters, and terrorism.
The idea of founding Saudiwave was first introduced by Habib TRABELSI, a journalist who spent more than 20 years working for the French Press Agency (AFP), covering the Gulf region.
Saudiwave's team is composed of experienced journalists, who acquired through the years a rich professional background and a vast knowledge of this strategic yet diverse and complex region.
Our team includes:
Habib TRABELSI - His role consists of conducting research, providing insightful analysis of political developments in the region and of news and reports related to terrorism.
Essia TRABELSI - Conducts research on various other subjects, such as economic and social developments in the region, and supervises the translation of our articles. Essia particularly supports the cause of the advancement of women in the Arab world.
Nesrine TRABELSI - Journalist, reporter, english translator.
Other countries is one of the main tabs, and like the others, it breaks down into useful subcategories: Other GCC countries, Arabic countries, Islamic countries. The category Politics is comprised of Interior Affairs, International Relations, Security, Human Rights, Media Affairs, Terrorism. Society, and Economy, each are similarly divided into useful subcategories, including (but not limited to) Immigrants, Women, Marriage, Poverty, Cultural Life, Entertainment for the first, and Agriculture, Employment/Unemployment, Urbanism, Environment, Energy, Tourism for the second. Islam/Religion comprises: Holy Places, Religious Police (Mutawa), Ruling Fatwas, Pilgrimage (Hajj), Holy Month [Ramadan]. The category Press opens to a collection of articles from diverse sources, internationally, and nationally, but the subcategories of Arabic Press and Western Press are as yet only promises.
Perhaps my favourite subcategory, as an idea, is "Strange" (under Society). This seems to me the proper place for news such as: Fried mouse found in bag of chips.
The look is beautiful and the interface highly functional and easy to navigate, including colour coding by language. A small point, I would have put the Arabic interface in green, the English in red, and the French in blue. No matter, the colour and artistic choices are aesthetic, and the content excellent.
Your thoughts, comments, impressions?