Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Women are Superior to Men!--Doha Debates Chez Chiara


This Doha Debate, a "Comedy Special", closed out the 2009-2010 Season on May 24, 2010. After 6 seasons of intense debate on weighty topics the Doha Debates had fun with the topic of gender superiority. But what is so funny about that? Well, in the right spirit it is hilarious! Some of the best one-liners came from the audience, in my opinion. It is well worth watching the video on this one, for the stand-up comedians at the very least.

So watch, read, listen, and then suggest your reason for why women are superior to men...I mean...which gender you think is superior, and why. Be careful, if, as many pointed out, you are, want to be, or want to stay married! Or just if you want to survive your parents and siblings, friends, colleagues, ...well the other half, if not the better half!

For more information on The Doha Debates generally, which follow Oxford Union debating rules, see the website of The Doha Debates, for more information on The Doha Debates and The Doha Debates Chez Chiara see the introductory post, and the blog Category Doha Debates (DohaDebates) on the sidebar. The following includes excerpts from the panelists' biographies, the debate transcript, and the final result. A summary statement precedes each of the dialogues with a particular audience member whose photo is included. Full information for this debate is here. The full transcript may be read here. The full debate may be viewed here, and the podcast link is available here.

The Motion
This House believes women are superior to men


TIM SEBASTIAN
Ladies and gentlemen a very good evening to you and welcome to the last in our current series of Doha Debates coming to you from the Gulf State of Qatar and sponsored by the Qatar Foundation. Let's face it, we haven't given you a lot to smile about in recent debates. The Middle East tends to serve up a regular diet of death and destruction mixed in with plenty of lies and broken promises. Come to think of it, maybe not so different from tonight's theme after all. That age old battle for supremacy between men and women, and the question of who's really boss. Our motion tonight, as delicate as any we've chosen before: ‘This House believes that women are superior to men'. Well, four comedians have agreed to wade into these dangerous waters.

Speaking for the motion


Azhar Usman is a standup comedian and the co-founder of the "Allah Made Me Funny-Official Muslim Comedy Tour." Formally trained as an attorney, Azhar has been touring as a full-time standup comedian since 2004 and has performed in over twenty countries, on five continents. Azhar will appear in the indie film "MOOZ-lum" alongside Hollywood actors Danny Glover and Nia Long. In 2006 he performed a full hour of live standup at a private dinner party for former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and in 2009 was named among " The 500 Most Influential Muslims" on the planet by Georgetown University's The Prince Alwaleed Bin Talaal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding and The Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre of Jordan.

AZHAR USMAN
Well, ladies and gentlemen, notice that I said ladies and gentlemen, women obviously are superior to men, the fact that the only reason we have to have this debate is because men refuse to accept it. I will prove to you that women are indeed superior to men by making a series of logical arguments, which will be impossible to rebut, especially when you look at these people. There are many ways in which women are superior to men, I could stand here and lecture you all day, but instead I only have a few minutes, so I'll focus on three very important ways. When you want to choose somebody to be your partner, you generally want to choose somebody who's smart, somebody who's kind and somebody who's attractive. As it turns out women are smarter than men, kinder and gentler and nicer than men and certainly far more attractive. First of all, it's a proven fact, women have a higher IQ than men, across the world that's a fact. They also have higher emotional intelligence, think about it, have you ever been in a debate with a woman and actually won? That holds true whether you're a man or a woman; when a woman debates a woman it's always a tie, always. Don't forget that. Woman are kinder and gentler and nicer than men, think about it, if you have to be in a car accident would you rather the person in the other car be a man or a woman? And if you're in a car accident chances are the driver's probably a woman, let's be honest. Let me just, as an aside, I'm just putting it out there. And people say in the Middle East: ‘Woman are not superior to men, they can't even drive'. Women are the ones who made that rule because they want to have drivers take them everywhere, generally those drivers are men. So women are smarter, women are kinder, gentler, nicer, but most importantly, I would say, ‘cause this is absolutely irrefutable, women are more attractive. Women are beautiful, men are disgusting. You have no idea how much work went into me looking this presentable, and I still look scary. I have little kids, my kids' friends think I'm a monster; ‘Where the Wild Things Are' - standing right here. So, the fact of the matter is women are indeed superior to men in all of the key ways; now there is one way in which men are indeed superior to women, they're physically stronger. That's true, men are stronger than women, but let's think about something. What have men used all that strength to do? Spread evil in the world, that's all they do. Everything evil happening in the world is caused by men. War? Men. Crime? Men. Economic financial meltdown in the whole world? Men. Abuse of natural resources, destruction of the earth? Men. High heels? Men. Thong underwear? Men. Let's be honest here, everything evil happening in the world ladies and gentlemen is caused by men. There's a lot of stereotypes about men and women, okay. Hollywood tends to perpetuate these stereotypes more than anyone else. Since I'm here in the Arab world amongst a group of predominantly Muslim people, I'm going to share something from the heart. Can I do that? Can I do that? If you think about, what are the two biggest stereotypes about Muslim men and Muslim women? Muslim men are terrorists, Muslim women are oppressed. Have these people been inside of a Muslim household? Because if you bother to investigate you quickly figure you have it exactly opposite. That's right, Muslim women are terrorists, Muslim men are oppressed. They talk a big game: ‘Yeah, that's what I said. Isn't that right honey?' unless they're rich Arabs in the Gulf then they go: ‘Isn't that right honey, honey, honey?' I always love the fact that half the audience doesn't get that joke, why's she running around the house so much? So many mirrors. I do watch a show in America that I enjoy tremendously, I'm sure you guys get it here on satellite television, it's called The Bachelor. You guys watch this show? Every time I watch that I have to admit I always imagine what it would be like if they made that show in the Middle East. That would be entertainment. There's a little guy, he'd get down to the last four girls and be like: ‘I cannot make up my mind. All four of you come with me'. And finally, since I am in the Arab world I'd like to say something about Arab men. Can I do that? Can I do that? I grew up with Arabs, I'm from Chicago, Illinois, the hometown of President Barack Obama, and I grew up with a lot of Arab people. I love Arabs (Speaks in Arabic: He who is speaking Arabic is Arabic). But I want to say something about Arabs, Arab men have some hot blood, that's right, I said it. I think Arab men have the same gene as Latino women. Because no matter what they're talking about somehow the temperature starts to rise. This is a one hundred percent true story, I'm from Chicago, there was an Egyptian brother, really nice guy. Every time he gives a talk, every time he gives a speech, no matter what he's talking about the temperature starts to rise. This is a true story, this is what he said one time, he goes: ‘We have to love each other, we have to love each other', I was like: ‘Dude, I'm not feeling the love right now. A little less love, man; too much love'. But here's a little trick ladies and gentlemen, I'll leave you with this, if you ever find yourself in a situation with the Arab dude and the temperature's starting to rise too high, you can always calm him down. It's a little magic trick, are you ready? You just go like this (makes hand gesture)... I don't know what this is, it's like a little upside down pinch of salt: ‘Brother, brother, have some humus'. Thank you very much. Peace.


Maysoon Zayid is an actress and professional standup comedian. She has performed stand-up in top New York clubs, and has toured extensively in the USA as well as Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. She has also appeared on As The World Turns, Law & Order, MTV, NBC Nightly News, CNN, ABC's 20/20, The New York Times, and BBC. She is the co-founder and co-executive producer of the New York Arab American Comedy Festival and can be seen in Comedy Central's The Watch List, PBS's America at a Crossroads: Muslim Comics Stand Up, and in Adam Sandler's You Don't Mess With Zohan. Currently she is a co-headliner on the Arabs Gone Wild Comedy Tour. Maysoon spends 3 months a year in Palestine where she runs Maysoon's Kids, a scholarship and wellness program for disabled and wounded refugee children and orphans.

MAYSOON ZAYID
Thank you. Hello. Okay, so I'm just going to begin, really quickly, by telling you all this. I am not drunk, but the doctor who delivered me was. And he, notice the word ‘he', is responsible. So basically what happened was this: my mother, a woman, gave me life, and a man instantly tried to take it away. As a result, I shake all the time, all of the time. Now, if I was a man, this would be a very bad thing, because I'm Palestinian, and the only person I would resemble, shaking all the time, is Yasser Arafat. (laughter) But as a woman I am far more Shakira Shakira. Let's talk about birth. By round of applause, how many men in this room have given birth? Women? So let's just point out a tiny, simple fact that may have evaded men because they're so inferior. You wouldn't be here if it wasn't for us! We bring you into this world and we can easily kill you. Do you know how? Women are much, much better at killing someone. Why? First and foremost, we can nag anyone to death. We don't need food, we don't need sleep, we just need you to do it. And it's not because we can't do things, this whole idea, ‘oh women can't drive, oh women can't carry stuff, oh women can't work'. Wrong. We just tricked you guys into thinking we were weak so you would do everything for us. And as for men being stronger, this whole concept of men being stronger, ‘ooh, yah you, you're so strong, you can pick things up': question: then why don't you pick up after yourselves? Which brings me back to strength. What does ‘strength' mean? ‘Strength' means having a high pain threshold. Have you ever seen a man with a toothache? Pathetic. Have you ever seen a woman give birth? Mashallah. Men are so inferior, and so weak, that they can't even go into the birthing room with their wife and see their child be born. They can't take the blood, they can't take the gore, they pass out cold. And speaking of blood, I would love to see a man stabbed and bleeding for five days survive; women: no sweat. Oh, but there's more, there's more. If I'm in a fight, who do I want defending me? A man? No way, nuh uh. I don't want a man, I want a woman. Why? Because women are fully armed at all times. We're fully armed at all times. Men say there's a big altercation, we need to wait for him to draw a gun and shoot. Women will whip off their slipper before he even has a chance. And let me tell you, a woman can get her slipper to turn a corner and go down a flight of stairs and nail you in the head. Which brings us to high heeled shoes. I am disabled, I have cerebral palsy, and I can walk in high heels. Can you? (points to a man in the audience) Let's talk about marriage, folks, let's talk about marriage. Men in the West have to actually beg women to marry them. When they propose they drop to the ground and beg! And in the East, men have to pay women to marry them, because no-one would do that voluntarily. Women, if they have a child, and, God forbid it's a time of war, a time of stress, a time when there's no money, a woman can feed her baby for three whole years and sustain it. A man can't even feed himself. I made the grand mistake, last year, last year I turned 33, and I was convinced if I didn't get married I would die alone and be eaten by my cat. So I went to the best place in the world to catch a husband, I went to Gaza. Some place they have no place to run. Yes, I will confess, I did put my American passport in a gold frame, and walked through the camp saying, ‘Do you want a visa, baby?' And I found someone who did! And I brought him home to America, and guess what? He couldn't do anything. He couldn't even feed himself. I had to leave him to come to do a comedy gig. I came back, I found him in squalor, barefoot and eating my cat. Finally, and this is very, very, very important, okay. It is not just that women are smarter. It is not just that women are possibly more attractive. We age so much better than any man does. Women age better than men. For example, look at my long brown hair and now look at Tim. We are practically the same age. And as I wrap up my talking points here I just have one thing to say...
TIM SEBASTIAN
I think you're finished already actually.
MAYSOON ZAYID
Man, quiet! I just have one last thing for my women in the audience, and this goes specifically for my Arab women, I'm the only Arab here, so vote for me. And my final, final three words to prove my point that women are superior to men, three words: Fayrouz, Dalida and Om Kalthoum.
TIM SEBASTIAN
Maysoon Zayid, I should even be talking to you after that, but never mind. Superior, a woman superior in the Middle East you got to be kidding haven't you?
MAYSOON ZAYID
Really? I'm assuming that you have never met an Arab mother in law, there is no stronger, scarier, more powerful thing in the world than an Arab mother in law. She can create you, she can destroy you, she can cook better than you, she can run faster than you, and in the end if she wants she can kill you and they will say it's okay.

Speaking against the motion


Carrie Quinlan is a British actress, writer and comedian. She is a regular panellist on BBC Radio 4's The News Quiz, and has also written for Radio 4's The Now Show and That Mitchell and Webb Sound. Quinlan trained at the Guidhall School of Music and Drama. She started out performing in the theatre, appearing in plays such as Hedda Gabler, As You Like It, Measure for Measure, and The Seagull. She regularly appears at the Edinburgh, Hay-on-Wye and Latitude festivals in the UK. She writes regularly for The Guardian newspaper and has contributed to New Humanist and The Tablet. She is as baffled by the recent UK election as everyone else.

CARRIE QUINLAN
Thank you very much. Hello, it's a great honour to be here speaking at The Doha Debates, and particularly at such an important crucial one as who's best, that's terribly exciting. And I've watched a lot of Doha Debates and I don't think any of the debates you've had have been as important or had as much gravity as this one. That may be because I misunderstood the brief, because I'm a woman. Now, but it is an important question, and I think when you look at questions like these it's important to take an example, or several examples. Some of you may have noticed, or may know, that one example of a woman is me. (Laughter) Thank you. Some of you may be looking at me and thinking: ‘That's not a woman, that's just a rubbish man'. Well let me ask you this. What is a woman, if not a rubbish man? Now, in preparation for the debate I took a long hard look at myself and I have to tell you, I'm incredibly disappointed, turns out I'm an idiot, I'm forgetful, I'm clumsy, I'm forgetful, I lose thing all the time, I'm messy, I've got no sense of direction, I'm forgetful, and I can't grow a beard. That's a tragedy from my point of view because growing a beard, it's the easiest thing to grow in the world, all you have to do is nothing. That's easy, I can't even get that right; women generally, I say generally, can't even get that right. Beards are important, all the greatest people the world has ever known, not only men, but men with beards. It's crucial: Plato - beard, he's the greatest philosopher, one of the finest philosophers the world's ever seen came up with the beautiful idea that the world is just shadows on a cave wall, that's magnificent. He'd never have come up with that if he'd been a woman, he wouldn't have come up with that if he'd been a man without a beard, the beard allows time to think, you see. You can ponder stuff and really, ‘ooh, shadows on a cave wall', like that, see. A woman couldn't have come up with that, she'd have gone: ‘Shadows', there's no purchase on the chin in order to work these things out: ‘Shadows. Oh, I'm just going to go shopping'. That's what a woman would have done. There's also a tremendous danger in doing that that you break a nail, so thinking, very bad for ladies, let's not do that. Da Vinci, a man with a beard, painted the Mona Lisa, renowned the world over as the greatest portrait ever painted, Da Vinci was a man with a beard and that's important, a woman couldn't have painted that, because a woman wouldn't have a beard in which to accidentally catch bits of food that would have elicited from La Gioconda that enigmatic smile. It's not a great argument, but I'm a lady. Now, Shakespeare, the greatest playwright the world's ever known, a man not even with a full beard but with a very particular goatee beard: ‘To be or not to be', this is a man who understood choices. ‘To be or not to be', that, that is the question, not: ‘Do I look fat in this?' or: ‘Can I have some equal rights please?', no, I'm glad you enjoyed that, a man helped me write that joke. Socrates - Beard. Darwin - Beard. Me? No beard, and have you ever heard of me? No, no one has. You haven't heard of me have you? (points to audience member) No, you've got a lovely face though. Women are easily distracted, that's what happens, it's already been noted, we can agree, both sides can agree that men are superior to women in terms of physical strength. Women can't move pianos, men have to move pianos, which is sad and ironic for men because women are the only people who want to play pianos. And why? Because they're a sit down instrument and women are lazy, that's why. But no, they have to get some poor, superior, big strong man to move the piano: ‘Oh, I want to play the piano, please move the piano', ‘cause that's how women speak. So basically with this debate the crucial thing you have to decide, the crucial point is, if you decide to go with the motion that women are superior to men, what you're saying is that I am superior to half the people in this room, and I think all of us, if we look into our hearts, will know that that's wrong. So I don't know if I've said enough, I don't know if I've reached the amount of time that I'm supposed to be speaking for, but thankfully there's a man there telling me to get off. So I will, thank you.


Robin Ince is a comedian, writer and broadcaster . He began his career writing for BBC comedy shows including The 11 O'Clock Show, Alistair McGowan's Big Impressions and Meet Ricky Gervais. Ince appears regularly on the BBC's arts programme, Newsnight Review and has recently written a science show for BBC Radio 4. Ince supported Ricky Gervais on his Fame tour in 2007 and his first feature film Razzle Dazzle about children's dance contests in Australia was officially selected by the Berlin Film Festival and the New York International Children's Film Festival.

ROBIN INCE
Ladies and gentlemen, it is Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve, and that has nothing to do with the debate, in fact that does indeed make absolutely no sense, because it's not Adam and Eve or Adam and Steve it is, of course, a series of replication, mutation and natural selection, not Adam and Steve. So, we start off with an interesting point, can I just say, by the way, don't the ladies look lovely this evening, don't they look absolutely lovely? But why do they look lovely? Because they're daubed in makeup, Maysoon dared to come up here and declare that she is better and yet is ashamed of her own face, yeah, smearing it. Why does she wear high heels? Because women are embarrassingly short, ladies and gentlemen, that is why. I'm not here to attack women, but actually I am, I'm being paid to do so. But, never the less, it is of course one of the great philosophical questions, it is a question that has bothered philosophers since the beginning of time: ‘Are women better than men?' And by the beginning of time I mean from kind of the late sixties and by bothered I mean, it doesn't really matter. And also we should really rely on philosophers, wasn't it, after all, Descartes who once said: ‘I think therefore I am'. Forgetting that a lot of people don't think, but still are. I'll return to you again Maysoon in a moment. Now, there are many, many tricky questions, now, first of all, what is the problem with men and women? It's not actually the women's fault, it's not the man's fault, I blame nature. One, life on earth was happy, asexual reproduction was going fine, have you ever seen how happy a sea sponge is? Well I have ladies and gentlemen, they're darned jolly, and the komodo dragon. Have you seen how angry a goat is? Or a man in the North of England on a Friday night? Then you see the tragedy of humanity. Now, there are many issues to deal with, first of all there is the XX chromosome versus the XY chromosome. Now, some of you may say: ‘Oh interesting Robin, two Xs is worth more in Scrabble than an X and a Y'. But what can you spell with two Xs? Exactly my point whereas with a Y, xylophone. But this is really skirting around the edge: we've heard about how men commit terrible, terrible acts. But why do they commit terrible acts? For women, that is why. If you look at nature itself, look at the poor male duck. The female duck is a brown duck generally that blends in with its environment. The male duck is not allowed to be like that, the female goes: ‘I don't want to mate with you, why don't you have blue feathers and some green one and great big crown. And when I get killed during hunting season, how much do you love me. Evil ducks! Let's not even touch on the peacock there. That wasn't Freudian. So most of the worst acts committed by man have been committed for woman. Let us think, for instance, of the Trojan War, a war fought for a lady because she was a bit pretty, and how stupid did men become? This is not about who is better, men or women, it is about who is less worse? Now, the Trojan horse, there you go, men so confused by women that when, during a siege, someone turned up and went: ‘Hello, I've got a big hollow present here about the size of loads of soldiers. Do you want to take delivery of it?', ‘Yeah, we'll take that.' The war lost due to love of a woman. What about the Black Death, ladies and gentlemen? How could that be woman's fault, the death of 35 million people in the Middle Ages? Very, very simple, I'll tell you how. Do you think men wanted to go travelling across the oceans to find spices? Of course not, no, a moany woman went: ‘We haven't got enough smells, I want some more smells'. They brought back rats and therefore those women killed 35 million people. Abraham Lincoln could have been one of the greatest presidents of the United States of America, but he was assassinated. Where? At the theatre. Would he have wanted to go to the theatre? He's a man: ‘Oh Abraham, can we go and see Guys and Dolls?', ‘I don't really want to', ‘Oh go on'. Bang. John F. Kennedy could have been another of the greatest United States of America presidents. What happened? ‘I want to put the roof down, I've got a new hat'. So interesting to see how far you can see, isn't it camera 4? Now, so that's just a few of the tragedies, I could list others, I've actually made a list here, one, two, The Great Fire of London, World War One, World War Two, appalling pop songs that go: ‘Oh baby I love you' - women's fault. Heart disease, milkshakes, ice cream, cheese, what's it made from? Milk. Do men make milk? No. The global obesity problem is the fault of women and female cows. And what about women's right to vote, women want the right to vote, merely to prove that they are as stupid as men when it comes to choices during an election. Now, I would be very interested to see the statistics for quality of world leaders after women got the vote, but I didn't really have the time to do that. But let us remember that women now have the vote in Britain, and we have a hung parliament. Some of you may say: ‘What about the other 92 years Robin?' and I say to you: ‘Blah, blah'. What about when women were given power in the 1990's, Girl Power, where the Spice Girls gave them power with a cry of ‘ziga ziga ah'. Did women use it to build orphanages? To cure disease? No, they used it to get drunk, shout in the street and wear unseemly undergarments, ladies and gentlemen. Thank heavens that hadn't happened in the turn of the 20th Century otherwise Marie Curie wouldn't have discovered radium, she'd be too busy dancing on a table top singing something awful. You could vote for the motion ladies and gentlemen, please do vote for the motion if you believe in disease, death and climate change.
TIM SEBASTIAN
Robin Ince, thank you very much indeed. Are you married?
ROBIN INCE
Yes, my wife told me to say all those things. No, she's very, very careful she said: ‘Make sure you're as unattractive as possible to everyone' and I think I did pretty well. Except for that fella. (points to audience member).

Audience Input


AUDIENCE (M)
Thank you very much. My question is for the proposition, Mr. Azhar, I would like to ask you, if women are superior to men then why is it that behind every successful man there is a completely surprised and dumbfounded woman?
AZHAR USMAN
Well, spoken as a true ignorant man, you refuse to acknowledge that behind every man is actually a great woman, not only the one supporting you, but again to remind you, the one he came out of. Secondly I also wanted to point out, in general, I'm happy to see that the opposing view point was actually saved from dying by a man. Because before we heard from our good esteemed colleague here, I think it was very clear that she really couldn't do this.
ROBIN INCE
I told you about men with beards, you said men with beards are brainy, I said look at that arse (points to Azhar).
CARRIE QUINLAN
Yeah, but you've just proved our point, that I, a mere woman, couldn't make a decent argument, thank goodness there was a boy here to actually save the whole thing.
AZHAR USMAN
On the contrary, my point is that in spite of him carrying your entire side, he was still wrong on so many of the things he said. The fact of the matter is that Lincoln and JFK are two of the greatest American presidents and I've got one word for you buddy, Xerox.
CARRIE QUINLAN
That's quite a random word.
AZHAR USMAN
Scrabble, I play a lot of Scrabble.
CARRIE QUINLAN
Ah, there you go.
ROBIN INCE
You Scrabble idiots, stop the applause, Xerox is a company name, there's no way, by English rules, that would be acceptable.
AZHAR USMAN
It's in the dictionary, it's on dictionary.com, Google it right now.
ROBIN INCE
You're using the internet, in England we still use books sir, we still use books.
AZHAR USMAN
And that's why America's kicking ass.


AUDIENCE (M)
Hi, my name's Abdullah, I'm from Dubai. My question is, what does it say about superiority when the doctor's waiting room is full of women and the morgue is full of men?
MAYSOON ZAYID
That what's full of men?
TIM SEBASTIAN
The morgue, the morgue is full of men.
MAYSOON ZAYID
That we're superior and we know how to stay alive as well as give birth, yet again.
CARRIE QUINLAN
Or it says that men don't waste precious resources by being all sickly, they just get on with it and die.
TIM SEBASTIAN
Robin Ince?
AZHAR USMAN
We'll give you that, men are good at dying.
MAYSOON ZAYID
They are, they're great at dying.
ROBIN INCE
I agree, ‘cause as you said Carrie, they don't drag it out.


AUDIENCE (M)
My name is Palau and I think women are superior to men, because I'm married.
TIM SEBASTIAN
You gave in that easily?
AUDIENCE (M)
She was just too beautiful.
TIM SEBASTIAN
That's it, that was your point?
CARRIE QUINLAN
She's sitting a long way away from you.
AUDIENCE (M)
No, she's not here. I think men or women, the one who has the most threshold for pain is more superior and nobody mentioned waxing.
AZHAR USMAN
Actually she did. (points to Maysoon)
MAYSOON ZAYID
I know, men are inferior, yeah waxing, childbirth, men, dealing with men, we have higher threshold.
CARRIE QUINLAN
You may wax your chin, which is terribly impressive, but Robin, you should have seen his back a few months ago. So, actually, the greater threshold for pain in terms of just square footage, Robin's winning.
ROBIN INCE
Also, women aren't quiet during childbirth, they make a lot of hoopla don't they? There's a lot of: ‘Ow, ooh, this head's, ow, ow'. And it goes on for hours. When my wife was giving birth in the library because I had to return some books it was very embarrassing.
MAYSOON ZAYID
They may make a lot of noise when they're giving birth, but men make a lot of noise all the time. If they can't find their keys they're making noise, if they're hungry they're making noise, and if they're bored they start wars and make a lot of noise.
CARRIE QUINLAN
You're quite right, whereas of course women are always quiet and you can shut them up so easily.


AUDIENCE (F)
I'm from Jordan and my question is directed at Maysoon and Azhar. If you believe that women are superior to men, how come mothers are unable to break the upbringing patterns of their kids and continue to enhance male supremacy?
MAYSOON ZAYID
It's, it's a very, very deep issue, and I'll be serious for a second, because, as I mentioned, mother in laws, I will agree, are evil. And it's very simple: mothers have to do this because the oppressed has to become the oppressor. So they need to make sure that the next generation of women suffer as much, but I'm confident, I'm confident, that we can break this cycle, and stop spoiling our male children. Beat them.
TIM SEBASTIAN
Let me go back to the questioner. Where do you stand on the argument?
AUDIENCE (F)
I'm totally on their side. (points to Maysoon and Azhar)
TIM SEBASTIAN
On their side? Why, why? What gave you your feeling of innate superiority?
AUDIENCE (F)
It's not innate, it's the truth.
MAYSOON ZAYID
The truth does hurt.
TIM SEBASTIAN
Carrie, help her
CARRIE QUINLAN
Well, if I could understand what you were saying in your awful high-pitched woman voice, I'd probable argue against it. But I think the reason, to be serious for a moment, I think the reason that women continue to perpetuate this is because they know, they know it's the right thing to do. Just to be serious for a moment.
ROBIN INCE
There's something there, where you were talking about women perpetuating this. I mean, isn't that one of the problems, that there is a problem with men, and women, and there's also a problem with women and women, because you'll see women, even on some kind of march, and they're marching about solidarity with women, but right at the back one of them's going, ‘Look at her fat arse'.
MAYSOON ZAYID
I can quite easily dismiss that. Carrie, who is a woman, sharing the stage with me, was utterly disappointing. But compared to you, she's a goddess.
AZHAR USMAN
By the way, back to your hypothetical. Even if that is true, that the women are marching, and there are ones in the back pointing, the only reason they have to march is because men are keeping them down to begin with, so actually it comes back to men.
ROBIN INCE
It's quite interesting this, isn't it, ‘cause we're almost seeing, between Maysoon and me, the English-American divide, which is the English ones kind of go, ‘No, actually it's all very good, I'll just make something up', and then go, ‘Good Lord, the Americans are really rather going for it, aren't they?' We were just going to stay back in the camp, and go, ‘Jolly well done, yes keep going. Good Lord, they do seem to keep firing, don't they? Now I remember why we gave them up 200 years ago. Oh have your freedom'.
MAYSOON ZAYID
He's so confused! This is not an American-British issue. You can't define me, I'm American, but I'm Palestinian. Again, male-female issue. My thoughts: well thought-out, executed. Yours: all over the place and no fruition.
ROBIN INCE
Oh, do you know what? I would never have guessed you come from New York.
MAYSOON ZAYID
I'm from New Jersey, darling.


AUDIENCE (M)
My name is Ali, I'm Iranian-Canadian, from Vancouver. This is more like a more serious comment, the thing is, I mean, to really look at the superiority, you have to look at the performance, and the performance of these two different groups is, the performance is actually, you look at the results, the results of the performances, and...
TIM SEBASTIAN
You're not doing much for the male sex there, can you come to a question?
AUDIENCE (M)
What I want to say is men and women, they have not had a fair start. You know, with the whole witch hunts, and after that, giving women late voting and you know, women always begin their careers later because they are involved with the children.
TIM SEBASTIAN
And your point is?
AUDIENCE (M)
And my point is, we can't really say. If there is a fair start, then you can really see the results and say if they are superior or not.
TIM SEBASTIAN
So you're saying we shouldn't even be debating the issue. I'll give the microphone to somebody else, thank you very much.
ROBIN INCE
Can I just say something here Tim? I don't really, now this is a bit of a secret, but some of the arguments I used about women causing the Black Death and global obesity due to producing milk, I don't really believe! I just thought I would reveal that.


AUDIENCE (F)
Hi, I'm from Qatar, my question is, if men are more superior to women why is it that women look good in men's clothes, women wearing suits, but men look ridiculous in women's clothes? (applause)
MAYSOON ZAYID
Well said.
ROBIN INCE
The truth is women look ridiculous in women's clothes, it's just we're too polite to tell you: ‘No darling, you look absolutely marvellous. This dress thing? Why isn't she wearing trousers and a normal jacket? Ridiculous'.
CARRIE QUINLAN
I have to say, coming from Britain where there is a fine tradition of men dressing up in women's clothing, I have to disagree.
MAYSOON ZAYID
Just to piggyback on her point about clothing, at least women know how to pick out their clothing instead of having their wives and mums doing it for them.


AUDIENCE (M)
I'm from Jordan, my question is, if you say that women are superior to men this means that we can live without men and all the governments and all the leaders would be women, if women can't read maps, they can't drive and they can't park, who's going to run the countries?
TIM SEBASTIAN
Azhar.
AZHAR USMAN
Well it was your claim that you said if I believe women are superior to men then women can exist without men, which nobody ever said, so typical man creating your own Straw Man argument. Nobody said that, nobody believes that except a dumb man like you.
TIM SEBASTIAN (to questioner)
Are you going to fight back?
MAYSOON ZAYID
No he's a man.
TIM SEBASTIAN
Are you just going to sit, are you going to take that lying down?
AZHAR USMAN
Thank you, I rest my case. I also want to add, by the way, if all we had to prove our point is just show the guy in the turquoise shirt asking his question, then that's the whole debate right there. You want to prove that women are superior to men, show that guy for about two minutes, case closed. If you really want to make the point, play that guy too and then show the intelligent question on the front, finished, done game over.


AUDIENCE (M)
Hi, my name is Muhammad I'm from Bosnia, I'd like to get married so I'll watch what I say. My question's actually for Mr. Ince, I might be wrong but from sitting right here and observing what's happening, but Mr. Usman here is going to probably leave the stage quite unharmed but I think you Mr. Ince, you're probably going to have to face, not only the women, but all the men of those women. So I was wondering how you were going to handle that?
ROBIN INCE
I suppose the difference is I went with the courage of my convictions whereas he was beaten down early on and forced to go: ‘Whatever the women say I've got to debate I'm going to do that'. So yeah, I may well become a martyr, there is that possibility. All I can tell you is that if you do need a business class flight tomorrow my seat is probably available unless they've got leg room for some kind of plaster cast.
CARRIE QUINLAN
I think the point really is more that you're quite a big bloke and you're quite spindly and easily pummelled.
MAYSOON ZAYID
Well Robin, don't worry, the women will protect you.


The Result

The vote is 67% for the motion, 33% against.
The motion has been resoundingly carried.

How would you have voted? Why?
What is your favourite argument or one-liner as presented by a panellist or audience member?
Do you agree the Muslim women run the family, but men pretend otherwise in public?
Do you agree that men cause all the problems in the world?
Do you think the world would run better if women were (more) in charge?
Does the beard make the man? or the woman?
Do men pose the most weighty questions, while women only ask questions about their weight?
Do 9 months of gestation make women superior to 9 seconds of impregnation by men [Azhar Usman's counting not mine]?
Who has the superior pain tolerance? Does it matter?
Is there anyone stronger than an Arab MIL?
Are the horrible acts committed by men, committed for women?
Do women reduce men to bad pop song lyrics? How so?
Do the clothes/ high heels make the man/ woman?
Have you ever tried debating/ discussing this topic? In what circumstances? How did it go?
What is your best one-liner on this topic?
Any other comments, thoughts, experiences?

Careful now, you wouldn't want to:

Cause a civilization shattering war, like Helen in the Judgment of Paris

Be attacked by sirens, like Ulysses

Burn your Cupid, lose your Psyche, and infuriate your mother/ mother-in-law Venus, aka, the mighty Aphrodite!

So, after that bit of caution, please share why you feel women are superior to men...I mean, which gender you think is superior, and why... :)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

G-20 Summit Toronto 2010: Summarized--Part II Riots, Amnesty International, and an Unfinished Agenda


Part I Fake Lake and Fiscal Responsibility, Indeed explored the pre-assessment of the upcoming G-20 2010 Toronto Summit. This Part II is a post-evaluation.

The official G-20 Toronto 2010 Summit outcomes are documented here. They include:

Final Documents
G-20 Toronto Summit Declaration
Principles for Innovative Financial Inclusion

Supporting Documents
See the International Monetary Fund report
See the World Bank report


My own, non-specialist, summary follows.

Summary alla Chiara

"Clash of economies": spending vs restraint in a recession

The USA wants the world to keep spending; the Europeans want fiscal restraint
Canada wants deficit reduction goals
Each country will follow its own kinder gentler deficit reduction plan with a promise to try to reduce deficits by 50% by 2013

Bank Taxes: to make banks responsible for risk taking and economic damage

France, Germany, and Britain, yes
Canada, Australia, India, China, no
USA, maybe (yes in theory, no in practice)

Maternal Health (from the G8): improving maternal-infant care in Africa

Initial proposal didn't include birth control; Harper was forced to include it; and it still has no elective abortion option as a family planning method of last resort (though Canadians do have it).
A half measure for a very real and important problem; one that follows an underlying religious and domestic agenda

Major disruptions prior and during:

In the banking, corporate, legal, and provincial governing centres of Toronto for the week prior
Hospitals discharged patients to clear space/ free personnel for casualties for week prior
6 Public and Catholic schools closed early for the summer
St George Campus of University of Toronto closed for 4.5 days

Major disruptions during and since:

1st ever use of tear gas in Toronto
>900 arrests
Major extra disruptions to traffic, public transit, commuter transit
Tertiary care hospitals on lockdown
Major shopping areas on lockdown
Vandalism of stores (particularly American chains) and banks
Riots after the close of the summit
Protests at police headquarters on the days since
New inquiry into security, and errors made, civil liberties breached

Cost:

$1.1 billion Cdn (~50% for Security) to be paid by the Canadian tax payer
+Damages
+Lost productivity
+Lost business
+Lost wages (many workers in the security zone were told to stay home without pay; or paid to stay home without working)
+Lost liberties

Bottom Line:

Poor Value For Money

Recommendation:

Hold in a more easily secured, less prominent location, one that is a prestigious retreat/ conference centre

What others are saying

It wasn't worth it

“Why would you bring this terror to downtown?” “Next time have it on an aircraft carrier” “I felt like a rat in a cage.”--Omar Habib, 28, actor, waiter, resident downtown core

Amnesty calls for summit security review

The police did have a difficult job to do, said Alex Neve, Amnesty International Canada's secretary general, but he questioned the extent of the security buildup.
"We're concerned that both the extensive lead-up to the summit — the heavy, heavy police presence — [and] all of the talk of new weapons and unclear laws really led to quite a considerable chill."
"Everything that our officers did in the Toronto Police Service was for the safety of the law-abiding citizens in this city, and we did the best we could," said Staff Supt. Jeff McGuire. "I'm not suggesting we're perfect."
McGuire said the city faced "very trying circumstances" that neither citizens nor many police officers had faced.
"[Police] didn't do things maliciously, they did them with the intent of providing public safety for the citizens of Toronto."
McGuire added that in some large gatherings Sunday, people were initially detained but later released at the scene without charge.

Toronto cleaning up from G20 vandalism

Toronto Mayor David Miller says he and his office long said that the downtown's convention centre was not the appropriate place to host such a large event.
"From the beginning, the city said to the federal government, ‘You shouldn't host an event like this downtown because of the complexities of policing it. You should host it at a place like Exhibition Place; it's a place that's self-contained.' I think unfortunately some of the challenges we saw this weekend came from that decision," Miller told Canada AM Monday.

Torontonians try to make sense of G20 vandalism

“It’s been a really eerie feeling down here all weekend” “I’m just kind of in shock as to what’s gone on.”
--Ray Bonfoco, resident of a Front Street condominium, 80% of his neighbours left the city for the Summit

TTC chair Adam Giambrone said they were instructed by the Integrated Security Unit to shut down the TTC system just before 2 p.m. on Saturday, leaving the city without public transit for several hours.
“A decision was made that we could not guarantee security across the whole downtown,” he said.

Residents of the neighbourhood near Eastern Avenue, where a temporary jail was established by police, were forced to contend with protesters, as were the Parkdale neighbours of the Toronto Community Mobilization Network’s Noble Street convergence space.
A Sunday morning raid on the University of Toronto campus brought the action adjacent to the Annex, and even areas far from the action saw their weekends disrupted.

With police and security guards stationed in hotel lobbies and on street corners, Yorkville felt drained of the spirited energy that makes it such a destination on a summer Saturday night. The upside: Scoring a table at one of the tony bars or clubs was not a problem; towards 10 p.m., both Avenue at the Four Seasons and the Roof Lounge at the Park Hyatt appeared to be only half full, with no sign of mingling delegates.

The sounds of the Toronto Jazz Festival were also muffled by violence.
Patrick Taylor, the event’s executive director, said concerts away from the downtown were sold out, but the main stage at Nathan Philips Square was definitely affected.
“It has a strange aura about it. There’s not a lot of walk-up business,” he said. “That vibe’s gone.”
Mr. Taylor said he was disappointed by the “ugliness going on” around him. On Saturday, he saw black-clad vandals race past, pursued by police in tactical garb.
“You could hear the sirens going by and see the smoke coming up through the city,” he said. “It’s a very noticeable difference.”

G20 crowds, police engage in standoffs

Police said they decided to box in a large group of protesters who were making their way on Queen, heading for Peter Street, because there were militant Black Bloc members donning masks while weapons were found along the way.
But only a small number in that boxed-in crowd were arrested for a breach of the peace and taken to the makeshift detention centre in the city's east end, said Toronto Staff Sgt. Jeff McGuire.
Most were detained at the intersection in a heavy downpour for several hours until Toronto police Chief Bill Blair ordered them released without any charges at about 9:40 p.m. Several people told local media they were innocent bystanders who had been waiting for buses, walking their dogs and minding their own business.
"It was unfortunate they found themselves in the situation," McGuire said. "But the officers had a right to detain them."

Const. Rob McDonald told reporters it was his understanding that people from across Canada had been arrested: "They were found in possession of bricks and other items that could compromise the safety of the citizens of Toronto."
Four other people were arrested in the early morning after they were caught coming out of a sewer in the financial district on Queen Street West between Yonge and Bay streets.
Toronto police spokesman Sgt. Tim Burrows told CBC News that the four were arrested at 2:25 a.m. ET "while leaving a maintenance hole cover, after being in the underground infrastructure of the tunnels."
Burrows said no explosives were found and "the security plan is well intact."
All day, a heavy police presence continued in the downtown area near the convention centre, a day after dozens of businesses, as well as police cars and other vehicles, were damaged.

WRAPUP 2 Do-little G20 summit leaves markets unperturbed

G20 VALUE QUESTIONED
The Toronto summit exposed issues that are harder to resolve when countries loosely united in the G20 are emerging from the downturn at different speeds and with divergent priorities.
Analysts said the meagre summit outcome raised doubts about the G20's value as a forum for managing the world economy. "The G20 is fragmented as it transitions out of its role as
a crisis-fighting committee," said Tom Bernes, vice-president of the Center for International Governance Innovation in Toronto. "While G20 leaders agree on the need for stronger financial
regulation, actual details continue to be vague and lacking a solid deadline.... There is a huge unfinished agenda."

Boxed in and arrested on Queen Street West

It began as a peaceful rally, the most peaceful I had seen in the three days of demonstrations. It ended with roughly a hundred people – the elderly, shoppers with bags of groceries, people walking dogs or just curious to see a protest – held in torrential rain for four hours, penned in by rows of riot police. Slowly, one by one, they were arrested on charges of conspiracy to commit public mischief, handcuffed and led to buses headed for a prisoner detention centre.
I [Globe and Mail journalist Lisan Jutras] was among those arrested.

1,000 protest G20 police tactics

Peaceful demonstration begins at police headquarters and ends at Queen’s Park for a dance party
More than 1,000 loud but peaceful Torontonians – furious at police tactics, the G20 and seeing their city hijacked – converged on Toronto Police headquarters on College Street late Monday afternoon. Parents, businessmen, protesters and grandparents chanted and drummed in front of dozens of police officers before marching through downtown and converging on Queen’s Park for a dance party.
“Whose city?” they yelled, walking down streets that days ago had become scenes of tense and often violent confrontations with the police now flanking them on bikes.
“Our city!”

Toronto Police announce review of G20 tactics

Facing criticism over G20 tactics, the Toronto Police Service will review “all aspects” of summit policing, Chief Bill Blair announced on Tuesday.
The review, which will be conducted by the force’s Summit Management After Action Review Team, will provide an “assessment of the strengths and weaknesses in the G20 plans, and their execution,” the force said in a news release.
[The Government of Ontario has declined to review the security measures taken]


Did the Summit impact you in any way? How?
What is your final summary of the G-20 Toronto 2010 Summit?
What would be your bottom line?
What would be your recommendation?
Any other comments, thoughts, impressions?

All posts on the G-20 Summit:
The G-20 Meet the GlBTQ
The G(irls) 20 Summit: Part I--Background
The G(irls) 20 Summit: Part II--The Delegates
G-20 Summit 2010 Toronto: Protesters vs Demonstrators vs Rioters; Another Brilliant Harper Idea
G-20 Summit 2010 Toronto: Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah, and Young Saudi Delegates
G-20 Summit Toronto 2010: Summarized--Part I Fake Lake and Fiscal Responsibility, Indeed
G-20 Summit Toronto 2010: Summarized--Part II Riots, Amnesty International, and an Unfinished Agenda

Monday, June 28, 2010

G-20 Summit Toronto 2010: Summarized--Part I Fake Lake and Fiscal Responsibility, Indeed

Real Muskoka chairs on real lake in Muskoka

Real canoe on real Muskoka lake

I guess this is a girl Muskoka chair, or the son of very socially liberal Muskoka chairs; 
however, real, and on a real Muskoka lake in early fall

Back in the age of innocence, before the G-20 Toronto Summit occurred, many Canadians were in a state of discomfiture (a litotes if there ever was one, ie an understatement), over the split between the G-8 being held in Muskoka, a wooded lake and cottage region a 3 hour drive north of Toronto, and the G-20 being hastily organized in Toronto proper. The biggest scandal pre-Summit was the discovery of Fake Lake--an indoor installation in the Metro Convention Centre press room designed to imitate a Muskoka setting for the benefit of international journalists either working or taking a break.

The total installation, including another part with fake city sky scrapers, cost almost $2 million. This was doubly ironic, because the G-20 was held essentially on the shore of Lake Ontario, one of the 5 Great Lakes that Canada and the US share (the border runs through them, fortunately more peaceably than through the Persian/Arabian Gulf); and, at the south end of the business district. One need only look out the window, or stand in the portico of the Metro Convention Centre where the Summit meetings took place, to see a real lake or real sky scrapers. Even in retrospect, these 2 activities, look out the window or stand in the portico and face south to the lake or north to the downtown, seem safe options. No one ever breached the inner security perimetre set for the Summit so the porticos were safe vantage points as were the windows.

However, in those heady times of pre-Summit anticipation, Fake Lake got immense water-cooler and press coverage, even before it had been revealed, in all its centimetres deep, smaller than a city fountain, glory. Above you have the real Muskoka; below, you see Fake Lake.

Real Muskoka chairs, real canoes suspended, video of Muskoka lake region, fake "lake" a few centimetres deep, in the media centre, downtown Toronto, for the G-20 Summit, part of a $1.9 million installation



Above, the media get a tour of Fake Lake

Bearing in mind that the theme of this Summit was fiscal responsibility, restraint, even austerity, I do believe the Brits summed up Canadian ire the best: G8/G20: Critics decry Canada's $1.1bn summits bill. However, perhaps in their understated fashion, they seemed to minimize the cost of Fake Lake, failing to appreciate that Canadians see the tripartite installation as a totality, a $2 million dollar totality, and we merely focus on Fake Lake as the most egregious and interesting in comparison to Fake City Scape. The British notation of Fake Lake as "Harper's Folly" was particularly good, though.

The 3rd part of the temporary installation, on Canada's technological achievements, is/was somewhat more sensible, even if the journalists were using exemplars of the same in their work at the media centre. But, Canadians are very nice and polite, so we gave the installation a pass on that one. At least we are very nice and polite when we aren't demonstrating and protesting. We don't riot, though. We firmly believe the Black Block which were the most violent rioters were American imports. That, of course, remains to be determined.

A Muskoka lake

Above, another view of a real Muskoka lake. Below, a visual demonstration of what one might see from the safety of the Security Zone, if one were to look out the window, or stand outside, or wait until the end of the Summit, and spend an extra 1/2 day before heading to the airport. Unless one headed to the Island Airport, then one would be on a lake, a Great Lake, Lake Ontario.

Toronto Island Ferry, from beside the Metro Convention Centre to the 3 Toronto Islands a few minutes away; note real sky scrapers in the background

Fishing on the lake side of the Toronto Islands

Do you prefer your lakes fake or real?
Any objections to a hot pink Muskoka chair?
What do you think the installation says about financial attitudes?
On the other hand, was this installation a necessary respite for the 3000 journalists in attendance?
Does the tourism marketing value outweigh the cost?
You know I'm joking about the American rioters, right? (at least until it's proven ;) )
Any other comments, thoughts, impressions?

All posts on the G-20 Summit:
The G-20 Meet the GlBTQ
The G(irls) 20 Summit: Part I--Background
The G(irls) 20 Summit: Part II--The Delegates
G-20 Summit 2010 Toronto: Protesters vs Demonstrators vs Rioters; Another Brilliant Harper Idea
G-20 Summit 2010 Toronto: Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah, and Young Saudi Delegates
G-20 Summit Toronto 2010: Summarized--Part I Fake Lake and Fiscal Responsibility, Indeed
G-20 Summit Toronto 2010: Summarized--Part II Riots, Amnesty International, and an Unfinished Agenda

Coming next...G-20 Summit Toronto 2010: Summarized--Part II Riots, Amnesty International, and an Unfinished Agenda

G-20 Summit 2010 Toronto: Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah, and Young Saudi Delegates

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah leaves Jeddah for Morocco on Saturday on his way to Canada where he is scheduled to attend a G20 conference from June 26 to 27. Arab News

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah is escorted by Chief of Protocol Robert William Peck upon his arrival at Pearson International Airport in Toronto on for the G8 and G20 Summit. (AP) Arab News

King Abdullah is greeted by dignitaries upon arrival at Pearson International Airport in Toronto. (AP) Arab News

Saudi Arabia is one of the G-20 nations, and as such King Abdullah was a delegate to the G-20 Summit in Toronto, along with his Finance Minister and a number of other Saudi dignitaries. The King arrived the day before the Summit after a stay in Morocco. He and his 200 member entourage stayed at the Four Seasons Hotel (partly Saudi owned), in Yorkville (an upscale historic shopping, dining, and residential area of  Toronto) 3km north of the security perimetre for the Summit. The security provisions involved a fleet of Cadillac stretch limousines, and a police escort to and from the Summit site. Also the neighbours across the way were required to show security passes to access the area.

A westward view from the Four Seasons, Yorkville, of the luxurious Prince Arthur Condominiums, whose residents required security cards to access their homes during the King's stay

Lobby looking on to cafe/bar

Lobby Bar

The hotel bistro, the Studio Cafe

At the entrance to the Studio Cafe


Yorkville shops and restaurants

King Abdullah, in fact, represents not only Saudi Arabia, but is the sole representative of the MENA countries (with the possible exception Turkey, which is however considered Eurasian), of the GCC, and OPEC. As a statesman he is up to the task, but perhaps other countries object. Yet, as the world's largest exporter of oil, and the country with the largest reserves, Saudi Arabia should have a place at the G-20 table. The Saudi Finance Minister Dr Ebrahim Al Assaf elaborated to Gulf News:
... Saudi Arabia's membership in the G20 Summit and its participation in discussions pertaining to the financial and economic issues came in recognition of its position as the single largest oil exporter in the world, in addition to being a country with the largest oil reserves and energy production.
"This has enabled the kingdom to be an influential power in the international oil market," he said.
The minister described his country's economy as the largest in the region and said that it had obtained the G20 membership because of its support to international development institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
The G-20 in dark blue
European Countries with collective representation by EU Delegate in light blue

One does get the sense that King Abdullah's participation at the G-20 meeting is somewhat upstaged by his own visit to Washington DC to meet with President Obama on Tuesday June 29. Nonetheless, to the extent that the G-20 does represent a meeting of the world's major economies (with a few left out), industrialized and developing--together 85% of global gross national product, 80% of world trade and 2/3 of the world population--the King's participation is important independent of bilateral discussions with the US.

Canadian reporting on the King's presence prior to his arrival focused on the issue of multiple wives, extravagant shopping sprees, and alcohol consumption, with a combination of reproval and wishful thinking for the local, as in Yorkville boutiques and bars, economy. One article helpfully asserted that 30 wives later he truly loves his horses, and despite his great wealth-->$20 billion USD, world's 3rd richest royal (Forbes)--he is "the Middle East’s most popular Muslim leader by a wide margin", as determined by a Pew Research poll (Feb 2010).

Arab reporting focused before and after on issues, highlighting that King Abdullah is representing the Arab and Islamic world at the summit (neglecting the presence of the Muslim majority country Turkey), and will discuss with different leaders specific bi-national issues, as well as a focus on Middle Eastern, Arab, and Islamic concerns, including: Israel-Palestine, the condition of the Palestinians, the dilemma of Iran's nuclear capacity, and the situation in Iraq. He is expected to advocate for peaceful solutions to these problems. He is also expected to draw attention and funding to poorer Arab and Muslim countries in the world. Shared Canadian-Saudi concerns would be strengthening ties, recent increases in the number of Saudi students on scholarship in Canada, certain human rights concerns, and stabilizing world oil prices.

Though not violent, much smaller, and less covered by the press, there was a protest at the Saudi Embassy in Ottawa. The group there had a number of human rights concerns about Saudi: the male guardianship system; "gender apartheid";  the case of Nathalie Morin, a Quebecker married to a Saudi, and whose mother believes she is being held with her children against her will; and the case of the Kohail brothers, Canadian citizens who are charged with killing a student during an altercation at their high school in Saudi Arabia (2007). Mohamed, 22 at the time, has been convicted and sentenced to death by beheading, while  the younger Sultan, 16 at the time, is awaiting the verdict of the adult court.


As well as Saudi participation in the G-20 Summit, Saudi sent a delegate to the G(irls) 20 Summit, and participated in the G20 Young Entrepreneur Summit (YES) on June 20-22, sending delegates courtesy of the Centennial Fund established for that purpose. The G20 YES Summit is an official G20 event that resulted in a communique of how to promote entrepreneurship among young men and women, and a statement about the importance of such development for the economic and cultural benefits of the G20 countries. The communique was passed on to the B20 Summit (Business 20 Summit, June 25-26).

Photo by: dfait.maeci

This Youth/ My Summit was held alongside the G20 Summit, with a focus on leadership development among university level youth. Like the other affiliated G20 Summits this one drew delegates from the countries of the G-20, with each country selecting its own delegates.  The students had a rich program of expert-led discussions and visits to relevant sites in Toronto as well as observing the official G-20 Summit. Their summit started June 25 and they have a closing breakfast June 29. The recruitment process was rigorous, and each delegation was ultimately comprised of  7 current university students ages 18-24 who have shown an active interest in international relations, both political and economic.

Youth Delegation – Saudi Arabia

NameSchool NameHome Town
Calgary UniversityRiyadh Saudi Arabia
Abdulmohsen Almohsen
Carleton UniversityJeddah, KSA
Salwa Mohammed Alahdal
Dalhousie UniversityHalifax
Mohammad Baljon
Memorial UniversitySaudia Arabia
Hussam Kutbi
Waterloo USaudia Arabia
Zaid Alyami
Concordia UniversityMontreal
Turki Alsudairy
Carleton UniversityRiyadh, Saudi Arabia
Reef Al Awwad

After completing this post, I came to think that Saudi participation as a G-20 country is important, not only for the need to represent itself and also MENA, the GCC, and OPEC, but for the opportunities being a G-20 member country provides for broader participation in affiliated summits, and the networks and training that provides. It also gives an opportunity for Saudis to learn more about and from other countries, and vice versa. It can be seen as a foot in the door for other Arab and Muslim countries as well. Perhaps the G-20 will re-expand to its previous G-32, or G-22. As some have advocated, perhaps it should really be a G-164.





What is your impression of the participation of Saudi Arabia, and King Abdullah in the G-20 Summit?
How important is it for Saudi to be among the G-20 countries?
What are the advantages, or not,of Saudi participation in the ancillary summits: the G(irls) 20 Summit, the G20 YES, the Youth/My Summit?
What impacts, if any, can be expected of this participation as delegates at all summits return to Saudi?
Any other comments, thoughts, impressions?

All posts on the G-20 Summit:
The G-20 Meet the GlBTQ
The G(irls) 20 Summit: Part I--Background
The G(irls) 20 Summit: Part II--The Delegates
G-20 Summit 2010 Toronto: Protesters vs Demonstrators vs Rioters; Another Brilliant Harper Idea
G-20 Summit 2010 Toronto: Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah, and Young Saudi Delegates
G-20 Summit Toronto 2010: Summarized--Part I Fake Lake and Fiscal Responsibility, Indeed
G-20 Summit Toronto 2010: Summarized--Part II Riots, Amnesty International, and an Unfinished Agenda

*A
ddendum: From the Saudi Embassy in Washington site, a summary of King Abdullah's Speech at the G-20.

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails