Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Arab Women on Forbes Most Powerful Women Lists 2011

Obama; Merkel; Xin; Nooyi; Sandberg; Gaga

Though all lists are created subject to certain criteria, and have inherent premises or biases, it is a fine tribute to all the women who make Forbes' power lists, and worth noting the Arab women of MENA countries who have been so acknowledged. Much more could be said about each of these women, and about power and stereotypes of powerful women, as in the closing video below, but I will save that for your comments, and for later posts.

The World's 100 Most Powerful Women 2011
Forbes Staff
8.24.11

#53 Queen Rania Al Abdullah

At a Glance

Age: 40
Title: Monarch
Residence: Amman, Jordan
Country of citizenship: Jordan
Hometown: Kuwait City, Kuwait
Education: BA/BS, American University
Marital Status: Married
Children: 4

Profile

An international celebrity, Queen Rania has become known for her philanthropic work, eye for fashion and upbeat tweets to 1.6 million Twitter followers. The honorary chair of the United Nations Girls' Education Initiative is passionate about education and has led the effort in Jordan to improve classroom quality, teaching standards, computer access and family involvement. Her NGO, the Jordan River Foundation, which she established in 1995 and currently chairs, has partnered with companies like Citigroup and Royal Jordanian Airlines to rescue abused children and help families out of poverty. Earlier this year she faced harsh criticism from tribal leaders, who accused her of corruption and having undue political influence. Her children's book "The Sandwich Swap," advocating cultural tolerance, was published last year and quickly became a New York Times Best Seller.

Profile Gallery: Queen Rania (40 photos)

#63 Lubna S. Olayan

At a Glance

Age: 56
Title: CEO, Olayan Financing Company
Country of citizenship: Saudi Arabia
Education: BA/BS, Cornell University; MBA, Indiana University
Marital Status: Married
Children: 3

Profile

As CEO of Olayan Financing, the holding company for The Olayan Group's operations in the Middle East, Lubna Olayan oversees 40 companies engaged in product manufacturing, distribution and services. Olayan Financing is consistently listed among the top ten businesses in Saudi Arabia. In addition to her role as CEO, Olayan is a principal of The Olayan Group, a private multinational enterprise engaged in manufacturing, distribution and services, founded by her father in 1974. She credits her success to her late father, Suliman, who died in 2002; he encouraged her to join the family company in 1983 at a time when few women were welcomed in Saudi business. In 2005, Olayan co-chaired the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Fifteen Minutes of Power: Women Who (Briefly) Rocked 2011
Meghan Casserly, Forbes Staff
8/25/2011 @ 11:01

Manal al Sharif

The women’s rights activist, 32, inspired a June 2011 campaign to encourage Saudi Arabian women to defy the ban against women driving cars. She was arrested in May and bowed to the Saudi government, confirming she would not attempt to drive again. But her Youtube video was viewed hundreds of thousands of times and led to an internationally-watched day of defiance on June 17th.



Nawal El Saadawi

Women in Egypt clamored for equality even as their country weathered revolution. This fearless activist fought tirelessly—and captured headlines. What role will women play in a post-revolution Egypt?



Power Women: Women To Watch [in 2012]

Nashwa Al Ruwaini
CEO, Pyromedia, UAE Called the Oprah Winfrey of the Arab world. (Photo via Newscom)


Who would you add to the list?
Of which of these women were you aware previously?
What is your impression of each of these women?
How would you define power? women's power?
What are the stereotypes of powerful women in your experience?
Other comments, thoughts, impressions, experiences?

Related Posts:
فيميو Femeo: An Arabic-English Reference Point, Networking Site, and Community for Women Working in the Middle East


Saudi Arabian Boy Scouts Receive Praise for their Service to Umrah Pilgrims during Ramadan; Saudi Arabian Girl Scouts to Begin in Jeddah

Education Minister Prince Faisal bin Abdullah meets with Boy Scouts commanders in Makkah on Wednesday. (AN photo by Ahmed Hashad)

The article featured below celebrates the role of Saudi Arabian Boy Scouts in aiding pilgrims who arrive in Makkah during Ramadan to perform umrah (the little pilgrimage) as part of their spiritual focus during this holy month.

Boy Scouts' role in serving pilgrims commended
By BADEA ABU AL-NAJA | ARAB NEWS
Published: Aug 25, 2011 00:25 Updated: Aug 25, 2011 00:25

MAKKAH: Education Minister Prince Faisal bin Abdullah commended the services of scouts for pilgrims and visitors at the Grand Mosque during Ramadan.

He said the concept of scouts was inspired by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah’s endeavors in the services of humanity.

Speaking to scouts and officials in Makkah, the minister said King Abdullah linked humanitarian and voluntary work with dialogue. He said people all over the world have welcomed the king’s initiative despite cultural and religious differences.

He said the ministry would introduce a number of programs to strengthen the role of scouts and enable them to make greater contributions toward cultural and social development. “A special body will be formed to set out the new programs,” he added.

Hundreds of scouts have been involved in extending various services to the guests of God in Makkah. Authorities introduced the program in order to inject in the youth a spirit of service to the nation and providing humanitarian services.

A senior official described the services being rendered by scouts in Makkah and Madinah as the scouts organization’s best contribution, adding that it would enhance its credibility and reputation.

Prince Faisal also met with Bakr Basfar, director general of education in the Makkah province, Col. Yahya Al-Zahrani, commander of the Haram security forces, and Faiz Al-Shahri, supervisor of the scouts center in Makkah as well as a number of scouts commanders.

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The Scouting movement (Cubs- ages 7 to 12; Scouts- ages 12 to 16; Senior Scouts- ages 16 to 19; Rovers- ages 19 to 21) began informally with the arrival of American families in the 1940's to live and work in the Eastern Province. American Scouts developed direct international chapters, and then Saudi Arabian Boy Scouts was created in the early 60's.

From Wikipedia:

The Saudi Arabian Boy Scouts Association (SABSA, Arabic:  جمعية الكشافة العربية السعودية) is the national Scouting organization of Saudi Arabia. Scouting was officially founded in Saudi Arabia in 1961, though Scouting was active many years prior to the founding date, and became a member of the World Organization of the Scout Movement in 1963. It has 19,269 members (as of 2010).

In addition, there are American Boy Scouts in Dhahran, Riyadh, Jeddah, Ras Tanura, Udhailiyah, and Khamis, linked to the Direct Service branch of the Boy Scouts of America, which supports units around the world; as well as Boy Scouts of Scouts Canada in Riyadh.

The following article from 2010 gives some idea of the place of Scouting within contemporary Saudi society.


Scouts celebrate the National Day in Saudi Arabia
World Scout Information

Scouting was at the centre of the National Day celebrations recently in Saudi Arabia when the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia celebrated its 80th anniversary. The key celebration took place in Nejran Region and the Scouts were honoured by the presence of His Royal Highness, Prince Mishaal bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, Governor of Nejran Region and by the presence of His Highness Prince Faisal bin Abdullah, Minister of Education and Chief Scout of Saudi Arabia.

Four thousand Scouts celebrated the National day with a camp and Scouts of all ages from all over the country participated in a wide range of activities, e.g. community development, cultural, artistic, in the lead up to the event. The evening celebration in Nejran was a fantastic performance in the local stadium and was broadcast live on national television.


Scouting in Saudi Arabia receives strong support from the Government as it is seen as a key method of promoting citizenship and patriotism and helping to instill positive values and create a culture of tolerance and peace in young people. Scouting is also a way of helping young people in Saudi Arabia to experience other cultures in the world, through exchange visits and to welcome Scouts to experience life in Saudi Arabia. Recently a delegation of around 70 Scouts from Saudi Arabia participated in the World Scout Moot in Kenya.

King Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman Al-Saud in 2001, challenged Scouting to focus on peace which resulted in the Gifts for Peace programme for the Centenary of Scouting. The King continues to believe that Scouting can play a positive role in bringing peace to the world and a programme to build on the results, ‘Messengers of Peace’ is currently being discussed. A group of international leaders from NSOs that developed Gifts for Peace programmes were also invited to contribute to discussions on Messengers for Peace and share in the national celebrations.

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Though Girl Scouts began informally among American expats at the same time as Boy Scouts did, Saudia Arabian Girl Scouts are about to form an official National Society, base in Jeddah.

1st Girl Scouts society coming up in Jeddah

JEDDAH – The city will have the distinction of becoming the first in the Kingdom to have a National Society for Girl Scouts.

The society, to come up next year, will be under the Saudi Women Scouts team, reported Al-Watan Arabic newspaper Sunday.

The newspaper quoted Al-Anoud Al-Houti, head of the Saudi Women Scouts Team, as saying that a new building will be designated for the society. The future plans for her organization, she said, include setting up of a new scout team in the Eastern Province by the beginning of the next academic year and to prepare scout leaders and guides for participating in the National Day celebrations at King Abdullah University for Science and Technology after Ramadan.

She said the Women Scouts team is seeking to hold its second training course for schools. “The team seeks to hold training courses for 17 government schools and 13 private ones, with emphasis currently being on primary school girls,” she said. “The leaders at these schools have been chosen. They are teachers who are capable of carrying out the tasks of a scout leadership,” she added.

The Women Scouts team is also preparing to form a team of volunteers to offer all help to the citizens and the authorities in case of a disaster.

During the recent floods in Jeddah, the scouts could not offer any worthwhile work as “we were still in the planning stages,” Al-Houti said. However, all leader scouts offered necessary assistance to the flood victims in their individual capacities and as members of other societies. – SG

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The Saudi Arabian Girl Scouts were preceded by American Girl Scouts in Saudi Arabia, in the Eastern Province, organized by agreement of the Saudi government and Aramco in the 1940s. The following article gives an idea of the activities of these Girl Scouts in 1961, and of expat life in Aramco. While some expat compaints never change no matter the place, the country, or the era, the description gives a vivid image of some of the challenges and benefits of expat life in that time and place.


Scouting with a difference
Aramco World, April 1961

There's a unique challenge to Girl Scouting in the desert areas of eastern Saudi Arabia.

"Rise up old flame,

By thy light glowing;

Show us thy beauty,

Vision and joy . . ."

The song rose in the night silence and trailed along the wind blowing through the camp from the Gulf of Bahrain. The girls were happy. Their voices rang and they gazed into the campfire. Some leaned toward the flickering light; some rested back in the cooling Saudi Arabian sands. The stars winked brilliantly in the clear air. The song ended.

"Now?" one of the girls called out.

"Yeah. Time for the marshmallows," another yelled.

One by one they jumped up—twenty-one Girl Scouts with a single (hungry) thought. They gathered in a cluster. Their long shadows stretched off into darkness toward the dunes. Most of the girls had roasting sticks ready.

A counselor, the mother of one of the girls, came toward them from the white wall-tents that stood in a ghostly, moonlight quadrangle opened at one end. She had a large round tin in her hand, and she tugged at the lid. It looked like an oversized cake tin.

She came forward to the light of the campfire and pulled the lid away from the tin. A strange, musty odor arose. She tipped the tin toward the fire so that she could get a good look at the precious marshmallows.

"Oh, they're awful!" one of the girls moaned.

The marshmallows were covered with mold, and were, of course, inedible.

"And let me tell you," the mother recalled recently in her home in Dhahran, "you have never seen such disappointed kids in your life. They were crushed. The marshmallow roast had been the big topic for weeks before our camp-out. And by sheer luck I had found the tin in al-Khobar. Incidentally, the merchant was just as disappointed as we were. You see, the marshmallows had to come by boat from England, and they had spoiled on the long trip out here."

Another mother, leader of a Girl Scout group in Dhahran, shook her head over the story and added, laughingly: "Well, at least we don't have to worry about poison ivy and snakes out here."

And those are the two sides of the story of the Girl Scouts—about three hundred of them—in Saudi Arabia where their fathers work for Aramco—the Arabian American Oil Company.

High hopes come a-cropper. Long-range planning teeters on the tight-rope of short-range frustrations. Disappointments are offset by exotic surprises.

It's scouting with a difference.

For instance, to a Girl Scout in Ohio an Amir exists only in the world of story books. But out at the edge of the camp where the marshmallows had gone bad, there stood a tent where a rather special soldier was headquartered. He was there on duty through the courtesy of the Amir Saud ibn Jiluwi, the Governor (Amir) of the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. The soldier was from the Amir's own khawiya (guard).

And during the afternoon the girls had had a first-hand glimpse into ancient history when they had gone for a sail in a Saudi Arabian coastal dhow. The handsome, slanted lanteen rig and the high rise of the stern and bow of this traditional vessel have been little modified in the past two thousand years. It was the sturdy dhow that once made Arab ports the crossroads of world trade. As the girls sailed across Half Moon Bay, they moved before the wind and above the fitted timbers of the past.

Of course, scouting with a difference can lead to some un-anticipated grey hairs—for the parents of the girls who participate.

"Look," one housewife-scout leader remarked, "I used to walk to the corner dime store at home and buy a hundred things that you can't even find out here. I mean the simple odds and ends that you take for granted in planning parties and scouting projects. Thumb tacks, Crepe paper. Construction paper. Leather. And just try to get water-color or poster paper. Or textile paints," she added.

But, times change, and the bustling city of al-Khobar which serves the three big oil communities in Saudi Arabia—Dhahran, Ras Tanura and Abqaiq—has become a relative shoppers' paradise.

"It's not nearly as bad as it was when we started fourteen years ago. But still, we have to do an awful lot of improvising on cook-outs. We have been pretty good scroungers. The heavy wire trays from a lot of refrigerators and stoves did double duty over our outdoor fires."

Several thousand girls have gone through scouting in Saudi Arabia despite the fact that . . .

"It's terribly difficult to try to carry out a nature study program in a country where you can go for hundreds of miles, I guess, and not even see any of the ordinary vegetation you stumble over in Illinois," another Girl Scout leader observed.

The Wild Life Badge?

"Well, now there's a problem. Many of the plants out here aren't even identified," she added. "The Gardening Badge is hard to get, but a lot of girls have done it."

The Foot Traveller Badge?

The leader laughed. "You have to walk a total of one hundred miles in cities, parks and forests. A lot of our girls have only seen forests in picture books."

But in a world where the "rock hound" (geologist) is an important man, and where a lot of the fathers are geologists, the girls manage to build up quite a few points for the Rock and Mineral Badge. And they have found many exotic shells in their Salt Water Badge programs which make impressive additions to their collections.

"If we could only identify all of them," another mother remarked. "I remember a few years ago one of the leaders took a peculiar shell with her on a trip to London in order to get it identified at the British Museum."

Again, the girls, by scouting in an exotic and fabled land, are at the threshold of the long, long story of man. For fresh-water shells have been found in the inner gravel and sand wastes of the magnificent Rub' al-Khali ("The Empty Quarter") that indicate the ancient flow of forgotten rivers in this now arid nation.

On short hikes, cook-outs and field trips the Girl Scouts have been tantalized by finding animal tracks in dunes and along sandy plateaus that they just can't quite figure out. But they have seen gazelle, oryx and foxes running like the wind.

And, how many Girl Scouts in West Virginia have ridden a camel?

The comments that the mothers make about the strange problems of scouting thousands of miles from the nearest dime store have a curious sound. One cocks an ear for the sound of complaint. But it isn't there. Instead there is a tone of pride—the day-by-day, long-haul triumph of the pragmatist. It has taken great ingenuity and persistence "to keep the show on the road," as one mother put it.

The pay-off?

That's something that can't quite be measured. "Maybe I'm prejudiced," one of the pioneer leaders said, "but I think our girls have an unusual sense of responsibility."

A young housewife not many years out of college let out a whoop.

"Listen, I'm not too much older than some of these kids myself, and let me tell you that I didn't have anything like what they've got at their age. They're terrific."

Maybe that's measure enough. But in addition, there are four or five Curved Bars (the equivalent of the Boy Scout's Eagle Scout award) given to girls in Saudi Arabia each year. Patience and enthusiasm do pay off.

The big moment, in scouting anywhere are the camp-outs. In California or Georgia, in Minnesota or South Carolina, they're equally exciting. In Saudi Arabia they're not only exciting—they're singular. For only one can be held each year in each of the three communities where the girls live. A camp-out in Saudi Arabia is an extremely complicated undertaking that involves many of the 150 fathers and mothers who are active in scouting.

The mothers start the concrete planning right after Christmas for the April vacation camp-out. The phrase "April vacation" would puzzle a scout from Texas. But the American schools in Saudi Arabia are on the trimester plan: three months of classes, one month's vacation (April, August and December are the vacation months).

The fathers help hoist the wall-tents at the camp-site and drive out the firewood and water. Incidentally, the girls practice very careful "water discipline." They know the perils of the desert sun, and they know how to save every drop of water. A mother who is a registered nurse with camp experience oversees their medical care.

The girls plan their own menus ahead of time and buy their own food. The mothers have been slightly startled by the good sense and balance of the menus.

A few years ago the girls were turned loose to buy whatever camp equipment they could find in al-Khobar, a city where the merchants are inured to the Middle East's love of bargaining.

"You never saw anything like it," a leader commented. "These kids went in with a smattering of Arabic plus their English, and they scoured the town for the best prices. They really had the merchants wondering what was going on as they trooped from store to store."

Their Arabic is a collection of useful words they pick up from Saudi schoolmates and friends. Some of it, of course, is slang.

When the Dhahran girls rendezvous the morning they leave for camp, they urge the bus drivers to hommy, hommy (hurry, hurry). They have a zain (good) time at the camp at Half Moon Bay because there is wajid (a lot of) swimming. After three days when it is time to break camp, they urge the counselors to shway, shway (take it easy, don't be in a rush). The older girls, with junior high nonchalance, aren't always impressed by the camping achievements of the younger scouts. Kulla wahid (all is one or, so what?) Hadn't they done as much when they were kids?

A familiar splotch of color at the camp-out is the Aramco green and white flight bag. Aramco families are great travelers. Some of the Girl Scouts tour Europe and the Far East as casually as their sister scouts in Pennsylvania go to New York or Washington. They have seen the "one world" of modern man; they don't have to learn from a book that it exists.

And their scouting gives them first-hand experience in world citizenship. Like Girl Scouts everywhere they obey ten laws, one of which says, "A Girl Scout is a friend to all and a Sister to every other Girl Scout." Their sisters in scouting include some of their Saudi Arab school chums. During community ceremonies the Girl Scout color guard bears aloft the Saudi Arabian, the American, and the Girl Scout flags. This year Saudi Arab girls will have advanced far enough in scouting to carry the flag of their country (green and white with beautiful calligraphy) when the colors are arrayed.

As guests and friends of their Saudi Arab sisters, the American girls have found an ideal outlet for their community service ambitions. Several years ago they "adopted" the Dar-El-Tifl refugee Arab orphanage in Palestine. The various Girl Scout groups raise money (they collected $700 one year), round up toys, and gather and ship clothing for the refugee orphans.

Each year one of the fathers drives the radio security car to the camp-out. He then turns it over to a trained counselor, who can get in touch instantly with the Senior Staff Camp at Dhahran in case of emergency. (The famous scouting "buddy system" used everywhere for swimming is also applied by the Scouts in Saudi Arabia to scavenger hunts that take the girls onto desert and dunes.)

"We've only used radio contact once," a leader said recently. "And then, thank goodness, it turned out to be sort of funny. We were on a cook-out and a huge cloud of gnats closed in. We radioed for insect spray. But we must have sounded frantic. They arrived with fifty cans of spray. But wouldn't you know, by that time the gnats were gone."

Scouting with a difference—wajid difference.

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The Saudi Arabian Girl Scouts were also preceeded by the arrival in Saudi of the first Girl Scout Cookies, in 1950.


Girl Scout Cookies Arrive in Arabia
3 August 2009
In Search Of Oil
by Aramco ExPats

In 1950, the Girl Scout Cookie sale came to Saudi Arabia for the first time.

In the photograph below, fourteen-year old Mariner, Louise Snyder of Stamford, Connecticut, gives cartons of cookies to her father, L.M. Snyder, Vice-President of Arabian American Oil Company, to deliver to the Girl Scouts in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, 9000 miles away. Mrs. D.S. Fink, co-leader of the Girl Mariners Troop 25 of Stamford looks on. Mr. Snyder is shown boarding the “Camel”, Aramco’s plane at Idlewild Airport in New York.


Arriving in 1940, Louise Snyder was one of the first American children in Dhahran. Here she is with her dolls in her backyard.


Louise, her brother Miles and her mother Dorothy had to leave Arabia after the Italian bombing of Dhahran and World War II. They returned in 1945. Here is Louise on her bike in 1947. In the background is the outdoor theater/tennis courts and behind them the light poles of the King’s Road ballpark.


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In Canada we have Girl Guides (who also sell cookies!!!), and Brownies (ages 7-10, before Girl Guides) (who also sell cookies!!!). I was a Brownie for a year about age 9. I enjoyed it, especially getting out from under the toad stool and becoming a full Brownie!

I also remember it was my first experience of mothers carpooling--some were ruder than others about my living one block farther than the rest--and of marching in a parade. The latter was one of those childhood experiences of parents, and especially fathers, knowing everything. Like what an Amouries is, where to find the Armouries downtown, how to drive there, where to go in,  how to march.

I did sell cookies. I am not a salesperson. However, I was brave enough to go to the door of the foreboding looking house where the supposedly fearsome old lady (read, must therefore be a witch) lived. I don't recall her kidnapping and tormenting any of us though. I also don't recall how many boxes of cookies she bought.


Although there have been critics of the Scouting movement, seeing it as too paramilitary, too nationalistic, and too Christian, most often children around the world and of all origins gain a positive experience of organized play and sports with others beyond their immediate circles, acquire skills and feel a sense of accomplishment through earning badges and participating in new activities, and have opportunities for leadership training and practice, as they collaborate with peers or mentor young members. They also do get an appreciation for civic responsibilities and volunteer work.

In this sense, I think it is a good thing for both Saudi boys and girls (and their adult men and women mentors) to have these experiences in a culturally appropriate way. Helping with umrah is one, helping during the seemingly annual Jeddah floods is another. These experiences may well translate into other leadership roles, or participation in other civic minded volunteer organizations, like the YIG (Young Initiative Group)  or "Warmth": The National Winter Initiative دفء: المبادرة الوطنية.

Were you part of a Scouting organization as a child?
In what country?
What was your experience like?
If not, do you wish you had been?
Would you, did you send your own children to participate?
Cookie preference?
What do you think are the broader implications of a national Scouting movement?
Other comments, thoughts, impressions, experiences?

Related Posts:
Saudi Arabia's Needy and Winter--"Warmth": The National Winter Initiative دفء: المبادرة الوطنية للشتاء

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Last 10 Days of Ramadan and Lailat Al-Qadr (27 Ramadan): Times of Special Prayers and Recitation

Aerial pictures of the Grand Mosque and surrounding areas taken by Arab News photographer Ahmed Hashad on Saturday night. (AN photos)

Last year I did a number of posts related to the final 10 days of Ramadan, and Lailat Al-Qadr (the Night of Power). These days are particularly important during Ramadan, because it is during this time that the Qur'an was revealed to the Prophet Mohamed, though uncertain which exact day was the first revelation of the Qur'an 21, 23, 25, 27, 29.

These final 10 days are marked by increased spirituality, prayers, and a nightly recitation of each of 10 segments of the Qur'an such that the whole of the Qur'an has been completely recited over the 10 days. Some Muslims will have read or recited the Qur'an over the 30 days of Ramadan or, in a more intense manner, over 7 days, as part of their spiritual renewal during this holy month.

While voluntary Taraweeh are additional Ramadan night prayers throughout the month, on 21 Ramadan special voluntary night prayers, Salat Tahajjud تهجد‎, begin, usually at about midnight, after obligatory Isha prayers. Recitation of the Qur'an forms a part of these later night prayers.

Night prayers, salat-ul-layl, are collectively called Qiyamullail prayers--Qiyam’,to stand (in prayer); ‘Layl’, night. Prayer during these last 10 days of Ramadan is thought to have greater spiritual force, and greater chance of recompense than prayers at other times of the Islamic year.

The 3 articles following describe both the beauty of performing these prayers, and the logistical challenges in Saudi Arabia of accommodating all those, whether Saudi or Umrah pilgrims from other countries, who wish to perform these prayers at the Grand Mosque in Makkah, the city where the Qur'an was first revealed to the Prophet Mohamed.

All of the photos accompanied the first article, which also describes how they were taken, on 21 Ramadan this year.


Worshippers throng mosques for 'qiyamullail'
By BADEA ABU AL-NAJA & MD RASOOLDEEN | ARAB NEWS
Published: Aug 21, 2011 22:27 Updated: Aug 21, 2011 22:39

MAKKAH/RIYADH: The Grand Mosque in Makkah is filled to the brim with worshippers these days as hundreds of thousands of pilgrims have come from all over the world to perform Umrah and attend taraweeh and qiyamullail prayers, seeking the blessings of Lailat Al-Qadr (night of power).

The Civil Defense department in Makkah gave Arab News a rare opportunity to take aerial photos of the Grand Mosque on the 21st night of Ramadan on Saturday sitting in their helicopter and at the initiative of Maj. Gen. Muhammad Al-Harbi, commander of aviation in the Kingdom.

The S92 model helicopter was piloted by Capt. Abdul Aziz Al-Dhufyan and 1st Lt. Ziyad Al-Otaibi.

The helicopter had come from Jeddah and was flying at a height of 4,000 feet at a speed of 80 knots.

The trip covered the central region of Makkah and the Arab News photographer was able to take shots of the whole of Makkah from various angles. The camera focused on the newly established Makkah Clock on the King Abdul Aziz Endowment Tower.

The helicopter flew over the Misfala, Kuday, Ajyad, Hafair, Hajoun and Aziziya areas that were crowded with vehicles carrying pilgrims and worshippers. The pilots gave instructions to Civil Defense ground staff based on information they had on traffic in various parts of the city.

The trip on the helicopter, which is mainly engaged in search, rescue and fire extinguishing operations and airlifting patients, took about an hour and half. The plane can carry up to 22 people.

As the holy month of Ramadan entered its final phase of 10 days Saturday, mosques in all parts of the Kingdom began holding qiyamullail prayers.

"The special prayers are conducted during the last 10 days of Ramadan from 1 a.m.," Mohammed Obaidullah, imam at Sheebani mosque in Nasseriyah district in Riyadh, told Arab News.

The last ten days of Ramadan are more significant, since the Holy Qur’an was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) on Lailat Al-Qadr. The imam said that good deeds of the worshippers would be richly rewarded.

To enable worshippers to find a comfortable atmosphere inside the worshipping places, private establishments that had been contracted to maintain mosques throughout the Kingdom have geared up their staff to be on duty throughout the night to ensure smooth supply of power and water.

Extensive arrangements have been made in all mosques to accommodate the additional number of worshippers during this period. Sequel to a directive issued by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Endowments, Call and Guidance, mosques will be kept open for worshippers throughout the night during the last 10 days of the holy month.

The imam said the mosques were kept open for public at nights for them to recite the Holy Qur’an and perform voluntary prayers.

According to the circular, imams of all mosques in the Kingdom were instructed to keep the places of worship tidy and to ensure adequate and uninterrupted supplies of power and water during the holy month to meet the requirements of the increased number of Muslims who go for Taraweeh prayers, which follow the regular Isha prayers.

Improvised partitions were built in mosques that do not have separate prayer halls for women.

Sermons at the Friday prayers focused on the significance of Lailat Al-Qadr. Welcoming the day of Lailat Al-Qadr, an imam at a mosque in Malaz district in Riyadh appealed to the people to strictly adhere to the teachings of the Qur’an and the traditions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) during this period. "This is a golden opportunity for Muslims to get bounty of rewards, since worshippers in the Kingdom will have adequate time because of the Ramadan holidays," the imam stressed.

A maintenance contractor who looks after more than 1,500 mosques in the capital told Arab News that his company had instructed his labor force to work in the mosques till late during this period. "These workers are expected to keep the worshipping places spick and span, ensure smooth supply of water and power, and illuminate the places."

Around 10 laborers work in large mosques, while small mosques are manned by two workers. Some 5,000 mosques are maintained by the department of mosques at the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Endowments, Call and Guidance headquartered in Riyadh.

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Civil Defense SMS seeks to avoid overcrowding in Grand Mosque
By ARAB NEWS
Published: Aug 24, 2011 23:57 Updated: Aug 25, 2011 00:28

JEDDAH: The Civil Defense Department is sending warning messages to people in the Kingdom through SMS, telling them to perform their compulsory prayers in their local mosques instead of the Grand Mosque in Makkah, which is overflowing with worshippers.

"We would like to inform you that the Grand Mosque and its surrounding courtyards are filled with worshippers. For your safety we advise you to go to your nearest mosque to compulsory prayers," the department said in a message.

During the last 10 days of the holy month of Ramadan, the Grand Mosque receives hundreds of thousands of faithful from the Kingdom and around the world who come to perform Umrah and attend taraweeh and qiyamullail prayers, seeking the blessings of Lailat Al-Qadr (the night of power).

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Mataf entry restricted to Umrah pilgrims on peak Ramadan nights
By ARAB NEWS
Published: Aug 25, 2011 00:25 Updated: Aug 25, 2011 00:28

MAKKAH: People not wearing ihram will not be allowed to enter the mataf (area of circumambulation) of the Grand Mosque on the night of Ramadan 27, widely believed to be Lailat Al-Qadr (night of power), Al-Madinah newspaper reported Wednesday quoting a senior security official.

Commander of the Grand Mosque police Col. Yahya Al-Zahrani said ordinary worshippers who come to the Haram for prayer or attend the conclusion of the recitation of the Holy Qur'an on the 29th night would be directed to the roof, the basement and the plazas outside the mosque.

"This arrangement is made to avoid congestion on the nights of the 27 and 29 and to make it easier for pilgrims to perform their Umrah," he said.

Al-Zahrani said the police force responsible for the security of the Grand Mosque has been reinforced to include 1,600 policemen, 29 officers and 2,800 cadets.

He said the Grand Mosque is being monitored around the clock by 750 surveillance cameras planted in different location inside and outside the mosque.

Al-Zahrani noted that theft cases were fewer this year in the Grand Mosque area and attributed this to the cameras, the fingerprinting system at the airports and cooperation between police in Saudi Arabia and those countries sending pilgrims.

Meanwhile, the Tawafa Department at the Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques Affairs has warned unlicensed pilgrim guides not to work in the Grand Mosque.

Director of the department Yousuf bin Muhammad Al-Suwailam said officials were closely monitoring pilgrim guides working in the holy mosque and said those without proper permits would be punished.

There are about 600 guides in the Grand Mosque accompanying pilgrims during the circumambulation around the Ka’aba (tawaf) and the saie, the ritual walk between the mounts of Safa and Marwah.

Al-Suwailam asked pilgrims to spend their time at the Grand Mosque in prayer and advised them against crowding near the Black Stone.

He said the voluntary prayer after performing the tawaf can be done anywhere in the Grand Mosque, not necessarily near Maqam Ibrahim.

Al-Suwailam asked pilgrims and visitors to submit their complaints and observations to the department’s office near Bilal Gate (No. 6).

**********

Related Posts:
Lailat al Qadr, The Night of Power: Quranic Revelation, Prayer, Forgiveness, and The Final 10 Days of Ramadan
Lailat Al Qadr: Praying Taraweeh at "Ground Zero Mosque" / Cordoba House / Park51 NYC
The Quran: Part I--The Revelation of the Recitation (Ramadan 610-632); A Book of Revelations
The Quran: Part II--For New Readers and Readers Anew
Ramadan 2010---As the Month Comes to a Close

Your comments, thoughts, impressions, experiences?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

فيميو Femeo: An Arabic-English Reference Point, Networking Site, and Community for Women Working in the Middle East


This post has been in draft form since I first learned of Femeo (March 3, 2011), and was extremely impressed with the idea and execution of the bilingual (English; Arabic) website, a project within Bayt.com (a prominent Middle East job site) that is specifically aimed at working (Arab) women in the Middle East. The delay in posting has everything to do with circumstances unrelated to the quality of the site. Indeed, I am particularly inspired to post it now, as the September "beginning of term" looms all too near.

Some excerpts from the original announcement by Roba Al-Assi, a designer at Bayt.com and a creator of Femeo:

At Bayt.com, our main goal is to empower people in the region to help them lead the lifestyle of their choice. The MENA region, unfortunately, has the worst track record in the world for women in the workplace, which obviously reflects on society in general. Here is a World Bank report about the topic... 

We are launching Femeo, a community aiming to help and empower working women in the Middle East. We offer daily tips and advice, a networking section, and Career Assessments. It is available in both Arabic and English.


The service is a 100% free to any woman who is interested,...


Throughout my own education, training, and career, I have benefitted from excellent mentors, colleagues, and friends, men and women, of various races, ethnicities, religions, professional affiliations, and positions within their respective hierarchies. There have been times, however, when greater specificity is beneficial, in terms of understanding better the exact circumstances of my career context in time and place; and, there have been times when a feminist (broadly defined) perspective and community is the best explanatory model, resource, and source of possible solutions.

It is in this dual spirit, general and specific, that I appreciate the value of Femeo for women, Arab or not, working in the Middle East, and more broadly for working/career women. The advice articles are of high quality, and broadly applicable beyond their specificities. At the same time, there are those special considerations for women working in the Middle East, and their challenges and opportunities. There are self-assessment tools that give concrete considerations for self-evaluation.


The site also serves as a sharing and networking place for women to find a sense of community. Overall, Femeo provides that all important sense that "I am not alone", and "I am not insane, even thought it might feel that way at times, and although there are elements of 'insanity' around me".

It has also been my experience that there are well-intended men who may be trying to help a woman family member or friend to negotiate her career, or in a management position with women subordinates, colleagues, and superiors, or in a mentoring position with professional women, who would benefit from the insights to be gained on Femeo. Additionally, as is often the case, career advice is usually broadly applicable to both genders.


I strongly encourage women and men to check out Femeo!

Related Posts:
Lingerie in Saudi and Social Activism
More Lingerie in Saudi Arabia--Bought Elsewhere!
Saudi Women's Work: Domestic Artists to Working Artisans
Saudi Arabia Takes the Gold! In MVA’s, RTA’s, Car Accidents/ Fatalities/ Injuries [on teachers braving long, dangerous commutes to work]
On Women Driving, in the West and Saudi; Other Parameters of Women's Quality of Life; Hope for Change [the relationships among education, work, and driving]
Saudi Women Driving Garners Attention; Saudi Women's Education Brings Substantive Change--Including to Driving [the relationships among education, work, and driving]
Who Says Saudi Women Don't Want to Work?

Your comments, thoughts, impressions, experiences?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Inevitability of a Victory for the Arab Spring--The Doha Debates Chez Chiara


This Doha Debate was held on May 30, 2011, closing out the 2010-2011 series of Doha Debates. It was a fitting topic for a series that switched from a fall and winter schedule of topics fundamental to the Arab world to the events of the Arab Spring, holding the February 2011 debate in newly sprung Tunis, Tunisia, and the March debate at the AUC Tahrir Square Campus, in Cairo, Egypt. April's debate returned to Qatar, but the topic was Libya and NATO.

I would like to introduce the rest of the 2010-11 Doha Debates here, for readers to discuss and debate, as the topics seem to fit best. I do think that with the events of the late spring and summer 2011 throughout MENA--some discouraging, some encouraging--that this topic of the inevitability of a victory for the Arab Spring uprisings across the region is a good one to debate at this time.

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, where available, 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 resistance to the Arab Spring is futile


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. The old regimes in Egypt and Tunisia may have been swept away, but elsewhere in the Arab world a number of governments are fighting for their survival. Repression, violence and intimidation have been their weapons of choice, but with varying results. Tonight we look at their chances of survival. How effective has brutality been in Yemen, in Syria or in Bahrain? Have those and other governments fought off the challenge to their leadership, or are they fatally wounded from within? Has their reputation been badly damaged, and will the international community ever accept them back into the fold? All questions that lie at the heart of our motion: "This House believes that resistance to the Arab Spring is futile." Our panellists are, as usual, deeply divided.

Speaking for the motion


Anouar Boukhars teaches international relations at McDaniel College in the US, specialising in the politics of the Middle East and US foreign policy. He is a former fellow at the Brookings Doha Center and current consultant for Jane’s Intelligence Review. In September 2010 he published a book on democratisation and the process of political reform in Morocco.

ANOUAR BOUKHARS
Thanks, Tim. Pleasure to be here. Ladies and gentlemen, the Arab street has finally risen from its anguish. This extraordinary Arab awakening has demolished a myth that Arabs are doomed to be fatalistic losers, that their cultural mindset and political traditions are unsuited to democracy. The sight of millions of pro-democracy protesters from Libya to Yemen to Syria braving tanks and riot squads and the regime thugs in expressing the determination to replicate the historic feats of their counterparts in Tunisia and Egypt has set these preconceptions on fire. Sceptics of Arab democracy see the triumph of pro-democracy forces as unlikely, insecure, as transient. The moment that normalcy returns to the streets of Cairo and other major metropolitan areas in the Arab world, we are told, freedom fever will lose its steam. The battle lines of the future will resemble eerily those of the past. But the reality we are witnessing today in the Arab world is that the orthodoxies of the past do not hold much appeal in a region where youth aspire for a better life, for a life of dignity, development and freedom. Make no mistake about it, this period of historic change in the Arab world will not be short, nor will it be easy, nor will it be without setbacks. There will be ups and downs in the months and years ahead. But the forces of change driven by technology, demographics and youth have been unleashed and there is no going back. With very few exceptions, every society in the Arab world today is feeling the pressure for political change. hatever the outcome in the protracted conflicts in Libya, Syria and Yemen it's almost certain that these countries will look different in the years to come. Those regimes that have chosen to dig in or try to reassert their authoritarian controls will find only temporary reprieve. Experience, theory and history tells us that regimes who have lost their legitimacy cannot survive. [...] And the legitimacy of the Syrian, Libyan and Yemeni dictators is totally spent. So they will be overthrown, if not now, then in the coming years. Thank you.


Nadim Houry is Human Rights Watch’s researcher for Syria and Lebanon. Previously, he worked as deputy counsel for the UN investigation into the UN Oil-for-Food Programme (the Volcker Commission) and as a lawyer at Shearman & Sterling.

NADIM HOURY
Sure. Look, no one likes to give up power on their own and definitely not dictators in this region, who have gotten used to sit at the throne for more than thirty or in some cases forty years. They're not going to give in without a fight. That is a fact. But what is going on here? What are the forces behind the Arab Spring? First, the wall of fear is falling down in the region. The wall of fear that has kept people from challenging authority, that has kept people from questioning their dictators - we're seeing those cracks in countries like Syria, where a few months ago it would have been impossible and people in cafés in Damascus would whisper. Two, what we're seeing is a collective yearning from deep down for things like freedom, social justice and a more representational form of government. And finally what we're seeing, again, a very powerful force that my colleague talked about is a coming of age of a younger generation - people like you in the audience, who represent a big demographic bulge in our societies and who got tired of being marginalized. Now, what do you have in front of that powerful mix? You have dictators who've been around for thirty, forty years. Yes, in some countries they still have the loyalty of their troops, but that's it. They are in free-fall. They have already lost legitimacy. You know, President Assad can no longer go shop in Paris. They have already lost a lot of their internal support. Their violent crackdown is destroying their economy and soon they will find it hard to pay those salaries of those soldiers and security forces that they need to keep on their side. Frankly, they are relying on some countries in the region, like Saudi Arabia and others, who seem to be bankrolling the counter-revolution. But that's not going to help all countries the same way. The train has left the station. Of course it's going to take time. Yes, we all got used to Twitter, we all got used to sort of instant change; but you can't change countries that have been in the icebox for thirty, forty years in a week, in two months or in three months. [...] And just because these uprisings are encountering some form of resistance - resistance that was expected - let's not minimise the dynamic nature of these movements, the courage of the protesters and the wind behind their sail. Because I am convinced that they will succeed.

Speaking against the motion


Jane Kinninmont is the Senior Research Fellow on the Middle East and North Africa Programme at the leading UK think tank, Chatham House. Previously, she was Associate Director for Middle East and Africa at the Economist Intelligence Unit. As a journalist, she has written extensively on the Middle East and won an award from the Next Century Foundation's International Media Council in 2006 for her coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

JANE KINNINMONT
My colleague and I would like to make it very clear from the outset that we support people's rights. We do not support repression. But in addressing this motion we think that we need to be realistic. Democracy for the Arab region is possible and I believe it is desirable. But it is not inevitable, at least not in the foreseeable future. It would be wonderful if we could see united, popular movement peacefully persuading rulers to say yes to reforms and to embark on real, meaningful democratic transitions. But what we're already seeing in most countries in the region is looking very different. There already is, and there will be further, intense resistance from governments, who have many tools to draw on. Other groups too will be resistant to change, including members of ruling parties, business elites who are gaining from the status quo, sometimes foreign powers and anyone who feels that they will be losers from democracy. In Egypt and Tunisia a key factor was not only the unprecedented solidarity of the opposition but also the solidarity between the army on the streets and the people on the streets. Rulers were not able in those situations to really go through with the use of brute force. But force can work. It's interesting that we see more Arab countries today recruiting for their security forces overseas. Brute force can be particularly effective if it's combined with divisions in society - ideological, tribal, ethnic or religious. We are seeing those divisions being exploited, particularly in Syria, Libya and in Bahrain. We saw this also in Iraq in 1991, where Saddam Hussein did manage to buy himself another twelve years in power. There will be a huge amount of propaganda and disinformation designed to exploit those decisions. But there is a difference between the short term and the long term. From a ruler's point of view, a few more years in power may seem worth it, but the national interest of these countries will be better served by allowing peaceful reform and trying to build a consensus behind it in society. Thank you.


Ahmed Ali al-Mukhaini is an independent researcher in political development and human rights. He is the Vice Principal of the Said al Shahry Legal Training Center in Oman and prior to this was the Assistant Secretary General for Information at the Majlis a’Shura . Recently, he has been actively involved in empowering civil society in Oman as a consultant for Tawasul Global Connections Center, the first local think tank in Oman.

AHMED ALI AL-MUKHAINI
Thank you, Tim. And ladies and gentlemen, I thank the honourable gentlemen on the other side of the House for paving the way for our argument. We, my colleague and I, do believe that this is not a call for repression; it's a call for realistic reading on the ground. And we should not lump all the Arab countries together. Each country has to be treated differently. But we do believe that government resistance to the Arab Spring is not futile - it will bear fruit. Because of four reasons: Socially we do not have social structures that will absorb and build up the momentum in order to achieve the critical mass to effect change. And all the demands have been portrayed either as the demands of the ungrateful or foreign collaborators - and both of them have driven people away and discouraged the wagon to be actually joined. Economically - my colleague talked about economics - economically the GCC countries will fund all the resistance in the Arab world. They will not allow role models to exist. And they will be able to give more hand-outs or offer more jobs. Thirdly, they can make everything lawful. They can make laws, they can amend laws, they can actually manipulate the judiciary, and will make everything lawful. So they have the tools and they would know how to deal with it. And finally, politically we are dealing with animals that are very much endangered and they would use their survival instinct. They will be merciless. They will devour everything in front of them. There will be no time for values. And if you want to see more bloodshed, then that's what you're going to see. And if I may end my introduction here: let's not rely on the European Union or the States, or any external forces. They are manipulated, they have been, they will be. Thank you.

Audience Input


Using the Syrian example, with new technology and social media, governments can no longer hide the truth, and no one can stop the protesters revealing the truth
AUDIENCE (M)
I'm Syrian. In the past regimes, the governments used to kill their citizens brutally without anyone knowing the massacres across the years. People around the world now know the truth behind their own governments. Every person with a mobile phone is now a reporter, a reporter to truth to the world - just like the situation in Syria. People worldwide are now aware of the situation. The human activists are now ready to fight for the people there.
TIM SEBASTIAN
Okay, so you're coming to a question?
AUDIENCE (M)
People are now protesting because truth is now unveiled. No one can stop them, because now governments will think twice before they act anything, because whatever they will do it will be shown in future.
TIM SEBASTIAN
Okay, Jane Kinninmont, do you want to react to that?
JANE KINNINMONT
I agree it's very important. It's very hard now for governments to cover up crimes. But there is a huge battle of information, of propaganda, in the traditional and in the social media. There are pro-regime Syrians going around the world telling people that everything you see has been faked by activists or is a conspiracy by foreign satellite channels that we could name. So it's not clear yet who is winning that battle for ideas. And I think, again, in that space there's going to be very, very fierce resistance.
NADIM HOURY
But let's be honest here. Who is believing Syrian state TV? I dare anyone in this room to watch Syrian state TV for one hour without cringing. No one is. You know, when they actually - they don't even..
TIM SEBASTIAN
Why don't we ask them. Why don't we ask them? You've posed a question. Does anybody here believe Syrian state TV?
NADIM HOURY
Well, first of all, who would actually watch Syrian state TV? [Laughter]
AUDIENCE (M)
No one. No one.
TIM SEBASTIAN
That might be a better question!
NADIM HOURY
Well, thank you very much - they've just made my point.
TIM SEBASTIAN
Let me go back to the questioner here. Because your claim is that whoever controls the social media is going to control power in the end?
AUDIENCE (M)
Yes. What I'm saying is that if you have a mobile phone and you can press a button that would send it to another country which show the truth, this is a deathening [sic] tool to the regime. Because you're showing the truth.
TIM SEBASTIAN
So in the end the regimes, you're saying, can't resist this?
AUDIENCE (M)
Yes.
AHMED ALI AL-MUKHAINI
But, you see, you can mobilise people, but if these people do not fall into organised movement, you know, it's just a futile exercise. I mean, they will come, they'll put it in motion, you know, we'll feel happy about what they've done - but eventually that's it.
TIM SEBASTIAN
Tahrir Square wasn't a futile exercise, was it?
AHMED ALI AL-MUKHAINI
What, sorry?
TIM SEBASTIAN
Tahrir Square in Cairo was not a futile exercise, was it?
AHMED ALI AL-MUKHAINI
Well, do you know how many times they actually mobilised people in that month alone? There were two thousand attempts, two thousand attempts in Egypt alone that month, to actually have a revolution. And they were crushed over and over again, until they managed to accept the truth.
TIM SEBASTIAN
And they keep coming back. And they keep coming back everywhere.
ANOUAR BOUKHARS
You're absolutely right. I mean, there is no denial that an Arab public sphere has emerged that is based on this blend of, you know, internet and at the same time also print technologies and that within that public sphere Arabs have discovered their political voice. So that's where the strength, I think, of these technologies in addition to other elements. Because this is not a Twitter...
AHMED ALI AL-MUKHAINI
It will take time! Very long time. People have suffered political starvation for forty years. Decades of political starvation. And you expect them...
TIM SEBASTIAN
Doesn't mean they haven't been thinking does it?
AHMED ALI AL-MUKHAINI
That's a different story. People can think. They can dream. Daydreaming is a very..
TIM SEBASTIAN
They're doing more than that in Egypt and Tunisia and Syria and Yemen and Bahrain. They're doing more than thinking.
AHMED ALI AL-MUKHAINI
Daydreaming has been proven to be the main cause for depression. Daydreaming is the main cause for depression.
NADIM HOURY
Well, look, I'm sorry, let me just jump in here.
TIM SEBASTIAN
Okay, just one more point, and then I'm going to move on, because there are lots of questions.
NADIM HOURY
Okay. Yeah, just I wanted to clarify something. So what the other side would have you believe is, because there are no existing structures, no well-established political parties, transitions cannot happen. Well, you know what that sounds like? Like the argument the regimes are painting: "Well, there are no alternatives. It's only us - it's Mubarak or chaos. It's Assad or chaos." Well, that's not true. Who's to blame for not having a political party?
AHMED ALI AL-MUKHAINI
[Inaudible]
NADIM HOURY
No, who's to blame for not having a political party? If they want the structure, everyone would be in jail and there would have been no uprising. Yes, it is a challenge. No one is underestimating the difficulty of the transition. Again, you are getting something out of the icebox and sticking it in a microwave after forty years.
AHMED ALI AL-MUKHAINI
We're talking about the time being.
TIM SEBASTIAN
Okay, let him come back on this.
AHMED ALI AL-MUKHAINI
We're talking about the time being. The time being, any resistance will not be futile; it will succeed. If you talk about ten years from now, perhaps - different generation, different people, different interests. But..


Tailoring the revolutions to each country, like Syria and Yemen, and what about after overthrowing the regime
AUDIENCE (M)
I'm from Yemen. Mr. Houry, you have said that this Arab Spring includes overthrowing dictators, regime change and so on. But in fact the Spring has taken a different swing and does not adapt to the prospective systems only taken one way, which is overthrowing dictators. Each revolution now has followed the same procedure that is taken in Egypt and Tunisia and it has been proven that it's not effective as we can see nowadays in Syria and Yemen. What is your comment regarding just following one Spring one way, even though we all want to find the revolution that adapts this prospective country? But if we ask anybody in this revolution, you know, square: you ask them, "What are you doing, what are you here for?" they say, "Overthrowing my president." And then what happens afterwards?
TIM SEBASTIAN
Okay, all right. Nadim Houry, come in there, please.
NADIM HOURY
Sure. No, actually I don't agree with your characterisation. Yes, there's the Egypt and Tunisia model, but there's also the Morocco, Jordan model, where, you know, suddenly we saw concessions that were offered. There's the Oman model as well where, you know, it's taking time but suddenly reforms are being accelerated. And let's go back to Syria, because this is one country that I know very well. It did not start along those models. I mean, the demands of people in the streets in Syria at the beginning were for gradual change, for reforms that President Assad had been promising for eleven years and had failed to deliver. It's the only one...
TIM SEBASTIAN
A popular president.
NADIM HOURY
Sorry?
TIM SEBASTIAN
A popular president.
NADIM HOURY
Initially a very popular president. But when the demands started escalating, when those promises were actually materialising on the streets by bullets by the security forces and the army. And yes, when you shoot at people their demands are going to increase. So, you know, I'm not going to fault the Syrian protesters or the Yemeni protesters, who have been incredibly patient with the violence of their regime. Initially they all wanted... You know, those presidents or those kings could be a Juan Carlos of Spain, but they chose to be a Ceauşescu of Romania. And if they keep going down that route, unfortunately they're going to end up like Ceauşescu. So better take the Ben Ali route and go and spend your retirement in Saudi Arabia.
TIM SEBASTIAN
Okay, Jane Kinninmont, do you want to come in on it?
JANE KINNINMONT
I think we haven't seen everybody calling for the outright overthrow of existing systems. In Bahrain and in Oman the vast majority of protesters have been calling for reforms under the monarchy, for constitutional monarchy. In Bahrain a minority called for the overthrow of the regime. I'd like to come back on what you're saying. I don't think we are trying to say that it's only autocracy or chaos; I think there's a huge menu of different options for constitutional monarchy, for democracy with, there's so many different models, even in Europe. This region will find its own variety of models. But what the Bahrain case does show you that's interesting is that the government has been quite successful in portraying the uprising internally as being an Islamist revolutionary movement, by taking the most extreme voices and pretending that they are representative of the whole. And in Bahrain you're seeing more people turning state TV back on and deciding that the international media is all hugely biased and only State media tells them what they want to hear, and they're watching it again.


The Arab Spring protests are pro-democracy and succeed in the end
AUDIENCE (F)
The opposition has claimed repeatedly that they are pro-democracy. But isn't that what the Arab Spring is all about? The Arab Spring is a movement for democracy and for reform. So how is it futile, how is resistance to the Arab Spring futile? You said so yourself that, yes, in the Egyptian case there were several protests and they were crushed, but they succeeded in the end. So how is it futile exactly?
AHMED ALI AL-MUKHAINI
Well, it's futile because of many reasons. I mean, the discussion we have had is that it is futile in the time being. You will not see immediate results. In Egypt, for example, it's been going on for years and years. On average three hundred to five hundred protests or attempts to do a coup against the regime every month. And in that month when it happened, there were about two thousand going on. So it will take time. It's wishful thinking. We do not say it's not going to happen; it's going to happen. Do not believe that just by going to the street you will make change. You need strategy. And if I may go back to the issue of Yemen and people deporting their leaders: to my surprise, most of these people were just borne on the moment. They did not have strategies. They do not have strategies. And they think if you have a strategy and you have people who are organised, you can't be targeted and you can't be eliminated. But they have to take that risk if they want to succeed.
JANE KINNINMONT
We're not saying that the Arab Spring is futile. We're not saying that democracy movements are doomed to failure. What we're saying is that the forces of resistance are very strongly are forces to be reckoned with. The struggle is going to be long and hard.
AHMED ALI AL-MUKHAINI
Yes.
TIM SEBASTIAN
And you're betting on the forces of resistance winning out, at least in the short and medium term?
JANE KINNINMONT
At least in the short term in some countries. I would distinguish between, for instance, Yemen, where I do think that Saleh's attempts to hold onto power are now futile. I think his days are numbered and the situation in Bahrain, where unfortunately I think they are in a worse position.
TIM SEBASTIAN
You think their days are numbered?
JANE KINNINMONT
No. This is what I'm saying. I think that Saleh's days are numbered. I think if you look at the situation in Bahrain, the democracy movement has been set back more than a decade by the recent events.
NADIM HOURY
Well, it's very... Sorry, go ahead.
ANOUAR BOUKHARS
I mean, protests are going to follow different trajectories in different places. I mean, in Libya and Yemen it's fair to say that the regimes are done. In Syria the outcome is going to depend, obviously, on endurance. I mean, how long can the protesters sustain it?
TIM SEBASTIAN
But answer Jane Kinninmont's point about Bahrain, will you?
ANOUAR BOUKHARS
Look, that's right. But the same thing can be said about the regime. How long can the regime maintain its security forces mobilised in a war mode? For how long can you go? For how long can they sustain the cohesiveness of the regime?
AHMED ALI AL-MUKHAINI
How long Egypt has been under emergency law?
ANOUAR BOUKHARS
I'm sorry?
AHMED ALI AL-MUKHAINI
How long Egypt has been under emergency law? Thirty-five years or something like this? They can't continue.
ANOUAR BOUKHARS
That's right, but these are different contexts. These are different contexts. People have seen what people power can accomplish. And the same thing is going to happen in Bahrain. I mean, you cannot continue repressing 70 percent of your population. So, if you want to make a forecast of what's going to happen in the near term, it's either - very unfortunate - it's either there's going to be a resistance, right. When the street protests don't work, we're moving to different kinds of resistance.
TIM SEBASTIAN
Why can't you go on repressing 70 percent of your population? If you have the power in your hands, you can go on doing it indefinitely.
ANOUAR BOUKHARS
That's when the power of street protest is fundamentally changed into violent resistance.
TIM SEBASTIAN
You're not saying that, Jane Kinninmont, are you?
ANOUAR BOUKHARS
So that's where we are going into Bahrain.
NADIM HOURY
I also want to say - I mean, sorry - just on Bahrain.
TIM SEBASTIAN
Can we just get her to answer that and then come back on it.
JANE KINNINMONT
I think you're right. I think having failed to be able to achieve things through the very weak parliament that hardly functions, I think that there are going to be more people turning to violent resistance in Bahrain. But ultimately they're not really armed. It's going to be an unpleasant thing, it's going to be an irritant, but I don't think that resorting to violence is actually going to be successful there either.
TIM SEBASTIAN
Nadim Houry, you wanted to make a point there.
NADIM HOURY
Yeah. I mean, we're talking about the Bahrain model, which seems to be now the model of the so-called "resistance" to the Arab Spring. First of all, the resolution is that it's futile. I mean, it takes time. The apartheid regime in South Africa, it took time to bring it down, but it was clear that history was blowing the other way. And it will be the same in Bahrain. You know, if Bahrain was so normal, if it managed to turn the corner, how come it still has to rely on GCC and Saudi troops to keep the peace? You know, we all saw those ads of Bahrain: Business-Friendly.
TIM SEBASTIAN
South Africa was in a very difficult position, wasn't it?
NADIM HOURY
Well, and Bahrain will be the same.
TIM SEBASTIAN
It was on its own. It was on its own.
NADIM HOURY
Yeah.
TIM SEBASTIAN
Bahrain is, apparently, surrounded by friends.
NADIM HOURY
Well, surrounded by friends with a lot of money, that's true. But you can't rule against 70 percent of your people today for very, very long. You know, little things - little things will start... I mean, let's take the example. Bahrain spent millions and millions of dollars on a campaign called Bahrain: Business-Friendly. I'm sure you've all seen those ads. What has that gotten them today? Their reputation is in tatters. No one will go and invest there. So yes, their wealthy friends are going to spend money. And maybe in Bahrain, because it's a small population with a lot of money, they're going to be able to buy some time, more than some other countries. But it is futile. Maybe in Bahrain they can buy five years or ten years. In Syria maybe they will be able to buy one year.
AHMED ALI AL-MUKHAINI
But isn't that the whole argument?
NADIM HOURY
But that just means it might take a year, but I think it's very important. Because they're conceding: "Well, it's going to be hard in the short term." Of course it's going to be hard in the short term.
TIM SEBASTIAN
Ahmed al-Mukhaini.
AHMED ALI AL-MUKHAINI
Then the whole argument is time? You know, you have been going on and on and on about time. We do not disagree on the time, but we are talking about now, immediate and short term, mid term. You know, these powers will curb the momentum. If you curb the momentum, you have curbed the Arab Spring.
TIM SEBASTIAN
Okay.
ANOUAR BOUKHARS
I mean, if you think the transitions towards democracy are going to quickly materialise, you will be disappointed. You're talking here about, "Well, it might happen in ten years." Well, if it did happen in ten years that's not too bad. I mean, look...
TIM SEBASTIAN
He's not going to be disappointed - he's arguing the other way.
ANOUAR BOUKHARS
No, that's fine. That's exactly what he said. No, what he said is that there might be a change in ten years, and this is exactly what we argue, where like revolutions take time. What we are seeing is just the beginning of a long process. I mean, even in peaceful revolutions, like in Egypt and Tunisia, it's going to take at least half a decade, right, for a change to come.


Dictators make peaceful means for revolution impossible
AUDIENCE (M)
Well, just to start up, I'd like you to say Tunisia and then Egypt. Because...
TIM SEBASTIAN
Where are you from, please?
AUDIENCE (M)
Well, I'm from Tunisia - Tunisian school! [Laughter, applause]
TIM SEBASTIAN
There's a surprise.
AUDIENCE (M)
I would like to start with Tunisia, because Tunisia started the revolution. And Mrs. Jane said that there are peaceful ways to do these revolutions, but there won't if the dictators are not willing to give up their chairs. So...
TIM SEBASTIAN
What point do you want to make? Do you agree?
AUDIENCE (M)
No, there are no - oh my God! [Laughter] There are no peaceful ways to do that. Well, you said there are, so what are they?
JANE KINNINMONT
No, I agree with you. I think peaceful protest doesn't always work everywhere. There are some very positive examples of peaceful protests, but in Tunisia and in Egypt that succeeded ultimately because the rulers don't seem to have had the capacity to really use their armed forces to repress the mass protests. I think in Syria or in Libya the picture is very different. The dynamic in Libya has been changed now by international intervention, but I think if you simply saw Libyans standing up and facing the government's bullets, they would probably not have had a chance of succeeding that way because their government was not too worried about international pressure, didn't really care about human rights abuses being exposed in the international media, and its main priority was to survive.


 It's too late to halt the revolutionary movement supported by the Facebook Generation
AUDIENCE (F)
Good evening. I've got a question for the motion, then those against.
TIM SEBASTIAN
Where are you from, please?
AUDIENCE (F)
From Qatar. For those against, first of all, don't you think it's too late to just give up at this stage? Because, I mean, a generation who was able to create a protest of millions through a Facebook page will not allow such a thing to continue, especially after all those people that died already. We've all seen, for example, the army working hand in hand with the people in Egypt and other countries in this protest. I mean, yes, again, don't you think it's too late?
JANE KINNINMONT
Absolutely. Absolutely. We are not suggesting that people should give up in their struggle for democracy and rights. Rather, we are trying to outline the type of forces that will be trying to counter those moves.
TIM SEBASTIAN
But she has a point, that this is the first Facebook revolution. This is what's underlying her question.
AHMED ALI AL-MUKHAINI
Yeah, that's true. But then, you see, Facebook is not sufficient to actually do things that happen in government. You have to realise - I mean, not you, I mean everybody has to realise what happened in Egypt: you know, people in the Gulf and other Arab countries have learnt from. You know, as the protesters learn, governments also learn and they know how to handle. They actually diffuse and they pre-empt all their movement. We are not against people, we are not against people's rights, but we are saying you cannot dream. You have to be very practically orientated if you want to affect change.
TIM SEBASTIAN
I'd like to go back to the questioner and ask why you think the revolutions are unstoppable. You clearly do.
AUDIENCE (F)
I think we cannot compare. I mean, Miss. Jane gave an example of Saddam Hussein being in power for twenty years without anyone doing anything about it. But it's not the same today. The technology, the youth, the new generation, the power that's mixing with all the countries - it's not going to work. I mean, we all know Gaddafi and all other leaders are momentarily going to leave soon. It's impossible for them to stay for twenty years. And again, my question is: isn't it too late? I mean, it's too late now to just believe that it's not going to work.
AHMED ALI AL-MUKHAINI
I don't think it's too late. I think governments would still continue working at it, they will still... As I said, they will curb the momentum. What do they not want to happen? They do not want the momentum to build up, to reach a critical mass to affect change. They know it's going to happen twenty years from now, but they want to buy time. They are curbing the momentum. They are cutting. And they are. Because they have the money. And as I said, you know, you cannot rely on the European Union or the US or the Western powers.
TIM SEBASTIAN
Well, one moment you're saying they have their backs to the wall and they're like animals, then you're having them survive twenty years. Which?
AHMED ALI AL-MUKHAINI
Yeah, they can. Sorry. I think the Gulf countries can survive. And the Gulf countries would make sure that the other Arab countries whose interests are very much deep-rooted with them will continue. I mean, there you have just seen that they are heavily investing in Egypt. The 40 billion dollar promised by the G8, a quarter of which will come from the Gulf countries.
TIM SEBASTIAN
Anouar Boukhars, do you want to come in here?
ANOUAR BOUKHARS
Well, you're absolutely right. I mean, for the resistance, as I said...
AHMED ALI AL-MUKHAINI
Thank you. [Laughs]
ANOUAR BOUKHARS
No, it was expected. I mean, look, the Tunisian leader Ben Ali, did not choose not to use force! It's his military, right, that did not obey the orders. Same thing in Egypt. It's not that Mubarak did not order his military force to use force. It's his military forces that did not use force. So the GCC or others, they are not just inventing a new model. Look, two things. This wave of protests are about two things. You're right, there are the riches and then there is the political legitimacy. You can buy some time with what we call the "rentier effect" by buying people off. But even in the GCC there are troubles. Saudi Arabia cannot fund other countries, Morocco and elsewhere. It has its own problems.
AHMED ALI AL-MUKHAINI
They have [inaudible] of a hundred and fifty billion.
ANOUAR BOUKHARS
Unemployment in Saudi Arabia is 40 percent. The youth bulge is over 40 percent. Now, how can you say that..
AHMED ALI AL-MUKHAINI
[Inaudible] hundred thousand.
TIM SEBASTIAN
Let me come back to the questioner here. Excuse me. I just want to come back to the questioner here and ask her how far you think that revolutions in this part of the world, in this region, in the Gulf region, can actually go?


 The Gulf countries being too happy to revolt; not needing a fancy thing like democracy
AUDIENCE (F)
We cannot compare the Gulf region to everyone else, first of all.
TIM SEBASTIAN
No, I'm not asking you to compare, but how far do you think they can go here?
AUDIENCE (F)
I don't think there's need for any, you know, protests compared to other parts of the Arab world. I mean, for me, democracy is, in this time of the world, is a fancy thing that everyone wants to go under. Although in reality it's not that great.
TIM SEBASTIAN
I'm sorry, I didn't understand that.
AUDIENCE (F)
I mean, if we talk about the Gulf not being happy with dictatorship, for example. One day, you believe, that people will protest in the Gulf against dictatorship. I don't see that happening, because everyone in the Gulf is, or mostly, are happy. And if we're going to talk about...
TIM SEBASTIAN
Happy with what - dictatorship?
AUDIENCE (F)
No, it's not dictatorship - that's what I mean. I mean, if we say democracy, for me it's a fancy title really. We have here freedom of speech more than anyone else, and we have all our rights in terms of... I mean, as a Qatari I can speak that we have more rights than we deserve. We don't pay for anything!
TIM SEBASTIAN
More rights than you deserve? I think some people might argue with you over that! [Laughter, applause]
JANE KINNINMONT
But if you look at the wider Gulf region, four out of the six GCC countries have seen protests this year.
AUDIENCE (F)
Yeah, but I mean, we cannot - why protest? I mean, in Bahrain, even Bahrain, if you go back to the history of Bahrain, these people that are protesting are people who got their passport from the Bahraini government. I mean, Bahrain did them a good - I mean, something in their favour of letting them be part of their country. And all of a sudden they're turning their...
JANE KINNINMONT
But I think you're just missing the main thing...
TIM SEBASTIAN
Excuse me, I want to bring Nadim Houry in. He's itching to have a word.
NADIM HOURY
Yeah. [Laughter]
TIM SEBASTIAN
I can't think why. But he's getting ready to.


NADIM HOURY
I don't know where to start. First of all, I mean, the Arab Spring is not just about revolution. The Arab Spring is about a transition of the Arab peoples from being subjects to being citizens.
ANOUAR BOUKHARS
That's right.
NADIM HOURY
Okay, and if we accept that premise, then you can have multiple models in the region coexisting. And it's great that you feel that you can go and ask from your government. Your government never gives you more than you deserve. You deserve this and more. You know. And it's the same in Bahrain, [Applause] you know. I mean, this is, I think, sort of at the heart of what's happening in the Arab Spring. No one is saying every country is going to go get rid of its dictator. I'm Lebanese - we'll actually have to get rid of 17 dictators in Lebanon of each community. [Laughter, applause] You know, I mean, but what we are saying is what we are witnessing today is history shifting. And if we stay quiet for a second we can hear it. I mean, look at us - we're all optimists. Six months ago, probably all of us would have been pessimists. And just think of that - think of that for a second. Deep down you feel change is coming. And the other side, when I hear them, you know what I remember? I remember conversations I had in Egypt after Tunisia, because you are right - Tunisians showed us the way. And after Tunisia Egyptians would say, "But it's different here. We're geo-strategic. We're too big a player, too big to fail." And then Egypt fell. And then President Bashar al-Assad got on the Wall Street Journal and said, "Syria is different, because the people love me." And it's the same - we hear it the same. They will change. They will change.
AHMED ALI AL-MUKHAINI
It is not that we are too good to fail.
TIM SEBASTIAN
Okay, let him come back.
AHMED ALI AL-MUKHAINI
It is not that we are too good to fail. I'm not saying that the Gulf [inaudible].
NADIM HOURY
Not too good - too big to fail.
AHMED ALI AL-MUKHAINI
We are not too big to fail. We are not saying that. We're just saying they have the tools. They have what it needs to make them succeed. They will succeed. They will make this Arab Spring futile.
TIM SEBASTIAN
Okay. What I want to do here is just take a little sample of opinion from some people in the audience. I just want a sentence from various people, if you'll put your hand up - we'll get a microphone to you - to answer the question that our questioner here raised, which was basically saying: "We've got enough rights here. Why protest? We have all the freedoms that we need." And I want to know whether that view is echoed by other people in the audience. So if you'd put up your hand, we'll get a microphone to you. And if you just have a sentence to say about that. I don't see a lot of hands going up. Are people unwilling to speak about that?
ANOUAR BOUKHARS
There are no Mukhabarat here. [Laughter]
TIM SEBASTIAN
Yes! Just a sentence, really, just a brief view.
AUDIENCE (M)
I think someone's rights are different from someone else's rights.
ANOUAR BOUKHARS
Mmm, interesting.
AUDIENCE (M)
Someone's rights are not necessarily the same as someone else's rights. You know, the rights of a Moroccan are not necessarily the same.
TIM SEBASTIAN
Where are you from?
AUDIENCE (M)
I'm from Morocco, as it happens.
TIM SEBASTIAN
You don't feel you have enough rights, do you?
AUDIENCE (M)
Well, I'm looking at things rather unmaterialistic. I'm more interested in having, you know, things such as freedom of expression, the freedom to choose, the freedom to decide my future.
TIM SEBASTIAN
What's what you'd like to have?
AUDIENCE (M)
Absolutely.
TIM SEBASTIAN
Okay, is that view echoed by anybody? I'm going to go to the gentleman over there. You have a comment, a very brief comment on whether people in the Gulf have all the rights that they need, as our questioner suggested here?
AUDIENCE (M)
Well, I quite agree with her, because she's a Qatari and she feels that way. In terms of that she has essential needs, that maybe it's a fancy thing to ask for. That's the opinion. I think there is such an opinion here in Qatar which I hear from my colleagues and my friends. I might not agree with them necessarily, but that's how they see it.


Why are Arab countries always compared disfavourably with countries with more rights, instead of looking at their rights compared to countries with fewer rights?
AUDIENCE (M)
Hello, I'm from Qatar. I just want to say why do people look for countries above us? Why don't you look for countries below us? That's why she's right. We have rights more than our rights. Why don't we look at countries below us?
TIM SEBASTIAN
You have all the rights that you want?
AUDIENCE (M)
Yes.
TIM SEBASTIAN
And all the rights that you need. Anybody else?
AHMED ALI AL-MUKHAINI
Can I have an example of a country that's below us?
TIM SEBASTIAN
Below them, you mean?
AHMED ALI AL-MUKHAINI
Oh yeah, okay, below them. Give me an example of a country that you think is below Qatar, for example.
AUDIENCE (M)
You have in Asia and Africa. There are many countries below us. I mean, for example, in Qatar we have free..
TIM SEBASTIAN
Below you in what way?
NADIM HOURY
In what sense? Yeah.
AUDIENCE (M)
I mean like in Qatar we have free education and free medical services. In the US you know there is huge conflict between the health insurance. And in Qatar we have it for free. So I think she's right. Why do we look for countries above us? Why don't we look at countries below us?
TIM SEBASTIAN
Okay, anybody else want to make a brief point about the subject that we're discussing? There's a hand up there. If you'd stand up, we'll get a microphone to you.
AUDIENCE (F)
Of course, if she's comparing herself to other countries such as Saudi Arabia, she has more rights, of course. But if you're comparing yourself to other countries, you have the rights you deserve. You do have the right to a free health insurance, you do have the right to have all the things you need. This is not more than you should get.


Whether the Arab Spring is more about socio-economic equality or freedom from domination and discrimination
AUDIENCE (F)
Well, all of you here, we've just been talking about the problems in Egypt and in all of the other places in the world. And about Qatar specifically, you can see that everyone here has, like students have education that is higher than most places in the GCC. We have a high economy. We have good medical care. Honestly, looking at every single other place in the GCC, can you say that Qatar doesn't really have the best kind of life for the citizens here? We have all the freedom we can get. We have all the things. And if we don't, then why hasn't anyone already protested? [Applause]
NADIM HOURY
Can we make a quick point here?
TIM SEBASTIAN
Yes, please. I'd like you to come in.
NADIM HOURY
I agree, and I don't think it's a... You know, you're lucky that you were born in Qatar or that you were born in the GCC. You know, you're born with a big virtual sum in the bank, because your country is very rich in natural resources. But what is the percentage of people who work in Qatar, who work in Saudi, who work in the UAE, who were not born in these countries, and do they benefit from the free healthcare, do they benefit from all these rights? You know, again, it's not a question of sort of comparing down or up. Obviously, the GCC, or what my colleagues call the "rentier effect" - you know, the fact that there is a lot of wealth is important. And no one here is sort of criticising or not criticising Qatar. But even in wealthy countries... You know, Tunisia, the country that started the revolution, was considered to be a successful model of non-rentier states, right. It was the model that other Arab countries that don't have oil aspire to, right. Because they had a good education system, they had a relatively good...
TIM SEBASTIAN
Are you struck by the level of contentment? Are you surprised by the level of contentment here?
NADIM HOURY
No, look, it's not... No, no, I'm not surprised.
TIM SEBASTIAN
[Turning to those against the motion] Are you?
AHMED ALI AL-MUKHAINI
No. I'm not struck.
NADIM HOURY
Because it's not... Look, if you were having this debate in another country, it would be different. It doesn't strike me. What I'm trying to think is - there are two things at play here, I think, that are key in the Arab Spring. Yes, in many countries there was the sort of desire for more social equality. And if you are born in a rich country like Qatar, that is not going to be a challenge. But there is something else very important at play in the Arab Spring and that is the aspiration for freedoms and lack of discrimination.
TIM SEBASTIAN
Okay, I'm going to let the questioner have a final word on this issue, and then we're going to move on to...
AHMED ALI AL-MUKHAINI
Just can I say to one thing he said?
TIM SEBASTIAN
Okay, very briefly.
AHMED ALI AL-MUKHAINI
Very briefly. You see, that's why Gulf countries are going to fund all these aspirations. They will not make them feel that there are social injustices or economic disparities. They would fund it. They have the money, they will do it.
NADIM HOURY
Why haven't they before if they have the means to do it?
ANOUAR BOUKHARS
Not all of them will.
AHMED ALI AL-MUKHAINI
No, they will make it. They will make it.
TIM SEBASTIAN
Okay, I'm just going to take a comment from the original questioner on this issue. Can we get a microphone to you? I'm going to allow you one brief comment at the end of this.


AUDIENCE (F)
Just one very brief comment. I think we don't thank God we're Qatari because we have a big amount in the bank or because of the petrol. A lot of other countries do have a lot of money. It's how our leaders invest in us, that's what we're proud of. And that's why we won't protest. The education they provide us, I mean, Education City, Aspire, the medical care - these are things that are not because they have money. A lot of other countries have money. That's because they care about their people, they care about how we will turn out in the end. And that's my point. Thank you. [Applause]


What is the philosophic grounding of the revolutions of the Arab Spring?
AUDIENCE (M)
Hi, I'm from the United States. And what I'm wondering about is the ancient regimes of Europe fell to philosophies that were created in the 16th century and 17th century, and they fell a couple of hundred years later. What, if any, is the philosophy guiding these revolutions - is there one and how is it going to play into how things move in the future? Thank you.
TIM SEBASTIAN
Anouar Boukhars. Philosophy.
ANOUAR BOUKHARS
Sure, yeah. The philosophy is political legitimacy and authority. And here I can understand where you're coming from. I mean, if that's the perception of the leadership, that it is efficient, effective and delivers what the people aspire to, then that's fine. I mean, whether it's a democracy or not, that's a second question. But it is about political legitimacy, it is about dignity. That's a good comparison to the monarchies in Europe, because we can draw an analogy. 1848, for example, the German monarchy and the Italian monarchy, for example, they were smart enough for the time in which they ran ahead of the protests and they survived by delegating more constitutional powers to parliament, right.
TIM SEBASTIAN
But they're very divided the revolutionaries at the moment, aren't they. I mean, you've got, what, seventy political parties in Tunisia at the moment?
ANOUAR BOUKHARS
Well, that's exactly - I mean, that's to be expected. That's to be expected. That power has...
TIM SEBASTIAN
It's not exactly helping their cause, is it?
ANOUAR BOUKHARS
What cause?
TIM SEBASTIAN
Reforms. A different way of life. Change.
ANOUAR BOUKHARS
Well, that is helping. Of course it is.
TIM SEBASTIAN
It's chaos, isn't it?
ANOUAR BOUKHARS
No, it's not chaos! I mean, the same thing happened in Indonesia - and I hate to keep drawing these analogies.
AHMED ALI AL-MUKHAINI
It's not going to happen..
ANOUAR BOUKHARS
I mean, that's healthy. We expect resistance from the old guard, from hardliners. We will see divisions. We will see debates.
TIM SEBASTIAN
Okay, let Ahmed Ali al-Mukhaini speak.
AHMED ALI AL-MUKHAINI
Well, this very statement says to me that you are agreeing that whatever the government, resistance is not futile - it will happen, okay. It will actually bear fruit. And your use of the historical narrative is suggesting that Arab countries would have to go through the same cycle of evolution. And you are assuming that the democratic model of philosophy as the gentleman has mentioned would be endorsed. Well, I see that these models, these philosophies, these principles, are not totally ignored.
ANOUAR BOUKHARS
No, those two monarchies survived while others...
TIM SEBASTIAN
Okay, I don't want to get too bogged down in history here. Just make one point.
ANOUAR BOUKHARS
Just quickly, if you don't mind. I need to make this point. Those two monarchies survived while others didn't, because they opened up their political system. Those that did not open up their political system were swept away. But even those that did, they just bought some time.
TIM SEBASTIAN
Okay, all right. There was a gentleman in the second row.
NADIM HOURY
Can we just clarify this one point?
TIM SEBASTIAN
I don't want to stay with history, really.
NADIM HOURY
No, because it's not about ideology, what's going on right now, you know. What people want... I mean, it's natural to have seventy parties today in Tunisia. Because, you know what, you couldn't discuss politics, let alone political ideology, for a very long time. So it's normal. I mean, thankfully it's not an ideologically-driven revolution, because ideologically-driven revolutions get us straight into the wall. These are revolutions about having space to express themselves.


The Arab Spring as a process over time, and therefore to say that resistance to it will triumph is illogical
AUDIENCE (M)
I find it difficult to understand the argument of the opposition of the motion, because basically any debate, any discussion about the Arab Spring should keep in mind that this is a process. It will take time, of course. And obviously this kind of change will not happen if people sit at home. Basically they need to move. This movement will lead to people demonstrate, you may see clashes on the street, people may be killed. This is the nature of the revolution. So basically you cannot say that there is no hope for this. Because basically...
AHMED ALI AL-MUKHAINI
No, we're not..
TIM SEBASTIAN
He didn't say that.
AUDIENCE (M)
Let me finish. Because basically you are speaking about democratisation or changing. A,B,C change is actually the people demonstrating. People go outside, people express their ideas. So basically in the nature of your discourse there is a problem of the definition...
AHMED ALI AL-MUKHAINI
The timeframe suggested here is...
AUDIENCE (M)
Is there not a contradiction as well? You cannot speak about democratisation without people's demonstration and express their ideas.
TIM SEBASTIAN
Okay, Jane Kinninmont.
JANE KINNINMONT
I think you're misunderstanding our argument. We are not saying that there is no hope for change or that setbacks mean that there will never be democracy. What we're saying is that the resistance forces do have a lot of tricks up their sleeves, they want to survive, they want to maintain power, and they will have some successes. Even if they're not victorious in the long run - there's a great quote from the economist John Maynard Keynes, which is: "In the long run we are all dead." If I'm a dictator fighting for survival, this five years is worth it for me.
TIM SEBASTIAN
Okay, let me come back to you. Let me come back to you.
AUDIENCE (M)
This happened in 1979. Iran under the Shah, he resisted, resisted, resisted and at the end of the day he left. So, of course. But at the end of the day, people won the battle and regardless of your opinion of the regime.
AHMED ALI AL-MUKHAINI
They had a structure. They had funding. That's different. One's different...
JANE KINNINMONT
But you need to listen to the wording of the motion.
TIM SEBASTIAN
Ahmed, nobody can hear if you talk at the same time.
JANE KINNINMONT
The wording of the motion is not "resistance is ultimately doomed in the long term"; the wording of the motion is "resistance is futile". And it's not entirely futile. Regimes are able to buy themselves time. That matters to them, and they will fight for it.


Using the example of Libya, the ability of the opposition forces to organize and respond; the ultimate futility of the dictator's resistance
AUDIENCE (F)
I'm from Libya. And I want to ask the opposition how they can, I mean, they mentioned that, you know, the uprisings are chaotic and whatnot. I just wanted to bring into light that Libya has been ruled with an iron fist by a dictator named Muammar al-Gaddafi for 42 years. Weeks into the revolution, when the people rose peacefully against Gaddafi and were met by guns and violence, they were able to form a National Transitional Council that is now, even though Gaddafi is still trying to hold onto power, this Council has been recognised by many nations in the world and has formed many diplomatic relations. So I mean, to a Libyan and to somebody who is seeing events unfold all over the region, I don't think that it makes any sense to say that the dictators can resist. Because if there was an example of a hopeless situation...
TIM SEBASTIAN
Gaddafi is resisting, isn't he? Gaddafi is resisting somewhat?
AUDIENCE (F)
He's resisting, but he's definitely losing power. And I mean, I think that the world...
TIM SEBASTIAN
How long do you give him?
AUDIENCE (F)
How long do I give him? Well, I hope tonight, but I'm not sure. [Laughter, applause]
TIM SEBASTIAN
Jane Kinninmont.
JANE KINNINMONT
I agree with you. Every country is different, though. And I think in Yemen and maybe in Libya it is a matter of a very short-term amount of time for these rulers. But that's not the case looking across the whole region.
AUDIENCE (F)
I just want to say that, okay, it's not the case across all regions, but I wanted to point out that the situation in Libya was, I think, probably one of the most, I mean, the oppression that was happening in the country for 42 years. So if the Libyan people can do it and we are not a large nation; we are no more than seven million people, and we are being met by violence up until today, you know and they are doing it, and they are arising. So it is futile to, I think, resist that.
TIM SEBASTIAN
Okay. Ahmed Ali al-Mukhaini.
AHMED ALI AL-MUKHAINI
I'd like to ask you: how do you think they actually - why is this different? Why they managed to do it if they were under forty years of political starvation as I called it? Why and how they managed to do it?
AUDIENCE (F)
Why did they do it? Because...
AHMED ALI AL-MUKHAINI
No, how they managed to succeed, if we assume that they have succeeded.
AUDIENCE (F)
Because enough is enough.
AHMED ALI AL-MUKHAINI
No.
AUDIENCE (F)
I mean, they decided that this was going to be the time when they arise and they don't go down.
AHMED ALI AL-MUKHAINI
No.
AUDIENCE (F)
I mean, you know, there have been attempts before that were not successful.
AHMED ALI AL-MUKHAINI
No. Don't you think that if it wasn't for the European Union and the States giving them legitimacy, they would not have moved? It was not on their own accord. It was not on their own efforts.
AUDIENCE (F)
I think that the steps that the leaders in the National Transitional Council of Libya took are what made the rest of the world recognise them as a legitimate body to govern or to help transition Libya into a new phase. The West did help us. Without NATO, I mean...
AHMED ALI AL-MUKHAINI
No. I'm sorry to disagree.
AUDIENCE (F)
... more lives would have been lost. But I think that the initiative that the Libyan people took cannot be understated. And that's what made it. [Applause]
AHMED ALI AL-MUKHAINI
I'm sorry to disagree.
TIM SEBASTIAN
Okay, okay, just a very...
NADIM HOURY
Can I just jump in here? No, but it's very hypocritical...
TIM SEBASTIAN
Nadim Houry.
NADIM HOURY
It is very hypocritical for the other side to somehow use international support for protesters to take away their legitimacy. Without international support, without Western support half of the autocracies in this region would not have seen the light of day thirty years ago. [Applause] So let's not use that way.
AHMED ALI AL-MUKHAINI
Exactly.
NADIM HOURY
The West has supported autocratic regimes for a very long time and it is because people took to the streets, you know, they forced change. They didn't just force change on their own. You know, if protesters now are being respected by the G8 or they're being respected in Paris or in Washington or in London, it's not because suddenly the Westerners have become nicer; it's because people took notice of people on the streets. [Applause]
AHMED ALI AL-MUKHAINI
No.
NADIM HOURY
So let's show those protesters the respect they deserve. And yes, I am glad that in some cases after the French had sold aeroplanes to Gaddafi they woke up and used other aeroplanes to bomb him. It was a mistake the first time around, and I'm glad they fixed that mistake. And good for them that they managed to get that support.
JANE KINNINMONT
But it's not an attempt to de-legitimise, but it's looking at another factor that will be important. Let's assume that the West is not suddenly supporting democracy all across the region. If people in, say, Saudi Arabia and Syria don't have international support, then the resistance that their governments are putting in place is going to be all the more effective, because it will have Western backing. They will be able to access weapons, they will be able to access funds, etc.
TIM SEBASTIAN
But there is a considerable level of Western support now.
AHMED ALI AL-MUKHAINI
Doubt it.
JANE KINNINMONT
It's not about the ethics of that Western support; it's about the fact that that is still a factor. And for some governments that international support is still in their favour and not in the favour of the people on the streets.


Using the Jordanian example, the role of government and elite corruption as a trigger for protest and revolt
AUDIENCE (F)
I'm originally Palestinian, but I lived in Jordan. So for the example in Jordan, the basic ministers were actually taken down because of the corrupt that was available. And there were people who were killed in downtown who were calling for their freedom, who were calling for a little bit more money for them to be paid. When you have a good percentage of your country being paid lower than the minimum wage in the West, it's kind of ridiculous to keep looking at whether the West is going to be supporting these people. Because honestly, these people aren't sitting there thinking, "Well, am I going to be supported by the West or not?"
TIM SEBASTIAN
So what is your point about the revolutions?
AUDIENCE (F)
My point is: what are a thousand or two thousand lives if they are fighting for their freedom, if they're fighting for a better life? What are they? The French, during the French Revolution, as the gentleman said, they were killed in mass numbers. It was by their sheer numbers that they overthrew the aristocrats and beheaded them.
TIM SEBASTIAN
So where do you put your money: do you put your money on the revolutionaries or on the governments being able to resist them?
AUDIENCE (F)
The revolutionaries. Because it's by sheer numbers and by sheer potential of the people. There are way too many people in the countries, in different countries. Every country is different. There's no doubt about that. But we can't underestimate the potential of every single citizen there. Now, we're talking about...
TIM SEBASTIAN
Okay, I just want to get a reaction. Do you think she's wrong?
AHMED ALI AL-MUKHAINI
No, if you are willing to sacrifice millions and millions of lives of people, that's fine. But then you have to work on reconciliating all of these lives and reconciliating the schisms you are creating with a society. But it's going to take lots of money, lots of blood.
AUDIENCE (F)
I assure you, I think if there are enough people being oppressed and silence is something that has been used against us forever.
AHMED ALI AL-MUKHAINI
If they are given money. You know, if the Gulf countries go to Jordan, give Jordan billions of dollars, they actually give them job opportunities - they pay for them to be quiet - then the Jordan case is closed.
AUDIENCE (F)
Well, why be dependent on the Gulf countries?
AHMED ALI AL-MUKHAINI
Oh, they will. Why not?
TIM SEBASTIAN
But his point: do you believe that they can be bought off, the demonstrators, the revolutionaries?
AUDIENCE (F)
Well, honestly, if you're... the demonstrators themselves? Well, what happens if the Gulf countries, I don't know, their petrol runs out? In the far run, alright, what if the petrol... I mean, if we're going to keep depending on other countries buying us out of our freedom, then what's left? We're talking about sheer potential. It's sheer willpower.
AHMED ALI AL-MUKHAINI
That's for the future. The present will come to it.
TIM SEBASTIAN
Okay, all right, a very brief comment.
ANOUAR BOUKHARS
I think you're misdiagnosing the problem. These revolutions are not just about economic grievances or about religion or about foreign interference, and I keep going back to it's about authority. So you might raise the subjects, like what happened in Morocco and elsewhere, you know, you might raise wages and all that, but that's not going to stop people from rising up. Because you're not addressing the main concern. That's why in Morocco, for example - and you're right, there's going to be different trajectories. Morocco at first, you know, when the people took to the streets on February 20th, the monarch came and called a demagoguery and he created a council for social and economic reforms, but then on March 9th he came up and he granted decent political reforms. Why? Because he understood that what people are asking for right now are political rights, civil rights and it's not just about economic rights. That's only one part.


The roles of the West and of Israel in supporting the "rotten politics" of the regimes in the region
AUDIENCE (M)
I'm from Syria. You said that we lived in this region for forty years or fifty years in rotten politics as you mentioned. Okay. Now, nobody touched on the outside factors of the rotten politics as you mentioned, as you named it. For forty years or for half a century the region has been sleeping because of the, let's say, conspiracies of the Western politics into this region, all right. Nobody has mentioned, from the House, Israel or the struggle between the Arabs and Israel. That's an important cause of this situation.
TIM SEBASTIAN
Okay, well, we're talking about something else.
AUDIENCE (M)
Well, I see this as a factor of this operation that the regime has been doing on the people, alright? This is something important. And I believe that the Western politics has come now to this region to introduce democracy. Now, why now, alright? Where the Western countries have been in the last fifty years?
TIM SEBASTIAN
Anouar Boukhars, why now? Why is the West promoting democracy now?
ANOUAR BOUKHARS
Well, the West - I mean, again to go back to your point, the West has not promoted them in democracy. I mean, it's the people who put it on the agenda. Remember with the Obama administration or others, they came late in the game. I mean, we all followed them in what happened in Tunisia and the same thing in Egypt. It's just when they realised that Mubarak does not stand a chance. Same thing in Yemen. The Obama administration stayed with Saleh until very recently when the people in the street demonstrated that they would not settle for anything less. So you're right: I mean, there is the Israel aspect of it, there is foreign agenda. These play a contributory role, but not the main role. The people are asking, you're right, for dignity, and for their rising against humiliation. And there is a foreign aspect of it. Look at Egypt, for example. I mean, it has been in a sorry state in the last thirty years. I mean, compared to the Nasser air, for example, despite the '67 war, the defeats and others, at least he stood for something. Mubarak did not stand for anything, so he did contribute to why people rose up. Because you feel that you are humiliated outside.
TIM SEBASTIAN (to questioner)
Okay, do you want to come back on that? No, let him come back. Let him come back.
AUDIENCE (M)
Yeah. You're telling me that now there is some unrest in the people and that people want a change, alright. Now, we all agree that the demands of the people are really agreeable, we agree on these demands. Now, my question is that the West has supported these regimes a for long time. Now they want the change. Why they didn't give us help, give these regimes help to make these reforms? President al-Assad has announced plenty of reforms in the last ten years, but outside conspiracies, starting from the US invasion of Iraq and the Lebanon crisis and Israel, they've put some obstacles on that.
TIM SEBASTIAN
Okay. Nadim Houry, do you want to just comment on that briefly?
NADIM HOURY
Of course. This is not about conspiracies. What I like about this Arab Spring is that for the first time in a long time we're not blaming Sykes-Picot, we're not blaming the Israelis, we're not blaming anyone else. This is about us. It doesn't mean, no one is going to give any country a favour. You have to take your rights with your own hands. And for a very long time foreign conspiracies, some of them are true, but foreign plots were always used to defer reforms. Syria was a typical example. I mean, I'm sorry, President Bashar al-Assad has had an excellent relationship with the West since 2007. What happened to all the promises of reforms he did in 2005 during the second Baath Party? What happened to the promise of reforms in 2007? The truth is it wasn't the West preventing President Bashar al-Assad of doing it, it wasn't Israel and it wasn't little Lebanon who was preventing it from doing it. The truth is..
TIM SEBASTIAN
Okay. Just make this point and then I need to move on.
NADIM HOURY
No, but I think it's very important. It is important to go back. This is about domestic grievances. Let's stop blaming the others for our mistakes. Because blaming the others for our mistakes after forty years got us nowhere. [Applause]


Are the revolts about legitimacy of governments or economic disparities?
AUDIENCE (F)
I have a question for the opposition. So I'm Syrian and I represent the youth of my country. And you said before that the ruler can buy everybody and change the rules of the game. But how can legitimacy be bought?
AHMED ALI AL-MUKHAINI
Assuming that they are concerned about legitimacy. I mean, you are assuming that they are concerned about legitimacy. It has been portrayed that these people are suffering from social injustices and economic disparities. If their economic disparities are sorted out, then you can leave this legitimacy issue to a later stage. Curb the momentum, give them what they need and eventually you can work out how they can actually be involved in politics.
AUDIENCE (F)
But it isn't legitimacy, it is economic credence. But will people have the right to do what they want?
AHMED ALI AL-MUKHAINI
Eventually.
AUDIENCE (F)
Do we have the right to vote?
AHMED ALI AL-MUKHAINI
Eventually. In donkey's years time, perhaps.
JANE KINNINMONT
We've mentioned a number of factors that governments will use. In Syria, the government simply does not have the economic resources to buy off the populations. That is an argument that is more powerful in the Gulf States. In Syria, I think, they will be using more ideological arguments - arguments that the opposition is backed by foreigners, arguments that pressure on the regime will weaken the opposition to Israel in the region and things like this. And this propaganda and these narratives are quite powerful. One of the most interesting, although I must say, slightly shocking things that I've heard in the room this evening is this assertion that all the protesters in Bahrain were not born in Bahrain. This is a myth. But it's interesting that it's something that you believe, because it does show the power of that propaganda that's being presented to suggest those protesters are disloyal, they're not real people.
TIM SEBASTIAN
Okay, alright, I just want to go back to the questioner briefly and ask her to what extent do you think the protests inside Syria will be successful, will bring about either reforms or a change of regime?
AUDIENCE (F)
We don't know how it will happen. Nobody thought that in Egypt or in Tunisia there were the people who won. But it may be good and may be wrong, but there will be changes. And perhaps it will be in favour of the people.
TIM SEBASTIAN
So you're betting on the revolutionaries, you're betting on the reformists rather than the government?
AUDIENCE (F)
Yes.
AHMED ALI AL-MUKHAINI
I must say one tiny thing here, that I think the issue of legitimacy, I think the issue of political demands is really taken out of proportion. I think it's more to do with socio-economic and disparities around that line. The political thing will come at a later stage.
TIM SEBASTIAN
Okay, alright. We're going to vote on the motion in a moment, but before we do that I want to just go round each of the panellists in the semi-circle and ask them for a sentence to sum up their views before you do get to vote. So if I could start with you, Anouar Boukhars. Very briefly, a sentence.
ANOUAR BOUKHARS
Sure. The thrust of today's wave of protests is less about economic grievances, it's less about identity, but it's more about political legitimacy. That's what it's all about.
TIM SEBASTIAN
Nadim Houry.
NADIM HOURY
The wall of fear has been broken in the region, and a new generation, a younger generation has made its arrival to the political scene. The genie's out of the bottle. It's not going to be an easy ride. Not all countries are going to follow the same path. But change has come. And whoever tries to resist that change is fooling themselves and preparing themselves to go to the Hague to be tried. [Applause]
TIM SEBASTIAN
Okay. Ahmed Ali al-Mukhaini.
AHMED ALI AL-MUKHAINI
For the time being, resistance to the Arab Spring is not futile; it will bear fruit, because they have the authority, they have the money, they have the power, and they will make it happen. You will see lots of loss of lives.
TIM SEBASTIAN
Jane Kinninmont.
JANE KINNINMONT
I'll just remind you this is not a vote on whether you support the Arab Spring. It's a vote on whether the resistance is futile or whether the resistance can be effected. I think the democracy activists have to believe that they'll win if they're ever going to be successful, but they also have to recognise how powerful the forces against them are, in order to tackle them. Thank you.


The Result
73 percent for the motion, 27 percent against.
The motion has been resoundingly carried. [Applause]


How would you vote?
What questions would you ask?
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Related Posts:
A Bastille Day Reminder: A Revolution Isn't Built In a Day--or a Spring See the Related Posts there for links to Arab Spring posts by country and topic
The Struggles of the Arab Spring/Summer: A Win/Win
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