Tuesday, October 13, 2015

BBC Radio: Do We Need to Rethink Our Relationship with Saudi Arabia?


This morning I was contacted by BBC radio to participate in a radio program entitled "Do We Need to Rethink our Relationship with Saudi Arabia?"  The hour long show will only be available to listen to online for 28 days, so if you are interested in learning about Saudi culture from Westerners' perspectives, do tune in.

Susie in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, 2015
 
Guests on the program presented their personal experiences of living in or visiting Saudi Arabia.   One topic discussed is the case of UK pensioner Karl Andree, age 74, who has spent over a year in a Saudi prison since being arrested by Saudi religious police for transporting homemade wine in his car.  Alcoholic beverages are strictly prohibited in Saudi Arabia and punishments are harsh.  Andree has been sentenced to 360 lashes.  It should be noted that Andree has lived in Saudi Arabia for 25 years, so he was well aware of Saudi's prohibition on alcohol when he broke the law.

One guest related his disturbing confrontations with the Saudi religious police during his visits to KSA for Hajj, the religious pilgrimage all Muslims are required to make during their lifetime.  

Other topics touched upon during the program include human rights, public beheadings, women's issues, culture shock, and hypocrisy. 

I was the final guest on the show and I can be heard at about 53 minutes into the show.  Please CLICK HERE to listen to the program, but be sure to do it before November 10, 2015.






12 comments:

  1. Our relationship with Saudi Arabia was based, at first, on the Saudi need for Western technology, and in particular geology and oil technology. It was also based on the desire of the US to keep oil out of the hands of our enemies. At this point our enemies all have oil - I don't consider China an enemy. What is worse is that the Saudis are now making a mess in Yemen, and this is destabilizing the region. It is also behind the revolt in Syria. That revolt would only lead to a government no better than the current. We need to move from an alliance to a more balanced approach.

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    1. Hi Jerry - Thanks for your input. Like I said in the interview, there are many things that I have to overlook here in order to be happy. I actually think that the US government (and other as well) applies the same theory in its relationship with Saudi Arabia - overlooking its human rights record, for example, in order to maintain its relationship in other areas.

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  2. Susie -- excellent interview! i enjoyed the whole show, in fact. i've always wanted to go to where you are, but being a child of jewish parents and an atheist to boot, i'd have a difficult time enjoying myself from a prison cell. so i enjoy the Middle East vicariously through your blog, and cook exotic Middle Eastern dishes here at home.

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    1. Hi Hollis - When I was young, I was always intrigued by this part of the world, but I never imagined I would actually end up living here one day. Thanks so much for your comment.

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  3. Very nice, Susie!
    Interesting discussion.

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  4. Nice, Susie!
    Interesting discussion.

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  5. Susie....love the photo of you, and I listened to your interview. So good to hear your voice. It sounds like things are improving in SA. Have you been back to the States lately?

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    1. Hi Lori - It's great to hear from you! I spend my summers in the US since moving here. In fact, this past summer I was very busy - we bought a property in a rural area in Washington state so I have my own place to stay now when I go instead of staying with one of my brothers. My new place is just five minutes away from his, by the way!

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  6. I've just listened to the BBC "5 Live" radio programme you took part in and provided the link for; I don't often listen to 5 Live myself; when I listen to the BBC it tends to be Radio 4 (voice, news, etc) or Radio 3 (classical music), but Nicky Campbell is a pretty good broadcaster; he also co-hosts a TV programme on another channel about genealogy, basically about people looking for "Long Lost Family"; as he was himself adopted as a child he provides a good dose of empathy with many of the cases covered.

    Anyway, I found the programme you were involved with, and your contribution to it, pretty interesting. Although I lived in Jeddah quite a long time ago (mid-late 1970s) remarkably little seems to have changed in respect of how people live their lives, which did surprise me a little. I was pretty lucky when I lived there as the company I worked for (not a Saudi company) had much greater autonomy for various reasons than most other foreign companies and this meant that we were much less affected by some of the restrictions that other "expats" faced. However, we still had to abide by certain rules of course, which the gentleman featured in this programme (who was transporting "wine") seems to have bent a little too far, or simply been unlucky. When I lived there, foreign embassies were still in Jeddah, not yet having moved to Riyadh, and I took part in amateur dramatic productions with [mainly] other British expats, with both the rehearsals and performances taking place in various parts of the British embassy compound (rehearsals in one of the senior diplomatic houses and performances in a sort of community hall they had in the compound). One of our fellow performers was an English lady who was married to a Saudi national and she was delivered to rehearsals/performances by chauffeur-driven limousine wearing her very discreet public wear, obviously discarded once she was in the house/hall; I understand she had at that time been married to her husband for 25+ years and as she must have been in her mid-late 40s then must be quite elderly now if she is still with us. I seems from your various blog articles that not too much has changed.- no doubt there are more and better shopping opportunities, boutiques etc. I very much enjoy reading your experiences and seeing the photographs you post in your other blog.

    Kind regards, Bill

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  7. Great to listen your interview and thank you for your blog.

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    1. Thank you so much - glad you enjoyed it!

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  8. I enjoyed the interview. Thanks for sharing it with us!

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