Kill ’em Infidels!! The Fatwas

12 07 2009

(from Part 1)

The prevalent attitude of the Saudi ruling family pertain to something like “do what you want to do, just let us do what we want to do. If you interfere in what we want to do, you get snapped”. Consider it a zero-tolerance, mutual existence governance. In order to defer the responsibility of running the country, the govt has many councils and committees who act almost-independently, working to keep the country running, while the Saud family do what they do best. This manifests itself as a collection of organizations that are one another’s peers and have their own fields of activity, working independently, sometimes overlapping. Conflicts are often resolved on a case-to-case basis, often with the intervention of a Saud family member, since no governing rule exists. Placeholding rules are there, but they are precisely that, placeholders.

This has given the CPVPV (and other councils/committees) a very free hand to do whatever they want to do. And since the CPVPV has learnt which toes not to step on, they run pretty much scot free. The fatwas they decide to get implemented, they do themselves, since they have their own force, no police co-op required. And since words are cheap, they say pretty much whatever they want to. Add to this mix the cold-war with the al-Azhar university to become the official voice of Islam, and you have a plothera of fatwas, left and right. Below are some of the more wonderfully stupid samplings. Note: I do NOT follow, believe, nor promote these in any way. Sources might be biased. Make your own decisions.

Shias are infidels. The scholars are definitely infidels, the people, unknown.

...unislamic pic unrelated...

All Shias are infidels

Pokemon is haraam.

Saudi Women must cover one eye.

Pet animals are a threat to morality

OK to slap wives

Pigeon-breeding forbidden: act of sodomites

Soccer is forbidden.

Mice are to be exterminated: Mickey Mouse is haraam

Travelling haraam during Swine ‘flu

International Jihad haraam

Women-only health clubs haraam (arabic)

Women cannot go online without a male guardian

Women can hit back: outrage over fatwa

Cheating on non-Muslim wives/women okay

Islamic banking unIslamic (okay, this one is from Pakistan)

and so on…

I’m sure if there are any reader from the Kingdom, they’ll attest to the day-to-day challenges and issues that arise out of a simple inconvenience of following rules and regulations that are quite unique in the Islamic world. True, that following the Islamic law to the spirit is not very prevalent in the current world scenario, but there are places where that does happen, and it does not look anything like what SA has going on.

The ruling hierarchy in SA most often than not turns a blind eye on these rulings. In individual cases, their acts can overrule the religious fatwa (such as the release of the film produced by a Prince, support for soccer, traveling to the USA during swine flu season etc), but not vice versa. Also, they have the luxury of getting fatwas issues, such as fatwas against a few writers who were critical of the Saudi regime. After all, they are the rulers, right.

But the religious faction is all set to exercise its ruling rights too. Sweeping powers to issue laws and get them implemented does get to the head after a while. Currently, the Saud family has managed to curb the need-to-rule of the religious fraternity, but this need has previously, and again shall rise. The religion-fuelled activities in the wake of 9/11 led to some activity which was squashed. Something might gel them again. Think of it as two balloons with equal length strings in the same hand, both trying to occupy the same place and constantly bumping into one another.

The Saud family’s bump is currently stronger.

-FK

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(Ir+Om)an

17 06 2009

Iran, Oman & the Kish Gas Field

Yup, it’s official. Following my previous posts there was a pending visit, I was waiting for our Deputy Prime Minister to visit but it seems as if I have been upstaged by the govt. and now it is His Majesty himself who is going to pay the newly crowned Iranian President a visit. While this is significant on many levels, it is a bold statement by His Majesty to be the first head of state to visit the Iranian President after his elections. Whilst partial recount is underway, we really don’t know the state of Moosavi supporters’ unrest by the 28th. But it figures that the state police in Iran will have squashed all opposition to make it peaceful enough for our delegation to visit.

And the enoturage is impressive too. ToO states:

His Majesty the Sultan will be accompanied by a high level delegation comprising

Sayyid Ali bin Hamoud Al Busaidi, minister of the Diwan of Royal Court,

Gen. Ali bin Majid Al Ma’amari, Royal Office minister;

Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, minister responsible for foreign affairs;

Ahmed bin Abdulnabi Macki, minister of national economy and deputy chairman of the Financial Affairs and Energy Resources Council;

Abdul Aziz bin Mohammed Al Rowas, His Majesty the Sultan’s adviser for cultural affairs,

Dr Ali bin Mohammed bin Moosa, minister of health;

Maqbool bin Ali Sultan, commerce and industry minister;

Lt.-General Malik bin Sulaiman Al Ma’amari, inspector-general of police and customs,

Dr Mohammed bin Hamad Al Romhi, minister of oil and gas,

Sheikh Yahya bin Abdullah Al Fannah Al Araimi, the Sultanate’s ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Nice! That’s 7 ministers, 10 portfolios and 13 heads of profiles and 1 Head of State. Seems like Oman will get a corner of the international media for this event, since all spotlights are pointing there already. Oman will be like a minor character in a play suddenly sharing the stage with the main female lead who has been hogging the stage. Now whether this character uses this opportunity to do something screenworthy and make her presence felt or will just pass on the glass of water, play his minor part and exit left, is yet to be seen. Hoping it is the former, expected to be the latter.

But then again, expect important development to happen on the Gas Sharing thingies floating around. With the ongoing gas field deals, the joint gas and energy company setup, tourism and infrastructure deals setup, I want to think that nuclear issues are also going to be discussed, however I don’t think that is going to be announced anywhere.

Well, let’s see.

-FK





’tis getting hot-ter in here… so take off (uh uh)

1 06 2009

There is a typical suspicion of  all negative-event-monitoring-official agencies in the region. Naturally. The built-in GCC-ian deafult settings to always see a rosy picture, even if false, is so overriding as to be numbing sometimes.

So, naturally, seeing the heat-mini-boom the last couple of days, Fujairah officially announcing a recorded temperature of 50.2 celcius, and the local official mercury levels still not rising above 50 celcius has naturally raised concerns.

For my part, I officially lay these two questions on the table:

– Will the govt. officially announce the temperature if it measures it to be above 50 celcius?

– What abnormal ‘measures’ shall be taken countrywide in such a case?

Obviously, I’m not expecting the Ministry of Interior to come commenting on my blog!

In the meantime, another juicy tidbit offered up from our car’s thermo:

temp_sun31may

Maybe we can set a panic threshold realtive to my car’s thermometer.

-FK





How many Gulfs?

24 05 2009

That is an assumption of course. Since the Europeans created the Euro, the Gulfians should create the Gulf; and maybe have its symbol to be a stylized  G (okay, maybe not a G with a strikethrough!)

But still, what would it be named?* What would it look like? What would it show? Colors? Size? There are obvious problems. The GCC has 6 member countries and 6 local currencies. These are the:

Bahrini Dinar

Kuwaiti Dinar

Kuwaiti Dinar

Omani Rial

Omani Rial

Qatari rial

Qatari Rial

Saudi rial

Saudi Rial

UAE Dirham

UAE Dirham

So there are 5+7=12 heads of states that could look for space on the note; the color ranges could be from a soothing blue to a neutral gray to a rich red; the denominations could be as low as .005 of the base unit upto 500 of the same etc etc.

I’ve often thought, who decides such things? The Omani note, forex. Gray! Steel Gray with white! White on a currency note? Anyone expected it to remain white? And the dimensions? Following international standards, I think. But still!

As for the other issues, there are many toothsayers saying all sorts of things. GCC common curreny doomed. UAE plays its card. UAE move shows underlying differences. Currency on brink of failure. & the UAE itself is leaving options open.

I think its not as decisive as it should’ve been could be. The UAE obviously wants all matters pertaining to incoming funds within its jurisdiction at the moment. And the current crunch, if nothing else, tells them the imprtance of having cash-in-hand. On the other side, SA can use its behemothical size to roll this way or that and make the currency happen with or without UAE.

Oman, otoh, I think, has once again shown something that is much better, much deeper and much more decisive than all the other member states. I again do not know who makes these policies (the originators, the one fiscal expert who thought this up, “Let’s not join”), but this basically shows off a “good move” on the part of the country. After all, no one is going to tax Oman or levy any ‘late fees’ if we join later, right? The country has a good, solid 25-year plan going in full swing. The targets decided upon are very much on track, the proper assets are in the proper places to start all engines, but there is essentially no pressing need. Yeah, it would be swell to have tonnes of money and assets floating around, but we have a bit more than we want currently. So no rush. The UK was reviled and pointed at and accused of missing out on something ‘wow’ but they stood their ground and kept the Pound and still joined the EU. Years on, while they are not on top of the world, but they are not hurting either.

But I still think we should move away from the USD peg.

-FK

*A little birdie told me they’re planning to call it the ‘Khaleeji’. Expect all South/East Asians to call it a “Kahleeji” (with a ‘K’ intead of the throaty ‘Kh’)

Proposed Symbol

Proposed Symbol

The Arabic word ‘khaleeji’ (خليجي ) stands for ‘of the gulf’ thus the ‘G’ symbol with the by now customary central bar . And just as the ‘$’ symbol once so aptly stood for ‘ unit of silver ‘ letthe Khaleeji be understood as a ‘unit of gold’? The most convincing argument for such an interpretation is that having a gold/silver backed currency is considered the final leg to remove Riba (ربا ‘interest’ or ‘usury’) from the financial system, which is forbidden arcording to Islamic economic jurisprudence . Or, we can just use the Arabian affinity for gold.

O_O





Dodge the Dodge

23 05 2009

I’m impressed. Not that such a thing exists, it sure does, but that Kuwait is actually going to use it!

Basically the idea is to have two number-plate-recognizing cameras on a police car. The cameras scan number plates, query the head office database, get details and raise alerts of something amiss is found! It is capable of 50 scans per second. Sounds good. I’m assuming after that the policeman turns on the nitro boost, guns the engine and floors his vehicle, follows the offender’s, car, flashing lights and blaring horns and pulls the guy/gal over and books him/her, poor thing.

kuwaitpolice_charger

Something after 6 months, the policemen keep the camera off since they are instructed by the HQ as the DB cannot keep up with the flood of inquiries; tired of following every person, cannot decide who to follow in case of multiple results and are tired of the crappy WAP/3G/WAN/EDGE/GPRS/Radio data connection speeds that makes the HQ DB return replies to queries that were send an hour ago.

And kudos points to the Kuwaiti police for having the 2009 5.7-l Dodge Chargers!!!!

-FK





Growing Water

10 05 2009

“Supplier of Illegal Stuff Warned” Ooooo.. What  a headline! Now that’s a novel concept! Warning someone for Illegal “Stuff”. Not illegal alcohol, illegal marijuana but illegal “stuff”. Has a james bond-style sound to it!

“Hi there buddy. Whachu upto?”

“Stuff!”

O_o

So, Gulf news has national-level, sensational and ground-breaking news about how the supplier of some illegal stuff was “warned” in Ras al-Khaimah. Seems that RAK has experienced a sudden influx of “growing water“. It is, as per them, “an item” that expands rapidly once it comes in contact with liquid. When it is placed in the mouth, it grows in size, sometimes up to 10 times, and if swallowed it explodes in the stomach. Ooo.. exploding stomach. But Mentos does that too, right? Or maybe not!

So we have something that expands rapidly when it becomes wet and, as usual, children in schools are wreaking havoc with it. Hee hee! Sounds just right! If I were there, I’d just put it in the pants’ hind-area of a friend I have in mind right now, and pour a glass of water down her pants! Yippee!!

So what do the authorities do? Find the supplier, warn him. When more evidence of supply is found, warn him again. Reason? It is a “dangerous item” and needs to be “prevented from reaching the market“.

Now for my rant!

Expanding stuff is dangerous when injested? Well so are chainsaws when juggled with! And so are flaming cocktails when drunk sloppily. And I won’t even mention vehicular drivers.

But then what about things that are made to expand. Potting soil that grows to 14 times its size in 2-5 minutes! Soil jelly that fills a flowerpot from a pinch of crystals. I’d google more but get my point?

Short rant!

-FK






‘Nabil Nabs Pole Position’

2 05 2009

I like that post title! 🙂

Nabil ‘Nabs’ al-Busaidi has become the first Omani/Arab/GCC-ian to reach the North Pole. He was with the Oman North Pole Expidition Team and they managed to beat 4 other teams to reach the North first amongst themselves. Nabs, JP & Claire sacrificed sleep, food and rest to do so. This did result in the them hallucinating and falling asleep while walking. Sounds like something I do everyday. Also, on the last-leg Nabs ‘man-hauled’ (is that a word) 50kg of equipment and walked 650 kms!

Nabs

Nabs

My special interest in Nabs’ case comes from a seemingly random event in April last year. Sitting with a business associate (boss, more likely) in Qurum in a semi-business meeting, my associate recieved a phone call (after rejecting/silencing 20 of them). After talking for about 7-10 minutes, he ended the call & in way of apology explained that the call was from the Minister of Sport (my associate is a ‘heavily’ networked person). One of the chit-chats was about a young Omani who had been training in Bahrain & now was in final stages of his project and he wanted to reach the North & was enquiring as to how to get any media coverage and sponsorships. He was given due advice and an enquiry into a possible sponsorship by the Sports Ministry and so forth. At that time I was more awed by my BA’s seemingly-casual relationship with a Minister and forgoed the content.

Then this story started appearing in the news. I’d followed it from the start & now we see Nabil reaching his destination successfully. Kudos to him.

Edit: Nabs’ blog detailing account of the journey.

mountain_climbing1

BUT, We have a problem.

Seems there have been other Arabs & GCC-ian there already. Is there some difference (type of approach/ascent etc) or has the Ministry/reporter managed a faulty press release? (Thanks to Rich for fixing me, wherein I linked to this)

Help!

-FK