Showing posts from October, 2017

Saudi women gain access to stadiums: More questions than answers

By James M. Dorsey Saudi Arabia’s decision to allow women to attend sporting events in three of the country’s stadiums raises as many questions as it provide answers that go to the core of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s reforms and the kingdom’s sports policy. The announcement that women, long barred from stadia, would be granted access to stadiums in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam came weeks after the kingdom lifted a ban on women’s driving. The moves were designed to project Saudi Arabia in a favourable light at a time that it is seeking to attract badly needed foreign investment. It was not immediately clear whether women would have access to any sporting event of their choice nor was it evident that the decision would affect wide-ranging restrictions on the encouragement of women’s sports. Saudi Arabia has until recently rejected demands by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that women be granted the support and facilities to compete in all sports rat

Palestinian football chiefs hit out at FIFA over Israel decision (JMD quoted in Arab News)

Palestinian football chiefs hit out at FIFA over Israel decision DAOUD KUTTAB   |   Published —  Sunday 29 October 2017 FIFA boss Gianni Infantino revealed the decision on Friday. (AP) RELATED ARTICLES Palestinian football chief firm on Israel’s FIFA suspension Israel faces expulsion from FIFA Palestinian football chiefs hit out at FIFA over Israel decision AMMAN: Palestinian sports officials have claimed they were deceived by FIFA and that the organization’s decision not to sanction Israel for having teams present in the Occupied West Bank was the result of a power struggle within the governing body. On Friday FIFA revealed it would not reprimand Israel, instead de facto legitimizing Israeli action in the occupied territories. Susan Shalabi, vice president of the Palestinian Football Association, told Arab News that FIFA’s decision to do nothing regarding the Palestinian complaint was “a violation of both Swiss law and international

Crown Prince Mohammed’s vow to moderate Saudi Islam: Easier said than done

By James M. Dorsey Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s recent disavowal of the kingdom’s founding religious ideology had a master’s voice quality to it. His words could have literally come out of the mouth of his Emirati counterpart and mentor, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, but with one major difference: the UAE unlike the kingdom has no roots in ultra-conservative Sunni Islam. The absence of an overriding puritan religious history has made it easier for Prince Mohammed bin Zayed to campaign against Sunni Muslim ultra-conservatism and since the popular Arab revolts of 2011 suppress any expression of political Islam. To that end, Prince Mohammed attempted with little evident success to counter the Qatar-backed  International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) headed by Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, one of Islam’s foremost living scholars who is widely viewed as a spiritual guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, with the creation of groups like the Muslim Council of Elders

Saudi Arabia Is Open for Business, but Not Everybody’s Buying (JMD quoted in NYT)

SaudiArabia Is Open for Business, but Not Everybody’s Buying By KATE KELLY and BEN HUBBARD OCT. 27, 2017 RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — On a recent trip to Saudi Arabia, Richard Branson, the British entrepreneur who created the Virgin Group, was so inspired by the blue waters along the Red Sea coast that he stripped down to his swimsuit before his helicopter even landed. Since then, he has become one of the Saudi government’s biggest international business allies as it seeks to start three new megaprojects aimed at diversifying its oil-dependent economy. The projects are staggering in their ambition, if short on details. One is a business hub run on sustainable energy and staffed by robots. Another is an entertainment city near the capital, Riyadh. Mr. Branson is considering building inside one of those and is consulting on the third, an eco-tourism complex on islands in the Red Sea. Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy historically known for its oil and its hyperconservative v

Activists and Gulf crisis turn Qatar into potential model of social change

By James M. Dorsey Potential Qatari moves to become the first Gulf state to effectively abolish the region’s onerous kafala or labour sponsorship system, denounced as a form of modern slavery, could produce a rare World Cup that leaves a true legacy of social and economic change. In a rare kudo, Qatar’s fiercest labour critic, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), hailed a Qatari announcement that it was introducing far-reaching reforms as a “breakthrough.” The ITUC and human rights groups have campaigned for labour reform and abolition of kafala since FIFA awarded Qatar the hosting rights for the 2022 World Cup in December 2010. Despite activists’ frustration at the slow pace of change in Qatar since then, Qatar’s response to the criticism amounted to the sporting event creating a legacy of change even before it was held. Qatar became the first autocratic Gulf state to engage with its critics rather than refusing to talk to them and barring them

Egypt’s football Ultras fight on in battle over stadiums (JMD quoted in New Arab)

Egypt’s football Ultras fight on in battle over stadiums Jo Schietti Egypt’s football Ultras fight on in battle over stadiums Egyptian security forces have tightened an ongoing crackdown on football fans [Getty] Date of publication: 25 October, 2017 Share this page: In-depth: After Egypt qualified for the 2018 World Cup, parliamentarians have called on President Sisi to allow 'Ultras' football fans to attend matches and release those imprisoned, reports Jo Schietti. Tags: Egypt ,  football ,  Sisi ,  Ultras While Egypt is still in  euphoria over its qualification for the  2018 World Cup, the most dedicated football  fans - Ultras –  are facing an intensified  crackdown from Egyptian security forces in  a long-fought battle for access to stadiums. After Egypt qualified for the  World Cup in  Russia,  parliamentarians called on President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi  to allow the  Ultras to attend  matches - and release