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Saudi Arabia

  • How a Galilee Palestinian beat the odds to become an Arab Idol finalist

    On his way to the finale of one of the most important shows in the Arab world, Haitham Khalailah had to deal with the Shin Bet, restrictions on the movement of Palestinian citizens and the fraught connection between Palestinians in Israel and the rest of the Middle East. Will he be the second Palestinian in a row to be crowned winner? By Yael Marom and Henriette Chacar Haitham Khalailah, a 24-year-old Palestinian singer from Majd al-Krum, competed Friday night in the finale of Arab Idol - the most popular singing competition in the entire Arab world. Hundreds of millions of viewers…

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  • Letter from a Pakistani blogger

    Over the last few months, I have engaged in a series of conversations with Pakistani writers and academics through mutual friends. These talks have been a rare and fascinating opportunity to see their country through their eyes rather than through Western media sources. We've discovered some surprising common concerns and a mutual desire to stay in touch. We would like to write posts  occasionally for one another so that our audiences can share these understandings as well. The following is an introduction by Abdul, one of the participants, who writes his own blog tackling the stories of Pakistan that are…

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  • South Sudan's challenge: Avoiding a 'clash of civilizations'

    As South Sudan continues to build itself after less than a year of independence, Israeli businessmen are looking to profit both economically and ideologically from the potential Christian ally. Will the nascent country become a pawn in the clash between Islam and the West? By Christiane Marie Abu-Sarah Alongside the creation of the new Republic of South Sudan has come a flurry of excitement among political pundits, who see the nascent state as a perfect ally for Israel. As the reasoning goes, the Christian-majority South Sudan, which has long been embroiled in an internecine conflict with the Arab-Muslim population of…

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  • UPDATE: Clinton responds to Saudi women

    Since I posted the appeal of want-to-be driving Saudi women to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, I thought it worth mentioning that she has officially responded. Clinton called their actions "brave" and added that their goal is "right." She then stressed that the campaign for driving is a homegrown one, focused on equal rights, and is not being forced by foreign players. Her response did not immediately follow a letter by the women, sent to Clinton on 20 June. That merely received a response from the State Department spokeswoman, Victoria Nuland: “There are times when it makes sense to…

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  • Drive, Saudi sisters, drive

    Over a decade ago, I wrote a small piece about Druze women in Israel undertaking their own form of social initiative, by learning how to drive.  (It was sometime in 1998; the original internet magazine where it was published it no longer exists.) I remember being fascinated to learn that driving could be a key step towards slow, incremental change in gender roles in a traditional society, leading to social advancement and women's progress. I personally love to drive. I think that beyond the obvious physical independence, there’s something about the feeling of being on the road, free and fast…

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  • Arab republican dictators: A dying breed

    Six months ago, there were five Arab republican dictators. Now, all but Syria's president are out or on their way, and even Assad is facing his biggest challenge since succeeding his father a decade ago The "Arab Spring" of the last six months has already swept away the dictators of Tunisia and Egypt. Libya's ruler seems unlikely to survive, and the Yemeni president has agreed to step down in exchange for immunity. This means that the republican dictatorship, once an important type of regime in the Arab world, is on its last legs. Or, more accurately, its last leg. Syria's…

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  • Democracy, Islam and Israel: What's next for Egypt and the region?

    The prospects for democracy in Egypt will be affected by regional developments, and will also affect them in turn. While important elements in Egyptian society have been virtually ignored, Islamists' role has been greatly exaggerated in Western discourse, and nowhere more so than in Israel. Arab regimes that are more responsive to their peoples' voices may force Israel to change its policies, but that will ultimately benefit the country's own interests. It is hard to fully articulate the magnitude of yesterday's events in Egypt. The success of massive popular protests in removing Mubarak from power is an amazing development, which…

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