Saudis Continue Steaming Toward the 7th Century
Sharia tourism: visit your far-flung wives!
A new Saudi plan to stimulate intra-country tourism involves the promotion of harems, notes Youssef Ibrahim. No wonder even Saudi citizens are laughing at their government.
by Youssef M. Ibrahim
Here’s an official plan submitted to invigorate tourism in Saudi Arabia: Marry four women, domicile them in corners of the kingdom, travel to visit each during the year, and — boom — you’ve stimulated airline business, hotel occupancy, and car rentals. This was submitted by none less than Hassan Alomair, director of self-development in Saudi Arabia, at a Jeddah conference for the development of internal tourism.
The project combines piety with efficacy by uniting Sharia’s entitlements to multiple wives with economic stimulus, Mr. Alomair argued. Sharing the dais was the female dean of the school of literature at King Faisal University, Dr. Feryal al-Hajeri, who remained silent as he prescribed his harem-induced economic scheming.
Not so with the readers and bloggers on the Saudi daily Al Watan’s website, which lit up on February 12 with commentary. “Why not make it four cows? He can fly around to milk them,” one said. “If that is the mentality of our director of self-development,” another asked, ”how are the others in that department?” There was plenty of accord with Mr. Alomair too. Some saw his idea as a “pillar” for building a true Islamic society, a “refuge” for unmarried Saudi women, and a “cure” for a widening spinster phenomena.
Dumbfounding episodes of this variety occur weekly in the Arabian Gulf and are regularly exposed by a growing contingent of brave reporters. Remember the girl condemned to 200 lashes for protesting being raped and that Saudi businesswoman arrested at a Riyadh Starbucks and jailed for having coffee with a male subordinate? The girl of Qatif was pardoned under world pressure but most victims of Saudi religious dementia are never heard from. Alas, if anything, new installments keep on illustrating a Saudi government sailing into the 21st century with social laws of the 7th century.
1) Saudis Continue Steaming Toward the 7th Century