Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Arabian Peninsula

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Arabian Peninsula

Article excerpt

GCC Urges End to Iraq Violence

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) called on April 8 for an end to the deadly violence in Iraq, urging Iraqis to prioritize "national interests" and the coalition to guarantee security, the Khaleej Times reported that day. GCC Secretary-General Abdulrahman al-Attiya released a statement from the GCC's Riyadh headquarters urging "all parties concerned. . .to immediately halt acts of violence to normalize the situation, lift the siege of towns and. . .spare the Iraqi people more bloodshed." Cautioning that the increasingly dangerous situation would lead to "chaos," he called on U.S.-led occupation forces "to fully assume their responsibilities to guarantee security for the brotherly Iraqi people." According to the statement, GCC member states Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates are in "solidarity" with the Iraqi people and are concerned for Iraq's "territorial integrity."

Saudi-Thai Relations Improving

Thailand's bilateral relations with Saudi Arabia are "improving," according to Thailand's new consul general, the April 4 Arab News reported. "We now have better bilateral relations as private sector representatives in both countries are interacting," Sukasem Yoth-asamutr told the newspaper. "There are plenty of opportunities and channels available for the two countries to promote cooperation in trade," he added. In 2003, trade revenue between the two countries totaled $2.12 billion, a 31.3 percent increase over the previous year. The consul also announced that some 8,800 Thais performed the last hajj, up from 8,374 in 2003. Furthermore, 109 Thai students are pursuing Islamic studies in Madina, and 13 in Mecca. Meanwhile, the paper reported, about 20,000 Thai expatriates work in the Kingdom, 15,000 in the Western Province alone. Thailand established diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia in 1957.

TV Host Goes Public With Abuse

Popular Saudi television host Rania al-Baz went public with the domestic abuse she suffered, shocking her fellow citizens by speaking out against violence against women, a seldom-discussed topic in the Kingdom, according to an April 20 Associated Press report. Al-Baz, who hosts the magazine-style show "The Kingdom This Morning" which airs on state-run Saudi Channel One, said her husband brutally beat her on April 10, leaving her unconscious. Al-Baz's story "has been widely reported in the Saudi media," according to the AP story, which reported that "a Saudi princess stepped forward to pay al-Baz's medical bills." Al-Baz told the AP that she plans to initiate a violence-against-women awareness campaign when she returns to work, devoting a special program to the subject. Her decision to speak out about her situation drew praise from many, including Arab News editor Khaled al-Maeena, who wrote, "She knew the story was going public, and she did not do that for publicity, she did it to help other women-because no man has the right to beat a woman."

Key Victory for Saudi Businesswomen

Saudi Arabia's Minister of Commerce and Industry Hashim Yamani recently announced the cancellation of the "representation by proxy" clause for Saudi businesswomen, the April 9 Saudi Gazette reported. Under the clause, businesswomen required male representatives or sponsors to process their applications at all government administrations. Most Saudi businesswomen considered this law an obstacle that restricted investment and commercial activity. …

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