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Saudi Arabia: Weird Allies

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Published on Jun 27, 2015

In three parts:
1. Introduction to the Abrahamic Religions
2. Fostering Extremism: 4:40
3. Exporting Extremism: 15:41

The show owes a debt to family and friends who sat through multiple viewings of this talk and offered immensely helpful criticism. For this I fed them pizza. Jokes were contributed by Tim Butterly, Chip Chantry, John McKeever, and Mike Rainey. It was directed by John Mckeever and filmed by McKeever and Chris O’Connor who put in enormous effort and, in turn, were once again fed pizza.

As for the information on Saudi Arabia—for this I relied entirely on the research and writing of other people. I made every effort to represent their material as accurately as possible (unless, of course, it was funnier to do it a different way). On the occasions where I did play loose with the truth I believe the conclusions drawn during the talk remain sound. The occasions (that I’m consciously aware of) are:

1. Najwa did not accompany Osama during the ’79 Afghan war. She and the rest of the family only went as far as Pakistan during this time period. It wasn’t until after Osama was kicked out of Sudan did she receive her regrettable showcase showdown. (Source: Growing up Bin Laden)

2. The pictures of Prince Sultan and Prince Fahd aren’t accurate. I would have no way of verifying their images because Saudi Arabia is notoriously secretive. That’s also certainly not a photo of Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab as he died in 1790, some thirty to forty years before the first photograph was taken.

Other hedges:

I feel a tad (I don't know, something) about the "for the first time in history we're probably going to get to see a dictator toppled not by guns and bombs but by something someone dreams up in a lab." I mean bombs are dreamed up in a lab, clearly. Hopefully you get what I was going for there--the non-violent nature of the thing created which will, in turn, have the same effect as violence did in the past. But then again the Soviet Union collapsed in a rather non-violent way considering the armament they had. I'm dumb. Fuck you.

The unemployment rate. In the talk I say 30-40%. Percentages differ greatly depending on who you read. The Saudi regime, unsurprisingly, would tell you that their unemployment is around 12% The CIA estimates it to be around 25%. But the CIA also estimates that the unemployment among 16-29 year olds in 29%. That number, however, is the average of men and women (women are, for the most part, only allowed to work with other women so jobs for them are scarce even though they hold more Phds than men). https://www.cia.gov/library/publicati...

Still 40% is pushing it. I got that figure here: http://english.alarabiya.net/en/busin.... I should have vetted it more thoroughly. Regardless, unemployment is a big problem in Saudi Arabia and the cause of it I stand behind: around a third of the time (averaged across grades) a Saudi student spends in the public school system is devoted to religious study. Their practical jobs skills upon graduating are limited.

Two news sources regularly report on Saudi Arabia and its human rights abuses. Those programs are: Democracy Now! & The Real News Network. Also, the journalist Patrick Cockburn does some great reporting on Saudi Arabia. Anyway I’m sure I’m leaving out a lot of good sources, but those are the ones I’m most familiar with.

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