Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Whoa Now

Well well well well well. It's certainly been an exciting month and a half here in the Middle East. Saudi is surrounded on all sides by protests, and rumor has it there will be a Day of Rage here on the 11th of March. We'll see what comes of that. General sentiments here are that Qaddafi is a lunatic murderer who really really needs to go.

This stands in stark contrast to the all out We-Love-King-Abdullah bonanza that took place here last week around this time. The king returned from his recovery hiatus in Morocco to bestow a $35 billion gift upon his people in the form of debt relief, infrastructure, education funding etc. etc. But the Saudis want more. They want a monthly subsidy like the Kuwaitis get. They think that the petrodollars belong to everyone. Not being Saudi, I would settle for a first rate public transportation system...

But Riyadh got it's flag on, lining all the major roads with endless rows of flags. King Abdullah's face was plastered on every available flat surface. Companies would cover their entire building with a huge poster of the King, websites gave thanks for his safe return, and my classes were interrupted so the girls would have a chance to write a letter to their monarch. Saturday we had off thanks to the king's beneficence, and then Sunday there was a presentation to give thanks for his good health, and some little girls did a dance, and a little boy in a thobe and shmagh recited a poem. It actually seemed a little cultish, which was kind of awkward. They do love their leader here.

Which leads me to conclude that protests would be both minimal and quickly dispersed. They don't have a whole lot of tolerance for dissent here, and most people legit like the king. But as we've seen, the status quo has gone right through the window, and things may get surprising.

But, life continues generally as normal (except for a relative increase in news watching). Our second semester has started, and we're off to the races. This semester is much calmer than the last one, so things are going pretty well. Trying to see what we can swing for fun in the sun and make our own entertainment. Grapeleaves on Friday? I think yes!

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