Saudi flight academy opens applications to women as mobility restrictions lifted
- Oxford Aviation Academy has received hundreds of applications from women at its flight school branch in Dammam.
- The change comes as the government has lifted a decades-old ban that prohibited women from driving or traveling without permission.
- Despite the legal relaxations, women still face a number of mobility obstacles, including many derived from the country’s guardianship laws.
“Saudi aviation academy to train first women pilots” (Reuters | July 2018)
“The ban on Saudi women driving is ending: Here’s what you need to know” (CNN | June 2018)
“How Guardianship Laws Still Control Saudi Women” (The New York Times | June 2018)
Saudi transman speaks out at conference as Saudi Arabia reportedly mulls ban on trans pilgrims
- Salman Al-Dukheil spoke at Trust Women, a London-based international conference on women’s rights and human trafficking, about his experience as a Saudi transman whose life has been split between Saudi Arabia and the U.S.
- Conflicting media reports have indicated that the Saudi government may be considering a ban on transgender pilgrims for Umrah, a pilgrimage to Mecca that, unlike the Hajj, can be undertaken at any time during the year.
- While there is no official law against transgender identity, police have arrested people for cross-dressing and, for men, effeminate behavior.
“Saudi plan to bar transgender persons from performing Umrah is un-Islamic: Ghamidi” (The Express Tribune)
“Transgender Saudi man speaks out publicly for first time to help others” (The Thomson Reuters Foundation)
Trust Women: Salman Al-Dukheil
Indonesian women continue migrating to Middle East for work despite government ban
- A new report from Migrant Care has found that more than 1,000 women have traveled to the Middle East for domestic work despite government moratorium.
- The Indonesian government announced a ban on any new labor-based migration to the Middle East in May 2015 after several high-profile reports of abuse.
- The revelation comes amidst ongoing efforts by the government to formalize labor practices in the domestic services industry both at home and abroad, with an estimated 2.3 million Indonesian domestic workers abroad and an additional undocumented population.
“Indonesian women defy ban to work as maids in Middle East: survey” (The Thomson Reuters Foundation)
“Indonesia plans to stop sending new live-in maids abroad” (The Straits Times)
“Six Gulf countries informed of Indonesia domestic workers ban” (Gulf News)
Iranian pilgrims denied travel rights as diplomatic row between Iran and Saudi Arabia continues
- Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization announced that Iranians would not be allowed to make the annual trek to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
- Relations between the regional rivals have deteriorated in the wake of Sunni-majority Saudi Arabia’s execution of a prominent Shiite cleric, which led to violent protests at the Saudi embassy in Tehran and Riyadh’s severance of diplomatic ties.
- In September 2015, hundreds of Iranians were among the thousands killed in a stampede in Mecca, and the continued absence of an official Saudi report has exacerbated tensions between the two countries.
“Iran says its pilgrims will not attend haj in Saudi” (Reuters)
“Iran pilgrims to miss Hajj amid row with Saudi Arabia” (BBC)
“Iranians will not perform Haj this year” (Gulf News)
(Image Credit: Ahmad Masood/Reuters)
Lebanese immigrants in the Gulf fear deportation as GCC-Lebanon relations deteriorate
- Relations between Lebanon and the Gulf Cooperation Council have deteriorated after Lebanon refused to condemn attacks on a Saudi ambassador in Iran.
- Sunni Gulf countries have targeted those viewed as sympathetic or connected to Shiite group Hezbollah in Lebanon, though Lebanese immigrants fear what constitutes “sympathy” or “connection” may be broad and arbitrary.
- To date, Bahrain and Kuwait have deported Lebanese on the basis of Hezbollah sympathy, and Lebanese in other Gulf countries fear their visa-renewal process.
“Lebanese expats fearful as Gulf expels dozens accused of Hezbollah links” (Reuters)
“Bahrain sends home Lebanese citizens” (The National)
“Saudi Arabia’s bitter Lebanese divorce” (Reuters)
(Image Credit: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
Saudi man arrested in Jeddah for flying rainbow flag
- The doctor was arrested by the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, Saudi Arabia’s religious police, for displaying the international symbol of LGBT pride.
- The man claimed to be unfamiliar with the meaning, having purchased the flag online because his children enjoyed it, and was later released on bail after an investigation and the removal of the flag.
- His arrest comes as Saudi authorities have announced that “soliciting homosexual acts” via social media will be punishable by death.
“Saudi man arrested for flying Pride flag above home” (Middle East Eye)
“Saudi man arrested for flying ‘pretty’ rainbow flag, had no idea it represented gay pride” (Al Bawaba)
(CNN Arabic) طبيب يرفع علم “المثليين” على منزله بجدة.. والقتل تعزيراً قد تصبح عقوبة الشواذ المجاهرين إلكترونياً
(Image Credit: via Al Bawaba)
Saudi Arabia reduces sentence for poet from death to imprisonment and lashes
- Palestinian poet Ashraf Fayadh, a refugee in Saudi Arabia, had initially been sentenced to four years in prison and 800 lashes for apostasy, but was sentenced to death on appeal.
- Fayadh will now face 16 years in prison, receive 800 lashes, and must publicly apologize and disavow his work.
- Fayadh’s case stirred a fierce response from the international community, including artists, celebrities, nonprofits, and other human rights advocates.
“Palestinian poet Ashraf Fayadh’s death sentence quashed by Saudi court” (The Guardian)
“Saudi Arabia Reduces Ashraf Fayadh’s Death Sentence to Eight Years in Prison and 800 Lashes” (Global Voices)
“Lawyer: Saudi court revokes poet’s death sentence” (AP)
(Image Credit: AP, via The Guardian)