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Geopolitics

ARABICA: Unemployed Saudi Women, 'Arabs Got Talent', Libya Teacher Killing

Your weekly shot of what the Arab world is saying, hearing and sharing.

On the road to Nalut, Libya
On the road to Nalut, Libya
Laura Thompson

Many Saudi women clueless about job hunting
A new government study shows that a full quarter of Saudi women aren’t sure how to go about getting a job. Employment among Saudis is being encouraged in a country dominated by foreign workers, and women’s rights initiatives like an internationally publicized driving campaign is a sign of the times in Saudi Arabia.

Response to teacher's murder in Libya
According to a Twitter user, Ronnie Smith’s grieving wife placed lit candles at the spot where the American teacher was assassinated in Benghazi, the city that served as a capital for the Libyan resistance.

زوجة الاستاذ الامريكي روني سميث الذي اغتيل �ي #بنغازي توقد الشموع �ي ن�س المكان الذي قتل �يه زوجها #ليبيا

— Sarah (@SarahFighi) December 7, 2013

His early morning murder came after a string of other killings, including a car bombing during a police officer’s funeral.

Smith, who described himself as “Libya's best friend,” had been teaching for over a year in a local high school. He was out for an early morning jog when several unidentified men gunned him down.

A number of Libyans tweeted translations of a post reportedly from Smith’s own Facebook page, published just over a month ago: “There is one thing Libyans are good at: making foreigners feel like family.”

Other Internet users criticized Smith, though without endorsing his murder. One Facebook user posted a note pointing to Smith’s relationship with an evangelical church in Austin, Texas. The church had posted a letter indicating that Smith was in Libya in part to spread Christ’s message.

Proselytism is illegal in Libya, and Christian missionaries have been arrested there as recently as earlier this year.

A Lebanese Superstar
Najwa Karam, a Lebanese singer and superstar judge on the recently completed Arabs Got Talent, found herself again in the spotlight — this time on Twitter.

لا تنسوا التغريد مع #مسبحة_ناصر#خاتم_حلمي#نظارة_علي أو #مراية_نجوى ل�رصتك بال�وز بأحدى واحدة منهم #ArabsGotTalentpic.twitter.com/pxiQQMzge5

— Arabs Got Talent (@ArabsGotTalent) December 5, 2013

“Najwa’s mirror” was trending Wednesday, next to #Mandela and #PaulWalker. Karam tweeted an image of her phone, asking, “Who will win #Najwa's Mirror? Follow us tonight, on our last episode of @Arabs Got Talent” — a reference to the show's motto "Leave your mirror, pack your luggage and be ready for the new season of Arabs Got Talent."

#NKO من سيربح #مراية_نجوى؟ تابعونا الليلة �ي الحلقة الأخيرة من @ArabsGotTalent لمعر�ة إسم الرابح pic.twitter.com/LQSeUWQeS3

— Najwa Karam (@najwakaram) December 7, 2013

Twitter users responded with a firestorm of “Najwa's mirror” hashtags.

Karam created controversy recently when she supported an American singer on what is typically an Arab-only talent show. Jennifer Grout, from Cambridge, Mass., finished third place in the finals. Here is a video of her final performance, in which she sings a famous song by Lebanese-Egyptian singer Souad Muhammad entitled, “I’ve Missed You.”

Beliebers In Tunis
A young Swedish-Tunisian girl living in Stockholm started a Twitter trend after she uploaded a YouTube video asking for Justin Bieber to bring his concert and his new 3-D Believe movie to Tunisia.


Her video plea is followed by a clip of high school girls in Tunisia singing their hearts out to Bieber’s “All Around the World” and declaring themselves “Believers” — not to be confused with Bieber's regular fans, called "Beliebers." One student, Sandra, tells the camera, “I really don’t want to stay home on Christmas Day while other believers are having fun watching the Believe movie.”

#BelieveMovieInTunisia !! <3 pic.twitter.com/GKLqcNrup6

— Follow me Bieber plz (@sarrabelieber13) December 9, 2013

Cold aggravates crisis for Syrian refugees
Following snow, ice and freezing temperatures, the UN is more concerned than ever for the almost one million Syrian refugees currently living in the Beqaa region of Lebanon. Many lack heat, wood for fires, and basic protection from the cold in their often watery tents.

One Twitter user lamented, “Where are the rich Arabs and millionaires while displaced children live in tents in #Beqaa in #Lebanon snow.”

أين أغنياء العرب و أصحاب الملايين عن أط�ال النازحين �ي #البقاع �ي #لبنان ثلج و عايشين �ي مخيمات pic.twitter.com/PPoQUBeO9d

— NURAN â˜�ï¸� (@3___NoOr) December 11, 2013

Saudi film wins Oscar nomination
Wadjda, the first feature-length film made by a female Saudi director, has been selected as the Saudi Arabian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards.

أ�ضل أحداث مهرجان دبي الدولي السينمائي كان قضاء وقتا ممتعا مع مارتن شين! كل الحب, هي�اء pic.twitter.com/6POm2fIB43

— Haifaa Al Mansour (@HaifaaMansour) December 11, 2013

Director Haifa Al-Mansour — center — with Martin Sheen at the Dubai Film Festival. Translation: "The best of the events at the Dubai Film Festival was spending fun time with Martin Sheen!"

Saudi director Haifaa Al-Mansour found her 11-year-old actress one week before filming began. In an interview with The Guardian, Al-Mansour said she was committed to using only Saudi actors, despite being hard to find — Saudi actresses, in particular. Her lead actress hails from a conservative family in the capital city of Riyadh, and she reportedly received permission from her family to act until the age of 16, at which time she would need to find a more respectable career path.

Al-Mansour’s film appropriately focuses on the nuanced lives of Saudi women in a country whose especially restrictive, “protective” laws make women’s mobility difficult, though women resist in all kinds of creative, vigorous and often endearing ways. Al-Mansour’s film found financing from the country’s most powerful prince, Al Waleed Bin Talal, the benefactor of a number of endowed professorships in some of the most prestigious U.S. universities (such as Harvard University and Georgetown University).

Here’s the official trailer for Wadjda.


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Geopolitics

Patronage Or Politics? What's Driving Qatar And Egypt Grand Rapprochement

For Cairo, Qatar had been part of an “axis of evil,” with anger directed at Al Jazeera, the main Qatari outlet, and others critical of Egypt after the Muslim Brotherhood ouster. But the vitriol is now gone, with the first ever visit by Egyptian President al-Sisi to Doha.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met with the Emir of Qatar in June 2022 in Cairo

Beesan Kassab, Daniel O'Connell, Ehsan Salah, Hazem Tharwat and Najih Dawoud

For the first time since coming to power in 2014, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi traveled to Doha last month on an official visit, a capstone in a steadily building rapprochement between the two countries in the last year.

Not long ago, however, the photo-op capturing the two heads of state smiling at one another in Doha would have seemed impossible. In the wake of the Armed Forces’ ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood government in 2013, Qatar and Egypt traded barbs.

In the lexicon of the intelligence-controlled Egyptian press landscape, Qatar had been part of an “axis of evil” working to undermine Egypt’s stability. Al Jazeera, the main Qatari outlet, was banned from Egypt, but, from its social media accounts and television broadcast, it regularly published salacious and insulting details about the Egyptian administration.

But all of that vitriol is now gone.

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