Monthly Archives: September 2011

Day’s end

Two things are remarkable about Riyadh: the frenetic pace of expansion and the sun that never sets but just sort of disappears into the cloud of sand on the horizon.


Bible Porn

The Saudi government classifies the Christian Bible as pornography. Here’s how you can tell.

Try to access from inside the Kingdom.  This is what you get:

Look at the URL redirect; this is the reason it is blocked:

Kind of makes you wonder about the Bibles they confiscate from incoming travelers and what happens to them.

Google commemorates Saudi National Day

Google has a special image today for Saudi National Day.

The regular Saudi weekend is Thursday and Friday.  The holiday will be Saturday.

Perversely, when I mouse over the image, it gives me the information “اليوم الوطني للمملكة العربية السعودية”, in spite of the fact that my laptop is set to English. So I have to right-click on the image, select image information, then copy-paste the Arabic inscription into Google Translate.  Thanks a lot, Google.

A friend identifies this image as Abu Jafan” (?) the castle used by Saudi’s first king, Abdul Aziz to launch his attack to retake Riyadh, but my guess is that it is Musmak castle in the old center of Riyadh. I have some good photos of the national museum, King Abdul Aziz Historical Centre, but don’t have time to look for them at the moment.  Here are three photos of the Musmak fort, taken unfortunately at sunset with poor light.




We decided that Google’s design doesn’t really spell out “Google” as you can only see the “e” and part of the “G”.  The rest of Google is locked up in the castle.  Appropriate.  Although Saudi Arabia does have internet, you this is what happens when you try to access an online Bible, an etymological dictionary, the Saudi forum of Dave’s internet cafe, or even try to translate a web page using Google Translate.


Parsing Gaddafi:

shebr shebr = inch by inch
beit beit = home by home
dar dar = house by house
zenga zenga = lane by lane

A dar—  in Arabic دار  — is a square building with two or three rooms. These two buildings have been pointed out to me by native speakers as examples of “dar”. 

This is a tourist police building dar.  I was inside it some years ago. I remember a large room and a smaller room for the head honcho.  They brought me coffee, so there must be at least one more room with a propane stove.

The small country house dar in the foreground with the laundry is occupied by tenant farmers. The wife has a relative in America. They always like to tell you this.

I’m not sure of the significance of hunting someone from dar to dar. Perhaps they only have one door, so someone taking shelter in one would have no escape route.