Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Whisky, women and weapons

by David Harrison from The Age

Saudi Arabia is a country run by a curious coalition of the wealthy, nepotistic House of Saud and the fundamentalist Wahhabi religious leaders. The royal family has ruled the desert kingdom - which has 25% of the world's oil reserves - since 1932 when King Abdul Aziz al-Saud united warring tribes under Sharia law. It has an historic connection with the Wahhabis, a branch of Islam linked to September 11, 2001, but King Abdullah's desire to modernise the country - he succeeded King Fahd who died two years ago - has created tension with the clerics who are resisting his attempts to liberalise education and give women more freedom.

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