Sunday, May 07, 2006

Weekend Reading

(Carole Lombard)

First, I would like to recommend Mr. and Mrs. Smith to anyone interested in a great screwball comedy from Hitchcock. No this is not the one with Brad and Angelina. It stars Carole Lombard - quite a looker, who was married to Clark Gable - but who unfortunately died in a plane crash, as fate would have it, according to Wikipedia (always an authoritative site) her final film was in post-production and her character says at one point: "What can happen in a plane?" The producers wisely cut that line out of the final version.

I would also like to highlight two pieces on writers that all of us here at al-Nawadir enjoy. The first is a speech given by Orhan Pamuk at the latest PEN conference and published in NYRB. The second is from the Guardian on Taher Ben Jelloun.

In Yemeni news, there is an article by Abd al-Salam Tahir on a confrontation between qat sellers and police in the governorate of Dhalla' over the attempts of certain police or security forces to raise the tax on qat. Now, in Yemen qat is supposed to be taxed, but it often is not, as the security forces usually just take a bag or two instead of a tax, or bus or taxi drivers will help the sellers or middlemen hide the qat from the soldiers in exchange for a take themselves. The result being that the state loses money - although corruption is so rampant it is unlikely the taxes would make it to the treasury anyways. This happens quite often, and it just so happened that al-Sharq al-Awsat decided to write about it this time.

Al-Sharq al-Awsat also features a column by Abd al-Rahman al-Rashid on Yemen becoming a new GCC member. Just for the record, I don't think this is going to happen anytime soon, unless their is outside influence put upon the current GCC states - Yemen has too many problems that would reflect poorly on the GCC.

Al-Hayat has a piece saying that 'Ali Abdullah Salih has ordered the release of Muhammad Badr al-Din al-Huthi, who according to the report was captured last year by government forces around Sa'dah. This is yet another important move by the government in its attempts to diffuse the situation in Sa'dah.

Al-Arabiyya has a piece about Saudi men marrying Yemeni women as does the Arab News from Saudi Arabia. The two pieces are so similar that it is my guess that the Arab News cribbed the report from al-Arabiyya, which is all too common a practice for English language newspapers in the Middle East. Of course, the most famous Saudi with a Yemeni wife is Osama bin Laden.

Al-Arabiyya also has a report on the latest clash between the religious establishment in Yemen and the intelligentsia. This time it is between the poet Ali al-Muqari and the former Minister of Religious Endowment Nasir al-Shaybani. Al-Muqari claims that certain mosques in Yemen have called for him to be punished and that al-Shaybani has said he was an infidel. The piece explains that this is largely due to his poem تدليك
which I am translating as "massage," although I'm perfectly willing to conclude that I might be mistaken, as I am not that familiar with al-Muqari's work and can't seem to find his diwan in my library although the article says it was published in 2004. I'll pick it up this summer if it is still available. Anyway, this bears watching.

Khaled al-Hammadi of al-Quds al-Arabi reports on a recent opinion poll regarding the upcoming elections. 1500 people from 10 governments participated in the poll, which found that only 57 percent of the respondents would vote for Salih if the elections were held today, while 42 percent agree with Salih's decision not to stand for re-election. The poll is actually quite shocking - only 57 percent, in a region known for much higher numbers for incumbent presidents. Still, this poll agrees nicely with what I have long suspected and what many other local observers have been saying for the past 2 or 3 years that President Salih has roughly 60 percent of the population that would vote for him. Nice to have it confirmed even if the transparency of the poll is far from certain.

Also, I wanted to bring to your attention one reporter that I've been reading lately, Christian Chaise of AFP. I've been quite impressed with the quality of four of the reports I've read by Chaise on Yemen. I've linked to them here -I could only find two - but they are all in English. Unfortunately, most US papers don't use AFP as a news service, but Chaise is doing good work. On corruption, on a female presidential candidate in Yemen.


At 5:10 AM, Blogger Omar Barsawad said...

They don't have such stunningly beautiful stars in Hollywood anymore! Or so it seems to me! Judy Garland, Elizabeth Taylor, Ava Gardener, Sophia Loren, Rachel Welch - those were women!

I have always considred Hitchcocks ' Psycho' as the most terrifyng movie I have ever watched; the balack and white one -not the poor recent remake!

It is interesting how, in your postings, you mix up Western themes with your reflections on Yemen.

There are certain aspects of Yemen that are very good: I don't have to worry about gangs and thieves attacking my home in Mukalla; Yemen is one of the very few countries in the region that allows refugees from the Horn of Africa to freely move; Yemen depends on its own hard working labor force - it does not use foreign labor like some of its neighbors. Yemen is more democratic than most of its neighbours, if not all. And aren't the people of Yemen most friendly?

At 6:09 AM, Blogger al-Zabaniya said...

I agree the people of Yemen are most friendly - although I would quiblle with your comment on refugees. Yes, some are allowed in but not all by any stretch of the imaginatioin (Yemen's porous borders and coastline make this impossible) but they are abused by the system once they are in the country. Still, Yemen is a wonderful country, what country doesn't have problems.

As for Hitchcock my favorite has always been Notorious with Ingrid Bergman, although she is the most enchanting actress I've seen on screen and so I'm a bit biased. Dial M for Murder and High Sierra are bouncing around on DVD and should be viewed soon.

I think TCM is running a feature on the leading ladies of Hollywood, which will feature all the women you mentioned. June will be an exciting month I only wish I could be in the US to see it, but duty calls.


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