I left my son in a kingdom of men

I read this article published in The Washington Post with a great deal of interest. I’ve a Saudi friend who tells me that the issue of women driving is more to do with business and economics rather than religion. If women are banned from driving it keeps businesses like chauffeurs, limousines and taxis profitable. If women drive, these firms would get far less business.

I also know a Westerner who married a Saudi, and can’t get a visa to go to that country. The marriage took place in a non-Arab country, under British law, so it is not deemed valid, as far as the Saudis are concerned. It’s just as well there are no children involved.

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Qatar row: Economic impact threatens food, flights and football

I’m more than a little bit curious abut how this latest row between the Arab Gulf States will pan out. Will there be a military standoff between Qatar and the other Gulf States and Egypt? Will all nations suffer because of this? Given that Qatar is punching above its weight, and its threatening the supremacy of Dubai in the region - with its developing financial system, strong and growing airline, and a world-class news network- I can’t help but think that this row with Qatar has more to do with the economic threat it poses to the UAE than with ideology.

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Hackers leak emails from UAE ambassador to US

It has been known for some time that the UAE, along with the some of other Gulf countries, have been forming a closer bond with Israel, as a buffer to Iran. This article from the Qatar-based Al Jazeera confirms this.

 It also shows how the UAE is increasingly concerned about the strength of Qatar, especially as a financial centre. Qatar also has different political alignments from those of the UAE and Saudi Arabia, which this article highlights.

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Donald Trump is a "true friend" of Saudi, says Deputy Crown Prince

We know the animosity between Iran and Saudi Arabia, Shia versus Sunni. This article that appeared in the UK"s Independent newspaper the other day illustrates how wide the hatred between the two countries has become- or is the "cosiness" between Saudi Arabia and the USA?

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Iran: making the most of it

Recently I was elected president of Queenstown Travel Club and at the first meet up of the year we learned all about Iran. Here is what the speakers said.

Jon and Robyn Bitchero talked about their experiences in Iran when they spoke at the Queenstown Travel Club, which met on 27 February. They pointed out how different Iran is from the way it is portrayed in the media. Referred too in the ancient world as Persia, it conjures up romance, great food and great living. In contrast, the country Iran often conjures up visions of burqa wearing women (which is often not the case), tyranny and evil. Yet it is the same country.

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What next for Israel?

One of the most intractable problems of the Middle East is the relationship between Israel and Palestine. It's always been problematic and it always will be. I doubt that the problem will be resolved, at least any time soon.

I went to Bethlehem from Jordan three years ago, travelling into the Palestinian territory via the Allenby Crossing via bus, as a journalist.  I was with several coach loads of Palestinians going to Bethlehem to attend a conference on Palestine- or at least to obtain a visa so that he/she could enter the Palestinian territory in the first place. What an experience.

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Is Islam "exceptional"?

Imam Mohamed Magid pause as he prays at the mosque of All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) in Sterling, Virginia, U.S. May 19, 2016. To match Special Report USA-EXTREMISTS/TEEN REUTERS/Carlos Barria

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