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    Tuesday, November 2, 2010

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    In an event that is considered a first of it's kind in Saudi Arabian media, The morning Show "Sabah Al Saudia" broke the norm of what you'd expect from a governmentally funded, low rating, channel, and brought a morning discussion about Unemployment in Saudi Arabia. For once, the show spoke of something that the public can relate to.

    As many Saudis would agree, unemployment is a serious crisis that is on the increase for quite sometime, with the market's focus on cheap foreign labor and -sometimes- ignoring the Saudi laws regarding the minimum needed percentage of Saudi employees.

    In Saturday's show, guests writer Sa'ad Al Dosari and Dr.Hasan Al Ajami (both famous for their writing in different local news papers) criticized the lack of compliance, cooperation and initiatives of the ministries and authorities, holding them responsible for the unemployment rise, and asking them to abide by their "patriotic responsibilities" to help the Saudi youth.

    According to several local and Middle Eastern sources (found -in Arabic- here, here and here) Hoda Al Hamid was fired from her job, and the rest of the cast were given warnings. The content of the show (in Arabic) can be found after the jump.

    The first part of the show..

    The second part..

    To summarize the points discussed in the show:

    • The Ministries of Saudi Arabia are not doing their best in providing more job opportunities to the unemployed and fresh graduates, limiting the number of available jobs vs the number of applicants.
    • The Ministries are NOT implementing the "Saudization" policies properly, and its actions and initiative towards enforcing those polices are almost negligible, since the number of companies evading it, or not doing it at all, are increasing. Most of these violating companies are in the private sector.
    • Setting the early years of Aramco as an example, almost no companies or government authorities are doing the same initiatives of taking in fresh graduates and training them to be more productive in the company.

    I honestly believe that the voiceless were finally given a voice to speak of the struggles they go through, and all this to only find a job that pays LESS than the logical minimal wage (which is not fully acknowledged in the kingdom). Unemployment issues in Saudi Arabia are usually muffled in the printed and visual Media, and never do they take their fair share of discussion in regards to : The causes, What should've been vs. what is happening, and on whom does the responsibility fall.

    The online community already suffers a good case of of pessimism towards the future of media in Saudi Arabia, and So far, there's a steady increase in what seems to be the only source of realistic reactions and opinions through Social Media (like this Twitter Hashtag). In a reality that is threatened with censorship, the ports to speak out are shrinking, and Hoda Al Hamid (the show's producer) paid her job (ironically, unemployed) for the sake of what her job description really is.

    And with authorities that are not big fans of any kind of criticism, this is highly probable.

    Currently, questions are showering the Media Minister's twitter account about the reality of this story, but no confirmation yet. Personally, i doubt he'll answer, because i think i already know his excuse.

    What can you do to help?

    • Bookmark this blog post to stay updated with the latest developments.
    • Write a blog and express your opinion and how this case makes you feel, about you or your job (incase you're in a related field). Send me a link to your blog and i'll post it here.
    • Start a Facebook page, or contribute to the Twitter trend, and demand answers on the reality of this story. If this is true, why was a reporter fired for merely "reporting" what we're all witnessing first hand?
    • The least you can do at this stage is share this blog, and the links of the news in this blog post, with all your friends and get this case it's needed exposure to alert the higher authorities of such a threat to the integrity of reporting news and facts, and most importantly, the TRUE feelings of those affected by unemployment.

    I'll be updating you regularly as soon as more updates surface, and I really hope that this is not what it seems, a blind future for the moody-media, reporting fiction, never facts.

    || UPDATES ||

    . Hoda is on the front page of Crowd Voice, support her cause by following her dedicated page. Links to several news sources, message boards and videos are also being updated on her page.

    . Show Support through her Facebook Page.

    . Hoda Al Hamed is featured on

    [ more articles can be found -in Arabic- on the CrowdVoice page ]

    || Progress ||

    News is starting to pour in from various sources (like here and here) and an AlArabiya (MBC Group) media personality, that the Minister is bringing the show, and all of its team, back on air after a suspension that lasted all through last week. There is no official updates from Hoda Al Hamid herself, but this is as good as news can get at this stage.

    And if this indicates anything, it indicates promising success in getting the cause heard. Have an almost-Congratulation, and i'll keep the updates coming in. :)

    Update: According to a recent tweet, it seems that the news about the return of the show was a decoy, a rumor of some sort, to absorb the outrage in the online community. The indication of the news is one thing, the indication of the news being a decoy is telling allot of what we're dealing with. a Propaganda machine.


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