Thursday, April 26, 2007


I watched Unfaithful and The General's Daughter on MBC 2 a couple of nights ago. The television shows and movies that air on this channel are broadcast in English with Arabic sub-titles. That the Arabic, written in pronounced white or black, covers the entire bottom portion of whatever it is you’re watching is, at first, quite annoying. You learn to live with the pesky subtitles – there is no choice. Conversely all of the commercials are in Arabic and the ONLY programming without sub-titles; it is only the occasional word thrown in, for which I’m guessing there is no apparent Arabic translation, that you hear in English.

It was during one of the movies that I saw commercial where four men were cavorting and dancing together – in a semi-break-dancing-cum-rap-style – each of them clutching a bottled beverage in their hand. Odd, you think, that four men would be dancing together with no women? No, not in this culture – here in The Sandbox, anyway – where sexes are separated and men “party” together at one place and women at another. In a country where you see grown men holding hands as they walk the malls in long white dresses, four men dancing just doesn’t seem all that particular.

Instead, it was the beverage that was being advertised that I found odd. There must not be an Arabic translation for
Moussy [the non-alcoholic beer], and this is what piqued my attention. [Click on the link to see a commercial showing men in thobes AND women in haute beach couture*!]

“Hmmph. Imagine that.” Not realizing, then, that our satellite programming is transmitted from
Dubai, I found myself trying to rationalize** how a country that arrested 433 people and jailed and lashed 20 of them for partying could allow such a controversial promotion to air! Such audacity!!! [Sputter, sputter.] The young men in the ad should be jailed immediately, and as for the women – oh my oh my oh my! [Do your own Google search to find out what happens to women who defy Sharia law.]

Moussy is available for sale on shelves in most of the grocery stores; just the “light” variety; the “dark” version was removed from ALL grocery store shelves in this area of the Eastern Province a few years ago. Rumor has it that The Powers that Be found out that “we” could get wasted chugging dark Moussy’s, which contain only the slightest trace amount of alcohol, and poof! Gone. Just like that, the dark Moussy vanished.

It is true. The “rumor” is dispelled, here: “’Nonalcoholic’ beverages still contain some alcohol, because it’s difficult and prohibitively expensive to get every single bit of it out. In order to be called
nonalcoholic under federal laws, a beverage can contain up to half a percent of alcohol by volume. (Something with no alcohol at all is called alcohol-free.) So people who are forbidden to drink alcohol, like devout Muslims, can’t partake in so-called nonalcoholic beer and wine. It takes about 10 nonalcoholic malt beverages to equal the alcohol in one American-style lager, says George Reisch, a veteran brewer with Anheuser-Busch and the former brewmaster of O’Doul’s.”***

Huh? Wait a second! That said “people who are forbidden to drink alcohol” shouldn’t even drink the “Non-Alcoholic Beers.” Oh, never mind. It’s all too hypocritical for me to even attempt to decipher. I’m not saying that there aren’t any very, very strict and staunch followers of Islam who have never strayed from their edicts. I’m just saying that I know for a fact, having witnessed with my own two eyes, quite a few “locals” who choose to throw caution to the wind and
party like it's 1999. Dotsson, a fellow Saudi blogger, confirms that assertion and says, “Getting alcohol is not that hard of a problem if you know the right people but finding a place to drink that alcohol is a pain . . . The alcohol ban is not working so why don’t they just go ahead and open up pubs???

*Very, very “haram.” Both the consumption of alcoholic beverages AND mixing of sexes in public! Although perfectly normal behavior in most of the rest of the civilized world including in Middle Eastern countries such as Bahrain and the UAE, this behavior is completely unacceptable in The Sandbox.

**Rationalize? No such thing. This is a totally “LFZ.” [Logic Free Zone]

***Oh My Gosh! What a hoot “bladder busting” contests would be with non-alcoholic beer!!!
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