By Arab News
By Nasser Salti
For weeks since the contagious uprisings took to the streets and squares of many cities in the Arab world, we have been hearing rumors about protests and “Fridays of Rage,” we received calls from friends and heard some reports about demonstrations and protests in Riyadh and other cities in Saudi Arabia. When asked about these reports, our answer always was: “Where are you getting all these stories from?”
My wife and I were sipping coffee Thursday morning when I asked her about the talk among women in the neighborhood and, what their take was on the would-to-be protests.
She told me that one lady asked her son what is he going to do after Friday prayer. The young man, in his early twenties, replied jocularly: “I do not know exactly but I would probably join my friends in the protest.” She asked him, “What protest?” dripping sarcasm, “For not letting you sleep until noon throughout the week.”
She said I know you are joking because just three weeks ago you and thousands of young people rallied throughout the city celebrating the king’s safe return following his treatment in the US.
But the city was waiting whether it would be protests or no protests. Those who have lived in Riyadh long enough know that the city has an instinct, and Riyadh, unlike what some Orientalists may think, has no mysteries and no secrets. That’s why people here until now never have taken the protest stories seriously. Friday night as the dust storm was sweeping over the city, my friend said, “I think God is on the side of the government, nobody will enjoy a protest in a dust storm”.
— Nasser Salti can be reached at [email protected]