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Saudi Arabia's Agricultural Project: From Dust to Dust
June 2008

Arid conditions have always prevented the development of any sizeable settled agricultural communities in the Arabian Desert. This article examines the events that led to and the lessons that may be drawn from a failed, politically determined economic and ecological policy created by poorly informed elite enjoying rentier economic circumstances. Beginning in the early 1980s, however, Saudi Arabia spent enormous amounts of money and exhausted massive volumes of water from mainly nonrenewable aquifers in an ostensible effort to achieve food self-sufficiency. On January 8, 2008, Reuters and other media agencies reported that the Saudi government abandoned its food independence strategy and decided instead to import the country's entire wheat needs by 2016. To read more...

Has Saudi Arabia found the answer?
TheMiddleEast Magazine Interview by Pamela Ann Smith
August/September 2008
MORE THAN 20 years ago Saudi Arabia launched a programme to ensure food security. The intervening years and spiralling costs of agribusiness have shown this to be unfeasible in the current climate. In an important and well considered shift, the kingdom has announced its decision to increase wheat imports in order to conserve its most vital, nonrenewable resource, ground water. To read more...

Saudi Islam, 9/11, and Further Dangers
Updated: November 2008

The two-day UN Interfaith Conference on November 12 and 13, 2008 proposed by Saudi Arabia to promote "dialogue on religion and culture" is a propaganda stunt aimed more at softening Saudi Arabia's image abroad as the hot bed of Islamist extremism than to soften Wahhabi Islam at home. It is curious that the Mufti (highest Saudi religious post) along with other senior clerics were absent from the Conference. If Saudi Arabia were serious about promoting dialogue on religion and culture the place to start is Saudi schools, mosques, and media, not theatrics on the world stage. The world would become a better place if Saudi rulers stop their Wahhabi ulama (religious scholars) partners from denigrating other religions and Islamic sects and from preaching that jihadism is the short route to paradise. To read more...