Saudi Arabia: Uncovered

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Saudi Arabia: Uncovered is a documentary that shows the “rarely” seen side of Saudi Arabia covering the religious fundamentalism in the country. This is a very tricky subject because many of the practices they engage in are clearly destructive and promote violence to other religions. However, many people in the western audiences ignore similar abuses by their own governments and use the terrible examples to excuse their own bad behavior. In my eyes it is fine to criticize both, but since most Americans are pretty much guaranteed to have no effect on Saudi domestic politics, a simple cost benefit analysis shows they should spend more time trying to reform the US.

The film completely excludes any discussion of the countries culture, architecture, food, history, religious nuance or really anything remotely positive at all. These are all topics that help build mutual empathy between populations and instead relies on using several victims (mostly children and women) to center the audiences feelings of sympathy. Some sympathy seems appropriate, but at the cost of hyper victimization where they are afforded very little agency the documentary is less productive than it could be.

On the subject of religious indoctrination through formal education they do perform a bit of a slight of hand by having a child give examples of the most prejudice things they learned in school “we should behead blasphemers,” but then admits that the worst examples were all removed from textbooks in the countries schools.  The documentary discusses how high the incarceration rates are but doesn’t mention the US is many times higher.

One important focus of the documentary is the relationship between the UK, the US and Saudi Royal family. Although their criticism isn’t a new one it does highlight the ways in which the regime is supported by weapons from the US and police training from the UK. This seems to be the most likely place for the audience to make a change by voting out politicians who continue to  support policies enabling the Saudi Regime to avoid reform.

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