15 Oct 2009
One of Saudi Arabia's leading bloggers, Ahmed Al-Omran draws attention to under-reported stories and voices that deserve greater attention in the Kingdom and around the world.
In order to serve this critical role for an international audience, @Ahmed needs translations. That's because much of the commentary and reporting that he follows to keep abreast of developments in his country are in Arabic, but his blog - Saudi Jeans - is in English.
So it's great that Meedan is able to help.
Saudi Jeans has been an active voice following developments at the recently opened state-of-the-art research college King Abdullah University for Science and Technology (KAUST), not least on the vexed question of gender-mixing.
This is typically an issue that Western audiences will have difficulty interpreting. The idea of gender mixing is so common place in Europe and America that Muslim perspectives face marginalization. Muslim writers tackling the issue tread carefully, aware that terms such as 'gender segregation' are not always well received.
But contrary to Western expectations, and as Saudi Jeans points out, the majority of press articles on the subject in Saudi Arabia have supported the King's decision to allow gender mixing at KAUST.
In fact, Al-Omran suggests that when a young member of the Council of Senior Ulema - the highest religious authority in the country - criticized KAUST's co-educational status, the press backlash was 'aggressive'.
Sheikh Sa’ad al-Shethri was later removed from his post on the council.
The response to Sheikh al-Shethri's comments worried Saud Jeans because he felt it showed that commentators needed to engage in debate on more civil terms. So instead he drew attention to an op-ed written in response to the scandal that he felt demonstrated greater civility and insight.
Ahmed was then able to blog about the story.
This experience is just the beginning though - if you are an opinion former, write a blog, or research the Middle East, we want to encourage you too to join the Meedan Translations group, share your ideas for article translations between Arabic and English, and encourage your friends to join too.
Related articles by Zemanta
Saudi king sacks cleric for attack on his university (telegraph.co.uk)
King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (crunchgear.com)
Saudis open hi-tech science oasis (news.bbc.co.uk)