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Politics aside, Saudi Arabia is a "specific place", and definitely not to everyone's liking.
To give it credit where it is due, it counts on some stunning vistas, on endless deserts, dunes and oases producing dates and delicious fruits. It is dotted with castles and forts, and of course, as the cradle of Islam, it has some of the most incredible historic sites.
A few years ago, the National Museum in Beijing, China, exhibited thousands of historic objects and images from the KSA. To those of us who visited, it was a tremendous discovery.
Unfortunately, what can be shown in China, could not always be allowed in Riyadh, Jeddah, Macca and Medina.
For decades, the Saudi extremist Wahhabism has been fighting against everything that is not perceived as holy: music, films, non-religious books, even the images of animals.
This religious extremism has been exported to all corners of the world. Paradoxically and bizarrely, it has been intertwined with Western, particularly North American, "culture". Extreme capitalism has been thriving all over the Kingdom. More oil, more kitsch.
Tremendous Muslim monuments had been dwarfed by lavish malls, badly designed and overpriced hotels, car culture and cheap US eateries such as Big M, Dunkin Donuts and Pizza Hut.
There is hardly any city planning, or connectivity in the major cities like Dammam, Jeddah and Riyadh, even when compared with the neighboring Dubai, Doha or Muscat.
According to The Independent:
"The destruction of sites associated with early Islam is an ongoing phenomenon that has occurred mainly in the Hejaz region of western Saudi Arabia, particularly around the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. The demolition has focused on mosques, burial sites, homes and historical locations associated with the Islamic prophet Muhammad and many of the founding personalities of early Islamic history."
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