Saudi Arabia & things that caught my eye this week

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Saudi Arabia

I spent a good deal of this week listening marketing research interviews including respondents from Saudi Arabia. What became apparent in the interviews is that Saudi Arabia and its society is changing. What would be expected to be minimum standards and norms acceptable in ad imagery is changing. The same phrases kept coming up:

  • It’s different now
  • Its not like it was
  • Saudi Arabia has changed

I was wondering why I was surprised. I knew that big bands like BTS and top EDM DJs had played in the country and that it had developed a nascent coffee house culture.

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia by Andrey Filippov

But we all have engrained preconceptions and this week I was confronted by one. I won’t deny that it had a good deal to do with experiences friends had living the ex-pat oil worker compound life and the Jamal Khashoggi execution.

The Disk

The Disk: the real story of MP’s expenses is a documentary film by The Telegraph. Back in 2009; The Telegraph wrote a series of stories on MP expenses claims. Ten years later the newspaper is still making hay from the story with a podcast series going over how the story broke Serial style and a feature-length documentary film. It was a big story, but The Telegraph journalists have slightly inflated view of its importance.

The Telegraph

It raises some questions about changing news media economics. The old British adage that ‘today’s news is tomorrow’s chip paper’ – meaning news is time-dependent is no longer true. This is the kind of film that I would have expected on Netflix or Amazon Prime; instead its a trailer for the podcast series. Any money that The Telegraph is making from YouTube advertising must be very small compared to how they are monetising the podcast series.

Right Up Our Alley

Right Up Our Alley is a promotional film for a company that specialises in operating drones for filming. The bowling alley featured is a classic slice of mid-century Americana design straight out of American Graffiti. The shots in one take are amazing.

Stop Asian Hate

Things came to a head this week with the shooting of eight people, of which six were Asian Americans. It was an inciting incident that ignited a push back in the east and southeast Asian community.

This week

The truth of it is that there has been a lot of prejudice in society that bubbles to the surface. East Asians are seen as ‘rich soft marks’ by petty criminals in London. Things that normally remain under the surface have emerged with COVID-19. The asian identity has been conflated with the Chinese communist party and its handling of the situation. If you’re part of the problem you probably wouldn’t even know what conflated meant and are unlikely to be reading this blog.

More on what you can do here.

Do Not Split

Do Not Split is an Academy Award nominated documentary short film on the Hong Kong protests. It was shot by Norwegian director Anders Hammer for Field of Vision. It also featured in Vimeo’s picks of the day. It gave me goose bumps watching it, because of the familiarity of the areas in the film to me.

This reinforced opinions I have formed about the resilience and professionalism of the police force that the protestors confronted, listening to research by Clifford Stott. I suspect that the Hong Kong Police would struggle to operate in Northern Ireland or even London during protests. At they’re confronted with at worst; is still exceptionally mild compared to marching season in Derry post-Good Friday agreement, let alone during the Troubles.

There is a certain irony in this. The UK crowd control / riot policing model in the mainland and Northern Ireland was based on experiences shared by colonial police officers who’d served in Malaya, Aden, Kenya and formal knowledge sharing by the Hong Kong Police in the early 1980s.

Secondly, the self-initiated implementation by the Hong Kong people shows up the Hong Kong governments early inaction on COVID-19.