Is Saudi Arabia Ready to Forgive the Author of Cities of Salt?


What do you have to do to be stripped of your citizenship by a Middle Eastern monarchy? Well, you could be on the wrong side of a political divide, as has been the case with a number of prominent Bahrainis who are now living in exile in London.

Or you could write a number of novels lamenting the corruption of values and traditions in your society – including a novel about a fictional sultanate in the 1950s as its capital city is transformed by the arrival of oil wealth.

This was the fate of Abdulrahman Munif, a one-time oil executive turned writer whose travels took him to Iraq, Syria, Yugoslavia and Egypt. Always a Pan-Arab nationalist, his political sympathies drew him into the Baath party, and out again as he rejected the despotism of Saddam Hussain’s regime.

He, like Edward Said, the Palestinian-American author of the landmark treatise, Orientalism, blamed…

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