- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 2, 2002

Women are heard, but needn't be seen

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia Sheik Mohammad bin Jubair, head of Saudi Arabia's all-male Consultative Council, has ruled out naming women to the appointed body.

"The participation of female citizens in the decision-making process [of the Council] already exists," by inviting female experts to specific debates, Mr. bin Jubair told a seminar Monday held to commemorate King Fahd's 20 years on the throne.

"It is not important for women to be physically present, because the goal is to hear the opinion of specialists be they men or women," he said, responding to a question from a Saudi woman attending the seminar.

He made his remarks as the council took the rare step of inviting 50 women for a debate on the high cost of dowries.

The women sat in a separate hall.

GCC offers Yemen initial participation

MUSCAT, Oman The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has offered to allow impoverished Yemen to join some of its agencies in a first step to full membership of the club of oil-rich monarchies.

A statement published here Monday after a two-day summit of the leaders of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates said Yemen would be allowed to join the Gulf council of health ministers, the regional education bureau, and the council of labor and social affairs ministers.

"Other cooperation measures, notably economic, will follow," the statement said.

Yemen, which is not geographically on the Persian Gulf but located on the southwestern corner of the Arabian peninsula, has since 1996 sought entry to the club of oil-rich monarchies.

Algerian police block Kabylie elders' protest

ALGIERS Algerian police prevented a planned protest here in the capital on Sunday by about 40 village elders from the troubled northeastern Kabylie region of Algeria.

The ethnic Berber demonstrators had planned a sit-down protest outside the U.N. building, but police barred their route and they did not persist.

Several hundred more protesters had been expected from Kabylie the scene of riots in April and June that claimed 82 lives but police intercepted them on their way to Algiers.

Weekly notes

Former Bosnian Muslim leader Alija Izetbegovic, 76, who was flown to Saudi Arabia on Saturday with heart problems, was still in intensive care Monday but his condition was stable, an official at the cardiac unit of King Faisal Specialist Hospital said.

… Young Iraqi singer Mohannad Mohsen will take part in Saudi Arabia's annual Janadria cultural festival this month, becoming the first Iraqi artist to perform in Saudi Arabia since 1990, organizers announced.

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