There are no set rules or even boundaries for what could get a writer censored in Saudi Arabia. A person could be banned from writing for being too liberal, like what happened to Wajeha al Huwaider or a whole paper could be blocked from inside Saudi Arabia for being too conservative. The decision-making process of which writers, articles or whole websites get censored is also a mystery. A particular piece could be block and nothing more said, or an individual might be warned off publishing anything in a Saudi targeted medium. In the former case, it’s most likely that a big enough number of people called up the King Abdulazziz Technology City to complain and then a site is blocked. If then enough people complain about the unfairness of having it blocked, the KATC will claim that the whole thing was a mistake and unblock the site, this once happened to Amazon in 2006.
The most recent writer to get a government endorsed complete ban from writing is Mohammed al Rottayan. On the 14th of February, Al Watan newspaper published Rottayan’s satirical take on how different Obama’s aunt would have been received if she were a relative of a Saudi ruler or even a minister. Since then his popular daily column has disappeared and he has not been published elsewhere either. Badria al Bishr bravely wrote on al Hayat website an article asking where Rottayan is. She begins with the old proverbial story about Yousef. It goes that an Arab ruler meets with his people to listen to their complaints and concerns. So Yousef stands up and honestly speaks about his concerns. The next year the ruler meets again with his people and someone stands up and asks the ruler “where’s Yousef?”. She ends the article with a call to everyone to not be silent about what happened to al Rottayan.
Interestingly someone commented on Bishr’s article that they had seen al Rottayan at the Riyadh Book Fair and that he did indeed confirm that he is currently banned from publishing anything.