While surfing the channels, I sometimes pass by Watani channel. This channel is basically a screen with short written summaries of news stories as they break. International news on a line at the bottom of the screen and a big white box in the middle covers local news. What’s special about this particular news source is that they cover local news that is not published in any newspaper, many of which are quite sensational. Two examples is on the Thursday they ran a story about a Saudi high ranking General being found burned to death in his car in an area north of Riyadh. And his family had reported him missing a couple of days earlier. Read the newspapers Friday …nothing. I googled Saudi general in English and Arabic and again nothing. On Saturday the story came out but it was only that a body of a 56 year old Saudi army general was found burned in a car north of Riyadh, close to Al Yamama College. No mention of names or cause of the fire. The chat forums were a lot more helpful. Especially one that gave the name of the general and the member also claimed to having had a phone conversation with the son of the deceased. He claims that the son told him that his father left the house on the Monday before in an apparently depressed mood and that he had left behind his wallet and cell phone. He also said that his father gave his mother a will in an envelope. Upon opening it and realizing what it was, they informed the police. Naturally, after this story everyone has assumed that he committed suicide. I find that hard to believe. But then I digress. Back to the Watani channel. It had the news first, on the day it broke and other news sources waited for a couple of days but they were not much more informative than the original source.
Another story I read on Watani that I know for a fact will not show up anywhere else except forums (translation from Arabic):
Investigations concerning a non gender segregated party organized by a Gynecology hospital in Madinah in which the director of the hospital and the general director of hospitals in a ministry were present. Threats about terminating the director’s contract. And there was a Bluetooth video of the party taken by one of the female employees which has pushed a number of husbands to officially complain.
I bet it was probably a quite mild and conservative party measured by international standards but to many Saudis, just having men and women mingling is equivalent to an orgy. Anyways if you can read Arabic and are in Saudi Arabia you can get Watani news on your mobile by sending an empty text to 82410. To tune in it’s Arabsat or Hotbird Satellite 11075 V 27500.