‘Inappropriate’ picture sparks controversy at Saudi university

May 12, 2011

An “inappropriate” choice of a photo to clarify a point by a visiting US academic led to the abrupt end of his lecture following protest from the audience at Taif University, a Saudi daily reported.

According to Arab News, people present at the lecture became deeply upset after Joseph Williams, an environment expert at a university in Ohio, showed a photo of a dog wearing a Saudi headdress.

Impact of climate change

The professor was lecturing on the impact of climate change on desert animals in the Saudi kingdom, and after displaying a picture of a dog in the United States, he showed the photo of a dog living in the Saudi climate, wearing the Saudi “shimagh” and “iqal”.

However, the audience did not see eye to eye with the professor and considered the photo an insult to the Saudi culture and national identity.

Williams apologised twice and said he did not mean to degrade the Saudi culture. The professor said that the photo had been given to him by a Saudi colleague who took it from the Internet.

However, Williams was not allowed to continue the lecture sponsored by the Saudi Society for Life Sciences and hosted by Taif University.




About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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