The most famous Saudi in the world

Recently, a Saudi cleric had his fifteen minutes of fame, to use the phrase supposedly coined by Andy Warhol. The cleric proclaimed in a recent TV interview - a video that made news around the world - that the Earth does not rotate. Indeed this prompted many of us to bow our heads in shame.

Instead, we would have wanted to show the world young Saudi men and women working in laboratories and international research centers. We would have wanted the world to know about their impressive achievements and discoveries. We didn't want the world to identify Saudis through a naive person who finds it difficult to understand a basic scientific fact. As we live in an era in which science is dwindling, it's no surprise to find people like him among us.

Dear astronomical genius Sheikh Bandar al-Khaibari, you have embarrassed us in front of the whole world. You have made headlines across the Earth, which you refuse to believe spins. You have achieved a fame that our scientists, elite students, writers and artists failed to achieve.

Off the edge

In the fifteenth century, Christopher Columbus and other sailors were navigating westward in the ocean, frightened by the idea that their ship would get to the edge of the flat earth and fall off into the dark, unknown abyss. They thought that the earth was flat and static. These geographic discoveries were the catalyst to understand the Earth and the universe at a later stage. Thus scientific breakthroughs evolved; the West advanced and Muslims slept in that particular century and they are still in a deep slumber until now.

As we live in an era in which science is dwindling, it's no surprise to find people like him among us

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

The world only knows Muslims through al-Qaeda, ISIS and some fools who serve as grisly entertainment for the masses. Extremism, sorcery and superstitions are the consequences of the degeneration of a region. All that we can do is to laugh at ourselves with the world, hoping that this will perhaps awake the sleepers among us.

In the United States, there are more than 100,000 Saudi students studying in universities in various fields of science. They have been sent to study there and their tuition is fully paid, along with their living expenses, in order to change the image that theory of the famous cleric who thinks that the earth revolving around the sun is nothing but a Hollywood lie that aims to change society and make the people get on the train of science and civilization and abandon the coffins of underdevelopment. Let's keep talking about the educated community and the education that stimulates thinking, debates and social changes, not the education that refuses to evolve.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Feb. 20, 2015.


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Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:46 - GMT 06:46
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