Information Warfare: February 5, 2003


A recent State Department warning to Americans living in Saudi Arabia led to news stories of U.S. citizens fleeing Arabia. However, getting in touch with some of those civilians found that what was being reported, or misreported, was the annual exodus of Westerners living in Saudi Arabia, for their five day Eid Al Adha vacation. In addition, every year, Saudi Arabia plays hosts to millions of foreign Moslems making the Hadj, the pilgrimage to Islam's holiest places. Foreigners working in Saudi Arabia found this annual influx of pilgrims, and the subsequent crowding and general tumult a good reason to go on vacation. Asked if anyone actually was fleeing because of the State Department warning, local Westerners allowed as how there might be a couple of hundred or so people, but that includes some wives looking for an excuse to get out of the country so they can more easily divorce their husbands. The rest of the "departing horde" are the usual people leaving ahead of the Hadj influx and taking advantage of Eid Al Adha. Another example about how the media can report without explaining much.


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