Friday, August 1, 2008

"If Olaya Street Could Talk" gives Americans a clear and fascinating perspective on Saudi Arabia

(Listen to podcast interview with author, below). Saudi Arabia is the whipping boy of the American public. Any time something goes wrong, blame it on the Arabs and the symbol of the Arabs remains an old, outdated video clip of King Faisal in old black sunglasses with a keffiyeh on his head and wearing long white gowns surrounded by similarly dressed sheikhs. King Faisal was a very dedicated Arab leader who did his best to bring the Arab World into the modern century without losing the cultural uniqueness of being an Arab. It continues today, but Americans only selfishly think of oil and blame their own troubles on everyone else, and Saudi Arabia often takes the beating.

But a new book is out that is perfect for American readers called "If Olaya Street Could Talk." It's written by an American, John Paul Jones, who launched one of the only real Arab American printing houses to focus on badly needed objective books about the Middle East, Taza Press at

Jones offers firsthand insights into the reality of Saudi Arabia and focuses on the Islamic-Western divide which is often exaggerated to achieve political agendas.

Olaya Street is the principle thoroughfare in Riyadh, which Jones notes is the equivalent to New York ity, a street he first saw in 1978 when he first arrived in the country. Back then, he remembers, it had goats grazing along its easements. But today, 60 story office buildings garnish the main arterial road. The cover photos alone show how the street changed from a desert highway with oil rigs and cranes to a bustling cosmopolitan city that Jones guides the reader through, offering a real, firsthand look at the Saudi people, their customs and their religion, Islam, a religion of peace.

Jones does what most other Islamic scholars and activists fail to do, separate the political agendas and their selfish needs from the reality of life, when the Vietnam Veteran returned home to find a possible opportunity working for a company in the desert kingdom.

What he brings back thirty years later is an objectivity and a truth that no one who has covered Saudi Arabia and the Arab and Muslim Worlds has ever managed to give the American public. An unvarnished, accurate look at the reality of life there without worrying about the political agendas that transform lies into truth and truth into propaganda.

"If Olaya Street Could Talk" is a book Americans definitely should invest what little money they have left from their salaries that isn't spent on gasoline and other products exploited by multi-national corporations and balmed on the Arabs.
Author John Paul Jones
Albuqurque, New Mexico
2007, 236 Pages

PODCAST INTERVIEW: POINT TO POINT. August 1, 2008: Ray Hanania interviews Author John Paul Jones on his new book "If Olaya Street Could Talk: Saudi Arabia the Heartland of Oil and Islam" published by Taza Press. A detailed look at the Saudi world through the eyes of a typical American. Listen to podcast?

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