The number of coronavirus infections countries report to the World Health Organization change daily, often twice a day. However, Saudi Arabia and UAE stopped reporting their coronavirus infections over the last three days.
As of Wednesday March 18, Saudi Arabia has reported 344 cases and the United Arab Emirates has reported 140 cases. None reported any deaths. These infections have not changed since that date, which under the circumstances, it is simply impossible. There are more Iranian agents roaming UAE than any other country, and considering Iran’s infection rate, it sounds implausible that UAE’s own infections can freeze in time.
IF LEBANON CAN DO IT
It is possible that both countries are overwhelmed with logistical challenges, as it is possible both countries are implementing better monitoring techniques, which might explain the delay. But if little Lebanon, reeling from financial woes, is able to report accurately at least once a day, both Gulf nations should be able to report as well. In not doing so over a period of three days raises some alarms.
There are several reasons for which Saudi Arabia and UAE may be deliberately withholding their coronavirus infections.
- Saudi Arabia is in the midst of an internal upheaval as the de facto ruler Mohammad bin Salman (MbS) consolidates his powers. The last he wants is someone accusing him of not paying attention to his own people.
- The kingdom is in the midst of transforming its economy. Announcing a greater number of coronavirus infections may delay some of these plans.
- Mohammad bin Salman wants to come across as in total control. Even of the coronavirus.
- As for UAE’s lack of or delayed reporting, the seven little emirates usually follow the lead of Saudi Arabia. UAE does as Saudi Arabia wants.
INFECTION DEMOGRAPHICS MATTER
In Saudi Arabia, geography and demographics matter. In the Eastern Province, where the majority of the population are Shiites, the neglect and the suppression of freedom is much higher than elsewhere in the country. Especially today as Saudi Arabia battles Iran in Yemen.
Furthermore, the likelihood that more Shiite Saudis have been infected is a reality considering their interactions with other Shiites who have visited the city of Qom in Iran. The holy city of Qom happens to boast the lion share of infections. The central government in Riyadh may simply have sealed the region secretly to include holding out any information about the infections in Dammam and Dhahran, the two major cities in the Eastern Province.
Additionally, Mohammad bin Salman is popular among young Saudis. He liberalized the country, which resonated with a frustrated Saudi youth after the living hell of Whabbism robbed them of any liberties. Including watching movies in public. The last MbS wants is to lose that demography because of the coronavirus. Not now while his plate is full of bigger challenges.
SAUDI ARABIA AND UAE STOPPED REPORTING THEIR CORONAVIRUS INFECTIONS
One or more of the above listed reasons could very well be speculative in nature. We admit to that. Come tomorrow, both countries could begin to report their infection rates as if nothing has happened. How will they explain this delayed reporting hiccup? More ways than you can imagine.
It is important for countries around the world to stop politicizing the virus. This killing disease is not an opportunity not to be missed to spin, doctor, or deceive the world. It should not.
Politicians and Arab rulers must come clean even if it goes against their instinct and nature. Arab rulers owe the world that much, at least once in their lives.