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Pascal Menoret


New Texts Out Now: Pascal Menoret, Joyriding in Riyadh: Oil, Urbanism, and Revolt

[Cover of Pascal Menoret,

Pascal Menoret, Joyriding in Riyadh: Oil, Urbanism, and Revolt. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014. Jadaliyya (J): What made you write this book? Pascal Menoret (PM): I started working on the urbanization of Riyadh in 2001. I initially came to the city to teach French as a second language, and I was blown away by the place. With its single-family houses, its endless grid of avenues, and its absolute reliance on cars, the landscape of Riyadh looked ...

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Snapshot: Riyadh

[A temporary theme park in al-‘Ulayya, the central business district of Riyadh, is knocked down a few blocks away from Norman Foster’s Faisaliyya Tower. Empty plots awaiting development are often rented by businesses such as theme parks or sports clubs. 2005 Photo by Pascal Menoret.]

Text and photographs by Pascal Menoret. This photographic journey begins in 2002 in Riyadh, in the old city center of al-Dira—a word that means both living place and homeland. It was a bright June afternoon, before the blasting heat hit the city for three relentless months. Taking a break from the institute where I was teaching French for a year, I was wandering the streets with a friend, conspicuous non-digital cameras dangling from our shoulders. After walking up ...

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Introduction: On Turki al-Hamad's Al-Karadib

[Cover of Turki al-Hamad's Al-Karadib, by Dar al-Saqi]

My first roommate in Riyadh was a French teacher who once tutored an ex-political prisoner. The man was a retired lawyer who had belonged to a Marxist-Leninist network in the sixties, and had been part of a coup attempt against King Faisal.  He had been tipped off right before his arrest and had escaped to Paris, where he studied law before coming back to Riyadh much later. Some of his comrades had less luck. Arrested on intelligence provided by US agents to the Saudi ...

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Pascal Menoret


Pascal Menoret is the author of Joyriding in Riyadh: Oil, Urbanism, and Road Revolt (Cambridge, 2014), of L'Arabie, des routes de l'encens à l'ère du pétrole (Gallimard, 2010), and of The Saudi Enigma: A History (Zed, 2005). He lives between New York and Abu Dhabi and teaches Middle Eastern Studies at New York University-Abu Dhabi.