Babylon & Beyond

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SAUDI ARABIA: Unlike Qatar, Iran and Jordan, kingdom fails to cough up Haiti cash

January 17, 2010 |  9:32 am


Oil-rich Saudi Arabia is one of the world's wealthiest countries. But though it's generous when it comes to building Islamic religious schools and mosques throughout the world, Saudi Arabia has been rather miserly when it comes to the suffering of the people of Haiti, which was struck by a cataclysmic earthquake that  destroyed its capital and killed tens of thousands. 

Certainly, Haiti is a world away from Saudi Arabia. And it's a mostly Christian country, rather than Muslim. But that hasn't stopped other wealthy Middle East countries from pitching in.

The United Arab Emirates, for example, has launched an air bridge for getting relief supplies to Haiti. Qatar has dispatched 50 metric tons of aid to Haiti, and Kuwait has made an initial pledge of $1 million, as has Morocco

Earthquake-prone Turkey and Iran also are helping. Ankara has dispatched a mobile hospital to Haiti and  Tehran has donated 30 metric tons of aid.

Even some poorer Middle East countries are helping out. Jordan has sent a planeload of supplies while Lebanon has committed to taking part in relief efforts. Israel has dispatched medical rescue teams to Haiti.

Saudi King Abdullah, meanwhile, has sent a message of condolence to Haitian President René Préval.

-- Los Angeles Times

Photo: A boy watches a passing helicopter as Haitians line up to receive high-protein biscuits being handed out by the World Food Program with the assistance of United Nations troops.  Credit: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times