Ten Years After 9/11, Saudis Slowly Modernizing

Ten Years After 9/11, Saudis Slowly Modernizing

Abdulaziz Al Rabah remembers it was a Tuesday. The call to evening prayer was echoing across his hometown of Hafr-al-Batin, and bearded religious police had shooed him and his friends off the neighborhood soccer pitch.

“Have you seen what happened to America?” a wide-eyed friend asked the 13-year-old.

Racing home, Al Rabah joined his mother to watch the satellite television newscasts of America’s agony unfolding on September 11, 2001.

“I remember she was sad to see two guys jumping to the ground,” he recalled.

His family felt sympathy for the United States, Al Rabah said, and a few days later, shame, when they learned that 15 of the 19 suicide hijackers were Saudi. He also remembers that some of his schoolmates “were happy” that America had been hit.

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