Saudi Arabia’s 100,000 unused air-conditioned tents denied to refugees; will build 200 new mosques in Germany instead

September 11, 2015

Saudi Arabia is refusing to allow any of its over 100,000 large, air conditioned, 8 meter by 8 meter tents (seen above and below) to be used by refugees. The high quality tents are only used for 5 days of the year by Haj pilgrims. The tents are accompanied by good condition kitchen and bathroom facilities.



1. Saudi Arabia’s 100,000 unused air-conditioned tents denied to refugees
2. Saudi government offers to fund 200 new mosques in Germany for refugees
3. Poll of US voters: 62%-35% say Iran unlikely to honor nuclear weapons deal
4. Netanyahu responds to European Parliament decision on product labeling
5. Amazon criticized for selling “anti-Semitic” iPhone covers and other products
6. UC-Irvine Jewish professor: Right to exclude American-Jewish singer Matisyahu


[Notes below by Tom Gross]


While European countries are being criticized by some Middle East leaders for not doing enough to help refugees, Saudi Arabia – which, with other wealthy Gulf Arab countries such as Qatar*, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and the UAE – has refused to grant a single Syrian refugee or asylum status – has over 100,000 air conditioned tents that can house over 3 million people sitting empty.

The high quality tents, in the city of Mina, are reportedly only used for five days of the year by Haj pilgrims.

The large tents, each measuring eight meters by eight meters, were constructed by the Saudi government in the 1990s. They are accompanied by kitchen and bathroom facilities.

The tents could probably shelter about two million Syrian refugees.

Photos of tents by Akram Abahre:


* (Tom Gross adds: Qatar doesn’t take any refugees but it does confiscate passports and treat migrant workers from Bangladesh, Nepal and elsewhere like slaves. At the same time Qatar funds Al-Jazeera to run programming about how appalling it says Europe is to refugees.)

A photo of the tents occupied during the Haj



While it refuses to process any Syrian refugees, Saudi Arabia has offered to build 200 mosques for the hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants arriving in Germany, reports The Independent, a left-wing British newspaper.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung adds that Saudi Arabia says it will build one mosque for every 100 refugees who entered Germany in extraordinary numbers last weekend.


Tom Gross adds: While there is, of course, nothing wrong with building mosques for Muslims in Europe, questions must be asked about the fact that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which encourages one of the most intolerant, sexist, homophobic and anti-Semitic forms of Islam in the world, is funding them. On past record, Saudi-funded mosques, for example in the UK, have employed the most radical preachers, and worshippers at some of them have gone on to commit acts of terrorism, and attempted terrorism.

For example, the “Shoe bomber” Richard Reid, who attempted to blow up American Airlines Flight 63 from Paris to Miami, was converted to Islam and then radicalized at a Saudi-funded mosque in London.

(To be clear, I am for a generous refugee policy in Europe. But western governments should at the same time pressure our Arab “Allies” to also take in refugees. And most importantly, the West should intervene from the air in order to ground or destroy the warplanes Assad is using to inflict terror on his population with barrel bombs and chemical weapons, which would much reduce the need for people to flee Syria in the first place. As I have repeatedly pointed out on this list, the vast majority of Syrian refugees are fleeing Assad’s terror, not that by ISIS.)



In a major new opinion poll conducted this week, 1,000 U.S. likely voters were asked:

“The United States has reached an agreement with Iran that ends some economic sanctions on that country in exchange for cutbacks in Iran’s nuclear weapons program. How likely is it, that Iran will uphold its end of the deal?”

The replies: 35% likely, 62% unlikely.

And “just 23% believe the treaty the administration has negotiated with Iran will make the Middle East safer.”

(Margin of Sampling Error, +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.)



Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, yesterday evening on a visit to London, responded to the decision of the European Parliament on product labeling, by saying:

“This is unjust. It is simply a distortion of justice and of logic and I think that it also hurts peace; it does not advance peace. We have historical memory of what happened when Europe labeled Jewish products.”


AMAZON CRITICIZED FOR SELLING “ANTI-SEMITIC” IPHONE COVERS AND OTHER PRODUCTS is being criticized for selling a new range of products featuring bloodstained Israeli flags.

Among the new products: cell phone covers, umbrellas, doormats, shower curtains, pillow cases, mouse pads and more. There is an example from Amazon pictured above.

Israeli Channel 2, which broke this story, says no other country in the world has its flag defaced this way and sold on the Amazon website.

The CEO of, Jeff Bezos, also owns the Washington Post. Several senior managers, editors and columnists at the Washington Post subscribe to this Middle East dispatch list. They might want to have a word with Bezos about this product range.


The new iPhone covers are extra hypocritical considering that the new iPhone model announced yesterday includes new Israeli developed components, as did the previous iPhone and iPad models.



University of California, Irvine professor of history, Mark LeVine, has written an opinion piece for the website of Qatar’s Al-Jazeera network, defending the decision last month by a Spanish music festival to exclude American-Jewish reggae artist Matisyahu on the grounds that he wouldn’t first sign a statement denouncing Israel.

This despite the fact that the music festival itself then reversed its decision, which had been labeled anti-Semitic by the Spanish government and many others.

LeVine is one of a small group of prominent Jewish academics and journalists who have been labeled self-loathing, anti-Semitic Jews (though they would deny that and claim they “merely” wish to see Israel cease to exist as a Jewish state).

For background, please see: Dilemma for Israel boycotters as scientists make HIV breakthrough (& The Palestinian case against BDS)

Incidentally, some readers wrote to ask me whether Paul Eisen, one of Britain’s leading Holocaust deniers, is Jewish. Yes he was born Jewish, and indeed his brother and mother (who now don’t want anything to do with him) live in Israel. I mentioned Eisen last month because of his past links to Jeremy Corbyn who looks set to become the new opposition leader in Britain.


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All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.