Illegal stunts in cars, joyriding, bullying and political dissent -- video-sharing Web site YouTube has taken off in Saudi Arabia. The site owned by search engine giant Google Inc has seen tens of thousands in the conservative Saudi kingdom upload and download a broad range of thrill-seeking, political and just downright bizarre video clips in a surge of expression. Much of the material involves cars, an obsession among affluent youth who cannot go to cinemas, mix with unrelated women or even enter some shopping malls because of Islamic prohibitions by the authorities and religious scholars.
"Only in Saudi Arabia" shows two Saudi teenagers hanging from the doors of a moving car, causing difficulties for other motorists. The video received around 379,000 hits in a year. "There are daily clips of cars 'drifting' in the streets of Riyadh," says Saif, a 21-year-old university student referring to the current fad for performing stunts and joyriding. "One recent popular video shows a luxurious Porsche and a BMW racing in Tahliya Street in Riyadh," he added, referring to the plush avenue where men fill sidewalk cafes in the evening. The government said last month it would impose heavy fines and jail sentences in an effort to combat the growing incidence of dangerous driving by thrill-seeking youths.
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