The Kingdom

The Kingdom, directed by Peter Berg, begins with a rapid minidocumentary of the history of modern Saudi Arabia, that is, The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Featured are the rise of anti-Western Wahhabism, the discovery of oil, American exploitation of the oil, the Arab oil boycott of 1971, Osama Bin Laden’s spurned offer to have Al Qaeda defend the country from Iraq in 1991, the arrival of American forces instead, and Al Qaeda attacks on American embassies in Africa, the USS Cole, and the World Trade Center towers in New York. Too rapid for most filmviewers to absorb, the aim of the minidocumentary is to provide some background for a fictional terrorist attack within an American compound in Saudi Arabia that prompts the FBI to seek to investigate. After receiving permission from the Saudi government, the FBI unit gets in a lot of trouble because its presence serves as yet another target for terrorists, and there is plenty of shooting in the movie. The film’s story certainly succeeds in communicating the impression that Americans are unwelcome in the Middle East, even in a country closely allied with the United States. MH

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