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Featured Lesson Plan
  • Fatwa and Human Rights
  • Student Handout: Discussion Questions Following Viewing
  • Student Handout: The Power of the Fatwa
  • Student Handout: Osama bin Laden and Holy War

  • Additional Lesson Ideas
  • Political Messages
  • Media Messages
  • Women's Rights in Saudi Arabia
  • Violence and Saudi Arabia

  • Internet Resources

    Printable .pdf of Entire Guide
    (Adobe Acrobat required)

    » About the Film:

    The House of Saud has controlled every aspect of Saudi life and politics since the kingdom was established in 1932. But outside the Desert Kingdom, little is known about Saudi Arabia's secretive royal family. In "House of Saud," FRONTLINE explores how the Al Saud family maintains its hold on power in the face of growing tensions between Islam and modernity. Through interviews with members of the royal family, government officials, and other experts from Saudi Arabia and the U.S., the two-hour documentary also traces America's relations with the Saudi royal family from their first alliance in the 1930s through September 11 and beyond to the present.

    » Watching the Documentary:

    Ideally, teachers will assign the film for viewing as homework or show it in class. Suggested discussion questions are provided within the featured lesson plan. The lessons and activities in this guide can be used in the classroom regardless of whether or not the film is viewed.

    » A Note to Teachers:

    "The House of Saud" chronicles the unification of Saudi Arabia under Abd al-Aziz ibn Saud and the relationship that developed between the United States and the Saud family. The documentary highlights the importance of oil in U.S. foreign policy and the impact this has had on political, religious and social developments in the Middle East and the world. FRONTLINE provides a fascinating picture of life in Saudi Arabia as it documents:

    • The impact of the Quran and Islamic law on the government of Saudi Arabia
    • The Arabian American Oil Company's (Aramco) influence on the Saudi people
    • The politics of creating a Jewish state in Israel
    • American control of the Dhahran airbase and its consequences
    • How Osama bin Laden rose to power
    • The escalation of violence by Al Qaeda

    For classes in Social Studies, American Government, Current Events and Economics; Grade level 9th – 12th

    » Featured Lesson Plan:

    Fatwa and Human Rights
    Students will look at the power of the fatwa in Saudi Arabia by:

    • Responding to questions about the documentary
    • Learning about the impact of Wahhabism on Saudi Arabia
    • Analyzing the fatwa that was issued by Osama bin Laden

    » Additional Lesson Ideas:

    Political Messages
    In the light of what they have learned about fatwas, students will read President Bush's Inaugural address and compare world coverage and reactions. Students will also analyze other important political speeches.

    Media Messages
    Students can compare the attitudes of the media in the Middle East and the United States as they examine editorial cartoons featuring:

    • Terrorism
    • Uncle Sam
    • September 11th

    Women's Rights in Saudi Arabia
    These online lesson plans will help students:

    • Analyze the different experiences of Saudi Arabian women
    • Look at the life of a foreign woman living in Saudi Arabia

    Violence and Saudi Arabia
    This lesson plan from The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer allows students to explore:

    • The importance of Saudi Arabia to Islamic people
    • The rise in violence that is occurring in Saudi Arabia

    » Purchasing the Film:

    "The House of Saud" can be purchased from Shop PBS for Teachers. Also, teachers and students can read the entire "House of Saud" transcript on FRONTLINE's Web site.

    » Credits

    This teacher's guide was developed by Simone Bloom Nathan of Media Education Consultants. It was written by Patricia Grimmer of Carbondale High School, Carbondale Illinois. Advisers were Ellen Greenblatt of University High School, San Francisco and Michelle McVicker of the Rutherford County Schools, Tennessee.

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