Reports say about 70 people were arrested in the Saudi city of Jeddah and two other cities after attempts to hold
demonstrations were thwarted by the police on Thursday.
By Roger Hardy
BBC Middle East analyst
A London-based opposition group had called for protests in nine Saudi cities, but a heavy police presence prevented any
serious demonstrations from materialising.
Protests are virtually unknown in Saudi Arabia
Friday's Saudi newspapers mention the thwarted demonstrations, but only to downplay them.
They describe the people who took to the streets of Jeddah and other cities as, for the most part, curious bystanders rather
The attempt by Saad al-Faqih - the London-based Saudi dissident - to orchestrate large-scale demonstrations was, they say, a
There is some truth in this, but it is not the whole story.
It looks as if Dr Al-Faqih was trying to build on his success last week, when he encouraged Saudis to gather in the heart of
the capital Riyadh to call for political reform - and several hundred responded.
This week he may have been over-ambitious.
But what is equally clear from conversations with a number of Saudis is that many more would have taken part in Thursday's
protests, but were deterred by the massive police presence.
Pressure is great on the Gulf monarchy to reform
One prominent Saudi - a technocrat committed to far-reaching political and economic reform - told the BBC that Dr Al-Faqih
had nothing to offer but a narrow, ultra-conservative agenda.
But he acknowledged that, with hundreds of thousands of Saudis now suffering from unemployment and economic hardship, protest
Referring to the government's commitment to gradual reform, he commented: "Time may no longer be on our side."