Sweden mends relations with Saudi Arabia
After a few months of rocky relations between Sweden and Saudi Arabia, it appears to be business as usual between the two countries as a Swedish delegation is meeting Saudi government officials as well as Swedish and Saudi businesspeople in Riyadh. Enterprise minister Mikael Damberg confirmed that diplomatic channels were running smoothly again. The minister said the trip was planned long ago, adding that the Swedish government was keen to expand its non-military cooperation with the Middle Eastern kingdom. “Sweden makes it clear that we should have economic exchanges even with countries that are not fully democratic and do not share our views on all issues,” said Damberg.

High-tech Sweden launches digital currency
The world's first Bitcoin-based security on a regulated exchange has been launched in Sweden. Finansinspektionen, Sweden's financial watchdog, authorized Stockholm-based Bitcoin tracker XBT Provider to launch the digital currency on the Nasdaq Stockholm exchange and began trading on the market on Monday, May 18. Bitcoin is a digital currency and peer-to-peer payment system introduced as open source software in 2009 by developer Satoshi Nakamoto. It can be bought and sold just as conventional currency. Considered by some to be a bit controversial, even political, the financial industry has taken baby steps towards the digital market this year. In Sweden on Sunday, the day before it was introduced to the market, one Bitcoin was worth 1,949.94 Swedish kronor ($237.47). “Young guys will probably buy it. Bitcoin stands for a new digital world, free from the banking system,” said savings analyst Claes Hemberg of the Avanza bank.

Maher hopes for laughs in Sweden
American comedian Bill Maher is taking his controversial humor on tour outside the U.S. — he’ll be at the Göta Lejon theatre in Stockholm on Tuesday, May 26, where he hopes people will understand him and laugh. "I'm always nervous that foreign audiences are not going to understand me, but they always confound my expectations and I'm so impressed. Again, it's only the American audience I have a problem with!" He has been working on the material for the tour — his first ever in Europe — for "months and months and months" to make sure he brings out the laughs. On his talkshow, Maher regularly puts forward Sweden as a shiny beacon of liberal social democracy, and many of his views would be unlikely to cause a stir in the Nordic country. However, some of the atheist comedian's recent remarks about religion, and Islam in particular, have sparked some tension even in his own left-leaning political circles.

Swedish mom's doll experiment
Swedish mom Sara Aldén performed an experiment in her home, and now parents everywhere are taking notes. Aldén removed her toddler’s doll’s makeup, stood back and observed. “I saw a clear difference in how my daughter was playing,” she says. The doll with the usual, heavy make-up had simply been named Barbie by Minna, who is 2˝. But the doll whose make-up Aldén removed and altered, received the new name Ella — the name of her next door neighbor. Aldén 35, got the idea to make her daughter's dolls more personal after reading how make-up and perception can affect a child’s play and imagination. She saw the difference immediately when she used acetone to remove the old makeup, then applied a little nail polish to give the doll freckles and a more natural looking face. “I think it will be easier to relate to. They are so very much alike and have more personality when it looks like them,” says Aldén, who is encouraging other parents to try this, too.