Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

Two Sides of a Sword

16/05/2012

 

Saudi Arabia is known as the country with the highest oil reserves and as the largest oil producer. The country started exporting oil since 1939 which means it is been more than 72 years since then. The infrastructure of the country was significantly developed and the face of changed as a result of the income of exporting oil for all of these years. However, corruption was there along the way resulting in a lot of waste and improper management of the huge available income.

 

More people are aware today of the fact that more than 30% of the Saudis are less than 15 years old. In the other hand, King Abdullah is about 90 years old and none of the ministers is less than 50 years old with one single exception. In many countries people talk about Generation Y and how much different they are compared to Generation X and older generations. Saudi Arabia is not an exception here. Younger people in Saudi Arabia have their own needs and expectations. Without meeting those needs and expectations, things in the future might get more difficult in different aspects.

 

As unemployment is on the rise and more youngsters are graduating from universities not only local ones but also prestigious schools from around the world, the pressures are getting more tense on the government. The fresh graduates who choose to come back home were exposed during their years abroad to new cultures and political systems that are faraway from what they’ll find home. Surely not each one of them will have the guts, time or interest to demand implementing similar changes in their country. However, some might find it the most important thing they could give back to their country and to their future kids. Many of these students are actually females. Given the current situation of females in Saudi Arabia, I don’t expect many of those female graduates to accept the statuesque. Not only the government will struggle with that, but also the more conservative groups of the society as well.

 

Social Media brought to Saudi Arabia a vibe of change like nothing else in the past ten years. Many people experienced the freedom of saying what they really feel without a lot of concern. Many realized that the country is not what they personally believe in and that others might not share with them the same views. With the impact of the Arab Spring, individuals in Saudi Arabia know that they are part of the equation and ignoring them is not really an option. It is true that Riyadh streets did not experience any protests, but many use Social Media as Saudi Arabia’s Tahrir Square. Almost nothing could stop that. The question is how far and for how long such protests will remain a cyber-phenomenon.

From another angel, such challenges to the future of Saudi Arabia can be considered as strengths and catalysts for change and better future for the country. The financial wealth available is great, however the real assets of any nation is its own people. The country has no choice but to bring more inclusion of its citizens in running things. The Royals cannot run everything and might not have the right people in the near future who have the wisdom to keep things together. Going into the future without a vision will make the country very vulnerable to any internal or external risks. The stability Saudi Arabia experienced for many years might be at risk very soon.

 

Oil and money can be here today but they are not assured for the future. Educated and dedicated citizens will not ensure the sustainability of any country. Saudi Arabia today is facing the two sides of a sword. Either it will bring prospers future or it might mean the end of any hope in the future.

 

 

Advertisements

Gaza is still waiting

17/06/2010

It is amazing how one event can change the course of prior events. The Freedom Flotilla sailed from Turkey towards Gaza in a peaceful attempt to break the Israeli siege on Gaza is one of such events. It was really great to follow, through the social networks sites Twitter and Facebook, the support to the mission of the Flotilla and the strong condemnation of the Israeli crime attacking the Mavi Marmara ship which resulted in killing 9 activists.

Yet it really seems odd that the Gaza siege is been there for almost four years. It was supported by the quartet in addition to the Egyptian government and the other so called moderate Arab governments. What happened now to make the siege of Gaza inappropriate and useless? Is it the fact that 9 Turkish citizens were killed? Are they really more worthy than 1.5 million humans living in Gaza? Was it twitter & social media? Or it might be the impact of President Obama (though he is been in the White House since the begging of the year). I’m not really sure, but glad that the world realizes now how unfair is the siege.

Writing more than two weeks after what happened allows a more rational view, I hope. The siege was unethical since day one because it was politically motivated and yet clearly directed against the people rather than the de facto government in Gaza. Resorting to a siege against the winner of a free election, this time happen to be called Hamas, sends the wrong message to the Arab World saying “Either you elect political parties that are up to the Western desires and wishes or you’ll seriously suffer”. The people at this part of the world get lectured a lot on the importance and value of dialogue, yet find out that the lecturer is unable to walk the talk.

On the other hand, I think that the wide delight over the Turkish Prime Minister Mr.  Ardogan action seem a little exaggerated and immature. However, in the Arab World we lack leaders who‏ ‏show much of value or even respect to their citizens. As a result, Mr. Ardogan’s reaction seems heroic. What I’m sure about is that Mr. Ardogan is a professional politician, regardless of his possible ideological drive for such reaction.  He’ll care most for the reaction of what he says and does in Istanbul much more than in Riyadh, Cairo or even Gaza.

Maybe it is very important to mention that the Israeli aggressive action against the Freedom Flotilla demonstrates the normal daily aggression faced by the Palestinians for as long as Israel existed. These actions keep shattering any real hope of diverting the position of Arabs opinion in favor of peace, someday.

On the other hand, some of the newspaper writers in Saudi Arabia who are, rightly or wrongly, considered as liberals did not feel that good about Turkey’s strong reaction to the incident and went into bazaar explanation such as their usual pointing to Iran and showed their worries over the Turkish involvement in the Palestinian-Israeli problems. Their highest concern goes to the worry over the potential influence of Turkey in the region in a manner that makes the reader feel like Turkey is a stranger to the region.  Such point of view reflects the anxiety of some of the regions governments over losing their regional influence, if much of it is really left.

What happened resembles a very strong humanitarian call to everyone around the globe to reconsider their view of what is happening not only in Gaza but also to the Palestinian cause and the usual Israeli claims that keep failing once they face reality.  Individuals can make a difference and collective efforts of individuals in the form of civil societies such as Free Gaza are able to create greater impact. It is true that in Saudi Arabia we lack such societies, yet we can learn and adopt such practices and in the same time create greater pressure into our government to allow the formation of such societies in the near future.

As it is important to realize how much the new media and social electronic networks allowed people to know what happens anywhere momentarily. It is important to realize that it makes it more difficult to be honest and sure about the news that goes around. I must admit that a point of time, I re-twitted a message saying that more than 40 people were killed as a result of the Israeli attack on the Flotilla. Killing one person or ten is surely a crime. Yet, being objective and reliable must be part of using such wide reach communication means.

It is been more than two weeks since Israel killed the nine activists, yet nothing changed much for the people of Gaza. The pressure to lift the siege shall be maintained to allow the people of Gaza to live at the minimum of proper human conditions.

ABC in Saudi Arabia, meeting the experts and knowing the target

03/03/2010

I received an email from the Saudi blogger Mohammed Awlia asking me to share a post that he recently published in his own blog. Below is the post and hopefully more will come from Mohammed.

Today we [Saudis] dwell on how unfortunate our current situation is, how the previous leaders failed to meet the demands of the rapid development of the 20th century, how education is poor, how unemployment is rising, how bribery became an everyday habit and finally how connections make life  easier!

It is, in no doubt, an extremely significant thing for us to admit that we are mistaken. Our ice-breaker discussion today is just how unsuccessful we are (whether true or not) and begin comparing ourselves with the old Islamic Caliphates, to the United States and recently Japan.

Very good! You would think we are comparing ourselves to know where we stand and where want to be. However,  we are now experts at pinpointing the errors, today everyone utilizes various coefficients in an equation that underscores our situation, whether economically, politically or academically … but at the end we all deduce an exact single result; failure. Some blame it on how we lost our everyday ethics, how dishonesty emerged, that we are too spoiled or living in poverty.

Our main objective, if there is one, is to jump from point A to point C without passing by B. It may be possible, but it is in fact not advisable. The question, therefore, emerges: What is point A, B and C? My humble answer to this modest question will be: Sorry there is not only a single answer but a million! One million! Yes, because to every situation there is an alternative way to tackle it with this so called theory of ABC

We utilize this theory conditionally to an obstacle we face. For instance, let’s employ this analogy in the business world; how would A, B and C be implemented.

Before I start with an example, it will be my honour to introduce the experts that will provide us with their assertions that would balance the reliability or the credibility of the example chosen.

  1. Dinner evening specialists (DES); a group of people who meet for dinner and usually end up discussing the welfare of the nation, the negatives, and at sometimes they end up celebrating the achievements of a minority in the country.
  2. Afternoon singles (AN); a group of singles who usually hang out at a café’. Unlike DES, the afternoon singles discussions vary, sometimes it is about the country, stuff they must buy, stuff they wish to buy, football and what’s wrong in their lives.

Back to the example:  Point A may be an individual’s qualities in the workforce; leader, hard worker or organized, teamwork…etc. – simple stupid. So far point A is clear? I hope so.

Point B is putting these qualities in immense action, receiving hard tasks, working with foreigners (unfortunately subconscious racism)… Point B is the area where an employee may get demotivated, feel he is fed up.

Why would such a behaviour occur? On the one hand, according to dinner evening’s specialists (DES) in this particular situation assert that this shift in behaviour is due to the fact that they are given an easy ride in school, in other words there is not much challenge in school, therefore, getting used to studying a day or week before the exam.  On the other hand, according to the afternoon singles (AS) it is as a result of being spoiled, getting used to things coming easy- life being easy… until you suddenly encounter difficulties and thus back off. Valid argument, obviously not to all… but to some at least

Point C, Maslow’s hierarchy’s self-actualization, being an executive, a CEO… Aiming high! Another argument by our team of experts, DES claim these high ambitions are, in fact, due to the notion that they are being pressured by society’s expectations, and hence wanting to meet their anticipations. However, AS give a dissimilar theory, their thesis states that these high aims particularly go hand in hand with the love of tangible materialistic things, meaning the idea of owning the best car, a big house and travelling first class.

Therefore, to conclude, we may say that these points, in order to effectively employ them we must follow them chronologically, rather than jump from different points. If an individual jumps from A to C, in the example used above, it may mean the individual did not experience B (the hard one) vividly and is thus not able to perform well as a C – a CEO. This, therefore, draws the line that distinguishes where the real mistake is:

  • Blaming the government: 50% effective – The government can provide everything but it is for you to follow up… We cannot all be CEOs.
  • Blaming bad teachers: 10% effective –Teachers are put at a halt, perhaps because they are not satisfied with their salary, with the weakness of the syllabus and unmotivated students.
  • Blaming the family (Society); 30% effective, blaming the country for not being trained to encounter difficulties, such as getting used to living economically and to cut costs.
  • Attend the dinner or chill at the café’: 0% effective all you will do is sit down moan and hope one day things will turn around.
  • Blaming yourself; 88% effective, making the change you seek in the world… nevertheless an evident loophole may be falling into depression.

Hence, not only the government, the private sector, the health sector, the education sector, the industrial sector are all responsible, but also you are, by all means, responsible!

May Allah bless all.

So here we start!

02/02/2010

Saudi Arabia is a country that gets a lot of attention around the world for many reasons. However, the Saudi citizens’ voice does not reach around the globe in a similar magnitude. This is a blog I am starting to present to the world more insights and perspectives of life in Saudi Arabia. The blog is titled “Alternative Saudi Voices”. The vision of the blog is to become one of the best available windows to life aspects, issues and dreams in Saudi Arabia.

The blog will be open to any Saudi who would like to contribute. I’ll be only the blog manager. Yet, I’ll not publish anything that calls for violence or hate. So if you are a Saudi who feels that you want to say something to the world regarding: 1) a regular day of your life in Saudi Arabia, 2) internal social and political issues or 3) international topics, then send me your blog to be published to: alternative.saudi.voices@gmail.com and it will be published as soon as possible.

I hope this blog will be one of the good sources for those who have many questions about life in Saudi Arabia.