Posts Tagged ‘Al-Watan Newspaper’

The Cost of Lifelong Royal Interventions

10/02/2010

The media and Saudi Internet websites have been very active over the past few years discussing almost everything and anything. However, I cannot forget a debate that was raged few years ago between a columnist and former Chief Editor of Al-Watan daily newspaper (Qenan Al-Ghamdi) and a religious clerk (Sheikh Saad Al-Buraik) around the type of state that should govern Saudi Arabia. Shaikh Saad called for a religious type of state while Qenan was calling for a civil state governing the country. The discussion really consumed so much time and energy, yet I strongly believe that such discussions are useless. Why?.  Because a simple reality check of life in Saudi Arabia proves that we have a special kind of state: the individual state, where the King rules without any real checks and balance mechanism by anyone. Such total control and excessive involvement in many dimensions of life in the country cannot be missed when you read about royal interventions in cases such as water shortages in Aseer area or the recent direction to three ministries to provide the required maps for Al-Harameen High Speed Rail project which is supposed to be commissioned in a year time!. Such high level involvement gives the impression that things are not running well and no less than the King himself need to be involved and still there is a chance that things might not materialize!.

Relating to business environment and when designing an organization structure, there should be a reasonable number of direct reporting subordinates to a supervisor to make sure that the supervisor has a meaningful job and in the same time is not overwhelmed by huge number of direct reporting employees. Sometimes it feels like the country is actually reporting to one supervisor.

For a country to be so dependent on an individual regardless of all the great intentions and power at hand, it means that many things will not be executed as they should and many other things will suffer noticeable oversight. In a complex world we live at, the permanent dependence on royal interventions means minimal positive change and missed important opportunities.

Maybe today Saudi Arabia and Saudis are not ready yet for direct citizens’ involvement in managing their life, but there should be a plan to institute such involvement within a reasonable time frame. Those who are not in favor of public participation must remember that a total of 70,000 Saudis are studying abroad and many more will be joining them soon. When these boys are girls are back, most probably that many of them will not be welling to live Saudi Arabia as I know it today.

By Ahmed Ba-Aboud

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