Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim, Commodore, Royal Saudi Navy (Retired)
Poverty in the simplest terms can be defined as a lack of basic necessities like food, clothing and shelter. In other words, it is the absence of the means, of course money, to fulfill those needs.
It is a matter of great concern that poverty is rampant in the Muslim world. What is the reason behind that and how to eradicate poverty? Muslim intelligentsia must think about this issue.
As a matter of fact, poverty among Muslims should have been nonexistent because Islam strongly advocates helping others and encourages philanthropy. There are five pillars of Islam. Of them, four deal with one’s relationship with Allah. The fifth, which unfortunately Muslims tend to forget, deals with ties between fellow Muslims. In numerical order, it is third in number. It is Zakat. Although, it is also between Allah and His servant but directly impacts others. As a matter of fact, Islam has created this institution to fight poverty. This is why Allah has put Zakat after Shahadah and prayer but before Fasting and Haj.
As all of us know the five pillars of Islam are:
l Shahadah: There is no god but God and Muhammad is the messenger of God.
l Salah: The five daily prayers.
l Zakat: Social responsibility is considered part of one’s service to God; the obligatory act of Zakat enshrines this duty. Zakat prescribes payment of fixed proportions of a Muslim’s possessions for the welfare of the entire community and in particular for its neediest members. It is equal to 2.5 percent of an individual’s total net worth, excluding obligations and family expenses.
l Sawm: Fasting from sunrise to sunset during Ramadan.
l Haj: A once in a lifetime pilgrimage to Makkah if one can afford it.
After understanding the concept of Zakat a bit, the question arises as to why then there is poverty among Muslims. Despite being rich in all kinds of natural resources and with a fairly large number of billionaires, majority of Muslims are living in poverty. Zakat on one billion dollars is around $25 million and this amount can go a long way in helping many to manage for food, clothing and shelter. Zakat can eradicate poverty and when you eradicate poverty, you can eradicate corruption, social injustice, human trafficking, reduce crimes and and most important is that you save the dignity of a human being.
There are many countries in the Muslim world that are rich in resources but poverty is beyond imagination. Somalia and Yemen are examples of how poverty is destroying the social fabric. In the past, these two countries were the main food and livestock exporters of the region. We can also cite the examples of Iraq and Libya, which are two of the richest countries in natural resources and still people are suffering from poverty.
Poverty can be eradicated from the Muslim world if all Muslims start taking the institution of Zakat seriously, which is mandatory. It would be pertinent to mention here that Sadaqah is not obligatory but a form of charity that even the poor can give the poorer. Muslims around the world have simply forgotten the third pillar of Islam.
Zakat and Saqdah cannot only help eradicate poverty but can also bring people closer — not only Muslims but also even people from other faiths. Omar Bin Khattab, one of the rightly guided caliphs of Islam, helped an old Jew from the Bait Al-Mal. Omar Bin Al-Khattab once said: If poverty were a man, I would have killed him. It is a shame to see many cities across the Muslim World full of beggars. And I am not talking about the organized phony beggars. I am talking about those who are left with no other choice. The Muslim world is full of resources and has many rich people but it is very important to be part of society and pay our dues. It is our responsibility to fight poverty and Zakat is the Islamic solution to this problem.
Written by Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim. Zakat is the Only Way to Effectively Fight Poverty reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim.
Goal is to popularize the study of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills among Saudi youths as a part of an effort to transform the Kingdom into a Knowledge Society.
The popular outreach program, arranged by The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture’s iThra Youth Division, uses a series of educational and enrichment sessions designed to engage and motivate students to gain a hunger for knowledge in the key STEM disciplines. To do this, teachers in given areas are trained in the latest techniques and strategies in education, which they then employ and pass on to students to enhance their skills and abilities for scientific thinking.
In its second year, iDiscover will be targeting 1,000 teachers in al-Jouf who will, through methods used in special programs worldwide, enrich and develop the skills of 2,000 students, inspiring in them a love of discovery and knowledge.
As Khalid A. Al-Falih, president and CEO of Saudi Aramco, noted in launching iThra Youth, the initiative comes in the context of the role of Saudi Aramco setting an example for the Kingdom to follow in inspiring and motivating the minds of its sons and daughters toward a love of science, technology and innovation. The goal of the initiative is to reach two million young men and women by the year 2020.
The iDiscover Program was developed in collaboration with professionals from the University of California at Berkeley (iDiscover science) and the Math Zoom Academy of Irvine, California, (iDiscover mathematics) in the United States. The two programs seek to develop creative thinking and problem-solving skills through encouragement and the thrill of friendly competition.
In 2013, iThra Youth was recognized for its pioneering youth education program as one of six international winners by the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE). Created by the Qatar Foundation to support the United Nations Millennium Development Goal on achieving universal primary education, the WISE award has honored 36 successful initiatives since it began in 2009 to showcase innovative educational projects from around the world.
Aaron Hurlbut earned All State honors by finishing 3rd in his weight class at the Arkansas State High School Wrestling Tournament which was held in Little Rock on February 14 and 15, 2014. Aaron is the son of Bruce and Aramco Brat Dr. Kim (Nix) Hurlbut and the grandson of Aramco retirees Jim and Betty Nix. He is a sophomore at Little Rock Christian Academy.
2/17/2014 — The Aramcon Marina Bulatovic Barny recently had her second edition of her novel, “Nina of Arabia,” released in December 2013, just a month after it was promoted at one of the most important international book fairs in Belgrade, Serbia.
Barny, who has been living in Saudi Arabia with her husband since 2007, is originally from Serbia. “Nina of Arabia” is her first novel.
Inspired by the life in Saudi Arabia, which she sees as her second home, as well as the memories from Serbia and by the city she has always dreamt of — New York. Barny brings to life a tale about a successful and happy woman in whom the Serbian spirit, the intoxicating smell of the exotic Orient and the irresistible charm of the Big Apple intertwine in a charming way.
The promotion of this novel got the attention of numerous celebrities and VIP guests from the cultural and public life of Serbia, diplomatic representatives and the media; after publishing the second edition, Barny has been invited as a guest by the Mufti of Serbia, Muhamed ef Jusufspahi.
“The message of my book, which takes place in Saudi Arabia, Serbia and the United States, is that the purpose of all people on Earth is to get to know and understand each other, and to live side by side in harmony regardless of their differences,” said Barny. “The majority of the characters are the people from my life — my family, husband, relatives, neighbors, and friends from Serbia, Canada (where my husband lived for about 15 years) and Saudi Arabia.
“But the characters in my novel are also people who I look up to and whose work I respect and value,” she added, listing:
• The Kingdom’s top leaders.
• Nikola Tesla, a Serbian scientist, who lit up the world.
• Princess Jelisaveta Karadjordjevi from Serbia.
• Renowned American actor and producer couple Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson.
“I have described the events from my past and present and how I see my future. I hope that people will have fun reading my novel on one hand and learn something about each other on the other — and that my first novel will contribute to developing mutual tolerance between people,” she said. “The beauty of our planet is that it is populated by people who are very different from one another. Imagine how boring it would be if everyone were the same.”
Currently, the novel is also being translated to English and the author hopes to publish the novel in the United States, Canada, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain.
Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim, Commodore, Royal Saudi Navy (Retired)
When I got an invitation to attend a social function at the British Trade Office in Alkhobar, I remembered the first time I was invited to attend an event at their compound about 10 years ago. The event had to do with Her Majesty the Queen’s birthday. I attended the event in my navy uniform and was met by the British ambassador, at that time Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, who arrived in the Kingdom in September 2003 and left in March 2007.
As time passed, his Saudi friends started calling him Abu Henry. I had a long chat with him and was surprised about his deep knowledge of Saudi culture and his wide range of Saudi friends. We chatted about the desert, falcons, the media and most important about the depth of the Saudi-British relations.
During the tenure of Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles in the Kingdom, his efforts to promote Saudi-UK ties were clearly visible. Visa process for Saudis was eased. The British Embassy started issuing multiple 5 and 10 years visa with minimum requirements at a time when most western embassies excluding the American Embassy needed many documents for one single entry and for a specific entry and departure dates. It is true that things did change in other western embassies, but, as I mentioned this was about 10 years ago.
The bottom line is that the effort of an active ambassador in any country can make a difference in the relations between the people. Nowadays, many Saudis have British visa and Saudi and British tourists, businessmen and women are strengthening the already deep and strategic relations between the Saudi and British people. And to this day, many Saudis remember and appreciate the extra efforts that Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles or Abu Henry made to promote people-to-people contacts. The former ambassador left Saudi Arabia in 2007 to take up his new assignment in Afghanistan and as far as I know he is out of the political scene and holds the position of a business development director at BAE Systems in London. So, now we go from London to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to meet a prince. And I am not talking about a Saudi prince, I am talking about a British prince who made unprecedented efforts to widen the scope of cooperation and strengthen the Saudi-British relations for more than 30 years. He is Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales. So, where did I see the British prince?
Just a few days ago, I was watching the Al Janadriyah festival activities on Saudi television when my wife asked me who is the man standing between the Saudi Second Deputy Premier Prince Muqrin and the National Guard Minister Prince Miteb bin Abdullah. At first I didn’t recognize him, but, at a glance I said….Oops, that man is Prince Charles. He was wearing a traditional colored thobe and a red and white ghutra on his head and on top of it was the black igaal. Minutes later, we saw him dance the traditional Ardah. To be honest, he looked very sharp. This simple participation by the second in line to the British throne indicates only the depth of the Saudi-British relations.
The presence of the British prince with members of the Saudi royal family is a unique gesture to show the simplicity and yet the deeply rooted relations between not only the two countries, but, also between the Saudis and the British public. The relation goes even before the foundation of modern day Saudi Arabia.
This relation had produced many strategic and important trade agreements that helped both countries. But, regardless of the strong political relations between the countries, the personal relationship always goes little bet further. And the new British Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Sir John Jenkins and his staff are doing just that. Adding a personal touch to the relation between the two countries.
Written by Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim. Saudi-British Relations: A Personal Touch reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim.