Commodore, Royal Saudi Navy (Retired)
Saudi Arabia is a huge country with a population of about 30 million. One-third of the population consists of expatriates coming from different parts of the world and bringing with them different ways of lifestyles. One reason for this high number of expatriates is the continuity of stability and prosperity in the country. At a time when the world particularly the region is faced with an apparently never-ending turmoil, Saudi Arabia continues to adapt to the changing regional scenario. Time and again, it has proved that it is more open to changes contrary to the beliefs of many outsiders. Saudi Arabia’s strategic importance in world’s politics has increased beyond imagination. During the past few months, the world has witnessed Kingdom’s highly transparent approach toward various issues. We recently witnessed a massive shuffling at the highest level of power. For the first time in the history of the Kingdom, the second generation has been brought to the fore in the line of succession. At the same time, these massive changes showed the unity among members of the Saudi royal family. These events are reflected the high degree of confidence and understanding between the ruler and the ruled. Saudis showed the world the true meaning of flexibility in governing a country and adaptability to any changes without any backlash. Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman visited his younger brother, Prince Muqrin, after his resignation from the position of the crown prince. All these changes took place very smoothly and in a transparent manner. It was so nice to see the manner in which Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif, deputy premier and minister of interior, and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, second deputy premier and minister of defense, greeted the older and younger members of the Saudi royal family and all other Saudis. There was mutual respect and simplicity. While announcing the massive shuffle, King Salman stressed that the Saudi citizens’ well-being and comfort came first in all forms of developments. We all know about the plans for more mega projects for the good of the Saudis. King Salman made it clear that the door of all Saudi officials were open to all Saudis. Fortunately, our rulers have always treated us in the similar manner since the establishment of the Kingdom. But at this stage the world is evolving faster. The majority of Saudis are very young and the youths have more and different demands. As the Saudi government is planning serious political, social and economic reforms, the youths also want a faster pace of reforms. Saudi Arabia is still a conservative society and the pace of reforms has always been a bit slow but now the society, particularly the youths, want a faster pace. But in order to increase the pace of reforms, we have to teach our youth that reforms need many more responsibilities and accountabilities. The Saudi youths should learn now how to adapt to changes caused due to reforms. The most important thing the youths want is a further opening up of the job market for them. At the same time the youths must learn and adopt better work habits. There are many jobs available and it is important for them to be ready to do any kind of job and work their way up. There should be no free lunch. Many youths want faster pace of reforms in the field of entertainment such as opening of movie theaters. This also requires a change of behavior among the youths. Social and economic reforms mean that the youth have a duty to study hard, work harder and respect everybody. Faster pace of reforms also requires that the youths should realize they are not alone in the society; there are others who have different tastes and different interests. Social reforms require all youths to be more responsible. In other words, an individual can’t ask for speedy reforms if he doesn’t respect others. Driving a car properly or not throwing garbage on the street is part of social reforms. We cannot completely rely on our government in the effective implementation of social reforms; we all have to play our due roles in this regard. Written by Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim. Fast-Tracking Reforms reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim.