Many events have unfolded in the country in the last year and a half, one of the most prominent being Saudi Vision 2030.
There have also been new rules and regulations concerning aspects of government and public matters. There was a new budget announced a few days ago. New fees on expatriates have also been introduced.
All of these happenings have given rise to a new buzz in society. People talk about this in the privacy of their homes, in coffee shops and offices. In conversations, people support or question the “new style of management,” as someone put it.
Of course, as usual, certain sections of the media immediately hailed these events. Others carried the news as usual and some offered a critique. Personally, I belong to the last group. After all, we are citizens and stakeholders in this country and we all care about its future welfare. Therefore, those of us who have the ability should analyze, question and probe. And I did in my own way.
Working as an English language media person makes a person more analytical. And this is not said out of prejudice. So one becomes a bit cynical at times. However, when I analyzed events and the functioning of the government, I, along with many others, felt that after a long time blood was beginning to flow again. What also was comforting was the openness and clarity that is now easily observed.
Media and opinion makers have access and are directly informed about issues. This was illustrated by the meetings held by the Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, who has met with groups from the media and the economy. He answered questions with clarity and did not mince his words. Such meetings create confidence in society and make citizens aware of challenges and the steps being taken to contain and overcome difficulties.
In short, we now have more transparency than ever before. There is a clear goal post that needs to be reached. This gives rise to a feeling of optimism. We are living in an Arab world full of turmoil; wars, destruction and chaos prevail around us. Many in our society have also been attracted to the terrorist ideology and recently published figures speak of over 2,000 Saudis fighting abroad.
This should alarm us and that is why we need to be well informed. Many new economic policies are being implemented. These may be a bit painful to a society that has long been used to a welfare state system. However, times have changed and we need to wake up to the new realities.
We need good governance, transparency and an end to nepotism and corruption, and these are the issues that are now being addressed by the government. Most important are the stakeholders, the young men and women who have the drive, the ambition and the dynamism to make this country go ahead and reach our Vision 2030 as a self-dependent, vibrant economy and society based on justice, fair play and equality.
And I am optimistic that if we all work together, we can make that happen.
— Reprinted with permission of the Saudi Gazette and Khaled Almaeena. The writer is Editor-at-Large. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter: @KhaledAlmaeena