Commodore, Royal Saudi Navy (Retired)
This year Saudi youth will be enjoying the longest-ever summer vacation i.e. 100 days.
Like all the other government departments in the Kingdom, the education department also follows the Hijrah calendar. With a little modification the end of school calendar will always fall during the months of June, July and August.
There is a difference of about nine days between the Gregorian and Hijrah calendars, so the start and end of schools year changes in Hijrah calendar but it remains the same in the Gregorian calendar.
A 100-day vacation for young men and women can be a blessing for some and can be long days and nights of unutilized spare time for many others. It is true that many will travel abroad to spend their vacations. Our youth are not used to the so-called summer jobs, summer activities or summer volunteer works. The so- called economic booms took away the need for the youth to make money during the summers. And the Saudi youth are not very well oriented to be involved in volunteer works at airports, hospitals or other facilities. There are many Saudi youngsters who do get involved in many summer activities but the majority doesn’t get involved in any kind of activities. And because of the hot weather, they usually end up spending most of their summer sleeping during the day and being up all night. This pattern of daily routine will cause sleeping disorders and will have negative effects on their eating habits. But, most importantly long hours of free time will not be good even for health. Saudi Arabia has one of the highest percentages of diabetic patients in the world. What’s more, the daily behaviors of the youngsters at home such as staying up all night will have an impact on the man of the house who has to wake up early in the morning to go to work. Many parents stay up all night waiting for their kids to return home. Some of these young kids don’t return home till the early hours of the morning. This is an unbearable burden on the parents.
When we talk about long summer days with little or no activity, then there are more serious issues that we must take into consideration. It is during this time that we usually witness a hike in crimes, auto theft, street fights and more automobile accidents. It is true that a newly established General Authority of Entertainment headed by Ahmed Al-Khatib to oversee and administer one of the most important economic sectors, but, also a sector that will help the youth to better utilize their leisure time through means of entertainment that can be introduced in the Kingdom. The entertainment sector is one of the most important and most extensive employment sectors and most valuable for the youth to be kept busy. The General Authority of Entertainment has a long way ahead but there is an urgent need to introduce summer jobs for the students bracing for a long vacation.
And it is not only this year that our students’ summer vacations are going to be long. It is something that we see every year. Long summer vacations if not utilized properly by the youth will become a burden on the families and the whole society.
Saudi Arabia has many opportunities to keep the youth busy and has even more opportunities to create summer jobs for the hundreds of Saudi students on vacations if the entertainment sector moves along preplanned opening of tourist attractions around the Kingdom. And with these tourist attractions for the people inside the Kingdom there will be more opportunities for the young to discover their talents, to hone their skills and to find new hobbies.
Written by Abdulateef Al-Mulhim. Making Best Use of Long Vacation reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al-Mulhim.