Khaled AlmaeenaKhaled Almaeena

I wrote an article for an Arabic daily about the need to prioritize our concerns. Due to the need for brevity, there were a few issues, such as the problems of youth and women, which I did not focus on and readers asked me about them. I have been writing about these two subjects for a long time. However, they have become more important, especially at a time when the Kingdom is facing great challenges as a result of an ever-changing, competitive world. The “global connection” is not just a slogan; it is a reality, and here I am not talking about social media connections or the use of the Internet but of important issues that are now confronting the world as a whole. These issues include political and economic insecurity, food and water concerns and the challenges of new diseases and viruses and other ailments that previously were confined to one area but now have spread like wildfire. To confront these challenges it is imperative that all members of society be involved. For this to happen, we must have a good education system which does not focus on rote and discipline but which highlights the crucial role of critical thinking. Our society should be free from domination by any group be it the clergy or any single political or social narrative. Ideas should flow freely and no one should have a sole license on patriotism. Patriarchal societies may have proved beneficial in the past, but with the advent of technology they will soon become relics of the past. This does not mean that the family’s contribution to our children’s upbringing will lessen. Instead it means that communication between members of the family and society will become lateral. And here the involvement of all genders is necessary. To exclude half of society just because they are female is tantamount to national suicide. Neither our ideology nor our belief encourages that. The combination of youth of both genders in the development process will enhance our social and technological progress. We cannot be held hostage to a group of obstructionists living in a fantasy world. In an age when Richard Branson is getting ready for commercial space travel and when others are developing or already have developed technology to revolutionize our world, we do not have the luxury of time to debate trivial issues. Doing so only serves to dissipate our energy and divide our society. Young people the world over are now leaders in this big change. We too have unsung heroes in our midst. Unfortunately, neither venture capitalists nor those in authority or in big business seem wiling to lend a hand. In fact bureaucracy places hurdles in the path of our youth. I personally know the travails of many of these young people as they look with admiration and envy at their peers across the world. To add salt to their wounds, an uncaring media seems more intent on hailing and praising which only serves to compound the problem. So to complete my Arabic article, I would like to express my concern about the hidden talent and unsung heroes that exist among us. Let their talent bloom! — Reprinted with permission of the Saudi Gazette and Khaled Almaeena. The writer is Editor-at-Large. He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter: @KhaledAlmaeena