Saudi Arabia today is not the Saudi Arabia of yesterday. What we have been witnessing over the past few years is a series of courageous decisions to repeal laws that dominated the local scene.

August 8, 2019 09:17

WOMEN SIT among men in a newly opened cafe in Khobar, Saudi Arabia, on August 2.. (photo credit: HAMAD I MOHAMMED/REUTERS)

Asharq al-Awsat, London, August 3

Saudi Arabia today is not the Saudi Arabia of yesterday. What we have been witnessing over the past few years is a series of courageous decisions to repeal laws that dominated the local scene.
The past four years have brought an end to two-thirds of a century of social norms and laws that have been obstacles to development, normal life, employment and human interaction. This began with the unveiling of Vision 2030, when Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman took over the Council for Economic and Development Affairs. Since then, not a single month has passed without the passage of a new resolution improving the relationship between the state and its citizens.
Saudi Arabia is betting on a bold plan to develop the entire country and economy. To achieve this plan, which includes all aspects of life in the kingdom, we cannot follow the old approach that has dictated our lives for several generations. Therefore, in just four years, life has dramatically changed in Riyadh and Jeddah, and even in smaller Saudi cities. Cinemas have opened, women are publicly driving on roads, cafes are open for all, and more women than men now shop in malls across the country. All of these were until recently forbidden.
Last week, the final restriction on women was lifted, as a set of amendments were issued by the government, providing Saudi women with equal rights. This includes equality before the courts, the ability to work without the consent of a husband or guardian, and the ability to travel freely. The long list of prohibitions and obstacles that had been placed upon women has finally been lifted by the Saudi government.
Ironically, while the rights of Saudi women now outweigh the rights of women almost everywhere else in the region, a fierce campaign continues to discredit Saudi Arabia, and the crown prince specifically. Saudi Arabia’s critics fail to understand the priorities of the Saudi people. They do not realize the importance of these major changes unfolding within the kingdom. These reforms will undoubtedly impact Saudi Arabia’s Arab and Islamic surroundings. It is a positive project that will change our region for years to come. – Abd al-Rahman al-Rashed

Al-Etihad, UAE, August 2
The passing of Dr. Abdulrahman bin Saleh Al-Shabaili, one of the founding fathers of the Saudi media industry, is a real loss to the kingdom. Despite reaching the noble age of 75, Dr. Shabili’s death came as a shock to all of us, especially given the tragic circumstances in which it unfolded.
According to reports from Paris, Al-Shabaili slipped and fell off his hotel balcony just hours before heading back to Riyadh. During his half-century of work, Al-Shabaili contributed to the establishment of the media industry in Saudi Arabia. He conducted rare television interviews with people who took part in the establishment of the Kingdom, such as King Fahd bin Abdulaziz, Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz, King Salman bin Abdulaziz and others. He wrote more than 50 books, concluding with his autobiography, which was published just a few months ago.
A look at the life of this legendary man is a look at the history of our nation. In one of his most recent speeches, Al-Shabaili recalled the 1951 launch of Aramco TV, which was the first television channel in the Gulf and the second to launch in the Middle East. Originally airing only in English, Aramco TV later began broadcasting content in Arabic as well. Al-Shabaili recalled his serious lobbying efforts to launch a state-run television station in Saudi Arabia, beginning at the end of King Saud’s reign in 1963, when Jamil al-Hujailan was Minister of Information. Thanks to his efforts, an agreement was eventually signed with the United States whereby Washington would help launch the Saudi network. This paved the path for the establishment of Al Saudiya, the Kingdom’s official news and entertainment channel, which broadcasts to this very day.
In addition to his impressive professional career and his prolific work, Al-Shabaili was defined by high morals, courteousness and true compassion. He represented the ultimate balance of humor and seriousness, joy and sadness, past and present. May he rest in peace. – Turki Al-Dakhil

Al-Masry al-Youm, Egypt, August 2
If the Egyptian revolution of 1952, which abolished the constitutional monarchy in our country, had not taken place, would our economic situation be better or worse than it is today?
The rebels of July 23 were loyal and enthusiastic, and gave their lives for what they believed was correct. The revolution advanced Egypt on many fronts, such as the expansion of industry, health, education and agriculture. But it has also resulted in some catastrophic errors, such as the strengthening of nationalist and socialist thought that destroyed the Egyptian economic system, isolated Cairo from the world economy and stopped its development. Therefore, an important question we should ask ourselves is the following: what would Iraq have lacked had King Faisal I remained in power?
Iraq would have been better and stronger than Jordan and Morocco, and more stable than many monarchies around us today. What if King Idriss Senoussi remained in power in Libya, and succeeded in suppressing Qaddafi’s uprising against him? I think that Libya would have been more stable, safe and prosperous.
What if the Syrian revolution had not taken place against Bashar Al-Assad? Syria would be stronger and more secure, but now it is occupied by Iran, America, Russia and Israel, and its people are among the most disenfranchised in the world. What would have happened had the Arab Spring never occurred?
It is almost certain that the revolutions in the Arab world harmed Arab countries and set our societies back decades. Undoubtedly, all of these revolutions took place for a reason. There is no argument over that. But they also left the Arab world in critical condition, time and time again. So what is the solution, some may ask? To them I say: gradual reforms. Revolutionaries want change to happen overnight. Human behavior and cultures don’t evolve that quickly. Without patience, we will never be able to change the system. – Najah Ibrahim

Al-Anba, Kuwait, August 2
So many of the Arab world’s most important cities overlook the ocean. From the Gulf of Aqaba in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to the Gulf of Kuwait, the Arab people have established and populated coastal cities for thousands of years. This great geography has a deep history linking communities of our region with the seas.
Sadly, however, very few people in the Middle East today remember this deep connection. Even fewer realize that our societies have been associated with the seas since the time preceding Christianity. Think, for example, about our ports overlooking the seas that linked ancient civilizations such as Iraq, Egypt and India. Among these historical ports, it is worth mentioning Samharam in the Sultanate of Oman, Umm Al Quwain in the United Arab Emirates, and the Nabataean port city of Leuke Kome in what is now Saudi Arabia.
In his work titled Civilizational Relations between the Arabian Peninsula and the East Coast of Africa, Emirati researcher Dr. Hamad Bin Sarai points to a number of Koranic verses that emphasize the depth of the Arabs’ relationship with the seas and their knowledge of nautical navigation even before the birth of Islam. These experiences and knowledge contributed to the Arab conquests and the expansion of Arab lands and thus played an important role in building the Arab civilization we know today.
Unfortunately, it seems there is a deep rupture between our modern Arab society and its ancient history. We have separated ourselves from our rich history that helped define who we are today.
Salah Al-Sayer

Media Line.

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