WHEN the era of oil began, Saudi Arabia’s economic policy was based on the principle of ensuring the present generation enjoys oil resources, while other minerals constituting huge resources were left for the incoming generations so only a very insignificant part was used.
However with the drastic transformation being witnessed globally, the Kingdom did not succumb to the situation. It has started preparing the society for the post-oil era. The Kingdom is preparing alternative resources to sustain prosperity of the society by relying on the youth as workforce that can manage the future economy.
Countries with an advanced vision and national plan do not wait for depletion of any resources before searching for an alternative. They always prepare citizens several decades ahead. This is exactly what the Kingdom is doing, despite all the catastrophes caused by dwindling oil prices and austerity measures imposed by the global recession.
In that regard, we continue to see analysts watching with pessimism, especially after the launching of ‘Resolve Storm’ to thwart the Iranian expansion project through Yemen. It is unfortunate that the bogus figure concerning the cost of war is similar to a public auction even though the truth we heard from the topmost official about the file is clearly different from what was publicized.
It did not exceed 17 billion riyals per annum, a relatively small amount compared to the gain. This is not limited to protection of Islamic holy sites from the Persian ambition; but also protection of Saudi Arabia, the whole Arabian Gulf and other Arab countries.
If only those analysts assessed thoroughly the impact of the successful Persian project, they would have been convinced that the financial cost is not a big issue. They would have realized that success of the Mullah regime project entails massive disaster.
Saudis and all Gulf nationals are worried about many unrevealed facts in this context and in other fields. Such facts must be clarified so things are not left for the analysts’ fiction or conclusions, especially when Saudi Arabia is regarded as the engine of the Gulf. Whenever the Saudi economy suffers, the entire Gulf suffers.
Everybody must adapt to structural changes in the international economy; otherwise, time will surpass them. Considering this fact and the saying, “Necessity is the mother of invention,” Saudi youths in particular, and Gulf youths in general, must ‘break into’ the labor market and take over several commercial and vocational posts currently occupied by expatriates who use up billions of dollars by transferring the money abroad.
Thus, it is time for Gulf citizens to shift from the stage of comprehensive welfare State to the stage of individual initiatives. It is known that the sky does not rain gold or silver. The welfare State will not last forever. Therefore, the private sector should be activated, but this cannot be achieved as long as underemployment is prevalent in public institutions. It is the new strategy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This goal is no longer far away.
Your Highness, the Crown Prince, it should be admitted that social reality affects the economic situation. Here, I recall the initiative of the late King Faisal bin Abdulaziz on educating women. He said, “Education is a social issue. Whoever likes to educate his daughters, the schools are available, and whoever refuses to educate them, it is up to him.”
Today, we see thousands of the grandsons of those who opposed women’s education in the past studying in different universities around the world. We see Saudi women occupying senior positions including Sara Al-Suhaimi who currently heads Saudi’s stock exchange.
These big steps towards empowerment of women and putting them in charge of senior positions are not yet full. How could a woman be trusted to deal with billions of riyals while she is not allowed to drive?
Moreover, Saudi Arabia is about to launch a number of exceptional projects and Saudi women will definitely take part in the implementation of these projects. These women will need transportation to and from their work places. Will they be prevented from driving even if they are in charge of major projects?
Your Royal Highness, you launched the project to develop the Red Sea coast and adjacent islands. Based on all standards, this is one of the mega development projects. It is ingenious as you have laid down several criterions that are not connected to applied systems in the Kingdom, because this will transform the area into a tourism window for Saudis in the first place and make the Kingdom save billions of riyals spent on tourism abroad. It will also serve as a source of income by attracting tourists and this is of greater importance for the national economy.
Undoubtedly, there is a lot of difficult work ahead of you. It is always better for Saudis to look forward to developments one after the other. In this manner, you will receive their support and get rid of any confusion and doubt they have on the steps you are taking towards the biggest goal — realize Saudi’s economic vision.
Even if everyone is optimistic over the achievements, especially after the encouraging figures in the recently announced budget for next year, these should not prevent people from getting information from the reliable source — you; not the analysts who depend mostly on estimates. It is better if you have media appearance every now and then to explain accomplishments and share your thoughts, instead of leaving people under the mercy of rumors which will only intensify their misgivings.
We said yesterday that tongue and intelligence determine human quality. Today, we add, “Successful administrative technique is determined by careful selection of aides who are capable of executing directives precisely, scientifically and sincerely.”
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times