Yesterday I was following along on Instagram and saw some pictures of Halloween celebrations in Saudi. i have a friend At first I wasn’t sure if the party was in Saudi Arabia or in America, where my friend lives between Washington and Riyadh, so I messaged him to make sure, and he told me: The party is already in Saudi Arabia !
It may be a fleeting moment, but it reveals the extent of the rapid and remarkable change taking place in Saudi society in recent years. It is ironic that when I started writing on the Al-Hurra platform, I wrote about the Saudi leadership’s decision to allow women to drive, at the end of 2017, that is, just five years ago .
Five years witnessed, and bears witness to, a rapid and decisive transformation to a society more open to the world, as if Saudi society is moving in a direction opposite to what we have seen in the Kingdom in recent decades. A shift towards Vision 2030, which presents Saudi Arabia as an economic power with a diversified economy that is not only dependent on oil.
This transformation is what I want to discuss today. The issue here is not: Is the Wahhabi Islam we have seen for decades expressing true Islam or the more open Islam we see today? Rather, the issue is that the Saudi leadership has simply realized that the age of oil will not last forever, and that there is an urgent need to integrate more strongly and effectively into the global economy. Oil, which has always provided great returns without the need to depend on the natural growth of the economy, will turn into a thing of the past in the near future.
Here, the prevailing strict culture had to be changed. Otherwise, it would be impossible to succeed, for example, in the giant tourism projects undertaken by Saudi Arabia, such as the tourist resorts on the Red Sea, which cost hundreds. billions of dollars. How can we ask millions of people living in different cultures to come to our country unless they feel an atmosphere of openness and acceptance of their different cultures and customs?
One of the sad ironies now circulating on the image of “memes” on social networking sites is how Saudi Arabia is turning away from Wahhabism after these ideas were exported to Egypt.
In light of the difficult economic crisis Egypt is going through, there may not be space here to delve into its causes in detail. In light of the severe shortage of dollars, which in turn affects the prices of all basic commodities, a simple question comes to mind: How can a country with so many monuments, museums, temples and cemeteries suffer from a shortage of dollars ? Why doesn’t tourism generate better revenue to contribute to supplementing this deficit?
I understood the answer differently, away from the numbers, as an Egyptian living abroad. I have heard more than one story about female tourists being harassed while in Egypt. At least I heard three different stories from three women who talked about harassment and very annoying sellers, and their decision not to repeat the experience despite their fascination with the consequences and the weather, especially in winter.
No matter how the state undertakes activities to stimulate and encourage tourism, it cannot control how people interact with tourists, and it cannot control people’s view of the tourist who comes to us from America or Canada. what some consider to be “forbidden”, control because they live in a liberal culture different from the culture that prevails in our country. Objectively, this view cannot be separated from the discourse of some extremist voices who see women as nothing more than a tool for seduction and a source of temptation.
This takes us back to what is happening in Saudi Arabia. The success and prosperity of today’s economy depends in part on the ability to integrate. There is no place today for a successful and progressive economy without a culture that demands openness to and respect for the other, a culture in which it does not see an enemy or a demon, but rather something else that is respected must be
While some believe that talking about the issue of religious extremism is an elitist talk that takes place in cultural seminar rooms and that it has nothing to do with the daily life of the common citizen. The truth is that fighting extremism has a very direct connection with the prosperity of the economy.
For example, economic growth in today’s world is not achieved in a society that views women as having less potential and unable to achieve achievements at work. A society that discriminates against women in the workplace and does not provide them with safe roads and a safe working environment cannot achieve effective economic growth. Here I am not speaking from a human rights point of view, but from an economic point of view, realizing that the disruption of the capabilities of half of society, either by discriminating against them in education and employment or by not providing a safe environment to provide for it, the economy.
On the other hand, it is important to spread a climate of true religious tolerance away from consuming slogans, which deal with the citizen without discrimination without looking at the religious field in his personal map, which I do not see as a logical explanation for the does not exist. Faith and belief is a purely personal matter. The spread of this climate is also a necessity for the prosperity of the economy.
One of the reasons for the economic strength of the United States is the emigration of many creative minds there. And if you read about the stories of many of them, you will find that they or their parents or grandparents left their country because of restrictions and discrimination against them, because they belong to a religion or a sect that is subject to discrimination, unlike the climate in a country like the United States, which enacts laws punishing those who practice discrimination on the basis of religion.
Success in the economy of the twenty-first century has become closely linked to the values of openness and acceptance of the other, and not only to the availability of resources such as oil, gas or minerals. The existence of an open culture that rejects and denounces discrimination based on gender, religion or color, and the existence of an arsenal of laws that protect individuals from discrimination, unlocks their potential. A free economy generally succeeds when constraints and obstacles are reduced and capabilities and capacities are released, and vice versa.