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The Saudis and the ever changing Arab world - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Ever since the emergence of the so-called “Arab Spring”, the Saudi people have faced numerous questions about their country’s stability as well as its future in a region where governments have begun to fall, and conflicts and clashes are breaking out. Some misguided people bet that the Saudi state would fall on account of the Arab Spring, and even rejoiced at the possibility of this alleged collapse, yet they were ultimately proven wrong.

The Saudi state is not an exception. As part of the intertwined Arab world, the Kingdom was fully aware of the transformations taking place around it, and feared the impact these would have on its cohesion, stability and security.

Numerous Arab states have disintegrated from within due to civil wars, poverty or a lack of development. Others have remained safe for a while, but are now falling into the unknown abyss as well, in light of political unrest and struggles between domestic factions that are either obsessed with the past or concerned about the future. However, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia – the state, the leadership and the people – has not allowed such dangers to dominate its scene or impact upon its course. The Kingdom has dealt with these dangers as a sort of challenge, never allowing them to alter its practical and realistic framework.

In a rational manner the Saudi people have succeeded in neutralizing their internal struggles, eradicating any display of dominance or bullying whereby one faction would seek to intimidate another, a phenomenon that has seriously harmed the stability and security of other Arab states. The Arab world in general, both before and after the Arab Spring, has faced real problems when it comes to building a modern state and interacting positively with citizens; whether as a result of autocratic military regimes, misguided recipes imported from the West and the East, or the adoption of the slogan “Islam is the Solution.”

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia dealt with this problem by consolidating the country’s unity and encouraging closer contact with society – with its different categories and classes – through an open-door policy. In the same manner, the Saudi government proceeded with reform and rational change. Accordingly, it was successful in striking several balances, which some people may mistakenly perceive as being contradictory. The Saudi state project goes beyond sectarian, partisan and tribal thinking. The construction and continuity of the project is based on a social contract between the ruler and the people, centering on a sound doctrine, justice and security, internal unity, development and bridge-building with others.

The culture of strife, mistrust and ignorance has exhausted mind of the Arab individual, both before and after the “Arab Spring”. It has disillusioned young hearts and caused some Arab societies to lose much of their confidence, tolerance and creativity, thus depriving them of possible coexistence as well as the development necessary to build a modern state. However, by using their own moderate Islamic model, the Saudi people have been successful in curbing such a culture, hence maintaining their identity, their country’s unity, and their people’s security. This has enabled the Saudis to build a modern state and perform a key role in an ever-changing Arab world.

Abdul-Malik Ahmad Al Al-Sheikh

Abdul-Malik Ahmad Al Al-Sheikh is a distinguished Saudi writer and essayist.

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