Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Challenges for the New King | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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As history has confirmed, and as Prince Salman the governor of Riyadh emphasized recently, all regimes that depend on an individual collapse with the downfall of its leader. Examples throughout history have shown that after the fall of such regimes, the majority of such dictators are killed or commit suicide.

The peaceful change in leadership in the Saudi kingdom after the death of King Fahd represents the reality of stability and continuity. At the same time, it introduces the necessity of highlighting the challenges that the Kingdom faces in establishing and maintaining a society that is able to develop and compete within the international arena.

The first challenge is to benefit from the recent petroleum boom by strengthening the middle class in the Kingdom. Improving living conditions, combating unemployment and creating new job opportunities would support such social class, ensuring political and social stability.

In societies formed of two classes, one poor and one rich, the social gap continues to widen thus planting the roots of extremist ideologies. Through extensive modernization projects specifically through King Fahd, the kingdom has established a middle class, offering more than one hundred thousand scholarships to Saudis for some of the best universities in the world. Such beneficiaries return to their country to form the foundation of development, industry and investment. This class must continue in its growth and can only do so by improving the living conditions of the lower classes.

King Abdulaziz”s public statements and his visits to the poorer regions in Saudi Arabia reflect his genuine desire to raise the standard of living for those who have a limited income. Every success that will be achieved in this field will strike a blow against extremism, its roots and the risk to the well-being of the people. In turn, this would lead to further social and political stability.

This matter would require rational expenditure and intense supervision on public income to ensure that it is devoted to production and development. The statement made by Crown Prince Sultan Bin Abdelaziz that the kingdom will not focus its capital towards acquiring weapons, is a step in the right direction. The country requires its wealth to be invested in the enormous challenges associated with progress and development.