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A Day of Pleasant Surprises - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Saudis woke up on Saturday to a series of major political decisions promising good news, all of which are strongly connected to the reformist line adopted by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz.

This decision gives reform proposals – which the Saudi Arabians have been hearing about for some time – actual power and effective operational tools in order to be able to address many of the needs and requirements in Saudi Arabia.

The judiciary is the most sensitive issue [to be addressed] and it received a large amount of attention, giving hope and confidence [to the Saudi people] that judicial reform is not just a theory, but that it is possible in practice also.

Education is another area that requires Saudi attention since youth makes up 60 percent of the Saudi population, and so it is possible to imagine the impact of educational reform on the future of the country. With regards to education, a team comprised of a minister and two deputy ministers, one of whom, and for the first time, is a woman, have been put into position in order to meet the challenges of education, after people grew tired of the former governmental organ and its inability to implement the desired reform.

What applies to the education sector also applies to the health sector, which has been adversely affected in the previous years, therefore a new and successful Medical surgeon was appointed to the directorship of the health ministry; which is proof of the importance of the new vision, and the importance of appointing the right people to the right positions.

There was an important and significant development in the Supreme Judicial Council, with the addition of a number of scholars who hold new ideological positions that will enrich the opinion-making process, and the issuance of fatwas, resulting in the desired richness and diversity.

The Minister of Justice and the Minister of Culture and Information were also replaced by two individuals who are recognized for their efficiency and vision, as well as their ability to bring about reform and development.

The directorship of the Committee for Prorogation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice was also changed. Not to mention the new members of the Shura Council which reflect Saudis’ ability to make decisions that reform their lives and develop a better standard of living.

And so the political changes announced by the Saudi monarch are a pleasant surprise, and confirm that reform is not an ambitious project but a pragmatic approach, and a fundamental pillar to the strategic future of the country.

These kinds of decisions are described in various ways in order to be explained to the people at large, and it is possible in many countries around the world to describe them as major decisions, or revolutionary decisions, or with other well known embellishments. But the fact of the matter is that those who know the characteristics of the Saudi monarch will know that reform is at the heart of his beliefs, and at the heart of his vision for the country.

History will say that these decisions were important to the future of Saudi Arabia, that they were elemental in awakening and stimulating the Saudi population in general, giving them a measure of hope, that was needed, to remove many of the signs of despair, fear, anxiety and doubt.

King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz is a King who came to power concerned about reform, and he has taken a number of decisions in this direction. The recent decisions serves as the addition dosage required to give his vision of reform extra momentum in order to execute what is required and bring about positive results, which is what everybody is waiting for.

Congratulations to Saudi Arabia and to Saudi Arabians; and welcome to the pleasant surprise.

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi is a businessman and prominent columnist. Mr. Shobokshi hosts the weekly current affairs program Al-Takreer on Al-Arabiya, and in 1995 he was chosen as one of the "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum. He received his BA in Political Science and Management from the University of Tulsa.

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