Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Who’s Threatening the Ministry? | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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I do not know if there is any rational explanation for a government official holding society responsible for disrupting his ministry’s projects, in the manner of Saudi Deputy Labor Minister Dr. Abdul Wahid al-Humaid. In a statement to the al-Madina newspaper, al-Humaid said that social controversy was one of the chief obstacles to female employment, and that if this controversy continues then the problem of women finding employment is one that will remain ongoing. He added that the Labor Ministry will have difficultly resolving this problem until this social controversy is resolved.

Although I greatly respect Dr. Abdul Wahid al-Humaid, this is the first time that I have heard or read about a government official waiting for social controversy to resolve [before taking action], for if other officials had followed this theory then there would be no schools for girls, television, or internet, today. All of these projects and others aroused considerable controversy at the time, but they quickly became a reality that everybody had to deal with. I am sure that if we wait for a thousand years for this controversy to resolve itself, it would remain ongoing. Therefore what are we waiting for this when there are already around 200,000 unemployed women, the majority of whom are university graduates? Why are waiting if unemployment claims among Saudi Arabian women will continue to rise year after year? What are we waiting for this controversy to end when senior officials like Dr. al-Humaid acknowledge that there are job opportunities available for women however it is social controversy that is preventing them from benefiting from these?

Al-Humaid told al-Madina newspaper that the Saudi Labor Ministry had been subject to threats, accusations, and criticism, to prevent the implementation of the decision to allow women to work in sales in markets. We understand that a ministry could face criticism and even accusation as a result of this, but how could it be the subject of threats? In a country where security prevails, who dares to threaten an entire ministry?

As for Dr. Abdul Wahid al-Humaid, I say: All or most ministries from time to time face criticism for their projects and programs, in the same manner as the criticism that is currently being directed at the Ministry of Labor. However they are moving forward in order to achieve their goals as they believe that what they are doing is in the interests of society and consistent with its aspirations. Accurate conclusions cannot be drawn up in the midst of social controversy, and some figures are arguing their point of view so blindly that they embody the Arab proverb “the weaker one’s logic the more extravagant their vocabulary.”

In any case, the question that this article draws its title from remains, and that is “who is threatening the ministry?”