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King Abdullah and the Step Towards Modernization - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has taken a historical and significant step on its path of development and reform in all fields that affect the Saudi citizen directly.

The ministerial reshuffle that was announced by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, on Saturday, was a step towards modernization for the country and its citizens.

Most of the decisions that were taken indicate that Saudi has embarked on real development, which is taking place on the ground and in all fields. The appointment of the kingdom’s first female cabinet minister means that the door has been opened wide for Saudi women.

It is a clear sign to the Saudi nation from King Abdullah that he is progressing in developing the country, as he has said on a number of occasions. In fact, the King has set the wheels of development in motion in the hearts and minds of Saudi people.

These royal decrees are not cautionary reforms as some might claim; they are reforms that are suitable to the country’s conditions and above all, they are what it needs.

These royal decrees are not merely ideas that citizens will hear about; they will think about these decrees in depth as they will affect their daily lives and the future of their children because officials, known for their competence, have been appointed to positions in critical religious, judicial and educational institutions and to the media, economic, and military sectors and the Shura Council.

There is new blood that is capable of facing the challenges of today, and the King crowned the efforts that he has spared for Saudi women by appointing the first Saudi female cabinet minister, especially that Saudi Arabia, since its foundation, has looked after women and has fought many battles for the sake of women’s education.

Moreover, the newly-appointed religious figures inspire optimism as they are competent people who appreciate today’s demands and the changes that Saudi Arabia, and the region as a whole, is undergoing. This is what we have sensed from the ideas and the contributions that these figures, such as Sheikh Dr. Saleh Bin Humaid or other Ulema and judges, have made over many years. Furthermore, another very important decision was made; the decision to expand and shake up the Council of Senior Ulema to include members of different schools of religious law within Sunni Islam.

Through his speeches, or through what have we heard him say on numerous occasions, it is evident that King Abdullah is completely convinced that the best way to confront challenges is by building a strong and effective nation from within, which can progress in a world that is changing rapidly.

For that reason, one can say that the decisions that were taken by the Saudi monarch can be considered a step towards modernization for Saudi Arabia and its people, since it has broadened the horizons for a country that has a large population of youth and women and a country that does not want extremism and rigidity as some people wrongly believe.

In fact, Saudi Arabia and the overwhelming majority of its people want development and stability, and a tolerant Islam that is open towards everybody; this is real Islam. They also want a developed education system.

The proof lies in the fact that out of the entire region, Saudi Arabia is the country that sends the largest number of its youth abroad, whether through the government or families. Moreover, the number of schools, universities and institutes that have been established in Saudi Arabia over recent years is unbelievable.

King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz has fulfilled the promises that he has made to his nation since taking over the reins of power. The Saudis awaited his decrees on tenterhooks and indeed, the King has been true to his word.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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