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A healthy election

I ENJOYED READING an interesting article by a fellow writer in Arab News, Saad Al-Dosari entitled “What do Saudi citizens really fear?” He adequately summarized his view of some of the concerns that regular Saudi citizen’s lives on a daily basis.
Being a nation totally dependent on oil, the deteriorating situation of our educational system, the alarming situation of our health care, are some of the concerns he considers as responsible in creating fear among Saudis for their future and most importantly, for the future of generations to come.
While I was reading this stimulating article, I found myself thinking about other, deeper fears that may be prying on people’s minds on the subconscious level — the fear of new concepts that we were raised to dread and think as ideas hostile to our culture.
Words such as freedom of choice, equality, human rights, rational thinking, democracy and elections, are terms we came to view with high concern and suspicion. We treat them as alien ideas that are trying to sneak within our society from the outside world.
But last week an amazing and irregular event took place, in one of our sporting landmarks. The members of the General Assembly of the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) have elected through popular voting, their first president.
Ahmed Eid, a former renowned Saudi football player, was elected on Thursday Dec. 20, 2012 as SAFF president for the term of four years. He won the elections by getting 32 votes against 30 for his rival Khalid Al-Muammar.
Saudis were witnessing for the very first time in their lives a government official being elected through what they used to consider as a western ballot system. People eagerly followed a televised presidential debate between the two candidates the previous day.
Official media and public opinion received the extraordinary event with an optimistic outlook. They saw in the successfully organized presidential elections of the SAFF, a hopeful positive future for the currently struggling status of Saudi sports, especially since the Saudi national football team reached an all time low of 126-world ranking.
Everyone looks forward to the good outcome that can be achieved by this first election. They are hoping that the expected results will encourage the government to practice the electoral process on other government agencies, which are in desperate need for a new selection and regulatory system.

A Tweet: “Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy therefore, is education” — Franklin D. Roosevelt.

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