It is not easy to advertise something in a hostile environment. This is what Saudi Arabia faces when it talks to different economic, media and political sectors abroad. It is natural that people are quick to express their doubts and judgements because they have seen a lot of failures. With vision and determination, work advertises itself when it is realized. We must understand and accept that.
I understand the doubts of analysts and editors since most development projects worldwide end up as fictions. Successful examples, such as South Korea and Singapore, are very rare. The Saudi plan includes amazing ideas, holds great promise, and needs Saudis to believe in it.
The foreign media is not easily convinced that Saudi Arabia or any other Middle Eastern country is capable of change and greatness. This skepticism should make us more determined to change and develop; the mission is hard but not impossible.
The new decision to set prices without subsidies is not easy. Few believed the government would take a political risk, but it did. Subsidies might be a temporary need and an easy political solution to emergencies, but when they last very long they harm the economy. Healthy economies do not rely on government and are less susceptible to risks.
Reaching this advanced phase requires enduring the obstacles, which is why most analysts and reporters are skeptical of the Saudi economic correction. Politicians prefer to offer their citizens support that might please them in the short term, but a dark day will come when decision-makers will not be able to provide jobs, salaries or services. This is not being philosophical or pessimist; they are facts.
The foreign media is not easily convinced that Saudi Arabia or any other Middle Eastern country is capable of change and greatness. This skepticism should make us more determined to change and develop.
Cutting subsidies might not please many people today, but it serves their future and that of their children. The aim is to build a real economy that protects future generations from over-reliance on oil income and government support. When countries prove themselves, they stand tall and proud, and care less about the opinions of those who mock them.
Skeptical economists think these ideas do not fit our society, and are impossible in a culture that was built on oil income. We understand their doubts. Change is hard because a big part of it relies on developing the individual and society, not just building modern cities and importing advanced technology. Everything we know must be changed, including education. New concepts must be established and strengthened, and this is harder than we imagine.
Society must come out of its cocoon, and stop being dependant on one product that is susceptible to market changes and technological developments. This is a 12-year transitional phase that should be considered an emergency that requires endurance and perseverance.
• Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is a veteran columnist. He is the former general manager of Al Arabiya news channel, and former editor in chief of Asharq Al-Awsat.