On the path to progress
Led by Saudi Arabia, the GCC countries are taking all possible measures to keep pace with economic and scientific developments in the world and to ensure the transformation of the Gulf region into a continental business hub.
Through the GCC-British Forum, the two sides are working to develop investment partnerships and economic cooperation. It is worthy to note that Saudi investments in Britain are values at 60 billion pounds. The GCC countries are working to achieve economic reforms so as to ensure a sustainable growth depending on two factors: Lessening dependence on oil and foreign work force.
Saudi Arabia’s population stands at 31 million 49 percent of which is under 25 years. In the next 15 years, six million young Saudis will enter the labor market, which reflects massive human energy the Kingdom will have in the years to come. On the other hand, the GCC countries are facing a series of common challenges, notably food and water security and provision of housing and job opportunities for the next generations.
Since the failure of a free trade deal between the GCC and the European Union (EU) in 2008 and British exit from the EU, Britain attaches great importance to a new trade system with the GCC countries.
Meanwhile, British Finance Minister Philip Hammond plans to visit the GCC countries in the upcoming months to convince the GCC on the importance of a mutual trade agreement — a matter that will give the GCC more bargaining power in this regard.
Saudi Arabia is on the way to achieve industrial progress thanks to its strategic location and progress it has made in petrochemical sector. In particular, the Kingdom possesses all competitive elements to convert petrochemical sector from basic into intermediate and final industries.
Saudi Arabia is inspired by the German experience on downstream industries and renewable energy. In this context, Saudi Aramco plans to create an industrial energy city while Saudi industrial sales stand at SR627 billion for more than 1,800 factories with investments exceeding SR1 trillion in 2015.
— By Abdulhafiz Abdulrahim Mahboub
With the increased challenges facing our country associated with political and military developments and formation of an alliance of enemies led by Iran to threaten our security, it has become a necessity to reconsider the issue of compulsory conscription.
In the compulsory conscription, a citizen becomes a military personnel capable of protecting his border and maintaining its security. Some people believe that no reasons exist to recruit Saudi citizens into the army as we enjoy safety and security.
However, I think the current circumstances are the best time to call for conscription because risks are around us and enemies are hatching conspiracies against us.
Therefore, we should not wait until an aggressor surprises us, like we were surprised in Kuwait 26 years ago. Our responsibility is no longer limited to protect our borders but we have become a leader of an Arab coalition.
The involvement of youths in security jobs will protect the country from internal and external dangers, notably with the spread of terrorism globally and floods of terrorist groups. Our youths are in dire need of exploiting their time and training in discipline and commitment in what they are assigned.
We are in a community with over 50 percent of its sons still young and many of them are ready to make sacrifices for their religion and homeland but only need training and qualification.
— By Ibrahim Mohammed Badawood
Reining in car drifters
Car drifting is a widespread phenomenon in the Kingdom and its negative impacts are not limited to the car drifter or spectators but have other deadly consequences.
Car drifting is the major cause for car thefts, damage to property and lives and this phenomenon also contributes to drug abuse. Accordingly, the new amendments to the traffic laws with a particular focus on car drifting, approved by the Cabinet, came with penalties that doubled to 20 times in a gradual way to reach imprisonment of offenders and confiscation of the vehicle.
We hope the new decisions will uproot the phenomenon, clean our streets from risks and safeguard rights of individuals, community, lives and property.
The decision is, undoubtedly, very important but should be accompanied by strict follow-up and revision.
— By Sattam Al-Thaqail
The measures will improve the quality of life in the Saudi society and curb reckless behavior of some members of the community.
The Saudi Cabinet has approved amendments to a number of systems aimed to boost the Kingdom’s non-oil revenues. Certainly, we cannot underestimate the importance of that goal; especially the government has recently adopted a number of initiatives to enhance efficiency of the national economy.
However, there are other meanings of the approval of amendments and fees, which might not be felt by all community members. In our view, the measures will improve the quality of life in the Saudi society and curb reckless behavior of some members of the community.
If we take the imposition of SR2,000 for entry visa for those desiring to perform Haj or Umrah, which is free for the first time, this step give wider chance to those who have never performed the rituals and achieve justice in rights and duties.
On the other hand, the fees will help organization of pilgrims in the holy sites and effectively lessen crowd in these sites and, therefore, allow pilgrims to perform rituals in an atmosphere full of comfort and tranquility.
As regards fines to be imposed on car drifters and other traffic offenses, they will curb reckless behavior and, at the same time, provide community members with an environment characterized by higher traffic safety standards.
In brief, revenues generated from the newly approved fees will boost non-oil sources and, more importantly, contribute to the safety of the community members.
— By Talat bin Zaki Hafiz
Saudization of health sector
The Ministry of Labor and Social Development has reportedly formed a joint committee with the Ministry of Health to lay down a suitable plan for the Saudization of the heath sector.
The ministry has also adopted initiatives to redress professional shortfall in the Saudi market, with special emphasis on the localization-oriented program, which was divided into four tracks.
To explain the ministry’s approach to localize jobs in the health sector, let us take the area of male nurses in government and private sectors as follows:
The number of male nurses stands at nearly 30,000, of which 55 percent are Saudis, and poised to grow to 55,000 by 2030, of which 29,000 will be foreigners.
The latest figures (29,000) will be considered a gap to be filled by local cadres but a question can be raised here: Do we have the sufficient number to bridge the gap? Is it better to “limit” the jobs to Saudis or follow a “gradual replacement” in this regard?
It is very important to distinguish between “limitation” and “gradual replacement,” the latter being better than an abrupt action.
The sector targeted for localization should be obliged to prepare a gradual localization program before replacement of foreign work force.
Knowledge and skill accumulation of majority of jobseekers is very poor while educational outputs are not coping with the reality of market and, therefore, the existence of gradual localization program will be meaningful.
— By Khalid bin Mohammed Al-Shinaibir
UN credibility at stake
A number of international organizations used to adopt political standards to prepare their reports that are supposed to follow one standard: Professionalism.
Typically, in the last few days, we came across reports that deviated from truth, as did the report of the UN Human Rights Commission, which accused the Saudi-led coalition of targeting children in Yemen.
The report aroused surprise of the whole world but forced the world body remove it from its blacklist after a campaign launched by the Arab group at the UN and succeeded in refuting the allegations.
In light of such reports, the position and credibility of the UN are poised to face further deterioration after it only gave expressions of concern and condemnation over many incidents in the world, notably in the Middle East.
The UN officials kept silence on Russian warplanes attacking civilians in Aleppo, the Houthi militia, which usurped power in Yemen and besieged civilians in cities and villages or the sectarian practices in Iraq or Lebanon.
The strong position taken by the Kingdom of its non-acceptance of the UN Security Council membership, which surprised many countries, was an indication of the deteriorating position of the UN.
Despite existence of political motivations behind reports issued by the UN institutions, we have to admit that our civil community organizations, notably those concerned with human rights, were inactive to explain many bright points in the Kingdom, whose constitution and system are derived from the Shariah.
The ruling systems in the Kingdom guarantee justice and security to all citizens, residents and visitors with no tolerance on any attacks or infringement on the rights of others. I will not say our community is an ideal society but the one who seeks fairness is to understand things without trivializing or dramatizing and distinguish between individual errors and excess of regimes and between customs and long-standing principles of the society.
— By Hadi Al-Yami