What do Saudi citizens really fear?
Is it justifiable to fear the future, to fear the unknown? What causes this fear anyway? Is it time that is passing by while the dreams still lurk far away? Is it the feeling of responsibility toward our kids; what are they going to do and how their lives would be like in the future? Or is it the chaotic political scene our neighbors from north to south, west to east are going through that is allowing this fear in our hearts to creep in and grow bigger?
Each and everyone of us has his/her own set of anxieties and worries, it is normal up to a certain level; they could be a motivator for us to work and to accomplish.
The joy of success would be pointless without the fear of failure. It is even ironic when you come to think of it; you fear the uncertain because deep inside, you want to be in control, you want to be happy. The problem is when those fears transform into a phobia. They hinder your daily life, cripple your productivity, and drive you into depression.
So as the prudent saying goes, the best way to get rid of your fears is to face them. Maybe brining them into light would burn them, or at the very least, would give you the strength to deal with them, to find solutions to confront them.
Let’s apply this to our collective fears as Saudis. What are the fears that virtually exist in each and every household in the country?
Let’s start with the biggest of them all: What’s after oil? That’s the million-dollar question. Reports about how long will oil be available send shivers down our spines. We know the magical answer: diversifying our income, but it is 2012 and about 90 percent of our revenue is still coming from oil.
And the news about being one of the largest consumers of oil does not make it any better. A recent report by Citigroup discussed turning into an oil exporter by 2030, and there are counter reports criticizing it and render it baseless and full of gaps. Still, they are worrisome. Oil will definitely cease to exist one day, maybe not in our lifetime, but in that of our descendants.
Then comes education, which is our hope of a better tomorrow. Years have passed and education is in the center of our plans, our discussions and debates.
However, nothing seems to be moving. We might have produced brand new books and new ways of assessments, but the heart of the educational system is still the same. Its focus on raw information and details outweigh its attention to students’ personalities, skills, and hungry minds to create and explore. That goes for both public schooling and universities.
Private schools are not in a better position. Despite their overblown fees, the differences in most are hard to pinpoint.
Health would come next. Stories coming out of our medical field deserve to be labeled as ‘stranger than fiction.’ What frightens me the most is that we are no longer surprised by the disastrous news we hear from time to time. Mistakes could come from where you least expect them.
For example, who would have thought it is possible to be given a mask of nitrogen instead of oxygen? The list of fears related to the health sector is very long: health insurance problems, governmental health services and health coverage after retirement.
The list of fears could go on and on. We all know them, they did not magically appear 10 days ago. Now we agree on their existence, the cure of these fears is for all Saudis to work, and to work hard.
We need officials to be transparent about plans and their progress. Plans for industrial cities, solar and nuclear power alternatives, education development initiatives, and the development of health sector are all steps toward a better future. Hope is there, and we need it to alleviate our fears.
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