My visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
I recently paid a rewarding visit to Riyadh to lead two workshops on “The Soul of Leadership” and “The Future of Wellbeing.” Attendance was full and appreciative, and it gratified me to see a high proportion of women in the audience.
I came to Saudi Arabia at the invitation of Time Entertainment under the leadership of Princess Ameerah Al-Taweel and the General Entertainment Authority, who organized everything at very short notice.
I found the audiences to be extremely enthusiastic and engaged. At book signings, after my talks, it was a pleasant surprise to see that 18 of my books have been translated into Arabic. At various receptions, I had the opportunity to meet CEOs, thought leaders and various government leaders.
I was aware of Saudi Vision 2030, but after meeting Ahmed Al-Khatib, the chairman of the General Entertainment Authority, Minister of Health Tawfiq Al-Rabiah, Minister of Culture and Information Awwad Al-Awwad, and other officials, I had no doubt that the vision of Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is on its way to becoming reality.
I returned home feeling that the US media needs to update its second-hand and sometimes biased opinions about Saudi culture and policies.
Saudi Arabia is a strong regional and global player, but now it is poised to become a pioneer in creating a future that keeps its traditions alive but also leads by example. I was made aware of the broad front on which progress is being made, including the intention to focus on the empowerment of women, a reduction in unemployment, the creation of a knowledge-based society and an economy not dependent on oil. There is also an emphasis on all levels of wellbeing, and the creation of smart cities with the selective, carefully thought-out use of cutting-edge and futuristic technologies.
I met many women leaders, including Dr. Basmah Omair, CEO of the Alsaydah Khadijah Bint Khuwailid Center (AKBKC), and Dr. Lama Al-Sulaiman, vice chair and board member of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Anyone who wants to confirm that Saudi Arabia has powerful women leaders (I met many others) should check out these impressive figures.
Thanks to such an open-minded and informative visit, I returned home feeling that the US media needs to update its second-hand and sometimes biased opinions about Saudi culture and policies.
When you check out the facts, pay a visit, and meet the country’s citizens and leaders, you can’t help but feel that Saudi Arabia is going to be a significant global force for peace and prosperity. I, for one, will play whatever role I can in this period of chaos and unsettled transition in the world.
• Deepak Chopra is an American author, public speaker and alternative medicine advocate. He delivered lectures in Saudi Arabia on May 5-6.