RIYADH: American English instructor Mark Arturo Ortiz has spent the past 35 years living in the Kingdom and is mesmerized by social reforms arising from Vision 2030.
“Yeah, it’s been quite a journey. The Saudi Arabia that I first experienced back in 1988 is by far not the Saudi Arabia of 2022.” Ortiz, who hails from Manhattan, said it was “like a veil has been lifted,” with the current generation of Saudi students shattering stereotypes held by media institutions abroad.
“Back in the day they were somewhat limited in, you know mind and scope. But today (there) seems to be a sense of … no limit to, you know, what can be done.” There was an ambition now that has taken him by surprise. There appeared to be no “glass ceiling” for Saudis to surmount as they try to become part of global developments, and meet the needs of the country’s transition from a dependence on fossil fuels to a more diversified economy.
Ortiz said that young Saudis seem to be in a hurry to get on with their careers, to “make up for lost time.” He thinks that the changes that have occurred in the media, coinciding with the information age, have helped to accelerate social reforms in the Kingdom.
Now young Saudis have become media- and tech-savvy, which was what he had always urged many citizens to do during his first few years in the Kingdom. This was before the rise of the world’s tech companies such as Google and Twitter. Previously Saudi Arabia only had a few television channels and newspapers like Arab News, Saudi Gazette and Riyadh Daily.