Increasing use of modern technology making its impact on Saudi culture

Updated 24 October 2014
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Increasing use of modern technology making its impact on Saudi culture

Saudi culture has undergone quantum changes in recent years owing to the spread of modern technology and education according to observers.
“Take for instance the recent Haj holidays where it was common practice to visit relatives but several people did not do so,” said Omar Yousif Tobbal, a senior projects manager in a government firm.
He said that these occasions allow families to spend time together but people are increasingly resorting to calling or texting their relatives to extend their greetings instead of actually visiting them.
“If it hadn’t been for modern technology, families would meet, dress up and generally enjoy themselves,” he said, adding that before the advent of technology, Saudis had more time for each other and talked for hours on common themes of interest. However, there are some who still observe the occasion in accordance with tradition, he noted.
He said that while the youth has welcomed new technology with enthusiasm, the older generation is deeply saddened at the gradual replacement of age-old traditions by modern technology. “They feel that Saudi culture which has been handed down the generations has been adulterated,” Tobbal said.
Modern technology and associated factors have both advantages and disadvantages. “Misusing modern technology will certain have a negative effect on Saudi culture,” Tobbal observed.
Another factor that has affected Saudi culture is education. The King Abdullah Scholarship Program initiated in 2005 has enabled young Saudis — both male and female — to study abroad thereby exposing them to a vastly different environment from that in Saudi Arabia.
“Some 152,000 Saudi scholars are studying in universities worldwide with females accounting for 60,000 of the total figure. Females are accompanied by a father or brother in compliance with Shariah law, and at government expense,” said Mohsin Shaikh Al-Hassan, a well-known Islamic scholar, author and TV host.
While abroad, he said, these Saudis inevitably imbibe new ideas that affect their outlook on life. These new ideas will become a part of their personality and in the process, effect a cultural change.
The change can be observed in their lifestyle, the food they eat, the way they interact with each other and even the way they think.
Observers feel that change is a natural outcome of mixing with other cultures and that it happens to other nationals as well when they live among foreign peoples and climes. Change is a natural phenomenon of the human condition and has characterized mankind since the beginning of time.
They noted that sometimes change can be for the better such as the advent of technology which has provided instant communication through the Internet, for example.
It is also important to keep pace with the times, they said and embrace change with a positive outlook.


Dr. Iman bint Habas Al-Mutairi, new CEO of Saudi National Competitiveness Center

Updated 26 min 59 sec ago

Dr. Iman bint Habas Al-Mutairi, new CEO of Saudi National Competitiveness Center

Dr. Iman bint Habas Al-Mutairi is the newly appointed CEO of the National Competitiveness Center (NCC). Her appointment was approved by the Saudi Cabinet on Tuesday.

Al-Mutairi received her Bachelor’s degree in chemistry from King Faisal University, and her Ph.D. in bio-organic chemistry from the University of Bristol, UK. She also holds a postdoctorate in molecular biology and genetics from Harvard School of Public Health. 

She did her postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard School of Public Health between 1998 and 2000. Later that year, she joined PerkinElmer as a microarray scientist in Chicago.

In 2003, Al-Mutairi began her ten-year career with Aramco, first as a preventive medicine adviser and from 2007 as an administrator of general medical relations.

In 2009, she served as chief of quality improvement and risk management at Saudi Aramco Healthcare Services, moving in 2011 to be administrator of the workforce planning and analytics division. In 2012, she was appointed as the manager of the medical support services department. 

Al-Mutairi was the manager of the Johns Hopkins Aramco joint venture integration project between 2013 to 2014. In 2016, she took up the post of senior adviser to the Minister of Commerce and Investment until 2017, when she became assistant minister for the Ministry of Commerce and Investment in 2018.