The New Saudi Arabia

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New Saudi Arabia — sophisticated, moderate and happy

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Time: May 01, 2018

“WHAT is going on in Saudi Arabia?,” asked my Lebanese friend. “Too many things are happening at the same time. Why now? What are you trying to prove to the world? Or is it to yourselves?

“Recently, you had sports, chess and even card (Baloot) tournaments; international and national marathons; women racing and bicycling; operas, and musical shows; cinema and theater; even one of the world biggest wrestling events — Royal Rumble 2018,” he counts.

“King Salman has just laid the foundation stone at the Qiddiya entertainment park near Riyadh. The project is considered to be the largest of its kind in the world. The 334-square kilometer project would rival Walt Disney and include high-end theme parks. It is one of three Saudi “giga projects,” including NEOM and the Red Sea project, launched by Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman.

“That is a lot by any count,” my intellectual friend pronounced. “Still, it seems there is more to come. And all in a year or two! What is going on? Has Saudi Arabia suddenly decided to change its soul? Will this phenomenon last? Can your society afford such fundamental changes?”

I told him: Simply we just want to reclaim years of our lives that were wasted in barren-like environment, by barren-minded people. It is like we were finally freed to release our best, realize our potential and enjoy our blessings. Now, our best half could showcase their capabilities, our young may take the lead, and our gifted may present their talents.

Why not? That is the real question that bothered me for ages. We have it all —trained, ambitious, energetic human resources; historic, colorful, diversified culture; and vast, rich, untapped lands.

We are not new to civilization and leadership. Our nation had built an empire that stretched from the gates of Paris to the Great Wall of China. Our holy cities have enlightened the world. Through the ages, billions of people have been inspired by the book we carried, the knowledge we taught and the message we delivered. They have followed our lead, honored our status and prayed towards the House of God we served.

Now, it is high time we awakened our legacy and fired up our torch that was stolen for decades by narrow-minded, shallow-thinking, self-serving topologists. They reinterpreted our holy Qur’an, re-wrote our Islam and redefined our mission. Instead of enlightenment, they took us to darkness. In place of science, they advocated prescience. As a replacement of the culture of life, they proposed the culture of death.

People may tolerate the absence of living for sometime. They could live without joy for few years. They might accept depression as a fact of life for a long while. But sooner or later, they would wake up to the reality that they could do better, be better and live better. If not for themselves, certainly they wish for their children to be happier. A new generation would want change, demand change and get change. In an interconnected world, you cannot build an “Iron Wall” around their minds and hearts. They would know better. They would fight to get themselves out of your cage. They would, eventually, rejoin the free world.

Fun is not necessarily bad. Fun is not, by definition, sinful. Fun is what our nature demands. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: The deprived hearts become blind and hateful. He encouraged some moments of leisure. So, whom are we following when we regard a hearty laughter as wrong, if not sin. Why should we always be reminded of death, hell and the hereafter, and not good life and paradise? Why do our kids learn only about the afterlife but not how to make their lives, and ours, worth living? And how come we call ourselves Muslims and do not follow the example of our Prophet (peace be upon him) who instructed us, (work for your worldly life like you would live for ever, and work for the hereafter like you would die tomorrow). And (If the doomsday came upon you, while you were about to plant a tree, plant it!).

A wise leader should appreciate his people’s aspirations and devout his career to help them realize their dreams. He would provide for his people a way out and above — orderly and peacefully. Why should they be looking around for a better life? Why would they be jealous of their neighbors? And why would they leave their country whenever they have a chance to get what they were denied at home — entertainment?

King Salman and his Crown Prince, Muhammad bin Salman, have decided to bring us back the true version of Islam; to lead us forward to the new age; to give us hope, path and freedom to pursue happiness, prosperity and development. Ladies and gentlemen—I give you the New Saudi Arabia!

Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi is a Saudi writer based in Jeddah. He can be reached at kbatarfi@gmail.com. Follow him at Twitter:@kbatarfi

This article was first published Saudi Gazette

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