Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Youth Restlessness and Identity Crises: Ticking Bomb

Director’s Comment: The enormous failure of the Saudi government and its pre-modern methods of coping with changing times is steadily undermining the country’s stability and endangering its social and political cohesiveness. The Saudi government’s unwillingness to recognize and focus on its internal problems and construct modern solutions for modern problems pose unprecedented threats to the system and society. Prominent among the major problem is the burgeoning youth (men and women) who are reported to be more than 60% of the population. Growing up in the rapid and complex age of computers, cell phones, satellite channels, pornography, Facebook, Twitter and blogs where they can chat with each other and the rest of the world, Saudi youth identify more with their counterparts in San Francisco, Casablanca, Brussels and Madrid than they do with their parents, religious teachings and Saudi cultural values.

Enigmatically, the Saudi ruling elites do not seem to take notice of the writing on the wall. They insist on obsolete solutions for all needs and occasions: Memorize the Quran, pray five times a day, obey the king and blame the West and Israel for homegrown and nurtured problems. Young Saudi men and women have been showing signs of discontent and restlessness for years. Some of them went on a destructive rampage in Alkhobar city in eastern Saudi Arabia and in Mecca in 2009. Most of them are unemployed and resent their socially, religiously and politically oppressive institutions, gender segregation, total lack of entertainment and grim prospects for the future. Delaying positive and modern responses to Saudi youth’s needs and aspirations is a guaranteed recipe for instability, crimes and increased participation in extremist and terrorist groups’ activities, but who is listening or noticing?
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