Monday, April 16, 2007

King Abdullah's Address

Before I go on with my rant I want to make one thing clear. I'm a big fan of King Abdullah. I like his reformist outlook. Changes might be going a bit too slow, but I've always been a believer in baby steps, especially when it comes to a society like ours; stubbornly ingrained with traditional values. He's a simple man with none of the pomp of his fellow royals. I especially find it endearing the way he laboriously plods through speeches like an eager beaver, his limited linguistic skills be damned!

Still I have to say I was quite disappointed with Saturday's "State of the Union" style address.

Plenty of promises for reform in the rhetoric, but no actual details. I've always categorized myself as a rather naive optimist, and this case was no different. In my deepest heart I suppose I was hoping for reform of the laws regarding granting the Saudi nationality.

Ever since the widely publicized rumor (Arabic) reported by Al Arabiya a couple of weeks ago (which has since been denied by the government) about opening the gates of citizenship for the thousands of non-Saudis born here, this issue has been paramount in my mind being myself part of the immigrant population. Not all of us have been fortunate enough to have the Saudi nationality. There is a substantial population of residents who are Saudi in all but paper. They barely know their parent culture and have lived here literally all their lives. They were born here, they were raised here, they speak the language, they live the culture, they know this society inside out. But without the security of the Saudi nationality many of them have fears about their future. Jobs are hard to come by as it is without having the stigma of an Iqama, and forget about government related jobs.

Yes there are defined laws and regulations now governing the granting of the Saudi nationality, as opposed to a few years ago when it was hinged on the whims of the higher ups and how connected you are. But the "points" system is a draconian set of hurdles that few except a select elite can pass. Sure you get a few points for having Saudi relations, but to really get the big points you'd need to have a Masters degree of higher in a science or technology related field. That leaves a whole lot of people out in the cold. It really pained me to see all these people (some very dear friends amongst them) get their hopes dashed once again.

Guess that's what you get when you trust the tabloid style reporting of Al Arabiya.


annoos said...

I've some non-Saudi friends who are more patriotic than many Saudis, very brilliant, and were born and lived here their whole lives..
One of them even represented Saudi arabia in several international and occasions..
Any other sane country would at least naturalize outstanding people..!!

Saudi Jawa said...

There's a huge pool of untapped talent among the long-term residents community. They have provided a constant stream of highly motivated people who are behind many of Saudi Arabia's most successful businesses and ventures.

One of the main reasons countries like the U.S. are such successes is that they are not afraid to embrace someone as part of their society simply because he has the wrong sort of ancestors.

Diversity is the keyword.