I have read a number of news articles about Saudi National Day this year, and the celebrations on the streets the night before. The article below struck me as one of the best because it shares the desires of a number of Saudis for improvements of diverse types in a country they love, and care about enough to critique, and thus work toward change.
Jubilant Saudis express their hopes, aspirations
By RIMA AL-MUKHTAR | ARAB NEWS
Published: Sep 23, 2011 01:00 Updated: Sep 23, 2011 01:00
National Day is the day when locals of all ages take to the streets, dress up in green, rejoice and celebrate. To them it’s a day of recognition and unity and they are proud to be part of the Saudi culture and heritage.
Saudis living in different parts of the world also hold special celebrations to mark the day. It is also a time when locals express their hopes and aspirations that would better life in Saudi Arabia.
Arab News talked to youths and sought their opinion on what they expected in the Kingdom that would bring about a secure future.
• Amal Sameer, 26-year-old high school teacher, said Saudi Arabia lacks a good education, and on this National Day she demands better schooling for the younger generation in order to give them a bright future.
“Children have to be provided with a first-class learning environment that would help them get a better education,” she said. “We don’t have high-quality schooling programs, which leaves students not interested in their studies. When I compare our local schools with international schools, I find the international programs very attractive which makes their students more sophisticated and knowledgeable,” she added.
• Empowering citizens is what Mohammad Al-Bakri, 28-year-old businessman, is asking for. “I want to be able to report a case and then be given the authority by the anti-corruption committee to follow up on proceedings of the investigation and report on any developments of the case,” he said.
“Imagine five people reporting five different cases of corruption. Each of them will be given the responsibility of following up and reporting to the commissioner of the anti-corruption agency. This way the man who reports the case will own the case until it is resolved,” he added.
• Talah Saleh, 20-year-old journalism student, seeks free media and freedom of speech. “We are one of the few countries that control media and block certain news, so how would the public know about what’s going on in the world and if the source of news here is credible or not,” she wondered. “We are also a country that bans publishing and distributing certain books. Authorities, for their part could issue a warning at the beginning of the book but people should have the choice to either read it or not,” she added.
• The country with the green flag should go green accordingly, said Zainah Awad, 32-year-old stay-at-home mother. “I was born and raised in the States and when I got back to Saudi Arabia I noticed that no one knows anything about recycling, reducing and reusing,” she said. “We are an educated community we should know more about being environment-friendly. We need awareness campaigns that would educate people about the importance of going green,” she added.
• Saudi Arabia needs public services that would compete with the best international standards according to young businessman Ali Al-Banawi. “We need public services such as libraries, parks, a state-of-the-art zoo, and well developed areas for tourism (beach side, desert, mountain, oasis) all of which must be in direct ratio with the number of citizens of every city/neighborhood,” he said. “I believe we need that because the problems that families, youth, and adults of all socioeconomic background have are caused by lack of proper edutainment facilities,” he added.
“These services will have a trickle effect on many key aspects of our life, including education, the economy, health, social connectedness. In addition, studies have shown their potential to reduce crime and misbehavior,” said Al-Banawi.
• Twenty-five-year-old businessman Karam Khashoggi would like to see improvement in the quality of services in the private and public sector. “I would like to see improvements in departments which interact with consumers in both government and private sectors, we waste a lot of time to get one thing done and this affects us badly,” he said.
“Some have created monitoring system such as recorded phone calls or tracked e-mail/fax communication, but no one is following up, which creates huge incredibility in both sectors while the price is (our time) and lost efforts,” he added.
• Saudi women’s voices need to be heard, according to 37-year-old businesswomen Layla Al-Nasser. “Saudi women should learn more about their rights and demand them. Simple rights like equality, freedom and the right to drive,” she said. “We need to take charge of our own lives, we need to be able to get jobs, drive to work, travel and rent houses without the approval of male guardians in every single step we take,” she added.
• But for this Saudi youth, he just wants to gear up to celebrate the National Day by wearing the color of his country’s flag and turning the day into a green day.
“I have been celebrating the National Day for years now, and every year I go to the car workshop and paint my car green, to me green is the color of pride,” said Mohammed Al-Qahtani, 23-year-old college student. “I don’t do anything special, I just drive around the city along with my friends to watch the celebrations down the streets,” he added.
In a similar vein, see the excellent post by Saudi blogger Qusay of Qusay Today, "On Being Saudi, and How I feel about it".
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Royal Saudi/non-Saudi Marriages and Their Children: Introduction
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If you are Saudi, how are you celebrating Saudi National Day?
What what are your hopes and aspirations for your country?
If you are a non-Saudi based in Saudi, what is your experience of Saudi National Day?
Other comments, thoughts, impressions, experiences?
Progress adds to joy of National Day", Published: Sep 22, 2011 22:41 Updated: Sep 22, 2011 22:57.