Friday, January 23, 2015

The Weather Is Changing

Today at 1am King Abdullah died.
I am told by some in the know that his successor, King Salman, is in sympathy with and will likely continue with the gradual reforms King Abdullah launched over his 10 year reign.
King Abdullah and Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud. Crown Prince Salman has succeeded to the throne following King Abdullah’s death. Photograph: Hassan Ammar/AFP/Getty Images

In 2002, when extremist-religious terrorism reared its ugly head here in Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah did more than just launch a major crackdown on terrorist networks inside the country. He created a new type of prison that was also a madrassa, a Quranic school. Terrorists were not imprisoned and forgotten. They were re-educated in a peaceful understanding and interpretation of Islam, by highly respected scholars, people whose qualifications they could not ignore.
When women's rights advocates pointed out the absurdity of not allowing women to work, "for their own protection", which then put them in the embarrassing situation of having to deal with male shop clerks when buying such things as underwear, King Abdullah used this as a foot in the door to get women the right to work in all settings. 
In the last 3 years female employment in Saudi Arabia has risen from 50,000 to 250,000.
Revenues from the state controlled oil industry pay to support virtually free healthcare for all Saudi citizens. Schools are free. Universities are free. The scale of infrastructure projects and improvements in this country is surprising. New towns are being built. New telecom networks are being put in. New hospitals are being built. New rail and road networks are being laid out.
One of King Abdullah's early actions upon becoming crowned was to create a program for university students that pays for all their expenses to go to universities in foreign countries. This program exposes these intelligent, impressionable young adults who will later run this country, to Western influences, both social and intellectual. They come back to Saudi Arabia with the benefits of Western education in the sciences, and having experienced first hand the values of inclusiveness, democracy, tolerance, and personal freedom the we enjoy in the West.
The weather is changing.
The cold nights and cool days of the high desert Winter are giving way to warm Spring days.
Cats laze in the shade of acacia trees, oblivious.


  1. That's a great weather pattern, I hope it continues. Great post, as always.