Next stop: The House of Saud

By A Khokar    February 23, 2011

What Shiites majority Island –Bahrain which poise there as the gate way to Saudi Arabia for the counties from across the Persian gulf can accomplish is to inspire Shiites in Saudi Arabia in terms of a long fight for greater social, economic and religious equality. It’s wishful thinking to bet on the House of Saud reforming itself – not while enjoying extraordinary oil wealth and maintaining a vast repression apparatus, more than enough to buy or intimidate any form or the discourse of dissent.

 Yet there may be reasons to dream of Saudi Arabia following the winds of new Egypt. The average age of the House of Saud trio of ruling princes is 83. Of the country’s indigenous population of 18.5 million, 47% is under 18. A medieval conception of Islam, as well as overwhelming corruption, is under increasing vigilance on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

 The middle class is shrinking fast. 40% of the population actually lives under the seal of poverty, has access to virtually no education, and is in fact unemployable (90% of all employees are “imported” Sunnis). Even crossing the causeway to Manama is enough to give people ideas.

Once again, talk about any drastic change is extraordinary uphill struggle – in a country with no political parties – or labour unions, or student organizations; with any sort of protests and strikes outlawed; and with members of the shura council appointed by the king.

 The Arab print Media anyway has already warned that those winds of freedom from northern Africa may hit Saudi Arabia sooner than expected. And it may all revolve around youth unemployment, at an unsustainable 40%. There’s no question; the great 2011 Arab revolt will only fulfil its historic mission and becomes a historic marvel when it shakes the foundations of the House of Saud and sets a new pace in the Islamic world.

Young Saudi Sunnis and Shiites have nothing to lose but their fear.

 Bagh ka Bbagh, Aap ki Dastras e Havas main hey

Ek gharib ney Agar Phool uttha Liya tou keyah

 Lutf yeh hey keh Aadmi; Aam keray Bahar Ko

Mauj e Hawaey rang main, Aap Nahaa leya tou keyah

[Asia Times theme ]