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Happy News From Saudi Arabia

Happy News From Saudi Arabia

Alsharq Al-Awsat, London, November 19

Last week, Saudi Arabia formalized its naturalization program, which will pave the way to citizenship for foreigners with exceptional abilities and talent. The importance of this decision can be summarized in three points. First: The decision attracts talent, which will reflect positively on Saudi society and its future. Attracting brilliant minds was one of the reasons that contributed to the successes of major countries. Let’s not forget how the United States, for example, benefited from the naturalization of outstanding workers who lived in the country. Examples for this abound – 8% of doctors in America are of Indian origin, and one-fifth of the technology companies in Silicon Valley were founded by individuals of Indian origin. Immigrants in America start up about a quarter of companies each year, and a third of American Nobel Prize winners come from immigrant backgrounds and subsequently acquired citizenship. Let’s not forget the Arab immigrants and their role, and let us remember that Steve Jobs was the son of a Syrian immigrant. Second: The decision increases cultural and social diversity in the kingdom. We now know that successful societies are ones that can embrace citizens from different backgrounds while uniting them under a single national identity. In short, diversity makes society richer. The world we live in today is more connected than ever before, and a global society reflects a nation’s ability to adjust to changing circumstances. Third: The decision mitigates the fanatical calls for complete closure of borders or the dangerous racism and xenophobia that has been plaguing the Middle East. Such racist calls are based on pure hatred that classifies people based on where they were born. They can tear societies apart if they aren’t nipped at the bud. The decision carries a clear moral and humanitarian message that a person is judged strictly on the basis of his or her merit; not appearance, religion, ethnicity or race. Finally, the importance of this decision extends well beyond Saudi Arabia. It sends a clear moral message to other governments and nations – a message of acceptance, openness and communication in a divided Arab region charged with calls for incitement and hatred. Enriching society with competencies, introducing the element of human diversity, and curbing racism are undoubtedly the signs of strong, healthy, and tolerant societies that look toward the future, in contrast to dogmatic societies filled with vengeance and hatred, which ultimately destroy only those who believe in them. – Mamdouh Al-Muhaini (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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