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Saudi Arabia: The Vitality of Change and Modernization
Skyline of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (B. Alotaby via WIkimedia Commons)

Saudi Arabia: The Vitality of Change and Modernization

Al-Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, April 27

In November 2019 I went to Qatif, located in eastern Saudi Arabia, for a short family visit. However, the visit, which was planned to be two weeks, ended up lasting 3 months – during which I could immerse myself in my hometown. It was the longest time I spent in Qatif in over 13 years. The visit was an opportunity to spend quality time with family and relatives, rekindle old friendships and, most importantly, witness the changes that the region is undergoing. These changes are not merely economic; they are also social, cultural, behavioral and religious. Qatif, Dammam, Khobar, Dhahran and Riyadh are all cities that I have visited many times during my life. Despite my deep familiarity with these cities – where I was born, raised and educated, they seemed different on my last visit. They were vital and active. They weren’t bound by bureaucracy or outdated customs and norms. The changes we’re witnessing in Saudi society are a product of “Vision 2030,” an effort to modernize our nation through development and the promotion of the rule of law. At the heart of Vision 2030 is the effort to implement real, not fictitious, development projects that benefit the people of Saudi Arabia. Qatif, for example, which had been a deserted coastal city, has recently been connected to other communities in the region through a new network of roads. Also, the city’s municipal services have been improved, and a new promenade has been paved along the waterfront. Finally, a new hospital has recently been opened. Clearly, the kingdom is undergoing a continuous modernization process. This process is genuine and real; it is not simply meant for publicity or promotion. Saudi policymakers have finally realized that improving the quality of life is not merely in the interest of citizens and residents, but also in the interest of the economy. Qatif is nothing but a simple example of the change these reforms have brought about, and the incredible potential it has to continue shaping Saudi society for many more years to come. – Hassan Al-Mustafa (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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