Voices of change rise in Saudi Arabia

Extract from a statement released on 5th March by a number of young Saudi men and women:

We are young men and women from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. As other young Arabs are bringing about the grand political and cultural change that the Arab world is witnessing today, we find that we share with them their visions and aspirations for a more dignified life. However, we first affirm our patriotism, support of our leaders, and commitment to the tolerant principles of Islamic Shari’a. Second, we declare our aspirations and willingness to work toward achieving our reform goals.

We refuse to continue to be a wasted resource surrounded by neglect, unemployment, financial and administrative corruption, forgery and silence. We also refuse to be forced away from our roles in contributing to the development of society, and to be sidelined into passive receivers of ready-made, magical solutions that we neither participate in or execute.

We therefore announce our following demands:

1- We demand an immediate end to the problem of unemployment by providing well-paid job opportunities to young men and women in all specializations. Jobs must also provide health insurance and housing to all citizens, giving them a dignified life in which their basic needs are met, which opens the door to competition, development, and growth.

2- We demand an end to the pervasive problem of poverty which wide sectors of society are suffering from, in our nation that is considered one of the richest oil-exporting countries in the world. Poverty has affected people’s education, health, and quality of life, which in turn disqualify them from good and rewarding employment opportunities.

3- We demand that the government take all necessary financial measures to subsidize and lower the prices of basic necessities, construction materials, rent, and land prices for all citizens. The government must strive to support citizens by providing gas, water, and electricity, and lowering the price of communication and transportation.

6- We demand an end to all forms of discrimination against women and giving women all their political, economic, social, and cultural rights. These include their right to represent themselves without their guardian; choose their educational specialization; work in all administrative, health, educational, and commercial institutions, whether public or private; and partake in public life without any restrictions.

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