Saudis stuck in debt traps



SAUDI newspapers recently published a report saying that the number of requests to enforce court orders in the first quarter of the current Hijri year reached 219,476. The requests were worth a total of SR70.7 billion. This is an increase of 40 percent compared with the same period last year, when 167,607 requests were made to enforce court orders.

Court orders relating to debt repayment are increasing year after year, rather month after month. These court orders consume up to 10 pages of our daily newspapers every day.

This indicates that a good number of Saudi citizens are deeply in debt and in the middle of a crisis. Many of them end up in jail or a large number of them have a major portion of their salary deducted every month, leaving him and his family members to live in harsh financial conditions.

People with limited income are forced to take large loans beyond their financial capability. At the end of the day, they will not be able to repay the loans for many reasons. This is either because their monthly salaries are very low, their pension amount is little, or their income is not sufficient to meet their daily basic needs. These people are forced to take loans at high interest rates from people who have no mercy in their hearts.

There are people in our society who are not educated on rational spending. They tend to spend their money on unnecessary things including foreign travel. They do not think much about the consequences of taking loans when they obtain them. The most important thing for them is to satisfy their immediate needs and they worry about the consequences of not paying back the debt later.

Whatever the reasons, Saudi society, with this number of requests to enforce court orders, is engulfed in a real crisis, which is threatening its stability. Authorities need to view this crisis carefully and search for real solutions. We need awareness campaigns and strict laws that prevent people from getting into the debt trap. One of the main purposes of the law is to protect fools from themselves.

I call for the establishment of a special society that helps people who are in debt, away from bureaucracy and administrational complications. The task of this society is not to write off the debts completely, but to take it away from the indebted person by helping him pay back in installments without any interest. This will liberate the man from the debt trap and save his family from undue suffering.