Our young men and women, our future!


“The moment I arrived at King Abdulaziz Airport in Jeddah, I noticed the difference,” observed the Asian Consul. “It has been many years since my first visit to Saudi Arabia. Since that time I was stationed in Tehran, before being transferred back here. The first thing I witnessed was that all passport officers were now female.

That’s a first, even by world standards,” he added. “My family and I were warmly impressed when the passport officer greeted us in our own language, and talked gently with our kids. She was very efficient, too. Our passports were stamped in seconds, and we were on our way within minutes - no lines, no questions, no waiting. The airport is the same as it was the last time, but the system efficiency and female touch make all the difference,” he smiled fondly, recalling the experience.

“Later on, I had the opportunity to meet with Saudi youth everywhere I went,” he added. “The educated young seem to be all over the pubic space, working in shops, banks, supermarkets, restaurants, cafes, hospitals and public offices. The smiling, friendly, energetic men and women are all around, up and front,” the diplomat stated.

“Again, change is evident. They talk to me with openness, optimism and friendliness. Most seem aware of my background. They know of my country, people and culture, as well as world affairs in general. They talk about the new Saudi Vision 2030 and what it means to them in terms of jobs, education, entertainment and future. I speak Arabic, but most of them seem comfortable conversing in English.

A few even spoke my language! Amazing! The question that pops up with every encounter is how could such change, at such a scale be accomplished in so short a time? Where were those talents before? Why now, and how?”

I told him that the march had started decades ago. Quality education and training were the first steps on the on- thousand-mile road. Millions graduated from local schools, colleges and training centers. Hundred of thousands of top students were sent to the best universities around the world. From the US to China and from Great Britain to Australia and dozens of nations in between, our sons and daughters studied in all contemporary and classic fields, such as science and technology, arts and literature, history and politics, law and security, in the best academic institutions. Most are back now and they are ready for our new phase of evolution.

Then came the opportunities. Those young people were trained with the latest, most state-of-the-art tools, and should have the right place and space to use them. Therefore, new economy and government were evolved and developed for them. The Vision is driving the country into a different, advanced and futuristic sphere. The old ways of doing things are over, the new ways are in. Welcome to the new Saudi Arabia: The young, energetic, creative and highly sophisticated Land of Dreams.

Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi is a Saudi writer based in Jeddah. He can be reached at kbatarfi@gmail.com. Follow him at Twitter:@kbatarfi