Friday, February 25, 2011

The King's return-a celebration or a revolution?

King Abdullah has returned to Riyadh and he received a very warm welcome from Saudis. The streets of Riyadh are lined with flags and large pictures and posters of the King are plastered on every building with slogans like "Thank God for the King's health", "The nation is well as long as you are well", "Long live the King" and so on. The King was greeted by crowds of people cheering next to the highways he drove by. Radio stations played songs specially composed for the occasion, people called in praising the King and children read poems they had written about him. 

King Abdullah is truly beloved as a ruler and he seems to have the firm support of the majority of Saudis. He has done a lot for the country and earned the respect of his countrymen. I wrote a post on some of the reforms he has issued to improve women's rights.
With all the protesting and revolution spirit ongoing in the region, one might expect Saudis would start protesting now that the ruler is back in the country. However I highly doubt the Saudi people would go against their leader, although there are many issues people do complain about.
To show his gratitude toward the Saudi people for the warm welcome the King has announced a long list of royal decrees to improve things like poverty, housing problems, and unemployment. The whole giveaway will cost 36 billion dollars! It also included giving more money to charities, a pay raise for all government employees and support for literary and sports clubs. 

Last night the streets filled with Saudi youth celebrating King Abdullah like a hero, they went around hanging out of the cars waving Saudi flags and posters of the King. I saw some men that had painted their whole car green for the occasion! Both Faisaliah and Kingdom towers have turned on their green lighting, usually only seen on National Day. There is a big celebration scheduled for Saturday which the King has declared a day off for everyone. The overall feeling of joy and the good mood which people were in was evident everywhere.

Despite all this public show of affection, support and love for the King there are rumors of planned protests. There have already been small protests around the country but apparently they did not receive much media coverage. Facebook groups called Saudi Revolution have been created and one currently has about 7700 members.
Some of the groups are planning protests in Riyadh on the 11th March, some seem to have the date set at 20th March.
I'm highly susceptible that anything the same caliber of Egypt or Libya will come out of this. Although I think it's great to see Saudis voicing out their wishes for freedom, they are just outnumbered by the supporters of the current system. Perhaps in time when the King passes away and if his follower is not as generous or open-minded as he is, there would be stronger and more wide support for change. Only time will tell I guess, but currently the King enjoys an exact opposite situation as his colleague in Libya does.


Anonymous said...

Loved your blog encouraging people to learn the language of the place where they are living! I have learned three different languages since working overseas, and it has made a tremendous difference in my abiltiy to make friends and learn more about the culture. Wish I had the opportunity to learn Arabic--the orthography is so beautiful and flowing!

Jawara Kampung said...

nice blog and cool,,
haloo from bali,..

dayani said...

thanks u for u,, info..

Layla said...

Jawara Kampung and Dayani welcome to my blog and thanks for commenting!
Anonymous- arabic is indeed a very beautiful language!