Religion plays too big a role in the lives of young Arabs, survey reveals

The survey found that young people wanted to see the role religion played in government reassessed. (File/Shutterstock)
Updated 30 April 2019

Religion plays too big a role in the lives of young Arabs, survey reveals

  • Young Arabs believe that drugs are too freely available in society
  • Three quarters of young Saudis say they are optimistic about their futures

DUBAI: Young Arabs believe religion plays too big a role in their lives and want their religious institutions reformed, according to the latest annual survey of attitudes of young people in the Middle East and North Africa.

Young Saudi citizens also believe overwhelmingly that the Kingdom - under the Vision 2030 strategy - is heading in the right direction, and that its economy is on track, the ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey, unveiled today, reveals.

Young Saudis demonstrate optimism in their personal future, with three quarters of those polled saying that they will have a better life than their parents, and only 10 per cent expecting to be worse off.

The 11th annual survey is based on 3,300 interviews with Arabs between the ages of 18-24, split equally between men and women, in January this year.

Perhaps the most eye-catching finding in the 2019 survey is that young Arabs seem to want a reduced role for religion in their lives. Some 66 per cent of those polled said that religion plays too big a role, with an even bigger number - 79 per cent - calling for reform of their religion’s institutions.

The findings come as the Arab News series “Preachers of Hate” explored the destructive influence religious extremists have had on society.

Half said religion was holding the region back, while nearly the same proportion said religion was losing its influence in the region - a finding especially pronounced in North Africa and the Levant.

Young Arabs are also increasingly tired of war and civil strife. A big majority - nearly three quarters - believe the war in Syria should end regardless of the regime in power there. But another big majority remain concerned about the Palestine-Israel conflict. Nearly 60 percent believe that Sunni-Shia relations have deteriorated over the past ten years.

In international relations, 59 percent view the USA as an enemy, while 37 percent see Russia as a strong ally, almost as many view America the same say (38 percent).

Most of those polled - around 60 percent - say the murder of Jamal Khashoggi would have no or only temporary impact on Saudi Arabia’s image around the world.

Most young Arabs think the rising cost of living is the biggest obstacle facing the Middle East, and many - 65 percent - say they want their governments to do more for them, especially in education and healthcare.

The survey also included for the first time questions about youth attitudes to drugs and mental illness, with a large number of respondents saying that illegal drug use was on the rise and drugs were easy to obtain. Mental health is an increasingly important issue, with nearly one third saying they knew someone who was suffering from mental health problems.

Sunil John, president of Asda’a BCW, said: “This year’s findings show that youths are looking at their governments to reshuffle their priorities, especially when it comes to the role played by religion and seemingly endless conflicts – and they want to see change.

“Young Arabs who have grown up against a backdrop of extremism and geopolitical conflicts are tired of the region being defined by war and conflict. They say they want their leaders to focus on the economy and providing better services such as quality education and healthcare.”


Hajj officials says all preparations completed to welcome pilgrims

Updated 24 June 2021

Hajj officials says all preparations completed to welcome pilgrims

  • Due to pandemic, only 60,000 pilgrims will be allowed to perform the pilgrimage as registration is only open to citizens and residents of the Kingdom
  • Officials have completed organizational, service, and health preparations to provide the best services to pilgrims at Grand Mosque in Makkah

JEDDAH: Officials in Saudi Arabia said they have completed all the organizational, service, and health preparations to provide the best services to pilgrims upon their arrival at the Grand Mosque in Makkah during this year’s Hajj season, which will begin mid-July.

The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques said that all field and administrative agencies and departments are working to improve the outputs of business and services through pre-prepared plans and programs.

Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Ministries of Health and Hajj announced earlier this month that a total of 60,000 pilgrims will be allowed to perform the pilgrimage this year as registration is only open to citizens and residents of the Kingdom.

Authorities will take into account COVID-19 health requirements to preserve public health and safety while also facilitating the performance of rituals and worship in the Grand Mosque.

Those wishing to perform Hajj must be free of any chronic diseases, and be within the ages of 18 to 65 years for those vaccinated against the virus, according to the Kingdom’s vaccination measures. 

Hajj pilgrims should be fully vaccinated, or those who took one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days before, or those who are vaccinated after recovering from coronavirus infection.


Saudi, Omani officials discuss economic zones ties

Updated 24 June 2021

Saudi, Omani officials discuss economic zones ties

JEDDAH: The secretary-general of the Economic Cities and Special Zones Authority (ECZA), Nabil Khoja, met on Tuesday in Riyadh the undersecretary of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion of Oman, Asila Al-Samsamiya, to discuss special economic zones between the two nations.

They covered cooperation and integration opportunities the zones would offer, with Khoja touching on the ECZA’s role as the organizational umbrella that ensures the alignment of the special economic zones project with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and national strategies.

He stressed that the meeting with Al-Samsamiya comes within the framework of strengthening international cooperation via special economic zones and seeking to build strategic partnerships.

Khoja noted that the ECZA has expertise in supervising, regulating and controlling economic cities and special zones, which can be shared between the Kingdom and Oman. He added that this will contribute to achieving the goals of the two countries, and to enhance the vital role that the ECZA can play in realizing the objectives of Vision 2030.

This meeting followed an extended session between the ECZA’s team, headed by the vice secretary-general for Special Economic Zones, Wassim Khashoggi, and the deputy chairperson of the Public Authority for Special Economic Zones and Free Zones in Oman, Ahmed Al-Deeb. 

The two parties discussed providing support for Omani efforts to attract Saudi investment for special economic zones and free zones projects in the Sultanate.

They also covered the possibility of establishing a Saudi industrial zone in Oman, which the Saudi side would develop, operate and manage, and build roads to transport goods between the Saudi and Omani special economic zones.

Related


Who’s Who: Dr. Hessah Al-Ageel, director general at the Saudi Institute of Public Administration

Updated 23 June 2021

Who’s Who: Dr. Hessah Al-Ageel, director general at the Saudi Institute of Public Administration

Dr. Hessah Al-Ageel has been the director general of the women’s branch of the Institute of Public Administration (IPA) in the Eastern Province since 2015.

As part of the IPA’s role in helping public servants, especially those with disabilities in workplaces, the branch recently delivered a three-day, text-processing training program designed for the region’s female public employees with hearing difficulties.

Al-Ageel received a bachelor’s degree in translation from King Saud University (KSU) in 2003. Seven years later, she obtained a master’s degree in applied linguistics (TESOL) from La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia. In 2016, she was granted a doctorate in global, urban and social studies from Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.

In 2005, Al-Ageel joined the IPA, where she served as a faculty staff member in the English language department at the Riyadh women’s branch for nearly 10 years before she was appointed head of the women’s branch in the Eastern Province.

Al-Ageel’s doctoral thesis focused on the behavior of Saudi women in contemporary Arabic-speaking situations. The research she presented for the degree investigated Saudi pidgin Arabic that has emerged as a result of Saudi people interacting with foreign workers, especially Asians.

In 2018, the IPA published an Arabic version of Jason W. Osborne’s “Best Practices in Logistic Regression” translated by Al-Ageel. She has also translated and reviewed a number of scientific papers in different fields, and has led consultation teams in training needs assessment, human resource and organizational structures.

She is also active in increasing awareness about corporate social responsibility and sustainable development goals.


Saudi Arabia will judge new Iran president Raisi by ‘reality on the ground’ — FM

Updated 23 June 2021

Saudi Arabia will judge new Iran president Raisi by ‘reality on the ground’ — FM

  • Prince Faisal says ‘very concerned’ about unanswered questions on Iran’s nuclear program
  • Austrian foreign minister: Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia are unacceptable

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia will judge Iranian President-elect Ebrahim Raisi’s government by “the reality on the ground,” the Kingdom’s foreign minister said on Tuesday.
“From our perspective, foreign policy in Iran is in any case run by the supreme leader (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei) and therefore we base our interactions and our approach to Iran on the reality on the ground, and that is what we will judge the new government on, regardless of who is in charge,” Prince Faisal bin Farhan told a news conference with his Austrian counterpart during his official visit to the capital, Vienna.
He said he was “very concerned” about unanswered questions on Iran’s nuclear program, an apparent reference to the UN nuclear watchdog seeking explanations on the origin of uranium particles found at undeclared sites in Iran.

Saudi Arabia and Gulf allies continue to pressure Iran over its nuclear program, which Tehran says is entirely peaceful, and its ballistic missiles. US intelligence agencies and the International Atomic Energy Agency believe Iran had a secret, coordinated nucleaar weapons program that it halted in 2003.
Raisi, a hard-line judge who secured an expected election victory on Saturday, said on Monday he wanted to improve ties with Gulf Arab neighbors.

Biden administration officials are insisting that the election of Raisi won’t affect prospects for reviving the faltering 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran. But there are already signs that their goal of locking in a deal just got tougher, according to The Associated Press.

Optimism that a deal was imminent faded as the latest talks ended on Sunday without tangible indications of significant progress.

Raisi is likely to raise Iran’s demands for sanctions relief in return for Iranian compliance with the deal, as he himself is already subject to US human rights penalties.

Opinion

This section contains relevant reference points, placed in (Opinion field)

“I don’t envy the Biden team,” said Karim Sadjapour, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace who has advised multiple US administrations on Iran. “I think the administration now has a heightened sense of
urgency to revise the deal before Raisi and a new hard-line team is inaugurated.”

Meanwhile, Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg condemned the continuous Houthi attacks on civilians in Saudi Arabia, describing such assaults as “unacceptable.”

Prince Faisal said the Houthi militia has regularly rejected initiatives for a complete cease-fire, and have always resorted to escalate the situation.

Farhan said Saudi Arabia and Austria shared a “similar vision” regarding the region’s stability, while Schallenberg said his country supports developments taking place in across Saudi Arabia in several areas.

Prince Faisal met for talks with Schallenberg at the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where the two sides discussed opportunities for joint cooperation, developing bilateral relations, and ways to develop them in various fields, especially in light of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, the Kingdom’s foreign ministry said.
They also discussed ways to enhance joint coordination to serve the interests of the two countries, and the most prominent regional and international developments.
(With Reuters)

Saudi Arabia and Gulf allies continue to pressure Iran over its ballistic missiles and the nuclear program, which Tehran says is entirely peaceful.

US intelligence agencies and the International Atomic Energy Agency believe Iran had a secret, coordinated nuclear weapons program that it halted in 2003.


Who’s Who: Dr. Suzan Mohammed Al-Yahya, director general of Saudi Arabia’s Royal Institute of Traditional Arts

Updated 22 June 2021

Who’s Who: Dr. Suzan Mohammed Al-Yahya, director general of Saudi Arabia’s Royal Institute of Traditional Arts

Dr. Suzan Mohammed Al-Yahya has been appointed director general of Saudi Arabia’s Royal Institute of Traditional Arts.

Al-Yahya will be responsible for managing the institute, implementing its strategic directions and developing traditional arts in line with the institute’s vision.

She is one of the top academics in the field of art and design, having worked as a faculty member at Princess Nourah Bint Abdul Rahman University.

She also worked as a consultant, and was a member of advisory committees at the university and other organizations.

Al-Yahya obtained a master’s degree in art education and a Ph.D. in educational technology, as well as a Ph.D. in educational policies and leadership at the University of Northern Colorado, US.

She has authored research papers in various fields and participated in several scientific conferences.

The institute will launch its first training courses in September aimed at enriching traditional arts, training specialized national cadres, raising the level of public awareness, and preserving tangible and intangible cultural heritage.

The Royal Institute of Traditional Arts is one the initiatives of the Quality of Life Program, part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan.

The Ministry of Culture aims to develop the local cultural sector through education and knowledge. The institute will provide advanced educational programs to prepare young Saudis to help the Kingdom develop its cultural sector along modern lines.