Saad al-Faqih writes:‘Let us strangle the last king with the guts of the last priest,” the French 18th century philosopher Denis Diderot said. The same phrase is now widely repeated across Arabia – or Saudi Arabia, as it is currently named under the dynastic autocracy. It is only a matter of time before the revolutions that have swept the Arab world in the past year reach the Saudi kingdom.
Most of the factors that led to the Arab uprisings are present in Arabia. The Saudi regime holds tens of thousands of political prisoners, most without charge – just one example of the oppression people suffer. The scale of corruption is staggering. In the most recent budget alone, $100bn is unaccounted for. In this country with its huge oil revenue, unemployment rates are soaring (currently more than 30%), the average salary is less than $1,300 (£820) a month, with a huge discrepancy between classes, and 22% of the population live in poverty. As a result of corruption, the oil wealth has had little impact on the quality of life of the average citizen, as is the case in neighbouring Gulf countries.
What is worse is that the royal family continues to treat the country and its people as its private property. Instead of attempting to provide the citizens with the strong identity people long for, they have reinforced the subjugation to the royal family of Al-Saud.