We have all those revolutions and protests happening in the Arab region, but not in Saudi Arabia. Why?
Ahmed al Omran: True, we have many revolutions in the region. But the each country has a unique situation and different circumstances and different dynamics. You can't just expect revolutions to be copied and pasted from one place to another. When it comes to Saudi Arabia there are a number of factors that explain why we didn't see this popular uprising happening.
The first one is people in Saudi Arabia don't have the same kind of political awareness that people in other parts of the region have. Saudi Arabia is a very young country. It has never been colonized. It didn't have to go through any kind of independence war so there is no civil society, no political tradition, no elections, no political parties. So, by and large, people don't understand much about their rights that they need and they need to demand and gain them and enjoy them.
What they have been taught in schools for a very long time is that this is the perfect Islamic state and that you should be happy with it. So, it's only now that they see people in neighbouring countries demanding their rights, and they are getting inspired by this.
The other reason is Saudi Arabia has more resources and money to throw around. When the government got nervous it initiated money hand-outs and financial aid packages of about $135 billion. The people got subsidies and salary increase. This strategy of making people happy is working to a large extent.
Interview by Benno Müchler
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