May 31 2012
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Globalizing Saudi Arabia
I remember the first time I met with a Westerner in my new job as a translator. He told me that when he came to Saudi Arabia he expected to see a land of empty desert with only camels, tents and rich oil-land owners. He was glad to be among the few that could go back home and tell a different story.
That was the prevailing image of Saudi Arabia in the eyes of foreigners throughout the 20th century. With the start of the 21st century, and amidst the escalating conflict to end the Cold War, a new image started to dominate the global perspective on the oil rich country. Sadly, it was the perceived image of an Islamic fundamentalist state that is exporting oil and terrorists to the world.
Oil and religion were and still are the main two gates for relationship with foreign countries. Saudi Arabia cannot escape the realty that it is one of the largest exporters of crude oil and that it holds two of the holiest cities in the Islamic world. But why should these two positive qualities bring on so much backlash and negativity from abroad?
Since the unity of Saudi Arabia in 1932, it never stopped being a major player in the international arena. It may appear sometimes that it has been led by its political alliance with western countries.
The fact of the matter is that it always had a full share of participation in the creation of what is now known as the new world order.
A good example of that is the participation of Saudi Arabia in the World Trade Organization (WTO). Many observers thought that the country would struggle to find a place in the WTO, but the Kingdom has been one of the driving forces to institute the growing organization.
The answer to this global misunderstanding of Saudi Arabia, may be found in the reason why it takes foreign observers so long to realize the true characteristics and potential of Saudi Arabia.
Could it be that Saudi Arabia's social protectionism policy is creating a gap of miscommunication between the local culture and the rest of the world?
In this age of mass communication, it has become impossible to stop interactivity between local society and the international community. So it is very advisable to adopt a more open global approach to local cultural representation.
In order to give foreigners the right perception about us, we need to interact more with them and allow them to be part of our lives and culture.
© Copyright Zawya. All Rights Reserved.
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