A member of Saudi Arabia’s ruling family has sided with the Middle East protestors in an op-ed published today in The New York Times. Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud
, a grandson of the founding king of the current Saudi republic, writes that Mideast societies, including his own, must liberalize their political systems and economies or suffer the consequences: stagnation, poverty and decline.
“Initiatives just announced in my country ... are a step in the right direction,” Al-Saud writes, “but they are only the beginning of a longer journey to broader participation, especially by the younger generation.”
Al-Saud lays out shortcomings that have spurred the revolts in no fewer than eight neighboring countries: rampant unemployment; rising income inequality; and a host of unmet basic needs for housing, health care and education.
He writes that “outmoded and brittle” political systems are not just ill-equipped to meet these challenges but seemingly designed to ignore them: “Decision-making is invariably confined to small circles, with the outcomes largely intended to serve special and self-serving interest.”
But he strikes an optimistic tone. “Disheartening as the Arab condition may be, reforming it is neither impossible nor too late,” he writes, adding that “the Arab world has an abundance of resources, natural and otherwise” as well as “a substantial reservoir of talent that can be enlisted in the creation of a vibrant social and economic order.”
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