Whatever Happened to Balanced Development

I watched Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum on television announcing the new national strategy for the United Arab Emirates last week. He was confident and direct, and not afraid to say the truth no matter how painful or embarrassing it could be. The way he talked about the ministry of justice for example was just unbelievable.

Few months ago, Mohammed bin Rashid, a true visionary, has locked the members of his new cabinet in a fancy resort in Dubai and told them they won’t leave the place until they come up with a clear strategy of the country for the coming years. Obviously, after making Dubai the miracle that it is today, he now wants to take the rest of the emirate with him to the future. Is there any doubt he would do it? I, for one, have no doubt. All the best to our brothers in the UAE.

Now moving to our magic kingdom, I guess I wasn’t the only one to be disappointed that the king’s speech to the Shoura Council carried no major announcements. The major news came later last week was launching a number of new projects worth US$31.5 bn in Riyadh. Amazing. That was my immediate reaction while watching the presentations on television. However, this also made me wonder about the “balanced development” agenda that many people were hailing the government for promoting last year.

Just last year, the media was abuzz with the news about the King’s visits to different corners of the country to launch new megaprojects in regions that were admittedly neglected and underdeveloped, including six economic cities that are expected to change the face of Saudi Arabia.

But probably our Najdi brothers got jealous seeing other parts of the country getting a little share of the development cake and decided to do something about it. I bet the rest do not envy the central region; I bet they are genuinely happy for their counterparts there; and I bet this leaves them wondering: was balanced development a true promise or merely a temporary slogan?

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8 thoughts on “Whatever Happened to Balanced Development

  1. Ahmed, come on, now they will say that you are holding a grudge against our capital بالسعودي يعني: حقد مناطقي Anyone from Najran can tell us if there is any development actually taking place?

  2. Hi Ahmed.‎
    Balanced development is necessary, but sometimes it is very difficult to attain or ‎achieve. ‎
    Always, and wherever you look in the world, major cities usually enjoy the lion’s ‎share of development projects. However, decision makers should do their best to ‎utilize the available resources in a way that would make all people benefit and move ‎forward.‎
    As for Dubai, I agree with you that Sheikh Muhammed is a visionary leader who has ‎done lot of great things for his country and people. Though I am still not able to ‎understand why he decided to gather his cabinet and lock them up in that particular ‎resort. I mean he could have brought his ministers together in the govt Hq and the ‎result won’t be that different, I gess. UAE has indeed made many great achievements, ‎but it is still lagging behind in terms of political and institutional reform. Yes, they are ‎better than us in many ways, but still I think there is no development whatsoever ‎without genuine political reformation which is unfortunately still lacking in our ‎region.‎

    prometheus

  3. i want to be locked in a resort while i try to figure out how to reform something!! how do i get that job? :D

  4. Hi Ahmed,

    I don’t think that we “najdis” were jealous seeing other parts of the country getting a little share of the development cake :) . As a matter of fact, we would love to see other cities to be developed economical and educational, at least to stop the local immigration to Riyadh because as you see Riyadh is very crowded and most of its residents now came from many part of the country seeking better opportunities which they did not found in thier small towns, and that led to some security problems.

  5. Hi Ahmed,

    I don’t think that we “najdis” were jealous seeing other parts of the country getting a little share of the development cake :) . As a matter of fact, we would love to see other cities to be developed economical and educational, at least to stop the local immigration to Riyadh because as you see Riyadh is very crowded and most of its residents now came from many part of the country seeking better opportunities which they did not found in thier small towns, and that led to some security problems.

  6. While I do wish my Riyadian brothers the best, I still wish we’d have a fraction of the development budget that Riyadh gets in other cities. Has anyone seen the state Jeddah (the so called bride of the red sea) is in these days? Disgraceful.

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