Our ‘State of the Union’ Address?

King Abdullah will open the new cycle of Shoura Council with a major speech that he will give on Tuesday. The speech is expected to highlight the goals, programs, and aspirations of the government for the current year. The King will also speak to the Shoura members about his vision for the country’s domestic and foreign policies.

But let’s pause for a moment and go back to April of last year, when the King addressed the Shoura, and many were anticipating significant announcements. Unfortunately, that speech carried nothing major. Is this a good reason not to expect much this time around? Maybe, but the recent changes in the government could be a sign that we are in for something different this year.

This is all speculation, of course. Many rumors are flying around town but no one is certain about anything. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. Not holding my breath, though.

UPDATE: No big announcements in the King’s speech. Focus was on Arab unity and the international economical crisis. Read more…

23 thoughts on “Our ‘State of the Union’ Address?

  1. Interesting. Hope to read a follow-up.

    There’s a lot to say though… Last year there was no Gaza 4 months before the speech, no new US president, no Israeli elections, etc. So who knows.

  2. “I’m keeping my fingers crossed”

    I hope you realize that keeping your fingers crossed makes no sense for a Muslim ;-)

  3. I hope we hear good news or something like making the council a legislative council … I know that it is way too optimistic but a neighboring country namely Kuwait has done it.

    I am keeping my fingers crossed too.

    You can use it Jerry M. I am sure many sayings and proverbs started from religious contexts before they turned to be metaphors.

  4. يا أحمد..
    انتم -الرجال- شاهدوا مجلس شوراكم او لا تشاهدوه.. احبسوا انفاسكم او قوموا بشفط اوكسيجين الكره الارضية كله يوم الثلاثاء
    نحن -النساء- الغير ممثلات في مجلسكم اقل ما ينبغي مننا فعله ان لا نشاهد هذا المجلس, ولا نناقشه, لا نسميه.. انكاراً له -كما هو منكرنا.. آز فار آز وي آر كونسرند لا يوجد شيء اسمه مجلس شورى سعودي

    مجلس الشورى السعودي وهم.. مثل “حمارة القايلة” أو “جن”.. ايربين ليجيند يعني

    والمقصود في مدونتك هذا قلطة او ديوانية بالنسبة لنا

    Plus, i suggest you rename your post.. from OUR state of the union.. to .. MEN’s state of the union

  5. I realize most are pessimistic about Shura Council due virtually non existent powers, but I would rather have this form of Shura rather than the chaotic Umah Council of Kuwait.
    As for Women representation, although they are allowed minimal presence and comments in few sessions, I speculate new female members in the upcoming appointments following the courageous move of appointing Nourah Alfaiyz.
    Change is coming people, slowly but surely, as long as the King has his educated moderate advisers.

  6. @ Eve’s Sister: Its not only about time, its long past due …. but still it remains a courageous move considering the powerful religious institution.
    Nonetheless, I assume you are a proponent of Nourah’s appointment since it clearly acknowledge a purpose beyond a ‘breeder or a sex toy’.

  7. Sure, Noura Al Faiz is one of the most respectable and capable women I know of. Religous police does not come from the sky, ya Z Theory. It is an implemented government policy plan. The last I heard they are a line item on the government payroll budget.

    • Think about lobbies and special interest groups and you will understand the duality of power represented in the religious institution. The Hay2ah or religious police are a mere implementation arm on the field. The government has a tough balancing act between them and modernity.

  8. I do have a few questions regarding life in your country. I have already posted this on two other blogs, however, they did not resonate, at all.

    So feel free to give an objective, maybe balanced opinion on the following.

    I am writing a report for my interdisciplinary studies course on Saudi Arabia and its economy and have been having some difficulty in gathering information on a variety of subjects. I am hoping that someone might point into the right direction.

    The subjects I must cover are:

    1. Social Security Laws. I am aware that such laws do not (no longer) exist for foreigners and have been abolished by royal decree (correct me if I am wrong). However, does a legal framework exist for Saudi citizens? Can a citizen expect to have a pension when he (she?) reaches a certain age? Or is this concept foreign to the Kingdom? Are tribal practices such as the Majalis considered an alternative to the social net of the industrialized countries?

    2. Pension, but that is included in #1. However, if anyone wishes to elaborate or point towards literature on that subject, please feel free to do so.

    3. The all too painful subject of Foreign Labor; does the government-established Human Rights Commission have any influence on that matter? Is the situation worse/better/same as the neighboring Gulf States? What about the general mentality within society towards people doing menial or even complex work? I have heard that foreigners are referred to as “Ajnabi Chalb”, is this a sign of a wider disrespect towards foreigners? Any kind of legal protection under the Sharia?

    4. WOMEN! Where can I find literature on Saudi females within the workforce? Most of the literature I find is either idealized, misogynistic or simply sensationalist in nature?

    5.I have read several comments by Saudis claiming the state health system to be crumbling. Many consider it to be highly inefficient and were openly happy by the appointment of the new health minister. ANY info on that subject is more than welcome.

    6. Politics and its discontents. What are the most reliable sources on the political system in Saudi Arabia? How are political activists faring? Again, feel free to mention any objective sources on any of the subjects mentioned here, either in English or Arabic.

    I hope Ms. AB won’t be too mad that I am posting this over her website. I have witnesses some lively debates go on here and still hope that many will “chip in”.

    Love and Salamaat,

  9. The ridiculous religiosity of the WHOLE country is a product of government planning. The Government is not an innocent bystander in all of this. They are part of the problem. I will go further and state: they are the problem.

    You mean to tell me that they (the Gov.) is not able to crack down on those repressive, non forward thinking thugs? I doubt it. Witnessing their fight against the Qa3da members in the country is a good example of their ability to do something about this crazy sceniro. It is an unwise policy. God is in everyone’s heart and no government policy is going to impose the concept into anyone.

    At anyrate we seem to agree but to which extent is where we depart.

  10. Case in point; “But the film was also furiously opposed by the clerical establishment. The senior cleric who, at that time, headed the Saudi religious police was not amused. Film is “evil,” he charged, and must continue to be banned. Within days of his pronouncement, however, he changed his tune, judging that cinema was fine as long as it was used “in matters that please Allah”.”


  11. PC:

    In answer to 1 & 2: there was and is social security and pensions. Check the ministry of labor website

    #4: here is a link that is under construction but is full of good information


    Where are you doing this research? I am reading many assumptions on your part and that is why I am asking where is research done and why?

  12. I am doing this research as part of my interdisciplinary course in Economics and Sociology in Austria.

    We, a group of international students, have decided to take a closer look at certain countries in Asia. A group is researching the effects China’s rapid economic growth is having on the population health and whether this might pose a threat to its economy in the near future. Another is looking into Malaysia’s efforts to position itself as a center for Islamic banking in the world.

    In my case I am looking at the changes that have and still do occur in the period since the first Gulf War.

    Reason behind this is the belief that the 1st (or 2nd depending whether the Iran/Iraq war counts) war had been a catalyst in many ways changing both the perception of Arabs and Asians (notably the Chinese) towards the Western world and the reality within many Arab states. I am asking “what happened since?”.

    Reason behind my direct questions is:

    a) I tend to be pretty darn blunt, too blunt for my own good at times and not watch out for protocol.

    b) Another thing is that I spent a part of my childhood/early teens in Saudi and have very fond memories of the place.

    The lesser memories are made up of the aforementioned racist/nationalistic slurs I had to endure. Which were hurtful since I am very proficient of Arabic and many thought just because I look Western (whatever that means) I could not understand what they were hurling at me.

    The gradual opening of the country made me wonder if foreigners (regardless if Arab or otherwise) still endure such an attitude?

    So in essence, I do not / did not mean to offend anyone reading this. Doing this course is also a form of regression therapy, reflecting on the good and bad moments in my own past.

    Have I answered your questions, Eve’s Sister? Could I dissipate any eventual worries?


  13. Yes, PC, now I am less defensive. Really curious about your background. Is your father’s name Mustapha by any chance? Did you live in the Eastern province?

    And thanks for your direct response to my previous post.

  14. No, I am afraid I have no Mustapha’s in my family. I have only sporadically visited Al-Khobar.

    BTW, is it true that there is a bookstore in Al-Khobar that sells banned books?

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