I speak to you today amidst extraordinary circumstances surrounding our country. With revolutions and unrest spreading in the region, and the winds of change sweeping across the Arab world, we face a situation in which we muse make critical decisions.
Today, we have to ensure a choice between starting to reform ourselves now, or waiting until we are forced to reform. In a fast-moving world, we need to make that choice quickly. We simply cannot afford to be late.
My family has been honored to serve the people of this great country for centuries. And as a King for the past few years, I have been humbled by the unlimited love and support you generously extended to me. My responsibility as a leader of this young nation obliges me to be frank with you.
The challenges ahead of us are enormous, and to overcome these challenges many sacrifices must be made. After deep thinking and long deliberation, and after consulting my family members and close advisers, I have concluded that to make sure a bright future of our country we must move forward with a clear vision and a real drive for reform. Therefore, I have decided on a set of measures to be taken in a timely manner, and they are as follows:
To signal my personal commitment to turn the state into a constitutional monarchy, I have ordered the formation of committee composed of a diverse group from the country’s finest men and women, coming from different backgrounds that show the richness and complexity of our society. The committee will be responsible for writing a national constitution over the next twelve months. Once the constitution draft is ready, the people will vote on it in a national referendum.
This constitution, which will derive its content from our history and traditions while looking forward into the future, will serve as a social contract between the people and the state, stating that the people are the source of power. It will emphasize the separation of the three branches of government: the executive, judicial and legislative. It will also reaffirm the equality of all citizens before law to ensure justice and equal opportunity.
The constitution will unequivocally state responsibility of the state in guaranteeing human rights, protecting the right to peaceful expression of opinion, and reinforce public freedoms, including the right to form political and professional associations, leading to a fully elected parliament and fully elected government that is of the people, by the people, and for the people.
The constitution will, in no ambiguous terms, stress the role of women as full partners in building our country, and will reflect the government commitment to empower them and ensure that no discrimination is being practiced against them.
To indicate my goodwill and show my true commitment to reform according to the aforementioned principles, I have given these orders to be effective immediately:
- I have ordered the release of all political prisoners.
- I have ordered to lift the ban on women’s driving.
- I have ordered to stop all forms of censorship.
Fellow citizens, it is my hope that these first steps will lead to comprehensive political and social reforms, and will allow us to move into the future with confidence and pride. God bless you, and may God bless our great country.
PS. After it was announced that the King will give a speech, I started to imagine what it would be like. What you read above is the result of my imagination. I believe King Abdullah’s actual speech last Friday was loved by the people, and the royal decrees that followed it will benefit wide segments of society. I just had something different in mind, and I wanted to share it with you here.
17 thoughts on “The King’s Speech (that wasn’t)”
Ya galbi ya kutkut…
That Friday, I’m not sure whether i was more upset because of the speech or the vacation…
What an intelligent, balanced and thoughtful posting. It was a pleasure to read it. I wish the King’s actual speech had been more in line with your own. It would have been much better for the future of the Kingdom than all the financial giveaways which will ultimately not work.
I have to say I was way greedier than you. I wish for at least legal reforms, giving women lots more of their rights, than just letting them drive, putting an end to government’s sectarian and tribal bias and to stop picking favorites, and most importantly less privileges for his 10,000 member family.
so sorry for my previous comment. for u r clearly as greedy i am :)
Neat, Ahmed! I’ve always admired your thought-provoking posts not least because you always ‘hit the bull’s eye’.. People (minority, apparently) has asked for institutional reform, civil participation and constitutional monarchy. In return, announced decrees are monetary public appeasement, enlargement of the religious institution and strengthening of security force. Such ‘quick-fix’ decrees, which by itself reflect an institutional fault in the governance framework, were celebrated by the general public. An alarming and disheartening sign that such Saudi products/people perhaps are after all a successful outcome of decades of shaping towards a majority that will be appeased, exactly like they did. Ingredients for a recipe of change are lacking: social cohesion, awareness and active voices. Perhaps it needs more than a generation to get over decades of fear, oppression and forceful devotion.
well written, well “imagined” Ahmed :)
i wish this was what i heard last Friday, it would’ve made things much easier for both sides.
keep imagining bro :)
Some day, Ahmed. Someday when men and women who think like you are in the majority here, these words will be spoken in Saudi Arabia. Until then, the hand outs will continue and some – tho fewer each time, I imagine – will be temporarily satisfied.
PS – It is a real joy to watch you grow as a writer, Ahmed.
I really would like to see some more reforms in governmental structures and other changes but not on the “western” or ” American” way for bloody sure! I hope we do it our way.
Thanks God you are not our king. What these reforms are going to do with my pocket. Enjoy your life- Life is for living my friend. Reforms are in its way. We have Evolution not Revolution. And some of these reforms in your imaginary speech have not been achieved yet even in some of the most advanced democratic countries. For instance, the separation of power is clear in US but not in the UK. It is called fusion of power where you see the government have their seats in the Parliament. And there are some countries categorize as democratic and do not have written constitution.
However, I think if there are urgent reforms then it will be in the economy not in the politics. The participation is needed in economy more than in politics in my opinion. The Government should allow and encourage more people to participate in the economy. It should encourage them to take risk. It should offer finance and halt the red tape and bureaucracy which faced anyone who want to start business.
The business culture must flourish particularly in the main cities. I think we need this slogan: “Our Money in Our Banks”, which means that the billions of dollars in the American banks must return to Saudi banks and from this money it can offer credit.
Also, we have huge sums In London and Swiss banks. All this wealth have to come back to Saudi Arabia. And from that money the Banks or the Government could start lending people to start business. It could be interest free.
Also our oil is sold cheaply and no one is giving us credit for that. It could be happened that our country may one day run out of oil because of the current stupid policies and then the world will turn their face from us, and at that time we could hear about new wells of oil. It could be from Australia or North America, it may be hidden now.
And now we are producing 9 millions Barrels a day. If we are going to ask for reform then we should ask for reduction in production as well as changing the pricing of oil. Yes the pricing of oil must be changed, those Bastards in Wall Street are harming the entire World. And the current policy is not in any one interest except the Wall Street’s Bastards. Also Why pricing in Dollar? Our currency is negatively influenced by this and we should liberate the Riyal.
In addition, if there is revolution then it should be industrial revolution not political. Why? Because now we import almost everything from outside the country. All cars in Saudi Arabia are imported. It is really shame on us. Now some western countries kindly want to introduce the democracy to our country. They said: Democracy is great value and something good and we want to help Saudi and to give Saudis this great democracy. My question is: If Saudi tell them thank you very much we are very grateful for your gift (democracy) and we will implement it in our society but-but- could you please introduce the technology to us as you do with democracy? Ahmed, do you think those western country will agree? And Why?
A king must speak like the ruler of the nation he knows and created, not like a rock n roll star
How I wish the king had seen your speech. But even if he sees it the ten thousand princes and princessess would not allow him. Reform will come one way or the other in KAS but it will take a long time. Perhaps not on your and my life time Ahmed.
Thanks for the imagination.
Rufai from 9ja
Every Arab need to ask himself/herself this question: “Does the oil under our land belong to the people of the land or just to the ruling families that were put in place by the European powers?” Remember that these rulers did not discover the oil, do not drill for it, do not extract it, refine it or sell it. They just get baksheesh from the West for the oil. Then they act as if sharing a small amount of this money with the people shows that they are magnanimous. In the meantime they go to the West and make vulgar displays of wasting money.
Nice post Ahmed.
Sadly, our nation is very far away from any form of democracy. All I am seeing is a very dark future that is getting darker by the day.
Let them enjoy what remains of the oil reserves as we are heading slowly and steadily for the worst poverty humankind will ever see.
Ah… if only…
what a dream :)
What an brilliant, healthy and careful publishing. It was a satisfaction to study it. I wish the King’s real conversation had been more in range with your own. It would have been much better for the long run of the Country than all the economical offers which will eventually. I have to say I was way greedier than you. I wish for at least lawful changes, providing females plenty more of their privileges, than just allowing them to travel, placing an end to government’s sectarian and tribe prejudice and to quit selecting preferred, and most of all less benefits for his 10,000 participant household.
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