The recent attack on the foreign workers in Saudi augurs ill for the future. Saudi Arabia, despite earning a good income from oil production, has a number of significant social/political problems that it needs to address.
These include the following:
- Demographics, over 40% of the population are under 25 years old
- Reliance on a single revenue source, oil is the sole revenue source for the Kingdom. Saudi has failed to develop any other form of revenue earning economic activity
- High unemployment, Saudi relies on 6 million foreign workers to run its key industry. The result being that its own citizens are unemployed
- Security, Saudi’s security services and armed forces are not “top rank”. This was very clearly demonstrated by the events over the weekend. Saudi relies on the USA to protect its borders
- Democracy, this is in fact non-existent. Saudi has been ruled a by the House of Saud since the state was founded in the early 20th century
- Human rights, Saudi has a very poor human rights record; eg women are not allowed to drive cars and people are still beheaded
- Education, Saudi education is religious based and highly anti Western
The social and political problems within Saudi have provided a fertile recruiting ground for Bin Laden and his acolytes.
In my view, time is running out for Saudi Arabia. The Saudi government needs to address the above issues, with urgency, in order to avoid the significant and irreversible breakdown of law and order that is inevitable.
Failure to address these issues will ensure that the House of Saud is replaced by an extreme Islamic theocracy. This will not be good for either the Saudi people, or the oil-based economies.