Has Saudi Absolute Monarchy Become Obsolete?


Khashoggi, one of the outspoken intellectuals of Saudi Arabia openly says, “The Saudi absolute monarchy is obsolete,” “Democracy is the only solution.” Others in Saudi Arabia would be interrogated and locked up for such words. But he has the cheeks and guts to say so as he is linked with top notches of monarchy.  By specific faction of  Saudi Society Khashoggi is seen as one of the most progressive thinkers in the country. He is building a television network modeled after Al-Jazeera for Prince Waleed Bin Talal, a billionaire and a reformer within the royal family.

As per media reports, until now, the government has simply had to reach into its coffers to keep the people happy whenever there has been a problem. King Abdullah recently promised his people $129 billion in new benefits. He approved low-interest mortgages, forgave the debts of the families of deceased farmers and ruled that students no longer had to repay the government for their foreign tuition. He also raised the salaries of civil servants by 15 percent and introduced unemployment insurance. Medical care is already free for Saudi citizens. Under these circumstances, who would rebel against the government? “It still won’t work,” says Jamal Khashoggi. “We can’t just spend another 100 trillion riyal tomorrow to keep everyone happy. What do we do when the oil runs out?”

Khashoggi and his radical ideas trouble the establishment, especially because of his dire predictions: “This nation will be reformed, just like other nations. We too need freedom, transparency, the rule of law, a prime minister, a real parliament.” The royal family does figure in Khashoggi’s scenario, but in the form of guardians in a constitutional monarchy. It isn’t surprising that someone like Khashoggi has already been fired several times from his positions as editor-in-chief of leading Saudi newspapers.

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Categories: Saudi Arabia

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