Saudi Arabia: Thinking of the agents of change
“Saudis are not all god-forsaken. They are not all ‘Osamas.’ There are people of that persuasion, but also a good few who are quite liberal and who don’t like the status quo. The current King is supposed to be quite liberal.” Such are the thoughts and views of Saudi Arabia expressed by a Christian expatriate in neighboring Bahrain.
King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, the King of Saudi Arabia, is formally referred to as Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. Since coming to power in 2005, he has promoted reforms. He reshuffled the cabinet, replacing some hardline clerics with more moderate ones. He also promised to overhaul the education system with more of a focus on sciences rather than religion.
He gave the green light for the country’s first co-educational university in 2009. The King Abdullah University of Science and Technology is one of only two educational institutions in the Kingdom where men and women can mix. Women are not required to wear veils. This is in contrast to the country at large where Wahhabism dictates that women are completely segregated.
Further reforms followed. He introduced the first municipal elections in 2005, and in 2011 granted women the right to vote and run as candidates in the next local election, set for 2015. King Abdullah said at the time, “We refuse to marginalize women’s role in Saudi society.”
A year ago, he issued a historical decree allowing women to become members of the Kingdom’s previously all-male Shura Council for the first time. Thirty Saudi women, who included princesses and university graduates, were sworn in before King Abdullah.
Currently, an unlikely “alliance” is developing between Saudi Arabia and its once bitter rival, Israel. Both countries’ opposition to Iran may see Saudi Arabia allowing Israeli jets to land and re-fuel in the Kingdom in the event that Israel decides to take out Iran’s nuclear installations, according to Christian Broadcasting Network.
- Pray for King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz (age 89) so that he might continue to make more positive changes in his kingdom before his successor takes over. Pray that God would reveal Christ to the King (The Bible, Acts 2:17).
- Thank God for the reforms King Abdullah has introduced. Pray that they would be part of a deep change in the country which would go to the heart of all that Saudi Arabia stands for (The Bible, 1 Timothy 2:2).
- Pray that the reforms would eventually lead to more freedoms for Christians who live and work in Saudi Arabia (The Bible, Galatians 5:1).
Source: Windows International Network