Globalization impacts In Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia is an Islamic country that for a long time remained “chained” to Islamic culture and traditions and hence was basically closed to globalization and the outside world in general. The country has for a very long time resisted any changes in its functioning and especially in relation to any global idea that might change its ultra-traditional system. This has however been recently changing and Saudi Arabia is emerging to be a big global competitor (Ramady, 21).
The discovery of oil in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern province in the 1930’s prompted this inaccessible nation to open up to global markets for their huge oil reserves. With the increase in the market of oil all over the world, changes had to take place in the country that for a very long time had refused to be developed. Its leaders in government started seeing the need to develop modern building and other architecture to not only reflect their culture but also compete with the rest of the world. Modern buildings for residential and commercial purposes like industries started coming up. The new buildings construction also necessitated good transportation systems and hence roads, railways and finally airlines started to develop and have since been flourishing.
These developments opened up the nation to foreign investors in different sectors like insurance, trade, education and technology among other crucial areas of the Saudi Arabian economy. International organizations like World Trade Organization (WTO), United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) among other international organizations also moved into Saudi Arabia to ensure this nation was in sync with the rest of the world (Ramady, 302).
Globalization effects have also been felt in the education sector. Initially, Saudi had no good education system and syllabus and therefore after it started trading its oil in the global market, Saudis were migrating to countries like United States in order to seek basic but mostly higher education due to lack of competitive and quality education in their country. This had the effect of bringing in US retailers in the country and the leaders did not like this very much.
The Saudi universities were listed among the worst universities in the world and hence their King opted to change that. It however had to start with the basic education curriculum and moved upwards towards university level. With the help of other nations, the King spend over $ 30 billion dollars in the education of the nation in conjunction with foreigners and the country’s education system has greatly improved and hence no much migration to foreign countries for university education.
Technologically, Saudi has outrun most Islamic countries and is now competing with other European nations in technological manufacture and production and not relying much on importation. With development of transport system came about development of communication system as well. Currently, the country manufactures its own microchips and computers and exports them at a cheap price to mostly third world countries. They have opened up their communication by development and constant usage of email and internet to catch up with the rest of the world. This has been possible through the ever increasing investors in that country and the dedication of their leaders to better their nation.
All these global developments have increased the tourists in that region and hence mixing their cultures and traditions. This is viewed as one of the negative effects globalization has brought about by most Saudis. Westernization has increased in that country and women who were previously not empowered are now empowered and this is not good news to many Saudi men. This is because Saudi Arabia is a pure patriarchal society and hence women empowerment and feminism movements are threatening this patriarchy in the society.
Globalization has also brought about mixture of religion in this previously fully Islamic nation. This is because of the increase in foreign investors and the intermarriages between the Saudis and the investors. Many religious leaders have been heard lamenting that their country’s morals are being decayed with the reduction in Islamic identity and hence fear that this may bring about disobedience to their leaders in the near future and hence starting war and other political clashes in this peaceful nation (Ramady, 354).
All in all, globalization has had more positive effects than the negative one and this country is now among one of the richest in not only the Middle East but also in the world. The Saudi prince has been rated as one of the richest people in the world with a net of over $30 billion in assets.
Ramady, Mohamed. The Saudi Arabian Economy: Policies, Achievements, and Challenges. New Jersey: Springer, 2010.