According to Molavi (1), Saudi Arabia is one f the Arab Countries which is on the brink of change. This has been marked by authority transitions that are increasingly been contributed by the emerging young generation in the urban areas. By referring Saudi Arabia as one of the youngest countries in the world, Molavi projects its population composition to be contributed by higher new generations than the older generation. In her projection, Saudi Arabia has approximately 75 percent of its population being those under 30 years old and 60 percent of its population being under 21 years old. This leaves out the older generation to occupy less than 20 percent of its total population. A research into the different within the new and old generation in Saudi Arabia is therefore necessary to help predict the future of the country.
However, those of the older generation have argued that they are the holder of the experience needed to lead. Molavi (1) notes that most of the present older leaders are those who are in their 70s and 80s. This could be pointing to the fact that the older generation leaders have worked at least for 10 years. This has enabled them to accumulate more experiences and more ability to handle the various complicated problems that are a normal phenomena in today’s society especially the positions of leadership. Those of the older generation in Saudi Arabia are thus believed to have learnt from their past experiences and accumulated a wealth of knowledge concerning the way in which the nation or specific organizations operate. With this understanding, most of the Saudi Arabian leaders prepare their sons for leadership by putting them in such positions early in life. King Faisal, for example, in 1975 appointed a number of his grandsons in various government positions with the intension of enabling them to gain leadership experience. For years, the Kingdom has thus been ruled by aging royal families. The new generations therefore never expected any passing of leadership baton to them.
As pointed out by Lippman (1), the older Saudi generations ruled the country based on religious authority which legitimized whatever the decision they took. He notes that religion has been a key pillar not only in strengthening the Al Saud kingdom, but also in steadying the Kingdom in ensuring that its top most leaders bear its name. According to Lippman, the stipulated Saudi law gave a provision that the king must be either the son or grandson of the Abdul Aziz. However, age was also a factor of consideration in determining the line of succession. In so doing, this old generations justified their monarch ruling especially by claiming not only to personify and protect one true religion, but also to propagate the same religion (Elliot, 11).
They have thus continued to cite the need to protect the countries religious believes as the reasons for the need for them to continue in the positions of leadership. Elliot (11) for example observes that those of the older generation have a strong belief that the they had been commanded by prophet Muhammad to sincerity and to do a good job as well as to seek to improve and develop the nation. To them, the qualification of a leader should be based on the ability of an individual to uphold Islamic values. The older generation thus locks out those of the new generation in positions of leadership by questioning the youth religiously stands and whether they still give in to the call of King Abdulla’s for the need for Islamic faithful to be tolerance and embrace dialogue between people of different religions.
However, the above notation of old magic divide and conquer coupled with the majesty of religion appropriateness has not blinded off the new Saudi generations whose future and that of their next generation seems to be threatened. Elliot (12) asserts that the new generations of Saudis have felt soiled and resentful by the older generations who have only promised jobs but have not delivered and made corruption a ramped entrapment in the society. Additionally, these new generations is outraged by the manner in which the older generation has made the supposedly strict Sharia law which is increasingly promoting lawlessness. In the process, the new generations have engaged into activities that can enable them to better understand their government and society.
Unlike the older generations, Lippman (1) views the new Saudi generations as being more educated and familiar with outside world. While the older generations depended squarely on religion representation in obtaining information around them, Elliot (14) notes the emergence of internet among the new generations as have been the mode at which this 70 percent Saudi population acquaint themselves with domestic and international affairs. She points out that internet savvy has enabled this young generation in projecting government’s inefficiency, poverty rate, and corruption indulgences.
Additionally, technology has also provided an opportunity for companies and employees in the new generation to do their jobs and work more efficiently. Elliot (15) notes that with improved technology, there has been improved communication, efficiency, and mobility. All these have ultimately led to improved human capital in the new generation. For example, technology has improved the country’s work place by increasing the speed with which work is presently done in any organizational set up.
As Bontekoning (287) points out, in the past a hundred years, stability in exchange of loyalty was the social binding factor that linked Saudis to their Al Saud rulers. However, presently, the use of internet through social media has enabled the new generation in breaching this social wall that was carefully constructed and maintained to keep Saudis as separate entities from their families or tribes. For instance, during the 2009 flood that killed 120 people and displacing 22,000, young Saudis used Facebook and Twitter in helping the stranded citizens to find safety and shelter a situation which saw authorities scarcely present (Elliott, 1). Therefore, the new generation in Saudi Arabia is more socially constructive as compared to their older counterparts.
According to Lippman (1), the less social restrictiveness of the new generations has made them to be open to political reform unlike the older generation. He notes that when Saudi Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz died in June 2012, there was an inevitable transition of ruling to the new generation. This was seen as a political and economic life time that would present new ideas of ruling to the entire country and change the way in which the country engages in its international affairs. This is also based on the fact that knowledge wise, the new generation are better placed compared to those of the older generation. Lippman (1) notes that due to the country’s positive development in the past ten years, Saudi Arabia will be able to flourish in business and other aspects of the economy. It is evident that the education system has been improved to include such skills that were not taught to the older generation.
However, Lippman is cautious whether the new generation of Abdul Aziz’ grandsons who were born out of rich and pampered by egalitarian culture can humbly remembered their beginnings thereby becoming even less receptive to political liberation. It is also argued that there is need for the new generation in Saudi Arabia to learn from the old generation. This would enable them tap the necessary experience in order to ensure positive growth and progression of the country. Learning such experiences will for instance allow the new generation to learn the necessary leadership skills. These would enable them deal with their core workers thus being able to develop a working relationship that is strong enough to enable their peers to support as well as respect him.
Additionally, even though the older generations have been criticized of lacking the needed Knowledge to lead, they have compensated for the lack of knowledge with their wealth of experience which enabled them to handle the problems they meet in a more skilful manner. Such leaders are thus said to possess higher ability of avoiding unnecessary conflicts and wars within the nation as compared to their new generation counterparts.
But as Lippman (2) points out, any new generation leader who will take after is unlikely to diversify the economic and international policies that have been built by the kingdom. However, it is evident that the new generation leader unlike the older generation leaders will concentrate in addressing domestic issues such as; the effect of Islam on public life, the increasing ability by Saudis to organize via internet, and more so the growing agitation for women’s job market. For instance, when a 58-year old Prince Muhammad bin Nayef was promoted to be the minister of interior, he was criticized for increasingly suppressing intense wave of dissent and demonstration that was being engaged by the Shiite Muslim population on the Eastern Province (Lippman, 1).
In conclusion, the older Saudi generations and their newer counterparts are different in their social construction. The older generation tends to legitimize their actions on religious standings while the new generations uses the new technologies in understanding both the domestic and international issues. Therefore, new generations have been noted as less restrictive to political reform as opposed to the older generation. However, the big question is whether the new generations born and culminated into older systems are able to use their technological influence and knowledge in bringing new changes and avoid operating like the past monarchies.