Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. - Comment - Israel News | Haaretz Daily Newspaper
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    • Shalom, Salaam, Peace.
    • 26.06.13 | 08:14 (IDT)

    Hopefully, King Abdullah will recover. Saudi Arabia is quite a new country that has achieved a great deal for its people, raising the standard of living, particularly under the leadership of King Abdullah, for example with regard to education and healthcare, there being a universal free national health system, (in contrast to Iran's republican system which reportedly provides only limited free healthcare, and the last time I viewed comparative statistics, Saudi Arabia did better on almost every index compared to Iran), and there has been new home-purchase legislation to facilitate home ownership. There have also been reports of new initiatives re rehabilitation of prisoners, through, for example, provision of good facilities, including for sport and recreation. (Yet there have been reports in the Western media of a few cases of traditional harsh Islamic punishments having continued. It is hard to believe that there has been torture of political prisoners. Is it true?). King Abdullah has also insisted, despite opposition from conservatives, that there should be co-education at universities, and a new, magnificent university for women was also opened. The King has also reportedly ensured that a suitable amount of the kingdom's wealth has been saved for future generations, particularly since there cannot be confidence that wealth from oil will continue indefinitely. Nevertheless, huge funds have also been allocated for social welfare, to relieve, eg, hardship from unemployment. Most praiseworthy also has been the King's donating billions of dollars to relieve poverty and suffering overseas, for example, via the United Nations World Food Program - Saudi Arabia probably being one of the world's top 3 donors, along with the United States and Britain. The King has also opened up new employment opportunities for women, eg allowing women to work in shops and supermarkets now, and women having already been employed in virtually every field and at every level. Women have also been given voting rights in local elections. Young Saudis are reportedly currently involved in a movement via the internet to stop any women being victims of domestic violence. Reportedly, in the kingdom a survey indicated that 3 out of every 10 women experienced some form of violence, verbal or physical, and it probably cannot be gauged how it compares with the West. There has also been legislation to improve conditions for foreign workers. Saudi Arabia may be a very strict country, yet a consequence is that reportedly it has the lowest incidence globally of rape and aids, very minimal almost zero on a graph in comparison with the rest of the world. However, Saudi Arabia has a problem of illegal immigration since pilgrims who visit Mecca apparently often do not wish to return to their home countries and they remain in Saudi Arabia and the kingdom understandably does not wish to search for and expel any, and reportedly there is a poor standard of living, including prostitution among illegal immigrant communities, as occurs in other countries which have illegal immigration. Although Israel does not see eye to eye with Saudi Arabia's Arab Peace Initiative, nevertheless it's evident that Saudi Arabia looks to a peaceful outcome and is probably influenced by the need to maintain good relations with other countries. Saudi Arabia has also honourably granted asylum to eg, at risk wives and children of deposed rulers, thereby disregarding possible criticism from some quarters. It seems evident that a kingdom, under a hereditary monarchy, can have the same amount of democratic input, parliament, councils, committees, advisors, etc., as a presidential democracy. Hopefully, relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia will improve.

    from the article: In Saudi Arabia, the king is counting his days
    First published 14:25 25.06.13 | Last updated 14:25 25.06.13
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