Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi, firstname.lastname@example.org
I wish we had made the creation of an open, global and friendly business environment one of our development strategies. Investments and jobs would have been plentiful. We wouldn’t have needed to send experienced expatriates home and force ill prepared Saudis into jobs. We could have asked Singapore, Malaysia and Dubai about the virtues of good business.
I wish we were better people, adhering to our Islamic teachings. We would then be more hospitable and no guest would be treated as a “stranger.”
I wish we had recognized that our education system is a creature living in a world of its own: too theoretical, unfeasible and almost surreal. Our schools’ produce is impractical, unreliable and too out-of-date to cope with market requirements. Our curriculum is like a up-sized fast food meal — generous in quantity, stingy in substance. I hope, as we realize this defect, that our response will not be “too little too late”.
I wish we had not allowed ideology to influence our education as much as it has during the last 25 years and that we used a more tolerant version of Islam in providing our kids with their daily ration of sanity.
Yes, our schools don’t make terrorists; most of us aren’t, but some books and teachers certainly helped. By teaching suspicion of the “other”, whether non-Muslim or non-Shiite, non-Saudi or non-Arab, some educators delivered the audience to preachers of hate.
I wish we had treated with more understanding and sympathy our ex-Mujahadeen — providing them with better decommissioning programs. Most left before finishing schools and returned to a tougher environment, where work is scarce and suspicion of them is abound.
I wish we responded less defensively and more responsibly to the facts of 9/11. Fifteen of nineteen terrorists were Saudis. They represent many more. The driving force behind their actions is an extreme version of Islam that is not uncommon.
We needed to combat the hate theories rather than invent conspiracy theories. Too much time was wasted in defense, with less in offense.
We started late in the game, but we still can win. All we need is well-defined goals and a strong determination. Allah will help us with the rest.
I wish we thought earlier of the national dialog and reforms. We wouldn’t have faced so many needs, in such a short time, with so limited capacity. Still, the national debate is a good start. Justice, equality and human dignity should be basic rights for all. That should include the less privileged, especially women, Shiite and non-Saudi. Transparency, representation and democracy should be on our “first things first” reform agenda.
Yes, we lost decades, but it is never too late to do the right thing.