On January 16 Al-Hura Channel hosted Fadel Al-Omani, A Shia Saudi writer, to discuss the needs of the Saudi citizens including developing educational system, health care, housing, and women’s rights. Al-Omani wrote many articles about Media, infrastructure, conflicts between various trends, and accepting pluralism.
At the beginning of the interview, Al-Omani directed a question to the responsible of educational system in Saudi Arabia if they are really believe in the importance of this process in the development of any society. He confirmed that the answer will be yes, but he wants to know if there are any plans or serious strategies to improve educational process.
He said that“education in Saudi Arabia is a complicated issue for many reasons among them curriculum, outputs, schools etc.” he explained that the problem is not in the staff but in the educational system as a whole.
Al-Omani expressed optimism for the future of education in the leadership of Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, the Minister of Education for his wide experience.
He also criticized health services which are below the level for a rich country such as Saudi Arabia. Al-Omani said “that this sector needs a lot of work to reach the desired standard”.
In regard to the problem of housing, he said that “this issue becomes more complicated with the passage of time”; “there are more than 70% of Saudis who don’t have houses which is a very high rate; this means that two-thirds of the citizen's income goes for rentals”, he added
And about women’s right, Al-Omani said that “King Abdullah reign witnessed a remarkable development in this issue, yet it is still limited”
On the other hand, he talked about the existence of a militant religious trend which doesn’t recognize pluralism and diversity. In a response to the question if he means by religious trend Salafiya, Al-Omani said that “he means any radical thought including various religious institutions whether Shias or Sunnis but to be more specific it is more obvious in Sunnis since it is the largest branch of Islam and the religion of majority”.
He also talked about criticizing Islamic legacy and said “contrary to what is commonly believed that Shia is a cluster, there is controversial inside Shia community which divided into three main grouping Twelvers, Ismailis, and Zaidis”.
Al-Omani pointed to the Arab Spring by saying “we can’t deny the existence of Arab awakening which started from Iraq in my view, however it failed to achieve its purposes because we resist change and don’t have a space for free expression”
When he was asked about the failure of the Arab Spring including rushing the results and focusing on political reform only, He said “some intellectuals especially those who are close to the leadership were calling to change cultural and political conditions in the state to be ready for reform and elections” Arab youth fed up of this situation and lost confidence on these intellectuals”, Al-Omani illustrated
Al-Omani believed that after the Arab Spring everyone benefited except Arab youth who offered sacrifices. Moreover, it turned to bloodshed as we see in Iraq, Egypt, Syria and Libya
He said “the rest of Arab regions may face the same destiny and we began to notice the repercussions of Arab Spring in religious discourse which incites hatred”
Sectarianism was one of the impacts of Arab Spring Al-Omani said; Saudi society is ready to produce hatred discourse which appears widely in social media, as he stated.
He explained that al-Dalwa terrorist attack which resulted in the death of seven Shia citizens revealed for people who question Shias allegiance that they are not a fifth column as they claim.
Al-Omani criticized Saudi Arabia for delaying the issuance of laws criminalizing sectarianism and hatred abuses up to now.
The meeting concluded by talking on discrimination issue, where Al-Omani said that “Shias senses as if they are a second class citizens and most Saudi Shia suffers from marginalization moreover, they are deprived from their rights in holding senior position and forced to study curriculum which accuse Shia of blasphemy”