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Civil Society and Religious Figures in Saudi Arabia - Dissertation Example

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Civil Society and Religious Figures in Saudi Arabia Amna ALSamarrai Director Supervisor Introduction The era of colonial dominance, the end of the cold war and the gulf war have played a major role in shaping the political and socio-cultural context both directly and indirectly in the Arab and Muslim world, especially in Middle East and North Africa…
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Civil Society and Religious Figures in Saudi Arabia
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Download file to see previous pages However, these concepts, as they are understood in the Western context, were not equally accepted or adopted by the various MENA nations, due to their differences in tribal affiliations, culture and civilization, religious constraints and divergent political and social systems. The movement was seen as an attempt of transplant Western thoughts into non-Western civilizations, therefore it was condemned as intrusive and eventually negated, mostly by radical Muslim fundamentalists. Saudi Arabia is the best example of a nation that questions the adoption of what it regards as imported ideologies from the outer world. Observers in the West thought Saudi to be isolated from the influence of colonialism and the cold war. I argue that Saudi wasn't really totally cut off from these democratic conceptions coming from the West. In fact, literature traces a history of events showing Saudis to be exposed to these modern concepts, and had actually adopted and modified these to commensurate with their own social and religious nature without carrying the western metaphors. This was accrued with the flow of Muslim pilgrims from all over the world, the oil-boom waves of expatriates and the sent abroad Saudi student - who some of them became part of the elite members when return in late 1970s - had been the indirect source of that western influence. However, globalization with its technological revolution is another major source of spreading the Euro-American modern secularized language and thoughts in contemporary Saudi culture. Saudi Arabia, despite the religious conservatism of its society, has one of the largest groups of liberal reformists in any country in the Middle East. The wealth resulting from its oil industry has enabled the country to send tens of thousands of its young citizens to the West to acquire modern college and graduate level education. The result is that a new generation of enlightened young Saudis have become convinced of the imperatives of modernization and competition in the global arena. While they support the royal family, they are convinced of the need for social and economic reform (Zakaria, 2012). This dynamic is manifesting in the strengthening initiatives of civil society and the growing confidence with which non-governmental organizations are pursuing reforms. The bureaucracy in Saudi Arabia is traditionalistic and resistant to radical change; this is not true only of the Kingdom but of every other Middle Eastern country. These governments are constrained to deliberate on the course of economic and social development, generate the projects that will bring about this development in a comprehensive long-term plan, supervise project execution and continue their operations and maintenance once they have been established (Nimir & Palmer, 1982). The workings of the bureaucracy are therefore of great interest to civil society which seeks the speedier and more democratic pursuit of those plans and projects. The third element in this situation, unique to countries in the Middle East that have a strong Islamic following, is the religious leaders, the ulama, who oversee all aspects of social and political life to ascertain their compliance with the teachings of Islam. The religious influence is particularly significant in the case of Saudi Arabia which is the seat of Islam for all Muslim faithful. Added to this is the fourth ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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