Saudi society’s goal of being a religious Islamic country, combined with economic difficulties, has led to a number of problems and tensions. A rare independent opinion poll published in 2010 showed that the biggest social concerns of Saudis were unemployment (at 10 % in 2010), corruption, and religious extremism.
Crime has not been a significant problem. On the other hand, juvenile delinquency is on the rise through practices such as tafheet (illegal racing), drug use and excessive alcohol consumption. High unemployment and a generation of young men filled with contempt for the royal family pose a significant threat to Saudi social stability. Some Saudis feel entitled to well-paying government jobs, and the government’s failure to satisfy this sense of entitlement has led to considerable discontent.
One in four children in Saudi Arabia is abused, according to a study by Dr. Nura Al-Suwaiyan, director of the Family Safety Program at the National Guard Hospital. The National Society for Human Rights reports that nearly 45% of the country’s children experience some form of abuse and domestic violence. In 2013, the government passed a law criminalizing domestic violence against children.
It has been claimed that trafficking in women is a particular problem in Saudi Arabia, as the country has a large number of female foreign domestic workers and loopholes in the system result in many of them becoming victims of abuse and torture.
Like many Muslim countries in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia has a high rate of population growth and a high percentage of the population under the age of 30, and significant changes in Saudi culture can be foreseen as this generation grows older. A number of factors indicate that the lives and levels of satisfaction of the young will be different from the generation before them:
- While Saudis could expect undemanding, well-paying government jobs for decades, the failure of oil revenues to keep pace with population growth has driven up unemployment, and poor education limits private sector employment opportunities. Young people lack their parents’ appreciation of how much living standards have improved since the mid-20th century. The average age of the king and crown prince is 74, making them half a century older than most of the population.
- Exposure to the youth’s lifestyle in the outside world, which clashes with the native Saudi culture of strict religious obedience and conformity.
- The tendency of parents to leave child rearing to foreign servants who are unable to “pass on by example the core Islamic values and traditions that have always been the foundation of Saudi society.”
In a 2011 survey, 31% of Saudi youth agreed with the statement, “Traditional values are outdated and … I want to embrace modern values and beliefs” – the highest percentage in the ten Arab countries surveyed. The number who have confidence in their country’s direction dropped from 98% (in 2010) to 62%. While these numbers may seem unremarkable in most societies, in Saudi Arabia any rebellion against “the unquestioning acceptance … of previous generations.”
The marriage rate between first and second cousins in Saudi Arabia is one of the highest in the world. Traditionally considered a means of “securing inter-tribal relations and preserving family wealth,” the practice is cited as a factor in higher rates of serious genetic diseases such as cystic fibrosis or thalassemia, a blood disorder, type 2 diabetes (affecting about 32% of adult Saudis), hypertension (affecting 33%), sickle cell anemia, spinal muscular atrophy, deafness and muteness.
Estimates of the number of Saudis below the poverty line vary from 12.7% to 25% Press reports and private estimates from 2013 “suggest that between 2 million and 4 million” of local Saudis live on “less than about $530 a month” – about $17 a day – which is considered the poverty line in Saudi Arabia. By contrast, Forbes magazine estimates King Abdullah’s personal wealth at $18 billion.
Women do not have the same rights as men in the kingdom. The State Department considers discrimination against women by the Saudi government to be a “significant problem” in Saudi Arabia and notes that women have few political rights because of the government’s discriminatory policies. The report of the World Economic Forum 2010 on the global divide between the sexes occupied in relation to gender equality to 129. Place of Saudi Arabia among 134 countries. Other sources complained about the lack of laws criminalizing violence against women.
In August 2013, a law criminalized domestic violence against women. The ban includes 12 months’ imprisonment and fines of up to 50,000 rials ($ 13,000).
According to Saudi law, every adult woman must have a male parent as a “guardian”, for whom she must have permission to travel, study or work.
According to well-known Saudi feminist and journalist Wajeha al- Huwaider, “regardless of their status, Saudi women are weak, even those who are” pampered “among them because they have no laws to protect them from attack by anyone.
Women face discrimination in court when one man’s testimony matches that of two women on family and inheritance matters. Polygamy is allowed for men and men have the unilateral right to divorce their wives (talaq) without the need for a legal justification. A woman can only divorce with her husband’s consent or in court if her husband has harmed her. In practice, it is very difficult for a Saudi woman to get a legal divorce. With regard to the right of inheritance that the Koran gives to fixed parts of the estate of the deceased must be left Koranic heirs and generally the heiresses receive half the share of the male heirs.
The average age of first marriage for Saudi women in Saudi Arabia is 25 years, although child marriage is no longer common. In 2015, Saudi women made up 13% of the country’s indigenous workforce, compared with 51% of all college graduates. The literacy rate for women is estimated at 81%, lower than that for men.
Obesity is a problem among the Saudis of the middle and upper classes , who are at home in the traditional work but are allowed to drive, thus limiting are able to leave their homes. Since April 2014, the Shura Council has asked the Saudi authorities at the Ministry of Education to consider lifting the ban on public school sports for girls, provided that all sports comply with the rules of Sharia clothing and gender segregation, according to the official SPA. Press agency.
The religious police, known as Mutawa , puts women in Saudi Arabia in public many restrictions on , including the obligation , in separate, specially designated family departments to sit in restaurants, to wear an abaya and to cover themselves. the hair. Women are also not allowed to drive.
Although Saudi Arabia women using the religious police nationwide imposed a strict dress code , are facilitators who work for the Al-Arabia news network that partially son Prince Abdulaziz belongs prohibited. of the late King Fahad to wear a veil and be encouraged to adopt a western dress code.
Some Saudi women have reached the top of the medical profession; Dr. For example, Ghada Al- Mutairi runs a medical research center in California, and Dr. Salwa Al- Hazzaa is the head of the ophthalmology department at King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Riyadh and was the late King Fahad’s personal ophthalmologist.
On September 25, 2011, King Abdullah announced that Saudi women would be given the right to vote (and the right to vote) in local elections, provided a male guardian gives permission. On December 12, 2015 women were finally allowed to vote.