Opinion piece in the Saudi English language daily, the Saudi Gazette of January 14, 2017, penned by Yousef Al-Mehaimeed. A link to the story can be found here and the text is below.
Decades have passed and some social issues remain
unresolved. Most members of the public consider these issues complicated
and feel that they cannot be solved while other countries, including
some Gulf states, view them as natural obstacles that can be overcome.
Why is it that neighboring countries with which we have many things in
common in terms of heritage, history and traditions, have solved these
problems while we have not? People around the world are making fun of
Several of these issues are related to women driving,
traveling and exercising. In other words, the main issues are about
women. We have not taken any drastic action to end these problems. As a
result, we continue to suffer socially and economically. I would like to
focus here on those detractors who describe male guardians who allow
their female relatives to work in the medical field as men who lack in
I do not understand why these people hold this viewpoint. It
is really a shame and a disgrace. Do they want our hospitals and
pharmacies to be run by expatriate doctors and nurses? Why do they
accuse male guardians of not being proper men? What if there was a war
or some sort of dispute that led to these expatriate nurses and doctors
returning home, what would we do?
Around two decades ago, our country experienced tough and
harsh economic conditions. We had to find an alternative income source.
One of the suggested solutions was to impose a tax on expatriate workers
in our country. When the medical circles got wind of the suggestion,
many expatriate doctors and nurses working for a big hospital in Riyadh
went on strike.
Work at the hospital came to a complete halt, which resulted
in exacerbating the health conditions of some patients who were
suffering from dangerous medical problems. The imposition of taxes on
expatriates never materialized because we did not have Saudi
replacements that could run the hospital.
Today, there are some Saudis who are against giving women an
efficient role in building our economy and permitting them to take on
more social roles. But if a disaster occurred and our security
conditions deteriorated and expatriate workers decided to leave our
country, we would suffer immensely as a result. We need to get rid of
our illusions and eradicate all the social shackles that continue to
prevent women from playing their natural role as partners of men.