Will Saudi Arabia Collapse as the Soviet Union Did?
With the recent death of the man who would be king of Saudi Arabia, there is concern that under the seemingly stable veneer of its society, the kingdom is brittle. Ruled by very elderly men, even the successors are old, stuck in traditional customs that are outdated. The senior Saudi rulers have an average age of 80 yrs. old.
The unemployment in SA is 40% among its future, their 20-25 yr. old population. Forty percent of its population live on less than $1000 a month and almost 80% of its revenues are solely from oil. Worse, 90% of its workers, all workers, are foreign! Saudi Arabia has a youth problem, much worse than Iran, which has 30% under age 30. In Saudi Arabia, 60% are under age 25.
The Saudi rulers, despite their age, are quite aware that youth in population can eventually dictate life. For years, the USSR seemed to be indestructible because of its tight rules and laws that kept a lid on things. But as 1980's reached the end, its population saw how much of the world lived in freedom and by 1992, there was no more USSR.
The Saudi leaders do not think democracy can work there because of the many tribes that exist there, so they use the shura method or consultation, and if the there is no consensus, the final decision is the King's.
But this is the 21st Century. The instant communications make it hard for the government to control the opinion of 10 million Internet users in the country. Outside influence remains the same problem that the USSR had. Saudi Arabia men and women no longer obey blindly the authorities and all of the royal families are educated in the USA and Europe. They see and experience what the other world offers and most embrace aspects of it when they return home, only to find some tribal , archaic law preventing it. For instance, stupid laws that will not allow women to drive a car alone. Or, women who wear nail polish in public. The more the government oppresses the people, the more sedition occurs. Unrest simmers. YouTube seems to play a vital role that moderates the rulers. Women who challenge the law against them driving a car, posted videos of them do so. They created a following on Facebook. Another Saudi made a film showing the horrible poverty in the land of wealth and how Saudi men sell their girls into prostitutes. It was posted on YouTube and had over 800,000 views from other Saudis. It had a profound impact even though the filmmaker was arrested (just as the women who drove cars were arrested).
The young Saudis, like the young Russians, simply no longer buy their rulings from the King. They no longer respect him or fear them. It is only a matter of time until this discontent causes much more serious problems to the rulers, which appease them with small bits of freedoms or more free services, in effect, they buy their people's submission. Most Saudi's simply want a more open and fair government and to rid of old tribal traditions that make no sense in a modern world that they live in. Why can't we be like Britain or America or France, they question? They go to school there and live a far freer life and return only to find themselves shackled by strict cultural customs filled with bias.
Saudi Arabia is on the list for change. Time is not on the ruler's side.