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As most Saudis go on talking and asking about the social change the Kingdom is passing through, it is interesting to note two things.

One is that most of the arguments basically consider the Western ”social example” as one that should be avoided. Two, in spite of this ”hostility”, most references used in the debate are of Western orientation.

This is a situation somewhat similar to the experience of many blacks in Africa.

Back in the days of colonies whether French, British, Portuguese or Dutch, a white skin was associated with power, status, wealth, and superiority. This, as one analyst writes, ”was not a symbolic association, rather it was rooted in the social structure.” As a result, success among native blacks was measured by the attainment of the colonisers’ language, education and culture.

The process of ”attainment,” however, brought the native blacks into direct contact with the ”superior” culture at its home base. There, they discovered with a shock that in the context of a white audience, the Negro, whether he liked it or not, was identified with the bushmen. The coloured man discarded his dreams of integration when he learned two things: First, that by integration, the white man mean ”be like me,” second, that the white man was convinced that the black man could never be like him. The sad conclusion was that for the black man there was only one destiny. And it was ”white.”

The shock produced a search for a distinct black culture- a search for nigritude. But the search was undertaken and is still being carried out using tools and concepts received through education and intellectual development within a white culture. To quote one black writer, ”black thinkers had mortgaged a portion of their hearts and minds to white culture.”

In the Saudi case, the conflict is not that obvious. Saudi skin is not a distinct wrapping of specific values and Saudis have not been colonised by whites. This, however, does not preclude the fact that there is a conflict.

It is a conflict with a superior West. Superior because it has the technology, the know-how and the experience; and because it has managed through vast research and development and a universal mass media rather than through colonisation to make the mastery of a knowledge of a Wester language, the acquiring of a Western education and the adoption of Western cultural patterns a measurement of success.

Again, the process of ”attainment” produced the same painful conclusion reached by the black man before.

The similarity ends here, however. In Saudi Arabia, the conflict has not produced a search for the Saudi equivalent of ”nigritude.” Shall we call it ”Saudiness,” or that unique combination of tribal pride, universal religious values and, Arab nationalism.

And until search begins, the arguments and debate will remain only skin deep, and Saudis will remain with a split psyche and contradicting loyalties.

Saudi Gazette, May 9, 1978

Iyad Madani’s nomination as new OIC chief welcomed

Organization of Islamic Conference
Iyad Madani’s nomination as new OIC chief welcomed

Iyad Madani’s nomination as new OIC chief welcomed

Djibouti, 03 Muharram 1434/ 17 November 2012 (IINA) – Foreign Ministers of Muslim countries have welcomed Saudi Arabia’s nomination of its former Minister of Culture and Information Iyad Madani as the new secretary general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

During the three-day meeting of the 39th Session of OIC Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM), which concluded here today, they pledged their support to the nomination. If elected to the post, Iyad Madani will be the first Saudi to fill this key post. He will replace the current Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu when his term expires in 2014.

Madani was Minister of Hajj until 2005. Then he served as Minister of Culture and Information from 2005 to 2009 and was replaced by Abdulaziz Al Khoja. Madani was appointed as chairman of the Board of Directors of Knowledge Economic City on 10 March 2012, replacing Sami Mohsen Baroum. He also serves as vice president of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Foundation for Housing Development.

Saad Al-Addam/IINA