Multilateral Organizations Like the United Nations Will Depend on Regional Leadership
The United Nations (UN), formed in the aftermath of the destruction of World War II, was a Western-driven organization. The United States and its World War II allies came together at the Bretton Woods Conference to create a multilateral, worldwide organization of leaders to work in the world’s interests against fascism, military aggression, and unjust war. The United Nations is engaged globally in preventing human suffering and promoting sustainable development and opportunities for countries to gain an economic foothold that will benefit their peoples. Because the world is so different now, with developing nations operating under the burden of debt, lack of resources, and the need for good guidance if leaders are to steer their nations to progress, an era of strong regional leadership is upon the world.
As the United Nations began, the leadership of the United States and the members of the historic North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) alliance -- was substantial and adequate. Today, nations in Southwest Asia which qualify as leading world economies -- India, Pakistan, and the oil-producing OPEC nations -- are also world leadership forces. Enormous influence is also wielded by China, Japan and South Korea. As these Asian and Eastern nations have grown in global importance, the vital contributions of regional leadership are also coming to the fore. A multilateral organizations such as the UN, today, must have a truly global reach, and address a multiplicity of cultural, social, environmental, and migrant issues which are international in nature. Truly, what affects one affects all. Global issues will increasingly require the participation of real regional leaders and the era of a few Western leadership nations guiding all decision-making is long past.
The need for leadership in the Middle East-North Africa (MENA) region is especially crucial, as the region is a hotbed of conflict between nations, and between political and religious ideologies. It is also the heart of the oil-producing industrial complexes that as of today, wield a great deal of economic influence due to the importance of crude oil. These nations face a double-edged sword currently -- crude oil resources are finite and they must reconfigure their economic dependency on their traditional resource exports; secondly, these resources are being developed elsewhere, cutting into the revenues traditionally abundant in these countries, and their populations are rising fast. There is a special need for leadership which is unified in the MENA region.
Ideally, such a leadership nation would be committed to the integrity of MENA- region culture, which is centered on Islam, and would be conversant with the West and its economic priorities. Saudi Arabia is this nation. None is a larger producer of the traditional commodity, crude oil and petrochemical products for export. None is more centered on Islam, from the monarchy to the smallest city government. And none is more committed to progress, exemplified by the implementation of the Vision 2030 economic transition plan, which has put into place a comprehensive strategy by which the country can diversify and expand its economy on a footing with the free market West.
Not just the nation’s government, and it’s representatives through ministries aligned with the Saudi Monarchy, but individuals throughout the Saudi Kingdom must be on board if Vision 2030 is to succeed as envisioned. Several hundred thousand Saudi students have been, or are currently, being educated in the West. These individual citizens will be at the forefront of diversifying, investing, and founding new industries, collaborations, and economic contributors as the transition is brought full circle. Saudi Arabia has until recently employed its professionals, to the tune of 60 percent, recruited and hired from outside the country. This situation was not tenable, and would not lead tothe nation’s becoming a leader in the MENA region in terms of economic progress, asustainable society, and continued prosperity. It is my hope that the enormous investment of the King Abdullah Scholarship Program brings enormous returns to the country, as envisioned.
Cultural change may be upon us, but as the Kingdom’s spokesperson, Al Jubier, has affirmed, Saudi Arabia will implement social progress in “it’s own time and in it’s own way,” appropriate to the traditions that have been in place for millennia. In termsof expanding rights for women, employment of women, and human rights, there is every opportunity to lead, and Saudi Arabia is up to the challenge of social reforms, as the UN has prompted the Kingdom to be.
For today’s young professionals trying to enter the Saudi economy and make their contribution, I can speak. We have a great deal to be thankful for. Our people often come first in policy deliberations, and promoting healthy families is at the top of the list of Vision 2030 priorities. Many of the young professionals are knowledgeble of International Law, globalism’s demands, the social challenges Saudi Arabia faces today, and awareness of strategic political alliances and political goals. Their ambition is only to serve their country and help it navigate the challenges that will lead it to realize it’s bid to become the MENA region leader in terms of multilateral organization public welfare ambitions, which affect the whole of the Middle East.
The reach of globalism has certainly changed the face of the MENA region, and no nation more so than Saudi Arabia. It become at once the most “Western” economic power and the one that stands to lose the most from disrupted alliances. They know the power of Western affiliations and also, the importance of maintaining their unique Islamic identity. This is a balance that can be met, only with exceptional regional leadership.