Commodore, Royal Saudi Navy (Retired)
A young man from Riyadh does not need to drive 400km to see movie in Manama, Bahrain. Riyadh is not only the Saudi capital but it is also the largest city in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region. A city with about five million people and most of the five million people who live in Riyadh are very young. Youngsters are usually very energetic. It is important to keep them busy with useful activities that can help broaden their horizons. Riyadh is a beautiful city with a massive road network and high rises but we want this infrastructure to be full of life and healthy activities. The capital city needs a facelift not in terms of civic infrastructure but in terms of healthy activities designed mainly for the youth. I like Riyadh and enjoy my time when I am there. I go to Riyadh once every month for a day. It has a potential to be the capital of every activity that a young man or woman can think of. As a matter of fact, Riyadh can be made an economically diverse city but for that we need to implement various reforms. In Riyadh, youth activities can become source of generating money as well. Most of the youngsters in Riyadh spend their time either eating out or visiting malls. For the information of the readers, shopping malls in Riyadh are larger and more in number than all major European capitals combined. But the question many youth ask is what to do after eating out or visiting malls? The answer is nothing. Just go home or drive around in your car. Gas is very cheap in the Kingdom and the young do drive a lot around town. Now, I am not against driving around by the youth but it is normal for the young to change their driving pattern. And this is true for the youth all over the world. This is why we have many of the youngsters got in the habit of joyrides. Unfortunately, many Saudi youth have lost their lives while performing dangerous stunts. We call it Tafheet. Some of the Saudi young drivers are so good at joyrides that they even can change a spare tire while in motion on just two wheels. Yes, they are good but there are better and more useful things for the young to do than just risking their lives to show off. Riyadh can, with small facelift of activities, become the Arab world capital of cultures, art, music, sport, education, sport and many other things that can create jobs for the youth. It is important to keep our youth busy in healthy activities while learning and making money. Entertainment is a multi-billion-dollar business and Riyadh is ready for it. And the sources of entertainment can be simple things that are not offensive to the religion or culture. Riyadh has a diverse population and it can become the melting pot of different cultures. But a melting pot has to have a wide range of activities for the people living in it, especially the youth. Riyadh’s example then can be followed by other cities of the Kingdom as well. Saudi population consists mainly of young men and women. Let us help them learn in the morning, work in the afternoon and enjoy the evening. Written by Abdulateef Al-Mulhim. Making Riyadh A Cultural Hub reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al-Mulhim.