The decade of uncertainty |
Arab News - 16 March, 2012
Author: Fatin Bundagji
I am a citizen of my country. As a citizen of my country, I am concerned. The world is in transition mode — as are our neighbors. Sometimes these transitions are peaceful and at other times they are bloody.
Sometimes we think we can predict their outcomes, but in reality we cannot. This is the age of uncertainty, and the best we can do is to be prepared and equip ourselves with foresight, vision and strategy. Are we aware that our entire way of life is under threat? Are we listening to the winds of change surrounding us? Are we ready for whatever is to come? The way I see it, we are not.
I am an observer of world events. We are living in the time of the unknown and the unfamiliar, and the only way forward during these uncertain times is for us to observe events as they unfold, explore the options available to us, experiment with solutions, learn from our mistakes and adapt to survive. We are living in the dawn of a “new age” revolutionized by technologies that are altering our lifestyle, shifting our status quo and restructuring our governing systems minute by minute. Being in denial is not an option any more.
I am a realist. We are experiencing change and speed unparalleled in the archives of our human history, and we lack the tools of wisdom to deal with it. We think we are in power, but we are not. Reforms “springs” led by popular will are mushrooming, yet, as time passes, and the dust settles, they end up as stalemate winters. Today, as our virtual borders disappear, the traditional assignment of who leads and who follows is shifting and forcing us into rude awakenings. Whereas once the concept of leadership belonged to the elite few, today it is at the fingertips of the common many. So who is in charge? Only time will tell.
Yet I am hopeful… I am an optimist… and I believe. In spite of all the global uncertainties listed above, I believe that here in our homeland we have one certainty that is breaking barriers with unprecedented speed, and led by the untraditional force of “The Saudi Woman”. I believe that this decade (the decade between 2010 and 2020) will bear witness to the emancipation of “The Saudi Woman” — An emancipation that will free her from the discriminating shackles of traditions deeply rooted in male hegemony — and justified by false religious appeals.
I am not a psychic… nor am I a clairvoyant… but I have common sense. And common sense dictates that this emancipation will not occur overnight but will gain momentum over time. Just as the global community is living through times of uncertainty… so are we. And as the power of social networks continues to give prominence to the people and voice to the marginalized, the landscape of how we govern ourselves will never be the same. The sooner we come to terms with this harsh reality, the better we will be able to adapt and move forward.
I am a woman, and I am Saudi, and I applaud the achievements of my womenfolk. As a woman and as a Saudi I stand proud. Last week, as the international community celebrated the ongoing trials and tribulations, as well as the hopes and aspirations of women around the world (International Women’s Day), an extraordinary incident was taking place in our homeland, the city of Jeddah; an incident that was not only historic in nature, but also phenomenal in approach; an incident that deserved serious attention and major applause.
For the first time in the history of conferences and forums in the Kingdom, one of the most prestigious annual events of the year was fully designed, managed, operated and controlled by the leadership of women behind the scene.
During the 13 years of its existence, The JEF (The Jeddah Economic Forum) a traditionally male product belonging to the “boys club” was finally in the leadership hands of women from start to finish… And hardly anyone noticed.
— Fatin Bundagji is the president of TLC Consultancy. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org