By Khaled Almaeena
21 July 2015
Saudi Arabia’s arrest of 431 suspected militants from nine nationalities came as a relief; they will go a long way to prevent further attacks on innocents.
In the past few days there have been two incidents where young extremists killed their blood relatives. One killed his father before being shot by security forces and the other blew himself up at a checkpoint after murdering his maternal uncle. What makes these young people become violent killers?
It is no use blaming only outside forces or ISIS for youth going astray. These people become deviants because of various factors, the most important being a negative upbringing and neglect by parents.
Creative Thinking to Build Moral Fibres
There is also the schooling factor where there is too much emphasis placed on rote and rituals rather than character building. Add to that the absence of role models in the society.
Some abuse their position of authority by acting venomously in the open, while the cowards prefer the anonymity of the social media
The total lack of extracurricular activities keeps the youth bored and idle. Educational institutions do not provide the means to harness the energies of our young. No school plays, theatres, hobby workshops, or even just plain social work, planned and guided by schools that could help strengthen their moral fibre.
The lack of creative thinking leaves a vacuum in the minds of the youth making them easy prey for extremist teachers, imams and social media manipulators who are out there in abundance spewing hatred and inciting the gullible against people of other sects or even viewpoints.
Some abuse their position of authority by acting venomously in the open, while the cowards prefer the anonymity of the social media to disgorge their sullied and evil thoughts.
History Will Never Forgive Us
These are the merchants of death and they should be stopped. Sadly, I still see their deadly poison spread across social media and it continues at a dangerous pace.
The proverb that “an idle mind is the devil’s workshop” is coming home to roost, and we as a society have failed to cater to our young by not directing them to character-building activities. Forget these functions where senior officials come and pay lip service to the youth.
What we need are school activities, sports facilities, debates involving the others, adventure games and imaginative and innovative activities that spur interaction. We need initiatives to promote healthy bodies and creative minds.
I believe government schools should include qualified teachers from the West and the East so that Saudi teachers can learn from their experience and exchange ideas to implement a modern education that can cater to the needs of the 21st century students.
We should also cater to the needs of teachers and give them incentives and show them more respect. Saudi teachers are by and large frustrated and underpaid. Unless teachers are encouraged to invent, innovate and given a free hand to impart knowledge within the parameters of the curricula, education would be in the same rut led by teachers devoid of motivation.
Meanwhile the business community should also bear responsibility in addressing the needs of the youth. Businesses should build sports facilities, parks, and other youth related centres instead of focusing only on malls that are mushrooming everywhere in the country.
Saudi Arabia has been built with great sacrifices. It is the land of the Two Holy Mosques and should be a haven of peace, light and progress for all.
History will not forgive us if we fail to protect this sacred land.
Khaled Almaeena is a veteran Saudi journalist, commentator, businessman and the editor-at-large of the Saudi Gazette. Almaeena has held a broad range of positions in Saudi media for over thirty years, including CEO of a PR firm, Saudi Television news anchor, talk show host, radio announcer, lecturer and journalist. As a journalist, Almaeena has represented Saudi media at Arab summits in Baghdad, Morocco and elsewhere. In 1990, he was one of four journalists to cover the historic resumption of diplomatic ties between Saudi Arabia and Russia. He also travelled to China as part of this diplomatic mission. Almaeena's political and social columns appear regularly in Gulf News, Asharq al-Aswat, al-Eqtisadiah, Arab News, Times of Oman, Asian Age and The China Post. He can be reached at