King Abdullah has returned to Riyadh from his long hospital stay abroad and he received a very warm welcome from Saudis. The streets of Riyadh are lined with flags and large pictures and posters of the King are plastered on every building with slogans like “Thank God for the King’s health”, “The nation is well as long as you are well”, “Long live the King” and so on. The King was greeted by crowds of people cheering next to the highways he drove by. Radio stations played songs specially composed for the occasion, people called in praising the King and children read poems they had written about him.
King Abdullah is truly loved by his people and seems to have strong support from the majority of Saudis. King Abdullah has done a lot for the country and earned the respect of his countrymen. I wrote a post on some of the reforms he made to improve women’s rights in KSA, read it here.
With all the protesting and revolutions ongoing in the region and the “Arab Spring” movement, one might expect Saudis would also join in the movement and begin demanding changes to the current system. However I highly doubt the Saudi people would revolt against their King, it’s clear they genuinely love him and Abdullah is often referred to as the “Father of Saudi Arabia”. There are of course many issues people do complain about, but in general people seem to be satisfied with how things are handled.
In a recent effort from the King, as an attempt to show his gratitude toward the Saudi people for the support, Abdullah announced a long list of royal decrees. These decrees will improve things like poverty, housing problems, and unemployment. The entire ‘giveaway’ will cost 36 billion dollars! The decrees also included giving more money to charities, a pay raise for all government employees and support for literary and sports clubs.
Last night the streets filled with Saudi youth celebrating King Abdullah like a hero, they went around hanging out of the cars waving Saudi flags and posters of the King. A similar scenario can be seen on the streets during National Day celebrations, something quite new to be allowed to celebrate in the Saudi Kingdom btw.
I saw some people that had painted their entire cars green for the occasion! Both Faisaliyah and Kingdom towers turned on their green “festive” lighting, another thing normally seen on National Day and Eid only. There is a big celebration scheduled for the coming Saturday which the King has declared a day off for everyone. The overall feeling of joy and the joyful, festive mood was evident everywhere in the city.
Apparently, some of those groups are openly planning big protests in Riyadh on the 11th March, which they’ve deemed “the day of rage”. (You can read in this post what kind of rage was seen on that day!)
I highly doubt that anything of the same caliber we’re seeing going on in Egypt or Libya will come out of these plans. There’s just too many people who are 100% satisfied and happy for a big movement to come forth. The online protesters are just outnumbered by the supporters of the current system. Only time will tell I guess, but currently the King enjoys an exact opposite situation as his “colleagues” around the Middle East do. The Saudi people adore and love him!