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Is the Arab world truly independent?

Unless we have a holistic approach in evaluating our present situation, we will not get out of the quagmire we are in

Khaled Almaeena

Published: Updated:

The number of foreign journalists coming to our part of the world is on the rise. However, what is noticeable is the replacement of seasoned journalists by younger and less experienced reporters.

Gone are the days of David Hirst, Peter Mansfield, David Lamb, Carlye Murphy and many others. Now we have those who are more tech-savvy and are somewhat quicker to jump to conclusions.

Unfortunately, they do not always have the same political and social insight as their predecessors. Moreover, they are also sometimes blinded by their prejudices and mindset. They ask many questions and, of course, it is their job to do so. Those journalists of the past did not ask questions for which they already knew the answer.

However, a couple of days ago, a young journalist asked me a question that made me think deeply. “Is the Arab world truly independent?” he asked. Frankly speaking, this took me by surprise as I remember having written about this some time ago.

It was a good question and my reply to him was: No, you cannot be independent until the major elements of national power are all in place. You cannot be truly independent when food and water security depend on external sources.

To be totally independent, we have to have homegrown solutions that come from within and are not based on what others expect of us

Khaled Almaeena

You cannot be independent when there are obstacles that prevent free thought and which sow the seeds of self-destruction. Military coups, revolutions and the importing of foreign ideas contribute to all of this. In order to be fully independent, we have to work hard and relentlessly pursue monetary and financial stability.

I truly mean it when I say that unless we have a holistic approach in evaluating our present situation, we will not get out of the quagmire we are in.

The fourth estate

For this, we need the fourth estate – a vibrant media not influenced by political parties or religious groups. We need a media that focuses on societal development and good governance and is a platform for understanding. It should not be a divisive media. To be totally independent, we have to have homegrown solutions that come from within and are not based on what others expect of us.

Look at Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan and others in Asia and take a leaf out of their notebooks. We sometimes tend to look up to those who scoff at us and insult us. Let us take from and learn from those with whom we have some shared valued.

However, to be totally independent, we have to work hard and be able to produce. There is no alternative to that. Let us resolve then to shed the mindset of servility and dependency. We have a strong, young talent of men and women who have the resolve to liberate us from the shackles of the past.

Let us, therefore, concentrate on state building based on self-reliance, self-dependency and human rights.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on February 08, 2016.
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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 traveled 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 kalmaeena@saudigazette.com.sa and followed on Twitter: @KhaledAlmaeena.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.