General Supervisor

General Supervisor

General Supervisor

His Excellency

Dr. Khalid bin Mohammad Al-Angary

Minister of Higher Education


Dr. Salem bin Mohammad Almalik

Consultant and Supervisor

General Administration On International Cooperation

Editorial Board

Professor lbrahim bin Abdullah Al-Sadan

General supervisor of Tokyo Fair Preparations

Dr. Ahmad bin Mohammad Alnashwan

Translation and Revision

Prof. Mohammad Ziad kebbe

Table of Contents

Statement of General Supervisor

His Excellency

Dr. Khalid bin Mohammad Al-Angary

Statement of Consultant and Supervisor

General Administration On International Cooperation

Dr. Salem bin Mohammad Almalik

Panel - 1


Panel - 2

The evolution of the literary movement in Saudi

Arabia and the Czech Republic

Panel - 3

Social changes in Saudi and Czech Culture

Panel - 4

Challenges facing children within the

knowledge society: Saudi Arabia as a model

Panel - 5

Development indicators in higher education in

Saudi Arabia and the Czech











Statement of General Supervisor

His Excellency

Dr. Khalid bin Mohammad Al-Angary

Minister of Higher Education

Praise be to God, the

Cherisher and Sustainer of

the worlds, and peace be

upon its Messenger

Under the leadership of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King

Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia enjoys respect on the

political, economic, and scientific levels in recognition for the important and

effective role that it plays in science and culture. From this standpoint, the

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia pursues its endeavors to set up civilizational bridges

of communication, scientific cooperation, and cultural exchange through

participation in international cultural, academic, and scientific events.

Choosing the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as a guest of honor in the 2011 Prague

International Book Fair is a sincere invitation on the part of the friendly Czech

people for closeness between two deeply rooted civilizations and cultures

since this participation represents the first hosting of an Arab country in the

course of the history of this outstanding international cultural event.

In keeping with this Fair, cultural and scientific events by Saudi and Czech

researchers and intellectuals will be held as a suitable opportunity to exchange

expertise and knowledge, and establish bridges of dialogue in order to deepen

understanding and enforce cooperation between the two countries in view of

formulating joint scientific, cultural, and academic programs. The issuance of

this scientific record, which includes several symposia and talks, emphasizes


knowledge exchange and the enrichment of the Saudi and Czech libraries.

From this perspective, the Ministry of Higher Education saw fit to publish this

book, which includes several studies that deal with some issues of common

interest to the Kingdom and the Czech Republic, and to be a scientific record

to which interested people and researchers refer.

The Ministry of Higher Education offers its sincere gratitude and respect to

the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud,

his Crown Prince, and his Royal Highness Second Deputy Premier, for their

generous support to everything that promotes human culture everywhere.

The Ministry also thanks all those who contributed to making these events

successful, and the intellectuals, academics, and researchers who concerned

themselves with its issues.

In short, I hope that these symposia and talks will highlight some of the

intellectual and cultural activities, and contribute to consolidating scientific

and academic collaboration between the Kingdom and the Czech Republic

so as to boost mutual understanding between the two friendly countries.


Dr. Khalid bin Mohammed Al-Angari



Statement of Editor-ln-Chief

Dr. Salem bin Mohammad Almalik

Consultant and Supervisor

General Administration On

International Cooperation

International book fairs represent a

civilizational, scientific, and cultural event,

attracting all intellectual levels and various

social classes to create an intellectual and

knowledge activity.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s participation

in the 2011 Prague International Book Fair

as a guest of honor is an opportunity to

highlight the bright side of the intellectual, cultural, and scientific renaissance

witnessed by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia through time, particularly in the

last two decades.

Serving constructive and purposeful dialogue, international book fairs are

enticing and seminal instruments for the meeting of scientific ideas, creative

minds, exchange of expertise, and knowledge of cultures. These fairs constitute

scientific spaces in which countries determine the journey of their intellectual

and literary creations.

Under the leadership of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and his

Crown Prince, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia allocated to the book its value,

and consolidated it in various forms so that it becomes a fundamental symbol

of the shift to a modern knowledge-based society aimed for by our wise


The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s participation in international book fairs took

upon itself the leadership role and positive side that enabled the Kingdom of

Saudi Arabia to attract attention not only to its politics but also to its culture,

intellect, and science.


The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has made tremendous steps to revive history so

that the Arabian Peninsula be a bright beacon of science and intellect for all

parts of the world to draw on its literary, cultural, and poetic sources, erasing

pictures of laziness and building the pillars of useful science, intellectual

progress, and serious research.

In their roots, the Saudi-Czech relations have been built on principles of mutual

respect and exchange of benefits. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s participation

as a guest of honor this year in the 2011 Prague International Book Fair, is but

an embodiment of this outstanding relation and friendship. In light of this

participation, bridges of cultural and intellectual dialogue in various literary

genres will be built with the Czech people such as drama, novel, Saudi art,

Arabic calligraphy, as well as a space for children’s literature.

This participation will be accompanied by cultural symposia and talks to be

given by an elite of Saudi and Czech intellectuals and literary people from

among faculty members in both countries.

I hope that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s participation in this international

book fair under the aegis of the Ministry of Higher Education will be successful,

and will give a bright picture of the cradle of the Two Holy Mosques in the

Czech Republic – the country of history, genuineness, and culture.


Dr. Salem bin Mohamed Al-Malek


Panel - 1


Orientalists and the Impact of Islamic Culture:

Between Propagation and Authenticity

Ali Ben Ibrahim AL-NAMLA

Orientalism and Islamic Civilization:

A Confused Islamic Perspective and Fair Positive


Dr. Mustafa bin Omar Halabi

Central European Orientalist Concern

in Islamic Civilization

Dr. Lubos Kropacek


Orientalists and the

Impact of Islamic


Between Propagation and


Ali Ben Ibrahim Al-Namla

Professor in Advanced Research at the Islamic

University of Imam Mohamed Ibn Saoud


There is no exclusive and unified

western attitude vis-à-vis the

Islamic culture, Muslims, the Orient,

colonisation, and hegemony,1

which implies that there is no single

standardised Occident; but it is multiple.

The notion of civilisational, civil, and cultural

interface2 between Muslims and the West may date back to the period

prior to their contacts in military encounters (as in warfare) manifest in the

Crusades or the colonisation period, since the Arabs had been in contact

with the Byzantines, the Greeks, the Persians, and the Indians (in India) before

the advent of Islam. Leaving aside the reason motivating such civilisational

contacts which is reportedly believed to have emerged as a form of support

for Islam through taking the initiative to explore the other contemporary

civilisations,3 the early era of Islam did witness the existence of conspicuously

prosperous civilisational relationships during the 2nd and 3rd centuries

(H)/9th and 10th centuries AD.

The Arabs used to hold the periodical commercial excursion (“The Ealef”)

to Mesopotamia which was ruled by the Byzantines. Such trade trips were

accompanied by civilisational contacts. In fact, “for so many European

1. Zakari Lukman, The History and Policies of Orientalism (Cairo: Al-Shuruq Publications, 2007: 426).

2. For a detailed discussion of the controversial nature of the term “civilisation” see Civilisation

between the Complexities of Translation and Multiplicity of Concepts (pp. 9-28), In Mohamed Jala

Idriss, Civilisational Relations (Damascus: Dar Al-Kalam, 2003: 176).

3. Sayed Mohamed Chahed, The Journey of Islamic Thought from Influence to Crisis (Beirut: Dar Al-

Montakhab Al-Arabi, 1994: 45).


thinkers and researchers, the East-West cleavage was not really clear-cut

as it appeared to be later on.”1 “In the budding age of Islam, Muslims had

had contacts with the Byzantines through the prophet’s (PBUH) expeditions

which were delegated to neighbouring nations calling them to convert to


Such a style of contact has overshadowed the civilisational relationships

up to the present day, as almost every intellectual product—whether it

be Eastern or Western—tends to accord importance to the influence of

the East upon the West during this lengthy historical period, and later the

influence of the West upon the East, taking into account such contributions

as made by Goerg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1830), Oswald Spengler

(1880-1936), and Arnold Twinby (1889-1975). It is worth noting that the East-

West relations have not been restricted to wars and polemics, but the latter

have always been associated with civilisational and civil exchange where

the factor of mutual influence has been crystal clear. Then, civilisational

exchange continued to exist between Muslims and Non-Muslims originating

from the Indian and Persian East and also from the Byzantine West, whose

relationships started before 490 BC when the Greeks defeated the Persians

in the battle of Marathon.3

Muslims set off on their quest for knowledge and wisdom in these international

metropolitan areas eastward and westward. They started spreading the

divine wisdom revealed in the Holy Book. Thus, driven by a belief in a giveand-take

cultural process, they were able to establish dialogue with those

1. Zakari Lukman, The History and Policies of Orientalism (Cairo: Al-Shuruq Publications, 2007: 53).

2. Khaled Sayed, The Epistles of the Prophet (PBUH) to Kings, Princes and Tribes (Kuwait: Dar Al-

Turath, 1987: 128).

3. Zakari Lukman, The History and Policies of Orientalism (Cairo: Al-Shuruq Publications, 2007: 141).


civilisations through translating into and from Arabic, via the Assyrian

language or directly from Persian, Indian or Greek, as recorded in this area of

civilisational contacts.1

Nonetheless, such a positive and dynamic interpretation of this style of

cultural relations between the Orient and the Occident, along with the

efforts of those supporting the thesis of cultural coexistence between the

Orient and the Occident, are paralleled nowadays with the emergence

of certain extremist intellectual contributions which itch old injuries to

perpetuate the logic of the Crusades nowadays. An illustration of this is the

declarations of the Serbia Minister of Information during the Bosnian crisis

when he said, “We are the avant-garde of the neo-Crusades.”2 Nevertheless,

“the efforts of reverse acculturation have been considerably revived during

the last half century, which is so beneficial to the dialogue of civilisations

when confirming the interactivity in terms of civilisation amongst all the

races, the peoples, and the nations of the world”.3

Such extremist intellectual contributions are characterised by generalisation

as regards the West, including the near West, and Germany from the Middle

West, who have no proven record of exerting any clear pressure or assuming

any visible role in the Crusades or during the colonisation era, compared to

what was performed by the rest of the Mid-Western countries (i.e. Western

1. Mohamed Abdelhamid Al-Hamd, Dialogue between Nations: The History of Translation and

Creativity in the Arab and Assyrian Communities (Damascus: Dar Al-Mada, 2001: 531).

2. Mahdi Rezkullah Ahmed, “Missionary Campaigns in the Islamic World: Its Goals and Programmes”;

Special issue: Arab World; The Sudan, Egypt, Iraq, and Algeria as Case Study In Al-Bayen wa

Mabarratu Al-Aamel Al-Khayria, Proceedings of the Conference on Glorifying the Restrictions of

Islam (Kuwait, 2007: 317-388).

3. Abdullah Abu Heif, Acculturation and Reverse Acculturation in Orientalism: The Influence of Arab-

Islamic Culture as Case Study (Al-Kalima, 50.13, Winter 2006).


Europe) without however neglecting the fact that some of the Crusades

took their departure from the Balkan and German territories.

This has led to the fact that the East’s relations with the near West and the

Germans have been characterised with specific traits distinguishing them

from the rest of Western Europe and Mid-Western countries. They are

civilisational relations marked with exchange and interaction and based

more on a preliminary notion of civilisational cooperation and coalition than

on ties of victorious vs. defeated party.1

History confirms that benefiting from the experiences and resources of

contemporary nations has always been the rule rather than the exception

in edifying civilisations. Accordingly, restricting the task of constructing

civilisations to an exclusive nation, people, or race without assistance from

contemporaries proves to be impossible. Assistance takes a number of

forms: human resources, raw materials, or livestock from the wealth of other

nations, peoples, and races which are contemporary or predecessor to the

nation in question.2

In this respect, one can quote Sayed Mohamed Chahed: “Undergoing

influence is a proof that the target of influence is vivacious and has

certain predispositions while exerting influence is a sign of the power and

1. In 11 March 2004, the Spanish Prime Minster called for civilisational coalition through setting up

the Forum of Coalition. This coalition scheme was endorsed by the Turkish Prime Minster, Rajeb

Tayeb Ardugan, and was subsequently adopted by the United Nations. The second session of

the forum was held on 16 January 2008. See the idea of civilisational coalition in Saïd Allewandi,

America-Europe: A New Sykes Picot inn the Middle East (Preliminary Signs of a New International

Harmony) (Cairo: Nahdhat Misr, 2006: 159-167).

2. Abderrahman Badawi, The Role of the Arabs in Shaping European Thought (Cairo: Maktabat Al-

Osra, 2004: 256).


acceptability of its performer. In fact, every dynamic system of thought

can be influenced by its predecessors and its contemporaries, but can also

influence its contemporaries and forthcoming systems. This is applicable

whenever this dynamic entity owns the elements of power and detects in

the influenced party the conditions of being influenced, such as openness

and mastery of the language, thought and culture of the party exerting

influence.1 Another indispensable factor to mutual influence is the intrinsic

power of ideals and principles, and the impartial attitude towards the other

civilisations which trigger influence and are prone to influence, without

resorting to double standards in spreading or exporting such ideals and

principle in such a way as to orient it exclusively towards one direction: to

influence and not to be influenced, to give but not take, to dictate and not

receive influence, as in the process of globalisation, and equally without

renouncing constant values—which are the vital factor in the process of

imparting influence as well as inviting influence.2

In its early ages, Islamic civilisation had not overlooked this dimension in

its early era, and therefore adopted the concept of mutual acquaintance

amongst the peoples of the globe on the grounds that mutual acquaintance

amongst nations is one of the objectives of our existence in this universe.

It sought assistance from neighbouring contemporary and preceding

civilisations, especially in secular sciences; and as stated earlier such search for

1. Sayed Mohamed Chahed, The Relationship of Imparted Influence and Undergone Influence

between Islamic Civilisation and Other Civilisations. In Proceedings of the 14th Conference on

The Reality of Islam in a Changing World (20-23 May 2002); op cit. “It is worth mentioning that

exerting influence is a sign of the vitality of the influenced party, and that exerting influence is a

sign of the power of the one exerting influence”, the version presented in the text above is most

likely to be the authentic one.

2. Abdullah Alyan, Islam, the West, and the requirements of Rational and balanced Dialogue (Al-

Hayet Magazine, 16479, 2008: 33).


assistance was either direct or through Assyrians who made of themselves,

their schools and their libraries a bridge over which the Roman and Persian

cultures came across to the Muslims.1

Such relations may have gone beyond sheer mutual assistance and

acquaintance to reach the stage of collaboration and civilisational coalitions

to face the intellectual changes threatening security and development.2 In

this particular vein, the history of science in the Muslim community does

not mention that the issue of seeking assistance from sciences and other

civilisations has ever been the object of controversy in any debate based on

a total rejection of preceding and contemporary civilisations. This paper is

not the appropriate occasion to cite and enumerate the types of recourse to

other civilisations which are published in bibliographic resources about the

history of science in the Arab and the Muslim communities.3

However, Muslims’ inspiration by neighbouring civilisations was based on

drawing benefit from secular sciences and certain works of literature which

had been translated into Arabic and were later stereotyped as instances

of Arab literature, such as A Thousand and one Nights, Kaleela wa Dimna,

and Sind-Hind Nemah,4 without necessarily being influenced in the areas

of theology and religious sciences, despite some orientalists’ attempts

1. Barsoom Yussef Ayoob, The First Bridge across which the Roman and Persian Culture passed to the

Arabs (Al-Majalla Al-Arabyia, 4.1, 1400 H., pp. 88-92).

2. The Coalition of Civilisation or their Conflicts (pp. 341-350). In George Karm, The Religious Issue in

the 21st Century (Beirut: Dar Al-Farabi, 2007: 407).

3. Ali Ibrahim Ennamla, Translation in The Islamic Civilisation, 3rd ed. (Riyadh: King Fahd’s National

Library, 2006: 20).

4. See the study on The Reciprocity of Influence in Arabic Literature (pp. 575-597). In Ahmed

Smilovich, The Philosophy of Orientalism and Its Effect on Modern Arab Literature (Cairo: Dr El-

Fikr Al-Arabi, 1998: 780).


to investigate the Muslim faith and jurisprudence ad compare them to

Judaism and Christianity on the basis of a contrastive approach focussing on

fundaments and guided by the rule: The purposes of rulings are the interests

of humans.

Generally speaking, human interests are identical. The legislator is the same,

the human beneficiaries of the legislation have the very same nature, the

topic of legislation to be adopted is the same, and the benefits to be drawn

from these rules, instructions and legislations in terms of commands and

interdictions are also the same.1 Following Sayed Chahed, “In the history

of human thought, there has never been a pure intellectual discourse;

intellectual discourse has rather been associated with metaphysical

convictions whose source has sometimes been unknown and in some other

times identifiable. The relationship between the two facets of discourse (i.e.

intellectual and philosophical) will continue to exist until Allah inherits the

earth and whatever creatures thereof.”2

Despite the multiplicity of opinions and theories which explain Islamic

civilisation with reference to adaptations from other preceding religions and

sects, and although a number of orientalists have publicised this view in

the hope of weakening the authenticity of this religion and its civilisational

potential by stating that it is influenced in its entirety by its preceding and

contemporary religions, sects, and cults, yet some of the impartial researchers

1. The researcher Havana Lasaroz-Yefa—professor of medieval Jewish studies in the Hebrew

University at Jerusalem—tries to identify the aspects of influencing in the Jewish commandments

and the Islamic Jurisprudence. See Havana Lasaroz-Yefa, Islamic Thought and Jewish Thought:

Some Aspects of Reciprocal Cultural Influence (Al-Ijtihed, 28, Summer 1995: 179: 209).

2. Sayed Mohamed Chahed, The Relationship of Imparted Influence and Undergone Influence

between Islamic Civilisation and Other Civilisations. In Proceedings of the 14th Conference on The

Reality of Islam in a Changing World (Cairo: The Senior Council of Islamic Affairs, 20-23 May 2002.


have reached the conclusion that those religions, sects and cults had been

influenced by Islamic civilisation. For instance, Confucius visibly borrows

from Islam; those Jewish declamatory readers derived their behaviour from

Islam—though Judaism preceded Islam and Christianity. In fact, the founder

of the school of declamatory readers, Adnan Ibn Dawood, was inspired

by the Jurisprudential school of the Hannifin when he met the Imam Abu

Haneefa Al-Noomen in jail before the former founded his jurisprudential

sect. Thus, his movement was an echo of that sect.1

There is also debate over what is called Islamic philosophy which is not

recognised by certain Islamic scientists, especially in relation to theology

which requires no search into its essence. Some have exaggerated reactions

in studying the foreign factors affecting Islamic culture and philosophy—and

forgot or pretended to forget that the phenomenon of Islamic philosophy

deserves scrutiny for its own sake as an independent research topic which

needs to be studied within the framework of its environment and the

objective conditions which led to its emergence.”2

Islamic thought—sometimes referred to as Islamic philosophy—refined

the previous theoretical models, verified and rectified its old findings,

and supplemented it with modern scientific truths.3 According to Sayed

Mohamed Chahed, this is based on the hypothesis “that the dialectic of

influencing and being influenced between civilisations does not follow a

linear order, but it has a circular shape where everyone becomes influenced

1. Mohamed Jala Idriss, The Influence of Islamic Thought on Jewish Religious Thought (Cairo:

Maktabat Madbouli, 1993: 144).

2. Ibrahim Al-Ani, The Controversy of Methodology in Studying Islamic Philosophy (Beirut: Dar El-

Hedi 2003: 16).

3. Ahmed Smilovich, The Philosophy of Orientalism and Its Effect on Modern Arab Literature (Cairo:

Dr El-Fikr Al-Arabi, 1998: 577).


as well as influential, in a modelling of motion similar to that proposed

by Aristotle, as circular motion starts with the initial trigger and ultimately

reaches it, propelled by what he called “passion”; that is to say, the passion

of motion for its initial trigger; and while moving towards its beloved, its

motion is generated by its predecessor and it equally triggers its successor.

According to this conception, civilisations have a complementary rather

than a conflictual nature; each one is interconnected with the other: one

time exerting influence and the other time receiving influence.”1

Neither Eastern nor Western Europe is the centre of human civilisation; nor

is the Greek culture one of the fundaments of the Arab-Islamic culture. This

is simply the claim of certain cultural historians and anthropologists. In

reality, the Arab-Islamic culture has read and interpreted the other cultures-

-both western and eastern—“in the light of its convictional system and

its concepts which are derived from the two constitutive texts shaping its

identity, namely, the Koran and the Prophet’s Tradition, and on the basis of

intrinsic values grounded in self-confidence and acting from a position of

power, far from impotence, amazement or alienation.”2

This represents a rebuttal of some bewildering pseudo-a priori notions

attendant upon treating the issue of mutual influence (or reciprocal

inspiration). Sayed Mohamed Chahed argues that “the history of human

thought and faith has been constantly subject to arbitrary interpretations

on the part of certain historians of human thought systems and civilisations;

1. Sayed Mohamed Chahed, The Relationship of Imparted Influence and Undergone Influence

between Islamic Civilisation and Other Civilisations. In Proceedings of the 14th Conference on

The Reality of Islam in a Changing World (20-23 May 2002).

2. Abbes Arhila, The Aristotelian Legacy in Arab Criticism and Rhetoric up to the 8th Century (Hegira).

(Rabat: Mohamed V University, 191: 700). Dissertation, Mohamed Hammem.


and no civilisational sphere is immune from this observation.”1

Meanwhile, Europe itself—in its eastern section or what is conventionally

called the Near-West—has somehow played the role of bridging the gap

between East and West. This is basically represented by the Muslims of the

Balkans, Bosnia, and especially Kosovo who acted as a double mediator: in

both East-West and West-East directions.2

It would be futile on the part of some Western historians of science to ignore

this essential factor in reciprocal influence and inspiration. The same applies

to certain public educational methodologies in European schools—along

with certain orientalists’ contributions to the history of science and arts—

which have deliberately ignored the role of Arab-Islamic culture in inspiring

human civilisations and contrived to limit civilisation to the bounds of

Europe from Greece to the Far West.3

A study published on the permanent human legacy confirms that interaction

between peoples, cultures, and civilisations has been an incessantly insightful

process and that both Islam and its Arab culture have considerably marked

the architectural designs worldwide. Thus, a number of impartial thinkers

and scholars have adopted the position that Arabs and dynamic Islam have

contributed to human civilisation: cf. Wil Durant in his voluminous work

entitled The History of Civilisation; Zigrid Honka in her famous book The Sun

1. Sayed Mohamed Chahed, The Relationship of Imparted Influence and Undergone Influence

between Islamic Civilisation and Other Civilisations. In Proceedings of the 14th Conference on

The Reality of Islam in a Changing World (20-23 May 2002).

2. Mohamed El-Arnaoot, The Islam of Bosnia: Europe’s Bridge to the Islamic World (Attasamoh, Fall

Issue, 12, 2005: 273-282).

3. Mohamed Sammek, When Muslims Colonised the Alps (Attasamoh, Winter 2006: 254).


of the Arabs Shine on the West,1 without ignoring the successive publications

which have been fair to the Islamic Culture and have accorded it due respect

by acknowledging the role it has invariably assumed across centuries (see,

for instance, Michael Hamilton Morgan’s publication entitled Lost History:

The Permanent Legacy of Islamic Scholars, Thinkers, and Artists.2

John M. Hobson quotes Eric Wolf as follows: “They taught us in classrooms

and outside schools that there is an entity called West, and that we can

consider this West as an autonomous community and civilisation which

enjoys an independent existence of other civilisations (like the East) and is

opposed to them.”3

Modern civilisation—epitomised by the industrial revolution that spread all

over the West—did not emerge without inspiration and assistance from the

Orient. In addition, modern civilisation is not devoid of Islamic traits, signs

of Muslim existence and raw materials from eastern provenance which

contributed to establishing this industrial civilisation through its expertise,

craftsmanship, and raw materials. As a result, Muslims from various ethnic

and linguistic origins have constituted a concrete existence in western life.

“In fact, the West did not prepare for its renaissance independently of the

Orient’s contribution, as it was incapable of realising its renaissance without

participation from the Orient.”4 This feeling is brilliantly voiced in the German

1. Abdullah Abu Heif, Acculturation and Reverse Acculturation in Orientalism: The Influence of Arab-

Islamic Culture as Case Study (Al-Kalima, 50.13, Winter 2006).

2. Michael Hamilton Morgan, Lost history: The Glorious Legacy of Islam’s Scholars, Thinkers and

Artists, Trans. Amira Nabih Badawi (Cairo: Ahdhat Misr, 2008: 302).

3. John M. Hobson, The Oriental Origins of the Occidental Civilisation. Trans. Manel Kabeel (Cairo:

Maktabat Al-Shorooq Al-Doalyia, 2006: 12).

4. John M. Hobson, The Oriental Origins of the Occidental Civilisation. Trans. Manel Kabeel (Cairo:

Maktabat Al-Shorooq Al-Doalyia, 2006: 13).


poet’s—Wolfjung Goethe—statement that “Both East and West belong to

God and they are not entitled to be parted from now onwards.”1 In this

regard, Goethe seems to be responding to the Indian-born English poet,

Rudyard Kipling when he said, “Orient is Orient and Occident is Occident

and they will never meet.” Goethe’s impartial argument is noticeable in his

celebration of Islam when he said: If Islam’s meaning is pious contemplation/

We will live and die for its cause2

It would be an understatement to argue that some western historians and

orientalists have ignored the Islamic era of civilisational inspiration, because

there are certain orientalists whose historical accounts about the Arab

heritage have overlooked the impact of early Islamic history and the era

of the Umayyad dynasty upon the West for over two centuries. This is, for

instance, Hamilton Alexander Jeep (1895-1971) chronicling Arab literature,

jumping from the Pre-Islamic era to the Abbasid era—ignoring the Umayyad

epoch. In this particular vein, Al-Seed Abou Dheeb suggests, “Nonetheless,

this classification is not free-- in my opinion—from some orientalist vices,

because it skips the age of early Islam and the Umayyad Dynasty, handling

solely the ear of the Abbasid Dynasty, which is methodologically divided

into two phases: (i) phase one lasts for thirty-five years whereas (ii) phase two

deals with a period extending over a hundred years.”3

1. Hasan Al-Amrani, O West, Where is Your East? (p. 116). In Mostapha Salwi, Orientalist Discourse

in the Horizon of Globalisation, Study Day (Wejda: University of Mohamed I, Faculty of Arts &

Humanities, Morocco, 2003: 166).

2. Ana Maria Shammal versified Goethe’s statement in her introduction to Mourad Hoffman’s book

entitled Islam as Alternative (Kuwait: Majallat Al-Noor, 1993: 18).

3. Al-Seed Abu Deeb, Aspect of Mutual Influence in Contemporary Arab Throught: A Glance at

Orientalists’ and Arab Historians’ Partition of the Arab Literary history (Libya: Majallat Kuliyat Al-

Daawa, vol. 18, 2001: 306: 345).


Some Arab historians of Arab-Islamic heritage have themselves followed

the same orientalist negligent methodology when they failed to study

the history of the influence of the Islamic civilisation upon its successors in

human civilisation. This negligence reached the point that certain historians

have absented from their accounts the influence of the Holy Koran upon

tolerant thought and on science. 1

From this perspective, it would be commendable to provide a detailed

account as regards the positions taken by advocates of orientalism visà-vis

Islamic civilisation. Orientalist views will be categorised in order to

avoid judgemental generalisations, since scientific methodology rejects

over-generalisation, especially concerning an issue like orientalism. This is

motivated by the fact that during a certain period of the Arab intellectual

history, the phenomenon of orientalism had been perceived in negative

terms; however, in a subsequent stage an attitude of amazement and

delight with the orientalists’ contribution to Islamic civilisation prevailed

until some people claimed that orientalists understood this civilisation more

adequately than its community did.

To be objective, one has to equally say that orientalists two can be classified

into two categories: the first category represents those who have been fair

to the Islamic civilisation and paid due respect to it without ignoring the fact

that it relied on previous civilisations as regards sciences of civil organisation.

It had assimilated their sciences and cultural heritage, then it refined and

modified them. Consequently, it dropped whatever was unnecessary for

Islam, Muslims, and the humanity, such as myths, magic, and arts related to

sculpting statues and iconising spirit-inhabited entities.

1. Michael Hamilton Morgan, Lost history: The Glorious Legacy of Islam’s Scholars, Thinkers and

Artists, Trans. Amira Nabih Badawi (Cairo: Ahdhat Misr, 2008: 302).


This very point constitutes a reply to some Muslim thinkers who strive

to establish the specificity of Islamic civilisation and insist on it on the

grounds that it basically emerged from Islam without seeking assistance

from the previous civilisations, e.g. Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Persian, and

Indian. However, such a position is hardly tenable in the light of accessible

knowledge about the history of civilisation and its nature, which Wil Durant

has called “the story of civilisation”—following Sayed Mohamed Chahed’s

circular model of imparted influence and received influence.1

This has led some disciples of Islam to fervently negate the fact that these

sciences had been derived from previous cultures, justifying their position by

an advocacy of authenticating Islamic sciences, advancing the claim that such

sciences were invented by Muslims themselves (or even by Islam per se) who

assimilated and subsequently spread them.2 Thus, whatever coincides with Islam

is accepted and whatever opposes it is simply rejected as useless. Accordingly,

the movement of Islamising sciences and knowledge appeared.3 This means

that the sciences of other civilisations might coincide with or diverge from the

Islam conceptions in terms of methodology and spirit, as in the branches of

philosophy which relatable to faith and theology, as well as practices related to

fortunetelling, magic, myths—which led to appending such aspects to religion

or to incorporating them in it as a dynamic part of its essence.4

1. Sayed Mohamed Chahed, The Relationship of Imparted Influence and Undergone Influence

between Islamic Civilisation and Other Civilisations. In Proceedings of the 14th Conference on

The Reality of Islam in a Changing World (20-23 May 2002).

2. Kassem Samurrai, The Science of Arab-Islamic Mutual Identity (Riyadh: King Faysal’s Centre of

Islamic Research, 2001: 562).

3. Higher Institute of Islamic Thought. The Islamic Nature of Knowledge: General Principles, Action

Plan, and Achievements (Herndon: Virginia: The College, 1986: 227).

4. Abdarrahaman Badawi, The Greek Heritage in Islamic Civilisation: Studies by Senior Orientalists,

2nd ed. (Cairo: Dar Al-Nahda Al-Misriya, 1965: 227).


The second orientalist position denies any role assignable to the Islamic

civilisation and Islam in cultural transfer, asserting that what Islamic civilisation

did was just twist and blend and later negate the previous civilisations. This

is why the historians holding this view tend to ignore the Islamic era in their

accounts of Eastern or Western Islamic history.

In this very vein, Sayed Mohamed Chahed’s viewpoint can be further

quoted: ““In the history of human thought, there has never been a pure

intellectual discourse; intellectual discourse has rather been associated with

metaphysical convictions whose source has sometimes been unknown and

in some other times identifiable. The relationship between the two facets of

discourse (i.e. intellectual and philosophical) will continue to exist until Allah

inherits the earth and whatever creatures thereof.”1

However, it has to be pointed out that despite the specificity of the rubric of

Islam handling the observance of worship (e.g. prayer, pilgrimage, etc…)2

and faith (where autonomy rather than interaction and mutual influence

is the rule)3, special attention has to be paid to the existence of the notion

of resorting to the knowledge repertoire of preceding nations in the area

of sciences directly related to civil development on earth as human agents

of God, which implies the possibility of transferring their civilisations which

were deemed as by Muslims as serving the goals of this religion in a way

or another. It is also worth noting that such transfer did not take place in a

crude form, because the Muslim scholars carried out a process of filtering,

1. Sayed Mohamed Chahed, The Relationship of Imparted Influence and Undergone Influence

between Islamic Civilisation and Other Civilisations. In Proceedings of the 14th Conference on

The Reality of Islam in a Changing World (20-23 May 2002).

2. [Translator’s illustration].

3. [Translator’s explanation].


efinement and authentication during that transfer.1

Civilisation is therefore a cumulative output and a constantly innovative

process of assimilating preceding contributions. Each nation contributes to

it inasmuch as its culture stipulates the nature of input and its convictions

motivate the extent of its involvement—which explains the diverse degrees

of contribution to civilisation as “process” determined by various cultural

backgrounds. This amounts to saying that—in certain respects—Islamic

religion can be considered as an extension of previous religions. This implies

the possibility of finding common denominators between Islam and its

predecessors, admitting accordingly the existence of certain differences

between them.

The existence of common denominators between Islam and its precursor

religions has led to the emergence of certain claims—formulated by

those concerned with comparative religion or those non-Muslim scholars

interested in studying Islam—stating that Islamic religion is a sheer eclectic

synthesis of preceding religions.2

Orientalist Claims

A variety of claims have been propounded by orientalists about Islamic

culture. Such claims aimed at casting doubt on Islam itself, especially about

certain controversies. At a second stage, the Holy Koran was the target of

controversial orientalist contributions, focusing on whether it is actually

divine revelation and on whether Mohamed Ibn Abdallah (PBUH) is a

1. Ali Ibrahim Annamla, Civilisational Bridging in the Light of Mutual Transfer of Sciences, Letters,

and Arts (Riyadh: 2009: 111).

2. Ali Ibrahim Annamla, The Phenomenon of Orientalism: Discussions of the Concept and Its

Interconnections (Riyadh: Makatabat Al-Tawba, 2003: 120).


prophet and a messenger.1 A whole set of sceptical claims were formulated

to cast doubt upon the constant values and concepts of this religion as

regards it’s the authenticity of its faith and its jurisprudence. Such claims

may also have targeted the Arab society, before addressing Islam as such,

through casting doubt on its civilisational visions and options (i.e. the Arab

society)—although they were limited.

It is commonplace knowledge that Arabs at the pre-Islamic era had a restricted

civilisation dominantly marked with its rhetorical and literary tradition. It

used to revere poets and prose writers, as well. This cultural inclination does

not negate the existence of other civilisational models in the Arab tribes

which somehow paved the ground for Islam by preparing minds ad spirits

for it and predisposing the Arab psychology to welcome its premises.2

It is equally important to note that Arabs before the revelation of Islam has

the predisposition to receive and positively respond to Mohamed’s divine

message, which runs contrarily to certain people’s proud claim that “The

Arabs barely had any significant form of civilisation, and they were neither a

nation nor a noteworthy entity before the advent of Islam.”3

Specialists in the history of sciences, especially as regards the Arabs, are

familiar with this view of Arabs in their pre-Islamic existence. Amongst them,

we find Kamel Shahada, researcher, who argues: “Many foreigners claim

1. These three aspects (Islam, Holy Koran, and Prophet’s Tradition) have been discussed by the

author of this paper in his work on entitled A Critique of Orientalist Thought: Islam, Holy Koran,

and Prophet’s Tradition (Riyadh: The Author, 2010: 246).

2. Mostapah Abdullah Suleyman, Arab Civilisation is not a Civilisation of Poetry and Terrorism (Al-

Majalla Al-Arabiya, 12, 1984: 86-87).

3. Anwar Al-Jondi, The Controversies of Westernisation in the Conquest of Islamic Thought

(Damascus: Al-Maktab Al-Islami, 1978: 89).


that Arabs before Islam were mere nomad Bedouins who only experienced

unstable and stressful desert life, remote from any form of civilisation and

devoid of any civilisational origins. The objective researcher can but deem

this claim as unjust and deviant from truth. In fact, there were dynamic

centres of internal and world trade transactions in the north and the south

of the Arab Peninsula, for instance, in Mecca, Medina, Taef, Maarab, Sana’a,

Najran, Sarwah, and Dhafar.”1

Nonetheless, there are still some orientalists who insist on claiming that

Arabs didn’t use to have any form of civilisation; end even what the Arab

Muslims celebrated as pre-Islamic literary heritage which reflected that

very civilisation was seen by those orientalists and their disciples from Arab

scholars as simply a fake product or a mere concoction. Such views are voiced

by the German orientalists Theodore Noldka (1836-1930) and Vilhalm Ahlord

(1838-1909), the English orientalist D. S. Merglith (1858-1940)—among

others2—and their disciple, Taha Hussein, in his two literary works published

in Egypt in 1926 (entitled About Pre-Islamic Poetry) and in 1927 (entitled On

Pre-Islamic Literature), which were received by a wave of massive rejection

and radical criticism by literary scholars of Arabic and in Islamic circles.3

In fact, tackling all such thorny issues about Islam seems to be beyond the

1. Kamel Shahada, Translation and Our Legacy (pp. 231-241). In Proceedings of the 6th Annual

Conference on the History of Science in the Arab World (organised by the University of Halab

under the auspices of the Institute of Arab Scientific Heritage (Halab: The College, Halab University,

1984: 301-314).

2. For more details on Arabic poetry and the issue of forged imitation vs. authenticity, see Ancient

Arabic Poetry between Authenticity and Forgery (pp. 159-166). In Fouad Sezkeen, Lectures in the

History of Arab and Islamic sciences, Texts and Studies Series, vol. 1).

3. Abderrahman Badawi, Orientalist Studies on the Authenticity of Pre-Islamic poetry (Beirut: Dar

El-Ilm Lil-Malayeen, 1986: 5-14).


scope of this paper. It would also be difficult for the researcher to identify

them in a variety of branches of knowledge (scientific or artistic) where

Muslims have taken the initiative and excelled in creativity or where they

refined their predecessors’ existing contributions in science and arts. The

aforementioned controversies are so ramified that they required collective

research efforts in order to determine their origins and loci and investigate

them so as to assess their veracity or falsehood. This would guarantee the

objectivity required by scientific scrutiny based on solid evidence and

capable of proving truth via using a clear methodology, without hostility

motivated by personal reasons. Such a scientific project would equally

include highlighting the status of Muslims in the civilisational map—as it

were—and the extent of their contribution to transferring civilisation down

from historically preceding as well as contemporary nations after verifying

its authenticity within the framework of Islamic culture.1

Orientalists often seek and find support for their claims in the huge amount

of disparate data published in the books of Arab and Islamic history, certain

books reporting the prophet’s tradition, some exegetical accounts—all of

them teeming with undocumented data, including what is known in the

science of exegesis as “Israelite data” used by certain exegetes without

any annotation or comment about their veracity,2 especially those data

openly contradicting the Holy Book and the Prophet’s Tradition and whose

1. For more data on the status of Muslims in the history of sciences, reference is made to those

contributions which focused on the history of Arab literature and heritage, written by orientalists,

Arabs, and Muslims. See, for instance, Fouad Sezkeen, Lectures in the History of Arab and Islamic

sciences, Texts and Studies Series, vol. 1 (Frankfurt: The Institute of Arab and Islamic science

History, 1984: 183).

2. Mostapah Hussein, Israelite Narratives in the Islamic Heritage (pp. 75-137). In Conference on the

Prophet’s Tradition (Tripoli, Libya: International Association of Islamic Daawa/ Propaganda, 1986).


untruthfulness is unanimously rejected by scholars.1 Unfortunately, such

dubious narrated data became traps for orientalists, who relied on them to

appropriate certain classic and contemporary Islamic contributions with the

purpose of constructing the worship rituals of Islamic religion.2

This methodology could only strengthen the argument of certain orientalists

in the eyes of those who are unaware of such controversial weaknesses in

the books of Islamic legacy, especially when they are referred to or they

refer others to such unauthenticated documents. Risks emerge whenever

these people do not track the annotated publications by Islamic scholars

about such controversial points so that they hardly cross-check them and

will accordingly take them for granted or as a priori concepts produced by

Muslims themselves.

Certain orientalists would even resort to truncating narrated materials. This

is done deliberately through introducing the Hadith (i.e. Prophet’s tradition),

exegetical comments, literary passages or historical evidence partially rather

than integrally.3

The encyclopaedic orientalist expert, Najib Akiki points out that the culture

1. Ibn Taymiya, A Compilation of Fatwa. Compiled and designed by Abderrahman Ibn Mohamed

Ibn Kasem Al-Najdi Al-Hambali, vol. 37 (Riyadh: Alam Al-Kitab, 1991: 366-367). See also Mohamed

Abu Shobha, Israelite Narratives and Forged Hadiths in Books of Exegesis. 4th ed. (Cairo: Maktabat

Al-Sana, 1408 H.).

2. Maurice Bucaille, The Wrong Ideas Spread by Orientalists in Their Translations of the Koran (2) (Al-

Azhar, Issue n° 9, 1986: 1368-1375).

3. See the discussion about orientalist exploitation of Israelite narratives in exegetical accounts.

Mohamed Hamadi Al-Fkir Al-Timsmani, The History of Translating the Meanings of the Holy Koran

by Orientalists: Its Motives and Its Dangers. In a Conference on Translating the Meanings of Holy

Koran: Assessment of the Past and Future Perspectives (The Medina: King Fahd’s Complex for

Printing the Holy Book, 2002: 51).


of Al-Hijez (i.e. Arab Peninsula) at the dawn of Islamic revelation was

characterised by purely local traits, although in the pre-Islamic era the Al-

Hijez had been surrounded by a number of religious, intellectual, and

material variables which were reflected in its culture. As a matter of fact,

the costume of the Kaaba used to be brought from Najran and—according

to Najib Akiki—this culture was influenced by Latin, Greek, Aramaic, and

Hebrew languages.1

Roman Jurisprudence and Law:

It is worth focusing on one of the fundaments of civilisation; it is namely

Islamic jurisprudence which organises the lives of individuals and societies

and exhorts them to adopt optimal behaviour in managing their private and

public affairs, in addition to specifying the relationship between the individual

and his/her Lord (Allah). Islamic jurisprudence has also been targeted by the

unfair claims of this category of people biased against Islamic civilisation.

The first claim in a series of pretentious advocacies against the authenticity

of Islamic civilisation is formulated against the authenticity of Islamic

jurisprudence. This particular claim articulated by orientalists has a set of

implications and entailments which will be later discussed in this paper.

However, the gist of the claim is that Islamic jurisprudence was influenced

by Roman law—which was subsequently exploited in the conception of

Islamic jurisprudence—and as a corollary the latter is not independent of

the Roman law.2

Prior to launching into discussing this controversy, it is imperative to know

1. Najib Akiki, The Encyclopaedia of Arab Heritage with Orientalists’ Biographies and Related Works

for a Thousand Year up to the Present Time. 5th ed. Vol. 1 (Cairo: Dar Al-Maaref, 2006: 36-37).

2. Mohamed Mokhtar Al-Kadhi, The Independence of Islamic Jurisdiction of Roman Law and Greek

Logic (Al-Azhar, vol. 39, 1987: 194-198).


the Roman law as manifested in the legal corpus established by the Roman

Emperor Justinian (565 AD) and composed of four volumes: Codus, Digest,

Instudos, and Novel. Light will be shed on how such legal codes were

exclusively taught in three schools: Rome, Beirut, and Constantinople and

why orientalists concentrated on Roman law as a source of influence on

ensuing religions, especially Islam.1

It is quite significant that most of the orientalists who publicise this

pretence—among other Islam-related accusations—are not specialised in

Roman law, nor even legal studies at large or comparative law.2 In addition,

the Western jurists who propagated such pretensions are not necessarily

orientalists—which means that their background knowledge about Islamic

civilisation and its jurisprudence, legislations, and rules does not make them

competent to pronounce scientific judgements concerning this civilisation

and its sources of legislation.3

It is hardly possible for an orientalist work to deal with the history of Islamic

Jurisprudence without drawing upon the hypothesis of Roman inspiration

or influence or the fact that Islamic jurisprudence derived its rules from

previous religions, especially Judaism.4 It is also quite rare to find a book

published in Modern Arabic about law and religious jurisprudence which

1. Carlo Alofonso Nillino, Perspectives of the Relationship between Islamic Jurisprudence and

Roman Law (Al-Moslimoon, pp. 54-66). This paper was originally given as a talk by the orientalist

Nillino in the international conference on Roman law organised in Rome in 1993.

2. Sassi Salem Al-Haj, A Critique of Orientalist Discourse: The Orientalist Phenomenon and Its Impact

on Islamic Studies. Vol. 2. (Beirut: Dar Al-Madar Islami, 2002: 440-504).

3. Isaac Ibn Abdallah Saadi, The Excellence of the Nation, with A Critique of the Orientalist Position.

Vol. 1 (Riyadh: Islamic University of Imarm Mohamed Ibn Saoud, 2005: 434-437).

4. Boujina Guiyana Stchiveska, The History of Islamic Jurisprudence: The History of Islamic State and

Its Jurisiprudence. 2nd ed. (Beirut: Dar Al-Efek Al-Jadida, 1983: 440).


does not contain a discussion—quite frequently in the sense of rebuttal—

of the relationship between Islamic Jurisprudence and Roman law or the

religions preceding Islam.1

Najeeb Akiki further declares: “Jurisprudence was influenced by Greek and

Roman law. A case at hand is Reverend Saint John of Damascus (767-749)

who inherited his father’s position as a senior clerk at Beit El-Mel (i.e. Muslims’

Treasury House for levying and distributing tithe taxes and charity)2 under

the rule of Hichem Ibn Abdel Malik (of the Umayyad Dynasty)3 then retreated

into Reverend Saba Mansion in Palestine—which was the ideal scenario to

translate those ideas into Arabic in his publications.4

Among those who championed the argument that Islamic Jurisprudence

was influenced by Roman law was the orientalist Dominico Gatitski in his

book entitled “A Handbook of Public and Private Ottoman Rights, where he

mentioned that the Roman rules had effortlessly infiltrated Islam.5

Then, there is the famous German orientalist, Joseph Chekht (1902-1969)

who lectured at the Italian Academy of Science about The Byzantine Law

and Islamic Jurisprudence. He refuted the claim that Islamic Jurisprudence

had been influenced by Byzantine law, as Muslims in that historical era had

1. Ahmed Ameen, The Dawn of Islam. 13th ed. (Cairo: Maktabat Annahdha Al-Misriya, 1975: 246-


2. Translator’s explanation.

3. Translator’s note.

4. Najib Akiki, The Encyclopaedia of Arab Heritage with Orientalists’ Biographies and Related Works

for a Thousand Year up to the Present Time. 5th ed. Vol. 1 (Cairo: Dar Al-Maaref, 2006: 72).

5. Carlos Alfonso Nellino, Perspectives of the Relations between Islamic Jurisprudence and Roman

Law (p. 46). In Saleh Eddin Al-Monajjid, A Selection of Orientalist Studies: Various Studies in Arab

Culture (Cairo: Library of Authorship, Translation, and Publication, 1955: 248).


no access to translated books on law. However, he admitted that Muslim

jurisprudence scholars had been influenced or inspired by Roman law during

the 1st and the 2nd centuries (H.), taking advantage from the knowledge of

Greek scholars and who had converted to Islam.1

The German orientalist, Joseph Chekht, initiated a profound discussion

about the sources of Islamic jurisprudence apart from the Holy Koran and

the Prophet’s Tradition, and tried to assign them back to their Roman origins.

In addition to that, the Hungarian-born orientalist—resident in Germany and

imbibed with German thought (Ines Glodtsiher: 1850-1921)—also wrote a

book on faith and religious laws. In his book, he claimed that the emergence

and growth of Islam had been tainted with Hellenistic ideas and that its

accurate jurisdictional system calls up to mind the influence of Roman

law. He added, “Nonetheless, it would be unfair not to admit that Islam has

demonstrated its predisposition and ability to absorb and assimilate all

those ideas in all the areas under question; it has also proved its capability

of harmonising all those foreign elements in one coherent whole until the

components lost their initial nature which can only be accessed after they

are decomposed and analysed in minute detail within the framework of a

critical investigative study.”2

Likewise, the Italian orientalist A. Carosi published a book on the connections

between Roman law and Islamic jurisprudence. He proposed a theory

1. Sassi Salem Al-Haj, A Critique of Orientalist Discourse: The Orientalist Phenomenon and Its Impact

on Islamic Studies. Vol. 2. (Beirut: Dar Al-Madar Islami, 2002: 450-51).

2. Ijnes Goldseiher, Faith and Jurisprudence in Islam. Trans. Mohamed Yussef Moossa et al. (Cairo: Dar

Al-Kutub Al-Haditha 1959: 5).


based on the assumption that Islamic jurisprudence is but an unmodified1

version of Roman law, and that Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) was quite

knowledgeable2 in that field. What is more, certain orientalists have even

claimed that Muslims has only added errors to the Roman law.3 Sassi Salem

El-Haj comments on these pinions—among others—by saying that they are

significant statements revealing “arbitrariness, impressionism, partiality, and

deviation from scientific accuracy.”4

Influence from other civilisations came either from translation from and into

Arabic primarily via the Assyrian language—especially during the Abbasid

Era5—or through contacts between Muslim Arabs and Roman jurisdictional

schools in the countries which were converted to Islam. In the same vein,

the British orientalist and judge—resident in Egypt—Amos Sheldon (1835-

1886) claims that “Mohamed’s jurisprudence is nothing but a revised version

of the imperial Roman law and an adaptation to the political conditions in

the Arab kingdoms.”6

1. Isaac Ibn Abdallah Saadi, The Excellence of the Nation, with A Critique of the Orientalist Position.

Vol. 1 (Riyadh: Islamic University of Imarm Mohamed Ibn Saoud, 2005: 436).

2. Desooki Al-Sayed Desooki Eed, The Independence of Islamic Jurisprudence vis-à-vis Roman Law

and Replies to Orientalist Controversies (Cairo: Library of Islamic Education, 1989: 17).

3. Sufi Abu Taleb, Between Islamic Jurisprudence and Roman Law (pp. 4-5). Cited in Sassi Salem

Al-Haj, A Critique of Orientalist Discourse: The Orientalist Phenomenon and Its Impact on Islamic

Studies. Vol. 2. (Beirut: Dar Al-Madar Islami, 2002: 450).

4. Sassi Salem Al-Haj, A Critique of Orientalist Discourse: The Orientalist Phenomenon and Its Impact

on Islamic Studies. Vol. 2. (Beirut: Dar Al-Madar Islami, 2002: 450).

5. Mohamed Abdelhamid Al-Hamd, Dialogue between Nations: The History of Translation and

Creativity in the Arab and Assyrian Communities (Damascus: Dar Al-Mada, 2001: 531).

6. Mohmoud Hamdi Zakzook, Orientalism and the Intellectual Background of Civilisational Conflict.

2nd ed. (Beirut: Arrisala Institution, 1985: 107).


The same applies to the Austrian orientalist and Baron Alfred Fon Kramer

(1828-1889), who claimed in his book The History of Civilisation in the orient

Under the Rule of the Caliphs1 that both Imams Abderrahman Ibn Amr Al-

Awzaai (88-157 H.) and Mohamed Ibn Idriss Al-Chafii (150-204) had benefited

from the Beirut school of Roman law.

His only proof was that both Imams—Allah’s Grace be Bestowed upon

Them—were born in Al-Sham (modern region including Syria, Lebanon,

etc.).2 He said, “They were doubtless knowledgeable in the principles of

Byzantine and Roman law.”3 This was refuted by Carlo Alfonso Nillino (1872-

1938) who argued that during the period of history in question translated

books of Roman law were not available in Al-Sham’s language, let alone their

availability in Arabic versions.4

Those orientalists and their disciples amongst Arab jurist—who posit that the two

Imams were not familiar with the language since Roman law was not yet translated

into Arabic at that time—endeavour to prove influence by Roman law through

the Jewish culture on account of the similarity between the two legal paradigms.5

1. Translated by Khooda Bakhsh and omitted its bibliographic sources. He published it in Calcutta

in 1920. In 1957, it was translated into Arabic by Mosapha Badr. Its introduction in Arabic was

published by Ali Hosni Kharbatouli in 1961. See Najib Akiki, The Encyclopaedia of Arab Heritage

with Orientalists’ Biographies and Related Works for a Thousand Year up to the Present Time. 5th

ed. Vol. 2 (Cairo: Dar Al-Maaref, 2006: 466).

2. Translator’s note.

3. Sassi Salem Al-Haj, A Critique of Orientalist Discourse: The Orientalist Phenomenon and Its Impact

on Islamic Studies. Vol. 2. (Beirut: Dar Al-Madar Islami, 2002: 466).

4. Carlos Alfonso Nellino, Perspectives of the Relations between Islamic Jurisprudence and Roman

Law (p. 46). In Saleh Eddin Al-Monajjid, A Selection of Orientalist Studies: Various Studies in Arab

Culture. Vol. 6. (Cairo: Library of Authorship, Translation, and Publication, 1956: 54-66).

5. Sobhi Mahamasani, The Philosophy of Islamic Jurisprudence. 3rd Ed. (Bayrut: Dar Il-Ilm Lil-

Malayeen, 1961).


According to these scholars, such influence resulted from the fact that

certain scholarly Jews converted to Islam and the existence of an elite from

them in the Medina who witnessed the emergence and propagation of

Islamic civilisation, like Abdullah Ibn Selam. On the other hand, even for

Henry Posqiuier—who tried to establish the foundations of this theory—

such similarity hypothesis is not totally tenable. He revisited the theory

to say that any affirmation that the two Imams exchanged imparted and

received influence remains vitiated, and that there are even certain striking

dissimilarities between them.1

Orientalists and Faith

Orientalists have not dealt with Islam’s emphasis on the notion of

monotheism and have not detected in the practices and belief systems of

the sects and cults preceding Islam—especially after being the target of

human intervention—any relics of monotheism that could be reclaimed by

Mohamed (PBUH) as meaning the uniqueness of Allah in terms of lordship,

divinity, and peculiar denominations and attributes. Nonetheless, they

supported a set of convictional views demonstrating rebellion against the

foundations of religion in the realm of faith, on the grounds that rationality

should have priority over revelation—which was advocated by certain

Islamic sects that emerged subsequently to their contact with philosophy as

a descendent of Greek civilisation. Therefore, certain orientalists—following

some Islamic sects—tended to support the strategies of vitiating faith, such

1. J. H. Bosquier (French orientalist), The Mystery of Jurisprudence: Its Formation and Origins. In Does

the Roman Law have any Influence on Islamic Jurisprudence? Trans. & commentator Mohamed

Salim Al-Aoua (Beirut: Dar Al-Bohooth Al-Ilmiya, 1973. See also Sassi Salem Al-Haj, A Critique

of Orientalist Discourse: The Orientalist Phenomenon and Its Impact on Islamic Studies. Vol. 2.

(Beirut: Dar Al-Madar Islami, 2002: 456).


as Al-Mootazila, Al-Jabiya, Al-Kadariya, and Al-Jahmiya.1

Other orientalists equally got involved in the argument about Al-Kadha wal

Kadar in Islam (a Muslim belief that all human action is predisposed by Allah

and that human agency is only metaphorical)2, and defended the thesis

that it is a factor obstructing progress, impeding initiative, and slowing down

development. They understood it as a form of fatalism that restricts creativity

and that only the handicapped resort to it when they feel unmotivated to act.

Consequently, they argued, these helpless people would constantly lay the

blame on fate in order to escape accountability.3 Therefore, this category of

orientalists sees this belief as a sign of stagnation in the faith of this religion

and an obstacle preventing its followers from moving ahead and attaining

civilisational goals.

According to these orientalists and certain historians of law, since the Islamic

civilisation adopted as a source of its jurisprudence Roman law with its

evolutionary phases, including Emperor Justinian’s successive legal codes

(565 AD)—which in turn is a static code whose validity is restricted to its

respective historical era rather than nowadays4—then, this should imply

further statuary stagnation in the Islamic legal paradigm. Such analysis

suggests or signifies a plea for renouncing Islamic jurisprudence and seeking

1. Ahmed Shawki Ibrahim Al-Amraji, The Mootazila in Baghdad and Their Influence on Intellectual

and Political Life (Cairo: Maktabat Madbooli, 2000).

2. Explanation added by translator.

3. Orientalists’ False Claim about the Faith of Al-Kadha and Kadar and Proposed Counter-Claims (pp.

249-274). In Abdel Monaem Foued, Some of the Orientalists’ False Claims against Islamic Faith

(Riyadh: Maktabat Abiken, 2001: 282).

4. Abdelhamid Metwalli, Islam and the Position of Orientalist Scholars: Their Accusation of

Jurisprudence of Stagnation and Senior Scholars of Being Influened by Roman Law (Jeddah:

Maktabet Okadh Company, 1983: 80).


an insinuated alternative available in modern legal codes formulated by

humans in a secular way.1

Reverse Influence

In contrast to these claims, we realise that the common impression

among some Muslim jurists and equitable orientalists is that the secular

laws in force when Islam first emerged and then spread and edified a

civilisation had actually benefited from this civilisation on different levels.

Taking such advantage from the Islamic civilisation represents an implicit

acknowledgement that this civilisation is authentic and able to encompass

the notion of spatial and temporal continuity. There are Western texts which

confirm such a conclusion either as a confession of drawing benefit from

the Islamic paradigm or as regret about the fact that western cultures have

reached the degrading point of begging influence from Islamic culture.

This meaning is stressed by the Italian orientalist Carlo Alfonso Nellino

who points out that what Europeans call Roman law is actually Islamic

jurisprudence. This opinion is adapted from a book published in 1911 by an

Iranian jurist called Bahaii Basem Abu AlFadhl Al Jorfakdani and whose Arabic

translation was included in Abdeljalil Saad’s book entitled The Introduction

to Laws.2

Orientalist Fitzgerald Carlo Nillino reinforces this hypothesis in an article

1. Abdelmajid Essallehen, Orientalist Studies and Islamic jurisprudence (pp. 1410-1434). In

Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Orientalists and Arab-Islamic Studies (El-

Meniya: El-Menya University, p. 1561).

2. Carlos Alfonso Nellino, Perspectives of the Relations between Islamic Jurisprudence and Roman

Law (p. 46). In Saleh Eddin Al-Monajjid, A Selection of Orientalist Studies: Various Studies in Arab

Culture (Cairo: Library of Authorship, Translation, and Publication, 1955: 248).


entitled The Reclaimed Debt Islamic Law Owes to Roman Law.1 Fitzgerald

cites Iznas Goldziher and argues that the latter is urged in his claims of due

civilisational debts by a personal political agenda which consists in stressing

the fact that Islamic jurisprudence had been vulnerable to western influence.

The French-born Dutch orientalist historian Richard B. A. Duzi (1920-1883)

reports in his book The Islam of Andalusia an elegiac letter written by a

Spanish writer in response to the downgrading of Latin and Greek, affirming

that knowledgeable readers with highly aesthetic refinement have been laid

under the spell of Arabic and Arab literature after having read the works

published by Muslim philosophers and scholars in religious jurisprudence

not in order to refute their claims but to adopt their authentic Arabic style.2

Rebuttal of Orientalist Claims

A number of Muslim scholars and some orientalists have set up for themselves

the goal of refuting the claims relating to the status of Muslim civilisation in

the overall civilisation map. In fact, Muslim scholars have deployed an array

of arguments in a process of profound discussions which are so prolific that

one has the impression of being really unable to add any contribution to the

existing literature in circulation about orientalism and other related topics.3

The most persuasive accounts were formulated by Islamic scholars who have

a vast knowledge of comparative jurisprudence, by jurists, and by orientalists

who are well-versed in legal studies. An instance of such replies was

1. Fitzgerald, The Reclaimed Debt Islamic Law Owes to Roman Law. In Mohamed Salim Al-Aoua,

Islamic jurisprudence and Roman Law (Beirut: Dar Al-Bohooth Al-Ilmiya, 1973).

2. Zakariya Hechem, Orientalist and Islam (Cairo: The Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs/ Committee

for Explaining Islam, 1965: 17).

3. Mohamed Yussef Moussa, Islamic Jurisprudence and Its Impact on Western Jurisdictional System.

(Dar Al-Qalam, 1960).


elaborated by Maaroof Dawalibi (1909-2004), Soofi Abu Taleb (1925-2008),

and Mohamed Salim Awwa (1942), among other Muslim scholars of law and

religious jurisprudence;1 in addition to Carlo Alfonso Nillino (1872-1938)—

an orientalist who was knowledgeable in legal affairs.2 All these scholars

have cleverly outlined the specific similarities between law and religious

jurisprudence and have expertly refuted false claims or controversies. Their

contributions have been widely cited by their successors.

The Arabs as Target of Influence

Numerous Arab disciples have been influenced by orientalist thought and

overwhelmingly delighted by orientalist interest in Islamic civilisation. They

have been amazed by the huge amount of research and investigation

directed at such an issue. Their disciples have therefore adopted their views,

opinions, and theories as regards how Islamic jurisprudence reformulated

certain legal notions from the Roman law—among other ideas related to

the fundaments of civilisation.

The source of such receptive influence has been either through tuition, via

admiration for the quality of discussion these scholars have been able to

moderate and manage within a cultural framework they do not belong to,

or due to the poor educational and scientific background of some people

who tend to grab any sort of information as part of their vulnerability to

be influenced and interest in western arts and literature just because this

1. Maaroof Dawalibi, “The Roman Legal System and Its Impact of Islamic Jurisprudence according

to Orientalists.” Chapter 3. The Concise in Roman Law and Its History. 3rd ed. Vol. 2. (Damascus:

University of Damascus, 1959).

2. Carlos Alfonso Nellini discusses this claim in eight focused points in his article (pp. 43-57) that

appeared in an edition by Saleh Eddin Al-Monajjid entitled A Selection of Orientalist Studies:

Various Studies in Arab Culture (Cairo: Library of Authorship, Translation, and Publication, 1955:



happens to be generated by western philosophers. In addition, these

disciples also accord a high degree of attention to what those orientalists

say about Islam since it is expected to contain genuine thought which was

not formerly presented by Muslim scholars. Thus, the disciples are rather

predisposed to receive the orientalist accounts of Islamic civilisation, or even

adopt them and claim them as theirs.1

In this paper, I have repeatedly used the expression “some”, “certain” and “a

number of” in an attempt to avoid generalisations which vitiate a number of

studies. Orientalists did not follow the same approach, because some of them

defended Islamic culture and judged it through the perspective of Islamic

jurisprudence as “dynamic, interactive, and implemented in Islamic societies

on the basis of individual conscience.” 2 For this group, the nature of the legal

system is a “resolved issue in Islamic thought in a way that resists hesitation,

because one central requirement of belief in Islam is that law is a set of rules

revealed by Allah, and any denial of that equals deviation from Islam.”3 This

coincides with the proposal of the orientalist Noel J. Coulson in his book

entitled On the History of Islamic Jurisprudence: Method and Interpretation,4

where Islamic jurisprudence is not seen as an old-fashioned system that has

reached the stage of stagnation preventing the required evolution for any

dynamic and sustainable legal system. Some orientalists do endorse such

1. Nasser Ibn Abdallah Ibn Abdallah Ben Yahia, Orientalists’ Position vis-à-vis Islamic Jurisprudence.

(Riyadh: Faculty of Chariaa: Islamic University of Imam Mohamed Ibn Saoud, Dissertation).

2. Mohamed Salim Awwa, The Islamic Legal System in Modern Orientalist Studies (p. 255 in vlo. 1).

In Orientalists’ Methods in Arab-Islamic Studies. 2 Vols. (Riyadh: The Arab Office of Education for

the Gulf Countries: 1985).

3. Op cit. pp. 254-255.

4. Op cit. pp. 254-255. See also N. J. Coulson, On the History of Islamic Jurisprudence: Methodology

and Interpretation. Mohamed Ahmed Sarraj, Trans and commentator. Hasan Mahmoud

Abedellatif, editor (Beirut: University Institution for Studies, Publication & Distribution, 1992).


hypothesis and criticise its adversaries. For instance, the German orientalist

Yussef Chakht blames the jurist Noel J. Coulson for his positive attitude

towards Islamic jurisprudence, though the latter’s position is not free from

certain pitfalls into which many orientalists tend to tumble.1

1. Abdelmalik Mansoor Al-Mosaabi, Orientalists in Islamic Studies through the Sources of

Jurisprudence. See also J. Coulson’s On the History of Islamic Jurisprudence as Case Study (vol.

1: 311-326). In Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Orientalists and Arab-Islamic

Studies. 5 vols. (El-Meniya: Faculty of Science, El-Menya University, p. 1561).



Orientalism and

Islamic Civilization

A Confused Islamic Perspective

and Fair Positive Attitudes

Dr. Mustafa bin Omar Halabi

Chairman-Designate, Department of Orientalism

Dean of Library Affairs

Researching the issue of Orientalism and

Islamic Civilization requires a scrutinizing

study of both Islamic and Western

civilizations in terms of the centuriesold

rapport between them, over vast

geographical areas, that included

hostility and peace, communication and

separation, acceptance and rejection

and admiration and contempt.

In most of its phases, the nature of the study required a selection of orientalist

views on the historic perspective and the positive attitudes which form the

main issues of the study.

The study seeks to shed light on the nature of the historic rapport between

Islam and the West and to present instances of fair attestation in this respect

by a number of orientalists. Making reference to such views is considered a

serious attempt at discarding bias, establishing objectivity, reinforcing facts

and achieving balance regarding a number of negative orientalist views vis-àvis

Islam and its civilization.

The nature of the topic under study necessitates recourse to the historical and

descriptive processes used in the documentation of views by orientalists and

others in order to give a historical assessment in this regard.

Since the purpose of the study is to confirm the existence of positive and

unbiased views within orientalistic studies on Islam and Islamic civilization,

recourse had to be made to data in the selective approach.


It is for this reason that the study included a selection of statements by

orientalists who did justice to the Islamic and Arab Civilization.

The study makes reference to a number of scientific studies about this topic

including orientalist studies on the nature of the dominant views about Islamic

History and Civilization in Europe throughout the middle ages and thereafter,

references about orientalist studies on Islamic History and Civilization.

The study is divided into two parts: the first part presents a brief account of

the European historical perspective on Islam in the middle ages and thereafter

as well as the factors influencing the shaping of Islamic image in Western

mentality. This part also includes a glance at the concept of orientalism, its

beginning, its stages of development and the impact of the diverging views

with respect to defining the term ’orientalism’ on determining such issues.

The second part of the study sheds light on orientalists’ views and positive

attitudes about Islamic Civilization. In this context the study capitalized on

a number of statements by orientalists directly quoted from their original

sources or translations. The study was concluded by giving a number of





Central European


Concern in Islamic Civilization

Dr. Lubos Kropacek

Professor of History and Culture of countires

The Middle East and Africa

E.Said‘s well known critical remarks on

Orientalism pay only a marginal attention

to Central Europe. In contrast, this paper

brings this area into focus, in particular

Czech lands, and extends this interest

up to the present times.

The region was first visited and described by Arab travellers in the Middle

Ages (Ibrahim b. Ya‘qub in Bohemia, al-Gharnati in Hungary). Then the region‘a

emerging scholarly interest comprised i.a. Ibn Sina and Ibn Rushd. Later on,

an ill-disposed trend grew with the expansion of the Ottoman military power

until the defeat of Turks besieging Vienna in 1683.

Intercultural relations with the Muslim world were changing throughout

the 19th century. An interesting phenomenon was a rising admiration and

imitation of the Muslim architecture (secular buildings in Germany, Moorish

style of Jewish synagogues in Berlin, Prague and Budapest etc.) as well a

spread of study of Oriental languages (Arabic, Persian, Turkish).

An important point was a better understanding of Islam as religion and

culture. In this respect a great role was played by Ignaz Goldziher, generally

recognized as one of the greatest founding fathers of the modern academic

study of Islam in Europe.

In Czechia the intellectual milieu was greatly enriched by explorations and

writings of Alois Musil (1868-1944) who managed to establish friendly relations

with Arabs in Jordan, Mesopotamia and Northern parts of Arabia. He brought


first hand appreciative reliable information about their culture, opening thus a

way for a Christian-Muslim dialogue well before this term started to be used.

Nowadays, Musil‘s rich intellectual legacy arouses a renewed interest and

international cooperation, including that among Czech and Saudi scholars.

In further generations the Czech Orientalist scholars grew and were marked by

ramifications. Among the historians of Islam F. Tauer acquired large notoriety

with his masterly complete translation of Arabian Nights, I. Hrbek by a research

on Arab medieval culture and R. Veselý with his internationally recognized

expertness in Mamluk and Ottoman period, especially the social aspects of

awqaf. Among the scholars working in the field of literature a mention has to

be made of J. Oliverius for the Arabic and J. Rypka for the Persian and Turkish

literature. In further generations special research was undertaken on a large

range of new topics, such as modern history of the Muslim world, Islamic

culture in Czechia or in the Balkans, ways and trends of the inter-religious and

inter-cultural dialogue, Sufism, Salafi Islam, Islam in modern media and others.

An important point should not be left unmentioned: the translation of the

Holy Qur‘an. The author of the best translation with a scholarly exegesis is the

historian Ivan Hrbek. First published in 1972 (being the third translation of the

Holy Book into Czech) it was reprinted a number of times after the democratic

change in the country in 1989 and is in use also by the Muslim community (Al

Ittihad al-Islami) in the country. In Slovakia the first translation of the Qur‘an

into Slovak came out in 2008. It has been prepared with a rich exegesis by

Abdulwahab Al-Sbenaty and is available both in a book form (two huge

volumes) and on electronic web.

Thus both Czechs and Slovaks have a possibility to get well acquainted with

the message of Islam in their mother-tongues.



Panel - 2

The evolution of the

literary movement

in Saudi Arabia and

the Czech Republic.

Development of the literary movement

in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Dr. Mohamed bin Salah Al-Hadlaq

The Short Story in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia:

Modernization and the Vision and Composition Question

Dr. Ali Sarhan Al Qorashi

An Overview of Classical Arabic Literature:

Influence of its Translations on Czech Literature

Prof. PhDr. Jaroslav Olivérius, CSc

Modern Arabic literature:

Substantive issues and dimensions of civilization and

its repercussions on literature of the Czech Republic

Prof. Dr Frantecheck Ondras


Development of the

literary movement

In the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Dr. Mohamed bin Salah Al-Hadlaq

After unifying the different parts of the

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in its current

state in 1942, King Abdualaziz Al Saud

started modernizing the Kingdom

in order to enable it catch up with

contemporary civilizations.

Thus settling Bedouins in dwellings, taking care of education by opening

schools in several cities, and endeavoring to slowly and smoothly introduce

new means of modern life in his country.

Subsequent kings from his own children followed him suit, pursuing this

modernizing program with determination and insight. Thus, the number of

newspapers and magazines increased, printing houses and libraries spread

across the country, and academic delegations abroad multiplied.

This was followed by the establishment of universities in the main cities, the

advent of literary clubs in many regions of the Kingdom, and the increase in

publishing houses.

These factors have led to the appearance of a modest literary movement,

which quickly developed into its current state.

For lack of time, this paper will not survey all the factors that led to the

development of this movement, but will simply and briefly shed light on

some of them.


First: Factors of developmental of the literary movement

1. Education

2. Media

3. Libraries

4. Literary clubs

Second: Phenomena of development of the literary


The literary renaissance includes two pillars: prose and poetry

1. Poetry

2. Drama

3. Short story

4. Literary criticism

This paper sheds light on some of phenomena of the development of the

literary movement in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. For lack of time, other

literary genres such as drama, autobiography, literary studies in academia, etc.

will not be addressed.




The Short Story

in the Kingdom of

Saudi Arabia

Modernization and the Vision and

Composition Question

Dr. Ali Sarhan Al Qorashi

Al Taif University

The shift towards short story writing

is one of the many developments that

have occurred at the level of Arabic

creative writing.

For a very long time Arabic literature has been mainly dominated by poetry

and rhetoric, along with a marginal presence of other literary forms including

prose in letter writing, news, educational and pleasure stories such as Thousand

and One Nights, Al Maqamat (a collection of short stories), fables, tales and

jokes about idiots and the marginalized, etc.

Today short story writing is increasingly gaining ground as a literary art form

that is geared to express a vision and create events through biographies and

factual information to go beyond theorization and into real-life experience.

The purpose is to cast a situation in which man exercises awareness of his own

reality and existence, expresses his resentment of the vicious cycle of life and

his subjugation to fate and passivity thereby forming the core of a vision and

creating its events and directions.

Short story writing tackles the issue of human concerns and worries and

is geared to create a situation in which man is freed from oppression and

marginalization and is given prominence within human memory as illustration

of our awareness of human rights and the need for a rejuvenated form of



While the novel covers a wide domain and a diversity of life situations as seen

through the eyes of the writer, the short story undertakes such a role in a more

rigorous form taking into consideration the fact that it doesn’t intend to play

down any of the elements involved such as time, the narration area or vision


The short story proceeds through flashbacks into time, and by eliminating

marginal events.




An Overview of

Classical Arabic


Influence of its Translations on

Czech Literature

Prof. PhDr. Jaroslav Olivérius, CSc

Professor of History of Arabic Literature


1.1. Pre-Islamic poetry. Its general

characteristics. Content, form and genres.

The role and status of poets in tribal societies.

1.2. Poets of pre-Islamic Arabia.

1.3. Pre-Islamic prose

2. Poets of early Islamic ages

3. The Umayyad Epoch

3.1. Umayyad Poetry Genres

3.2 Panegyric, satire, love poetry, poetry of political and religious groups

3.3 Prose Umayyad Period

4 The Abbasid Epoch

4.1 Characteristics of Abbasid poetry. The most prominent poets - al-Ma›arri,


4.2 Abbasid prose - Ibn al-Muqaffa ‹, al-Jahiz. Abbasid Literature

5 Al-Andalus: 8th-12th Century

5.1 Literature peculiarities of Muslim Spain. Songs about nature, strophic

poetry - Muashahat,


5.2 Ibn Hazm - Tauq Al-hamama

5.3 Philosophy and literature - Ibn Tufajl: Hajj ibn Jaqzán

6 Late Mideaval Ages Period

6.1 General characteristics of literary creation. The development of vernacular

literature - Siyar ša‘biíja, 1001 nights.

6.2 Literature of the Western Muslim Countries.

6.3 Ibn Battuta, Ibn Khaldun

7. Classical Arabic Literature - Influence of its Translations on Czech Literature



Modern Arabic


Substantive issues and

dimensions of civilization and its

repercussions on literature of the

Czech Republic

Prof. Dr Frantecheck Ondras

Deputy Head of Dept. Of Middle East and Africa at

Faculty of Philosophy, Charles University

The lecture includes major features of the evolution of modern Arabic

literature and its artistic development during the twentieth century until

nowadays while looking at its most features in various places of the world

The lecture aims at introducing the visitors of the different exhibition

activities to the exclusive and creativity of the Arabic Contemporary stories

and fictions, and its role through the International and Arab civilization. The

lecture will focus on the personalities of prominent Arab writers, dealing

with their cultural background, social, philosophical and intellectual currents

that have been affected by it.

The lecture will also provide examples of various literary works of different

subjects, which attracted a wide range of classes and Arab authors, readers

and was appreciated by the Arab countries as a whole

The lecture will carry the message, lies in the presentation of technical and

humanitarian values, which brings together Arab and Western civilizations

and the impact of translations of Arabic texts on Czech literature.


Panel - 3

Social changes in

Saudi and Czech


Social changes and their impact on the Saudi family

Professor Salwa Abdulhamid Al-Khateeb

Cultural Change in the Saudi Community:

Change as individual responsibility

Dr. Nesrine Yaqub

Social Changes in the Czech Republic (CR) after 1989

Selma Muhi Dizdarevi, Ph.D.


Social changes

And their impact on the Saudi



Salwa Abdulhamid Al-Khateeb

Research problem

The inhabitants of the Arabia Peninsula

lived for centuries in a quasi social

isolation imposed by the tough desert

environment. The geographic position of

the Kingdom in the midst of the Arabia

Peninsula and the shortage of pasture led

to their isolation from the rest of the world.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is one of the few countries that have not been

colonized in any period of its history, which made it cling to its culture and

preserve its tribalism for a long time.

The discovery of oil in 1947 led to radical changes in the Kingdom. Owing to this,

the Saudi community was subject to important deep economic, political, and

social changes, which impacted its social structure and cohesion. As part of this

structure, the family has impacted and was impacted by these changes. This study

strives to discover the impact of these changes on the family, the interrelations

of its members, and the most important problems that have emerged from

these changes. In the 20th century, the Kingdom witnessed several internal and

external changes that created important transformations in the social structure

of the Saudi community. The most important internal changes are the unification

of the Kingdom under the leadership of King Abdulaziz Al Saud, the foundation

of the Saudi state, and the discovery of oil and the ensuing economic boom.

However, the most important factors of external change are globalization and

accompanying economic, cultural, and social transformations.

The discovery of oil is regarded as a turning point for the Saudi community.

It enabled it to move from a tough tribal life to an affluent urban life. The oil


wealth assisted the government of the Kingdom in adopting several five-year

plans that aimed at setting up the infrastructure of the community and raising

the living standards of the citizens. These developmental projects led to the

creation of important changes in the individuals’ economic activity, their social

interrelations, and the pattern of values prevailing in the community.

The most important external factors that have faced the Kingdom is the

emergence of globalization and accompanying tremendous technological

progress in means of communication, satellite channels, and the existence of

the World Wide Web (Internet). Modern means of communication such as the

mobile, the computer, and the Internet have helped facilitate communication

between the Kingdom and the outside world, the exchange of expertise and

information, and acquaintance with the news of the outside world (Al Al-

Sheikh, 2000).

Objectives of the study

The main objective of this descriptive-analytical study is observing the most

important changes that have affected the Saudi community in general, and

how these changes have impacted the family, its structure, and functions. The

study has endeavored to answer the following questions:

1. What is the form of the family and marriage in the traditional Saudi


2. What are the most important factors of change in the Saudi community?

3. What are the most important changes that occurred in the community in


4. How have these changes impacted the marital, familial, and relations

among relatives?

5. How have these changes impacted the functions of the family?


Significance of the study

This study draws its significance from two main factors:

Scientific significance

The following facts constitute the scientific significance of this study:

The family is the basic unit in the community. The more virtuous the family is,

the more virtuous the community is; the more disintegrated the family is, the

more disintegrated the community is. Thus, our understanding of the family

helps us understand the community as a whole.

In casting light on one of the most important Gulf countries such as Saudi

Arabia, the study may contribute to the sociology of the family and how oil

has impacted its social and familial structures.

Most of the studies that have investigated the Saudi family depended on the

quantitative method in getting to the change while this study has adopted

the quantitative and qualitative methods to get acquainted with the opinion

of women and female students on this change.

Practical significance

Field work studies on the Saudi family are not thick on the ground. So this

study may benefit the reader and people interested in the family, raising their

awareness about the changes that occurred in the community and how they

affected the form of the family and its functions.

This study may assist planners of developmental programs in getting

acquainted with the most important changes that occurred in the Saudi

family so that they can base their programs and projects on precise scientific

knowledge of the nature of these changes and problems that face up the

Saudi family since diagnosis is half of the treatment


Methodology and data collection tools

The researcher used both the quantitative and qualitative methods in

accessing the changes that occurred in the Saudi community. She adopted the

social survey method, with the sample as one of the quantitative tools in data

collection. She also used the interview as one of the tools of data collection in

qualitative research owing to its importance in collecting a lot of information

on marital, familial, and relative relations. Further, the researcher used the

comparative method to get acquainted with the conditions of the family, its

life style, and the changes that took place before and after the discovery of oil.

Social situation in the Kingdom before the oil economic


The tough environmental conditions and the desert climate in the Arabian

Peninsula imposed a pastoral economic system. In the pre-oil economic

boom era, the economy of the Kingdom had a subsistence-based system

characterized by a shortage of resources. The majority of the inhabitants used

to work as shepherds, moving from one place to another in quest for water

and pasture. Some inhabitants used to work in agriculture in valleys and rivers.

Apart from pastoral and agricultural activities, there were some urban towns

such as Riyadh, Mecca, Al-Medina, Jeddah, etc., which included some skins/

cloaks/dates-based small industries. There was also commercial activity in the

seasons of pilgrimage and umra. These tough environmental conditions and

the shortage of resources have pushed some of them to seek work in other


The traditional Saudi community is a pastoral society, where the tribe

constitutes its main unit, and plays important political and social roles in

organizing individual interpersonal relations. The members of the tribe are

interconnected by lineage and tribalism that were imposed on them by

the tough tribal life and the need to move and decamp (Abu Alayya, 1976).


Al-hmoula (literally, cargo or load) is metaphorically a group of families

interconnected by genealogical lineage, and having the same ethnic origin

going back to up to five generations. For instance, people from some regions

of the Kingdom such as the Najd area are determined to know the ethnic

origin of an individual, and to protect them from mixing from other unknown

ethnicities to them.

The family in the traditional Saudi community

The prevailing form of family in the traditional Saudi community is the extended

family, which is made up of three or more generations, sometimes complexly

formed. It includes a number of brothers, their children, and grandchildren.

The members of the same family used to live in the same common multi-room

house. Often than not, the members of the same nuclear family (husband and

wife and their unmarried children) used to live in the same room. The size of

the house varies depending on the various social and economic standards of

the family (Al-Khateeb, 1981).

Ownership in the traditional Saudi community is a collective ownership

registered in the name of the whole family. The eldest man in the family is the

absolute master in terms of decisions about the family’s properties. However,

all have the right to benefit from this property, including land, date trees,

agriculture, wells, cattle, etc.

Marriage is the first step in family formation. The traditional Saudi community

looks at marriage with respect and veneration. For that, fathers in all of the

pastoral, rural, and urban regions used to insist on marrying their sons and

daughters at an early age. According to the Saudi community, marriage is

a rule of life, and a kind of protection for man and woman from deviation.

The preferred marital age used to be 14 to 16 for girls and 16 to 18 for boys.

Prearranged marriage was the prevailing type of marriage in the past, and often


than not the eldest man of the family used to make the marriage decision on

behalf of their sons and daughters. The opinion of the young man or lady did

not used to be taken in the marriage decision, and often the young lady knew

that at her wedding night (Al-Khateeb, 1981).

Owing to the fact that marriage in the Saudi community is not merely a relation

between two individuals but a tie between two families, internal marriage, i.e.

marriage from within the tribe or clan, especially marriage with the father’s

brother’s daughter (cross-cousin marriage) used to be the prevailing and

preferred kind of marriage.

The dowry in the traditional Saudi community was characterized by simplicity

and lack of complication. A girl’s dowry varies according to the social standard

of the girl’s family, and from pastoral, rural, and urban areas. In pastoral areas, a

girl’s dowry did not used to be more than one or two she-camels and a zuliyya (a

carpet) while the dowry of the tribe’s sheiks’ daughter was a farda (a golden rein

worn from the nose to the hair), a hindiyya (a kind of golden pound necklace),

and a number of cattle heads that can exceed twenty (Al-Khateeb, 1981).

In rural areas, a girl’s dowry used to be a zuliyya (a carpet), some silver bracelets,

a brazier, a clothing box, or money between 5 and 10 Saudi riyals. However,

a girl’s dowry in urban areas used to be mostly in money, consisting in some

Saudi riyals, some French francs, and some cloth and cloaks. The dowry goes

up and down with the girl’s family’s position.

One of the characteristic phenomena in the traditional Saudi community was

the rate of fertility. Girls were prepared from early puberty to believe that their

main role in life was to be a mother and a housewife. This was the main function

for which she was created, so she tended to give birth to a lot of children.

A woman used to spend most of her period of fertility between 15 and 50


continuously giving birth to children, which meant that she normally would

give birth to from 10 to 15 children. Breast feeding used to be woman’s only

natural means of contraception. In spite of the high rate of birth, child mortality

rate was high. Women used to give birth to 10 or 12 children, but only 3 or

4 children survived. In the traditional Saudi community, the rate of abortion

used to be very high for many reasons: the many jobs that women used to be

overburdened with, shortage of food, lack of rest between one pregnancy and

another, and decreasing medical services. Unfortunately, there are no statistics

to evidence this. However, most of the informants that I met with from the

pastoral, rural, and urban communities confirm this (Al-Khateeb, 1997).

The Saudi community theoretically believes that the main role of the woman is

reduced to being a mother and a housewife. In reality, poverty and starvation

prevailing in the traditional Saudi community before the advent of oil, pushed

both woman and man to work hard together to provide for the needs of their

family. In all of the pastoral, rural, and urban communities, woman used to

permanently work from daybreak to sunset to provide for the needs of her

family (Al-Khateeb, 1997).

Factors of change in the Saudi community

The Kingdom witnessed several factors of change, which can be classified

under two main factors: internal and external.

First: Internal factors

The Kingdom witnessed several factors of internal change, namely the political

and economic factors, which impacted the social structure in the Kingdom.

1. Political factor

The political factor, which consisted in the unification of all the regions in

the Arabian Peninsula under the same government of the Kingdom of Saudi


Arabia by the late King Abdulaziz, played an important role in the history

of the Kingdom. King Abdulaziz insightfully realized that it was difficult to

establish a modern state in a country where the majority of its inhabitants live

on pasture, travel, and decampment. Thus, he encouraged the Bedouins to

adopt a sedentary life, and remain in one part of their homes in the vicinity of

a water well, sending them sheiks and material aid. He formed what is known

as “hajr” (i.e. settlement of the Bedouins on land), which helped decrease the

rate of Bedouins year after year, with 200 settlements appearing during the

reign of King Abdulaziz (Al-Khateeb, 1981).

The establishment of the Kingdom was accompanied by several changes

in the organizational structure of the state, the foundation of ministries, the

establishment of institutions, and the setting up of laws and bylaws that aimed

at organizing the official internal and external relations.

The government of the Kingdom drew its laws and bylaws form the Islamic

Law, which makes Saudi Arabia one of the few states in the world to implement

the teachings of the Islamic Law. The most important sources of the Islamic

Law are the Koran, the Sunna (Prophet’s tradition), and jurisprudence. The

Hanbali creed is the official creed of the state, which is regarded as the most

conservative creed in its jurisprudence.

2. Economic factor

The economic factor, which consists in the discovery of oil, is regarded as a

turning point in the life of the Saudi community, enabling it to move from a

limited subsistence-based economy to an affluence-based economy.

The inhabitants’ economic activities led individuals to change jobs. Jobs

changed from being inherited to being acquired, and from collective to

individual. Jobs stopped being dependent on pasture and agriculture, and


included areas such as commerce, industry, minerals, the military, education,

health, social work, politics, art, etc.

Second: External factors

The advent of globalization and the tremendous scientific and technological

progress across the world such as satellite channels, the World Wide Web

(Internet), and other modern means of communication, led the world

countries to open up on each other culturally, socially, and economically.

Globalization greatly contributed to the openness of the conservative Saudi

community rapidly and unexpectedly on to other cultures, and citizens were

able to effortlessly get acquainted with the news of the world. The revolution

in communication and information led to an influx into the family of good

and bad news, information, cultural programs, and promotional, romantic,

detective, and pornographic films, which impacted the individuals’ values,

behaviors, and practices. This cultural invasion and the sudden move from

an insulated conservative community to a community open on various

communities and cultures led to a change in the system of values, and

negatively impacted the stability and balance of the community (Orabi and

Al-Amri, 2001).

Important changes in the Saudi community

The Kingdom witnessed several constructive changes in the organizational

structure of the community. The most important changes that occurred in the

community at large are the following:

Weakening of the tribe’s political role

In the traditional Saudi community, the tribe used to play an important role.

With the change in the inhabitants’ economic activity, the power of the tribe

has weakened as a political-economic unit, and has been reduced to a social


ole only. The tribe has stopped being a source of protection for the individual,

and the state has become the sole and first body responsible for the protection

of citizens.

State’s adoption of several five-year developmental plans

With the rise of the national income of the Kingdom and the rise in the price

of oil globally, the state has adopted a number of five-year plans whose main

purpose was to raise the citizens’ standard of living and set up the infrastructure

of the community. The government set up the first five-year growth plan in

1970, and plans succeeded each other to reach 8 plans in 2010.

Increase in the rate of urbanization

One of the characteristic phenomena that accompanied the establishment of

the Saudi state was an increase in the rate of urbanization in the community.

The supply of job opportunities in greater numbers in cities and the

availability of several services encouraged many citizens to emigrate from

pastoral and rural areas to cities to enjoy their services and to seek for better

job opportunities. Official statistics indicate that inhabitants are centered in

three main administrative regions, which are Riyadh, Mecca, and the eastern

regions. The rate of inhabitants in these three regions is 64% of the overall

population of the Kingdom in 2004 (1425H).

Spread of education

The journey of education in the Kingdom started with the creation of the first

private school for boys in Hijaz in 1903. This was followed by the establishment

of several schools at various educational levels across the regions of the

Kingdom. The first private girl school was created in 1965.

With the advent of girls’ education in the Kingdom, most instructors were

expatriates on contract and very few Saudis whose family conditions enabled


them to study in other Arab countries such as Egypt, Syria, and Iraq. In 1960,

52 schools were established across the regions of the Kingdom, employing

148 female instructors. In 1970, the number of schools rose to 511, employing

4,900 female instructors. In 1990, the number of schools went up to 7,540,

employing 96,200 female instructors. In 2005, the number of schools reached

13,480, employing 214, 900 female instructors.

Woman’s employment

One of the most important changes that accompanied the education of

woman in the Saudi community is her being employed against a salary.

Official statistics indicate that the majority of Saudi women (89%) prefer to

work in the public sector, where the work environment is consolidated by laws

and regulations, job stability, incentives, and services. Some 31,1% of the civil

service is occupied by women.

Woman works in the Saudi community in specific jobs such as education,

health, and social services, which are the sectors that are thought to match

her being a female. The rate of women employed in the educational sector

is 83,34%, followed by high-ranked female officials (5,53%), jobs in the health

sector (5,36%), and faculty members at universities (1,90%) in the civil service

sector in the state (Al-Jeel Center for Consultancy, 2005, p. 106). The rate of

women working at Saudi universities amounts to 24,5% of the overall number

of faculty members (Eighth Five-Year Plan, 2005-2009).

The economic participation of woman is not restricted to contributing only

to the public sector. Woman also contributes to the private sector. However,

she constitutes 5% of the workforce in this sector in 2005. Official data indicate

that the females’ money invested is approximately SR42 Billion of the female

accounts deposited in banks, which amount to SR100 Billion (Al-Husseini, 2007).

The number of commercial registers in the names of women is over 22,500,


epresenting 4,7% of the number of registered establishments at the Chamber

of Commerce and Industry in the Kingdom (Eighth Five-Year Plan, 2005-2009,

p. 375). The number of ladies that have a current bank account amounts to

12%, those owning investment funds amount to 20% of the total number of

funds, and those owning real estate amount to 40%. Businesswomen own

approximately 20,000 small or medium companies or institutions. The size of

female investment reaches SR8 Billion representing 21% of the size of overall

investment of the private sector in the Kingdom. The value of investment in real

estate for ladies amounts to approximately SR120 Billion (he Middle East, 2007).

Social changes and their impact on the Saudi family

The various changes that occurred in the Saudi community have had their

direct and indirect impacts on the Saudi family. As a social system, the family

has greatly impacted and been impacted by the changes that occurred to

the social structure. This section will show the most important changes that

occurred to the family structure, functions, and interrelations between its


Changes in the style of houses and their equipment

The economic boom that invaded the Saudi community led to a change in

the size and shape of houses, so they changed from mud houses to modern

concrete ones, built according to the most modern Western and Eastern

styles. Furniture has witnessed a change from being simple consisting in rugs

and straw mats mostly made by Bedouin women, to being imported from all

over the world.

House ownership

With the changes witnessed in the Saudi community, ownership has changed

from a collective to an individual form of ownership. The most important

causes of the fragmentation of property are: the spread of education,


emergence of individual jobs for children, emigration of many citizens from

pastoral and rural areas to urban areas, as well as the shift from an extended

to a nuclear family. All these factors have encouraged the fragmentation of

property and the emergence of individual property. Several families divided

inheritance among their children, which resulted in many “big,” deeply-rooted

families in the past losing their economic positions in the contemporary Saudi

community. Wealth has come to be in the hands of a group of individuals that

own wealth and power.

Emergence of domestic servants

The financial boom that occurred in the Saudi community has helped the

emergence of domestic servants (house maids). In the traditional Saudi

community, the phenomenon of domestic service was not common. After the

discovery of oil, owing to the size of the houses and the fact that women work

as educators, it was possible for many families with financial means to bring in

house maids from some Arab countries such as Egypt, Morocco, and Ethiopia

or from some East Asian countries such as India, Indonesia, Philippines, Sri

Lanka, Bangladesh, and others. Having maids is not restricted to the rich only,

but extends to the various social layers: in the countryside, in rural areas, and

in cities.

Change in the family’s form

The changes that occurred to the Saudi community led to a change in the form

of the family. The most common type of family in the past was the extended

one. The most common type now is the nuclear family made up of father and

mother and unmarried children.

Rate of fertility in the family

The rate of fertility is still very high in the Kingdom if compared to other countries.

The population of the Kingdom went from 7 million inhabitants in 1974 to 27,136


million in 2010, of whom 18,707 million are Saudi citizens and 8,429 million are

non-Saudis (Al-Riyadh, 2010). The increase in the rate of fertility among women,

which is estimated at 4.8 children for each woman, owes much to various factors,

most important of which is the increase in the rate of illiteracy among women.

It is estimated that illiteracy among women is 28.9% of the overall number of

females (Ministry of Economy and Planning, 2009, p. 367). There still prevails

among many families the view that children are a pride, and woman’s pride is

giving birth to many children especially males. Prevailing religious explanations

consolidate giving birth to many children, exemplifying that from God Almighty’s

saying: “Wealth and sons are allurements of the life of this world.” Official statistics

indicate that the mean average of a family in the countryside is 7.5 and in the

cities 6.8 (Ministry of Economy and Planning, 2009, p. 335).


The conception of marriage in the contemporary Saudi community is the same

as its past counterpart. Woman perceives marriage as a rule of life, a necessity

to enjoy through it her life as a human being. When asking a group of mothers

on their conception of marriage, I realized that marriage among the generation

of mothers has a certain sanctity about it and is important for a woman:

Hissa, educator and mother of 5 children, depicts marriage as follows: “Marriage

is psychological stability. One’s femininity is only complete with marriage. I

never felt myself as a female before I got married and had a separate home.”

Suad, housewife and mother of 7 children, describes the importance of

marriage for woman as follows: “Marriage is the rule of life. If woman stays a

long time unmarried, her condition will not change in the future. Woman’s

condition only changes through marriage. She will have a home and children.

Only through marriage can woman travel and go anywhere.”


When I asked students about their conception of marriage, I realized that theirs

and their mothers’ are not different. Their mothers think that marriage is an urgent

economic, social, and cultural necessity since woman is in need of a man primarily

to provide for her needs, form a family, and give birth to children. Likewise, today’s

young lady desires marriage for social and psychological stability on condition

that the husband is suitable, otherwise it is better for her to stay unmarried.

Education and work offered woman other alternatives for a living. The social

constraints imposed on woman may have a role to play in woman’s feeling that

marriage is important, which can be grasped from some students’ wording:

Suad, a student, explains her conception of marriage as follows: “For me,

marriage is very important. If one of us does not marry, one will feel the others’

looks asking one why one has not married so far. Certainly one presents a

defect. Marriage assists me in proving myself.”

Wafa, a student, thinks of the importance of marriage as follows: “Marriage is

important for a young lady if the man is suitable. However, owing to cases of

divorce these days, one has become scared of marriage. One says to oneself

why marry today to divorce tomorrow. Let me stay in my father’ home among

my family members duly respected and honored.”

The most common kind of marriage in the traditional Saudi community is

marriage within the family, especially cross-cousin marriage. In the modern

Saudi community, there is a tendency to marry from outside the family.

However, cross-cousin marriage is still practiced in the modern Saudi

community alongside marriage from outside the family.


In the past, polygamy used to be restricted to tribes’ sheiks and rich merchants

only (Al-Khateeb, 1982). With the discovery of oil and urban development,


however, marrying more than one woman started increasing between 1947

and 1970. It was natural at the time to find a man married to more than one

woman. However, with the spread of education, woman’s work, expensive

dowries, and increase in life expenses, polygamy started subsiding.

The most common way of marrying in the contemporary Saudi community

is still prearranged marriage by parents, who greatly contribute to choosing

their son’s wife. Usually, it is the mother and sister who choose the future

wife to the son and brother. There have emerged, however, cases of marriage

for love via acquaintance between the two sexes, which usually takes effect

through mobiles, Internet, or travel abroad, and other means of modern

communication that facilitate acquaintance between the two sexes. But these

means are still limited and rare in scope compared to prearranged marriage.

High dowry phenomenon

The economic boom helped the mean dowry to go up. The mean dowry

for a young lady in the lowest layer of the community is between SR10,000

and SR20,000, and the mean dowry in the middle layer is between SR30,000

and SR50,000. This does not include the engagement and wedding rings,

gifts, and preparation of the marital home, which could cost the young man

between SR100,000 and SR150,000. However, the mean dowry for a young

lady among affluent families of the community could cost between SR150,000

and SR200,000, exclusive of the engagement and wedding rings, gifts, and

preparation of the marital home.

This phenomenon of high dowries and the high cost of weddings have driven

some Saudi men to marry from outside the Kingdom such as from Syria, Egypt,

Morocco, Yemen, or Indonesia, etc. Doubtless, some of these marriages may

end up in failure owing to the differences in traditions, customs, lack of social

parity, sufferance and problems that the wife faces up in her new conditions


and the restrictions imposed on her in her movements and travel (Al-Abdalli,

Husband-wife relations

Husband-wife relations within the family in the traditional Saudi community

were characterized by fear and deference on the part of woman. Man used to

make all the family’s internal and external decisions. However, with the spread

of education and the change in the form of the family from extended to nuclear

family, there has emerged a kind of independence and co-participation within

the family, and woman has started contributing more to decision-making.

Hissa, mother of 5, describes the difference between her relation with her

husband and that of her father with her mother as follows: “My relation with

my husband differs from that of my father with my mother. My father was

kind and loving, but I always felt that he was somewhat authoritative. And if

my mother had not been kind, she would not have been stayed with him. He

always made us feel that favors went to him, and that he was the first in the

house. However, my husband is different. He respects me, and takes my advice

in everything.”

Afaf describes her relation with her husband and its being different from that

between her mother and father, saying: “My relation with my husband greatly

differs from that between my mother and father. My mother thinks that it is

not her right to ask her husband about his whereabouts, and believes that

since he has opened a house for her it is not her right to call him to account

or ask him. I feel that it is my right to know about his whereabouts. My mother

does not know about her husband’s friends. When he came in, she never

asked him where he was. There was no co-participation between husband

and wife in life or problems. The man solves all the problems; the woman is

responsible for the house, children, and cooking. It used to be easier; now we


contribute to everything. We assume the responsibility of the house, children,

and contribute to solving the husband’s problems. But the man’s perception

of woman has not changed. It is woman’s way of thinking that has changed.

However, man’s perception of woman has not changed.

Children-parents relationships

Children-parents relationships within the family in the traditional Saudi

community were characterized by toughness and severity. The relation was

vertical, showing a lot of respect for, fear from, and obedience to the father on

the part of children. As a father, man is all authoritative, and keeps the family

under control. The mother is a source of affection and care for the children.

From their early age, girls are trained to contribute to housework, and the boys

accompany their father to the mosque or to work either in pastoral or rural areas.

However, with the spread of education and openness on the outside world

through the various written and visual means of communication and the

spread of satellite channels, the relation between members of the same family

has changed. It has become characterized by individualism and independence,

and parents-children relations are distinguished by the existence of tolerance

and democracy.

Hila, a mother of one of the students, a secondary school instructor, and

mother of 4 children, describes the different styles of social upbringing in the

past and now as follows: “Today’s children have everything. The kind of life our

children are leading is different than ours. Now TV plays a major role in the

upbringing of children, who have learnt a lot from TV. In the past, we used

to spend our time with our family since we had nothing to do. We used to

read for our mistress out of admiration, and the school played an important

role in the upbringing of children. Now the school does not assume the same

importance. I remember that when the mistress used to talk we never used


to raise our eyes and look at her. Now she comes, she talks to the student,

who argues with her and does not stop talking. The student’s parent comes

in and argues. There is no more dignity about being a mistress. Each kind of

education has its pros and cons. In general, notwithstanding luxury, our times

were better. Now they have everything, but we were better. Now the family

has disintegrated. Each one thinks about oneself. Nowadays many parents do

not know the level at which their children are. If you asked anyone of them:

What level is your child at? He would answer: I swear to God, I don’t know.

By the past, the father used to revise for his children, and sit with them to

ascertain that they did their homework. Now the father is most of the time

outside the house, and the mother is busy with shopping and visiting while

the children are with the house maids.

Relations among relatives

Relations among relatives within the family in the traditional Saudi community

were characterized by cohesion and solidarity. The members of the same clan

used to consider themselves as part of one family, collaborating for better and

for worse. Now, as a result of urban development, urban expansion of towns,

and the geographic distance between houses, relations between relatives

especially with uncles on the mother and father sides have weakened, and

have become restricted to a great extent to close relatives such as parents

in first position, brothers and sisters in second position, and uncles on the

mother and father sides in third position.

Change in the functions of the family

The family in the Saudi community still keeps some important functions such as

social upbringing, biological function, and emotional function. The individual

draws his feeling of security and stability from the family. The family still plays

a major role in determining the social stance of the individual. And the family

is still the main source of love and affection. However, the economic changes


that occurred in the Saudi community have had an important effect on the

form and functions of the family, which lost many of its traditional functions.

The family is no more a productive economic unit, but a consumptive unit

importing most of its needs from outside the Kingdom. What distinguishes

this era is the multiplicity of institutions that compete with the family, and

play an important role in socially upbringing children such as the school, the

mosque, the mass media, and the circle of friends. The family is no more the

only unit responsible for the education of children. Schools from kindergarten

to junior high school up to university educate children and provide them with

various kinds of knowledge, science, and skills. The family no more inculcates

religious values in the individual, but schools, mass media, and mosques

greatly contribute to inculcating religious values in our children’s minds. The

protection of the individual is no more the family’s responsibility only, but

this responsibility is also incumbent to all the state’s bodies. The family is no

more responsible for means of entertainment but TV and satellite channels

occupy most of our free time, and each individual is seeking for pleasure and

entertainment in his or her own way.

System of values

Values in the Kingdom are drawn from two main sources: the teachings of the

Islamic Law and tribal values. The teachings of the Islamic Law appear in the

various walks of life of the Saudi community. A Saudi individual is a Muslim by

nature, which can be observed in individuals’ behaviors, speech, perseverance

in doing their prayers at their set times, the Saudi outfit, closing shops in times

of prayer, transactions with others, the religious expressions available in most

offices, hospitals, and public places.

The rapid consecutives changes that occurred in the Saudi community and

openness on other countries have led to a change in the system of values.

The most important values that have emerged in the contemporary Saudi


community are dependence and negativity among the youth of both sexes.

Individualism and selfishness have dominated individuals, and materialism

has overruled values. Individuals are valued for what property they own not

for what the principles and values they believe in, and the principle of gain

and loss has controlled the minds of individuals and their relations.


The Saudi community has witnessed tremendous changes in a very short time. The

community has been faced not only with internal factors of change that consist

in the unification of the Kingdom under the leadership of late King Abdulaziz, and

the discovery of oil and ensuing economic boom, but also with external factors

that consist in globalization, tremendous scientific and technological progress

that have led to the openness of the Saudi community on various cultures.

These factors have led to the emergence of several changes in the community.

The rate of change at the material level such as the road infrastructure,

urban development, establishments, buildings, houses, furniture, has been

following a quick pace while at the non-material level such as the conception

of marriage, giving birth to children, and the relations between husband and

wife, has followed a slower pace.

The rapid and sudden change in the community has also led to a nonstandard

situation, estrangement, and lack of clear vision and objectives among

many individuals, which led to the emergence of some problems that were

unknown to the traditional Saudi community such as unemployment, feeling

of deprivation, shrinking of the middle class, divorce, increase in the rate of

perversion and crime, emergence of some types of marriages such as almisyar

and al-misyaf, and other problems that affect the Saudi community

negatively and threaten its stability and cohesion.



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Cultural Change

in the Saudi


Change as individual


Nesrine Yaqub


The current article aims at clarifying the

role of the individual in making cultural

change happen in the community

in general, exemplifying this through

concrete examples from the Saudi

community in particular.

The transitory stages through which an individual goes in any change have

been discussed, clarifying the most influential psychological features that

make the operation of change difficult.

Many social and psychological studies have emphasized the importance of

the individual in transferring or changing culture since he or she strives to

preserve his/her culture, be that positive or negative, if he/she believes that

the problem-solving techniques, the way of life, the way of work, and the

practices and experiences that he/she knows are far better than anything

new that falls in the domain of the unknown, and requires several types of


An individual’s skills, flexibility, and emotional maturity clearly impact his/

her capacity to understand and accept change. In order to make projected

change happen in any culture, its individuals should show flexibility that

enables them to open up on the other and dream and imagine positive

dimensions to change. They should also grasp the benefits and positives of

any developmental plan before its negatives and repercussions in order not to

resist novelties. In this study, concrete examples from the Saudi culture have

been mentioned, in which resistance to change has been clear. This resistance


may not be deliberate, conscious, or representative of all members of the

community. However, it is resistance that has psychological roots shared

among humankind in all cultures, independently of individual differences

among members of the same community and the differences among various


The theoretical analyzes of the role of the individual in change in the current

study have been backed by a pilot study that the researcher has done on a

sample of 30 female faculty members from various Saudi universities and

at different scientific ranks to investigate changes that are being made

in institutions of higher education such as academic accreditation, and

improvement of methods of teaching and curricula. The researcher use the

focus groups technique, whereby she met three times with 10 different faculty

members, making provision for variety in academic rank and establishment or

institution to which the faculty belong to. One of the most important results

is that the researcher found that the population of the study had no problem

with understanding change as a positive thing, and that they were going

through the stages of change that Fisher (2000) calls as basic. However, some

of them, especially those who had a higher academic rank, hold insensible

beliefs in facing up to life problems and dynamic events around them (1961),

which makes change far more difficult. Such beliefs include thinking that

reality cannot be bettered, that change is ideal or will not take place, or that

there is one solution only to the problem, and other ways of thinking that

make interaction with change difficult.

According to most estimations, 50-70% of initiatives of change that occurred

in companies in the 1980s and 1990s show that two-thirds of the efforts that

were made in restructuring these companies failed to meet the projected

results. However, the practitioners of re-engineering in those companies

stated that the rate of success out of 1,000 companies was 5% or 20% (Dr.


Tarek Al-Sweedan, 2001, p. 11). This is amenable to resistance to change, i.e.

the lack of responsiveness of individuals to change. The change operation is

not an easy thing because it is very likely to attract resistance on the part of

individuals or groups in the very same institution.

It has transpired from previous studies and what many such as scholars and

researchers in psychology and sociology that the policy of change, in particular

the cultural and social components, is subject to resistance by individuals

of its community depending on individuals’ skills in understanding change

and capacity to grasp the requirements of change as well as the existence

of psychological and personal features that make change difficult, which

costs decision-makers and developmental plans builders a lot of efforts, time,

and money to attain the desired results. We believe that the government of

the Kingdom is justified in allocating 50% of its budget to promote human

resources according to the ninth developmental plan. This is a clear indicator of

the individual’s role in making developmental plans a success if development

is to take place both materially and morally.

Since the individual both protects and carries what is familiar and traditional and

is the motor of and contributor to change, it is crucial to cast light on the most

important psychological impediments and obstacles to change that preclude

individuals from accepting change in order for us to understand the things that

should be taken into account in setting up futuristic developmental plans.


In all countries in the world, man is the wealth of the future. Investing in him

is regarded as a civilizational indicator for nations’ excellence. Successful

investment is one that depends on a number of factors, most important of

which is obviously man that constitutes the foundation on which various

establishments are based. This individual is not born an adult, but small


in accordance with the essence of life and creation out of a mere clot of

congealed blood but grows up. What is meant here by growth is not bodily

growth only since man will not be of any good use to his community and

country if psychological, educational, and cultural care is not taken of him so

as to be a worthwhile investment and sure and successful breadwinner in

order to become a civilizational project.

Starting from the Kingdom’s experience in investing in the individual as the

main resource in the community, the ninth developmental plan has allocated

approximately SR1444,6 Billion for sectors of development, with 67% increase

over what was allocated for the eighth plan, whereby the development of

human resources reaped the biggest share (50,6%) from the overall allocations.

The ninth developmental plan starts from vital points that will ensure a

widespread success on all levels. It includes an evaluation of the methodology,

supporting studies, databases, statistical information, consolidation of public

and private institutions, and continuous strategic development of the plan

based on views of reality and the future. Although the work of the ninth

developmental plan is regarded as promising and organized, there is need to

go back to the most important factor of growth and change: the individual.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia believes that the individual is one of the most

important factors to be taken into account in its developmental plans to

ensure a coherent cultural change. Several statistics drawn from the Ministry of

Economy and Planning in its eighth and ninth plans showed that the woman,

the family, education, and the child attracted a lot of interest and focus. The

Ministry of Economy and Planning discussed the most important dimensions

and factors of development that have been taken into consideration while

establishing a realistic and futuristic view of development. Many think that

the indicator of development lies in criteria of urbanism, which is known as

urban development or the extent to which indications of urban development


such as cities, roads, bridges, dams, airports, factories, etc. are established by

states or nations. Such material achievements are indicators of development,

abstracting away from or feigning to forget the human factor, which is the

actual creator of all these achievements. So it is appropriate to determine this

conception before continuing this talk. Genuine development as an indicator

for human and civilizational development lies in the extent to which human

knowledge and expertise are developed (Ministry of Higher Education,

National Comprehensive Report on Higher Education in the Kingdom of Saudi

Arabia, 1999-2000, p. 3).


The researcher aims to focus on the most important psychological barriers that

make change a selective operation, with individuals as obstacles to change

for the better. Many authors and researchers have indicated that change in

developing countries is considered positive, but it takes place mostly in the

material side rather than the moral one (Salwa Al-Khateeb, 2006), with the

psychological heritage remaining generation after generation stronger in

power and effect than developmental plans and change for the better. The

researcher has done an exploratory study on a sample of faculty members

in the Kingdom to discuss the psychological futuristic views about academic

accreditation to cast light on the importance of the individual’s role in making

change happen in one of the most important social institutions concerned

with upbringing and culture in the community.

Human resources in developmental plans in the Kingdom

If we want to get acquainted with the mechanisms of this orientation favored

by the Kingdom to develop human resources, we will find many statistics

emphasizing the fact that developing human resources has become a central

interest. The number of official public establishments that host children at the

kindergarten level has increased, and plans have been made to admit expected


numbers in the future as shown in Table (1). In addition, Table (2) shows the

number of enrolled high school students in the eighth developmental plan,

and Figure (1) shows the sustained increase in the number of enrolled high

school students in the ninth developmental plan. In Table (3) and Table (4),

the indicator of available academic and professional specializations in higher

education is shown for both sexes.


Table (1)

Expected demands on kindergarten (enrolled children)

Region 2009 2014

Riyadh 33567 48668

Mecca 24333 37610

Al-Medina 5256 7704

Al-Qaseem 4397 6704

Al-Sharguiyya 17951 23853

Aseer 4678 8731

Tabuk 3010 4553

Haiel 1339 2989

Northern borders 1495 3559

Al-Jazan 3001 4989

Najran 1372 1715

Al-Baha 978 1774

Al-Jawf 1768 3053

Overall Total 103145 155902

Source: Ministry of Economy and Planning

Table (2)

Progress in elementary school, junior high school, and high school

in the eighth developmental plan

2004 2008 Mean annual increase rate (%)

Number of schools 23955 25902 2,00

Number of classrooms

Number of freshmen

196087 212109 2,00

Elementary school 402356 420008 1,10

Junior high school 336247 385519 3,80

High school

Number of enrolled students

306671 330511 1,90

Elementary school 2385501 2469863 0,90

Junior high school 1078062 1188898 2,50

High school 982131 1058514 4,40

Total 4355658 4717275 2,00

High school graduates 239379 321043 7,60

Number of tutors 379538 436562 3,60

Saudization among tutors (%) 93 94,3

Source: Annual statistical reports of the Ministry of Education


Field of study







Social sciences,

Commerce, and Law

Main programs



Grand Total


Table (3)

Structure of specilizations in higher education



































Source: Ministry of Higher Education

Bachelor’s degree


































Graduate studies


































Table (4)

Training activities of the Public Institution for Technical and Professional Training (Eighth

Developmental Plan)*

Number of

training units






































*Up to the 4th year in the Eighth Developmental Plan





















However, based on the many issues and challenges that impede the Kingdom’s

ascension to global competition emphasized by the Plan, people interested

in the Kingdom’s psychological and material development have been greatly

concerned about several gaps.

There was, thus, need to raise the educational level of the work force; to

consolidate the Saudi woman’s participation in many fields in accordance with

woman’s indicator of contribution to the job market; to promote investment in

research, development, and innovation since there is an insufficient number

of specialists in science and engineering; and to strengthen the relation









etween the academic community and the business community. These are

some of the most important issues that should be emphasized.

In spite of the multiplicity of elements and conditions of change, the individual

as a motor and carrier of all sorts of change will monopolize the interest and

focus of the current article. Light will be cast on the psychological features

and barriers that might impede the individual’s acceptance of change. Since

the State’s efforts are tremendous and ambitious, visions and conceptions

should, as much as possible, aid to lighten up the psychological barriers since

human resources have had the lion’s share (50%) from the State’s budget in

the Ninth Developmental Plan. Since cultural change or any other change in

a community is a function of the individual’s conviction and psychological

readiness in order to be both the carrier and the device of change, Estitiyya

(2004) believes that cultural change is a selective operation, i.e. individuals

accept what they think is beneficent and in harmony with their values.

The concept of cultural change

Holtcranz thinks that cultural change is a sort of shift that touches all the

changes that occur in any of the branches of culture, including arts, science,

philosophy, and technology as well as the images and laws of change and the

very social organization. It also involves all the changes that occur in the forms

and rules of the social system. Cultural change expresses the changes that

occur in the branches of culture, i.e. in its construction, elements, or content.

The speed, size, and fields of cultural change vary from one society to another

(Estitiyya, 2004).

Historical overview of the development of the concept of cultural change

One of the most prominent Arab thinkers that dealt with change is Ibn Khaldoun.

He was concerned with sustained promotion and the history of humanity, and

paved the way for a new conception of change. In early modern times, change


was dealt with as a progressive perspective and as a sustained progress, and

that man can change the social system. Many modernist thinkers in the 17th

century, such as Francis Bacon, espoused this opinion, which became clearer

in the work of French thinkers in the 18th century. Anthropologists used to

believe that primitive man lived a fixed life drawing its fixedness from that of

the culture. Spencer, a developmental thinker, stated that primitive man was

conservative at heart, and was reluctant to change.

To rectify their denial of change, anthropologists admitted the occurrence of

change in primitive societies. Frantz Boaz was one of the proponents of this

trend, together with proponents of the theory of dissemination in the study

of cultural change. However, functionalists completed the scientific picture by

focusing on seminal methodological rules for cultural change and its issues.

Malinowsky is one of the proponents of this trend in the mid 20th century.

Factors of cultural change

Cultural change refers to any change that impacts the essence or structure of

a given culture. It relies on external factors such as dissemination and internal

ones such as invention, which are two connected factors. Dissemination

means change through full cultural contact, i.e. contact between two cultures

that leads up to an increase in similarities between most cultural fields. This

concept includes cultural borrowing.

However, invention is a new addition to the live human knowledge repertoire

across human history. It will only become a causal factor for social change

after it is used by the community members. It can also be considered one

of the factors of internal change, which is a new synthesis of two or more

cultural features that are used in increasing actually existing knowledge. It

is characterized by continuity as an operation that depends on cumulative

experience and knowledge as well as on previous inventions.


There are two levels of change: the level of individual’s early life, whereby

an individual acquires his culture’s systems and adapts to them, which is

regarded as a tool to preserve culture, and the level of reason, which performs

a role and copes with re-adaptation more than adaptation. This conscious

level is regarded as an open window on cultural change. It is at this level that

the psychological mechanisms that determine human behavior appear and

determine its broad lines, and drive the individual to accept or reject a new

idea (Estitiyya, 2004).

Directions of change

With regard to directions of change, Auguste Comte, Sir Henry Spencer,

and Durkheim think that humanity fares spontaneously and progressively.

Progress for them is a social one toward a given objective. This progress abides

by obligatory laws that determine its extent and speed, which is the sustained

projected direction to this change. It is in contrast to other theories that see it

slow and circular.

Psychological theories see social change as essentially occurring in the

individual since it is individuals who cause change and change themselves. Thus,

there is a place for psychological factors in social, cultural, and developmental

change. The development of nations and promotion of peoples rely on the

growth of the personality of their citizens and their human capabilities. It may

be the case in developing countries that the main problem is not as much

poverty in natural resources as backwardness in their human resources. In

order for a country to develop, it should develop its human capital (Harbson,

1966), which is confirmed by Gilford (1965) and Torrence (1977) who indicated

that nothing can raise the level of welfare of nations and peoples and realize

satisfaction and psychological health more than raising the performance level

of these peoples in all fields so that they are enabled to face up to numerous

and varied problems in the world of knowledge and inhabitants explosions.


Evert Hagen focused on the role of modernists in making social change happen

since there should be a strong tie between the nature of social construction

and type of personality, whereby it can be said that the social construction

cannot be changed without changing the personality. Change is tied up to

psychological factors, i.e. it creates types of personality that are capable of

novelty, creativity, curiosity, openness on experience. It should endeavor to

create new solutions, accept existing ones, and solve problems.

However, the theory of an accomplishing community by David McLilned is an

example that leans in his analysis of change in traditional communities toward

psychology. His pivotal point is a drive to accomplish, which is the main motor

for social change. He insisted that economic development, be that in ancient

or modern societies, appears as a result of a previous variable for the need of

accomplishment, which means the ability to individually produce economic

accomplishments that create economic development. Thus, if we want to

know about the size of social change, we should get to know about the size of

the drive for accomplishment among individuals.

Change-resisting models

An individual’s insistence on keeping his image against social values and

criticism has a clear impact on his capacity to understand and accept change.

Mohamed Al-Ramihi, for instance, showed that seeing values differently

in Kuwait could impede change and social development in general. He

mentioned that the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor did an exploratory

study to measure the direction of applicants for land plots and bank loans

about the extent to which they would like to reside in flats in 1967. The

population of the study was 672 from among 1517 applications for land

plots and bank loans between 1962 and 1967, which is 62% of the overall

applicants. The study involved applicants from the public sector (92,3%) and

the private sector (7,7%) from 22 governmental bodies such as the ministries


of interior, defense, education, health, etc. The sample enjoyed a respectable

educational level. The general result was that 95,5% of the sample refused to

live in flats, and the biggest rate of rejection (67,7%) was because of traditions

and customs, i.e. the values prevailing in the community. Thus, social values

impose a certain model of housing, which can apply to other Arab countries,

i.e. there exist social values that impede social change.

Individuals in this sample from the Kuwaiti community deem it very important

to preserve extended family housing with all their social and material needs,

which may impede social change. The nuclear family, however, leads to the

opposite. In a study on social relations in some Jordanian families, Majdiddin

Khairi surveyed 274 nuclear families living in various urban regions in Amman.

He found that the smallness of the family leads to continuity in professional

progress and the acquisition of new behavioral models, and that the spread

of bureaucratic organization may lead to the formation of the nuclear family,

i.e. change in this perspective is tied up to a great extent with the formation

of the nuclear family, which is a social organization prevailing in advanced

industrial societies.

As mentioned in the introduction to this article, the types of change include

discovery, invention, and dissemination. Finki (1990, 37) believes that man,

contrary to other entities, can transcend the real and build mental models that

help him improve and develop the present. With imagination, man was able

to invade the real with the unreal. Young and Powell explain that imagination

is a psychological activity that is closely tied with all the various other human

activities, especially mental and knowledge activities.

Imagination is an integral component of mental and knowledge activities,

and one of the pillars of psychological development. It is closely linked with

all human activities, especially mental activity (Saber Hijazi Abdulmula).


Imagination may be restricted, in one of the stages of its activity, to retrospective

operations, reflection on the present, or projections into the future. Somer Holf

stresses the importance of imaginative reflection in an individual’s behavior,

advising and guiding the intellect to translate its needs into mental images

of particular situations through which those needs are satiated. Imagination

is distinguished by high spontaneity, constructiveness, creativity, and several

other mental organization operations, whereby it constitutes future plans.

To make projected change happen in any culture, individuals in that culture

should have flexibility that enables them open up on the outside world,

dream about and imagine positive dimensions for change, and grasp the

benefits and positives of any development plan before its drawbacks and

burdens in order to avoid resisting change. In this article, real life examples of

resistance to change from the Saudi culture will be addressed. Such examples

may not be deliberate and conscious and representative of all members of

the community, but they represent resistance that goes back to psychological

reasons shared by human beings in all cultures, independently of individual

and cultural differences.

Lastly, the researcher is in the process of collecting data from a group of faculty

members at King Abdulaziz University on the most prominent problems which

they face in keeping up with total change related to the mechanisms of higher

education in the Kingdom since the change requires high flexibility as well as

commitment and desire to face up to challenges to attain the mechanisms of

academic accreditation. In principle, the initial qualitative analysis of the data

collected from groups that have discussed the dimensions and mechanisms of

change reveals that the faculty members are eager for and enthusiastic about

change, and strongly encourage it. However, in spite of the strong desire of

some of them for change, it remains at the level of enthusiasm on Fisher’s scale

as will be seen later on in the current article, with a mixed feeling of threat and


denial. This may be amenable to several factors such that man, as Albert Ellis

argues, may explain reality unreasonably, and believes that changing things

around him is an impossible enterprise as well as defining failure or error as

the biggest and strongest disaster. In spite of happiness and enthusiasm,

individuals should change their knowledge behavior in explaining events,

pressures, and changes lest they steeply fall from happiness into the stage of

threat and denial. This fall will be a justification that individuals are strongly

convinced that they should follow an irrational explanation of events, which in

itself unfortunately leads individuals to worse stages at Fisher’s scale.

Based on the very data that is being collected, it is believed that perceiving

those ideas and facing up to them is the characteristic of many of them if

the variables of age and academic rank are taken into consideration. New

lecturers and assistants showed a capacity to see clear objectives and things

that concern their own department and their being individuals affiliated to

the institution. We posit here education, schools, and universities as some of

the strongest elements of social imprinting that drives forward the wheel of

cultural change in the community at large.

What is meant by resistance to change

Definition of resistance to change

The main problem that faces most institutions is that change is not an easy

matter because it is likely to be resisted by individuals, groups, or institutions

(Boumedyin Belkebir and Foued Bouftima, 2005), which is a normal and

known phenomenon reflecting reactions opposed to change. This resistance

has been analyzed by many researchers among whom Manfred Kets et al

(1985), who studied this phenomenon psychologically. Psychological analysis

considers the individual as a resistor of development since it leads to an

increase of anxiety in him and imbalance, which drive him to mobilize his

traditional defensive mechanisms (Hedi Bouqalqul, 2005).


From this perspective, resistance to change can be defined as “a normal

emotional response toward what is considered a real or likely danger that

threatens the current work style. Resisting change is as inevitable as change

itself. Man by nature leans toward resisting changing the current situation

(tending toward stability) owing to the disturbance, anxiety, and internal

tension that might be occasioned in an individual’s personality because

of lack of certitude about subsequent outcomes” (Abdussalem Makhloufi

and Abdulkarim Belarbi, 2005; Jameleddin La’wisette, 2003). In this sense,

Daryl Connor, founder and president of the Institutions and Organizations

Development Center and author of Managing at the Speed of Change (1992)

wrote: “We do not resist alien and new things in our life as much as we resist the

outcomes of these changes, which consist in losing control. In reality, it can be

said that the expression “resisting change” as misleading since people do not

resist change as much as they resist its negative outcomes and repercussions.

It is that feeling of fear from ambiguity that comes from losing what is familiar

and normal” (quoted in Tarek Al-Sweedan, 2001, p. 33).

According to most estimates, 50-70% of initiatives of change that occurred in

the 1980s and 1990s in restructuring companies failed to attain the intended

results while engineers responsible for this restructuring in those companies

indicated that the rate of success among 1000 companies was less than 5%

and may reach 20% (Tarek Al-Sweedan, 2001, p. 11). This is due to resistance to

change, i.e. individuals’ lack of responsiveness. Change is not easy since it often

finds resistance from individuals, groups, and institutions.

Example and model of resistance to change

On the educational level, developmental plans and applications for

international academic accreditation have been set up to raise the global

ranking of schools and universities as an expression of the ambitions of those

responsible for education, students, parents, and citizens so that education


meets the developmental needs in the Kingdom. Although the State has

allocated huge funds to this effect, the enthusiasm and transparency of

people responsible for implementation may be the only driving force for this

change, namely teachers.

If we like to survey the psychological reasons that prevent the teacher from

changing the method he or she was taught by as a student and adopted it

and was used to it as a teacher, we will find that many of those psychological

reasons posited by psychologists can be useful in explaining this phenomenon.

This does not mean in the least that the teacher stands as an obstacle in face

of change. On the contrary, many experiments and statistics have evidenced

that the teacher has had a direct role in the success of many curriculum

development and educational developmental plans projects. We would like

to give a good example of an important individual role in driving forward the

wheel of change for the best in one of the most important public institution

that relates to the community, which is regarded as one of the elements

and dimensions of social culture on the one hand, and because of the rapid

development and the pressure to drive growth forward in the educational

facilities in the Kingdom so that desired development is attained at the global

level, on the other hand.

Although the scarcity of information on new plans and their objectives may

lead to the creation of ambiguity for individuals, who do not know how

change takes place and what its objectives are, and although time may

not be suitable for change owing to insufficient preparation for individuals

to accept it, which are all reasons that prevent the individual from being

involved in the operation of change, James O’Toole (1996) thinks that there

are other psychological reasons that constitute stumbling blocks in front of

concerned individuals in any establishment preventing them from meeting

the expectations of decision-makers, planners, financiers.


Some people may think that change is not a normal state, and that things

do not work so well, which gives them anxiety in face of expected change.

Most people are contented with the way the institution works, i.e. they are

happy about it and do not feel the need for change

Those who adopt change may not give enough proof to evidence that

change will benefit all individuals and the institution

For some, change may look like a leap toward the unknown, which scares


Some individuals and groups may think that change will be beneficial to

others but not to them.

Some individuals in the institution may see grow in them the feeling that

they are not up to the new challenges that they face, i.e. they lack selfconfidence

in facing change.

Some may think that change is useless, and that it is vain, artificial, and full

of falsity.

Some individuals do not acknowledge and believe in promises, and want

immediate results. For them, change is based on futuristic promises, so

they do not trust it

Some groups adopt a negative attitude about change, so their members

believe that satisfying the group is more important than change

Some individuals see that change may succeed somewhere else but may

not do so at home because our values are against change


Some individuals benefit from preserving the current status quo at the

institution while change makes them incur losses of current privileges or

lessens them

Some others reject change because it gives them more burdens or requires

of them new knowledge and skills that they do not possess, i.e. they see

change as a threat to them

The individual goes through many stages during change till he or she accepts,

grasps, or rejects it and intellectually retreats totally from its scope till it becomes

an image that overburdens any plan for change and prevents it from seeing

light. John Fisher’s scheme to explain these stages, which will be summed up

briefly, has been welcomed by many psychologists and sociologists. On the

other hand, Albert Ellis emphasized that there are many knowledge behaviors

and extremist irrational beliefs that contribute to impeding the course of life

and accept what happens around us, which makes life more difficult and less

clear to man. The researcher will bring explanations to those ideas and beliefs.

Tasks of the exploratory pilot study

Irrational ideas and beliefs constitute a big problem in facing pressures and

daily life events. Moreover, man goes through the different stages of change,

and needs to be flexible, and ready to accept, understand, and exploit novelties.

As a result, the researcher has hypothesized that there are psychological

impediments that do not enable individuals to safely go through change.

1. The researcher has hypothesized that the individuals who spend a longer

time at the stages of anxiety, threat, denial, and hostility hold irrational ideas

that Albert Ellis argued for, which are as follows:

He or she should be loved and self-sufficient, and should have a high

university degree in order to feel valuable


It is a disaster for individuals that things should not work as they wish

It is easier to evade some difficulties and personal responsibilities than face

up to them

The individual should be reliant on the others, and that there should exist

a stronger person to rely on

Past expertise and events are the main determinants of behavior in the

present, and that the influence of the past cannot be discarded

There is always a good solution to every problem, and this solution should

be found so that the results will not be painful

2. The researcher has also hypothesized that the members of the sample who

are flexible and enjoy a quick passage through the stages of change practice

irrational knowledge behaviors less than others in the sample

3. The researcher has finally hypothesized that holders of university degrees

are more flexible in putting up with the stages of change, and practice less

irrational knowledge behaviors than those students who have just started

their graduate studies

The sample

The sample of the study is made up of 30 faculty members from universities

across the Kingdom and from various specializations and academic ranks. All

in all, it includes 8 teaching assistants, 4 lecturers, 14 assistant professors, and

4 associate professors.

They were met in three batches of 10 members, taking into consideration the

variety of academic rank so that discussions would be rich in different opinions

and experiences. For a batch made up of a majority of assistant professors, at

least two teaching assistants and one associate professor are included (Garvin,



Data collection method (focus group)

The researcher used Ritchie and Lewis’ scale as a model in building discussions

with groups, with a clear difference in scientific contents of their model. It

brought organization to data collection and recording of the sessions with

all groups so as to explain and distribute data on each session. Each session

lasted between 90 and 120 minutes. The beginning, end, and organization of

dialogue for each one was similar for the sake of accuracy so that surrounding

circumstances to the groups would not differ.

Fisher’s transitional curve across stages of change

John Fisher believes that individual’s resistance to change goes through

several stages that are organized independently of the existence of individual

differences in terms of length of each stage and depth of sufferance. The figure

below shows passage between stages.


Fisher thinks that anxiety is the first reaction to resist change when an

individual believes that he or she is incapable of seeing his or her role in

this change, what this role could add to change, whether he or she is apt to

change, and incapable of imagining the future based on this change. Later on,

the individual feels happy, which is a feeling of expectation and excitement

that development should take place and that it is everybody’s dreams that

something exciting and successful should happen, independently of whether

the current situation is positive or negative. There are expectations for the

best, and what is dangerous at this stage is that the individual’s predictions

and ambitions outgrow what he or she may actually gain. Thus, such things

should be explained and coped with realistically since very soon he or she

will go down and feel scared after plans have been set, funds allocated, and

individuals have shown their enthusiasm and expectations about the future.

He or she will begin to think of the size of change required of him or her as

an individual now so that change succeeds. The perception of him or her by

others and his or her self-image begin to suffer and are bound to change.

He or she finds himself or herself trying to make small changes in behavior

happen, which may not be enough to drive the wheel of change forward. The

stage of threat to the individual starts, with change in life style and old style as

contemporaneous with new desirable criteria, rules, and change plan, but they

have not been yet established realistically from his or her own perspective.

It is here that the feeling of guilt starts owing to reactions to the past, incapacity

to strike a balance between what is new and what is familiar, and the role of

this in the individual’s self-image and imagining his or her role positively. If an

individual exaggerates his or her feeling of guilt, he or she will be depressed,

which is characterized by lack of drive and confusion. The individual is also not

certain about what the future holds as well as lack of clear rules to respond

soundly to the new roles, which makes things worse. Disappointment, however,


is being conscious that the individual’s values, beliefs, and objectives are not

in conformity with the campaigns of change in the surrounding community.

It appears intellectually as lack of focus, dissatisfaction, and progressive retreat

through giving superficial suggestions, performing the strict minimum

required, criticizing or complaining, or tendering a resignation, if need be.

Thus, the individual finds himself or herself uneasy, dissatisfied, inimical, and

pursuing efforts to prove that expectations of failure were justified as well as

repeating previous failing trials to attain desirable results and ignoring the

new laws. He or she begins to deny lack of capacity to accept any change and

deny any positive impact on the individual, and begins to behave and practice

with the familiar as if nothing happened.

As is clear in Fisher’s stages in the figure, anxiety is the first stage. However,

the transition is a bottom-top curve to the happiness stage, during which

understanding the nature of change is denied. The individual appears happy

but wonders what kind of change will take place. Wondering becomes clear

since it is as if it is a way of wasting or whiling away the time to understand

and grasp. It is quite normal for Fisher that an individual slopes down a little

bit since he or she will wonder about the impact of change. If he or she keeps

being scared, he or she will slope down so deeply that fear becomes a threat

since he or she is too weak to contribute to creating or accelerating change.

This might occasion underperformance of assigned tasks, laziness, or retreat

so the transition of the curve goes down to what is called guilt feeling about

that. This stage can be described as dangerous since it is a continuity of the

downward slope, with the individual surrendering to the idea that he or she

or his or her contribution to change is useless, which might drive him or her

to depression – a psychological disturbance arising from losing the value of

surrounding things, and making him or her see no drive or reason worth being

industrious about or battling for.


This stage is dangerous for two reasons: First, a psychological state is

characterized by dissemination, which means that the individual that reaches

this state will begin to spread the uselessness culture, highlighting the

disadvantages and repercussions of new plans as well as retreating from giving

any help or from doing his assignments at a minimal level of performance just

to avoid embarrassment and save face, and feeling as if he or she did a lot. The

second reason is that it is a turning point for the individual, who will either

enjoy some insight and capacity to face up to the self and balance things so

that the transition slope goes up anew, or the individual considers this change

very costly for his own considerations and values, thus exhausting his or her

last trials to try to stop change, and resorting to more violent appeals through

resigning or disturbing the others’ concentration and efforts.

How can the stages of transition toward change be difficult?

If we take for granted these stages of transition toward change till stability,

we will notice that individuals are engrossed in different ways at each stage in

seeing stability and change and enjoying the required skills to grasp change.

There are certain personal characteristics that distinguish individuals, and

make change more difficult for some of them.

Rigidity, rudeness, lack of self-control, and evasion of responsibility are all

characteristics that use up individuals’ energy in bearing the burden of

change, and make accepting it by these individuals remarkably more difficult

than by those who enjoy a highly firm psychological state that assist them in

acclimatizing themselves and in being more flexible and capable of assuming

responsibility and perseverance.

Rigidity: such as the incapacity to acclimatize oneself to the change of culture

in the organization, incapacity to be responsive to others’ demands to change

some features of their personality, and incapacity to effectively listen and learn.


Rude behavior with others: such as offending others with one’s criticism, lack

of sensitivity, and alienation of co-workers

Incapacity for self-control: such as incapacity to endure work pressure,

moodiness, and irritability

Incapacity to assume responsibility for failure: responsiveness to failure and

criticism in a defensive justificatory manner such as denial, hiding information,

blaming mistakes on others

Unrealistic dreams: unrealistic ambition, lack of assessment of capabilities and

competencies of the team as against its ambitions and going more speedily

than their performance rate

Weak social skills: loss of sympathy with others, incapacity to feel their needs,

cruelty, and arrogance

Failure to build a social network: incapacity to build a collaborative and

supportive network with all the members independently of their background

These psychological and personal features make the individual continually

defensive in the situations he faces even though he or she has feelings of

belonging and love to family, friends, and country. At the emotional level, an

individual leads a normal life, but with his traditions and thinking style as rigid

and negative as if rigidity and negativity are the right thing and flexibility and

openness on beneficial things that are in conformity with Islamic morality are

subject of rejection. It can be seen that even moral thinking, citizenship, and

love of benefaction have many familiar meanings specific to the individual,

and have nothing to do with their real meaning. Youssuf Al-Ghamdi (2003)


emphasizes that there is a negative link between moral development and

rigidity and flexibility.

Moral judgments are tied up with the individual’s conscious knowledge of the

needs, feelings, and expectations of others and his or her knowledge of the

importance of intention as a determinant of moral deeds on the one hand,

and as a result of his or her personal and social need to connect, and obtain

recognition and respect, on the other. Based on this, accepted behavior is

determined by performing socially expected deeds that realize happiness to

the others in order to obtain their acceptance and recognition, which is known

as “the morality of a good person.” It should be noted here the continuity of

the self represented by “realizing acceptance and recognition” as a drive to

moral decisions.

Very few individuals manage to achieve the desirable social morals, which

require a high level of cognitive and psycho-social development that liberate

the individual from a great deal of his or her self-centeredness or what benefits

relate to the self.

This, in turn, leads to showing a new understanding of values based on a

balance between social rights and individual ones. Law, plans, and criteria

are grasped as a social bond including agreed upon rules that derive their

authorities and justifications from their capacity to manage to preserve

individual and group rights. (Aseel Al-Shawareb and Mahmoud Al-Khawalda,

2007). On the other hand, Albert Ellis, one of the greatest scholars of modern

theories of behavior that man might fall in disturbances such as depression

in times of change that he or she cannot keep up with owing to irrational

and illogical thinking that is characterized by rigidity, inertia, and extremism.

He thinks that these ways of thinking can be unlearned and changed if an

individual wants to face up to his or her self.


One of the most important ideas is that man may believe that:

He or she should be loved and self-sufficient, and should have a high

university degree in order to feel valuable

It is a disaster for individuals that things should not work as they wish

It is easier to evade some difficulties and personal responsibilities than face

up to them

The individual should be reliant on the others, and that there should exist

a stronger person to rely on

Past expertise and events are the main determinants of behavior in the

present, and that the influence of the past cannot be discarded

There is always a good solution to every problem, and this solution should

be found so that the results will not be painful

It should be noted that these ideas are widespread in the minds of many

people, and impacts them in all walks of life, not only at work but also in

their problem-solving style and understanding the reality surrounding them.

However, they are clearly extremists in calling a spade a spade, which makes

the individual struggle between feeling perfect and ready or useless and,

therefore, should retreat. As is clear in the chart below, Albert Ellis set up a

chain for the details that occur in man’s daily life, drawing a complementary

line assisting the individual in overcoming any situation where the individual

starts on an irrational explanation.

For instance, Albert Ellis posits the event that provokes the individual, which

he calls “active event” as representing the many normal events that we live

daily and we cannot change or avoid such as surprises, and changes. The

second stage, which is called “Believe,” has to do with the beliefs, ideas, and

values that an individual has and uses in telling a story to himself or herself

every day to be the judge and explainer of surrounding events, and which

give many meanings to life situations surrounding us. The third stage, which is


called “Consequence,” is a reaction and outcome of thinking and believing. The

problem lies in its details since beliefs at the second stage, and feelings and

emotions at the third stage monitor reaction, with belief and emotion as two

things doing the same job, rooting the individual’s conviction and driving him

or her toward a given behavior in face of the active event and the operation

becomes as if it were a closed circuit.

The solution here is that the individual should not stop at the third stage,

but allows for the discussion of his or her beliefs, inspects their weaknesses

and drawbacks, and tries to replace them, which Albert Ellis called “Disputing

intervention.” This fourth stage is the stage at which the individual tries the new

idea since the fifth stage is important in emotionally supporting, digesting,

and familiarizing with the new idea, which is called “effective philosophy.”

The individual practices and tests the drawbacks of the new idea till the idea

becomes more stable since the new emotions and feelings about it have

become stable, clear, and supportive of new decisions that the individual

makes in daily events.

An individual that can make responsibility lie in himself or herself, his or her

capacities and performance needs to be flexible and capable of grasping

events more objectively and rationally. Recently, several pieces of research

have shown that intellectual intelligence is important for a person’s agreement

with the various life events. However, in his disputing intervention, Albert

Ellis indicates that an intellectually intelligent and academically outstanding

individual needs what is known as emotional intelligence. Intellectual

intelligence appears in education in subjects that require cognitive capacities

such as understanding, perception, attention, retrieving information, analyzing

and inferring, learning, judgment, memory, and abstract thought. However,

emotional intelligence appears frequently through the capacity for planning,

strategic thinking, balancing alternatives, decision-making, learning from


experience, reading charts, persuading, etc. (Oyhman Al-Khedr). As realized

by psychologists, intelligence tests do not predict more than 20% of factors

of success at work while emotional intelligence accounts for approximately

40%. As measured by intelligence tests and academic performance in

educational institutions, the degree of intelligence may be a permit to enter

some professional fields that require intellectual capacities such as the fields of

engineering, accounting, education, and medicine. However, if an individual

is equal to others in intellectual intelligence, what distinguishes him or her

from the others is his or her emotional intelligence as a group of organized

non-cognitive capacities, competencies, and skills that affect the individual’s

agreement with environmental requirements and pressure. I wonder here

whether social skills and individual personal characteristics can be developed

or it is impossible to do that.

Mohamed Al-Bhiri’s study, which aims at being acquainted with the

effectiveness of developing emotional intelligence in decreasing the effect of

the potency of some problems (enmity, retreat, lying) among a sample of 60

children aged between 9 and 11, indicated the effectiveness of the training

session in developing their emotional intelligence, and helped in lowering the

potency of some behavioral problems (enmity, retreat, lying) (Mohamed Al-

Bhiri, 2007, pp. 585-586). In a study made by Mayer and Salovey (1990), which

aims to study the relation between the two types of intelligence and between

empathy, neuroticism, and extroversion on a sample of 139 individuals aged

between 17 and 63, showed the existence of a basic factor that explains

individual differences in recognizing (Mayer et al, 1990: p. 443).

Discussion of the exploratory study

1. No less than 5 faculty members talked about the difficulties that face

changing methods of teaching, and that this change constitutes a threat

to them after analyzing projective expressions during meetings, which


highlighted their fear that something new should be ideal, perfect, and

should carry more data and facilities than exist in reality. Albert Ellis explains

that seeing things ideally is one of the illogical ways of thinking, and that

seeing things either as completely useless or completely successful is what

the kind of reality that the individual has drawn for himself or herself.

2. Other faculty members stated that change in itself was exciting and

pleasurable, and gave them some hope that what they studied would

change for the new generation, which for them would take more time

and efforts since this is an expected normal thing with some surprises

and embitterment. This in itself highlighted their capacity to defeat an

important irrational thought, which is that the events that happen around

us are vital and cannot be changed, and that what might not be attained

in growth plans and development is not disastrous as against what will

actually be realized.

3. Discussions and interactions about how to handle change, burdens,

and consequences in a flexible way, have shown that, contrary to the

researcher’s hypothesis, high ranking faculty members were more apt

to deal with the pressure arising from change than their junior younger


The researcher collected data from groups of faculty members at King Abdulaziz

University about most of the problems that they come across while keeping

up with the radical changes in higher education mechanisms in the Kingdom.

Such a change requires high flexibility, commitment, and desire to face up to

challenges to attain the mechanisms of academic accreditation. In principle,

the primary qualitative analysis of the data collected from groups that have

discussed the dimensions and mechanisms of change, faculty members are

eagerly encouraging change and very enthusiastic about it. However, some of


them, in spite of their strong eagerness to see change happen, are still at the

stage of happiness according to Fisher’s scale, having a mixture of threat and


This could be explained by many factors such as that man, according to Albert

Ellis, may irrationally explain reality, thinking that changing things surrounding

him or her is impossible, and that any failure or error is one of the greatest and

strongest disasters. Thus, in spite of happiness and enthusiasm, the individual

should change his or her cognitive behavior in explaining events, pressures,

and changes so as not to fall steeply from happiness into threat and denial,

especially if he or she is taken hold of by one of those irrational thoughts which

states that there should be other people on whom one should rely upon and

assign vital things in one’ life for them to deal with.

This fall is justified by the fact that the individual is profoundly convinced that

he or she follow irrational explanations for events, which in itself unfortunately

leads the individual to worse stages down on Fisher’s scale.

However, based on the same data collected, I think that perceiving these ideas

and stages and being able to face up to them is one of the characteristics of

most of them, especially if the variables of age and academic rank are taken

into consideration. Teaching assistants that have been recently nominated

have shown their capacity to see department-related clear and practical

objectives and related to them as individuals belonging in the institution.


I can infer from this discussion that there are many things that should be taken

into consideration by development plans so as not to be shocked that the

time and material lines were not sufficient to create the required change. The

concerned individual may contribute in a clear manner to these operations, and


may be contented with observing or may contribute to slowing down change

or abort it. For that, there should be included in efficiency studies and what is

included in each new ambitious plan some important considerations for many

training sessions and workshops for those concerned with material and moral

change. There should also be a clear focus on personality characteristics that

are more likely to pursue defense and continue with flexibility. There are a lot

of skills and features that should be taken into consideration as the objective

of training before and after embarking on any ambitious developmental plan.


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Social Changes

In the Czech Republic (CR) after


Selma Muhi Dizdarevi, Ph.D.

Charles University, Faculty of Humanities,

Department of Civil Society Studies

Social changes in the CR after the Velvet

Revolution were induced by numerous

international and domestic factors.

Among the latter, one of the most important was a long-term development

of civil society in opposition to oppressive communist authorities, led by

courageous individuals (the most famous being ex-president of the CR Václav

Havel). They demanded that the authorities respect human and civil rights of

their citizens and often paid a high price in their private lives for supporting this

huge social undertaking. The dissidents managed to get through to a wider

population and present the cause of human rights and general freedoms as

a cause of each citizen. We have to understand that affluent and free society

that was created after 1989 has its roots in this idea: authorities are there for

the people not the other way around and they are obliged by international

standards of human rights protection.

However, after the revolution it seems that economic aspects became central.

At the beginning this was understandable; the society was impoverished by

centrally planned economy, which totally failed.

At the same time, we see a big change – the society in which vast majority

of people was oppressed, yet oppressed equally suddenly faces huge

stratification. In other words egalitarian society changes into a stratified

one, where some people become rich and accordingly some become poor.


Although still the Czech society is among the most egalitarian in the EU, the

change was very deep and carried a lot of consequences and potential for

social anomalies (such as corruption). In addition, the communist past was just

place aside, often the same people who benefited by communist dictatorship

became heroes of capitalism revival. That’s why some authors speak of posttotalitarian

blues – to stress disappointment with some processes in the newly

emerging society.

In the course of further development, where certainly joining EU in 2004 is

among the most important, what is especially worrisome is that while human

rights and civil society played such an important role in transforming the whole

society, in a “new” Czech society their importance decreased significantly. We

encounter attitudes that human rights (HR) are a finished project in current

Czech democracy – as if that project in any society can ever be finished.

Also HR are increasingly seen as a matter of not every citizen but oppressed

minorities (e.g. Roma or immigrants).

In case of civil society, the situation in some aspects is equally problematic –

from strong, vibrant, fighting civil society, we got a neat, obedient civil society,

almost totally financially dependent on the state. So, although the situation in

democracy is far better in almost all aspects, most importantly in the aspect

of freedom and control of authorities, there are some issues, which have to be

dealt with if we want to have a deeper and healthier democracy for all citizens.



Panel - 4

Challenges facing

children within the

knowledge society:

Saudi Arabia as a


Challenges facing children within the knowledge

society: Saudi Arabia as a model

Dr. Asmaa’ Abdullah Khalif

Children’s stories:

An Experience and Impact

Dr. Arwa Khamees


Challenges facing

children within the

knowledge society

Saudi Arabia as a model

Dr. Asmaa’ Abdullah Khalif

The current era is described as the

digital age or digital society, the smart

age or smart society, intelligent age

or intelligent society, and the era of

knowledge or knowledge-based society.

All these definitions are overlapping and point to the same topic, but this

paper will address the epistemic society in particular.

We live the title of this paper on a daily basis. We face those challenges staged as a

natural result of globalization afflicting the planet which is used to be a small and

now became smaller than ever. This paper will try to look at the parts or themes

contained in the formula included on the title of this paper. In a hard attempt to

understand this situation or phenomenon, we can perhaps infer some results.

When we talk about this address “ Challenges facing children within the

knowledge society: Saudi Arabia as a model,” we necessarily deal with three

themes, which are as follows: the challenges (their nature and severity and

spread), a child in Saudi society and what he shares with all the children of the

world, and what he differs in, and the knowledge society: which is somewhat

a new term to the prevailing daily local culture.

In order to reach a better understanding and clearer vision, we will start with

the third of these themes so as to create the best formula for the development

of others (the challenges and the child) inn its right place above this ground

or background.


The themes of this paper

First Theme: the Knowledge Society

The term «Knowledge society» is frequently traded on the media and literature,

reports of human development organizations. It is a concept that has been

defined by some thinkers to mean: the availability of high levels of research,

development as well as information and communication technology. Thus

the knowledge society is the society in which knowledge becomes one of the

key pillars in the overall development.

According to the report of the United Nations Development Program for 2003,

the definition of the knowledge society is a «society which is based mainly on

the dissemination of knowledge, production and employ them effectively in

all areas of social activity: the economy, and civil society, politics and private

life, leading to upgrade human life steadily, i.e. the establishment of human life

«(UNDP, 2003, p. 39).

The report of the Organization of the United Nations Educational, Scientific

and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which was released in 2005, bears a

title that refers to the social transformation «from the information society to

knowledge society.»

So, according to the Arab Human Development Report, the components of a

knowledge society are the components of the cognitive data, information and

ideas, which are owned by the society in a specific historical context. These

components are guiding human behavior individually and institutionally, in all

spheres of human activity, which in its turn leads to the production of goods and

services. Knowledge society is the one which meets the specifications and the

symbolic structures through formal education and experience accumulated

in work and life; for use in conducting its daily work, and informational and

practical advancement.


Contemporary societies set recently towards moving away from the

traditional methods of learning by adapting to the changes brought about

by information and communication technology. They mainly need a well

developed general education and higher education that contribute to building

creativity, innovation and self-education. Thus these societies can make an

exponential growth in the labor force that has the knowledge and can deal

with it all easily, and turn the bodies and institutions and organizations of the

civil society whether private or governmental and into smart institutions and

organizations. Therefore, members of society can produce and disseminate

knowledge and use it efficiently in all areas of societal activity.

The knowledge society is distinctively a society of the digital revolution. We

currently live such revolution that in the East and the West, which contributes

to change in the relations in advanced societies, vision and assessment of

each other, where information and knowledge are considered an attribute

and a measure of the meaning of power and superiority in the formulation of

patterns of life and the formation of artistic taste, values as well as the doubled

speed of scientific breakthroughs, creative and accumulation of knowledge.

In the midst of the greatest digital revolution, knowledge emerges as the

more important value-added component in the area of the technological

revolution, which promises the world of post-modernity and industrialization,

and brings the production of knowledge as the stake, its marketing and

dissemination is the primary engine for sustainable development and the

most important arena for the international competition and the source of

strength and power. Therefore, the mastery of knowledge qualifies its holders,

regardless of their economic, military or cultural backgrounds, to extend their

influence and their power and their political, social and cultural dominance

over others.


Any reading of our reality today and our near future, and not the far-off , tells

us that the time of the race in the military armaments has gone, and industrial

competitiveness and trade between the countries has taken a backwards

place in view of the challenges of information technology Renaissance today

is measured only by the information and the extent of the penetration of

knowledge in all aspects of life within the society.

In the knowledge society the focus is on education, culture and communication

and the use of artificial intelligence and human methods of rehabilitation

and the contents of high-end programs to become effective and creative in

institutions aiming at increasing production and activating the mechanisms of

thinking and innovation, invention and high profitability. Knowledge society is

different from the information society which is a society that is able to produce

software, not only using them, or even the production of hardware or devices

that are used in access to knowledge. The civilization of the future mainly

depends on the human who is capable of producing knowledge, not on the

farm or the factory; it is the civilization of knowledge, research, information

and techniques. But let us now briefly review the historical sequence that led

to the emergence of a knowledge society and the linkage of such emergence

with the general historical series.

Humanity passed through multi-historic periods that formed its general orientation

over all areas of life, starting from the primitive society at the primary ages of humanity.

Man lived at times of prosperity within which he witnessed transition to agriculture

as a factor underlying all aspects of lives. Then came the industrial revolution which

made dramatic changes to the centers of power within communities and between

states. This made psychological, social, economic, cultural and even ideological

changes which formed an earthquake that shook the human life; and with the

speed of light transferred it to a new era that had not been witnessed before.


Although man perceived that he had, through the industrial era and the

transformation of society to industrial society, reached the summit of prosperity

and renaissance, the revolution of information came to demonstrate that the

more greater thing are coming, that human progress has no limits and that

the applications and areas of the information age will lead to the emergence

of knowledge-based society and will extend to touch the man’s life in the

minutest details, and affect everything relating to him.

Humanity entered the era of information or digital age or the age of information,

since the end of the fifties and early sixties of the last century. Nevertheless,

the paradigm shift occurred in the nineties with the high proliferation of the

Internet, which is still expanding rapidly and progressively. In this information

age, which depends upon information and information technology, leadership

has shifted from the machine to the electronic systems that control the

machine and the factory and every area of life. The information age changes

the center of gravity from the factory to the computer (after the industrial age

had changed the center of gravity from the field to the factory). Unlike the

industrial age, which was controlled by the owner of money, who controls the

electronics, programming and IT systems are owned by the owners of minds,

science and the owners of intelligence. This shift pushed developed countries

to hold information technology that has transformed the world into a small

village within which everyone knows the other.

The information age does not recognize geographical borders. One of the

most important challenges it poses is that it threatens the nation-state through

the internet and satellite cross geographical boundaries without the need to

license or passport. While the industrial society was adopted on trade that

travels between countries across the lines of land, sea and air, the information

age has invented electronic lines that outrun in speed and potentiality the

land, sea and air lines. The lines of traditional trade will not be able to play


their role in the near future unless they adopt the lines of e-commerce. The

transition of the weight from the capital owner to the owner of knowledge and

intelligence, and those who have the intelligence, and devices of information

technology, created and still creating new concepts in the world of language,

economy, culture, politics and society.

To clarify the mechanism of this transformation in a simple way, the description

of information age in which we live is not an accurate description, as the bit of

information is only the beginning of the thread. In the beginning, the human

acquires science through symbols received constantly. These codes are many,

as well as scattered and incomprehensible. When summarizing these symbols

(the letters and words and numbers... etc), they turn into information, but -

and this is the test - this information does not become knowledge unless it

benefited the human who turned it into a daily reality for ever. Only thus, and

through this mechanism the knowledge society is created.

In short, the concept of the knowledge society can be defined as follows:

• Adopting a holistic concept of knowledge to mean all the ideas, visions, ways

of thinking and behavioral patterns gained through forms of formal and informal

learning, as well as forms of self-education and practical experience in addition to

work and life experience.

• The society should be based on knowledge production, organization,

dissemination and usage over all areas of life.

• A society that is characterized by its members’ freely owns information and

easily circulate and broadcast it via information technologies, computers,

communications, employs information and knowledge and make it in the

service of man to improve his standard of living.

By virtue of the foregoing a knowledge society can be described as:


The society which is based on the production and dissemination of knowledge

and using them efficiently in all areas of society activity: the economy, civil

society, politics and private life, in order to achieve a sustainable social


The elements of building a knowledge society:

1. Knowledge:

The building of a knowledge society requires three activities: knowledge

production, dissemination, and dealing with it in resolving the issues of the


The production of knowledge usually takes place in universities and research

centers. In order for the production of knowledge to flourish its outcomes, it

needs to be used by the various institutions of society, especially economic

institutions. The search need not be reversed to the sterile process that does

not contribute to the development process.

The use of knowledge in resolving issues of the society is the only way to drive

further production of knowledge.

But knowledge is not only a result of the research It is also a result of mental

operations performed by the individual to make the information he read

about or heard of. These mental processes must be taught to all citizens since

their childhood, whether in school or outside. The knowledge society must

know how to classify information and associate them with each other and

analyze, criticize them, and assemble them and synthesize them again until

that information becomes knowledge which can be used to solve individual

problems of daily life and also in building healthy relationships with others.

This capability of reversing the scattered and unrelated information into


integrated knowledge can not only be built by the adoption of advanced

modern methods of education that take into account all levels of mental

processes such as the method of solving problems which requires the exercise

of individual analysis, criticism and creativity and reason objectively.

2. Knowledge-based Economy:

During the past years, the world has witnessed a major shift to a knowledgebased

economy and the economic production of nations was based on

the knowledge-based economy. The human led knowledge economy and

this economy is based on the trained and developed human resources.

The indicators of the knowledge economy can be inferred from a number

of things such as: the number of digital TV in the home, the number of

university students, the number of computer users, the number of entrants

on the Internet, the number of readers of newspapers, the number of phone

lines, the cost of international telephone, the number of mobile phones, the

amount of using electronic devices in the various affairs of life, the number

of experts on electronic software and high technology, the number of

factories and companies working in the field of information technology and

communications, the number of graduates of engineering and technical

disciplines, the number of companies that provide Internet service, easily

(and free) access to the Internet, the legislation that promote competition

and prevent corruption, the number of workers in scientific research and

development, the level of government spending on information technology

sector, e-government applications, and the level of spending on education

and training... etc. Knowledge economy is the economy in which the human

plays the role of the operator of knowledge, in other words, knowledge

human, a key role through the creation of knowledge and benefit from it in

a form that can be knowledge human to develop the economic movement.

3. Human Knowledge:


Knowledge human is the person who received the appropriate education, has

the practical training, life experience and mainly uses information technology

for different activities, that is because information technology increase

efficiency and raise it to the level of developed countries, and without which

productivity reduces. The knowledgeable human is the one who works with

all levels of thinking and uses the research and survey skills. He incorporates

seamlessly into the system of knowledge society and deals with it in all the

activities of his life and adds to it and increases its production.

What is mentioned above shows that the present of the advanced societies

known as the communities of knowledge, is it possible - I wonder - for our

society which is described as the developing to transpire in a future which is

similar to that reached by the developed world?, How could we be guided

to the best ways, the most effective methods to reach this strategic goal?

With this in mind before we go deeply into the challenges facing the Saudi

children, specifically in the knowledge society, we should highlight what the

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has done and does in order to keep pace with the

times and catch up with civilization by meaningful adoption of the idea of a

knowledge society and a realization that a society which does not respond to

the requirements of knowledge building and refuses to pursue its conditions,

judges itself to remain outside our era, the era of knowledge.

Saudi Arabia’s efforts to shift to a knowledge-based society:

Investment in building and upgrade the Saudi citizen in several areas,

represents one of the most important priorities and orientations of the

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as it struggles to build a human capacity which can

engage in a knowledge society in terms of the full awareness of the role of

knowledge and building of a knowledge society in human development and

thus building the modern citizen who is the corner stone and the basis for



In response to this trend, the following applications emerged:

1. E-government project, and specifically through e-Government Program

(Yesser) which embodies the care of the Kingdom for applying the concept

of e-government.

2. King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology, which is a scientific

institution that supports and encourages scientific research for

application purposes and the coordinating activities of institutions

and centers of scientific research in this area commensurate with the

requirements of development in the Kingdom. It also cooperate with

appropriate agencies to identify national priorities and policies in the

field of t building a scientific and technical base for scientific techniques

so as to serve the development in the areas of agriculture, industry and

so forth. Moreover, it works on the development of national scientific

competencies and attract highly qualified individuals who are capable

of working in the development and adaptation of modern technology to

serve development in the Kingdom.

3. King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, which is a global

university for research at the graduate level. It aims to foster talented and

creative individuals and researchers; an supports national industries and

establishment of new industries based on knowledge. It also supports the

national economy and increase the GDP; and supports creativity and the

ability to generate innovative ideas and turn them into economic value

added inventions. It has a positive contribution in dealing with research

institutions and contributes to the transition to a society of knowledgebased


4. The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ Project for the Development of

Public Education that enhances the ability to develop future generations

who are able to deal with modern systems and advanced technology.


5. King Abdel Aziz and his men foundation for talent and creativity support

building and developing the innovative environment and society with its

comprehensive concept in the Kingdom.

6. Establishing the Smart Economic Cities.

7. Directing the Kingdom universities towards the support of thought,

creativity, research, quality and excellence.

8. The Program of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah Bin

Abdul Aziz of Foreign Scholarships, which seeks to prepare and rehabilitate

human knowledge through the harmonization of its output with the needs

of the national labor market, by directing the programs and disciplines

offered to students on scholarships and linking them to the needs of the

labor market, and the development witnessed by the country.

9. All other projects that take creativity and innovation as a pivot of knowledge

and a strategic objective.

10. Spreading the culture of the knowledge society in the mass media and

through all available channels, because the production of knowledge

needs an aware environment and the existence of a distinct culture of

knowledge in a society ready to deal and live with it.

11. The Ninth Development Plan, which focuses on building a knowledge

society came after the eight five-year plans whose implementation

took forty years. The Ninth Plan appeared in the middle of last year

to keep of pace with the stage the world is going through and to

strongly enter the era of knowledge. One of the most important

aspects of developments in the Ninth Plan is the focus on new targets


such as orientation to a knowledge-based economy, the promotion

of information society and the focus on the goal of furthering

economic and social reform and institutional development of

regulations related to raising efficiency and improving performance.

Where the Saudi Council of Ministers approved the Ninth

Development Plan in its meeting held on 08.09.2010 and

appropriated a total sum amounted to 1444 billion SR. The plan

continue for five years, covering the period between 31/1432 -

35/1436 H - (2010 - 2014), exceeding the Eighth Plan with a rate

of (67%) which is allocated for the development expenditure

during the Eighth Development Plan. The largest share of this

expenditure was allocated for developing the human resources

sector, which includes the different sectors of education, training,

social development sector and health. This is in addition to what

is allocated for the sectors of municipal services, housing, culture,

transport, communications and other sectors which altogether

constitute the foundations of a knowledge society.

The intensity of focusing on investment in the Saudi citizen is clear

from the above-mentioned applications, which focus on the aspects

of science, scientific research, techniques and knowledge. This leads

us to talk now about the child as being the seed of a sound upbringing

for human knowledge and the base for which the future is shaped

with visions that deal with requirements of modern age and sense

the prospects of the future.

Second Theme: The Saudi Children

Childhood extends from the moment of birth to the age of eighteen years

according to the concept of the United Nations. That age is the most critical

years of life, during which the human learns and prepares himself for the


production and positive interaction in the environment and society. This

the time when the child knowledge is made up besides the fact that his

identity and his personality are formed. The rapid changes taking place in

contemporary societies make attention to the education and upbringing

and culture of children strategic and developmental goals. Children are the

future of the nation and the bearers of its heritage and identity; they are its

present, which reflects the degree of its progress and its place among the

ranks of nations. In this section attention paid to raising the child becomes

an important economic investment for the nation as a whole and a building

block of knowledge human that the knowledge societies endeavor to achieve.

One of the main factors of a child’s upbringing is the interest in child’s culture

and education. The interest of the child culture does not only mean the revival

of the past or looking at the future, but it must also stems from the present

and deal with it and connects the child’s life in all its aspects to it.

Any careful reading of the reality of the Saudi children today places him among

his peers in the world. It is really amazing to see the strengthening of ties

made by modern technology such as the convergence of psychological and

social characteristics of children all over the world. However, there remains

some margin for some degree of cultural exclusivity and social uniqueness,

into which many tributaries of the family, school, media, and when questions

begin to emerge, how do we begin? Teacher training, or educating the family,

or closing the TVs and control of web pages? Or leaving the door widely open?

Or change the prevailing modes of thought? Or change the curriculum and

education? Or, all of the foregoing? How to ensure that the goals are clear and

common to all parties dealing with the child, and how the action plan should

be moving in one direction? We recognize that we are faced with challenges

that must be dealt with in order to reach answers which are realistic and

applicable to these important questions.


According to one of the reports of Children’s Department at the Arab League,

the Saudi child is one of the world’s most cared for children in terms of wellbeing

because he enjoys good levels of education and recreation as well as the

distinguished religious upbringing and social education, which in turn help in

making of normal children. Many of the studies and documents conducted by

the Arab League confirm this. Nevertheless, the Saudi child is still away from

the effective practice of knowledge society output, and is still dealing with the

cortexes of this phase that appears on the surface, without having played a an

engaging and positive role in a knowledge society.

The discussion of the challenges in the next section will highlight the reality

of Saudi society more clearly in terms of cognitive problems and difficulties,

and then we will try to link these challenges to the reality of the Saudi children.

Third Theme: Challenges

Challenges can be summarized in the following points:

1 - The most worrying with regard to some issues raised by the knowledge

society is their effects on identity and cultural specificity. The concern is justified

in the light of the attempts of economic powers to pattern the behaviors and

culture of people in all societies and subject them to a prevalent system of

values and behavior patterns. In consumer societies, as the overflow of ideas,

information, images and values coming to many of the communities the

possibility of exploding the identity crisis, has become one of the key issues

facing the human thinking at the global level. In the context of this crisis, tribal

partisanship, sectarianism and narrow nationalism will be emitted and the

desire to search for roots and protect specificity will grow. It seems that the

cultural obsession with specificity is the same obsession of both authenticity

and contemporariness, as wrongly thought by those who believe that the

protection of cultural identity lies in isolating it from the outside world and


protecting it from the effects of universal culture. It is needless to emphasize

that the cultural identity which needs to be protected from alienation is the

culture of creativity, and not the consumption culture, the culture of change

and not the overall culture of inertia, the culture of national unity with its

human civilization prospect, and not the culture of the disintegrated parts,

each of which is considered an alternative to the nation. So, some segments

of the Saudi society fear from becoming a knowledge society because of their

fear for their identity and originality. For that reason we see them resisting

transformation and insist on adhering to the old ways, which over the years,

have become part of the identity and cultural characteristics of the nation.

2 - One of the most important challenges of the knowledge society is the

problem of separation of activities and their disintegration. For example,

we find the mismatch between the topics of education and its curriculum,

and the topics of scientific research and its output on one hand, and the

requirements of institutions of knowledge employment and the needs of

work and development on the other hand. It is very necessary to acknowledge

interaction of activities within the framework of an integrated cycle to which

education is linked with scientific research, and also linked the two with

employment of knowledge in order to achieve development. For this reason,

knowledge activities should be activated within what is known as the cycle

of knowledge or the framework of knowledge, based on five axes rotating

in the orbit of the transformation processes towards the knowledge society.

The first of these axes requires the setting of a common strategy for all

knowledge activities, while the second axis focuses on the production and

delivery of technology, and the optimal and wider use of it. The third axis is

concerned with institutions and bodies within the system of society, whether

governmental or private, and their role in activating knowledge. The fourth

axis deals with human knowledge, whether adult or child their capacity as the

mainstay of knowledge society besides the development and growth of such


society. The fifth axis focuses on the environment in which the knowledge

society grows and evolves and benefits people.

3 - The third and most important challenge lies in the programs of school

and university education and promotion of research and universities. This

challenge is concerned with researchers in specialized centers, starting

from a comprehensive vision, the substance of which are a number of

conditions such as freedom of opinion and thought, expression, creativity

and streamline of the tools and means of knowledge, equal opportunities

for all citizens and encouragement of creativity in science, art, literature

and translation. The shift towards a knowledge society requires a quality

education which takes into account the output of the modern times and

needs of the society. The development of science generally and mathematics

education in particular emerges as one of the most important components

of this development for building a knowledge society, which is capable of

producing knowledge and its investment. This process of development is a

stringent concern for most peoples and leaders of the world. Therefore, a

lot of movements and reform initiatives for the development of science and

mathematics education appeared in a number of developing and developed

countries where conferences and international scientific meetings to study

the methods and mechanisms of the desired development were held.

We can hardly find a country, whether developing or advanced, which is

not interested in the development of science and mathematics education.

In this sense, conscious of the importance of the development of education

as the basis for development, Saudi Arabia sought for, as it looks forward

to establish a globally competitive knowledge society which is capable of

investing in the minds of producers of knowledge, reforming science and

mathematics education in addition to the expanding e-learning. This can be

done through “King Abdullah Project for the Development of Public Education”


and “The Project for the Development of Mathematics and science’ curricula “

which is a great indicator of the sincere desire towards development and an

effort to build a scientifically literate society which is capable of producing

knowledge and investing in it.

4 - The fourth challenge experienced by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as part

of its drive towards becoming a knowledge society lies in the creation and

dissemination of the required infrastructure on a large scale in all the cities

and villages of Saudi Arabia. Bridging the knowledge gap between developed

and advanced countries and the Saudi society is an issue that may require

some time, because the establishment of comprehensive infrastructure may

require some time. What we are seeing now, such as the building of four new

economic cities is however a great and studious attempt to disseminate the

knowledge culture by creating mini-communities based on the culture of

knowledge. The building of strong infrastructure for the knowledge society

does not mean the eradication of literacy, ownership of computers and

linking institutions via the Internet and other formal aspects, but requires the

establishment and construction of essential bases for transformation of all

bodies, institutions and the tributaries of society to other ones which have the

necessary tools (hardware, networks, systems, languages, concepts, techniques

and mechanisms), so that they are able to join the system of transition.

5 - Scientific Research: Scientific research is still underachieving, despite all

the serious and large attempts, in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia compared to

other developed countries. This constitutes a major obstacle in front of the

qualitative shift for the transition to a knowledge society. Furthermore, research

results should be turned into practice to contribute to the development

process. These results should be used by various institutions of society for

the prosperity of knowledge production, especially economic institutions,

otherwise research may turn into futile luxury that does not contribute to the


development process, by just putting the research results in drawers and on

shelves. The use of knowledge in resolving issues in the society is the only way

to push forward the production of knowledge.

Manifestations of those challenges on the Saudi children:

That careful consideration of these challenges clearly reveals to us that the

child is the most affected entity. The prevailing cultural outlook towards

children in our society is still one of the biggest obstacles that hinder the

optimal preparation of today’s child as human knowledge for the generation

of tomorrow. The dominating view towards the child still places him in the

circle of the passive recipient, who must be formed through a process society

upbringing on which the family and school play the prominent roles.

Adults in the society still constitute an intermediary between the child and

all what going on around him and mainly control the experiences available

to him and the knowledge he receives, although the era of globalization and

technological openness has somewhat reduced that role.

Therefore, adult - child relationship remains a key factor in the child’s

relationship with the society around him and knowledge in general. This

relationship becomes part of the prevailing stereotypes and social structure.

The status of children in terms of their position in the hierarchy of the social

gradient, the classification of their potential and abilities and then their roles

in society are reflected in how the society deals with them through the array

of knowledge society.

The Issues of identity and originality are often controlled by the drawing of the

adults’ orientations towards children with respect to the shift towards a knowledge

society. As adults look with suspicion, mistrust and skepticism to the openness

of knowledge, fearing of its being undisciplined as well as having ideological,

intellectual, and moral implications on the child’s personality which will destroy


values and principles built by the family and the school. With the passage of time,

the reality of Saudi children in a knowledge society has reached a state closer

to chaos and confusion under such variables of rapid and tremendous changes

which include but not limited to: the huge technological momentum around

them, confinement of the family’s role to reproduction and health care, the role of

the school to transferring scientific information without providing the child with

the skills necessary for self-learning and the conduct of complex thinking, mental

and thinking independence, and the development of methods and research skills.

The society as a whole is engaged in the study of realistic behavior of the child

and his daily problems in an attempt to find solutions to address the phenomena

and the symptoms but it cannot deal with the core issues.

This selective policy of the children role in the society of knowledge, which

is fearful of negative impact of knowledge openness, made the Saudi child a

consuming party which is open to the world through the electronic games for

the sake of which the Saudi society spending billions of riyals every year, and

through the Internet and programs of social networking and all aspects of the

era of globalization.

Failure also lies in the inability of the knowledge society to play a clearer and

bigger role to incorporate the Saudi children into the wheel of development

and include within the efficient factors which create change and transfer them

from recipients to a participants. The solution lies in school’s education with its

discipline, curricula, and teaching staff to play the pivotal role in changing the

dominant patterns of thinking and education.

If we look at only one trend of the requirements of the knowledge era, I mean

the scientific research, we will find that the Saudi children (with the exception

of few attempts such as MAWHEBA Program, for example) is far away and

completely isolated of the actual practice and hands-on skills and methods

of scientific research. The in-depth knowledge does only come through the


exercise of research, which results from mental operations performed by the

child to make the information he reads about or hears of a knowledge. The

mental processes must be taught to all citizens since their childhood whether

in school or outside. Knowledge society individuals must know how to classify

information, associate it with each other, analyze, criticize and put it together

again until that information becomes a knowledge that can be used to solve

individual’s daily life problems and build healthy relationships with others. This

capability of reversing the scattered and disintegrated information to a coherent

knowledge cannot be built by the ways of indoctrinating education practiced by

most schools, but requires the use teaching methods for problem-solving, which

in turn requires the practice of analysis, criticism, creativity and objectivity.

There are other challenges facing the Saudi children within the knowledge

society such as inadequate public and school libraries which provide

services to children, the weakness of incentives given to authors who

write for children and young people, the absence of a clear philosophy

of the mass media in its various forms to be an important means for

creativity, the insufficiency of the historical and educational museums,

and the weak performance of institutions that deal with children.

If there are recommendations that we come out with from this paper the

most important of which is education, then education, and then education.

What I mean is the advanced education related to scientific research, which

fosters thinking and the processes associated with it, and provides the child

with the practical skills that enable him to contribute to the production and

dissemination of knowledge.


1. Sa’ad Al-Hajj Bakri. Mode of Knowledge Society, King Saud University

Printing Press, Riyadh, 2009.

2. Arab Human Development Report 2003, “Towards Establishing A

Knowledge Society”, UNDP Program, Amman, 2003.


3. Usamah Ghazi Al-Medani, “The Knowledge Society – The Making of the

Future”. Okaz Newspaper, 12 September, 2009.

4. David, Paul A. “An Introduction to the Economy of the Knowledge Society”.

International Social Science Journal 54: 171. March 2002. Pages 9-23.

5. , and Dominique Foray. “Economic Fundamentals of the Knowledge

Society”. Policy Futures in Education. Feb 1, 2002. Pages 472-490.

6. Hargreaves, Andy. Teaching in the Knowledge Society. New York: Teachers

College Press, 2003.

7. Lytras, Miltiadis, and Miguel Angel Sicilia. “The Knowledge Society: A

Manifesto for Knowledge Learning”. International Journal of Knowledge

and Learning. 1: 1. 2005. Pages 1-11.



Children’s stories:

An Experience and


Challenges facing the Saudi

children in a knowledge society

Dr. Arwa Khamees


The writer in this paper tackled her

own experience in children’s literature

as a model of a Saudi experience.

She divided the experience into three


In the first phase the paper deals with the writing for children as an experience,

the questions about the reason which drives a writer to write to children,

in addition to discussing the necessary tools needed to engage in this test

successfully and confidently.

She also the and stages the book passes through, from being just an idea

until it moved on to the library shelf; and displays the different options for

publication which are available in the Arab world.

The second phase discusses the challenges that face literature of the Arab

child at this point such as the combination between the rich heritage and the

modern style, as well as the attempt to resist the tide of the translated and

foreign literature, along with the decrease in the attractiveness of the paper

book in the world of the child.

The third phase determines the location of the Saudi children’s literature in the

middle of the map of the universal children’s literature, with the provision of

some ideas to activate the literary mobility and cultural development in this



First: At the Gate of Entry:

1. How do I found myself at the gate of children’s books:

Writing is an adventure .. I realized that since an early age.. I liked the experience

of several types of them, when I stand at this gate I always yearn to my small

and colorful books, to the stories of princesses and space creatures, fish that

talk and the stars that adorn the dresses..

I feel that these stories are fresh and innocent Confined to the conscience

influential on the subconscious, I realized that more deeply when I became a

mother and went back to live my childhood again, this time as a mother who

appreciates the beauty of colors and children’s incomplete drawings.. funny

ideas .. and the deep voice which carries the wisdom that emanates from the

lines of stories.

As a mother who is interested in the future of her children and their friends,

and as an educationist who believes in the role of the book in the formation

of children’s thought from an early age, I decided to be active and take the

initiative .. I’m not just a reactor.

I crave that I read a story to my daughters to which they are the heroines, and

the homeland is the place of the story, and that our values, ideas, needs, and

dreams are the elements constituting the depth of the story without losing

the magic mixture that makes it a reason for laughter and fun in a world the

stimuli for children has become richer and more diverse.

Toni Morrison said:

“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then

you must write it.”.

So, I decided to go into the experience.


2. Did I hesitate? What did my entry mean? And other questions

It was initially just an experience, but . . after the first book I felt the weight of

responsibility thrown on me .. many questions revolved in my mind and I am

still at the threshold of the gate:

I love writing, but maybe I’m not a writer .. ..!!

How can the writer make sure that he is an author? Does the designation

“author” an absolute? In my heart I knew that I relate in some way or another

to this world .. not because of my endless papers and notebooks which fill

every corner of my life, but because of my sense that writing represents to

me a voice, a breath and a feature of me. Perhaps my entry to the world of the

Internet, writing on many forums, communicating with many of the pioneers

at the world of writing, have deepened the feeling in me and made me feel a

sense of belonging to it. This is exactly what I needed to set off .. the sense of

belonging to this world ..

This is not my specialization, how can I get the necessary tools?

People think that writing for children is easier than writing for adults:

find any story, simplify it, make a moral purpose of it, use a direct

language, and then it will become a story for children. However, the fact

is that it’s not that simple because children also are not as simple as that!!

The author of children’s stories must combine several things and develop his

tools and skills in several directions:

Writing instruments in general, whether writing is fiction, poetry or any

of the other literary type writing chosen by the author.

Identifying the child’s world and its hidden aspects: Characteristics of

growth, way of thinking, problems, fears, dreams, and how all these elements

can be used to create a story whose its climax, solution, surroundings and

characters are consistent with the child’s world.


Familiarity with the successful international experiences in the field of

children’s books, especially as we know unequivocally that the book

of the Arab child is in a later stage than the foreign one. The challenge

lies in the dimension of translation and application of these experiences

commensurate with the culture and elements of the Arabic language

which differs from English in that the spoken language is different from

the written language. The matter that constitutes a challenge to children

writers in Arabic to provide for the children at this age an exciting and

funny book which is written in Arabic and retains the authenticity of the

language and also attracts children.

Writing for children is a line that does not confer a special “glow” on the writer,

so what exactly do I want?

The writer of children’s stories should ask himself, “Why do I write?

Is it for sake of money??

Writing in general is definitely not the way for achieving profit and wealth.

Is it for the sake of fame?

Writing for children is certainly not the means to achieve fame as if you were a

poet or a novelist who writes about anything which is forbidden.

For the sake of our children, who deserve good books? In order to have ideas

and secrets you want to share with children only?

If the answer is yes, the writer of children’s stories therefore must know that he

has two audiences: an audience of children, and an audience of adults who

buy books and read them for children.


However, writing for children transfers the writer to other atmospheres which

are far from the literary and cultural mobility. The author of children’s stories has

to be aware that he is in our Arab world, and exerts an effort for the marketing

of his production, not in order to burnish his name and make it glow, but in

order to for his voice to reach his audience. This would assist him in achieving

his objectives.

I wrote a text, what are the steps that transmit this text from my computer to

the shelves of the bookstore/libraries?

I was frequently asked this question by young women who wanted to go

through this experiment.

It is known that children’s books in general need more steps than the normal

book to appear to light:

After selecting the idea, gathering information and writing the text and

formulating it in a manner commensurate with their age group as well as

its purpose and the standards of writing, it is necessary to review the text

with several consultants. The aim here is to assess the text and introduce

the writer to publishing houses. Consultants should look at several aspects

of the story: the construction of its language, its suitability for children, and

one of the most successful ideas is to display the text to children audience.

Search for a professional artist who specializes in the drawing for children

so that they can treat the text as a work of art. The drawings can be made

by the writer himself if he happens to be an artist; and in both cases the

writer must be familiar with the types of drawings for children and their

role in the story. It is preferable to begin the process of integrating the text

and the drawings since the first steps of the book.


Search for publishing options, including:

Sell the text to a publishing house for a sum of money, or a number of

copies (100 or 200 copies).

Give the text to a publishing house to paint, produce, print and distribute

it for a small percentage.

Write the text and paint it and give it to the publishing house ready for

printing and distribution.

Write the text, make the drawings, print them and make them ready to the

publisher for distribution only.

Rely on the private publishing on all the steps.

In all cases, the writer should retain his intellectual property right of the book.

Marketing the book through various posts, signing ceremonies, access

to schools, and read story tours. And other ideas the story writer can can

use to activate his story, whether this effort is carried out individually or in

collaboration with a publisher.

Second: After you pass through the gate: Discoveries and


These are no discoveries that I can attribute to myself, as far as they are asserts

of many ideas that specialists might point out:

I discovered that the children’s book is an integrated artistic and cultural



The children’s book could be an integrated artistic project which aims to enrich

many aspects of the child’s life:

1. Language is an integrated cultural template and through the children’s

book, the child’s Arabic language can be developed, documented, and

emphasized, particularly in this era in which the Arabic language almost

becomes a secondary thing, bearing in mind that language evolves and


2. Children’s books must be exploited as a means to enrich the aesthetic and

creative taste through exposure to different art forms.

3. Children’s books are used as a means of documenting the moral and material

elements of our culture, and present them in a form of delightful shape

to children. When I say material, I mean the features of the drawing and

the book and all the visual effects for their impact on the consolidation of

cultural symbols, in addition to any audio effects which can be added to

the book as a work of art such as the recording of the story or songs and

associated materials. By the moral culture I mean the tales of yesterday, the

values of society, elements of culture and the features of its heritage (the

experience of the Eid Fund corridor as a bridge between two generations

which were separated by time). This heritage is still rich with many

treasures that can be a tributary streams culture in all fields. Therefore, it

must be documented, rejuvenated and demonstrated to our children in a

convincing manner.

The good story is one which stays with the children till they grow up. Perhaps

the popular literature/folktales with all the wisdom they carry, were told to us

when were young and we only aware of their dimensions when we grow old.

So, the good story enjoys the child in the first place, settle at his heart of heart,


and then stores itself in his inner depths so as to come back and be recalled

at various stations of his life when he discovers a new face of it in every time.

Examples include the book “The ugly ducks go to work” by the Australian writer

Meite Nojard, which is introduced by Stephen Covey. It is a unique experience,

compiling a compendium of wisdoms and tales of the classical popular stories

of the famous Danish writer Hans Christian Anderson, combined with the

modern science of management and intermingling between fantasy fiction

and management depth made the book of a high artistic and dual value.

If we look at our memory, without much effort, we will find like those stories in

our Saudi heritage, which are characterized by their richness in numerous values

and virtues. These stories continue to cast a shadow over our consciousness,

even after we get old. This the method through which the human heritage

and value system is transmitted, generation after generation. Moreover, it

helps effectively in forming the conscience of the child and instill values and

identity in his personality at childhood. Perhaps the collection of stories by Dr.

Lamia’ Ba’ahan quoted from the Hijaz popular stories that are accompanied by

the audio story is considered a pioneer experience in this area.

I discovered that the Arabic book is facing the tides of English books:

Language cannot be dumped for its cultural content. It is a carrier, allencompassing,

and the custodian of nations’ cultures. In view of the progress

of the foreign book industry and the domination of the English broadcasting

media of many sources of culture in our homes every day, the Children’s Book

is facing real challenges in order to retain its spirit, language and originality.

In parallel with the original Arab publishing of children’s books, a wave of

Arabicization of children’s books from European languages in particular took

place, however, Makram Haddad of the World Heritage House in Lebanon, said

it could no longer benefit the Arab Child. As the Arabicization of a collection


of poetry, philosophy, an encyclopedia of information or a global novel is

desirable, with regard to the Arabicization of children’s books, the matter seems

quite different. Because language repertoire is the language of the mother,

but the cultural and social input is coming from another language. Therein lies

the conflict. Nevertheless, the attention paid to the Saudi children literature

within the last five years brought the children’s literature to the forefront

of the cultural landscape of Saudi Arabia in the face of translated children’s

book, that clearly appears in the quality and quantity of books published to a

large group of Saudi writers In addition to the emergence of a number of the

specialized publishing houses and a number of research and studies in this

area, perhaps the book titled (Guide for the writers and painters of Children’

literature- Committee for Culture of the Child) is documented as the first Saudi

guide for the names of a large number of pioneers and their production for

the child, in addition to the inventory of artists and publishing houses, libraries

and researchers in this field.

I discovered that the attractiveness of the paper book in this age is decreasing:

In the face of this rumbling tide of visual and sensual stimuli for children and the

younger generation of readers in general and Saudi children in particular, we

should exert an effort commensurate with their circumstances without trying

to impose our taste upon them. We must increase the pace and our efforts in

the development of children’s book as an integrated artistic project which is

closely linked to the rest of the arts such theater, drama, music, film-making of

animation, and the making of different other products which are associated

with the book such as dolls, and games. Perhaps the technological revolution

of technology manifests itself as a double-edged weapon. At the same time,

we find that the computer and the other technological hardware constitute a

large area of the lives of many Saudi children at home and school. This space can

be taken advantage of for the development of an Arab e-book commensurate

with the vision of today’s children and in line with their expectations.


I discovered that there is a forgotten period for authors and publishers and

Arab sections of libraries:

The stage which is known as the young readers between (12-18) years old,

represents a challenge to the author, between childhood which has colored

features, and the maturity of adults which is clearly defined. It is imperative

for those who work in the field of children’s books to include this category to

their area, and work to provide what suits them, and what makes them linked

to reading books at this critical stage of their lives. As a different experience,

I tried within which to knock on this door with my book “On the Swing

Secrets Scatter” but after that experience I realized that a large segment of

the audience of this book represent this age category, that shows the extent

of their thirst for a book which carries appearances and addresses them in a

language worthy of them.

I discovered that there is a reservoir of ideas that the creative person has

which enables him to convert all of what he went through to a story:

The author of children’s stories in particular must be capable of retaining

the sense of his childhood and mix it with the events and ambiance of story

commensurate with the children of his age This mix-up is essence of creating

a successful story.

Third: Where are we now?

The position of children’s literature in the Arab world differs from one region

to another, although generally it needs more hopes that push it forward. I

argue that the children’s literature in the Kingdom within the last five years

has been significantly activated. The effects of individual and collective

efforts appeared on the surface, such as emergence of children’s reading

clubs, and the efforts exerted to activate the idea of reading and spreading

it among all community spectrum. Thus reading to children and the efforts

being made to revitalize the idea of reading and publication in all spectrums


of society, besides the attention to school libraries and the activities

associated with them, the governmental and cultural interest in what

comes out of what is happening in this regard, attempts to documenting,

encouraging and showing the public through book fairs and cultural

days and other cultural educational activities, have all became prominent.

Based on this, we can benefit from successful international experiences in

the field of children’s literature, without forgetting that we are the owners

of pioneering experiences. We have specificity despite this openness to all

cultures and information to enrich this important aspect in our culture. Here

is an invitation to activate the cultural movement in the area of children’s

literature by:

1. Increasing the number of school libraries and public reading and activities

associated with the school curriculum.

2. Monitoring a special annual award in children’s literature.

3. Supporting Saudi Arabia’s publishing market, locally and regionally and

globally, by contributing to the delivery of the production of children’s

books for the largest section of Saudis internally and externally in a manner

that makes children’s book a Saudi cultural icon.

4. Creating art centers that include the awarding of specialized certificates in

drawing children’s books and design.

5. Increasing cooperation between the various relevant actors (authors,

painters, designers and artists, publishers, academics, educators and

librarians) and all those who are associated with children’s books.

Finally, in Arabic literature in general and Saudi Arabia in particular, there are

successful attempts to bring in the soul of the modern age which make our


children, who are the future generation more inclined to it. Moreover, through

the children’s books, we will be more connected with our Arabic literature

in its beautiful, fresh and strong form. Thus, we can communicate it to our

children and the world as a whole, while retaining our identity as a symbol of

our originality and a bearer of our treasures.


1. Ahmed Najib, “The story in children’s literature,” Dar Al-Ma’aref.1982

2. Bassima Bassam Al-Asali, “Children’s stories and the educational role”, Dar Al-

Ilm LILmalayin.2004 .

3. Dorothy Enon “Guide for early childhood education” Arab Scientific


4. Fahim Mustafa “The child and reading.” Egyptian-Lebanese House.

5. Muhammad Abdul Rauf Sheikh, “Children’s literature and characterbuilding

(the perspective of Islamic education).” Faculty of Education - UAE


6. Mawaheb Ibrahim Ayad “Expressive activity for preschool child”, University

of Alexandria.

7. Mary Wallace, “The best way to raise the child after the fourth year” Jarir


8. Najib Al-Kilani “Children’s literature in the light of Islam,” The Letter Foundation

in 1998.

9. Nizar Wassfi Al-Labadi “The Literature of Childhood - reality and aspirations.”

University Book House, Amman 2001.

10. Hadi Numan Al-Hiti, a “The Culture of Children” ‘Aalam Al-Ma’arefa, Kuwait


11. Huda Al-’Amoudi “Guide for writers and illustrators of children’s literature in

the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia” Cady and Ramady, Jeddah 2008



Panel - 5


indicators in higher

education in Saudi

Arabia and the


Higher Education in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia across

Two Decades:

Local Indicators and International Comparisons

Dr. Abdelmohsen bin Salem Al Aguili

The Reform of Czech Higher Education

Dr. Helena Sebkova


Higher Education

in the Kingdom of

Saudi Arabia across

Two Decades:

Local Indicators and International


Dr. Abdelmohsen bin Salem Al Aguili

Counselor and Supervisor, General Directorate for Planning

& Statistics, Deputy Ministry for Planning & Information


Represented by the Deputy Ministry for

Planning and Information the Ministry

of Higher Education undertakes to

measure the extent of its success in

realizing the Kingdom’s vision and a

number of indicators that would help diagnose the level of competence

with respect to the educational system as well as conduct analytical

and comparative studies with the view to developing it towards

achieving its objectives.

These indicators are therefore utilized in order to obtain comprehensive and

accurate information that would impact the reality of higher education in the

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia through the role this attained knowledge in the fields

of comprehensive, exhaustive and sustained planning in the higher education

sector and at the economic level in general.

Hence, the current paper titled “ Higher Education in the Kingdom of Saudi

Arabia across Two Decades: Local Indicators and International Comparisons”

is geared to survey and measure a set of high-education indicators in

the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as well as compare them with regional and

international bench-mark indicators, in addition to providing a preliminary

analysis of certain phenomena, an explanation of these phenomena and the

results thereof in order to shed light on the development of higher education

in the Kingdom as well make available the relevant information and data for

concerned students, scholars and institutions as a whole.


The paper is divided into three: the first part presents a chronological

comparison regarding higher education development in the Kingdom of

Saudi Arabia across two decades (1410H – 1430H). Using a set of indicators,

the second part gives a survey of the status of Saudi Arabia internationally. This

is carried out by comparing the kingdom with the groups of the comparison

countries and the international means. The third part, however, includes

the findings and the analysis thereof based on the comprehensive outlook

suggested by the first and second parts and the intersecting indicators in

addition to clarifying the rapport between them as well as their impacts on

each other.

In order to shed light on the higher education development process in Saudi

Arabia, determine its status compared to the groups of countries and the

international means, provide a preliminary analysis of certain phenomena,

an explanation of these phenomena and the results thereof, identify the

accomplishments, make available the relevant information and data for

concerned students and scholars, the current paper outlines higher education

development in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia across the past two decades

(1410H – 1430H) trough a set of indicators and international comparisons with

groups of countries adopted for this purpose by UNESCO and the International

Means of Indicators.

Saudi Indicators are based on the data available in information systems at

the Deputy Ministry for Planning and Information. These data have been

classified and coordinated in accordance with UNESCO approved definitions

and classifications. Computation of the indicators pertaining to the groups of

countries and the international means was based on the data available at the

UNESCO’s statistics unit




The Reform of

Czech Higher


Dr. Helena Sebkova

Centre for the study of Higher Education

Czech higher education has been

reformed significantly during the last two

decades. The system has gone through

a period of substantive expansion,

transforming it from an elite to a mass


The changes were accompanied by the decrease of state control in favour

of institutional self-governance, autonomy in decision making, and new

accountability measures.

The transformation of the higher education system has been strongly

influenced by international developments, first of all activities associated with

the Bologna process but also OECD activities.

The outcomes of the OECD project “Thematic Review of Tertiary Education and

the recommendations for the Czech higher education system development

actually formulated in the Country Note, the response of the OECD experts

on the reform ideas presented in the White Paper on Tertiary Education (2008)

and the results of currently running large national projects supported from

the Social Funds of the European Commission are the basis of the prepared


It is expected that the reform principles will be codified in a new higher

education act. In this paper, I will analyze the on-going reform debate, with

special focus on the following issues:


A. the three-tiered study structure and institutional diversification,

implementation of bachelor degree programmes, employability of

bachelor graduates, response of the society, examples of the good practice,

development of private sector of higher education;

B. quality assurance, process of accreditation of degree programmes,

institutional quality evaluation and quality culture, international influence

– implementation of the European Standards and Guidelines for Quality

Assurance in the European Higher Education Area;

C. institutional governance, rights and responsibilities of institutional

governing bodies, relationship of an institution and its parts, professional

management, role of students.




The National Educational Project for Reviving

Relationship with Books:

The Public Library of King Abdulaziz, Towards a

Reading-oriented Generation

Dr. Fahd bin Ali Al-Olyyan

Promotion of Reading

Dana Kalinová (PhDr)


The National

Educational Project

for Reviving

Relationship with


The Public Library of King

Abdulaziz, Towards a Readingoriented


Dr. Fahd bin Ali Al-Olyyan

Director of the National Educational Project for

Reviving Relationship with Books

An Overview

The government of the Kingdom of

Saudi Arabia is exerting massive efforts

in the dissemination of knowledge and

education, through its numerous sectors

interested in education.

Having a faith in the importance of reading and in its active role in spreading

knowledge and education, the main ingredients for the progress of nations and

human communities, and being aware of the need for the Saudi community, in

all its segments, to educate itself on all branches of knowledge via reading books,

which enhance raising the type of a social awareness that fosters openness,

dialogue, and respect for others and their views, and, which goes in line with

the teachings of our true religion, the religion of mercy and moderation, which

promotes such values and those of high morals, the Royal Decree No. 2/B/5246,

corresponding to 4/2/1424, which implies the approval for launching a national

educational project for reviving relationship with books, with the Public Library of

King Abdul Aziz being the headquarter of its General Secretary, has been issued.

In view of the fact that the Public Library of King Abdul Aziz is one of the main

educational institutions that plays a pivotal role in the Saudi community, , the

Library is privileged to execute the Royal Decree, out of its conviction in its key

role in diffusing knowledge and education among the different segments of

our dear homeland, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This project is receiving all

possible moral and financial support from its founder, the Custodian of Two

Holy Mosques and the Supreme Director of its Executive Board, King Abdullah

bin Abdul Aziz, may God protect him.


Objectives of the Project

The ultimate objective of The National Educational Project for Reviving

Relationship with Books is to promote the trend for and to create an interest in

free reading among all different segments of the society in general.

The following goals are derived from the ultimate objective:

1. Raising awareness about the significance of reading and its benefits on all


2. Creating interest in reading and in the obtainment of knowledge as the

sole gateway for the future.

3. Raising awareness about the importance of books as a main source

of knowledge, given the technological development in the means of

communication and exchange of knowledge.

4. Fostering the culture of reading between all classes of the community.

5. Promoting the sense of competiveness in reading between male and

female students in all different stages of education.

6. Making books available for all classes of the community at libraries, public

waiting areas (e.g. airports, medical clinics, sports clubs, etc.).

7. Activating the role of the social, intellectual, and educational institutions

and societies in this respect.

8. Conducting research as to identify the reasons why all classes of the

community are not keen on reading, and as to remedy this disinterest and,

subsequently, to find out the ways and means through which a positive

interest in reading and some favorite reading areas can be fostered.

9. Stressing the importance of reading in developing all the different

educational levels.

10. Organizing conferences, seminars, and workshops on the main topics and

issues relevant to the varying aspects of reading, knowledge development,

and self-actualization of the individual.


Significance of the Project

The National Educational Project for Reviving Relationship with Books can be

considered a giant stride that reflects the interest and desire of the Kingdom

of Saudi Arabia to develop its community by facing the problem of disinterest

in reading, as to come up with proper solutions that may warrant raising

awareness about reading, and that may help the various segments of the

community to develop an interest in and inclination towards reading.

The importance of this projects stems from the fact that reading and books are

the bases of knowledge and education, and through them, nations develop

and ascend the ladder of awareness and intellectuality. Since reading enjoys

paramount cultural and humane importance, setting up any national project

in this context would definitely yield positive results that would be taken on

board by all. This would also have a great impact on pushing the wheel of

progress and welfare in this generous country. Having interest in reading

and raising awareness about its importance can be deemed as one of the

cultural requirements for the advancement and growth of nations. In order to

achieve the goals pertinent to the projects of sustainable development in this

blessed country, and in order to catch up with the industrial and productive

countries, reading must be made our objective and our end as to build a


Our community must be a reading-oriented one, as reading acquires a special

importance in one’s life. Reading is a tool through which mental capabilities

are developed and the human experience is magnified, as it provides human

beings with wisdom, knowledge, the sense of appreciation and pleasure, and

assists him/her to succeed and to become professional in any area he/she

is specializing in. All of this springs from the idea that involving in reading

enhances sustainable self-cultivation, broadens the individual’s encyclopedic

knowledge, makes his/her imagination active, sharpens his/her sense of


appreciation and sentiments, enables acquiring new linguistic and stylistic

expressions, and enables benefiting from the intellectual legacy made by

the minds of scientists, researches, and others. Reading is also a tool that can

upgrade or develop the individual to reach the highest levels of knowledge,

education and modern civilization, as in reading, the individual can achieve

his/her ultimate goals and his/her highest precious aspirations. Not only does

reading have an impact on the individual’s life, but it also have an impact on

the society at large. So, the massive explosion of knowledge, represented

in its steady flowing, made it very difficult for the educational and scientific

institutions to absorb it and so catching up with it requires having a reading

community; rather, a community that is quite passionate about reading so

that it can keep abreast up with the accelerating technological and scientific


The Advantages of the Project for the Saudi Community

The leading educational project may have the following possible advantages

for the individuals of the Saudi community:

Immunizing them –through educated and insightful reading- against

misleading or twisted views that clash with our Islamic Share’ah and our

traditions and customs.

11. Cementing the ties between the Saudi individuals and their homeland,

and reinforcing their patriotism through reading the national intellectual

heritage and through educating themselves on the sacrifices made by the

state-personalities in building this great Kingdom.

12. Familiarizing people with the traditions, customs, and the latest in other

cultures, i.e., reading can be a means to promote peace and corporation

among individuals and societies.

13. Broadening people’s intellectual horizons, as it gives them a window on the

world and what is going around them, and gives them the ability to keep

abreast up with the current time and its huge scientific breakthroughs and


different civilizational achievements. This can be done through reading

books translated from other languages.

14. Assisting people to deepening their encyclopedic knowledge, polishing

their intellectuality, and building outstanding personalities. This would

enable individuals to possess the ability for effective adaptation with their

community in the different scientific, social, and vocational fields.

15. Helping individuals to maintain ties with the genuine heritage of their

culture, and updating them with the latest advancements and innovations

the human mind produced in the different cultures.

16. Assisting individuals to have fun and pleasure, as reading can be the best

and easiest way for killing free time in a useful manner.

17. Encouraging them, especially children, to become library-users, be it

public or private library, and to benefit from their programs and different


The Activities of the Project

In the context of materializing the goals of the project, a number of programs

and activities has been launched as to stimulate those interested in reading to

interact and cooperate with those in charge of the project, in order to actualize

the sought goals. The following are the main activities that were launched

over the last period of time:

Free Reading Festival

The Free Reading Festival was organized many times at the headquarter of the

Public Library of King Abdul Aziz (Al-Murabba’ branch), as to pave the way for

organizing similar festivals all over the Kingdom, with the aim of achieving the

following goals:

1. Creating interest in students for free reading.

2. Familiarizing students with the importance of reading in one’s life and in

the community where he/she lives.


3. Introducing students with some magazines, stories, and books that suit

their different ages and that satisfy their reading needs.

4. Establishing a close relationship between students and the public and

private libraries

5. Encouraging teachers and faculty staff members of those schools, at

which these festivals are held, to be keen on instilling in students the love

of reading.

6. Training male and female teachers on the skills of reading stories to students.

The Free Reading Festival includes the following main activities:

1. Organizing a featured exhibition which contains images that reflect the

development of reading and writing, and their importance in building


2. Visiting some sections of the Library of King Abdul Aziz as to be familiar

with the efforts made in the field of reading and libraries.

3. Preparing a miniature exhibition for a selected number of magazines and

stories that suit the different ages and educational levels of students, with

diversified topics on history, culture, health and sports.

4. Devoting time for free reading in some selected books and stories that suit

the different ages of students.

5. Organizing a contest for free reading in some selected books, which

includes examining students in what they read and on what they think

about what they read. After sorting out the winners, promotional prizes

are awarded to them.

6. Organizing a public seminar on reading and its role in developing

individuals and communities, which involves a number of students from

the secondary stage in addition to a keynote speaker.

7. Inviting some outstanding Saudi authors in the field of story and novel or

child literature as to shed light into the process of writing story or novel, to

be followed by reading out to the secondary stage students some selected


stories in an expressive and impressive manner.

8. Inviting some celebrities who love reading (players, actors, missionaries,

etc.) to talk about their own experiences with reading as to urge student

to involve themselves in reading.

9. Taking advantage of some cartoonist, drama, or copying characters as to

put on some variety and fun in children’s lives and as to encourage them

on reading.

10. Reading out to the students of the elementary stage some selected

stories by specialists supervisors who have been trained on how to read to

students in an attractive and touching style.

11. Organizing a training course for the male and female teachers of the

elementary stage on the art of reading stories to students.

12. Organizing reading activities for male and female students of the

elementary stage.

13. Organizing the ‘Reading Stage Festival’.

14. Organizing a forum on reading.

15. Organizing a workshop for the library secretaries at the elementary-stage


The Book Club Project

This project aims at:

1. Consolidating the habit of reading in the society at large.

2. Making available the good books to the good reader everywhere in the

Kingdom, on a regular basis, as to overcome the problem of unavailability

of books which is always ascribed to the scarcity of public and private

libraries, and to overcome the problem of those busy readers who do not

have time to go out to libraries.

3. Igniting the passion for reading in people by providing each individual

by two books every month of the year, which would cements the ties

between the reader and the book.


The idea behind The Book Club is to provide each of its members with two

books a month in exchange of the annual subscription fees, according to the

following details:

1. Nominal Subscription fees (400R.).

2. The member receives a catalogue which includes many classified books

and references: religion, CVs, novels, poetry collections, economy and

politics. The catalogue will also include famous sayings on reading and

books made by some celebrities.

3. The catalogue is issued at the start of the Hijri year.

4. The member selects the books and can order them by filling in the

subscription form attached, which should be sent to the Club.

5. The Club will send to every member, by postal mail, a pack of two books at

the beginning of every Hijri month.

6. At the end of the year, the member will receive a questionnaire to evaluate

the performance of the Club and the quality of books, as to maintain

continuous progress.

The Airport Reading Project

This project aims at providing the international and domestic terminals of the

airports of the Kingdom with a collection of good books and making them

handy to all passengers who use the country’s airports. This would give the

passengers the chance to exercise free reading free-of-charge, and would

enable them to utilize their waiting time in something useful, as they would

have access to the publications of the Public Library of King Abdul Aziz, and

other selected books. This project has been launched and implemented at the

airport of King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh.

‘Their Experiences Forum’

Having the desire to stimulate some reading activities at the library and to

reinforce the role of reading in the society, the idea of setting up a periodical


forum where literary writers and intellectuals, as exemplary readers-figures,

can talk about their rich experiences in reading has been proposed. This forum

aims at:

1. Strengthening the relationship between the library and those in charge of

the National Educational Project and the literary writers, intellectuals and

books in the Kingdom.

2. Giving momentum to the scientific and intellectual movement in the


3. Shedding light on the role of reading in developing the literary writers and

intellectuals’ knowledge and intellectuality.

4. Shedding light on the role of books and intellectuals in stimulating the

educational movement in the Kingdom.

5. Encouraging people in general and the educated people in particular to

involve themselves in free reading in order to expand their encyclopedic

knowledge, and in order to develop their innovative and intellectual


6. Exchanging educational and intellectual experiences related to free

reading and to specialist reading.

This forum is held in the city of Riyadh periodically, with the participation of

more than ten male and female Saudi intellectuals so far. The forum is still

attracting and hosting the intellectual elites.





Dana Kalinová (PhDr)

Managing Director

International Book Fair Prague

Questions to speakers:

Tradition of reading of books and reading level of population with a special

focus on children and teenagers – study and situation in both countries

Attention of the government and relevant ministries dedicated to

development of reading within society, specialized structure of state


Reading habits of families, reading at schools

Special projects supporting attitude to reading of books – public x private,

book start projects, book and reading clubs etc.


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