Poverty and joblessness are prompting protest in the kingdom, writes FINIAN CUNNINGHAM in Manama
THE POPULAR uprisings across the Middle East are sparking similar unrest in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with youth groups and workers in that country now calling for a “day of rage” demonstration in the capital, Riyadh, on March 11th.
Already there have been protests in the city of Qatif and other towns in the country’s oil-rich Eastern Province demanding, among other things, the release of political prisoners and a raft of social reforms. There are also reports of prominent Shia clerics being detained by the Saudi Sunni authorities, and security forces mobilising in anticipation of further protests.
Sadek al-Ramadan, a human rights activist in al-Asha, Eastern Province, said: “People here are watching closely the protest movements across the region, which are tapping into long-held demands for reforms in Saudi Arabia.” Al-Ramadan said that there are “deep frustrations” in Saudi society over high levels of poverty, unemployment, poor housing and perceived widespread corruption among the rulers of the world’s top oil exporter whose gross domestic product last year is estimated at $622 billion.