A hashtag in Arabic reading #systemforserviceneedstochange was widely mentioned among Saudi Twitter users this week. The hashtag highlighted the problems the Saudi military staff face. Users listed the disadvantages of the old regulations governing the armed forces.
The Twitter users, who mostly appeared to be military or concerned citizens, listed the flaws of the regulation, which was enacted in 1977, 43 years ago, and has not been updated since. The old rules are inflexible. For example, it is claimed that members of the Saudi military may travel only with a travel permit and that their university credits are ignored, among many complaints. One user asked the influencers and social media to engage in this discussion and highlight the disadvantages of the regulation which compared to other sectors in Saudi Arabia, are not given enough attention because of the concerned authorities’ lack of interest. Another Twitter user pointed out that the military’s responsibility is to defend the country, asking for King Salman’s attention.One twitter user stressed on the honor of military service, a feature that touches Arab emotions and should not be forgotten.
The truth is that there are about 200,000 Saudis in the Saudi military. The regulation allows only Saudi Nationals-born in Saudi to join. These regulations also prefer individuals who belong to a strong tribal background. It is not a popular “job” that young Saudis aspire for, because this profession is known for being governed by tough rules. For instance, salaries for most Saudi military men are so low that they can not buy their own house and mostly live in rented places with their families. Some have been serving in war zones, fighting against terrorists for many years. After retirement, their already low salaries get lesser and make it difficult for them to settle in Saudia Arabia due to the increasing costs of living.
The vision for 2030. Today, many reforms are happening, the majority of which were long overdue. A lot has been done that will help Saudis to get through the more difficult times that will come with changes.
The military is a fundamental pillar of the stability, and hopefully will be included in Vision 2030.