This study is a proposal to investigate into the challenges of infrastructure modernization in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). KSA is a unique kingdom located in Middle East. KSA is best known as the world biggest oil producer. It is strongly found on Islamic culture, which dictates most of its activities (Blanchard, 2012). The Islamic traditions practiced in KSA have been attributed to shape the response of the people in this kingdom on matters of national interest. A documentary produced and directed by Mill (2008) reflecting on the Saudi Kingdom has been a good eye opener on understanding of the KSA.
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Inside Saudi Kingdom documentary provides a penetration in the way KSA is wrestling with modernization and technology by trying to conserve its Islamic traditions. The documentary is about Prince Saud bin Abdul Mohsin bin Adul Aziz Al Saud, a governor of Hail province. The governor speaks of his ambitions and problems. Coupled with the Hail province people, a fascinating insight is revealed about this feudal country.
Currently, modernization is vital in every part of the world. The way this process is accepted is determined by people’s backgrounds and values. For instance, in KSA, modernization process is influenced by the country’s Islamic traditions. According to Mill (2008) British Broadcasting Cooperation (BBC) documentary, KSA is revealed to be not immune to vagaries of change. Interestingly, the kingdom is highly protected by the Saudi Religious Police, who are known to punish those who try to abandon the kingdom’s Islamic law. Adopting modernization process in KSA is challenging especially when the change is likely to contradict the Islamic tradition.
However, there are some infrastructures in which the KSA is willing to modernize. Specifically, KSA has made huge investments in its military infrastructures (Zuhur, 2005).
Considering the point that Islamic tradition influences the kind of change adopted in the KSA, we agree with the idea that challenges of infrastructure modernization in KSA emerge from Islamic tradition or laws. Infrastructures are developed to suit the needs of the Islamic traditions.
To achieve its purpose, the study methodology will be designed to answer the following study questions:
Does KSA put emphasis on modernization of some infrastructures than others?
The study will examine the infrastructures that the KSA has put much effort in modernizing by adopting current technologies and standards. The emphasis will be determined by reviewing the amount of funding directed to infrastructure.
Why does the Islamic traditions in KSA influence the modernization of infrastructures?
Different infrastructures will be examined to determine how their developments are controlled by the Islamic laws.
Which infrastructures in KSA are highly affected by Islamic traditions or laws limiting their modernization?
Answering this question will help determine infrastructures that are highly challenged by the Islamic tradition in KSA affecting their adoption of current technologies and standards, which characterize modernization.
There exist limited literatures on challenges of infrastructures modernization that specifically addresses the KSA case. However, there are numerous literatures, which can help one understand the challenges of infrastructure modernization in KSA.
A study by Alshehri, Drew, and Alfarraj (2012) identified cultural organization in KSA as one of the barriers in the adoption of e-government services infrastructures. The study was conducted in KSA. The researchers used a survey method to gather information on challenges and barriers to adoption of e-government services in KSA. The researchers surveyed 460 citizens in Saudi Arabia, which involved participants from information technology departments in the KSA public sector. The data was used to identify the challenges and barriers from a variety of perspectives. From the challenges identified, cultural organization was one of the challenges. According to Blanchard (2012), KSA culture is strongly based on Islamic laws.
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A study by Shavit (2006), found that some citizens of KSA associate modernization with devilish. They perceive that adoption of modernization in KSA will ruin the identity of Muslim religion. In the study, the author was concerned with the origin of Al-Qaeda, which is portrayed as group that emerged to Islamize the KSA society. This group influence disregarded the contribution of western modernization in Saudi Arabia. The study cites that there are cases in which the political leaders differ with the clergy leaders on adoption of certain infrastructures. Specifically, the study cites an example in which the clergy disagreed with the political leaders in adoption of communication infrastructures terming them as devilish. However, in some cases, such objections have not prevented the adoption of such infrastructures.
Islamic traditions support the existence of Bureaucratic government, which is in control of public expenditures (Khatib, 2012). Khatib (2012) concluded that this is one of the reasons as to why the increased revenue from oil does not reflect a similar expenditure of the revenue in construction of infrastructures. In the study, the researcher explored the relationships that KSA oil revenue has with the government expenditures on infrastructures. The study aim was to find whether an increase in oil revenue led to a similar increase in development of infrastructures. The author conducted the exploration by examining the KSA oil revenue and expenditure between the periods of 1983 to 2007. The results revealed that increase in oil revenue did not guarantee an increase on the government spending more on infrastructures.
Use of internet, which is a tool of modernization, is limited in KSA. According to Teitelbaum (2002), using internet for modernization in Saudi Arabia will continue to be limited for years as long the control over its impacts on culture is under control. In the study, the author examined internet introduction in KSA and how this kingdom was trying to balance the information advantage with communications, economy, and business advantages. This was done in relation to the country’s conservative nature to Islamic traditions. From the study, the KSA government is willing to use internet to modernize and for business purpose, but it prevent its citizen from being affected by globalization, which is perceived to affect KSA mores. The study reveals that the modernization process in KSA should not compromise the Islamic tradition. Any form of modernization, which compromises the Islamic tradition is banned in KSA. For instance, Yahoo club site was banned in Saudi Arabia because it was seen to be sexual in nature (Teitelbaum, 2002).
Infrastructures that demand for gender equality appear to be highly affected with Islamic tradition. This has prevented modernization of such infrastructures. For instance, the education infrastructures in KSA are crawling toward modernization. A study by Hamdan (2005) explored challenges and successes that women have made in education in KSA. The study revealed a great disparity in the men and women achievement in Saudi Arabia education. Education infrastructures are not well modernized to cater for girl education in KSA. Girls are excluded from participating in public life. Most of the girls are educated in Islamic laws. Girls’ limited participation in education is associated with the status in the society, which is determined by the Islamic tradition. It can be said that modernization in education infrastructures is limited to help maintain the status valued in KSA society. Therefore, the Islamic regulations or traditions have made it hard to implement modernization in some infrastructures.
In summary, this chapter was a review of literatures relating to how the Islamic tradition influences infrastructure modernization in KSA. The next section is the methodology, which describes how the study will be conducted.
This section describes the way the study will be conducted. The research design, method of data collection and data analysis, and participants are presented.
The research will be consulted in KSA capital city, Riyadh. In this study quantitative research method will be used. The method includes survey interviews, which will be vital in interpreting the study. The interview questions are structured questions, which are known to be best for quantitative interviews for they do not need extra information from a respondent (Leedy & Ormrod, 2001). The research will use the face-to-face interviews, which will help in establishing a good rapport with the participants and win cooperation. In addition, it helps in clarification of ambiguity in answers and can provide information for follow-up. A reasonable sample will be selected to help obtain reliable information and cut on the cost of the study.
Participants, Sample and sampling
The study will use a sample of 18 respondents. The sample will be conducted through random sampling. Sampling will be done in Riyadh city in KSA in a selected university. University students are preferred for this study because it is assumed that university students and lecturers are more familiar with modernization compared to ordinary citizens (those who have not attained university education).
The interviews will be used to determine the challenges Islamic tradition has on modernization of infrastructures in KSA. The interview will determine the infrastructures, which are highly affected by the Islamic laws limiting their modernization advantage. This will be done in percentage. The infrastructure with highest percent will be categorized as the most affected and vice versa. Second, mode will be used to categorize the infrastructures mostly emphasized for modernization in KSA. Finally, on identified reasons as to why the Islamic laws influence KSA modernization, average will be used to categorize the reasons basing on the weight.
At the beginning of the interview, the researchers will explain to the respondents the research purpose and its significance to the empirical world by the help of a translator. A respondent will be interviewed for a maximum of 10 minutes. The respondents for the study will be categorized as KSA residents under the Islamic regulation and have knowledge on different KSA infrastructures. The interview will begin by capturing a respondent’s demographic information such as educational background, age, and occupation. Second questions will be asked to determine how different infrastructures modernization is affected by Islamic traditions or laws. These questions will also help review specific infrastructures and how they are treated in KSA. They will include military, education, and communication infrastructures.
Interviews will be conducted in the mid-morning and immediately after afternoon. This is because KSA values and respects Islamic regulations and hence scheduling interviews at prayer time will be hard to meet the respondents. Data will be analyzed in percentage, mean and mode.
Alshehri, M., Drew, S., & Alfarraj, O. (2012). Challenges; E-government services; adoption; Saudi Arabia; Citizens perspective; IT employees. International Journal of Advanced Computer Science and Applications ( IJACSA ), 3(2), 1 – 6.
Blanchard, C. M. (2012). Saudi Arabia: Background and U.S. Relations. Web.
Hamdan, A. (2005). Women and Education in Saudi Arabia: Challenges and Achievements. International Education Journal, 6(1), 42-64.
Khatib, A.M. (2012). Oil and Infrastructure Expenditures in Saudi Arabia. Journal of Business Studies Quarterly, 4(2), 72-76.
Leedy P.D., & Ormrod, J.E. (2005). Practical Research: planning and design. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall.
Mill, L. (2008). Inside the Saudi Kingdom (BBC Documentary). Web.
Shavit, U. (2006). Al-Qaeda’s Saudi Origins: Islamist Ideology. The Middle East Quartely, 13(4), 3-13.
Teitelbaum, J. (2002). Dueling for Da‘wa: State vs. Society on the Saudi Internet. Middle East Journal, 56(2), 222-239.
Zuhur, S. (2005). Saudi Arabia: Islamic Threat, Political Reform, and the Global War on Terror. Carlisle Barracks, PA: Strategic Studies Institute.