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Volume :6 Issue : 22 1980      Add To Cart                                                                    Download

THE TRENDS OF DEVELOPMENT IN THE WESTERN PROVINCE (SAUDI ARABIAN KINGDOM)

Auther : Dr. Omar El Farouk El Sayed Ragab

 

         The development process, which is taking place at the moment in the Saudi Arabian Kingdom, is considered as the most important change after the petroleum discovery (1931).  Since the end of the Second World War (1945), the petroleum production has led to a group of basic changes.  The new researches, which are related to this process, have emphasized that it is very dangerous to depend completely on one economic natural resource, and it is urgent, for the Kingdom, to carry on some industrial programs, especially the petro-chemical ones, and also to draw a realistic plan for the other traditional economic fields, such as agriculture and grazing.

   (A)  THE AGRICULTURE DEVELOPMENT (The rural regions):

          The main trend of the agricultural development in the rural regions of  

          the western province is likely to be as follow:

1.     Twenty five of the total population of the province can be considered mainly farmers, this percentage has been decreasing as a result of many reasons, chiefly it is due to the exodus of a great number of its farmers to the old and new cities in the region, it refers also to the acute problems of the shortage in the water resources.  There is also a recent problem, but a significant one, it is the problem of the emergence of a number of new cities, accompanied with population rapid growth in the old once. Now the farmers prefer to settle and live in these urban centers, so there is a vast process of urbanization.  This process is due mainly to the attractiveness of the urbanized mode of life, and also to the present government facilities in the economic fields of commerce, services, and other urban activities.  These urban economic fields are also more profitable, without requirements for highly-skilled labor force.  This process of urbanization has led to sort of competition between the agricultural and urban center’s requirements of water.  Now, important question is this: How to carry on a water policy which would satisfy all these requirements of water, not only for the time being, but also for the future?

 2.     The new cultivated lands in the western province are not on a large scale.  Moreover, the traditional ways of agriculture have no surplus, production is hardly subsistent.  Till now, the official statistics are very poor and changeable, so it is difficult to suggest an agricultural policy on a realistic solid ground.  It is clear that such suggestion requires, first of all, extensive studies of water resources, especially the underground layers and storages, and of the mechanical and chemical characteristic soils, and also of the suitable crops, that are to be chosen for a profitable rotation.

 3.     Both the old and new cultivated lands in the province, may face the same environmental problems, i.e. water deficiency, high salinity of the desert soils, soil creeping along the hills and mountain sides, the destructive sudden rainfall, and, finally, the difficulties of water drainage.  Considering these environmental problems, it is imperative to carry on an integrated policy for the purposes of both reclamation and cultivation.  This policy must involve decisive solution for the previous problems, and some programs for water conservation through constructing a series of dams.

   (B)    GRAZING DEVELOPMENT (The nomad’s regions)

          For a long time, the Arabian Peninsula was known as the land of nomad people.  During the last twenty five years, nomadism has been declining in Saudi Arabia, and it may disappear completely within few years.  The tribe was of life has been deteriorating because of many reasons:  The exodus of the nomads from their original homes, which are scattered in the desert, to the urban centers, the old tradition and relations were neglected from the new generation, to cut it short, the “tribe” in Saudi Arabia has survived as a relic of the past.  The crucial question is a complex one:  is this trend, from eco-social viewpoint, is the right one?; taking into account concentrating nomadic people in urban centers, which are far from being suitable for those particular emigrants.  Again, the hazardous movement is certainly deteriorational for labor force.  Despite the low standard of the grazing, production, and of the environmental problems, the grazing economy is considered, ecologically, the genuine response in desert regions.  

           The economy of grazing offers a good example, which can demonstrate the latest probabilities of any environmental plan of development.  Since it is rooted and well adapted, it requires some scientific programs in the province, with special emphasis on water resources, on the species of animal and grass, on the ways of feeding livestock, and lastly on marketing.

   (C)   THE URBAN DEVELOPMENT

          About 50% of the total number of population in the western province are living now in its cities.  This percentage is distributed between its six main cities (Geddah, Mecca, Al-Taif, Al-Madina, Yanu’bu, and Tabouk), and 18 small urban centers.  All of these urban centers have been growing rapidly from about two decades only.  The population map of the Kingdom has been subjected to a drastic change, most of these cities no longer depend, economically, on local resources.  They are geography, not located in the petroleum region itself, but, economically, they are a group of petroleum cities.  Their labor force is distributed between some of urban economic activities, such as commerce and services.  Till now the industrial function is not obvious in the cities’ economic structure, despite the huge petroleum financial resources, in fact, only a very small percentage has been invested in establishing industries.  It is urgent, now, to stimulate the traditional industries, and to carry on a scientific industrial policy, also to create the petro-chemical industry in the main cities of the province.

 By so doing, we have speculated on the right approach of the horizons of development, which is built on the ecological criteria and the new economic trends in the outside world.

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