Why the Saudi middle class must be saved
The prospect of the Kingdom’s middle class disappearing almost became a reality with the crash of the Tadawul, the Kingdom’s stock exchange, in 2006. Many faced the harsh reality of losing all of their savings when the capital market stumbled to a five-year low.
All of this happened even though it was the middle class that was the main engine to move the wheels of development. This segment also played an important role in maintaining a social balance between the upper and lower classes.
It is noteworthy that the middle class is comprised of two sections: The first include workers, farmers, traders and owners of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and factories. The second is a mixed class, comprising professionals, artists, writers, men of letters, researchers, academics, employees and military personnel. Most often these people rely on their physical or intellectual capabilities to earn a livelihood.
There are signs the middle class is fast shrinking in the absence of state-funded programs to support and strengthen them. There is no doubt that if this segment of society decreases, it would be a big tragedy as the gap between the rich and poor would grow.
The middle class is the symbol of moderation in everything and this class is instrumental in achieving a balance in society. In its absence, corruption will spread, poverty will increase, crime will be rampant and the security of the nation will be in danger. This will lead to family disintegration, too.
A series of important measures must be taken to protect this segment of society. This includes raising the salary of Saudi employees in both the public and private sectors, compensation to victims of stock market crashes, quick solutions to the housing problem, addressing the unemployment problem by creating more jobs in the public and private sectors and encouraging the latter to provide training and jobs to young Saudis with a salary sufficient to meet their cost of living.
Apart from this, there should be strict market monitoring to curb unreasonable price increases and measures to protect SMEs owned and run by middle class Saudis. It is high time to take such steps to protect the middle class to achieve balanced development.
There should be legal controls on the upper class and businessmen so they cannot create a monopoly in the market. Moreover, there should be more transparency and accountability, in addition to a clampdown on financial and administrative corruption.