Friday, 13 December 2013

Self-Improvement in Saudi

A Saudi man asked me a short while back what I knew about ' The Secret'.  He was referring to the book by Rhonda Byrne that explains the key to getting everything we want in life.  I admit to being surprised at the question.  For some reason I presumed the 'law of attraction' would be considered a bit like HooDoo to Saudi's and they wouldn't go near it.  It turns out this gentleman has been looking into the theory and likes what he sees.  He just wanted to discuss what he'd learned, given my own beliefs on the subject.

With all the hype around The Secret I did, eventually, buy it, only to discover its secret wasn't new to me at all!  Universal energy is a concept I've been familiar with most of my adult life, largely due to my Maori connections.  Maori have always believed in spiritual elements.  One of the most fundamental beliefs is in our life force, the force that connects us with everything around us.  Study of this principle has led me to spend quite a bit of time reading up on Wicca, Homeopathy and various other energy related topics - even quantum physics.  And then, twenty odd years later, The Secret is published with its ground breaking 'attitude of gratitude'.

I'm certainly not dissing the book or its theory.  It was just unexpected that a Saudi would ask me about it, and a man at that!  While discussing the topic I did wonder what Saudi clerics, who are presumably the go-to folks for any Saudi feeling out of sorts with life, would make of 'The Secret'?  Would they be open enough to look at its message or not?  Would they understand that we humans (and, contrary to the opinion of numerous disgruntled worker bees on social networking sites who like to compare them to Eeyore and his relatives when referring to the locals, Saudi's do belong to the human race) are always searching for ways to make sense of our lives and the world we live in?  Would they wonder why anybody would need to read that book when all the answers to any question you might have on life and living is in the Quran?' (a woman I met told me that once...I smiled politely).

As far as I know the 'self-improvement' buzz that has taken the rest of the world by storm lately, largely due to the increase of self-publishing on the topic, hasn't actually hit Saudi Arabia yet.  Perhaps the folks at Jariir bookstore would have more of an idea how many Saudi's read Carnegies, 'How to win friends and influence people', Napolean Hills, 'Think and Grow Rich' or James Allens, 'As A Man Thinketh'?

If improving oneself though personal development were to take off here, naturally hot on its heels would come the Professional Life Coach.  I'm  not sure how many Saudi's would currently pay for such a service and even if they wanted to, where in Saudi would one find a life coach anyhow.  (I know there are psychiatrists and psychologists in Riyadh.  I've met a couple - both western trained.  Apparently the large hospitals have psych doctors attached to them.  Maybe they would double as life coaches, too).

Anyway, some weeks later, this same Saudi also wanted to know about meditation.  Again, his question was unexpected, though I tried not to look so surprised this time, and gave him my opinion before directing him to a couple of websites that I have found beneficial, and thought he may too, based on our discussion.

Project Meditation - Free Course

I'm sure there are numerous Saudi's out there who want to improve themselves, to grow, broaden their horizons, improve their attitudes and be the best they can be.  This gentleman, however, is the only Saudi I know of asking these types of questions.  (Hardly surprising as the number of Saudi males I know on a 'Let's Talk Openly About Whatever' level I can count on one finger).

What has been obvious in the few short years I've lived here, is Saudi's tendency to follow western trends, and not all of them have been beneficial either.  To date Riyadh has experienced the fast food trend, more recently the muffin shop and cup cake trend, currently it's going through the Burger trend.  Wouldn't it be great if a truly substantial trend were to hit the Saudi streets.  Like Self-improvement.  Now that would be worth seeing, wouldn't it?

Ka Kite,

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