The annual examinations are now over and thousands of students look forward to a long restful summer. Many will go abroad with their families. Quite a few others will stay in the Kingdom.
The question arises as to what can be done to make those who do not travel abroad have a pleasant summer. I am sure, the weather notwithstanding, with a little bit of planning, young people can still enjoy their vacations at home.
For those who want to gain some work experience and are interested in making some money, there is always the opportunity to work as a summer student in a local company. It is encouraging to note that many Saudi companies welcome young people to work with them during the summer and also provide them with some basic training in office management. Under this "Earn While You Learn" scheme, the student comes out at the end of the summer not only with more experience but also with increased self esteem.
The increasing number of health and sports clubs also see rising attendance during summer. Many young Saudis have now turned to other sports such as squash, tennis and basketball and are being offered coaching. I wish that various companies would sponsor coaches to discover the hidden talent that exists in the Kingdom.
There are many cooler areas - such as Aseer - that people can visit. It would be a great idea if summer camps could be set up there including cultural activities such as reading clubs, debates and poetry sessions in addition to sports. These camps would then cater to the improvement of both mind and body.
As someone who is concerned about the youth in our society, I would also advise parents to take more interest in their children and give them some additional time and attention. The hustle and bustle of daily life sometimes drives a wedge between parents and their children and we parents must try to drive it out.
The summer season in the Kingdom gives us a chance to bridge this gap and create a more pleasant and mutually satisfying family environment.
In most parts of the world, water is a dwindling vital resource. Thus it is never too early to think in terms of improving the technologies for desalinating sea water and furthermore, doing so at a lower cost than at present. In this context, it will be important for a team of experts and researchers to come up with proposals on how to achieve these twin objectives.
Desalination processes now in use in the Gulf are very expensive and a well-funded research program to develop cheaper technologies is envisaged by the Middle East Desalination Research Center. The experience of Gulf Arab countries which have built the most "modern" desalination plants, without counting the cost, will have to be looked at most carefully by researchers.
However, the Gulf Arab countries themselves must start thinking in terms of locating their future desalination plants away from the Gulf. They have probably reached the limit as far as recycling the salty Gulf waters is concerned.
We should look very seriously at all environment-related issues such as energy efficiency, recycling, quality management and water conservation. Also, we have to find new techniques to make future desalination plants cheaper. In the last resort, governments in the Gulf will want to slash consumer subsidies on water or privatize the water supply sector. Before that is done, however, resolute efforts to develop cheaper desalination technologies must be made, so that more and more water on tap is drawn from the sea, and dwindling ground water resources are not tapped excessively.
Ever since we were children we have heard the word "dambooshi". It was used in football circles and, for those who do not know, it meant a kind of spell cast by a team on its rival so that the rival would lose the match.
While this so-called magic or spell or dambooshi" is utter nonsense and contrary to Islamic teaching, many firmly believed without proof that certain victories on the football field were due to a team's using such a technique.
In South America, a large number of soccer fans believe in the powers of some individuals to affect the results on the playing field. Of course, I do not believe in such nonsense but am rather inclined to think that there are those who might jinx us.
For instance, I remember that whenever a certain individual attended an Ittihad match in Jeddah, the team would lose. Even if the opposing team was a weak one. The man's friends, realizing this, vowed never to let him in the stadium. The poor fellow himself was a supporter of the club and could not understand why all the fuss was made about his presence.
Personally, I don't think it had anything to do with him - it was pure coincidence. A similar thing has happened to players who talked to the Duchess of York before their match commenced.
Thomas Muster, the number one in tennis, lost out completely to a newcomer and Tiger Woods, the rising star of golf, slumped badly after a brief conversation with her prior to the U.S. open.
Now I am sure we can't attribute all that to Fergie's "dambooshi" on behalf of others!