Saudi Arabia: HDI Indicators and “Development”

http://hdrstats.undp.org/en/countries/profiles/SAU.html

Saudi Arabia ranks 55 out of 169 countries profiled with the Human Development Index; faring very well comparatively. As the graph above indicates, Saudi Arabia ranks both higher than its regional neighbors AND higher than the world average as well. What I found interesting and wanted to address within this post was the fact that although Saudi Arabia ranks reasonably well worldwide, and one might assume given these facts and statistics that Saudi Arabia is more developed, and therefore better off than most of the rest of the world (or at least those countries in the sample). I would argue that because the HDI neglects to address other non-economic indicators of development such as ANY measure of political, religious or civil freedom or the inequality between the sexes and minorities (both cultural and racial) that is rampant within Saudi Society, the HDI does not accurately reflect the actual level of development within Saudi society.

Below is a link from NPR last week detailing King Abdullah’s granting of the right to vote to women. This is the FIRST time in Saudi history that this has occurred and will take place four years from now in the next election. While this is a huge step for Saudi society, there is still a long road ahead.

http://www.npr.org/2011/09/25/140784104/saudi-king-gives-women-right-to-vote

Also linked below is an article from Jezebel, a popular feminist blog detailing that while women have finally been given the right to vote, the ban on women being able to drive has worsened. The article provides interesting insight into the seemingly backward progress (if such a thing exists) that is happening in Saudi Arabia today. Both a short and interesting read.

http://jezebel.com/5844238/as-saudi-voting-ban-is-lifted-driving-ban-gets-worse

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