Saudis learning tradition and modernization from Japan
posted on Thursday, May 20, 2010 10:10 AM
Japanese education and ideals are receiving keen attention in Saudi Arabia where a special TV series on the country has garnered high ratings.
The series comprising about 30 episodes, each lasting five minutes, included footage shot by a hidden camera of a parent and child picking up a billfold that was dropped on a Tokyo street and taking it to a ‘‘koban’’ police box.
‘‘I’m surprised,’’ reporter Ahmed Al-Schugairy of Saudi satellite television broadcaster MBC said after the segment was aired during Ramadan last fall. ‘‘They took the wallet (containing 7,000 yen) to police.’‘
The title of the series is ‘‘Khwater (thoughts)-KAIZEN (Improvement).’‘
It is not uncommon in Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries to see people ignore traffic signals, throw cigarette butts on the street and leave a large quantity of leftovers.
Al-Schugairy, while reporting on Japanese society, declared ‘‘it’s unbelievable’’ as citizens followed signals at crosswalks, dog owners cleaned up after their pets, and elementary school-age children cleaned classrooms.
Japanese education and ideals are a focus of attention as factors that contribute to a peaceful coexistence of tradition and modernization in Japan.
Saudi Arabia, a nation adhering to strict Islamic discipline and which boasts the world’s largest crude oil reserves, has a high percentage of young people. It faces the daunting tasks of dealing with high unemployment and improving its education system.
Saudi conservatives believe the country should learn from Europe and the United States regarding modernization, while avoiding an influx of individualism and equal rights for women.
Commenting on the TV program becoming a hit in Saudi Arabia, a Japanese expatriate in Riyadh said, ‘‘Saudi Arabia looks at Japan as a country that has realized modernization while keeping its traditions. It sees Japan as a model of achieving developments other than Europe and the United States.’‘
According to domestic media reports, Al-Schugairy said, ‘‘There are a lot of things we can learn from Japanese society such as consideration for others and a sense of being neat and clean.’‘
Amid the ongoing Japan boom, the Japanese government and private companies cooperated and opened the Saudi Electronics & Home Appliances Institute in Riyadh last September to teach Saudi Arabians to become technical experts and home appliance repairmen.
At present, about 90 young men aged 18 to 21 from across the country are studying repairing air conditioning units and television sets after passing the appropriate exams. The curricula are the same as those used in Japanese technical schools.
Nasser Abdullah, 19, said, ‘‘I want to complete the training as soon as possible and start working.’’ © 2010 Kyodo News.