The Participation of Saudi Women in the Olympic Games
USC Center on Public Diplomacy | Haifa Reda Jamal Al-Lail | 9.5.12
So, given that the participation of Muslim women is primarily a matter of cultural acceptance, what shall we conclude from the initiative by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to include women athletes? Is it a reluctant acceptance of the participation of women in sport, or is it merely a token gesture of public diplomacy?
It is neither of these two timid acts. For many years, the whole concept of development in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia – social, political and economic – has been the recognition that whereas evolutionary change in all things is both natural and essential, its consequent effectiveness in implementation is directly related to a pace of application, which guarantees acceptance within the framework of wide cultural acceptance. Wise leadership in any context recognises that the pace of acceptance of change can never be constant within an entire society–or organisation—and that great skill and sensitivity is essential to managing change successfully. The key words are ‘perception’ and ‘readiness’.