Princess Basmah bint Saud speaks at Royce Hall. (Photo: Peggy McInerny, International Institute.)
International Institute, UCLA, April 15, 2013 — “We are seeing a complete failure of the global system,” said Princess Basmah bint Saud at lecture sponsored by the UCLA Center for Middle East Development. The daughter of King Saud of Saudi Arabia and granddaughter of King Abdel Aziz, Princess Basmah is a journalist, businesswoman and humanitarian.
“We have created a huge gap between the very wealthy and the very poor,” she continued. “It is time for the whole world to wake up, including the United States. So what do we do? We need to invent something.”
The speaker claimed that elections did not make people free if their rights were dependent on who was elected. Advocating the creation of a platform of basic rights that could not be taken away or given by one person, Princess Basmah called her alternative the “Fourth Way.” This alternative is built, she said, on the four pillars of security, freedom, equality and education.
Security — meaning the security of one’s land, one’s people, the certainty that one will not be dragged from one’s home and imprisoned — is the prerequisite of the remaining three pillars, said the speaker, while education is the foundation of the Fourth Way.
Speaking in terms that evoked a global movement along the lines of the U.S. civil rights movement of the 1960s, Princess Basmah argued that laws and international organizations have failed to protect the four pillars.
She called for all countries to incorporate the basic rights of security, freedom, equality and education into their own cultures and heritages, tailoring them to their respective needs and cultural contexts.
In this way, she explained, the pillars will not necessarily look the same in the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia, but they will assure the basic humanity of people around the world.
Underlining her focus on humanity, Princess Basmah cited the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King: “If we are to find the root of the problem today, we have to look at the heart and soul of man today.” People need a soul to live as human beings, she argued, and that the soul needs the food of the four pillars.
Sounding a call for peace and cooperation, the speaker urged her listeners to advocate for these basic rights. “We need to unite the interests of people all over the world,” she said, “Not just Muslims — but also Christians and Jews. We all have to say that we will not bend to leaders who kill in the name of religion, politics or race.”