The concept of Soft Power first appeared in the year 2004 AD, where it was used by Dr. Joseph Nye, the Distinguished Service Professor, at Harvard University, to indicate the use of means of attraction and influence to have an impact on the public opinion in order to achieve states interests rather than using military force.
Several factors fall under the strengths of the Soft Power, like culture, education, media, and digital diplomacy. Saudi Arabia has significant sources of soft power, as follows:
The Two Holy Mosques
The Two Holy Mosques are important ones of Saudi Arabia’s soft power, as they are in heart of more than one billion and a half Muslims around world also the Two Holy Mosques are being visited by a total of 41 million visitors each year, where Mecca is visited by 30 million and the Medina by 11 million. These huge numbers of visitors must be utilized as a source of soft power.
Successive archaeology and civilizations of Saudi:
The kingdom has succeeded in recording several Heritage on the UNESCO World Heritage List, including: Mada’in Saleh, and Historical Ad’Diriyah. The kingdom is a land of successive civilizations, including: the civilizations of Al-Magar, Aad, Thamud, and Delmon. Furthermore, the kingdom has a large number of commercial markets spanning thousands of years, including: The Souk Okaz. All that civilizational balance can be a nucleus of a soft Saudi power to form the Arab orient with our civilizational contribution which began centuries ago.
The Kingdom is endowed with a vast cultural heritage that encompasses the habits and traditions of the authentic Arab human, being the generosity, harboring of strangers, customs and traditions of the Arab Tribes.
Also the norms governing each other’s dealings, especially in the desert. In contrast, the various regions of the Kingdom are renowned for their popular games and traditional cuisine, which are characteristic of every region of the kingdom, which go hand in hand with the existing popular markets of hundreds of years, named according to the names of weekdays , such as: Saturday market, Tuesday market, and other markets that make up the spirit of the economy in previous periods, and still till now as part of the Saudi heritage. This huge heritage must form part of the landmarks of the Saudi soft power.
Overseas Scholarship Program
The kingdom of Saudi Arabia provides scholarship to tens of thousands of outstanding Saudis who are experts in different sciences. Those students are interact with different cultures. Therefore, they must consider as academic and communities ambassadors.
This can be through the existence of 320 Saudi associations around all over world. This is through an informational and cultural campaign that is used to introduce the Kingdom’s culture and the monarchy system that some media campaigns have given a negative image of the kingdom.
Media policy for residents in Saudi Arabia
About 13 million foreigner people are living in the kingdom seeing Saudi culture, in the same time there are many people do not know a lot about the kingdom and some of them see Saudi Arabia as if it were their first country, The reality is that we have not benefited from their presence in the kingdom to be a soft Saudi power to their countries.
The city of “ NEOM ” is located in a world-distinguished geographic location, located on the border of three countries, close to world trade routes. The city at the level of innovation has taken upon itself to be a leading hub of creativity in the world. Additionally, as an elements of media production and digital sciences, which will contribute to the Saudi soft power after the opening of the first phase in the year 2025 AD, and even the city’ achievement must be the city of the future and talk of the world in terms of an important pillar of Saudi soft power, on the other hand, it will contribute to pumping massive financial investments planned for the city.
The past few years have seen a dramatic shift in the world’s film industry. The monopoly of the six global production studios as they have the large budgets for production does not hold true. The current stage in film production has been marked by the entry of independent filmmakers. The technology advancement opened the door to shape the Saudi Cinema Industry. This requiring three levels of Initiatives: Training programs on cinema production. The Launch of film festivals at the Arab and Islamic level in the Kingdom. Funding program which include a broadcast of Saudi film production on video streaming services, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video.
The notion of Immersive media appeared several years ago. Immersion refer to the possibility of transporting the viewers to the virtual environment. This presence (in the virtual environment) enables a higher degree of influence compare to other mediums. There are three types of immersive media: Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality. The technology of the Mixed Reality and Augmented Reality are still new, but Virtual Reality has proven successes as a new model in film production. In addition to the use of sound and image, it is possible to employee touch and smell in films production, which gives higher impacts and opens up a new page in film production. These new filmmaking strategies must employee to showcase the kingdom heritage, customs and traditions through organising VR sessions around the world, which will help to strengthen Saudi Arabia’s soft power to be the new nucleus of Saudi Arabia.
writer, media consultant, and virtual reality film director *