Books and paper publications remain the main source of science, culture, and knowledge, in general, despite this tremendous development in electronic means, which enabled readers to own small offices entirely, in a slide, the size of which is no larger than the size of the brain of a single human being. These developments have also made it easier for readers and researchers to obtain any reference, or document, they need, in minutes. Nevertheless, the printed material still has advantages, which I think will ensure that it will continue to be issued to sources of knowledge, even if for a while.
Among the manifestations of the progress of our dear country, and its keeping pace with global development, especially scientific, technical and cognitive issues, is the large number of cultural publications, and their development, both quantitatively and qualitatively. This is what is observed recently. Almost every day, the writer so-and-so publishes an academic, scientific, technical, literary, or artistic book…etc. It is a beautiful custom to gift books, and exchange them between friends and acquaintances. But our reading is still limited, and less than it should be, as some studies indicate. Unfortunately, this progress and development in publishing did not keep pace with the expansion of reading.
How pleased I am, as I write these lines, to see many books on my desk, given to me by dear friends and colleagues. Assuming that they are valuable books, and that precious effort was put into issuing them, and my close knowledge of their authors, their high level of thinking, and my browsing through these pearls (in principle, I think they are pearls in their topics), I decided to read them, book, after another. Then I write a quick summary of each book… I hope that the honorable reader will find in what I write some of what may be useful. In fact, analyzing the content of a book in a newspaper article does not fulfill the book’s right, and does not explain its most important advantages and disadvantages, but it sheds light on it, and draws attention to its subject, to whom it may concern, especially in our cultural situation, which is characterized by a reluctance to read.
As for the analysis of any book in an additional scientific way (Book Review), it is in the scientific periodicals, not the car newspapers. I hope that the time and health will enable me to write scientific analyzes, at least for some books. I do not mean by writing here to compliment anyone, or favor his production. Rather, the point is – as we will see – a quick critical evaluation of the content of each book, and reference (and perhaps commendation) to the information that it is desirable for the educated to see, even if it is out of knowledge of something. Also, writing about books may keep us somewhat away from entering into “politics”, this thorny field, although I believe that politics is included, either lengthwise, or broadly, or length and breadth together, in everything.
Today, I will start with a book by the veteran ambassador, Abdullah Abdul Rahman Alem, entitled: My Reflections and the Harvest of the Years (Jeddah: Author / Dar Al-Minhaj for Publishing and Distribution, 2021 AD). The book is 416 pages of medium type. About a third of the book is full of photographs about the writer’s private and working life. At first glance, the book looks like an extended autobiography of his happiness. It turns out that it includes a brief biography, but it is full of information and situations in which experience and knowledge have been practiced, in order to benefit those who have had similar experiences.
The book is divided into: an introduction, and two main parts: The first section: He devoted it to talking about his birthplace, the holy city of Mecca, expressing his fondness and permanent nostalgia for this sacred spot. The first section contained three chapters: The first chapter is entitled Makkah Al-Mukarramah: Place and Man. The second chapter talks about the “raft”, and its upbringing, as being from a family practicing the raft profession. In the third chapter, he talked about his birth, and his upbringing in his beloved Mecca.
As for the second section of the book, it included ten chapters, or rather, ten “stations” – as he called them – meaning the ten countries in which he represented his country. He spoke about his experience at each station. These countries are: Egypt, Lebanon, Nigeria, Japan, Sudan, America, Tunisia, Somalia, Indonesia, Oman. He spent about half a century serving his country and representing it in these ten countries… starting with Egypt and ending with Oman.
In addition, he lists some of his memories, achievements, and what he made anew. He ended his book with a brief conclusion. Among his most prominent achievements is encouraging Saudi women, starting with the virtuous lady, his wife, and others, to engage in diplomatic and charitable work, in the service of their country. His Excellency’s mediation and reconciliation efforts were positively reflected on the Kingdom’s image and its international standing.
The science of politics and international relations provides us with scientific and logical “entries” and “analytical frameworks,” each of which helps to analyze issues of a political nature in a logical way, focuses on the most important elements of the subject, organizes its handling, and identifies its important points and dimensions. In our case, I did not find a better framework than “the most important functions of an ambassador or a diplomatic envoy” to assess, or evaluate, the practical journey of Ambassador Abdullah Alem, which he outlined in this book. The science of international relations, including the topics of diplomacy and international law, and diplomatic law in particular, states that the ambassador, or the permanent diplomatic envoy of any country, performs – legally and customarily – several functions for the benefit of his state, the most important of which are the following five functions:
1- Taking care of the care and protection of the citizens of his country, in the country to which he is sent.
2- Officially representing his country and expressing the will of his government and its positions on bilateral issues and issues of common interest.
3- Negotiate in the name of his country, with officials in the government of the country to which he is accredited.
4- Writing reports, and providing information on the conditions and conditions of the host country, which his country is interested to know.
5- Contribute to the formulation and implementation of his country’s foreign policy, especially towards the destination country.
These are the most important “jobs” and tasks that the permanent diplomatic representative of his country must perform, skillfully and wisely, in order to achieve his country’s goals and improve its relations with the sending country. And from reading his book “My Reflections and the Harvest of the Years,” I believe that Ambassador Abdullah Alem has performed these and other functions well, as evidenced by his continuity in the diplomatic service, and his progression in it, over half a century. There is no doubt that the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs has decisive and fair measures to measure the performance of its diplomats. I think that Abu Bassem has received the highest rating. I believe that Ambassador Alem’s career path makes him deserve an excellent appreciation for the great efforts he made to serve his country in the difficult diplomatic field. This hadith is relevant.
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