Active ageing and retiree participation in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
This study explores the different ways in which social development in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) can be enhanced by tapping into the experiences and energies of retirees who should be empowered through active participation in society and engagement with social agency managers and policy-makers. The research was conducted in light of the Islamic principles governing the KSA life and considered a number of sociological and theoretical premises. Consequently, an integrative approach is outlined that sets out to articulate an Islamic vision of active ageing within a participation framework. Methodologically, the theoretical underpinnings of the study are active ageing and approaches to participation while at the analytical level it is a descriptive study, based on social surveys using a cluster sample. The sample consisted of one hundred and fifty retirees in both urban and rural locations in Riyadh. Fifteen additional retirees were selected for unstructured in-depth interviews. Sixteen agency managers were selected for semi-structured interviews; among these five were selected for in- depth unstructured interviews. In order to gauge institutional willingness to accept retirees' participation five policy makers were interviewed. Eighty five per cent of retirees agreed that in their retirement they wished to participate in and contribute to the development of society. The retirees, managers and policy-makers all agreed that there was a need to implement stable and long term social policies to boost the social participation of retirees. Based on the effect of demographic variables on retirees' possible participation, three hypotheses were highlighted. The first concerned actual or past social participation; the second, readiness to participate in future social programmes; and the third, the variety of activities preferred for social programmes. Tests on the hypotheses of the study proved them partially unsubstantiated. In the light of the findings, a framework is proposed to activate the participation of retirees in programmes for the social development of Saudi society.