In a horribly fragmented Middle East, no two persons can meet without despair being the third in company. Distress haunts most platforms.
Public rhetoric is charged with fear mongering terms warning against civil war, militias roaming free, shaky geography, and failing economies.
Paralyzed with concern, countries and people are slowly being chewed up with anxiety. A step deeper into quicksand, statistics show rising unemployment and devastating poverty ensuring that the opportunity to board the train to the future is lost.
Saudi Arabia’s Future Investment Initiative, which concludes its activities today, has set sail against the current.
It is no exaggeration when saying that thousands of partakers from 70 different countries, international companies, investment and financial giants have had their expectations challenged and were presented more than what their thoughts had conceived.
For all those who had wondered as to when a new Saudi Arabia will be born and how long it would take, have found that they were standing before a novel Kingdom using a fresh choice of words.
Such a transformation was further emboldened by the interactive answers given by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman at a session with ambitious partners looking forward to recreating the Saudi way to communicate with its citizens and the world. And this goes beyond reshaping a few terms to achieve an image face-lift—it broaches a comprehensive vision around moving the kingdom forward into the future.
What is more is that this vision is backed with matching figures.
The impact of such a transformation has sent a pulsing wave of hope. A wager placed on Saudi youth which makes up to 70 percent of the kingdom’s population. Clearly, this new Saudi Arabia has successfully established a strong line of communication with the slice of society under 30, which will drive this initiative forward and guard it against cultural stagnation, fear and hesitation.
Saudi youth has, in turn, responded positively, creating a national wealth to access and merge with other sources of riches. All of which steered by strong political management and the powerful will of the people.
"This place is not for conventional people or conventional companies, this will be a place for the dreamers for the world," Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said, speaking on a panel at the FII conference.
"The strong political will and the desire of a nation. All the success factors are there to create something big in Saudi Arabia," the Crown Prince added.
The business of building the future is a venture aiming at protecting stability with prosperity. Creating jobs, sustaining a vivacious economy and an open society all are part and parcel of a preemptive action plan to protect youth from despair and frustration playing bait to push them a step closer to radicalization and anti-world nihilism.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had made a clear-cut statement that the Kingdom will not waste time humoring extremist philosophy but has rather put in motion a series of arrangements that will guard the future.
“We will eradicate remnants of extremist dogma sooner than later,” said Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Extremism will not have its way with this new Saudi Arabia, nor will it hold the Kingdom’s relationship with the world held hostage by dread, hostility, and conflict.
“We are simply reverting to what we followed – a moderate Islam open to the world and all religions. 70% of the Saudis are younger than 30, honestly we won’t waste 30 years of our life combating extremist thoughts, we will destroy them now and immediately,” Crown Prince Mohammed said.
Moderation fosters acceptance, expanding common ground for deeper cooperation and partnership in producing progress—leaving a positive reflection worldwide.
It also fights off intolerance, ruling out all that is different as a threat, and prevents erecting isolating walls among societies.
This novel rhetoric counteracts isolationism. The world will leave behind anyone refusing to participate in the industry of building the future.
There is no solution for those who wish to save themselves a place and protect their interests other than to engage in progress.
Actively engaging in progress means making maximum use of scientific development, and not dealing with technology as a strange infiltrator that threatens to corrupt society.
Technology is an opportunity to accelerate progress and make up for time lost in futile discussions over old files.
More so, it is an opportunity to double capacity and improve revenue.
The ability to turn technology into a weapon in the battle for progress depends on the existence of advanced education, modern universities, and open programs.
"Change" no longer stirs concern or suspicion. The world is constantly changing with the impact of scientific and technological revolutions.
All must board the development-bound train in order to grow their economies and communities-- miss it, and the next train may take too long to arrive.
The ticket is paid for with modern management, planning, accounting, good use of resources, adaptability, credibility, and investment-friendly environment.
Establishing ‘Neom’ along the borders of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan brings into physical reality the newly adopted mindset.
“Neom will attract private as well as public investments and partnerships. The zone will be backed by more than $500 billion over the coming years by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund, local as well as international investors,” Prince Mohammed said.
Some want to build the world’s largest solar panel networks, employ more robots than humans, Prince Mohammed added.
Prince Mohammed’s speech invoked audiences’ thoughts— for decades now, the Middle East was perceived as a zone drenched with chaos. What the Prince was saying redirected that reality.
It eschews from the impression that Arabs have lost the battle for progress, and are left only with the option of cutting loss. To bear with living in a world they do not participate in making.
A new Saudi Arabia. Driven youth, strong will, thought-through planning, rightly invested capacities, moderation, openness to new interfaces, a competitive spirit, innovation, and mutual interests and partnership all spell out the overview of this transformation.
This shining success will have a ripple effect across the Arab and Islamic worlds, given Saudi Arabia’s great regional role and its far-reaching influence in close and far away countries.
This article was first published in Asharq Al-Awsat.
Ghassan Charbel is the Editor-in-Chief of London-based Al Sharq al-Awsat newspaper. Ghassan's Twitter handle is @GhasanCharbel.