Again, we make headlines! Again, Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman “MBS” is making waves in international media. And, again, Iran and company are in a media blitz against the prince and his nation.
“Tomorrow is going to be fully full!,” says Nabeel Maghrabi, the studio engineer responsible for TV satellite transmission at one of the top Jeddah providers. “I’ll be standby for the whole week, starting Monday. We had a lot of reservations and expect back-to-back recordings. Most of our clients are new. US, European and Asian TVs are taking every available spot, day and night,” he explains.
He is not alone. Other providers are busy, too. Commentators, like me, are expecting the same thrust. Not that we mind — not at all. We love to talk about our young prince and his “vision.”
In three years, he managed to realize an overdue list of hopes and dreams — not just for the young and women. He took our breath away with the scale and scope of his projects. They cover a wide variety of developmental, economic, political, cultural and even religious dimensions.
Undoing the years
MBS is undoing lots of what has been done in the last forty years. His relentless war on corruption alone was undreamed of only few months ago. Not in our wildest dreams we expected the untouchable becoming so touchable, or that stolen public money that made a whole class of people multi-billionaires would be fully returned to state covers.
“No one is above the law? No one at all? Say that again, for I never thought it was at all possible — not in my lifetime!,” or so would Saudis express their astonishment at the level and speed of the anti-corruption campaign.
Religious extremists who hijacked our society and polluted our culture for ages had looked so secured in their ivory towers that we wouldn’t dare to even question their stands. Whenever I did, they called me all kinds of names, from corrupt liberal to Godless atheist. Today, I could revisit their literature, criticize their methods and question their motives, and still be a good Muslim!
Women, in particular, are celebrating a whole new chapter in their lives. So many doors and windows are opened to them for study, work and entertainment. The army, police and other male-only positions in the state and public sectors, like the courts, airports, passport departments, as well as political, diplomatic, finance, social, sports and religious sectors are now available to our women. They could even fly — literally. Airlines have started training and hiring female captains! A new law is expected soon to guarantee equality of salaries and benefits, MBS announced in his “60 minutes” interview, this Sunday.
In what seems now a distant past (like in 2015!), we used to envy Dubai for its miraculous economic achievements. We are the bigger Arab market, we argued, and one of the world biggest economies — a member of G20. Located in the heart of the world, connecting Asia, Africa and Europe, Saudi Arabia (2,149,690 km²) equals Western Europe and is more than fifth the size of the United States.
Ours is a rich land with everything a civilization may need to prosper — seas, lands, airspace; deserts, mountains, valleys and costs; oil, gas, gold, phosphate; great history, diversified culture, with highly educated and trained young workforce. And above all, we have the holiest land on earth, and the most sacred cities—Makkah and Madinah. In short we have all it takes to occupy a higher and larger place in the world map. So why are we not there?
Saudi Vision 2030 is about to change all that. The best part is we won’t do it alone. We are opening up to the world, and inviting all to join our march. NEOM, for example, is an international project, hospitable to investors, explorers and dreamers. The same can be said about other mega projects in different parts of the country. In addition, huge military industry is being built today, in partnership with the world top manufacturers.
On the political front, we are abandoning the overcautious approach to challenges. Iran has exploited that to its best advantage —extending their imperialistic hegemony over Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, Yemen and Afghanistan. We held our horses for decades, as the Nazis of the day encircled and infiltrated our nations with terrorists, militias and agents.
No more! We have built the Arab Alliance to liberate Yemen and the Islamic Alliance Against Terrorism. We have strengthened relations with trusted friends and traditional allies, like France, Britain and the United States.
If Iran dares to build a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit, right away, as our Crown Prince warns. Iranian army is no match to ours. We are fully capable to defend our nation by all means. No more Mr. Nice Guy! A new Saudi Arabia is born.
This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette.
Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi is a Saudi writer based in Jeddah. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at Twitter:@kbatarfi