I have never seen Saudi Arabia brimming with such positive energy, as I saw it after Prince Mohammed bin Salman gave his speech at the future investment forum. The systematic attacks that the country has endured for over twenty days have not been able to weaken the goodwill and resolve of the people around their Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who captivated their minds with his wise words, his anticipation for the future of the region and the Middle East and his knowledge of the world’s economies.
He presented details of a promising budget and spoke about the development of economies that will gradually let go of their dependence on oil revenues and promised to decrease the rate of unemployment in Saudi Arabia. Prince Mohammed presented all of these plans quite succinctly with astonishing command over the subject and was accorded great warmth and affection by Saudi citizens from across all sectors of the population. People even took to the street to demonstrate their support for this Herculean power. Thus, the anti-Saudi voices have been defeated, as Al-Mutanabbi said:
As more shafts at my studded heart fly,
Steel upon steel shatters the hardy twain
He spoke about the vision, as it is moving forward. At the same time, there is an ongoing war on terrorism, internal reforms, a war on corruption as well as the prosecution of criminals involved in the case of Jamal Khashoggi. All of these comprehensive plans are led by a person whom his society believes in. Defending the prince could only mean protecting the future. Hostile voices against Saudi Arabia abroad do not want an economically resilient, religiously moderate and socially developed country. They want a rigid and lifeless Saudi Arabia, without a plan or a vision. Other Arab countries are a clear example of this, where there is no democracy, and no republic is in place. In fact, the destruction of such states has been easy amid complete inability to build. This is indeed the difficult path.
The prince extols the Gulf along with Jordan and Egypt, as they are all countries with significant economic growth, having launched vital projects. Saudi Arabia is not afraid of competing with its rivals as the prince pointed out that “Qatar, which has a strong economy, can be a competition despite our differences.” The reason behind talking about the Gulf is not just due to its solid economic power but also due to its level of security and welfare as a century ago the region entered into the chaos of ideologies, or what colleague Abdullah bin Bajad al-Otaibi calls ‘the stability of chaos’. This latter climate gives a fertile space for the growth of all nationalist and leftist ideologies. Those who encourage the stability of chaos can be seen on underdeveloped satellite channels and most of them spend their days talking about Saudi Arabia, while their own countries reel under the burden of huge debts or internal chaos or ethnic, racial and tribal clashes.
As a matter of fact, focusing on the UAE and praising it is natural since the state is a pioneer in this field, as expressed by the Crown Prince himself. Dubai and Abu Dhabi have both become a benchmark, in that they have struck a harmony between urban growth on one hand and economic and intellectual development on the other.
This success has grabbed the attention of the world. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid presented Dubai as a shining gem amidst a chaos of destruction and ruin. He has raised the quality of life to the extent that the Dubai excels in all the indices among the cities of the world. The UAE has since the 1990s had the honor to build an integrated city in the modern style and in a courageous way amid sharp criticism from Arab left-wing thinkers.
American thinker Vali Nasr has written a book entitled Forces of Fortune: The Rise of the New Muslim Middle Class and What It will Mean for Our World. In a chapter entitled “The World According to Dubai”, he wrote that despite the high-rise buildings and the lavish lifestyle, Dubai is truly a Muslim city, people respect the custom codes, the city is full of mosques, the call for prayer can be heard everywhere, adding that Dubai has changed the mental map.
This is a phrase expressed by a neutral American thinker that demonstrates that civil development and modernity and that following successful Western models do not mean neglecting religion or the morale of Islam.
Prince Mohammed pointed out that this is the ceiling and that the door for competition is open, and the new Saudi Arabia is able to surpass and compete with other successful cities, be it Dubai or Singapore. We have the NEOM project with a city that plans to keep pace with the world at all levels, most notably the technological aspect. Thus, Prince Mohammed bin Salman has given his people a positive and spectacular energy, his “mighty and great” people who are like “Jebel Tuwaiq” as he described them. This comment shows the positive state of mind of a man with promising economic, educational, political and cultural plans.
“This is my war and I will fight it,” said the Prince bravely, and we are all with him. As for the attacks, they can only be answered by one expression: “So patiently persevere: for verily the promise of Allah is true: nor let those shake thy firmness, who have (themselves) no certainty of faith.”
This article is also available in Arabic.
Fahad Shoqiran is a Saudi writer and researcher who also founded the Riyadh philosophers group. His writings have appeared in pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat, Alarabiya.net, among others. He also blogs on philosophies, cultures and arts. He tweets @shoqiran.