The current Saudi Arabian state is 90 years old but its history dates back about three centuries. Saudi Arabian King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud’s rule ushered in a historic phase of transformation, paving the way for the modern nation of today.
Detractors and skeptics aside, the rapid changes we are experiencing today are the fruit of the strategy of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman: A reformulation of the concept of the state at all levels, lifting it out of the storms of failure and chaos that pervade the region and threaten our neighbors.
For decades, the peoples of our countries have sadly not been afforded the chance at a good life. More than 40 coups have plagued the region, and a series of never-ending wars have destroyed its resources and the dreams of its people.
On the occasion of this Saudi National Day, I will not talk about 90 years of stability and progress, but rather about the future we are building together. The new Saudi Arabia is an experiment and testing ground that is worthy of analysis, because it revolves around advanced concepts. It is a modern nation capable of succeeding both scientifically, economically and administratively.
Ten years from now, by 2030, the country will be 100 years old and will have completed its modernization program, making a quantum leap forward into a new and better world. The future that we are building today focuses on the new generation, so that they form the core of a capable and skilled nation driven by progress and achievement.
Could the countries of our region be as lucky as other countries who have found successful models, such as those in the West or Singapore and South Korea?
Yes, luck can be built, and we can create it with our own two hands. This is what the Saudi experiment is aiming to do, moving from a country that lives on government expenditures, even as the government itself moves away from reliance on volatile oil revenues.
What is happening is the building of a state where the core foundation is rooted in giving everyone the opportunity to succeed. Over the last few years, changes to laws and regulations have laid the groundwork to welcome big business into the Kingdom.
And with it, society has also changed, economic capabilities have been unleashed, opportunities expanded, and this change has affected everything from schools to courts to farms to markets to companies, and even homes.
The state used to consider that its duty was secure livelihoods. Most of its spending went toward subsidizing basic goods and services, until the population became dependent on the state, which is at the mercy of oil markets and geopolitical threats.
Thirty years – from the conquest of Riyadh in 1902 to the proclamation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia 1932 – was how long it took to unify and establish a country half the size of Europe. And 90 years later, it is a stable country caught in a turbulent sea. The Kingdom’s goal now is to build a country that is advancing with the rest of the developed economic world.
Can the countries of our broken Middle East really achieve such dreams? So far, this is what the Kingdom is achieving, undeterred by the reality of war, pandemic or political pressure from opposing regimes.
I hope that Saudi Arabia will be the engine that helps the entire region to change for the better. We want to see an end to the state of chaos and conflict that devours our lands, deprives our peoples of safety and dignity, and turns us into nations without dreams and homelands without a future. In too many of the region’s countries, the youth’s greatest ambition today is to escape by boat and cross the sea to countries that can offer them what their homelands failed to do. Except that here in the Kingdom, we are full of hope and optimism.
This article originally appeared in the Emirati news outlet Q Posts.
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