The past three decades have been tormenting at some level. The Berlin Wall fell, dragging with it the world that was taking it as a shelter. The Soviet Union became history, representing a defeated model; new international balances were established.
On the regional level, Iraq fell, and Iran resumed the “export of revolutions” approach with its heavy attacks. Then came the so-called Arab Spring and left several Arab countries in turmoil. A large number of fighters infiltrated from nearby or even faraway countries.
There was a feeling that the Arab world missed the train and that it will go to the margins of history with scarred countries, or countries that are overcrowded with refugees or jobless people.
Pessimists said that the Arab world was unable to update itself and is doomed to stick to its old habits and ideas at a time when the accumulation of knowledge and research results led to a series of scientific and technological advancements. It seemed that the future means a lot to others while Arabs fought to read history.
The new generation
In this stormy world, the generation of Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz was born. It was normal for this generation to wonder about the future and the position of Saudi Arabia.
The world has changed. Waiting is no longer a guarantee of stability. Change is necessary to preserve the stability through changing minds and styles. To be present you have to be strong. To be strong, you have to rely on a dynamic, adaptive economy.
Random treatments are no longer enough. A comprehensive vision that turns into a concrete plan is a must. The change must be made through an open workshop that attracts the entire society because the latter is involved in its success. The vision must include plans, programs assessments and accountability. Before all that, the page of despair, frustration and fear must be turned and new windows should open up.
With Mohammed bin Salman we have started talking about the future. Vision 2030 is on the citizens’ diary. What is remarkable is that dreams now have numbers and there is full trust in the ability of the young Saudi generation to achieve the desired resultsGhassan Charbel
Renewing hope is not easy. It needs a man who knows his community with its constants, concerns and demands. A man who knows how to listen to the pulse of the people and their deep feelings. A man who is also good at reaching the conscience of his compatriots and their preoccupation with the future of their country. A man who can be honest and convincing and who is able to polarize energies. A man who is entrusted with change and who can take a decision and make it happen.
This process also needs a man who understands the world. A man who holds strong cards; a man who has strong international connections and knows the importance of economic weight, the decisive role of technology in the future industry and the importance of partnerships and investments; a man who promotes confidence at home and abroad, whether for the average citizen or the decision makers in big countries and giant companies.
All these qualifications were found in a man that has legitimacy. The legitimacy of the founder that has been refined through the years of working with King Salman bin Abdulaziz. The legitimacy of adhering to assets; the legitimacy of his readiness to share citizens’ concerns and work for their interests; the legitimacy of being popular because the new generation has found someone who shares their dreams and hopes.
With Mohammed bin Salman we have started talking about the future. Vision 2030 is on the citizens’ diary. What is remarkable is that dreams now have numbers and there is full trust in the ability of the young Saudi generation to achieve the desired results, to work for the inclusion in modern institutions and to find solutions to the concerns of development, knowledge, progress and the problem of extremism.
The theories of closure and fear fell as well as projects promoting the collision with the world. The features of a confident state have been formed, searching for their place and interests and addressing the world in a state-of-the-art language targeting progress. The country is looking for effective partnerships and mutual interests. The accumulation of knowledge and expertise is a wealth that does not keep the country enslaved to oil prices.
Journalists who have toured world capitals in the last 2 years have seen a change in the relations of the countries with Saudi Arabia. The talk about Vision 2030 is now on all meetings’ agendas. This is true in Washington, Beijing, Tokyo, Moscow and elsewhere. The negotiations with these countries have become very serious and precise. The Saudi negotiator knows exactly what he wants and what he can offer.
Saudi Arabia had to launch this major challenge without forgetting that it is living in an unstable region. It is targeted for being a safety valve for the Gulf, Arab and Islamic worlds. Saudi Arabia, which recognizes the importance of modernizing its economy, had to develop its strengths at the diplomatic, military and security levels.
Prince Mohammed bin Salman played a major role in facing these challenges, gathering capacities, planning alliances and promoting the policy of building bridges, as reflected in the 2 consecutive summits that took place in Riyadh.
With Saudis pledging allegiance to Prince Mohammed bin Salman as crown prince and the royal decrees that brought young generations to positions of responsibility, a new phase of opening doors and strengthening bridges begins. People’s trust enhances decision-making, protects the stability and opens the road to prosperity.
This article was published in Arabic.
Ghassan Charbel is the Editor-in-Chief of London-based Al Sharq al-Awsat newspaper. Ghassan's Twitter handle is @GhasanCharbel.