Britain sought to show exceptional attention to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to London. This is not strictly tied to the historic ties between Saudi Arabia and Britain or the deals and agreements that were expected to be announced during his trip. Saudi Arabia is experiencing a comprehensive reform and modernization workshop.
This battle demands partnerships and expertise possessed by advanced countries. Britain, which is preparing to exit the European Union, needs economic partners that can compensate for the losses it will incur from Brexit. On top of the above-mentioned reasons, the new Saudi Arabia represents a trustworthy partner.
Those monitoring Prince Mohammed’s current tour, and previously the Asian tour of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz, realize the importance major countries are placing on the new Saudi Arabia. In London, as in Tokyo and Beijing before it, there is a firm conviction that the current Saudi Arabia is a Saudi Arabia that knows what it wants and announces it.
It wants to have a strong economy and witness prosperity and stability. It wants coexistence, moderation and tolerance. The guardian of the current Saudi dream means it when he says that Riyadh has turned its back on the time when extremists were given power over locations and in communicating with the other.
Saudi delegations now speak in a modern language in search of the future. Their words are no longer about intentions and wishes. Saudi ministers are meeting their counterparts from around the world with visions and projects that are backed by figures and studies as part of a major transformation that is summed up in Vision 2030.
In London, as in Tokyo and Beijing before it, there is a firm conviction that the current Saudi Arabia is a Saudi Arabia that knows what it wantsGhassan Charbel
Dynamism in the kingdom
It was evident during Prince Mohammed’s trip to Britain that this major and prestigious country is following with interest the economic and social developments in Saudi Arabia and the dynamism that is currently shaping the Kingdom. London believes that the current major change taking place in Saudi Arabia is not limited to it alone, but encompasses the rest of the Arab and Muslim worlds where it enjoys extraordinary clout.
The British and international interest in the current changes taking place in Saudi Arabia goes beyond the active role it is playing in combating terrorism. It also goes beyond the economic and investment opportunities that are provided by the close cooperation with Saudi Arabia. There is a growing feeling that Saudi Arabia is preparing itself to be a major and effective partner in the battles of the future.
The future is not a gift that is presented to you. Time is not in the habit of handing out free prizes. The future is something that you make and whose price you pay. There is no point here in wasting time in fear, hesitation or relying on the past. The future is a battle that begins today.
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The countries that are ranked among the elite in the world are the ones who have been aware of this battle early on. They are countries that realized the importance of deeply understanding abilities, needs and opportunities. They are aware of the need for new equations, flexible policies and effective institutions that can hold individuals into account, have the ability to correct errors and be innovative.
Amid the successive scientific and technological revolutions, the question is: How will your country look like after two decades or more? How many job opportunities will be available for the new generations? What education will allow you to join open revolutions and provide the ability to compete and advance? What will your economy be like? What will be the outcome of the comprehensive development battle? What partnerships will you be able to build?
One cannot read the future through the eyes of the past. The developments of the past two decades have laid to rest policies and rules that were once thought to be unshakable. Powers are no longer simply assessed through the sizes of armies. The world has changed.
Your position on the regional and international table depends above all else on the power of your economy, its dynamism and constant ability to develop and discover new opportunities. Prosperity is a guarantee for stability. Progress takes societies away from old wars and brings them into the battles of the future. These are battles of development, progress, contentment and the elimination of everything that can violate man’s humanity. The army itself can age quickly if it does not live in a strong economy.
The future is the keyword to understanding the actions of the Saudi Crown Prince and the messages he delivered during his tour. The Egyptian stop falls under this category. Saudi-Egyptian ties are very important for the Arab world given the meddling their region is a victim of.
The two countries can help lead the Arab world the same way German and French cooperation leads Europe. The Crown Prince’s visit to the Coptic Church is a fulfillment of his statements on the return of the moderate Islam. The same spirit was present during his visit to the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The new Saudi Arabia is a Saudi Arabia that is confident in itself and its youth. This is why it is heading to the world with plans for partnerships that are ultimately aimed at building a better world. Saudi Arabia wants to diversify its economy and attract investments. It wants job opportunities for youths that have the ability to innovate. It wants education that is linked to scientific and technological revolutions.
It wants a modern health sector and greater awareness of environment issues. It wants culture and recreation. It wants a natural relationship with the world and ties that are based on mutual interests and joint responsibilities. These are the battles of the future. They are waged through building bridges, not constructing walls. They are based on deep partnerships, not fleeting and temporary understandings.
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.