Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman’s successful visit to US can be called truly historical. If we review the character of the meetings and the route of his long trip, we can understand why it can be called historical. Historical not only for Saudi Arabia, but also for the whole Gulf region and the Arab world.
This year it will be 80 years since the oil production began in Saudi Arabia in 1938. It is notable that the anniversary of the first oil-production coincides with the efforts of Saudi Arabia to shift away from oil dependency, diversify its economy and leapfrog into the era of high technology.
If you look at the kind of businessmen Mohammad Bin Salman chose to meet with during his trip, you will find that the majority of them are not representatives of old banks, oil companies and metallurgical giants, but businesspersons from high-tech industry, people that have built their billion-dollar businesses from scratch. The Prince understands that the future will be driven by high-tech and it will be the creative people who will drive this technolgy. We live in a world where a portal selling various goods can be more profitable than a large factory and respectively can cost more.
Certain businesspersons the Crown Prince met with already do business in the Kingdom, others not yet. However, if at least some of those who met with the Crown Prince will come to Saudi Arabia or expand their business in KSA, it promises multi-billion investments and many jobs for highly qualified local and foreign specialists.
The article in Washington Post published by the Ambassador of Saudi Arabia to USA and Mohammad Bin Salman’s brother Prince Khalid Bin Salman, may be interesting in terms of understanding the plans and intentions of Mohammed Bin Salman.
Prince Khalid writes in his article: “Seldom in human history do countries peacefully and voluntarily embark upon a resolute course correction to recalibrate a national economy and expand societal norms — without compromising religious sensibilities. Yet that is precisely what the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is attempting to do.
If you look at the kind of businessmen Mohammad Bin Salman chose to meet with during his trip, you will find that the majority of them are not representatives of old banks, oil companies and metallurgical giants, but businesspersons from high-tech industry, people that have built their billion-dollar businesses from scratchAli Hajizade
For decades, the Kingdom lived according to social and cultural norms that went unchallenged, thus inhibiting our progress. But our leaders have set a new course that aims to transform our economy and society, and unlock our untapped potential.”
I think these words express the mood of the Prince and his team. I want to stress that such a mood is typical not only for the Prince’s team, but also for many Saudis I was privileged to meet with, during my visit to Riyadh earlier this year.
Epochal reforms in Saudi Arabia in the area of women’s rights and their involvement in the social life, changes in business world can now already be called historical achievements of Saudi Arabia. However, Prince Mohammad Bin Salman and King Salman bin Abdul Aziz do not intend to stop there.
One of the main plans of the Prince-reformer is the implementation of ‘Vision 2030’ plan. In case of successful implementation of this plan, we will witness an enormous positive shift for Saudi Arabia and this shift will affect almost all fields of activity in the Kingdom, including Saudi society.
Such epochal changes in the country, of course, will have a positive effect on the region and the completely Arab world.
Neom City project
The Neom City project alone is enough. In case of successful implementation of this project, billion-dollar investments can flow into the Kingdom. In addition, great minds from all over the world will be able to live and work there, thereby making Saudi Arabia the leading state in high technology in the Islamic world. This visit and its success can determine the success of such an ambitious project as ‘Neom’.
Nevertheless, we should remember that apart from the Prince’s determination and desire of the progressive part of the population, there is a need for stability in the region, to implement such ambitious plans.
The main threat to the stability in the Middle East is the Iranian expansionist policy towards the Arab neighbors. I am sure that the Iranian issue was the overriding theme of his meeting with President Donald Trump.
The Prince’s visit was also highlighted in American mass media, and even though certain “liberal” and “leftist” authors in USA much prefer the Iranian ‘mullocracy’ to Saudi Arabia’s aspiration to reforms and modernization, in general, mass media paid special attention to the Prince’s visit, his personality and plans for modernization. This can be considered a success for the Prince as well as for Saudi Arabia, which shows the world its new face and new opportunities.
Ali Hajizade is a political analyst and founder editor in chief of thegreatmiddleeast.com. He tweets @AHajizade
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