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Saudi Crown Prince MBS… Unique Reforms Towards Glory

By : Taha Sakr

On 21st June 2017, following the royal decree of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud was appointed heir to the Saudi throne. Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman has started to transform the conservative and traditional Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in a modern economy, making technology and intelligence significant factors in the transformation.

Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud was included in the Forbes List of World’s Most Powerful People 2018 at the age of 32.

Political Career

The official start of Crown Prince’s political career is considered 10th April 2007, when he was appointed as a Consultant for the Experts Commission at the Saudi Cabinet. Two years later, in 2009, Prince Mohammad bin Salman entered the next stage of his political career, becoming a special advisor to his father, then the Governor of Riyadh Province, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud.

In 2012, when Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz became Al-Ahd, the Second Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense of Saudi Arabia, Prince Mohammad bin Salman was appointed a private advisor and supervisor of Salman’s affairs.

On 2nd March, 2013, a royal decree was issued to appoint Prince Mohammad as the Chief of the Crown Prince’s Court and his special advisor in the minister’s rank. Four months later, the position of General Supervisor of the Minister of Defense’s office was added to his previous assignments. On 25th April 2014, Prince Mohammad bin Salman was assigned as the Minister of State in the Saudi Cabinet.

When King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud took the throne of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on 23rd January 2015, a royal decree was issued to assign Mohammad bin Salman as the Minister of Defense in addition to his appointment as the Secretary-General of the Royal Court, and a special advisor to the King. After the coronation, one of King Salman’s first reforms was to modify the state administration. Eleven government secretariats were turned to the Council of Political and Security Affairs (CPSA), headed by Deputy Crown prince Mohammed bin Nayef, and the Council for Economic and Development Affairs (CEDA) by the Secretary-General of the Royal Court, Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

On 17th May 2017, Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al-Saud established the Saudi Arabian Military Industry (SAMI) with the vision to become one of the 25 leading military industries in the world by 2030. SAMI aims to develop world-class military products and services, as well as achieve self-sufficiency in the military industry of Saudi Arabia using advanced technologies and the best national talents.

Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman

On 21st June 2017, King Salman announced Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud as the heir to Saudi throne – the Crown Prince. Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman is considered as one of the most prominent members of the Saudi Royal Family.

In 2018, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud embarked on a global tour to change the conservative image of the Kingdom and focus on establishing and extending cultural, political, and economic ties between them people and leaders from abroad. In the context of his international tour, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman pledged to end the dependence of the Saudi state on oil, since oil represents only ten percent of Saudi natural and economic opportunities.

In 2018, during a trip to the United States, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman visited the Everett factory, where Boeing and Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) announced a joint venture. The agreement, signed by Saudi officials with SAMI and Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg, was part of Saudi Arabia’s plan to develop its military industry, including the goal of localizing more than half of the country’s military aviation services.

Fight against Extremism

Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman took many steps to fight religious extremism in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and these steps aimed to end the Al-Sahwa al-Islamiyya (Islamic Awakening). As a result, extremism in the Kingdom has declined as a result of the Crown Prince’s policies showing the true teachings of Islam and promoting the culture of intellectual pluralism.

Supreme Anti-Corruption Commission

On 4th November 2017, King Salman bin Abdulaziz issued a royal decree on the creation of the Supreme Anti-Corruption Commission in Saudi Arabia, headed by His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

The Commission launched a campaign to prosecute a number of government officials accused of corruption. As a result of this anti-corruption campaign, dozens of officials, including princes, aides, and businessmen, were imprisoned at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Riyadh. After the anti-corruption campaign, His Royal Highness said: “All the Saudi government’s anti-corruption wars were failed because these campaigns began in the working class, rather than prestigious classes.”

On 30th January 2018, it was announced that “the Saudi government has succeeded in raising more than one hundred and seven billion US dollars, through financial settlements with businessmen and officials who have been summoned as part of investigations in the anti-corruption campaign.”

Vision 2030

On 25th April 2016, Prince Mohammad bin Salman unveiled an ambitious and impressive plan to bring economic and social changes in the Kingdom – Vision 2030. Saudi Vision 2030 is a comprehensive socio-cultural and political plan for Saudi Arabia to enter the Kingdom into the post-oil era.

The Vision includes 96 strategic objectives based on the three strong pillars:

The first pillar of this initiative is the country’s status as the heart of the Arab and Islamic worlds – the Land of the Two Holy Mosques.

The second pillar is the purpose of becoming a global investment powerhouse. 

The third pillar is transforming a unique strategic location of the Kingdom into a global hub connecting three continents, Asia, Europe, and Africa.

Vision 2030 aims to increase Saudi non-oil revenues from $43.5 billion annually to $267 billion annually, in addition to increasing the share of Saudi non-oil exports from 16% of Saudi GDP (in 2016) to 50% of Saudi GDP (in 2030).

“Vision 2030 is a bold yet achievable blueprint for an ambitious nation. It expresses our long-term goals and expectations and it is built upon our country’s unique strengths and capabilities. It guides our aspirations towards a new phase of development – to create a vibrant society in which all citizens can fulfill their dreams, hopes and ambitions to succeed in a thriving economy.”

Crown Prince and Chairman of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud

NEOM

NEOM, or “An Accelerator of human progress,” is a smart city project launched by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman at the International Investment Conference in Riyadh, on 24th October 2017. NEOM is the vision of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, and it is a central element of Vision 2030 aimed at developing and diversifying the Saudi economy and for the country to play a leading role in global development.

The NEOM project is located in northwestern Saudi Arabia on an area of ​​26 thousand square kilometers bordering Egypt and Jordan. The project will be a “special area” governed by its commercial legislation. NEOM will include cities and towns, ports, and zones of enterprises, research centers, sports and entertainment centers, as well as tourist destinations. It will be the home and workplace for more than a million citizens from around the world.

This area choice was due to its strategic location since almost ten percent of world trade traffic passes through this coast, which connects three continents: Asia, Europe, and Africa. This means that seventy percent of the world’s population can visit NEOM in less than eight hours.

Al Qiddiya Project

Al Qiddiya Resort was introduced as part of Vision 2030 on 8th April 2017. This initiative aims to create the world’s largest cultural and entertainment sports city with an area of ​​334 square kilometers, approximately three times the size of Disney Land.

Al Qiddiya Resort, or “the capital of future adventures,” according to Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, is designed to diversify the revenues of the Public Investment Fund and maintain the share of Saudi spending on entertainment.

Aramco Initial Public Offering

Until December 2019, Saudi Aramco was a state-owned company controlled by the Saudi Arabian government and managed by the Ministry of Energy. The CEO of Saudi Aramco stated the company’s new vision on 3rd November 2019: “To be the world’s pre-eminent integrated energy and chemicals company.”

State-owned oil giant Saudi Aramco’s initial public offering (IPO) became the biggest in history. Since opening on the Saudi stock exchange on 11th December 2019, Saudi Aramco began trading at 32 riyals (or $8.53). As a result of this initiative, Aramco Public Offering was considered as the world’s biggest IPO. According to Bloomberg, Aramco’s full offering size increased to $29.4 billion as of January 2020.

Saudi Foreign Policy and G20

In recent years, Saudi Arabia has begun to pursue an active and ambitious foreign policy under the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. New era of economic cooperation and modification has started under the patronage of the young and ambitious leader of the Kingdom.

The results of these efforts are reflected in a number of essential and groundbreaking international agreements:

  1. In 2020, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has expressed full support for Japan’s dispatch of a Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer and patrol aircraft to the Middle East, during the official visit of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
  • In 2019, Crown Prince performed state visit to India and announced a $100 billion investment in India in areas, including energy, refining, petrochemicals, infrastructure, agriculture, and manufacturing.
  • In 2019, Saudi Arabia and China signed $28 billion worth of economic collaboration agreement, on the occasion of Crown Prince’s visit to China.
  • Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman made an official visit to Pakistan in 2019 and announced a $20 billion investment to support Pakistan overcome its economic problems.
  • In 2018, six agreements related to cooperation in the fields of defense, air transport, education, culture, and technology between Saudi Arabia and Spain.
  • During Crown Prince’s three-country tour in 2018, the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia reportedly agreed on a goal of $90 billion (£65 billion) of mutual trade and investment in the coming years.
  • In 2016, Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud and the prime minister of Japan Abe Shinzo decided to set up the Joint Group for “Saudi-Japan Vision 2030 (SJV 2030)”, representing a new era of partnership between the two countries.

On 1st December 2019, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia assumed the chairmanship of the 2020 G20. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia praised the work of the Japanese G20 Presidency in 2019 and continues to support its efforts to strengthen global cooperation. During the G20 Presidency, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia pledged to ensure that the G20 continues to reflect a comprehensive and wide range of international perspectives.

The 2020 G20 Leader’s Summit will be the fifteenth G20 meeting. As the host of the Leaders Summit on November 21-22, 2020, international attention will be paid to Riyadh. This will be the first time a G20 Summit has been held in the Kingdom and the Arab world.

Commenting on the Saudi Presidency, Crown Prince and Deputy Prime Minister Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, said: “The Saudi G20 Presidency is committed to continuing the work from Osaka and promoting multilateral consensus. Working with our G20 partners, we will strive to deliver concrete actions and realize opportunities to enable us to face the challenges of the future.”

World Leaders about Young Saudi Leader

“A reliable partner who always fulfills his promises, knows how to achieve his goals, knows well what he wants to achieve, a person full of vitality and enjoying the unprecedented activity.”

Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation

“His performance is amazing, and I am honored to meet him. He has done great things in the past years and contributes to the consolidation of the Saudi-American partnership.”

Donald J. Trump, President of the United States of America

“History is made by the courageous. And today, the region’s history is being changed because of Mohammad bin Salman.”

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, United Arab Emirates