When Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) was named as the Crown Prince in June 2017 there was some hope for the Kingdom. He planned the diversification of the economy, improved public services like healthcare and education, and aimed to reduce dependence on oil. It all started after he visited the Silicon Valley, United States in 2015.
Md. Bin Salman is the world’s youngest defence minister, it’s been over two years and he failed to live upto his promises and reforms. His aging father and the King of the Kingdom, King Salman bin Abdulaziz reasserted the kingdoms struggle in keeping diplomatic relations.
The Saudi’s are trying to send a message to the world that Riyadh is open for investment, but there is no credibility nor confidence among the international business community after the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.
Hundreds of businesses pulled out of the “Davos in the desert” which was MBSs’ pet investment summit. The nations foreign investment this year was 23% less when compared to 2017.
Not just the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, but also the role that Saudi Arabia had played in the Yemen crisis. Over 20 million people in Yemen need some form of humanitarian assistance. ‘Save the Children’ claimed that over 85,000 children under the age of 5 starved to death because Saudi Arabia and UAE blocked entry of food, supplies and medicine into Yemen.
The falling oil prices has further damaged the Saudi economy, it badly needs to get crude at US$ 70/ barrel and foreign investment to be ready for the “Vision 2030”.
The new cabinet of Saudi Arabia has young Prince’s that maintain a close relation with MBS, and some experienced royal servants. The cabinet reshuffle by the Saudi King in a way is a signal to his son to get things back to place, but MBS still enjoys all the power.
There were changes in the National Guard, the General Directorate of Public Security and the Information Ministry. King Salman also ordered the creation of a national space agency to be led by another of his sons, Prince Sultan bin Salman, who was the first Arab astronaut.
The kingdom appointed Adel al-Jubeir the first non-royal to hold the the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, he previously served as a translator to the king and was a diplomat to the United States. Mr. Jubeir has closer relations to the west, and hence he could be the face saver for their economy.