Back in April this year, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman appeared on the Liwan Al Mudaifer Show, and discussed developments in Saudi Arabia’s ambitious Vision 2030 plan. It is the fifth anniversary of the plan, which aims to transform the Kingdom and prepare it for a post-hydrocarbon age. The Prince was interviewed by Saudi journalist Abdullah al-Mudaifer.
Describing the economic history of the Kingdom, Crown Prince Mohammed said: “If we were to go back in history, oil no doubt greatly served the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, but we know that Saudi Arabia was a country established before oil. The income and growth that oil realized [for Saudi Arabia] is much more than we needed at that time – in the thirties and forties. So, the volume of the surplus of the income and economic growth was much more than we were aspiring for, by hundreds of times. This has created the impression that oil will ensure all our needs in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
At the time, the population was less than three million people. We’re talking in the thirties and forties, and even much less maybe. In Riyadh, there were only 150,000 people at that time. Our production increased very slightly, of course, the population number increased hugely from one million to three million up to around 20 million Saudis.
So, oil has barely been able to cover the needs and the type of living we have been accustomed to since the 60s, 70s, 80s, and after. If we were to proceed in the same manner, and in light of the increased population number, this will have quite an impact in 20 years on the standard of living we’ve become accustomed to for about 50 years. So, this was risk number one, and we are Saudis, and we need to maintain the same standard of living, but on the contrary, we do seek to improve to an even better [standard of living] level, and aim to increase growth.
This is in addition to the risk that the economy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will depend mainly on oil, and the challenges the oil industry faces in the forty or fifty years ahead.
Limited utilization; or maybe the prices might be less; or there might be a dysfunction in the economic situation entailing financial and economic repercussions that could be negative, so that was need number one.
Need number two is that there are numerous opportunities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in different sectors other than just the oil sector. In mining, in tourism, in services, in logistics, in investment, etc. Huge opportunities, even if we didn’t have any problems in terms of oil then there is still enthusiasm, and a big drive towards achieving these enablers that we aspire, and to benefit from as Saudis for our beloved country.
So, I believe that was the main emphasis for the Vision 2030; to eliminate the challenges that we face and to exploit the untapped opportunities that may constitute 90 percent of our situation today, and we will continue to grow and to prosper and compete at a world level.
In this interview Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, challenged the fundamental precepts of Islamic Sharia in an interview on April 28, the tremors were so deep, they left most Muslims and their clerics in a state of silent shock. He has questioned the very validity of ‘Hadith’ that provide much of what is today considered Islamic Law in places as far apart as Aceh in Indonesia to University campuses in California in the US.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is a great reformer, who has had quietly heralded women’s rights and in an unprecedented move included the Hindu texts of Mahabharat and Ramayana into the school syllabus.
It may be mentioned here that, Saudi Arabia is the leader of the Muslim world, and a strong leader like Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has become essential for peace in the Middle East in particular when a ‘Death Commander’ like Ebrahim Raisi has become the president of terror-patron Iran in a voter-less fraudulent election.
Ebrahim Raisi is a notorious individual who was assigned with the task of putting political prisoners found to be ‘not Muslims’ for example, Marxists and socialists, or who were aligned to the opposition Mujahideen Khalq to death.
Journalist Candice Malcolm in her column wrote: “Within two minutes, this Death Commission would decide whether a prisoner would live or die – most were put to death. This cruel madness continued for months, as the Death Commission ordered the killing of thousands of political prisoners in just a few weeks. Some activists put that number closer to 30,000″.
Commenting on Ebrahim Raisi’s election, Amnesty International Secretary General Agnès Callamard said: “That Ebrahim Raisi has risen to the presidency instead of being investigated for the crimes against humanity of murder, enforced disappearance and torture, is a grim reminder that impunity reigns supreme in Iran”.
She noted that in 2018 Amnesty documented how Raisi had been a member of the ‘death commission’ which forcibly disappeared and extrajudicially executed in secret thousands of political dissidents in Evin and Gohardasht prisons near Tehran in 1988.
Now the question is – shall the global community, especially those leaders of the Western nations continue relations with a country that is led by a mass-murderer like Ebrahim Raisi? Shall US President Joe Biden and his administration still believe their support and patronization would stop Raisi’s Iran from exporting terrorism worldwide? The answer is no!
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been failing continuous threats posed by the Iranian regime. Israel is under continuous threats posed by Iran. Recently, mega-terror outfit Hamas has openly proclaimed its affiliations with Iran, Hezbollah, Houthis and Tehran’s terror network.
Under such realities, international community should immediately reboot their Iran policy and apply much harsher sanctions on Ebrahim Raisi’s Iran. At the same time, international community should extend all-out support and cooperation to Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. For the sake of peace and stability in the Middle East, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is a necessity.
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