He is both a hope and a scare. His societal reforms are long-awaited and will surely be important and positive in the long run, shy as they may look to western eyes. His aggression against Yemen and Qatar etc. are very terrifying. The Yemen war is a new Vietnam in terms of humanitarian crisis and there is no solution in sight, but still.
He has introduced a series of urgently needed social and economic reforms as part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. Women were given their full legal rights (the male-guardianship system was abolished, lifted the ban on women’s driving, women’s participation in the workforce was boosted, Hijab has become a personal choice). Opened up the country for foreign investment and tourism (for the first time! Saudi Arabia plans to host more than 100 million visitors per year by the year 2030).
Lifted the ban on music festivals and international events (it hosted WWE, Formula E, MDLBEAST music festival, along with other exciting regional and international events). Non-oil revenues increased to 48% of the annual budget’s revenue. Increased the assets of the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) from 500 million Riyals to 1.5 trillion Riyals. (The fund is expected to bring in 150 million Riyals to the Saudi economy every year). Introduced initiatives to reduce Saudi Arabia’s carbon emission through launching the Saudi Green Initiative and the Middle East Green Initiative. Invested heavily in renewable energy (solar, wind and hydrogen fuel). Saudi Arabia is expected to export clean energy to the rest of the world.
Saudi woman believes that Mohammed bin Salman is the best thing that happened to Saudi Arabia in a very long time. Societies with greater gender equality not only offer better socioeconomic opportunities for women but also tend to grow faster and more equitably. There are gains in poverty reduction, environmental sustainability, consumer choice, innovation and decision-making on a wider set of issues. Lowering the barriers faced by women entrepreneurs at home and internationally, and helping more businesswomen to connect to international value chains, would bolster growth and inclusion. It would create more – and better-paying – jobs for women, not least since women-owned firms hire more women, especially at senior levels. The overall growth of women in the development of the country.
That is why taking gender into account matters when developing and implementing trade policy. Placing women at the heart of global policymaking will go a long way towards realizing the United Nations 2030 Agenda goal of achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls. Economic development and gender equality go hand-in-hand. He appointed women in senior roles in the government and the private sector as part of a massive campaign to empower women.
He also cracked down on corruption ($100 billion was retrieved). Invested in renewable energy (Saudi Arabia enjoys one of the best locations in the world for sun exposure which can be used to export solar energy to the rest of the world, remaining yet again, an energy provider). Launched mega-projects that are 100% powered by renewable energy such as NEOM, the Red Sea Islands, Amala.
Young future King, Mohammed bin Salman was born on 31 August 1985, the eldest son of Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud’s third wife, Fahda bint Falah Al Hithlain. After gaining a bachelor’s degree in law at King Saud University in the capital Riyadh, he worked for several state bodies. In 2009, he was appointed a special adviser to his father, who was serving as governor of Riyadh at the time.
Mohammed bin Salman’s rise to power began in 2013 when he was named the head of the Crown Prince’s Court, with the rank of minister. The previous year, his father had been appointed crown prince after the death of Nayef bin Abdul Aziz. In January 2015, King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz died and Salman acceded to the throne at the age of 79.
The new king immediately made two decisions that surprised observers, naming his son minister of defence and nephew Mohammed bin Nayef deputy crown prince. The latter became the first of the grandsons of Ibn Saud, the founder of the kingdom, to move on to the line of succession. One of Mohammed bin Salman’s first acts as defence minister was to launch a military campaign in Yemen in March 2015 along with other Arab states after the Houthi rebel movement, which they saw as an Iranian proxy, seized control of the capital Sanaa and forced President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi to flee abroad.
In April 2015, King Salman made more startling changes to the line of succession, appointing Mohammed bin Nayef as crown prince and his son deputy crown prince, second deputy prime minister and president of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs. The plan, called Vision 2030, envisages increasing non-oil revenue to 600bn riyals ($160bn; £123bn) by 2020 and 1trn riyals by 2030, up from 163.5bn riyals in 2015. The prince said he wanted to create the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, worth up to $3ten, with money generated by partially privatizing the state oil company, Saudi Aramco.
In April 2017, the kingdom announced plans for a 334 sq km (129 sq mile) entertainment city on the edge of Riyadh offering a range of cultural and sporting activities – including a safari park. The prince was also seen as having spearheaded a boycott of Qatar, which Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt began in early June 2017 over its alleged support for terrorism and meddling in its neighbours’ affairs. However, the Khashoggi case has shifted the focus towards the darker side of Salman’s record, one that includes the imprisonment of critics and human rights activists, thousands of civilian deaths in Yemen and a rapid rise in the number of executions since his ascent to power.