But for the crown prince

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Okaz

THE late King Abdullah said to Prince Muhammad Bin Salman when the latter took the oath of office after his appointment as a state minister and member of the Cabinet: “You will rule your ground, insha Allah.”

King Abdullah was wise and he knew what he was saying. As the reigning king of the country, he didn’t need to say something like this as a compliment to the young prince. But King Abdullah was known for being bold and direct in expressing his opinion and speaking his mind.

This was a strategic choice for a kingdom that existed for many decades. The country must review its stand, deal with the reality and change what needed to be changed so it could outlast hundreds of years to come.

We need to review political, social and economic situations of the Saudi kingdom and its need to develop and progress before it ages.

Saudi Arabia went through many different phases in the past hundred years. It stood as a modern kingdom, confidently making achievements in many fields. It started with the unification efforts of King Abdul Aziz in a part of the world entangled in never-ending wars and conflicts.

The important question here is could Saudi Arabia ever reach this stage if its social and economic horizons were blocked. Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and his crown prince saw what blocked our horizons and took the necessary steps to come up with political, social, administrative and economic reforms. Such reforms led to new dynamics that restored the country’s vitality and youthfulness, driving it forward.

Society suffered from general depression because of a lack of quality of life and simple means of entertainment.

Any attempt to introduce entertainment to the country was resisted without any valid reason to the point that our youths were driven to conflict zones for relief, not to mention the sharp divisions, accusations and counter-accusations between the extremists and the moderates. The debate heated up so much so that it reached a level where each side accused the other of betrayal.

The rapid population growth was met by declining job opportunities. This led to the rise of social segment that was very rich and that stood as a barrier between the country’s leadership and its people. This segment had monopolized the nation’s resources, including the wealth, employment opportunities and power.

The Saudi people had not seen any marked change in their social status in the past 50 years. The rich established their own clubs where they did only what benefited them while turning their backs on the ordinary people.

After this long wait came a bold and courageous prince who cut the path to glory for the Saudi people. He was honest enough to tell his people that the economy and the administrative system are in a bad shape and that he will not seek the old and traditional solution of selling oil at high prices. Instead, he offered a vision and transformational programs. He envisioned giant projects, huge investment funds and attracted unlimited number of companies capable of lifting the economy from its current stagnation and injecting new blood to it.

He wanted to change the shape of the Saudi economy, which hitherto had relied solely on the oil revenue, into a real economy that generated jobs and created wealth by supporting opportunities for all.

Not only that, he began restructuring society to give the middle income families the chance to come forward and take advantage of the opportunities that had been monopolized for a long time by the rich. He put an end to extremism and uprooted it form our society. Has anyone heard of any terrorist activity in our cities lately?

King Salman and his crown prince repositioned Saudi Arabia politically and strategically in dealing with other countries and in tackling global issues. We now know who is our enemy and who is our ally. We no longer complement others sacrificing the interests of the country and its people. We now deal with others based on our interests.

In the past one hundred years, we were paying for others and put their interests before our own. In return, what we got was only back stabs. Those who we considered our allies conspired with our enemies against us.

Prince Muhammad Bin Salman restructured the army and protected the country’s southern border from incursions. He indigenized the military industry and production, and participated with the world in combating the ISIS terrorism. He protected the waterway through which oil flows to the international markets.

There is no doubt that this prestigious stand that we achieved did not come by chance or as a compliment. The world does not give out compliments freely and does not bestow high status to countries that don’t deserve it but Saudi Arabia by far claimed that high status. At the end, if Muhammad Bin Salman did not come, the Saudis would have hoped for him to come during their time.


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