‘New Saudis’: Brigades of Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman leading change

September 23, 2020
File photo of the Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman with Saudi students in the United States. — SPA
File photo of the Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman with Saudi students in the United States. — SPA
Anas Alyusuf

By Anas Alyusuf

Saudi Gazette

Saudi Arabia is witnessing a new era of transition from the time of the founding fathers, who accomplished their tasks with meager resources, to the generation of sons who are full of vitality, youthful spirit, the will for renaissance, and the sagacity to adapt to the changes.

The Saudi youth constitutes the core of the Vision 2030, and these “New Saudis” can rightly be called as the “Brigades of Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman” and his soft powers for change.

The launching of the Vision 2030 and the accompanying television interviews related to various aspects of its realization, which generated good impressions, could be one of the biggest challenges that the oil-addicted Kingdom has taken upon itself, as stated by Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, the architect of this Vision, which consists of major strategic goals.

This Vision has pivoted the fact that human capital is the prime resource and it is out to capitalize on this, by putting the people in front in the changing Kingdom. The positive effect of this is visualized within Saudi Arabia, regionally and globally and the certainty of this Vision progressing smoothly is being viewed with great confidence and eagerness.

This Vision, which has been relied upon to refresh the Kingdom’s image and increase the momentum of its effectiveness in the surrounding environment, comes at a distinctive historical moment for a country burdened with countless obligations, foremost of which are the burdens of the leadership role since the “Decisive Storm,” apart from the changes in the oil market.

There is not ample space here to discuss and highlight the various economic, social and cultural dimensions of this Vision, of which the focal goal is to move the country from a rentier economy with diminishing fiscal surpluses to a productive economy based on self-reliance and pumping of investments, as well as stimulating export sectors in a framework of openness and transparency.

Therefore, I examine here only one dimension, which I think is the most important among the other dimensions of this Vision presented for public discourse as it is the central dimension that drives this Vision and acts as its self-propulsion.

I mean by this the young Saudis whose intellect burns with passion and their blood is with full vitality that displays a will for change and the spirit of initiative — a generation that takes calculated risks and sees potential opportunities in them, apart from sharpening their eyes on bright future prospects.

I think a new generation is standing by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman as the pivotal component of this Vision. This generation of princes, developers, managers, enlightened decision makers, and others including tens of thousands of scholarship students, who return with experiences gained from the premier Western universities, are the ones whom we call “the new Saudis.”

This is an ideal metaphor for the pioneers of the transition process in the Saudi society and economy. A transition from the time of the founding fathers, who performed the task without resources and accomplished it well, to the generation of sons who are full of vitality of the spirit of youth, the will for renaissance and the sagacity to adapt to changes.

Had not been there such a will, which is open to the requirements of the age and its modern concepts, and accumulation of acquired knowledge and experience for a generation of experts, organizers and those with innovative ideas with valuable and gigantic assets, this Saudi road map to the future would not have seen the light in this period where the Arabs are harnessing all their potential on a strong foundation capable of rebuilding a system that enables them to meet challenges that encircle them.

We are not in the process of evaluating this Vision, whose success at home and abroad, depends not only on relying on leadership, but also on the condition that an efficient executive apparatus and organizational tools capable of being consistent with the targeted results shall be in place, and that is in line with the established verification criteria.

These issues are left to the factor of time in the foreseeable future, but it can be said without redundancies that achieving 50 percent of this forward-looking Vision of the era of self-reliance is sufficient to bring about what we can call a soft revolution.

It is notable that at a time when the Saudi leadership was laying the foundations for this Vision, in paper and behind closed doors, it was working tirelessly to reproduce a parallel Arab system, and that could be an alternative, to an aging and powerless Arab system.

This was what was indicated in a series of meetings of Arab and Islamic alliances and blocs that have been held one after another over the past few months, including the strategic coordination councils with Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Iraq.

With this Vision that speaks to the Saudi Arabia of tomorrow with an open mind, in an unusual modern language, and a vocabulary that was not in circulation in Saudi clubs until recently, it is evident that there is a new Saudi content for the concept of Arab relations.

And that it is not only based on the element of oil and financing, but also on political and military partnerships that may upgrade to the level of NATO in a later phase.

All the principles of this reform, modernization and development that are encompassing all spheres of the Saudi society emanate from the dreams of King Salman that he had cherished ever since he was a young prince who assumed the responsibility of the emirate of Riyadh at the age of 19.

He has proved his mettle through exceptional personal and professional qualities and abilities, which are understood, preserved and translated into action by the young Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman.

The phase of age represented by the Crown Prince comes as one of his strengths in understanding the society that he leads and makes plans for it.

An insight into the demographic structure of the Saudi society is a clear manifestation of the prominence of the younger generation. Out of the total population of 31 million, Saudis represent 22 million while expatriates make up the remaining nine million.

Saudi youth under the age of 31 represent 36 percent, which is the highest among the youth in the G20 states. About 18 percent of the population is under the age of 45, while people above the age of 65 constitute three percent of the population. So, this is a young society par excellence, whether they are children or youth or those in their middle ages.

They are the “Brigades of Prince Muhammad Bin Salman” and his soft powers for change. They understand his clear message in Vision 2030 in terms of financial development and quality of life. They see their Crown Prince as “one of them and one who thinks for them, represents them and acts for their cause.”

Young men and women now find in the cities across the Kingdom a beautiful outlet in which they can practice their normal lives without the need to travel abroad in order to lead a “normal life that they had been deprived of for decades due to a false understanding of immoderation and strictness.”

Here it was not a coincidence that Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman realized that his ambitious plan to build a new Saudi Arabia needed — necessarily — to build the personality of the “new Saudis”.

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