Deadly illusions about Saudi Arabia

September 26, 2022
Deadly illusions about Saudi Arabia

Mashari Althaydy

Saudi Arabia’s celebration of the 92nd National Day in September coincided with a great political and diplomatic victory for the modern Saudi state in terms of the successful mediation of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman that led to the release of a group of prisoners of different nationalities captured by Russia during its ongoing war with Ukraine.

This major international achievement of Saudi Arabia shows the true face of the Saudi state as it enjoys independence, credibility and is a heavy weight on the international arena.

Here, I would like to talk about some of the illusions surrounding the image of Saudi Arabia in the past and at present.

The most prominent among these illusions is that the Saudi state is making decisions in an improvised, not institutional manner, and that the institutional traditions in the country are non-existent.

The second delusion is that the Saudi state is ‘subordinate’ to the major countries in the world, and does not have its own decision... It only has to pump money to implement the policies formulated in advance either in Washington or London in the past.

All these illusions are like yellow autumn leaves, flying in any light breeze of reason and justice.

Whoever looks at the institutions at the court of King Abdul Aziz, such as the Political Division, the Telegraph Division, the Rural Division, and institutions such as the Diwan, the Shoura Council, and the Council of Deputies, all during the era of King Abdul Aziz, the great builder of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, would certainly realize that how serious and professional was the King in administrative and political work at the dawn of the Kingdom’s unification.

Not to mention the dozens of official and unofficial advisors — Arabs and non-Arabs — and sometimes even non-Muslims, such as the British Philby, before his conversion to Islam...

All this informs us of the extent of the hard work that the founder of the state exerted, and above all that he relied on a mighty innate political mind, and the nature of pure leadership psychology.

This illusion about the primitiveness and improvisation of the Saudi decision has persisted until our time, with ignorance and laziness of some people, and malice and premeditation on the part of some others.

During an interview with Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, the architect of Saudi Vision 2030, when a journalist from the American magazine ‘Atlantic’ asked him about the nature of the Saudi monarchy, and how the decision was made, he said:

“I cannot change Saudi Arabia from a monarchy to another type of system, because it has been based on a monarchy for 300 years, and this complex monarchical structure, of thousand tribal and urban systems, has been part of how people lived in the past and it is part of a Saudi Arabia today and its continuation as a monarchy.”

Explaining this foreign question, Prince Mohammed Bin Salman added that there are a lot of discussions and making clarifications before taking any decision.

“Then the King makes the decision, but if you use the authority in your capacity as the King and take the decision, without going through the stages of this process, this may create a shock in the street, and a shock to the people,” the Crown Prince pointed out.

I have space constraint here to give a detailed explanation about the second delusion surrounding the image of Saudi Arabia. This illusion is clear example of ignorance and laziness to understand the real role and unique contributions of Saudi Arabia or mere attempts to deliberately denigrate the Kingdom.

— This article was originally published in Asharq Al-Awsat.

September 26, 2022
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