JEDDAH: A stable Middle East is vital for Saudi Arabia to achieve its Vision 2030 goals and Iran’s regional destabilization program is a hindrance, the Kingdom’s ambassador to the US said on Saturday.
“This clash of visions is the problem with Iran. We have Vision 2030. They have Vision 1979,” Prince Khaled bin Salman said in a panel discussion at the E2 Summit in the US.
Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies, as well as the US and other countries, have accused Iran of exporting the extremist ideology of its ruling clerics and of supporting terrorist movements such as the Hezbollah and Al-Qaeda to destabilize its neighbors. Iran is also accused of arming Yemen’s Houthi militias, who are trying to dislodge the internationally recognized government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.
“We want to move the region forward. They want to move the region backward,” the ambassador said.
He said Saudi Arabia is nonetheless on track with Vision 2030, which is a slew social and economic policies meant to free the kingdom from dependence on oil exports and “to build a prosperous and sustainable economic future” through programs such as developing the local work force and empowering women to become more productive partners in nation-building.
In fact almost 99 percent of graduated Saudi students who studied abroad go back to Saudi Arabia, he said.
“Saudi people do not love their country because it’s modernized. But, they modernize their country because they love it,” he said.
On the issue of women empowerment, Prince Khaled noted that the head of the Saudi Stock Exchange, also known as the Tadawul, is a woman.
“I’m glad to hear @NYSE just appointed a woman for the first time last month which took 226 years. It took us 34 years, and we are only 86 year old,” he said, referring to the New York Stock Exchange.
The annual E2 Summit brings together a cross section of influential business, political, and global policy leaders “to discuss the strength and future of American leadership.”