MBS: Middle East can be the ‘new Europe’

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, second right, and Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, second left, attend the Future Investment Initiative conference. (AN photo by Ziyad Alarfaj)
Updated 02 November 2018
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MBS: Middle East can be the ‘new Europe’

  • Crown prince tells Future Investment Initiative forum in Riyadh that he would like to see the economic transformation of the region happen within his lifetime
  • “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in five years will be completely different,” he says

RIYADH: The Middle East can be the “new Europe,” Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said on Wednesday as he vowed to see the region thrive economically. 

The crown prince told a packed audience at the Future Investment Initiative forum in Riyadh that he would like to see the economic transformation of the region happen within his lifetime. 

He said his “war” was restoring the Middle East to its past glory. “I believe the new Europe is the Middle East,” Prince Mohammed said. “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in five years will be completely different.”

The crown prince is driving Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 plan for economic and social reforms. “If we succeed in the coming five years, other countries will join us,” he said. “Even Qatar, despite our differences with it, has a strong economy and it will be completely different in five years.”

The crown prince said Saudi Arabia had already taken “very big steps” to develop its own economy. 

“The numbers speak for themselves,” he said. “Our non-oil revenues have almost tripled.”

Prince Mohammed said the Kingdom would continue with its ambitious Vision 2030 reform plan, predicting the economy will grow by 2.5 percent this year and that growth would improve next year.

He cited Saudi Arabia’s efforts to transform its oil-dependent economy, build more infrastructure, and fight terror. “All our projects are going ahead, reform is going ahead, our war on extremism is going ahead, our war on terrorism is going ahead ... our efforts won’t stop no matter how they try to constrain us,” he said.

Higher crude prices and an expansion of the non-oil economy helped Saudi Arabia’s economy grow in the second quarter at its fastest pace for over a year, according to official data.

The crown prince praised Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, ruler of Dubai, who he said had set the standard for Middle East societies. 

Prince Mohammed was speaking on stage with Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad and Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri. 

Prince Salman said growth in Saudi Arabia was good for the region as a whole. “Saudi Arabia is the engine of growth in our region and its success will be reflected on us,” he said. 

Hariri spoke of the importance of forming a new government in Lebanon — something he acknowledged will take time. “We are looking forward to forming a government that will meet the needs and expectations of the Lebanese people,” he said. 

Prince Mohammed joked about allegations that Hariri was detained in the Kingdom last year — and said the Lebanese PM would be departing the Kingdom soon. 

“Prime Minister Saad is staying in the Kingdom for two days so I hope you don’t spread rumors that he was kidnapped,” the crown prince said.


Formula E brings racing-themed roadshow to Jeddah

Updated 33 min 51 sec ago
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Formula E brings racing-themed roadshow to Jeddah

  • The Road to Ad Diriyah will give Jeddah a taste of the historical three-day festival of racing, live music, culture and entertainment that is set to take place in Ad Diriyah
  • More than 6,000 motorsport fans stormed to Khobar last week for the road show

DUBAI: After a successful run in Khobar last week, Road to Ad Diriyah, a racing-themed entertainment event, is set to visit Jeddah as the country gears up for all-electric street car-racing activities in December.

More than 6,000 motorsport fans stormed to Khobar last week for the road show, which featured racing-themed activities heralding the upcoming 2018 Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix on Dec. 13 to 15, a first-of-its-kind sporting event in the Middle East.

The Jeddah edition opens on Nov. 22, with most of the activities from the previous one, as well as an e-sports competition whose winner will take home SAR 1,000,000.

The ABB FIA Formula E Road to Ad Diriyah e-sports championship allows fans to command a SAR 250,000 professional racing simulator. The 16 best participants will then be invited to Ad Diriyah in December for the grand finals.

The Road to Ad Diriyah will give Jeddah a taste of what the historical three-day festival of racing, live music, culture and entertainment that is set to take place in Ad Diriyah will be like.

Bavaria Zaman, who visited the Khobar show with husband Rashid Khan and kids Nawal, Daiin and Nashin, said: "I think it's fantastic. The kids are running around and having fun."

The upcoming E-Prix is the first in a 10-year partnership between ABB FIA Formula E and the General Sports Authority of Saudi Arabia (GSA) and the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation (SAMF).