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.


Jeddah to host first global village in Saudi Arabia

The marketing plan of the village has been put in place to target private and international schools to ensure high attendance. (Shutterstock)
Updated 21 January 2019
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Jeddah to host first global village in Saudi Arabia

  • “Participants from some 50 countries have so far confirmed their interest in taking part in the festival, which will be held on an area of more than 45,000 square meters,” Suzan Eskander said

JEDDAH: For the first time in Saudi Arabia, Jeddah will host a multicultural festival that takes visitors on a virtual tour of 50 countries.
The global village will be set up inside Atallah Happy Land Park along the city’s famous waterfront every day from 5 p.m. to midnight between Feb. 28 and March 29.
The event is one of many aiming to enhance tourism, as well as the local economy.
Suzan Eskander, director-general of International Image, the organizing company, told Arab News that the village is expected to attract 1 million visitors.
“Participants from some 50 countries have so far confirmed their interest in taking part in the festival, which will be held on an area of more than 45,000 square meters,” she said.
“There will be pavilions for participants from five Gulf Cooperation Council states, 10 Arab countries, 18 African countries, 10 European countries and four countries from the Americas.”
She added that folkloric dances would be performed by bands from each country.
“Performers will be dressed in traditional costumes,” she said. “Visitors can also enjoy dishes and traditional products from different countries.”
Eskander also said paintings portraying heritage and culture in the different countries would be on display.
“In addition, we are hopeful that the children’s zone will wow young visitors,” she said. “Little guests can develop their skills in drawing and games, as well as play zones.”
Eskander said the village was timed to coincide with the city’s good weather season, adding that a marketing plan has been put in place to target private and international schools to ensure high attendance. Eskander expressed her gratitude to the General Entertainment Authority for their continued support and cooperation.
“They have not only provided us instructions for obtaining the festival’s license, but are still following up to ensure that everything is going smoothly,” she said.