Prince Mohammed’s visit puts KSA on world stage

Updated 27 September 2016

Prince Mohammed’s visit puts KSA on world stage

THE success of the Far East visit of Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is clear. It culminated in his important participation in the G20 summit in Hangzhou. The Kingdom’s profile at this gathering was arguably its highest ever since the world’s 20 most powerful economies agreed in 2008 to consult regularly on the direction of world affairs.
The key to this standing were the ambitions of Vision 2030. Prince Mohammed had already presented in person the Vision to Americans and French. Before the G20 meeting, it was at the core of his visits to China and Japan. On the sidelines of the summit itself, the Vision was at the center of an intensive round of meetings. Between Saturday and Monday, Prince Mohammed and his party held 15 top level meetings lasting a total of 40 hours.
He met Russian President Vladimir Putin, US Secretary of State John Kerry and British Prime Minister Theresa May as well as Indian Premier Narendra Modi and Indonesian President Joko Widodo. The following day, the deputy crown prince had separate talks with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande, South Korean President Park Geun-hye, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, Brazilian President Michel Temer, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.
This schedule worked out at a meeting on average every two-and-a-half hours. The intervals were taken up by reviews of the previous talks and preparation for the next. This week the Cabinet has hailed what was accomplished. There is no doubt that all major economies now fully understand the immense ambitions of Vision 2030. They have been appraised of the commercial opportunities. They will be thinking how their country’s companies can contribute and profit.
The next 14 years are going to transform Saudi Arabia. It is already the region’s most powerful economy. The vigorous growth of the non-oil sector will boost that dominance. Existing exports include household consumables and dairy products. But the Kingdom’s manufacturing base will be expanded. The focus will be on high technology ranging from automotive to defense industries. Chinese and Japanese companies in these spheres have already inked, or are due to seal such deals. Firms from other countries are bound to follow. With each new manufacturing base comes the need for local ancillary and support industries. Therefore the new jobs for well-educated young Saudis will not simply be created in the new enterprise itself. Goods and services to be needed to underpin these jobs. Everything from publicity to transport and logistics will be required. In other advanced manufacturing economies, on average three external jobs are created for every new manufacturing job.
In China and Japan, Prince Mohammed and his delegation signed 24 deals. These do not just cover industrial projects. There has also been a focus on the environment. China has major pollution challenges. It is seeking direct and indirect technologies to clean up its environmental act, including improving water resources. The Kingdom is already tackling its own environmental challenges. It has considerable experience in water management. With a reduced dependence on oil and the expansion of state-of-the-art urban public transport systems Saudis can look forward to a pollution-free environment.
There is a difference between Chinese and Japanese firms when it comes to the Kingdom. Chinese firms are still feeling their way here. Japanese businesses understand Saudi Arabia well. Their major trading houses have long had executives on the ground. They have researched and analyzed business opportunities. They have done their homework. Tokyo also appreciates what it can achieve commercially. Thus when Japanese Premier Shinzo Abe told Prince Mohammed how much he admired Saudi Vision 2030, he knew what he was talking about.
But there is an extra dimension to Vision 2030 that will have been understood at the G20 summit. The Kingdom is on track to become a regional manufacturing hub. It is already a trusted supplier of oil, not least to Japan and China. Saudi Arabia’s economic power will have a political impact. It will boost the Kingdom’s regional and international influence. Until the deputy crown prince’s crucially important Far East visit, the links with Beijing and Tokyo had been relatively low level and largely trade-based. Now it has been made clear that Saudi Arabia wants to play a full role in the world. Equally, in order to fulfill the ambitions of Vision 2030, it wants the world to play a full role in Saudi Arabia.

Editorial: Iran must not go unpunished

Updated 16 May 2019

Editorial: Iran must not go unpunished

  • Arab News argues that while war is always a last resort, an international response is a must to curb Iranian meddling
  • US strikes worked well when Assad used chemical weapons against his people

The attacks on Tuesday by armed drones on Saudi oil-pumping stations, and two days beforehand on oil tankers off the coast of Fujairah in the UAE, represent a serious escalation on the part of Iran and its proxies, should the initial conclusions of an international investigation prove to be accurate. 

Riyadh has constantly warned world leaders of the dangers that Iran poses, not only to Saudi Arabia and the region, but also to the entire world. This is something former President Obama did not realize until the Iran-backed Houthis attacked the US Navy three times in late 2016. The recent attacks on oil tankers and oil pipelines were aimed at subverting the world economy by hitting directly at the lifeline of today’s world of commerce. Tehran should not get away with any more intimidation, or be allowed to threaten global stability. 

It was in 2008 that the late King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz called upon the US to “cut off the head of the snake,” in reference to the malign activities of Iran. Nearly a decade later, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman referred to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as the “new Hitler of the Middle East.” We are in 2019 and Iran continues to wreak havoc in the region, both directly and through its well armed proxies. Crown Prince Mohammed was therefore clearly correct when he argued that appeasement does not work with the Iranian regime, just as it did not work with Hitler. The next logical step — in this newspaper’s view — should be surgical strikes. The US has set a precedent, and it had a telling effect: The Trump strikes on Syria when the Assad regime used Sarin gas against its people.

We argue this because it is clear that sanctions are not sending the right message. If the Iranian regime were not too used to getting away with their crimes, they would have taken up the offer from President Trump to get on the phone and call him in order to reach a deal that would be in the best interests of the Iranian people themselves. As the two recent attacks indicate, the Iranians insist on disrupting the flow of energy around the world, putting the lives of babies in incubators at risk, threatening hospitals and airports, attacking civilian ships and putting innocent lives in danger. As the case always is with the Iranian leadership, they bury their heads in the sand and pretend that they have done nothing. Nevertheless, investigations indicate that they were behind the attack on our brothers in the UAE while their Houthi militias targeted the Saudi pipelines.

Our point of view is that they must be hit hard. They need to be shown that the circumstances are now different. We call for a decisive, punitive reaction to what happened so that Iran knows that every single move they make will have consequences. The time has come for Iran not only to curb its nuclear weapon ambitions — again in the world’s interest — but also for the world to ensure that they do not have the means to support their terror networks across the region. 

We respect the wise and calm approach of politicians and diplomats calling for investigations to be completed and all other options to be exhausted before heading to war. In the considered view of this newspaper, there has to be deterrent and punitive action in order for Iran to know that no sinister act will go unpunished; that action, in our opinion, should be a calculated surgical strike.