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

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.


Saudi Arabia wins praise for showcasing ancient cultural heritage

Updated 34 min 56 sec ago

Saudi Arabia wins praise for showcasing ancient cultural heritage

  • It has introduced Saudi and Arab heritage to more than 5 million people across the world

RIYADH: Alessandra Capodiferro, director of the National Roman Museum, on Monday, expressed pride that her museum was hosting the exhibition “Roads of Arabia: Masterpieces of Antiquities in Saudi Arabia Across the Ages.”

The exhibition, which was inaugurated by Saudi Culture Minister Prince Badr bin Abdullah on Nov. 26, has already been hosted by a number of prominent international museums.

Capodiferro praised the international reputation achieved by the exhibition, which features many important artifacts, including hunting gear, weapons, jewelry, utensils made from precious metals, glass, alabaster, ceramics, sculptures and wall paintings — all of which are an expression of local production, trade exchange and cultural contact.

She said that the most important achievements of the research conducted in the Kingdom over the decades by Saudi specialists and archeological missions, including those headed by Italian teams, revealed the rich history of the Arabian Peninsula mentioned in ancient literature. Excavations conducted on these missions have led to the discovery of a significant number of artifacts dating back to several epochs — prehistoric, ancient, Roman Imperial and late antiquity.

The exhibition highlights the successive civilizations of the Arabian Peninsula, and provides examples of cultural interaction between Arab and Roman civilizations. It will continue for three months in Rome, its 17th station. Hosted in the most prominent international museums in European, American and Asian cities, it has introduced Saudi and Arab heritage to more than 5 million international visitors.