quotes The Saudi Gambit: A Kingdom’s bold challenge to history

14 May 2024
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Updated 13 May 2024

The Saudi Gambit: A Kingdom’s bold challenge to history

The world watches, eyes narrowed. Saudi Arabia, that land of ancient deserts and whispered traditions, has upended the game board. Vision 2030 is not a whispered move but a declaration echoing through time, like the first beats of a war drum. Yet the world hesitates, unsure if they witness the birth of a legend or just another player with more gold than strategy.

I, a son of this sacred soil, say they doubt us at their peril. This is not a game played by their rules or on their timeline. Like Beth Harmon in “The Queen’s Gambit,” facing smug men certain of her failure, we understand the power of the unexpected. Yes, we honor our past; each grain of sand holds its weight in history. But we are not prisoners of that past, trapped on a chessboard defined by others. This is our game now.

The rush of family businesses to IPOs? That is not just the dry calculation of profits; it is the roar of a desert lion unleashed upon the markets. For generations, these were kingdoms within the Kingdom, their secrets locked tighter than any fortress. Now, they stand revealed, their power made transparent. This is a gamble, yes, for there is risk in the scrutiny of shareholders. But can we doubt the shrewdness born in the souq, the adaptability of those who forged empires from dunes? Perhaps this check on power will force a new level of brilliance, cunning honed by the demands of the world stage.

Our National Investment Strategy is not a copy of others’ victories but a declaration of our own. Forget Silicon Valley copycats. Our path emerges from the relentless desert sun and the wisdom of ancestors who thrived in its heat. AlUla, once a whispered echo of the past, now becomes a crucible for the future. Those stones whisper not just of what was but what could be. Each ancient tomb becomes a laboratory where we harness the ageless secrets of the desert to feed and sustain a world facing the ravages of climate change.

Yes, we honor our past; each grain of sand holds its weight in history. But we are not prisoners of that past, trapped on a chessboard defined by others. This is our game now.

This — this is our queenside attack, taking the fight into unexpected territory. The crossroads of Makkah and Madinah taught us unity in diversity. We will transform that into more than a spiritual truth. Riyadh itself will rise as a beacon, a dazzling oasis of liveability fueled by the relentless sun. This is not about imitation; it is about showing the world what sustainability means carved into the very heart of a city.

But remember, like Beth, our true strength lies in the awakening of our people. Those grand projects, they are not the game’s end, but the fuel that ignites the fire within. What use is a gilded chessboard if the players lack the cunning to command it? Education must become as vital as oil, forging not just skilled hands but resilient minds that dance with the unexpected. We will make mistakes, for ambition guarantees stumbles. It is in rising from those falls that we show our mettle.

Expo 2030 glitters on the horizon, but it is no checkmate if we lose sight of what we are fighting for. It must accelerate our purpose, or it is naught but a jewel we can ill afford. The world will judge us on more than glitter. Can we hold to our values as the game intensifies? Can we face the temptations of easy wealth and stay true to a greater good? These are the hardest sacrifices — of ego, of short-term comfort.

The biggest gamble is on ourselves. Will we dare to step into the unknown, a Kingdom reborn? Let the world sneer, like those who dismissed Beth Harmon as a mere girl with a gift. Our gift is the hunger for a future they cannot fathom, built on a foundation they refuse to see. Each beat of the drum grows louder. We are coming. Let them doubt. It only makes the victory sweeter.

Abdulelah S. Al-Nahari is a business and MarCom partner at a marketing solutions firm and leads strategic growth initiatives in line with Saudi Arabia’s digital-first vision. He has multi-sector awareness, strategic digital foresight and a range of industry experience.