KSA moving in right direction: Ex-US envoy

KSA moving in right direction: Ex-US envoy
Dennis Ross ... optimism
Updated 11 September 2016

KSA moving in right direction: Ex-US envoy

KSA moving in right direction: Ex-US envoy

JEDDAH: A senior American diplomat has commended Saudi Arabia for its economic reforms being led by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and expressed optimism over the future of the Kingdom.
“Saudi Arabia is the only hope in a region where it is hard to be optimistic about anything in the Middle East,” wrote Dennis Ross in Washington Post, following his visit to Riyadh.
Ross, a former US envoy for peace in the Middle East and a special assistant to US President Barack Obama from 2009 to 2011, in his article, titled “In Saudi Arabia, a revolution disguised as reform,” wrote: “In fact, the Saudi Arabia I just visited seemed like a different country from the one I’ve been visiting since 1991. There is an awakening underway in Saudi Arabia, but it is being led from the top.”
His words echo the testimony of Bloomberg journalists who met with the deputy crown prince in Riyadh several times and who said that the young prince works for more than 12 hours a day and stays in his office for long hours to be able to complete the many tasks on his daily agenda.
Ross’ second observation after his recent visit to the Kingdom is that women have a larger presence than before; Saudi women, he said, attended the meeting he held with Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir. He also said that half of those who attended a meeting with him at one of the important colleges in Riyadh were women.
“The deputy crown prince was emphatic in telling us that Saudi Arabia no longer has an ideology other than national development and modernization.
For him, there is no choice but to pursue the ambitious targets specified in the National Transformation Plan (2020) and Vision 2030, which include tripling non-oil revenue by 2020, building a public investment fund to exploit other minerals, promoting the Saudis’ petrochemical and alternative energy bases, and developing their domestic tourist industries and entertainment centers.”
Ross is convinced that “the Saudi plans for transformation are ambitious, designed to diversify the economy, end over-reliance on oil, keep capital in the country for domestic investment, and foster both transparency and accountability.”
The US diplomat explained that “a comprehensive reform of the educational system is being carried out; 80,000 students are studying abroad and returning to the Kingdom with modern skills and a new mind-set, and women are being increasingly integrated into jobs across all sectors. About 70 percent of the Saudi population is under 30 ... and these young people are not just open to change; they seek it.”