The Saudi Revolution

By Jumana Ghunaimat

تم نشره في Mon 6 November / Nov 2017. 01:00 AM
  • Jumana Ghunaimat

Saudi Arabia has been centring the world’s attention for a while now.

With the news coming in one after another, at a frequency that has left as holding our breath in anticipation, one cannot help but think that a revolution in Saudi Arabia is on the verge of unfolding, or may it has already begun!

The current Saudi ongoing is interesting.

Since King Salman bin Abdul Aziz came to rule, and his son, Mohammad, became Crown Prince, developments there only indicate a Saudi revolution is underway. On that will bring the Kingdom to new political, economic and social levels.

The catalyst of it all seems to be Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. After once being the Deputy Crown Prince, his appointment as Crown Prince seems to have begun the transformation.

Shortly after Saudi declared war in Yemen, against Iran’s growing regional influence, Prince Mohammad announced the Saudi 2030 economic vision. It was the highlight of an economic revolution that lays the foundation of Saudi’s new approach.

It was there and then that the subtleties of change began taking more explicit and evident forms, with the arrival of Prince Mohammad bin Salman to the Crown Prince’s office, in the midst of the momentum.

His 2030 vision will take Saudi Arabia from the patronage-oil state it is now to a productive country with a qualitative economy to qualitative productivity. This would help advance Saudi’s efforts to rely less on oil and more on industry and manufacturing.

Right afterwards, the young prince set yet another revolutionary change in motion, when he addressed the relationship between the state and the religious institution.

He vowed to take Saudi back to its moderate Islamic root, once open to the world, as he put it.

These are heavy, ground-breaking statements that only reinforce the idea that he wants to deliver the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from the clutches of extremism to moderation and openness.

More so, allowing women to drive will kick-start another social revolution to set in motion change in the culture and the situation of women in Saudi Arabia.

This is not to be seen in isolation from the Crown Prince’s vow to restore moderation to the Kingdom.

If anything, it speaks loudly of the underway change the prince intends to constitute in terms of setting the country free from the control of the religious institution. This is evident also in the previous decisions to limit the authorities of the clergy and the “Promotion of Virtue” committee, who enjoy a significant presence in the Saudi society.

The Crown Prince was so adamant about it that he even jailed a number of prominent clergies in the past months.

It goes beyond the moment and well into the future.

Just days ago, Saudi Arabia announced the NEOM project, which extends throughout north eastern parts of Saudi, to include Jordan and Egypt, with over USD500 billion in investments.

However, the most shocking piece of Saudi news was the Saturday arrests, following the resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, televised from Riyadh.

These arrests included at least a dozen princes of Saudi royalty and many prominent figures and businessmen, all for corruption related charges.

Saudi Arabia is transforming, and this may just be the tip of the iceberg.

The young Saudi Crown Prince holds in his hands KSA’s most important files, and he is clearly up for it. He has pushed a number of political and security decisions that will expand Saudi’s influence, and his with it, to face up to the challenges, both domestic and regional.

He is preparing the Kingdom for his reign.

By the time he is King, youth will comprise over one half of Saudi Arabia’s national population.

Evaluating and analysing the current ongoing in Saudi Arabia is no easy task.

Some would describe it as reckless. Others see it as incredibly brave, rising up to the occasion of a changed reality to stir the country away from the course of many decades.

In my opinion, both are correct.

There is a clear, wilful vision for change, to build a different Saudi Arabia.

Whether or not the Prince is going to succeed, only time will tell!

For now, it is difficult to anticipate what is next for Saudi Arabia. What we know for sure, as Arabs, at this point, is that the Saudi Arabia we know will be no longer.

The Saudi revolution will affect us all, and we need to prepare for it!

This article is an edited translation of the Arabic version, published by AlGhad.