The Saudi Arabian Perestroika!

By: Fahed Khitan

تم نشره في Tue 26 April / Apr 2016. 09:09 PM
  • Fahed Khitan

It was crucial for Saudi Arabia to make this major turn. Internal and external factors left the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia not much of a choice, especially in the aftermath of the recent tremendous changes in global markets and economy, and the de-prioritisation of Gulf oil value to Western strategies.

On the domestic level, the reinterring Saudi system has drained the State to the point that it has become unable, in spite of great fortunes, to tend to popular demands, nor to meeting the necessities of modernity and modernisation; a vital determining factor fore-brought by cross-continental media and other global factors.

The Saudi-turn was inevitable, due to the decades hooked on oil, and administrated by unilateral, exclusive, submissive cultures that have driven societies to the edge.

Next to the importance of the economic aspects of the “Saudi Vision 2030”, the agendas and programmes entailed in the strategy for what the Saudi society should become in the future, is even more interesting.

The strategy designed, touches dangerously on taboos once deemed untouchable; breaking a variety of cultural, social, and historical boundaries; should it succeed, that would lead Saudi Arabia to an unprecedented place.

Before the “Vision” was announced, and before Heir of the Saudi Hair to Royalty, Prince Mohammad bin Salman articulated these changes, never have we heard words like “transparency” and “governance” in official Saudi discourses and speech. More so, the people’s right to look into the “Aramco” budget, and lift subsidies on rich social and royal segments? Expenditure control? Tourism and entertainment? Saudi Arabia’s history before Islam!?!

Prior to “Al Arabiya’s” interview, we had not yet to meet a Saudi official with such a graceful and forthcoming command of speech, with this dynamic dialect in defence of His views; he even admits to their being resistance to his views within Saudi Arabia, and declares readiness to debate with those who oppose. This is all new for Saudi Arabia, and it is a great leap on the way to openness.

But Mohammad bin Salman’s battle is not going to be easy. The conservative powers in control over the State and Society’s strongpoints will put up a heck of a fight. Moreover, stubborn bureaucracy there is actually able to brake reformation to a halt, should no other resistance present itself. The experiences of many states and monarchies before Saudi Arabia down this path indicate it.

Accordingly, the Vision holder has no other option but to work on aggregating a vast-based popular current; within state institutions, society, and media, to adopt his project, fend for it, and its execution. This, make no mistake, is a great challenge for a country like KSA; lacking general labour and work traditions, civil society organisations, as well as freedom of press and media.

In other words; the success of this developmental economic strategy is bound to democratisation and democratic reformations that would toll on press, media, and base for the surge of active, influential civil society organisations, to preface in parallel a roadmap that is crucial to economic and developmental progress.

Global and neighbouring Arab powers are interested in seeing the “Saudi Perestroika” through; because the tremendous opportunities to be set in motion by the Saudi Sovereign Wealth Fund will soon motor world economy, development, and gigantic investment projects.

Eventually, this major Saudi turn, on some level, comprises an objective response to the dramatic American redirection in foreign policy, and marks the end of the golden era between Washington and Gulf Countries, with the receding value of oil in American strategy.

That said, Saudi Arabia had no choice, along with Gulf allies, but to establish a new role that goes beyond oil and dependency on the West.