Nobody knows whether it is simply a moderate breeze or a coming storm. At the latest since November last year there is a much-debated new face on the scene of the world map: Mohammed Bin Salman (aka: MbS), Saudi Arabia’s young crown prince. And right at the start he calls the world’s attention: For the first time in the history of the kingdom members of the royal house are arrested – even though in a luxury environment. Among the prisoners there’s none other than Prince al-Waleed Bin Talal himself. Whether this is about corruption in Saudi Arabia or maybe it is political calculations by MBS – who knows?
Only in June 2017 Prince Mohammed bin Salman was appointed crown prince. Hower, already in April 2016 he had announced his “Vision 2030”. Shortly after his nomination he gave notice of his first reforms. According to media reports women should be able to drive cars by themselves soon and should be allowed to visit football games. Furthermore women should take part in the Saudi Arabian employment market. The start of an anti-authoritarian government or simply a necessity as oil reserves are running out of stock?
In the Western media there is talk of far-reaching social and economic reforms which have to be well-thought-out, come in proper doses and have to be arranged with the clergy men. Everybody, who has tracked the developement of Saudi Arabia in the past knows that there have been attempts of and announcements for opening up the country to the outside from time to time. At the same time, however, one could see that the kingdom had trouble to do so. For example, the flotation of Saudi Aramco that was due for 2018 might be delayed to 2019.
Why the flotation has been delayed? Once again there is only speculation. On the one hand, there is rumour about a low oil-price. On the other hand, there a assumptions that the enterprise does not want to be internationally listed, in order to keep its control over the oil reserves. Well, this fear is not totally baseless if one keeps in mind that once the colonial powers have tried to get hold the so called “black gold”.
Today, the crown prince can once more come up with a real novelty: The recognition of the very right existence of an Israeli state. Provocation towards archfoe Iran, hindsight or a real first step towards peace in the region?
Well, so far it is a fact that MBS plays his cards close to his chest and that’s exactly what seems to make Western media nervous. They would be only to pleased to know what they have to be prepared for, how reliable MBS will be in the future as the strongest power in the Gulf regio and finally, what’s really on his mind. A lot of questions and little answers have been delivered yet.