Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman recently visited the US where he met with many top politicians and businesspeople. President Trump, Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, and others received a visit from the crown prince. Ellen R. Wald, author of “Saudi, Inc.: The Arabian Kingdom’s Pursuit of Profit and Power” explains the crown prince’s motivations for these meetings. Following is a transcript of the video.
Ellen R. Wald: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is a new generation in the Saudi Royal Family. He’s going to be the first of the next generation to rule Saudi Arabia. He’s very young, and he has some different ideas about where Saudi Arabia should go.
So, what he’s doing here is he’s looking to attract businesses to open in Saudi Arabia, to bring jobs, to bring an entrepreneurial spirit, and to bring some dynamic activity to the Kingdom.
[Text: Donald Trump]
Donald Trump, being the President of the United States, the Crown Prince is really concerned about Iran. That’s really their primary geopolitical issue right now. So his meeting with the President is designed to express Saudi policy towards Iran. They would like the President to really take a hard stance on Iran, on Iran’s activities, particularly in Yemen, as that threatens Saudi Arabia directly. And they would also like Donald Trump to take a very tough position on the Iran Nuclear Deal. They’re very concerned about Iran’s ability to develop a nuclear weapon, and they have stated that if Iran acquires, or looks like it’s going to acquire a nuclear weapon, they will do so as well.
[Text: Bill Gates]
One of the things that Mohammed bin Salman is very interested in doing is he’s interested in setting up tech hubs, essentially, in Saudi Arabia. He announced this great new city called NEOM that they would like to open on the Red Sea, to be really an innovation center in the Middle East. And so his meeting with Bill Gates is probably designed to further those goals.
[Text: Jeff Bezos]
So Jeff Bezos, be CEO of Amazon, one of the things that Mohammed bin Salman and the Saudis are looking to do, is they’re really looking to establish Saudi Arabia as a logistics hub. They see its orientation and its location in the Middle East as very valuable to that, and one of those things is bringing in data centres. Apparently, the Middle East is very bereft of cloud computing and data centres, and so they’re in talks with Amazon to bring a data center to the Red Sea Coast, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some sort of deal is announced very soon.
[Text: Oprah Winfrey]
Oprah has a media empire, and the King and the Royal Family has recently decided that Saudi Arabia will open movie theatres around the country. This is a new development. Most of the movie theatres closed in the late ’70s. And now they want to open movie theatres. There will be some interesting restrictions. Some of them may have separate seating for men and women, but he’s looking to really get Saudi Arabia’s arts and cultural and entertainment scene jump-started. So I see his meeting with Oprah as part of that initiative.
For many, many years, the Saudi economy has largely been dependent on the sale of oil, and on oil revenues. And his goal is to diversify the economy and to create a much more dynamic place that is not dependent on oil revenues from the National Oil Company or Ramco.
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