Fight for Saudi reform is fight for global security
"Countries don't usually re-invent themselves; unlike a commercial company, a country can't easily discard its history and traditions, nor can it brush aside its various interest groups."
"But Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, is now attempting precisely such an elusive national reinvention. Not a week passes by without some spectacular announcement of a fundamental reform in Saudi Arabia, be it the start of the privatisation of the country's national oil company, the lifting of the ban on women driving cars or, most recently, the planned creation from scratch of a new sci-fi city which will act as a business hub in the Arabian desert and house more robots than humans. This will, in Prince Mohammed's words, be a "civilisational leap for humanity".
Of course, some of this is just hyperbole. And, of course, many of these initiatives won't come to pass; even the most developed and well-run country finds reform hard to pursue and its rewards patchy. But even if a small fraction of what Prince Mohammed bin Salman - or MBS, as he is universally known - currently plans is realised, this has the potential to transform both his country and the region.
And if nothing of what MBS plans happens, the impact would be catastrophic and shock waves will be felt well beyond the Middle East. For there is no question that the fight for Saudi Arabia's reform is also a fight for global security."
Countries do not re-invent themselves because it is not clear they can, at least not in a short time. The USSR did not; it became Russia which while differently is not substantially different, it remains a second state player, with boundless corruption, and the desire for Strong Man political leadership.
The House of Saud is attempting to re-invent a nation of ne'er-do-wells into a country of enterprising entrepreneurs. Good luck with that. I would rather have the task of turning the citizens of the US's inner cities into productive, upstanding citizens. I think there is a chance of that, but I cannot see how the House of Saud can make this work. The Saudi people have no history of industriousness, conscientiousness, diligence, or hard work. Their history is of hiring others to do the job while they sip cognac.