Revolution or Obituary?

  • David Cowan
Chapter

Abstract

The economic problems facing Saudi Arabia, which started in 2014 with a drastic oil price drop of 44% in the latter half of the year (https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=19451 http://www.bbc.com/news/business-30223721. The average annual price fell from 99.29 in 2014 to 49.49 in 2015. https://www.statista.com/statistics/262858/change-in-opec-crude-oil-prices-since-1960/), led The Economist to suggest to the then Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in an interview (http://www.economist.com/saudi_interview) the need for a Thatcherite revolution in Saudi. The prince agreed, but such a revolution would be unprecedented for Saudi and would be socially disruptive not just economic, which is why I suggest that when the Crown Prince appeared to agree with the notion he did not fully grasp the resonance, as a British person might. MbS was talking to The Economist in his first on-the-record interview in January 2016, and the notion Saudi needed a “Thatcherite revolution” was perhaps a case of putting words into the interviewee’s mouth. The question and answer recorded in the transcript between The Economist and MbS reads:

Q: This is a Thatcher revolution for Saudi Arabia?

A: Most certainly. We have many great, unutilised assets. And we have also special sectors that can grow very quickly. I’ll give you one example. We are one of the poorest countries when it comes to water. There’s one Saudi company that’s an example among many companies, like Almarai dairy company, their share in the Omani market is 80%. Their share in the Kuwaiti market is more than 20%. Their share in the Emirati market than 40%. In Egypt, where there is the Nile, their share is 10%. One Saudi company. We have other dairy, agricultural companies, and you can also do the same with the banking sector. The mining sector. The oil and petrochemical sector. There are many enormous opportunities to expand and develop. (Ibid.)

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Cowan
    • 1
  1. 1.Boston CollegeBostonUSA

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