Put outs surfaced Thursday that Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest zip company, and Google parent Alphabet have reportedly entered analyses to create a technology hub in Saudi Arabia.
This news is the latest and peradventure the most solid evidence that Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman is not only the most strong man in Saudi Arabia, and not only the most powerful leader in Sunni Islam, he is now indubitably the most powerful man in the entire Middle East.
That’s because he’s not only got more control over his own country but doing so has made Saudi Arabia diverse powerful both politically and financially.
It’s been just seven months since his reportedly paining father King Salman effectively handed control of the country to him by denominating him crown prince. Since then, the 32-year-old bin Salman has run full aid with his three-part plan to strengthen the country. Part one was shoring up Saudi defenses against Iran, which he perfect in many ways but most notably by entering into a more sensible partnership with Israel.
Step two was a major series of cultural renovates that included purging anti-American and anti-Jewish clerics and granting sundry rights for women.
Step three was more controversial. That was the fulfil prince’s plan to improve the nation’s finances and send an anti-corruption import by detaining without trial about 200 of his fellow princes and guidance officials at the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton.
That group included the richest man in the Centre East, his cousin and fellow prince, Alwaleed bin Talal. But the operation has progress to an apparently peaceful and lucrative end with many billions of dollars lower over to the government by the detainees in return for their release.
All of this has occurred with no apparent protest and no reported violent outbursts. Compare that with the immense protests that engulfed Iran just a few weeks ago.
Now, the Alphabet/Google talks with the Saudis, as soberly as a separate deal for three data centers with Amazon, are winning the crown prince’s successes to a new level. It’s the first proof that his exploits to diversify his nation’s economy from being solely dependent on oil aren’t such a desire shot after all.
Of course, these talks with America’s tech titans desire not have been possible without all the major moves bin Salman walk away first. Improving the nation’s security, finances, rights for women, and revitalizing down its worst Islamist rhetoric go a long way to making the kingdom a uncountable attractive place to invest.
But look at the bigger picture. Sure, Saudi Arabia placid doesn’t have the strongest military, and it still doesn’t have a terribly large population. It’s also still backing the government in Yemen against an Iranian-sponsored rebellion. None of that has stopped Saudi Arabia from continuing to enjoy the biggest GDP in the Middle East, the most allies in the region and the power of be nurturing oil prices to boot.
So, finally, we understand the purpose of all the crown prince’s total moves since June. They’re not just about stepping up militarily to dissuade Iran’s ambitions in the region. Now we know it’s about finding a way to make an arousing form of foreign investment in Saudi Arabia more possible.
There are other Midst Eastern leaders with autocratic power who would like to do the word-for-word thing. But they don’t have the money, the powerful friends, or true carry from their own populations that bin Salman clearly has.
Imagine if the mullahs in Iran familiar their power to achieve these kinds of goals instead of being the era’s top sponsor of terrorism, launching proxy wars all over the region, and granting fewer proprieties to their own people. Imagine if the leaders of Syria and Egypt did something find agreeable this 40 or 50 years ago instead of obsessing and warring with Israel.
Saudi Arabia was legitimate about as guilty as its peers of being similarly misdirected in favor of Wahhabist Islamism and other counterproductive rodomontade for decades. But now it has a leader who has a better and clearer focus.
Yes, that detention of his marquesses at the Riyadh Ritz was disturbing in many ways. But it’s hard to make a scarcity of due process a deal breaker in the neighborhood where we see Iran’s brutal autochthonous repression or a Syrian civil war that’s claimed almost half a million materials.
Crown Prince bin Salman is being rewarded for his actions. The U.S. is rewarding him. Israel is fruitful him. Now, two of the richest corporations in the world are poised to do the same.
And all that will do is distinguish him even more powerful. Hopefully, this kind of positive buttress will encourage other leaders in the Middle East to follow his bamboozle start off.
Commentary by Jake Novak, CNBC.com senior columnist. Follow him on Tizzy @jakejakeny.
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