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Saudi Arabia
The Saudi blueprint
The desert kingdom is striving to dominate its region and modernise its economy at the same time

Jan 9th 2016

The government plans to do this by getting the state out of all but its essential functions. From health and education to state-owned companies, the new Saudi leadership is looking for privatisation and the private provision of public services. It has plans for charter schools and an insurance-based, privately provided health-care system. It is looking at the complete or partial privatisation of more than two dozen agencies and state-owned companies, including the national airline, telecoms firm and power generator. The biggest fish of all is Aramco, a national icon and almost certainly the world’s most valuable firm. The prince favours floating a minority stake in Aramco and opening its books to the world. He is urging his team to come up with a plan within months (see article).

Could such a blueprint become reality? Words are cheap and the obstacles huge. Saudi Arabia has promised reform before, only for its efforts to fizzle into insignificance. Its capital markets are thin and the capacity of its bureaucracy thinner. The investment that it needs in its young people, its non-oil industries, its tourism infrastructure and much else will not come cheap. It will not happen unless investors believe in the country’s future. That confidence will be hard to build.


The new regime seems to regard boldness at home and abroad as signs of a strong Saudi Arabia. Yet, though a muscular foreign policy plays well among Saudis, the economy will not thrive if the royal family ends up inflaming its region and blocking social reform at home. If Prince Muhammad is to remake his country, not wreck it, he needs to understand that.


Saudi Arabia
Young prince in a hurry
Muhammad bin Salman gambles on intervention abroad and radical economic change at home. But forget about democracy

Jan 9th 2016 | DIRIYA | From the print edition

Politics in the Middle East
The Arab winter
Five years after a wave of uprisings, the Arab world is worse off than ever. But its people understand their predicament better

Jan 9th 2016 | CAIRO | From the print edition


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Transcript: Interview with Muhammad bin Salman
The Economist meets Saudi Arabia's deputy crown prince, the man who wields power behind the throne of his father, King Salman

Jan 6th 2016 | DIRIYA | Middle East and Africa

Your Royal Highness, thank you very much.
Thank you. I’m very glad to have you here today, I’m happy to receive these questions. We always take criticism from our friends. If we are wrong, we need to hear that we are wrong. But if we are not wrong, we need to hear support from our friends. What I request is that the thing you actually believe, to say it.
We always do. Thank you.

最後のEconomistのWe always do.は新新TOEICの文脈問題で出題したくなります(笑)