November 7, 2017

Rising Stakes in Saudi Arabia’s Transformation

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman speaks at the opening ceremony of the Future Investment Initiative Conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Tuesday, Oct. 24. (Saudi Press Agency via AP)

This post is part of an AGSIW series on Saudi Vision 2030, a sweeping set of programs and reforms adopted by the Saudi government to be implemented by 2030.

The transformation underway in Saudi Arabia continues to send regular shockwaves through business and diplomatic circles. After whirlwind announcements on women driving and the opening of the kingdom to foreign investors in new megaprojects, a more domestically focused message is emerging.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman took the initiative again on November 4, under the auspices of a new supreme committee within Nazaha, the anti-corruption authority, to arrest at least 49 people, including 11 princes, business tycoons, four current ministers, and several former ministers, in raids across Riyadh. Simultaneously, the stakes have increased in the confrontation between Saudi Arabia and Iran, with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigning from his post on Saudi television the same day. A concurrent missile attack targeting the Riyadh airport, with no injuries reported, triggered accusations of “an act of war” by Iran against the Saudi capital.

In a series of short reactions, AGSIW Senior Resident Scholars Hussein Ibish, Kristin Smith Diwan, and Karen E. Young, as well as Board Member F. Gregory Gause, III offer their assessments of the multidimensional implications of these developments.