18.04.02 Saudi Spring Break

April 2, 2018
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Saudi Spring Break

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) on multi-week “charm offensive” across the U.S.

Oprah, Bill Gates (Microsoft), Rupert Murdoch (21st Century Fox), Elon Musk (Tesla), Tim Cook (Apple), Bob Iger (Disney) & others on itinerary.

Flip: Why now?

Who Is This Prince?

  • 32-year-old seen as “reformer” socially & economically.
  • Reportedly behind changes like allowing Saudi women to drive.
  • Advocates “moderate Islam” & taking a stronger stance against terror financing by Gulf States.
  • Wants to spearhead more outside investment in Saudi Arabia – “Saudi Vision 2030” – to diversify the economy.

Saudi Arabia & USA

  • Iran \= Mutual adversary.
  • Cracking down on terror financing. Saudi Arabia’s role debated in past.
  • Oil. Saudi Arabia is #1 oil exporter in the world, making it a powerful potential partner. It’s economy is built on (& vulnerable) to fluctuations in the oil market.

Why Now?

High Unemployment: Youth (15-24-year-olds) reportedly 32%.
Chaos in Middle East: Saudi wants to emerge as leader as Syria, Iraq, Yemen in disarray.
Yemen: Saudi Arabia & Iran fighting proxy war in Yemen. Saudis share border w/Yemen & want to prevent Iran-backed forces from taking power. Saudis need firepower – literally & symbolically – from U.S.

Reminder: 15 of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 were from Saudi Arabia. The Saudi & American relationship is nuanced:

by Jenna Lee,