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The Renaissance of the Middle East

· Middle East,Saudi Arabia,Green energy,Sustainability,Mohammed bin Salman

For many of us, who have only witnessed the numerous conflicts in the Middle East from afar, have probably never really visited the Middle East, nor have considered nations such as Saudi Arabia as a holiday destination or of progressive innovation. Despite the fact that Dubai has become an international city that has been open to tourism for many decades, the rest of the Middle East has somewhat always been an elusive mystery. 

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Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched his Vision 2030 plan in order to connect 3 continents into a renewable green energy powerhouse and empower sustainable development. 

Since becoming the Crown Prince in 2017, Mohammed bin Salman had made a progressive announcement to launch his Vision 2030 plan to completely revitalise the nation of Saudi Arabia from an isolated nation dependent on oil to a “new Europe” which would embrace sustainable development, green energy, diversify its economy and develop public service sectors such as health, education, infrastructure, recreation and tourism. 

The young prince also took on the rights of women, and eradicated many religious laws and overturned a ban on women needing male escorts to move around freely, and have allowed them to attend sporting events and drive cars. In addition, Saudi women are now able to independently apply for passports, register for marriage, divorce and birth. These kinds of changes have overturned a century of laws that have only served to limit and oppress women by a single acting Crown Prince. 

However, his radical changes to revitalise the Middle East and end an era of women’s oppression were not without its critics, both internal and external, and one of the more well-known public critics had been the late journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who had been cruelly murdered in October of 2018 whilst he had been visiting Turkey. 

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Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has effectively dismantled the status quo in Saudi Arabia and there are many within its Royal ranks who would like to see him replaced with a more conservative leader to return to a century old dominant energy industry of fossil fuels. Photo by Alastair Grant, Associated Press

Internal factions also arose within Saudi Arabia’s hierarchy, with many princes wanting to edge out Mohammed bin Salman for the Crown in order to return Saudi Arabia to its oil dominant industries and religious law of the land limiting women’s freedom. However, in Saudi Arabia, ⅔ of the population is under the age of 35, and the majority in the population welcomed the Crown Prince’s new reforms. 

Many attempts to pin the killing of the Saudi dissident journalist Mr. Khashoggi had been given credence by numerous mainstream media outlets, asserting that the Crown Prince had been the one responsible for the murder, to the extent that the Crown Prince even gave a rare interview despite being a rather private individual, he went on American television to deny the charges and that he had anything to do with the assassination of the journalist Mr. Khashoggi. 

“The threat to Saudi Arabia is not a dissident journalist, but the people who would commit such a heinous crime against such a journalist.” -Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

The US Office of National Intelligence even published its findings in February of this year, and in this slim 4 page document, absolutely no evidence was presented connecting the Crown Prince to the murder. In fact, the name of the agency that had made the assessment was neither visible nor clear and only appeared to be making a speculative analysis based on no information supporting its assessment in what appears to be a likely smear campaign. 

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The publication of the US National Intelligence provided no evidence supporting the assessment of the Saudi Arabian Crown Prince in the killing of Jamal Khashoggi despite its statement of the contrary and instead published what appears to be a single page of pure speculation by an unknown agency. 

There is no doubt that Mohammed bin Salman has stirred up controversy with his many progressive reforms, and many industries are weary of his ability to dismantle the status quo. There is also no doubt that Mohammed bin Salman, a powerful and charismatic figure in the Middle East, has made many enemies from within its Royal ranks who would like to see him replaced with a more conservative leader who reverts to the century old status quo. However, there is also no doubt that Mohammed bin Salman is exactly what Saudi Arabia needs, in order to move forward towards a new era of progressive change in which he has shaken up the entire Middle Eastern region into a new kind of Renaissance that is alive with innovation, design thinking, sustainable design, green energy and the launch of women from behind the veil to come out into a class of their own.