Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) has a plan to get Saudi Arabia off oil, with an immediate push to create 1.2 million private sector jobs by 2020. However, as Juan Cole reports, his political crackdown last year in which over 300 people were tossed in jail for various supposed crimes, with many of them now having frozen bank accounts and other restrictions placed on them, has somewhat scuttled this project badly. 700,000 foreign workers have left,and foreign direct investment has fallen from $7.42 billion in 2016 to $1.32 billion in 2017. Oooops! This is not the way to wean the nation off oil. Nobody wants to invest because they fear MbS will go on another rampage, seizing money and putting people in prison.
Of course, it is now clear that Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, encoureaged MbS in his coup against his cousin, former Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef. They also supported his stupid war in Yemen and initially encouraged him in his campaign against Qatar, still ongoing although a total flop, although on that one Trump has figured out that the largest US air base in the Persian Gulf, al-Ubeid, is there, so he has lost his enthusiasm for this particular stupid project of MbS’s. Unfortunately, there is little prospect this 32 year old leader will be removed from power any time soon.