In addition to an Official Visit, #Saudi artists are also showing off their work, with pop-up exhibits, and artist panels, highlighting the evolution of Saudi art and culture over the decades #CrownPrinceinDC #CrownPrinceinUSA pic.twitter.com/RttzHXqYpb— Saudi Embassy (@SaudiEmbassyUSA) March 25, 2018
In case you missed it, Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, is on a US tour and it's a really big deal.
Despite Saudi Arabia's position as the most conservative country in the Arab world, KSA and the States actually have a great relationship.
It started in 1930, a year before the commercial flow of oil and hit many milestones after that. In 1974, they established the joint Saudi-US economic commission. In 2010, they created a Saudi-American business opportunities forum, and in 2017 they signed trade agreements worth $280 billion. In other words, they're tight.
So why the fanfare around this trip?
Let's take it step by step. The first thing is that Saudi is running out of cash. Sounds ludicrous, but with oil prices on a downward slump, in 2015 the IMF warned Saudi that their financial assets were dwindling. With 90 percent of central government revenues coming from oil revenues, and oil exports being 70 percent of the country's non-oil GDP, low oil prices are a huge problem for this rich nation. And if the oil runs out, there is no Saudi as we know it.
The Saudi Crown Prince is intent on shifting the Saudi economy from an oil-reliant one to that which relies on private sector investments. He has launched a plan called Vision 2030. This plan includes social reforms such as the establishment of women's rights and public entertainment like concerts and cinemas that can be attended by both sexes, among many other things to turn Saudi into an attractive investment hub. They're working hard to change the status-quo and the Crown Prince is in America to spread the word, and in turn, garner investments for their private sector.
Currently in Boston, the Prince oversaw the signing of a host of agreements with US Universities. He also visited MIT labs and IBM Watson Health, which aims to empower influencers in the healthcare field. So, science and healthcare are also big on his agenda.
We're sure there'll be plenty more deals brokered and signed on this trip as the Prince tries to find more ways for Saudi and the US to cooperate.
If it means a reformed Saudi, where women and youth get a chance to really reach their full potential, we're all for it.
HRH Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met with Ivy League educational institution @Harvard University and discussed the importance of educational development to achieve Vision 2030 aims. #CrownPrinceinBoston pic.twitter.com/THEuNtoxrc— Saudi Embassy (@SaudiEmbassyUSA) March 25, 2018
HRH Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman tours innovation exhibition @MIT showcasing selected industrial innovations produced by several Saudi companies and universities #CrownPrinceinBoston #CrownPrinceinUSA pic.twitter.com/ZbX61gHYY0— Saudi Embassy (@SaudiEmbassyUSA) March 25, 2018
HRH Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman tours @IBMWatsonHealth to explore areas of cooperation between the Kingdom and the United States in the medical sector. #CrownPrinceinBoston #CrownPrinceinUSA pic.twitter.com/yGAGUzsE9Q— Saudi Embassy (@SaudiEmbassyUSA) March 24, 2018
HRH Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman holds official talks @WhiteHouse with @POTUS the two leaders emphasized the long standing and historic partnership between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States. #CrownPrinceinDC #CrownPrinceinUSA#محمد_بن_سلمان_يلتقي_ترامب pic.twitter.com/AHTTe7b8Cm— Saudi Embassy (@SaudiEmbassyUSA) March 20, 2018