Hot off the Arab press 452489

What citizens of other countries are reading about the Middle East.

US President Barack Obama takes part in a summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, last week (photo credit: REUTERS)
US President Barack Obama takes part in a summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, last week
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Al-Sharq al-Awsat, London, April 23
Following the Gulf Cooperation Council Summit in Riyadh, attended by US President Barack Obama and members of his cabinet, several key agreements were signed between the GCC and the United States.
Chief among them was the establishment of an early warning system for ballistic missiles, which would protect Gulf states from potential Iranian attacks.
These were important agreements reached by the two sides.
However, the alliance between Saudi Arabia and the United States is clearly entering a new phase, as Riyadh begins to shift its reliance away from Washington and toward new allies. For decades, the United States has been the sole guarantor of Saudi Arabia’s security. However, the Iranian nuclear deal changed this equation. Gulf states expected the United States to stand firmly by its long-lasting allies in the Gulf, instead of courting rogue regimes like the one in Tehran.
Following the signing of the deal and the subsequent promises made to King Salman by Obama – which proved to be futile – Gulf countries decided to reevaluate their stance towards the US. This by no means suggests an end to the alliance between the two sides, but rather a shift from solely relying on Washington to a more balanced relationship with other global powers.
Obama, meanwhile, followed a different doctrine.
He cultivated Washington’s ties with its historical foes, such as Iran. He turned a blind eye to what is happening in Syria, in order to avoid American intervention. There is no single winner in this battle between two competing doctrines. It is in Riyadh’s interest to have strong backing from Washington, and in Washington’s interest to have a stable Middle East, led by Riyadh. Only time will tell which one proves better. In the meantime, one thing remains certain: the alliance between the two sides will never be the same. — Salman al-Dosri
Al-Jazeera, Qatar, April 25
Saudis are eagerly awaiting to learn more about the revolutionary plan “Vision 2030,” laid out by Saudi Defense Minister Prince Mohammad bin Salman in recent days. According to the plan outlining the kingdom’s grand strategy in upcoming decades, Saudi Arabia will significantly reduce its reliance on oil and begin diversifying its economy within just several months.
There is already reason to believe that this announcement is nothing short of a fundamental milestone in Saudi history. Since the discovery of oil in the Arab Gulf, Saudi Arabia relied almost exclusively on oil sales to drive its economy. In doing so, it completely neglected to develop other potential industries and markets. The young prince’s intelligence and energy, which drove him to devise this plan, is exactly was Riyadh needed: a wakeup call.
The prince, as well as many others in the country, knows all too well that Riyadh’s sole reliance on black gold will not sustain the kingdom’s growing needs and appetite in the long run. Therefore, the prince announced that at least five percent of the shares of Armaco, the Saudi governmental oil conglomerate, will be sold in upcoming months, as new industries will be launched by the government.
All of these are extremely important steps.
At the same time, I would like to remind the government that other non-economic reforms must also be carried out for “Vision 2030” to truly succeed. Chief among them is the elimination of bureaucratic barriers that disrupt entrepreneurs from launching new ventures. In addition, transportation, healthcare, and education systems must be privatized and made more efficient. Tax schemes should be changed to encourage small businesses to operate. Civic participation in political decision- making must be expanded. Women must be made an equal part of society. Plans to mitigate poverty must be implemented. All of these are no less important than the economic overhaul planned by the Prince.
Carried out together with economic change, all of these reforms will truly put Saudi Arabia on the right path towards becoming a leading nation in the world by 2030. — Muhammad Abdallah al-Awin
Al-Hayat, London, April 21
Saudi Arabia lost one of its greatest minds this week, with the passing of Dr. Abdallah al-Saleh al-Uthaymeen, a pioneering scholar of culture, literature, and history.
There is no doubt that al-Uthaymeen was one of the greatest scholars of our time. Born in 1936 in Saudi Arabia, he began studying Saudi history at a very young age. He graduated from King Saud University in 1963, and received his PhD from the University of Edinburgh in 1972. In his studies, Dr. al-Uthaymeen promoted a unique approach to the study of history; one that combined research methods of old school historians, alongside the study of contemporary art, poetry, and literature. His studies provided great pride to all Saudis around the world, and were even incorporated into the curriculum of the Saudi education system. Today, anyone studying the history and politics of Saudi Arabia will certainly find himself encountering at least a few of al-Uthaymeen’s writings. Others will stumble upon his famous poetry, which reflected on his love for the kingdom, the Arab world, and Palestine.
Despite gaining much fame and success around the world, al-Uthaymeen stayed connected to the people throughout his entire life. He taught at several Saudi universities for nearly 30 years, even at an old age.
There is no doubt that his departure will leave a great void – not only in the Saudi academic community, but also in the hearts of all Saudis around the world. — Omar al-Badawi