Asharq al-Awsat, London, August 1
“Just a few decades ago Bahrain was the world’s largest exporter of pearls. The Bahraini economy flourished as a result of this trade. And then, one bright morning, the Japanese discovered a cheaper alternative to pearls, sending Bahrain’s economy into a tailspin.
“This is the exact fear faced by Saudi Arabia these days in regards to oil. So many resources have been invested in building up the Kingdom’s oil infrastructure, that it is hard to imagine the country without its vital export: black gold. But today’s world is changing at a fast pace. More than 10 countries have already announced their plan to ban the manufacturing of petrol-consuming cars. With them, more and more governments have committed to clean energy policies that limit the release of pollutants.
“The world is moving towards a future that relies less and less on oil, and Saudi Arabia must adapt to changing priorities. It can no longer afford to send most of its laborers abroad without developing local employment opportunities at home. It cannot allow its people to remain illiterate without investing in better education systems. It must diversify its economy and examine new ways to strengthen its local industries. Whether the future of the Saudi economy lies in sectors such as tourism or manufacturing remains to be seen. However, the Kingdom is taking the right step by acknowledging its weaknesses and committing to addressing them in the near future.
“The world is changing at a rapid speed, and so is Saudi Arabia. That is the country’s only way to ensure its stability and prosperity in the long run.” – Abdul Rahman al-Rashed