Saudi Arabia, under the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has been selected to host the 2030 World Expo, beating rivals Italy and South Korea. The announcement brought thousands of Saudis onto the streets of Riyadh to celebrate a significant victory for the desert kingdom.
This decision marks a pivotal moment in Crown Prince Mohammed's ambitious Vision 2030 Project, aiming to transform Saudi Arabia into a global hub for technology and innovation, moving beyond its traditional reliance on fossil fuels.
This triumph is seen as a critical step in reshaping the global image of Saudi Arabia, a vision closely associated with Crown Prince Mohammed. The project's success represents a stark contrast to the international perception of the crown prince only six years ago, where his reputation was marred by allegations of authoritarian brutality, particularly following the brutal murder and dismemberment of dissident Jamal Khashoggi.
Regaining Global Status Amidst Controversies
The aftermath of the Khashoggi incident posed significant challenges for Crown Prince Mohammed, with leaders like Joe Biden and Senator Lindsay Graham expressing severe criticisms.
However, analysts suggest that the crown prince has effectively leveraged Saudi Arabia's economic strength, diplomatic efforts, and vast wealth to rebuild his global standing. Giorgio Cafiero, CEO of Gulf State Analytics, noted to Business Insider that the focus in the West has shifted over time.
The spotlight has moved from the Khashoggi case to Saudi Arabia's role as an indispensable global player, essential for advancing national interests. This shift in focus underlines the strategic importance of Saudi Arabia in the global arena, despite past controversies.
F. Gregory Gause, a professor at Texas A&M University, highlighted Saudi Arabia's control over oil markets as a key factor in Crown Prince Mohammed's resurgence. The turmoil in oil markets, exacerbated by Russia's war in Ukraine, has amplified Riyadh's significance, especially for countries like the US, which had previously distanced themselves from the crown prince.
Gause also pointed out that major economies like China and Russia, which place less emphasis on human rights issues, continued their dealings with Riyadh without interruption.