Saudi Vision 2030 was touted as a plan to move the Kingdom away from dependence on oil, aided by the 2016-2020 National Transformation Plan. However, as this lecture will argue, the rapid and concurrent changes taking place in Saudi society and political economy are profound on multiple levels. Some incidents and trends have led to reputational damage which is affecting the Kingdom's economic policy and revenues through its immediate ability to retain capital, complete large scale public-private sector projects, and attract Foreign Direct Investment. Furthermore, the national economy cannot be disconnected from equally profound changes taking place in Saudi Arabia's regional and international politics. The lecture builds on a wide range of literature on rentierism, political economy and international relations. The lecture’s main contribution lies in explaining the interplay between the pace and nature of structural reform and the consolidation of governance that utilizes unprecedented measures aimed at supporting the bottom line, elite and national security interests in the near term.
Dr. Robert Mason is Associate Professor and Director of the Middle East Studies Center at The American University in Cairo. His research interests include the international relations and foreign policies of the Gulf States, Euro-Mediterranean politics, and Asia - Middle East relations. His most recent book is Reassessing Order and Disorder in the Middle East: Regional Imbalance or Disintegration?