Saudi prince could jump-start the kingdom or not

Saudi prince could jump-start the kingdom or not

Saudi Arabia is a country attempting to change as it moves away from being so reliant on oil revenues. The country has traditionally been very conservative in its outlook but a new generation of leaders is looking to transform the country.

The tensions unsettling the Saudi royal family became clear in September, when Joseph Westphal, the U.S. ambassador to Riyadh, flew to Jiddah to meet Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, nominally the heir to the throne. But when he arrived, he was told that the deputy crown prince, a brash 30-year-old named Mohammed bin Salman, wanted to see him urgently.

The ambassador was redirected. The United States and the crown prince swallowed the embarrassment.

Palace intrigue is a staple of monarchies, but it is impossible to overstate how out of character such a generational power play was for the desert kingdom. Robert Lacey, in his classic 1981 book, “The Kingdom,” described the tradition of deference that has held the Saudi royal family together through feast and famine: “Deference to elders is one of the Al-Saud’s inviolable ground rules, the best corset they know to discipline the outward thrust of so many assembled appetites.”

Not anymore: Starting in January 2015 with the accession of King Salman, Saudi Arabia has been shaken by the bold reform campaign of his son, known at home and abroad by his initials, MBS. By outmaneuvering and sometimes defying his elders, the young deputy crown prince has turned the politics of this conservative, sometimes sclerotic monarchy upside down.

MBS is the kind of prince that Machiavelli might conjure. He’s a big, fast-talking young man who dominates a room with the raw, instinctive energy of a natural leader. But his hardball tactics have offended some Saudis — especially his rebuffs of Mohammed bin Nayef, his elder at 56 and his nominal superior. In addition to detouring the U.S. ambassador, MBS is said to have engineered the firing of the crown prince’s closest aide in September.–or-drive-it-off-a-cliff/2016/06/28/ce669a3e-3c69-11e6-a66f-aa6c1883b6b1_story.html?postshare=2141467209965904&tid=ss_mail

Religious tourism to drive Saudi Arabia hotel openings

Religious tourism to drive Saudi Arabia hotel openings

Religious Tourism

Religious tourism is set to grow in Saudi Arabia as the number of pilgrims increase year by year for festivals such as Umrah. This has led to plans to many new hotel openings in the kingdom.

Saudi Arabia is expected to have a steady stream of new hotel openings over the next five years amid a jump in pilgrim numbers as part of its 270 billion riyal (Dh264.43bn) National Transformation Plan.

hotel openings due to increased tourism

The kingdom wants to increase the number of Haj pilgrims to 2.5 million by 2020 from 1.5 million and more than double Umrah pilgrims to 15 million from 6 million, according to the plan revealed last week. Saudi Arabia also wants to boost tourism spending by two-thirds to 174.8bn riyals from 104.8bn riyals.

“Although currently there are no definitive plans available regarding where the additional revenue will be spent, we expect that the priority targets will include expansion of tourism infrastructure in the country, training Saudi workforce to participate in the growth of this sector, and developing and upgrading tourism facilities across the country,” said Rashid Aboobacker, the associate director at TRI Consulting, in Dubai.

New Investment Required

The plan envisages raising the number of hotel rooms and apartments by about 40 per cent to 621,000 from 446,000.