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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 4/18/14

Survival Is the Saudi Key Word

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Self-confidence Challenged

Using petrodollars as soft power to gain influence abroad and secure loyalty internally, the kingdom seems self-confident enough, or overconfident, to feel secured on its own.

Speaking at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, on March 11, Prince Turki al--Faisal, chairman of the KingFaisalCenter for Research & Islamic Studies in Riyadh and former Saudi Ambassador to the US, said:

"Saudi Arabia represents over 20% of the combined GDP of the Middle East-North Africa ( MENA) region (and over a quarter of the Arab World's GDP) making it " an effective partner and member of the G20.

"The Saudi stock market represents over 50% of the entire stock market capitalization of the MENA region.

"The Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA), the Kingdom's central bank, is the world's third largest holder of net foreign assets " Last but not least, Saudi Aramco, the Kingdom's national oil company, is the world's largest producer and exporter of petroleum and has by far the world's largest sustained production capacity infrastructure."

However, veteran journalist Karen Elliot House, has presented a starkly ominous picture.

"Sixty percent of Saudis are 20 or younger, most of whom  have no hope of a job ," House wrote in her 2012 book. "Seventy percent of Saudis cannot afford to own a home. Forty percent live below the poverty line. The royals, 25,000 princes and princesses, own most of the valuable land and benefit from a system that gives each a stipend and some a fortune. Foreign workers make the Kingdom work; the 19 million Saudi citizens share the Kingdom with 8.5 million guest workers."

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*Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist in Kuwait, Jordan, UAE and Palestine. He is based in Ramallah, West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories.
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