Saudi Arabia

Bye Bye Petroleum

What will the Saudi Arabia of the future be like? The reformist and open-minded Arabia of King Abdullah, sovereign for the past four years, or the austere and conservative Arabia of the Muslim Ulema? I tried to imagine it, travelling from the capital,Riyadh, to the desert of the Nabataeans in the north, and down again to the Tel Aviv of the Red Sea, Jeddah, one of the most cosmopolitan cities on Earth. Here, a different Arabia is being experimented, more tolerant and less attached to the oil economy. “ The black gold will soon deplete itself and the future of our country lies in tourism” a functionary from the Royal Household explained to me, “for this reason Saudi Arabia must open itself to the West even more. The king is aware however, that any changes here must be negotiated with the religious powers”.