Blog Introduction: In recent years, Saudi Arabia has made impressive strides in economic diversification and growth. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030 plan is a blueprint for the country’s future, aiming to reduce its dependence on oil revenues by creating jobs and boosting industries such as tourism, technology, and finance. However, it seems that the plan may be hit a roadblock due to a souring of relations between American businesses and the kingdom.
What Caused This Change?
The turning point came after the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, which sparked international outcry and condemnation from governments around the world. The incident led to an intense scrutiny of Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, particularly with regards to freedom of speech and political dissent. In response, several prominent US firms have cut ties with the kingdom or canceled planned investments in it.
For example, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi announced last year that he would no longer attend an investment conference in Riyadh due to “the horrific crime committed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul”. Similarly, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon pulled out of the same event over concerns about how Khashoggi’s death was handled by authorities in Riyadh. In addition to these high-profile cancellations, many other organizations have also decided against investing in or doing business with Saudi Arabia due to ethical considerations.
The Impact on Growth Plans
The withdrawal of corporate America from Saudi Arabia has had a negative impact on Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s growth plans for his country. With fewer US investors willing to spend money on projects within the kingdom, there is less capital available to fund infrastructure developments or other initiatives that could help support economic diversification efforts down the line. Additionally, these companies’ decisions send a strong signal that they do not support what is happening internally within Saudi Arabia right now—which could further discourage potential investors from doing business with them in the future.
It remains to be seen how much damage this shift away from American businesses will do to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s growth plans for his country over time. It’s clear that if foreign firms continue their boycott of Saudi Arabia en masse then there will be serious consequences for Vision 2030 – but only time will tell if this happens or not. What is certain is that these events have shone a light on some uncomfortable truths about how business is conducted within Saudi Arabia – and made many people question whether they should be supporting it at all going forwards. Ultimately it may take some major changes within Saudi Arabian society before US businesses feel comfortable engaging with them again – something only time will tell if they are willing or able to make happen.