Time: October 06, 2018
Riyadh —The moment Bloomberg started publishing on Friday the first excerpts of the interview with Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, the entire world’s attention was drawn toward the Kingdom.
The interview was trending worldwide on all social media platforms. It was the main subject on websites and news channels as well as the main headline on front pages of many newspapers.
The Crown Prince reiterated that the Kingdom will forge ahead with its ambitious reforms plans.
He said today the Kingdom is much stronger. As evidence he sited the 2019 State budget estimate which has increased to SR1.106 trillion and the incomes or non-oil revenues rose to 300%.
Crown Prince Muhammad said the unemployment rate will begin to drop as of 2019 until it reaches 7% in 2030.
He stressed that the government is still in need of creating many jobs in the army, security agencies, education and other sectors that were created recently like sports etc.
The Crown Prince said, “I feel the reforms today have happened. We did the reforms of gas prices in Saudi Arabia, it’s done. The electricity prices, it’s done. The water prices, it’s done. So the reform, it’s done. The taxes the VAT. It’s done. So there are no reforms in the pipeline coming that we will not do because the oil price is high. It’s already done. It’s there.”
The interview revealed that there were many discussions whether the government will continue with Citizen’s Account or rely more on giving compensations.
The Citizen’s Account was the government’s wish as it ensured that citizens won’t be harmed by economic reforms.
He said full ownership for foreign investment will be permitted in all sectors. Apple will open its showroom in Riyadh soon and Tesla too will have its showroom for electric cars in a year or two.
The Crown Prince said the government has succeeded in retrieving $35 billion (over SR131 billion) during its anti-corruption campaign, which will be called off after two years from now.
He reiterated that the Kingdom cannot compromise its national security for the interest of ties with other countries.
“I am not concerned how the world looks at me as much as I am concerned about the interest of my country and people. Whatever serves the Saudi people and the State, I will do it with all force,” he said.
The Crown Prince said, “We believe the Islamic religion is the model and we believe extremists are trying to move it to the wrong side, but I believe we have achieved a lot in the past year compared to what’s been achieved in the previous 30 years. If you look at that speed, you’ll know it’s only a matter of time.
Well if we look at the 70s, it’s different from now. The rules of guardianship were introduced in 1979, if I’m not mistaken, and now we’re looking at the laws that were put in after 1979 and we’re talking to most of the Council of Senior Scholars to see what’s Islamic and what’s non Islamic in that area, and I believe there’s opportunity in that area.”