Skip to comments.Saudi Prince warns of dire consequences if Saudi Arabia does not end its dependence on oil income
Posted on 01/20/2002 4:43:58 PM PST by AM2000
Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, famous for investing billions in U.S. assets and the rejection of his donation to victims of the September 11 hijack attacks, gave a rare frank assessment of what could happen if Saudi Arabia failed to end its dependence on oil income over the next two decades. "If oil goes down to $10 or $11 dollars (per barrel), then the government will only be able to pay itself. That is why we can't have this nightmare scenario case come to being and we have to start now to diversify," Prince Alwaleed told delegates to the Jeddah Economic Forum.
Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter, has revamped its investment code and opened its upstream energy sector for the first time in 25 years to international oil companies. But some economists say the kingdom's economic reforms have been too slow. Prince Alwaleed has a personal fortune estimated at $20 billion, with the bulk of his investments in the United States. He became the centre of a political furore in October when his donation of $10 million to help victims of the September attacks was turned down by then New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Prince Alwaleed said dependence on a volatile commodity like oil to provide 40 percent of gross domestic product and 92 percent of exports played havoc with economic planning and kept the economy hostage to price swings. "Our one percent average annual rate of economic growth over the past decade is woefully inadequate to meet current needs, let alone cope with our galloping demographic growth," he said.
The prince, who has made the Forbes magazine list of the world's 10 richest men, said jobs must be created for the "thousands upon thousands of our young men and women (who) pour out... in search of jobs." Rising levels of unemployment or under-employment has implications for Saudi Arabia which "are easy to see and to dread," he said without referring to specific consequences such as political instability. The government had to encourage the private sector, support non-oil GDP growth, force companies to hire more Saudis and join the World Trade Organisation, he said. The recommendations match initiatives by government, although implementation has been slow. "I understand the frustration here and I'm frustrated too... (but) it is not all talk, it is moving," Prince Alwaleed said when confronted by delegate questions over the slow pace of the avowed reforms.
Of course, I'm pretty narrow-minded about such things.
Mostly Russian oil.
If I were Bush, I'd squeeze Vicente Fox on Mexican oil too.
That oil from the Caspian, over pipelines in Afghanistan, won't hurt either.
$5.00 for an average camel, $1.50 for a woman (20 tooth minimum, no excessive facial hair).
Perhaps they could export sand. I'm certain that many beaches worldwide could use a face-lift or in smaller quantities for kiddies' sand boxes ;-)
Too bad there isn't much of a Saudi media presence on the Internet, or that's something I could've looked up. Ahh well, atleast Reuters is carrying it. I'd assume English-speaking Saudis who read newspapers are probably going to hear about this..
The Arab kids I knew back in college were all studying to be engineers. All of them..EE or CE..
Flight school, to steer big jets.
It is my sincere hope that our extensive discussions at FreeRepublic also contributed to this Saudi prince's anxiety.