The Saudi government said it would halt their plans for an IPO of their State-owned Saudi Aramco oil company, in charge of virtually all Saudi energy assets.
This changes everything.
It was my belief that the entirety of Saudi strategy for the last several years revolved around the monetization of the Saudi oil assets, or at least a valuation of them in a small percentage IPO offering.
Indeed, proceeding with the outlines of the vast Saudi Vision 2030 plan required a cash flow for investment in education, infrastructure and trade that only a financial diversification from the singular oil assets in Saudi Arabia could provide. Once the inevitability of the Aramco IPO is brought into doubt, that whole plan becomes suspicious as well.
And that changes the way that we likely should perceive young prince Mohammed bin Salman. The two schools of thought of the young prince were either that he was a modern progressive voice, gaining firm control of the Saudi government in order to drive religious and social progress on the old Wahhabi culture that has dominated the Kingdom for generations - a drive to 21st century modernism. The other casts MbS as a young tyrant, taking advantage of the outlines of Saudi Vision 2030 merely to consolidate power. Indeed, crackdowns against opposing factions to the prince in Saudi Arabia are growing more widespread and the Saudis have also recently picked an unusual fight with Canada over human rights statements that normally…