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Prince Talal bin Abdulaziz, a senior member of the royal family in the world’s top oil exporter Saudi Arabia, who was a supporter of women’s rights, has died at the age of 87.
Prince Talal, an elder brother of Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, has been a supporter of reform in the Kingdom. He has backed in the past calls for making OPEC’s largest producer a constitutional monarchy, for allowing women to drive, or for curbing Saudi Arabia’s vast military spending.
Prince Talal bin Abdulaziz resigned in 2011 as a member of the Allegiance Council—a body of senior princes who meet and decide who is next in line to the Saudi throne.
The incumbent Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has begun his tenure as heir to the throne with an ambitious plan for an economic overhaul in the Kingdom, centered on diversifying Saudi Arabia’s economy away from crude oil. Crucial to that plan was the listing of the state-held oil giant Saudi Aramco. After two years of intense speculation regarding the price tag, the venue of an initial public offering (IPO), and the fact that Aramco and the Saudis will have to open the books and reserves estimates to independent scrutiny, the listing of the oil company appears to have been stalled, at least for another couple of years.
These days, however, Aramco is probably one of the low-priority issues on the Kingdom’s agenda, considering that the announcement of the new Saudi/Russia led OPEC+ production cuts of 1.2 million bpd failed to inject any positive sentiment in a plunging oil market.
Two weeks after the deal was announced, prices have further slumped to the lowest in more than a year. Brent Crude trading at $54 on Monday morning is way below Saudi Arabia’s budget break-even which is estimated at nearly $88 a barrel.
Just last week, King Salman announced Saudi Arabia’s highest-ever budget, with plans to spend 7 percent more next year, at around US$295 billion (1.1 trillion riyals). This breaks the previous record set this year, with budget spending at US$261 billion and it might spark concerns about the economy’s sustainability as the increase for next year includes a hefty bill for cost-of-living allowances introduced this year.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.