The three summits held with the Chinese president in Riyadh recently, which were attended by Saudi, Gulf, and Arab figures, should not be seen from any particular angle. Instead, they should be seen from a different perspective because they are different and their significance goes beyond the matters being put forward.
It is correct to see them as economic or political. They are also tied to oil supplies. However, I see them from a different angle. They are a Saudi foreign policy summit that makes several important points; among them is that the region, under Saudi Arabia’s leadership - more precisely, the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, seeks action, not words.
The region, under the Crown Prince’s leadership, has been pursuing stability, investment, development, diversification, and openness to the world. It wants to avoid siding with one camp against another, especially as the world is witnessing unpredictable political and economic shifts.
Those who do not see what has changed and cannot identify this shift are making a mistake. Riyadh is not concerned with pleasing this or that country, nor is it not concerned with political twists and turns. What does concern Riyadh is reinforcing stability and prosperity and taking every available opportunity. Crises create opportunities.
This is the path that the Gulf state and moderate Arab countries are on. Egypt is the most prominent example of the latter. Instead of preoccupying itself with foreign expansion, its focus is on building its economy and drawing foreign direct investment as it seeks shared opportunities for creating a better tomorrow.
Riyadh is not concerned, for example, with the political swings in the US, but it is keen on maintaining excellent ties with the US… The relationship the Kingdom seeks is not founded on narrow partisan principles but on its interests and those of the Saudi people, regardless of what is said in Washington, from which we have heard many hasty acrimonious statements.
Some might be unaware of this fact, but in light of all of these statements gushing from the US, Washington is moving to serve partisan interests. Meanwhile, in Saudi Arabia, for example, things are totally different; the question is: what will help me move forward?
How can I strengthen stability, reform, and economic change? How can I become the primary investor in my people and my country? How can I seize every opportunity on the world stage? How can I build bridges and relationships that serve my economic objectives and goals for the future?
Saudi Arabia sees the economy as the key to politics and vice versa. Its goal is building cohesion to serve investment, the movement of capital, and tourism, as the stronger these elements become, the weaker extremism, terrorism, and militias become.
A member of the Saudi top brass tells me: “I prefer to spend money developing my country to spending it on war. I want to develop my country, and I pay no mind to those who want to sow destruction. They will soon find out that they need decades, at least, to catch up to us.”
For this reason, the three summits did not represent a shift from one pole to another. Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said this unequivocally. Rather, it is a Saudi foreign policy summit that seeks to unite, not divide.
Riyadh wants to create opportunities and is looking for partners ready to help it on this journey as it works to encourage the reluctant. The goal is not expansion or propaganda. As Saudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman emphasized to the world: “Arabs will race for progress and renaissance once again. We will prove that every day.”
Everyone who has recently visited Riyadh, or any other Saudi city, knows this well.