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The End of Saudi Arabia’s Ambitions

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The End of Saudi Arabia’s Ambitions

MBS Must Cut His Losses to Avert Catastrophe

Foreign Affairs,

5 min read
2 take-aways
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COVID-19 offers a moment of reckoning for Saudi Arabia’s crown prince. 

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Plummeting oil prices due to the COVID-19 pandemic have hurt oil exporting countries around the world, including Saudi Arabia. With oil sales making up a big part of the country’s budget, the sharp drop in revenue will have direct consequences on the Saudi crown prince’s ambitious policy agenda. In this short essay, international affairs professor F. Gregory Gause III explains the pandemic’s effects on Mohammed bin Salman’s plans for Saudi Arabia. He argues that what may seem like temporary sacrifices could translate into long-term gains for the country. 


The COVID-19 pandemic thwarted the ambitious policy agenda of Saudi Arabia’s crown prince.

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit Saudi Arabia particularly hard. The nation has recorded more infections than any other Arab country. Moreover, tumbling global oil prices have sent the oil export-dependent kingdom into an economic downward spiral and caused its budget deficit to skyrocket. The situation will force Saudi Arabia’s ambitious crown prince and de facto ruler, Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), to rethink his ambitious policy agenda.

MBS will no longer have sufficient funds to fully realize his “Vision 2030”: a plan aimed at diversifying the Saudi economy. The crown prince will likely have to put Vision 2030...

About the Author

F. Gregory Gause III is head of the International Affairs Department at the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University and an affiliate of the Bush School’s Albritton Center for Grand Strategy. 

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