Borrowing Time: Rents and Reform in Saudi Arabia

One of the most ambitious, well-defined reform plans in the region for reigning in state obligations to citizens while boosting private-sector development is Saudi Vision 2030, a program of economic and social (but not political) change headlined by the Kingdom’s much-profiled Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman. While the Kingdom does not presently face the breakdown in public order or empty state coffers that have kept most reforms to ad-hoc adjustments in other MENA countries, even as the legacies of an oil-based economy pose challenges all their own, the processes by which Vision 2030 is implemented and amended have much to tell us about the politics of retrenchment in the region and elsewhere. This and a subsequent article will examine the dynamics of pulling off such a transition.

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