Abdulateef Al-Mulhim
Abdulateef Al-Mulhim
Commodore, Royal Saudi Navy (Retired)

A few weeks ago, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman visited the western hemisphere to hold talks with political and business leaders of the most influential countries in the world — the United States and France.

The high-profile visit proved to be very successful, as it included talks to widen the scope of mutual cooperation and to strength the strategic relations between Saudi Arabia and the West. Analysts belonging to different parts of the world do acknowledge that Saudi Arabia is one of the major influential players in the international arena. Saudis want to keep their special status intact by forging new alliances all across the world. In a bid to expand its reach, its influence and network of friends, the Kingdom is now looking to the East as well.

Today, all eyes are focused on the Saudi approach toward China. Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to Beijing is creating waves all across the globe. The deputy crown prince is accompanied by a very high-profile delegation that includes ministers and other key Saudi officials.

Saudi Arabia and China enjoy very strong relations. The Kingdom is one of the most important trading partners of China. Though Saudi-Chinese relations go back a long way, it was in 2013 that the mutual ties started to take the shape of a strategic friendship. Since 2013, the relations saw a steady increase in cooperation in various fields.

The importance of the deputy crown prince’s visit to China has increased manifold due to its nature and timing. Saudi Arabia is moving fast on the road to progress and it has recently announced a series of reforms to achieve its target. Yes, I am referring to the Saudi Vision 2030, which is a strategic plan to diversify the Kingdom’s economy.

In order to achieve this goal, it is imperative to forge new partnerships with other economic powers and China has the capability to play an important role in the implementation of the Saudi Vision 2030 by increasing cooperation in different economic sectors. It could be a win-win situation for both the Kingdom and China.

As mentioned earlier, the Vision 2030 aims at diversifying the Saudi national income and set ambitious goals to improve the existing infrastructure and to build new ones and China is a country with great capabilities to engage in mega projects. To this effect, 15 agreements have been signed between the two sides in different fields such as oil storage, water resources, science and technology, housing projects and cultural cooperation.

It would be pertinent to mention here that China is also hosting the 2016 G-20 Hangzhou summit, which is the eleventh of its series and is scheduled to be held on Sept. 4-5. Saudi Arabia is one of the participating nations.

The summit will add importance to the visit. World leaders will discuss important global issues. The East headed by an economic power such as China can tip the balance of power in the world at any given time.

America is all set to go for presidential election and we all know the latest trend in the US politics. Europe is increasingly looking inward due to economic problems and the British exit from the European Union.

Saudi Arabia is a country that is known to be one of the most influential countries — both economically and politically — in the world. Being a regional power, the Kingdom has the moral obligation to work for peace, stability and prosperity in the region and the entire world. It is, therefore, necessary for Saudi Arabia to have strong relations with all the key countries in the East and West.

The current global economic situation also requires an important country like Saudi Arabia to forge new alliances and promote fresh partnerships. We all know that the Kingdom commands great respect in the Muslim world as well. Being the center of the Muslim world, it also has the responsibility to lead the Muslim world in the times of crisis and in order to do that it needs to strengthen itself to the maximum. That is exactly what Saudi Arabia is currently doing.

Saudi Arabia will continue its openness to the world. The Saudi Vision 2030 is important for us and vital for the socioeconomic development of our country and it is important to seek the best possible ways to implement the proposed reforms.

Written by Abdulateef Al-Mulhim. Forging New Alliances reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al-Mulhim.