ASRIE Analytica published Geopolitical Vol.2/2021 “Geopolitics of Saudi Arabia: foreign policy, energy markets, and Vision 2030” in partnership with the Italian media agency Notizie Geopolitiche and the think tank CeSEM – Centro Studi Eurasia Mediterraneo investigating focuses the attention on Saudi Arabia deepening the knowledge of its foreign and domestic policy, socioeconomic strategy, cultural and religious background.
Since January 2021 Italian media have covered Matteo Renzi’s official visit to Saudi Arabia and his meeting with Saudi prince Mohammad bin Salman. Renzi presented the country as a great opportunity for Italian companies interested in a dynamic market that is looking at the future and modernization.
The aim of this publication is not to report all the polemics related to Renzi’s visit to Saudi Arabia or the financial benefits which the Italian politician received for his consulting service to the Saudi monarchy. Saudi Arabia is more important than Italian media speculation since the Monarchy launched its strategy Saudi Vision 2030 to modernize the country and diversify the economy.
Undeniably, Saudi Arabia plays a strategic role in the Middle East and has raised as regional actors and international competitors in the world of international relations and geopolitics. Thanks to its oil reserve the Saudi family has transformed the country from ‘a land of camel and Bedouin’ to a regional power able to shape the Middle Eastern and Arab-Muslim world’s dynamics. Saudi Vision 2030 might be interpreted as the last step necessary to ‘revolutionize’ Saudi Arabia and convert the nation into a futuristic logistic hub focused on green energy, Artificial Intelligence, and human development.
Since the great interests that Saudi Vision 2030 has attracted, ASRIE Analytica in partnership with the Italian think tank CeSEM – Centro Studi Eurasia Mediterraneo and the Italian media agency Notizie Geopolitiche decided to investigate the geopolitics of the Saudi monarchy stressing the importance of Riyadh’s foreign policy, energy strategy and economic diversification program.
In this second volume of Geopolitical Report, we published several papers written by Italian researchers, journalists, and analysts whose purpose is to investigate Saudi Arabia and analyze the status of Saudi Vision 2030 and possible future development in domestic and foreign policy considering also important the impact that the recent reforms have on the economy.
Stefano Vernole and Emma Visentin wrote two different papers that link Saudi Arabia to China and Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative. Since Biden Administration has shown a different approach to Saudi monarchy than the former US President Donald Trump and the Central Intelligence Agency published its report that accused the Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman to have ordered Jamal Khashoggi’s assassination and considering the strategic role that Saudi Arabia might play in the 21st Maritime Silk Road, Stefano Vernole and Emma Visentin investigated the possibilities of new closer Saudi-Chinese relations.
While Stefano Vernole evaluated positively the future economic and diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and China whose cooperation might significantly affect the international geopolitical chessboard and relations between the White House and the Saudi monarchy, Emma Visentin concluded that it is improbable that the Saudi-Chinese relationship will encompass more sensitive domains because Riyadh is still the US’s linchpin in the Middle East and the Saudi monarchy is worried about a growing economic dependence from Beijing.
Silvia Boltuc investigated Saudi energy strategy and Riyadh’s attempt at diversifying its revenues improving nuclear and green energy. According to Saudi Vision 2030, Riyadh has planned to reduce the country’s dependence on oil revenues by transforming Saudi Arabia into a modern logistic hub whose energy efficiency will be based on nuclear power plants and environmental projects.
C. Alessandro Mauceri analyzed the status of Saudi Vision 2030 and stressed the long list of problems that Saudi Arabia has faced in the last decade from the Arab Spring in 2011 to the recent pandemic. In Mauceri’s view, Saudi Vision 2030 has not achieved the prefixed goals because the oil price is still below the minimum standard acceptable for the national economy, the infrastructural projects have been delayed, and some economic sectors (i.e., tourism) have not developed as planned.
Filippo Marinoni and Luisa Marinoni highlighted the lights and shadows of Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s ambitious personal project: the futuristic city called The Line. In their article, the authors considered alternative narratives which stress the critical points of the green capitalism project and raise questions about the energy consumption required for the construction of this ambitious city.
Christian Tratzi studied the main Muslim organizations in the United States which have diffused Wahhabi ideology because he considers these institutions as geopolitical actors able to influence the North American Muslim umma (community) and consequently the US society. In a broad context, the author stressed that these Muslim organizations in North America backed by the Saudi Kingdom are an essential part of Riyadh’s foreign policy with Washington.