This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

"Saudi Vision" 2030 : Wait for It!

"The overall progress with the economic cities has been very slow, even before the collapse of the oil price."
"Since then, the pace of development has moderated even further with a number of projects being placed on hold."
Monica Malik, chief economist, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank PJSC

"While the current authorities seem to be committed to open up the country to forms of entertainment previously banned, a big test will be the reaction of the more conservative parts of the Saudi society."
Philippe Dauba-Pantanacce, senior economist, geopolitical strategist, Standard Chartered Bank, London
Mada’in Saleh  Photographer: Vivian Nereim/Bloomberg

As a tourism draw, aside from the massive annual trek -- Muslims only -- to Mecca, Saudi Arabia doesn't quite come first to mind. This repressive regime that will not permit the presence of any religious devotion to sully its landscape, other than Islam, which also strictly forbids entry to Mecca of any who are not Muslim (British explorer/adventurer extraordinaire Sir Richard Burton's disguise and Arabic proficiency enabled him in a sole instance of penetrating its sacred precincts in the 19th Century) and where women are expected to wear black, body-and-face-concealing burqas lest they arouse the lust of Muslim men -- doesn't seem at first thought to represent tourism material.

Second thought, recalling that it forbids the consumption of alcohol, frowns upon unseemly conduct such as unattached males and females appearing together in public, in casual social company, views music, dance and theatre as un-Muslim in character, also supports the impression that building specially designed tourism cities on the sands of Arabia might not represent the best of investments. On the other hand, despite the lower returns on petroleum resources, of which Saudi Arabia represents the world's foremost exporter, the Kingdom has untold wealth at its disposal.

Another jog of the memory in the fact that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is not particularly known for its charitable generosity. While it has spent and continues to spend, a king's ransom in the establishment of madrassas all over the global landscape, from the Middle East to North Africa, Southeast Asia to Europe and North America and beyond, to teach its very special Salafist brand of Islamic Wahhabism which has produced more than its share of jihadi terrorist groups that have gone on to slaughter Muslims and non-Muslims with fervent abandon, it has spent nothing in support of Muslim refugees.

Al Shabab    AtlantaBlackStar.com

The world has seen an unimaginable proliferation of refugees from the Muslim world fleeing the predations of Al Shabaab, the Taliban, Boko Haram, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Abu Sayyaf, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, among many others. And there is also the homeless produced by the civil conflict in Syria where its president, like Sudan's attack on Darfurians, has committed civilian slaughter by the hundreds of thousands as punishment for defying the rule of Bashar al-Assad. Neighbouring nations have taken in fleeing Iraqis and Syrians, yet Saudi Arabia which has vast empty spaces it plans to turn into tourism hubs has no space for Muslim refugees.

The Kingdom has announced two major developments, one for an area larger than Belgium, the other to include an airport and shipping port, along with a series of economic cities, designed as special zones for tourism, industry and finance. Fifty islands and 34,000 square kilometres along the coastline of Saudi Arabia on the Red Sea are to be transformed into a global tourism destination, to attract cosmopolitan wealthy tourists from every corner of the tourism-hungry world.

Sun-and-surf-lovers arriving to disport themselves on Saudi beaches could rival the millions of Muslim pilgrims trekking to the holy shrines in Mecca and Medina, according to Saudi development plans. West of Mecca, an emerging city to be named Al Faisaliyah, will be complete with thousands of upscale residential units, entertainment facilities, an airport, sea port, all on 2,450 square kilometres, with a completion date projected to 2050.

Another cultural, sports and entertainment city is to be developed southwest of the capital Riyadh, a project to be developed on 334 square kilometres, equipped with a safari area and a Six Flags Entertainment Corp. theme park.  The internal goal is to ensure that household spending on recreation is to double to six percent by 2030. But of course the larger aim is to attract the attention of he wealthy global community of fun-loving, entertainment-seeking tourists to Saudi Arabia. The country that brought to world attention the spectacle of 9-11 has its eyes on an alternate subject of rapt attention.

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