Saturday, February 27, 2016

Wot?!! Belt-Tightening in Saudi Arabia?

"I'm not going shopping as much, and I'm not spending like I used to. I'm spending more money on gas these days."
Mohammed Abdullah, Riyadh

"I think there is growing recognition here that we need reform."
Khalid al-Dakhil, Saudi analyst, Riyadh

"It was a Gulf phenomenon of wasting – money was flowing and there was no accountability. The shock has come. We have to wake up, especially the people who are not working. We have to start doing things on our own, depend on our own selves."
"We have to get up and work, really work hard – produce in factories; clean up our own places."
Khaled Al Maeena, former editor in chief, Arab News 
Austerity comes, almost overnight for Saudi Arabia’s citizens
A veiled Saudi waitress speaks to visitors at a coffee shop in Tabuk. Of the 4.4 million jobs created in the 2003 through 2013 decade of booming oil prices and prosperity, about 1.7 million, 39 per cent, were taken by Saudis, according to the McKinsey Global Institute. Mohamed Alhwaity / Reuters

OPEC bows to Saudi Arabia. Whatever it dictates, will in the end become a unanimous decision of the oil cartel that represents the world's largest oil deposits, from Bahrain to Venezuela. And Saudi Arabia along with its oil-revenue-grabbing peers enjoyed the benefits of selling their product on a world market eager to consume at any price to keep the wheels of commerce spinning, acquiring a massive revenue stream that never seemed to be enough to keep them all in the style they accustomed themselves to.

While amassing a Saudi Monarch's ransom in wealth, creating the largest rainy-day fund in world history, suddenly that fund appears on the cusp of exhaustion. The oil giants that once complacently raked in their profits from energy resources now live in lean times of their own making. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia invested its near future in a plan to punish both its nemesis Iran for its presumption in aspiring to become the Islamic world's leading light, and its ally the United States for shaking free from Saudi oil dependency through fracking.

As the custodians of the Islamic world's most venerated and noble religious sites, no other country, much less a non-Arab one, should have expressed the arrogance of conquest over the reigning Middle East religious power. Particularly one dedicated to the minority Shiite sect of Islam, aspiring to rule over the majority Sunni sect. Ironically, both Iran and Saudi Arabia, each infused with their own brand of Islamism chose to use their oil windfalls to promote fanatical Islamism.

The Islamic Republic of Iran used its oil wealth -- and continues to do so -- in establishing proxy terrorist groups to not only intimidate its enemies in the Middle East, but to subtly infiltrate the international community of non-Muslim countries to be enabled to rise at some future date when Iran feels sufficiently prepared to challenge the primacy of the Western democracies in their very homes, now being overrun by another aspect of jihad; the migration of peoples.

While Saudi Arabia made use of its vast treasury to fund the building of madrasas and mosques throughout the world of Islam and that of non-Muslim countries where its fundamentalist brand of Salafist Islam, Wahhabism, is taught and where Osama bin Laden and his ilk cut their jihadist teeth. From Yemen to Pakistan, Somalia to Australia, Turkey to Britain and well beyond, that infiltration, aided by Islamist dedication brought by the Muslim Brotherhood, oil money has greased the cogs.

Now gravitating to an era of austerity because OPEC at Saudi Arabia's insistence unleashed a glut of petroleum on the world market, undercutting profit and determined to grin and bear it, oil producers from Russia to Canada are suffering a loss of income, and all oil-producing countries from Nigeria to Qatar are realizing scant profit for their precious natural resources in energy production.

Saudis now see a reigning in of public spending, an imposition of hiring freezes and work slated on infrastructure halted. Horror of horrors Prince Mohammed of the House of Saud speaks of the possibility of taxes: "We're talking about taxes or fees that are supported by the citizen", he intoned. Sending Saudi subjects into paroxysms of despair. "We've basically stopped hiring, too" Mohammed, manager at a company which imports European foods, said gloomily.

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