The 'Fifth Storm'! The 14 Months Since King Salman Ascended The Throne, Wwitnessing Three Other Major Transformations
22 May 2016
By Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi
Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 is not our first storm. During the 14 months since
King Salman ascended the throne, we have witnessed three other major
The first was the Administrative Storm. It reshuffled the Cabinet, and
restructured the Executive branch. The moves included the dissolving of a
dozen Higher Councils. In their place two Ministerial Councils were formed:
The Political and Security Council, headed by Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Naif,
deputy premier and interior minister, and the Economic and Development Council
led by Deputy Crown Prince, Muhammad Bin Salman, second deputy premier and
minister of defense.
More royal decrees followed to slim down and streamline government
bureaucracy, lower state expenditures and increase non-oil revenues.
Next, came the Military and Security Storm. Saudi Arabia was facing an
existential threat. Iran must have confused our patience for weakness. It
seemed to think we were either napping or afraid. Its bases in neighboring
Yemen, Sudan and Eritrea had encircled us with pointed missiles and loaded
Therefore, one may imagine the shocking reality check Iran's leaders suffered
when the Saudi-led Arab Alliance lunched the Decisive Storm in Yemen. It was
only the beginning. Later, they witnessed the formation of the Islamic
Military Alliance and the Northern Thunder maneuvers. As a result, Saudi
Arabia today is more secured and protected, assertive and effective than ever.
The Administrative and Military storms were accompanied by unprecedented
The late Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al Faisal and his successor Adel Al-Jubeir
have led a major campaign to unite the world behind the Saudi drive to restore
legitimately and peace in Yemen, and to fight terrorism in the region and the
These efforts culminated in the consensus of 56 members of the Organization of
Islamic Cooperation to condemn Iran and its militias for sponsoring terrorism
and disruptive behavior. Riyadh has become a meeting point for world leaders.
The Saudi capital hosted many regional and international conferences, the last
of which were four regional and global summits, within 48 hours.
Today, the new Economy and Development Storm takes us to a new era where we
drastically reduce our dependence on easy oil revenues. The National
Transformation Plan aims to make our economy more productive and less reliant
on state handouts.
It would privatize public companies and services, increase private sector
contribution and encourage more foreign investments. A new military holding
company would localize military industry, increasing its percentage from 2 to
The new economy will be built on three core strengths: Our Arab and Islamic
leadership; the country's strategic geographic location as a hub connecting
Asia, Africa and Europe; and our vast natural resources, including uranium,
gold, silver, aluminum, iron and phosphate, in addition to oil and gas.
As Saudi men and women stand front and center in the development plan, grand
programs are envisioned for their education, training and preparation. After
all, they are the ones who would participate, manage, invest in and benefit
from all economic and development projects.
For them, plans are being made for improving educational, health,
recreational, sports and tourism services, as well as encouraging
volunteerism, and social and cultural activities. All these storms have done
well in translating our hopes and dreams into realities. However, I do believe
we also need a fifth — The Intellectual and Cultural Storm.
We need radical changes in our lifestyle and mentality to be more tolerant,
civilized and oriented toward scientific and logical thinking.
This is vital if we are to interact well with the expected waves of investors,
partners and guest workers coming from widely diversified cultures. How would
someone rooted in a unilateral thought, for example, be able to interact with
foreign tourists and investors in a spirit of cooperation, acceptance and
And how can we change the convictions of a young generation that has grown up
into an isolationist social shell, suspicious of foreigners and resistant to
How those whose culture despised handicraft and serving others could benefit
from the upcoming opportunities in the industrial, technical and service
And how to succeed in the fight against corruption, if we don't root out the
cultural tolerance for it, at home, school and work? Today, we celebrate the
dawn of a new era based on the culture of production, self-sufficiency,
constructive engagement, transparency and openness. And as we celebrate the
administrative, military, political and economic development storms, I'd call
for an Intellectual and Cultural Storm to root out deviant ideologies, customs
and traditions, and to reinforce the culture of logic and scientific research,
as well as true Islamic principles and morals.
To succeed in so immense a mission, we need the participation of universities,
research centers, and religious, social, media and educational institutions.
Our public and civil societies must join hands in administering research
projects, workshops, conventions and public awareness campaigns.
The Fifth Storm is needed now for all storms and plans to succeed.
Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi is a Saudi writer based in Jeddah. He can be reached
firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at Twitter:@kbatarfi