Looking back at Saudi crown prince's Asia tour

Riyadh stands to be a major pole for a different regional context with different objectives and working mechanisms.
Thursday 28/02/2019
 Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz (L) is welcomed by India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Ram Nath Kovind at Rashtrapati Bhavan presidential palace in New Delhi, February 20. (Reuters)
A window of opportunity. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz (L) is welcomed by India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Ram Nath Kovind at Rashtrapati Bhavan presidential palace in New Delhi, February 20. (Reuters)

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz has concluded his fruitful and influential visits to Pakistan, India and China, leading Saudi Arabia towards a new phase in which Riyadh stands to be a major pole for a different regional context with different objectives and working mechanisms.

Crown Prince Mohammed carried with him a basket of development and cooperation projects that were part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030. At each stop, he opened new vistas for hard work, looking forward to a leading role in vitalising the economic dynamics in the capitals.

Saudi rivals have claimed that a person such as Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, who comes from non-political circles, would not be cooperative with Riyadh but they were proven wrong. In Islamabad, Crown Prince Mohammed enjoyed unprecedented welcome and warmth. A great deal of lustre was lavished on his visit, which was full of promises and good intentions.

His visit carried more than good intentions and had other significance considering the repercussions of the attack in Iran that killed 27 members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Tehran did not miss the chance to make up false claims, accusing Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates of being behind the bombing. It was nothing new on the part of Iran, which is always wary of any Saudi move in the region.

Qatar broadcast flimsy rumours about popular demonstrations against the Saudi crown prince's visit to Pakistan but these futile and trite attempts to hurt Saudi Arabia have nowhere to go but in the wind, just like Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s constant gripes against Crown Prince Mohammed.

From Pakistan, he travelled to India where he was welcomed with the same hospitality. On many occasions, rigid protocol rules were bypassed to welcome the Gulf guest.

There was news of a possible Saudi role to address the historic crisis between Pakistan and India. Saudi Arabia is willing to put its economic, religious and diplomatic weight behind the idea of a critical reconciliation that could ease the hostility between the two countries and help them look for a better future, free of resentment and its heavy price.

India, Crown Prince Mohammed’s second stop, is a country that has bypassed the quagmire of complex problems and is soaring at the heights of great ambitions.

India has left its frustrations behind and has invested in its human capital. Gone were the bitterness of colonialism, the limitations of resource scarcity and the pains of political wounds and social weakness. India is becoming a regional rival and a world player. India’s story can inspire Riyadh's ambition to increase its effectiveness and look forward to a different future.

After a series of agreements that brought together the two countries and meetings attended by Crown Prince Mohammed concerning technical and technological research, something that Saudi Arabia is looking forward to achieving in its new vision, he landed in China to mark another important milestone in the growing ties between the kingdom and the host country.

Beijing has been quietly inching its way, unimpeded, to becoming a major world focus by remaining politically aloof and neutral while betting on the tools of economic development and investment. These elements are the same ones making up Saudi Arabia’s consciousness of its future.

Any observer of Saudi-Chinese relations can notice progress achieved, in addition to Saudi Arabia’s betting on more and improved development opportunities between the two countries.

The outcomes of Crown Prince Mohammed’s tour were more than passing and haphazard. Riyadh has opened a major window of opportunity and communication between peoples of the region, taking coordination and cooperation between them to a higher level.