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The Red Sea port, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia The Red Sea port, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Dec. 14, 2020 (AP photo by Amr Nabil).

Saudi Arabia’s Economic Ambitions Could Fuel Gulf Rivalries

Friday, July 16, 2021

On June 30, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the country’s de facto ruler, announced a wide-ranging National Transport and Logistics Strategy. Billed as a “key pillar” of Riyadh’s sweeping development blueprint known as Vision 2030, the strategy calls for $147 billion in investments over nine years, including plans for a second national airline and new logistics zones. The operator of Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Gateway Terminal also plans to spend $1.7 billion to expand its main port in Jeddah and invest in at least three international ports—with each investment totaling some $500 million—over the next five years. 

Sustaining such international partnerships will be critical if Riyadh hopes to achieve its ambitious growth targets, particularly in industries like transportation and logistics, as it diversifies its economy away from reliance on fossil fuels. However, these are sectors where other Gulf Arab powers, such as Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, already have a substantial foothold. Thus, Saudi Arabia’s current development path and long-term ambition to become a global logistics hub could strain its relations with neighboring states—a risk that Saudi officials appear willing to take. ...

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