Saudi’s impatient, workaholic prince with a very thin skin

Blog note. I have posted many previous blogs and third-party written articles about the rise of NEOM (Babylon) in Saudi Arabia. NEOM was specifically mentioned in this particular article, as it was alluded to since it is part of Bin Salman’s Vision 2030 plan to modernize Saudi Arabia. If you have not read any of my previous blogs or articles, NEOM is the world’s largest planned city (in terms of square miles or kilometers) in a corner of the country flanked by the Sea of Aqaba and the Red Sed. This visionary city or Babylon-in-the-desert is so grand in planned design that it can’t be described in just one article. Hence, I have included a detailed analysis in previous, sequential blogs. You can research this development yourself. The “great city” as described in the Bible’s book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ receives a very large portion of prophetic / eschatological attention. NEOM, in Saudi Arabia, meets every description of Babylon described in Revelation. It has seven mountains, it will accept all religions of the world, it has extreme wealth and technology, it is a world class city that will attract all nations, tribes, tongues, nationalities, it will feature a “delicious” lifestyle based on extremely attractive living conditions and wealth. Any reference to Jesus Christ is completely missing or absent. Proselytizing (attempts to convert someone from one religion to another) is strictly prohibited. The businessmen who trade with and help build NEOM will become fabulously wealthy. The world’s largest sovereign wealth/investment fund is being established ($2 Trillion) to fund NEOM’s launch and growth.  As previously stated, there is a wealth of evidence to support the startup and growth of NEOM as being the “fabled” city of the future as described in Revelation. When is all this supposed to start? Bin Salman has gone on record indicating 2020. That is a short sixteen (16) months away. If you have read some of my recent blogs, you will quickly recall that there are several other “ominous” events planned to be enforced worldwide in 2020 that coincide with the establishment of NEOM in Saudi Arabia. Babylon is NEOM, not Rome, not Vatican City, not Mecca. End of note.

Saudi’s impatient, workaholic prince with a very thin skin

Mohammed bin Salman cultivated an image as a reformer. But he struggles to accept any criticism

The Guardian. Sat 13 Oct 2018 14.19 EDT. Last modified on Sun 14 Oct 2018 13.13 EDT

Looming over the disappearance and presumed murder of a dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is a 33-year-old prince, whose ruthless pursuit of power could have been lifted almost directly from the pages of a Shakespeare play to the headlines of today.

Mohammed bin Salman is nominal heir and de facto ruler of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s few remaining absolute monarchies. These are countries – all are currently run by men – where the king is head of state and government, controlling all levers of power. He lives surrounded by the trappings of luxurious modernity, from yachts to art masterpieces, but wields power in a system that would have been familiar to a medieval ruler.

This pre-modern political world, where one man has total authority over all others, is the only one Bin Salman has ever lived in and known intimately. “[The crown prince] cannot relate to the world outside Saudi. He was raised in a palace, being told you can do everything you want,” said one Saudi, who asked not to be named. “His biggest issue is that he never accepts mistakes.”

Many of the Saudi elite – princes and the upper echelons of society – spend at least a few years abroad, picking up degrees at prestigious western universities. While there, they are swaddled by wealth but still exposed to an entirely different political and social system.

Bin Salman chose instead to stay in Saudi Arabia, close to his father who is now King Salman, studying law at King Saud University, then taking a string of jobs at his father’s side. This allowed him to cement their ties and become the power behind the throne. King Salman is well into his 80s and thought to be in the early stages of dementia, according to Bruce Riedel, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

The exact details are not clear, with the state of his health “a closely guarded secret”, but Bin Salman has reportedly acted as gatekeeper to his father. He even kept his parents apart for several years as he engineered his ascent from the ranks of thousands of virtually anonymous royal princes, NBC reported.

Academically successful, impatient, and a workaholic known to spend 18 hours a day in his office, he has a strong belief in his intellect and the judgment that carried him to power.

But critics say he also struggles to recognise errors, or accept even mild criticism. “People who tried to say no even gently and diplomatically faced consequences,” said one source from Saudi Arabia, who asked not to be named. This thin skin was put on international display when a single tweet from Canada, calling on the kingdom to release jailed activists, prompted the kingdom to sever diplomatic and trade ties. It was particularly surprising given the effort Bin Salman had poured into presenting himself as the young face of change, at home and abroad. Nearly two-thirds of Saudis are under 30, and he claimed to be their champion.

“Especially when he was unofficially campaigning to be the next king, the message he wanted to get across was ‘I represent the younger generation’,” said one consultant who worked on Saudi issues and asked not to be named.

Bin Salman allowed women to drive, reopened cinemas after decades, and curbed the powers of the much-feared morality police. He also vowed to return the country to “moderate Islam”, restraining the reach of hardline clerics who promote extremism, and to rejuvenate its economy.

It all provided plenty of material for upbeat media coverage of a “reformer prince” on brief official trips to the US and other western countries. A cascade of Saudi wealth, channelled through PR firms and lobbyists, helped unfurl the red carpet. Earlier this year he made a triumphant two-week progress around the United States, where he was feted by everyone from film stars, including Morgan Freeman, to Silicon Valley tech billionaires, to Donald Trump at the White House. Previous trips have included personal tours of the Facebook headquarters with Mark Zuckerberg.

Yet under Bin Salman’s rule, Saudi Arabia has launched a bloody war in Yemen, presided over the kidnapping of the prime minister of Lebanon and forced him to resign, and imprisoned dozens of his own elite in a luxury hotel as part of a touted crackdown on corruption.

Bin Salman signalled clearly that his push for change did not extend to politics, rounding up dozens of intellectuals in sweeping crackdowns at home, and lifting opponents from the streets of other countries to bring them back to Saudi jails.

Khashoggi, who used his position to highlight these contradictions, was among those Bin Salman wanted to target, hoping to lure him home then detain him, according to US intelligence intercepts reported by his employer the Washington Post.

It is not clear if the crown prince considered Khashoggi a genuine threat, because of his prominent international platform and extraordinary network of journalist and power-broker friends around the world, or just bridled at his criticism.

But it is clear that the crown prince wanted his voice silenced. The question the world is now asking is, what price might he have paid for that?

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