The Contrarian

“In the investment markets, what everyone knows is usually not worth knowing.”

Is Saudi Arabia Emerging From the Dark Ages?

The oil prices rally this year has been very good for the OPEC countries, many of which are overly dependent on oil exports. Some of the middle eastern countries have now been trying to change their ways as they see that the oil money will run out, but this might be a case of “too late, too little” for the likes of Saudi Arabia.

At midnight on June 24, women in Saudi Arabia finally got the right to drive a car. The person behind this law change is Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS). He is pushing to modernize the Kingdom to diversify its economy.

Who knows, the next step might be to get rid of the barbarous “Chop, Chop Square” where people are punished for stealing or saying something against the religion by chopping hands, arms, or feet off, and often even chopping off their heads.

Will that take another 100 years? MBS last year imprisoned and even tortured many of the corrupt princes who became billionaires. He held them at a hotel until they signed over a good part of their wealth to the government. It is estimated that they turned over about $100 billion. That was a great warning to all that corruption, at least from these people, will not be tolerated.

But many informed westerners still would not want to visit that country with such ancient policies. Old habits, and corruption, don’t die easily. Good luck with the economic diversification!

The ruler of Dubai, who we met a few years ago, is very enlightened. Dubai has virtually no oil, but has prospered because of the smarter policies of its ruler. Nevertheless, Dubai seems to be in big trouble now, economically speaking. The boom has suddenly turned into a bust.

If this happens to a very open country in that geographical area, one like Saudi Arabia with no human or property rights will have a much tougher time.

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