In Saudi Arabia, political power is now highly centralized under Prime Minister Muhammad bin Salman, appointed by his father, King Salman bin Abd al-Aziz, in 2022. There are no signs of political liberalization – bin Salman has evicted and arrested powerful rivals and sidelined the formerly extremely influential Wahhabi establishment.

Oil wealth currently makes up 80% of Saudi Arabia’s GDP. After years of low budget surpluses, oil revenues increased with a record growth rate of around 8% due to the price hike after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Attempting to diversify its economy, the kingdom has started a new drive to attract foreign investments and, for the first time, tourism.

With the Vision 2030 strategy, Muhammad bin Salman embarked on an ambitious economic and societal modernization program. It aims to achieve Saudization, meaning that a higher percentage of Saudis should make up the country’s workforce. In addition, societal and cultural liberalization has made significant progress.

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