ARABIAIN MIGHT
Newsweek US|June 14, 2024
SAUDI ARABIA'S INCREASING STRENGTH MEANS IT NOW HAS MUCH MORE CLOUT WITH ITS PARTNERS, INCLUDING THE U.S.
Tom O'Connor
ARABIAIN MIGHT

AS PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN PREPARES to fight for reelection this November across a contentious battleground of U.S. states, the White House also finds itself vying for influence among several increasingly critical players on the world stage, among them a long-standing partner in the midst of groundbreaking changes in its policies at home and abroad.

Saudi Arabia is not only a swing state in terms of geopolitics, but also plays an outsized role on issues key to the U.S. election. It holds a pivotal place in the Middle East at a time when Israel's war with Hamas has become central to the campaign, and as the world's biggest oil exporter it is a powerful player in determining oil prices, which could also be important given inflation is among U.S. voters' top concerns.

At 38, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia is one of the world's youngest de facto heads of state and the driving force behind a nationalist agenda taking hold in the kingdom. His father, King Salman, 88, has led since 2015 but has handed increasing control to his seventh son since naming him next to rule in 2017 and prime minister in 2022, amid growing concerns over the monarch's health.

The transformation overseen by Crown Prince Mohammed, often referred to simply as MbS, has led to substantial shifts in the kingdom's domestic outlook, which has embraced a more globalized character and a transition away from oil dependence, among other initiatives in line with the youngest-ever heir to the throne's ambitious Vision 2030 plan.

This story is from the June 14, 2024 edition of Newsweek US.

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This story is from the June 14, 2024 edition of Newsweek US.

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