gen: The real reason Saudis rolled out the reddest of red carpets

The rationale for these deals is simple — to jump-start the Saudi economy and bring new jobs to the private sector, as Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir explained at a press conference on Saturday. “We expect that these investments over the next 10 years or so will provide hundreds of thousands of jobs in both the United States and in Saudi Arabia,” he said. “They will lead to a transfer of technology from the US to Saudi Arabia, enhance our economy and also enhance the American investments in Saudi Arabia, which already are the largest investments of anyone.”
.. a quasi-socialist state: an astonishing 90% of Saudis work for the government and have long enjoyed subsidies for water, electricity and gas. Health care and education are free.
But, in late 2015, the IMF warned that, given falling oil prices, the Saudi government could run out of financial reserves in five years if it kept up its present rate of spending.
.. The Saudi government calls it “Vision 2030.” The aim is to privatize the education, health care, agriculture, mining and defense sectors and to sell off Saudi Aramco, perhaps the wealthiest company in the world, which is estimated to be worth around a trillion dollars. The Saudis expect the United States to be a key player in all this
.. Its country is both young and incredibly connected — 70% of the population is under 30, and 93% of Saudis use the Internet, far more than in the United States.
.. Until a year ago, compliance with the dictates of Saudi-style Wahhabi Islam were rigorously enforced by members of the feared religious police, known as the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (the same name that was used by the Taliban’s religious police when the Taliban were in power in Afghanistan).

.. In one notorious episode in 2002, in the holy city of Mecca, the religious police prevented girls from fleeing a school that was on fire because they were not properly dressed. Fifteen of them perished in the flames.
But, last April, the wings of the religious police were clipped by King Salman and his son MBS, as he is universally known here. They no longer have the power to arrest suspects and now can only report them to regular police units.
.. In addition to getting the religious police to back off, the Saudi monarchy has allowed some music concerts to happen, but their biggest ambition, as described above, is to wean Saudi Arabia from its almost total dependence on oil revenues.

The Saudis see the Trump administration as a key to this, and that’s why they rolled out the reddest of red carpets for the President’s visit.
In return, Trump received the perfect platform to give his speech on Islam.
.. During the presidential campaign in August, Trump panned Obama’s Cairo speech, castigating Obama for a “misguided” speech that didn’t condemn “the oppression of women and gays in many Muslim nations, and the systematic violations of human rights, or the financing of global terrorism…”

.. But even if Trump’s speech does not herald any real changes in US national security policies, the business deals that the Trump administration is helping to broker with the Saudis will help move the Saudi economy away from its total dependence on oil.