NEOM - Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman said that Saudi Arabia is the biggest success story of the 21st century.
In an interview with Bret Baier, chief political anchor of Fox News, at NEOM, the Crown Prince said the Palestinian issue is crucial to normalizing ties with Israel as he wanted to see a good life for the Palestinians. In the interview on “Special Report with Bret Baier” that was aired on Thursday morning, he reiterated that if Iran possessed a nuclear weapon, Saudi Arabia would do the same “for security reasons and the balance of power.”
Saudi Arabia had achieved the fastest growth in gross domestic product (GDP) among the G20 countries for two consecutive years, the Crown Prince said while pointing out about the bid to join G7. “We tried to join the G7, but some countries wanted to dictate their conditions to us,” he said.
In his first interview with a major American news network since 2019, the Crown Prince addressed a wide range of domestic, regional and international issues. Prince Mohammed bin Salman highlighted the robust growth and comprehensive social and economic reforms that Saudi Arabia is witnessing under its Vision 2030. “Saudi Arabia is so big, so I'm quite sure most people in the world, directly or indirectly, have something to do with Saudi Arabia. Our vision is great and we are surprised every day when achieving our goals quickly as our non-oil growth this year will be among the fastest in the G20 countries,” he said.
When asked about efforts to normalize relations with Israel, the Crown Prince emphasized that the Kingdom has no relationship with Israel at present. “Every day we get closer, it seems it's for the first time real one serious. We get to see how it goes," he said. The Crown Prince insisted his country could work with Israel, no matter who is in charge, calling the deal "the biggest historical deal since the end of the Cold War," which he stated would rest upon agreements related to the treatment of the Palestinians. "If we have a breakthrough of reaching a deal that gives the Palestinians their needs and makes the region calm, we're going to work with whoever is there," he said, while reiterating that he wanted to see "a good life for the Palestinians."
When asked about the potential for Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon and what it means for Saudi Arabia, the Crown Prince clearly stated that should Iran ever obtain such a weapon Saudi Arabia would "have to get one, for security reasons, for balancing power." "We are concerned if any country gets a nuclear weapon: That's a bad, that's a bad move," he said. "They don't need to get nuclear weapons because you cannot use them. Any country using a nuclear weapon that means they are having a war with the rest of the world," he said while reiterating the position of Saudi Arabia that the region must be stable for Saudi Arabia to achieve its goals. "The world cannot see another Hiroshima. If the world sees 100,000 people dead that means you are in a war with the rest of the world. So to use this effort to reach a nuclear weapon because you cannot use it if you use it, you got to have a big fight with the rest of the world."
The Crown Prince also spoke about relations with the United States, saying: “We have important security ties with Washington. We have a special relationship with President Joe Biden, and he is very focused and prepares himself well,” he said while adding that Saudi Arabia wants American and foreign companies to come and invest in a safe environment in the Middle East. "We are one of the five largest buyers of American weapons, and our move to buy weapons from countries other than the United States is not in their interest."
He also highlighted the various attacks Osama bin Laden planned and executed against Saudi Arabia in the 1990s. Bin Laden was able to recruit Saudis to help his cause but that it "doesn’t make any sense" for the country itself to help a man actively hurting it. "After that, killing Saudis and foreign people at that time in Saudi Arabia, he's our enemy and he's the American enemy," the Crown Prince said.
Referring to the Khashoggi issue, the Crown Prince said that Saudi Arabia prosecuted those involved in Khashoggi’s killing and made reforms to prevent such things happening again. “Anyone involved in Khashoggi’s killing is serving time in prison and must face the law. We take all the legal measurements that any country took ... We did that in Saudi Arabia and the case was closed," he said. "Also, we try to reform the security system to be sure that these kinds of mistakes do not happen again, and we can see in the past five years nothing of those things happened. It's not part of what Saudi Arabia does." He noted that the country is working to reform some laws and the government does not interfere in the work of the judiciary.
The Crown Prince also touched on economic files, stressing that the Kingdom monitors supply and demand in the oil market and takes the necessary measures to stabilize the energy market. “Our role in OPEC + is to bridge the gap between supply and demand. We are keen on the stability of energy markets and we are doing what is necessary in this regard.”
Referring to the recent deal signed with regard to establishing India – Middle East – Europe Economic Corridor during the G20 Summit, the Crown Prince said that the Economic Corridor that will connect the Middle East with Europe will save time and money and will shorten the distance to Europe to 3-6 days.
Regarding the BRICS group of countries, in which Saudi Arabia will join in January 2024, Prince Mohammed bin Salman said that this group “is not against the United States, as evidenced by the presence of Washington’s allies within it.” The Crown Prince stressed that the BRICS group, which includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, is not a political alliance.
The Crown Prince also explained about the measures being taken to make the Kingdom a major global tourism destination. He said that attracting tourism is linked to developing other major sectors, including sports, entertainment and culture. “We do not mind developing the sports sector as it has become effective in economic returns. We are working to ensure that sports contribute 1.5 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) soon,” he added.
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