Crown prince shows Saudi Arabia has an eye on the post-oil era
MOHAMMED BIN SALMAN, first deputy prime minister and crown prince of Saudi Arabia, is visiting Pakistan, India and China. Niu Song, a researcher in Middle East studies at Shanghai International Studies University, comments in an article for Beijing News:
Mired in some thorny issues related to the West, Saudi Arabia is seeking to strengthen its interaction and relations with the three countries, and looking for opportunities for its sustainable development and economic transformation.
In Islamabad, the crown prince signed cooperation agreements and memorandums of understanding worth more than $10 billion, vowing to invest heavily in oil refining, petrochemical, renewable energy and mining industries. It is worth noting that an oil refinery to be built by Saudi Arabia is located in Gwadar Port, making it a de facto participant in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
The crown prince's visits to India and China are expected to increase investment and improve cooperation in infrastructure construction and high-tech sectors with the two largest developing countries in the world.
Riyadh has attached great attention to developing relations with Beijing. It actively supports China's Belt and Road Initiative and proposes to dock its Saudi Vision 2030 development strategy with it.
Meanwhile, Pakistan, a member of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, is an important part of the Islamic diplomacy of Saudi Arabia, while India, which is now the world's fastest developing country, is a key part of Saudi Arabia's diplomacy and foreign cooperation.
Although Washington remains its most important strategic partner Riyadh seems to be preparing for a post-oil era, by enhancing its cooperation with other countries, which it hopes can bring about more chances to deepen cooperation with emerging economies, so as to improve its ability to withstand economic and political risks by putting its eggs in different baskets.
However, it is still too early to conclude from this that Saudi Arabia's diplomatic focus has shifted to Asia.