Saudi Arabia’s Race Against Time

Rumors of palace coups are more believable when you take stock of the country’s position.

|May 13, 2018

By Xander Snyder

Saudi Arabia is in a race against time to implement massive reforms that it hopes will minimize its economy’s dependence on oil and, in doing so, insulate it from social unrest once oil prices inevitably fall. And the government must do this without surrendering its control of the country. It’s a tall order for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the heir apparent to the kingdom who, by all accounts, appears to have consolidated enough power to at least try to pull it off.

There’s plenty of reasons to doubt that he will actually succeed, but that’s a problem for a later day. Right now, Brent crude is at about $75 per barrel, slightly above what the International Monetary Fund lists as Saudi Arabia’s breakeven point, giving the government some more revenue and thus a little more breathing room to change its ways.

Time and Money

It’s hard to say how long that will last, though. Prices have been rising, thanks to a combination of OPEC cuts, produ

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