Saudi Arabia’s crown prince has set out an ambitious plan to modernize his country. But even if half of his plans failed, the country would still be “fantastically changed,” according to investment firm Investcorp.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the designated successor to the Saudi king, wants to diversify the economy away from its reliance on oil. Last month, he traveled to the U.K. and the U.S., signing deals worth billions of dollars.
“I think if the crown prince only achieves 50 percent of his vision, that country is going to be fantastically changed,” Investcorp’s executive chairman, Mohammed Bin Mahfoodh Alardhi, told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble in Abu Dhabi.
The Bahrain-based company, with more than $22.2 billion in assets under management, is a major investor in Saudi Arabia. The Investcorp executive chairman is banking on the crown prince’s reforms to not only lift prospects for the country, but the entire Middle East.
The region in recent years has seen investor sentiment rattled by developments such as the drop in oil prices, the war in Syria and a sudden corruption purge from Riyadh.
“No one could have seen, say the meltdown that happened in the oil prices. No one predicted what happened in the Kingdom. So I think they’re right in feeling the challenges,” the Investcorp businessman said, adding that it’s good that governments across the region are now looking to diversify their economies.
“But if it has, if we finish this and all we’ve got is mounting debt, then we really have not done our job. But I think, I believe, that each government is really looking for the future and doing what needs to be done,” he said.