Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, Egypt, Faisal bin Abdullah bin Mohammed Al Saud, Israel, Khalid A. Al-Falih, Middle East, Saudi, Saudi Arabia, Saudi Riyal, United Arab Emirates, United States, YouTube
Having previously lived in the Middle East it is a region of the World I have a huge interest in.
Saudi Arabia in particular is a country that is a bit of a mystery to me but one that I am interested in learning more about as Saudi Arabia generally gets little attention in the Western media which is bizarre given that it is the same size as Europe, has plans to create a single currency with its Arab neighbours to rival the dollar and that the following companies are or have been part owned by members of the Saudi royal family:
- The Wall Street Journal
- The Times
- The Sunday Times
- The Sun
- The New York Post
- 20th Century Fox
- Fox Television
- Harper Collins
- The Telegraph
- Citi Group
- American Airlines
- Time Magazine
- Rotana Group
- Walt Disney
- Canary Warf
- Canary Wharf
- Four Seasons Hotels
…in addition to too many other companies to mention but one that definitely should be mentioned…
The company is worth the equivalent of 37,735,849.06 houses (yes, 37 million houses) based on the UK average house price of £170,825 as of August 2013.
The most valuable company in the world… Saudi Aramco run by Khalid A. Al-Falih and valued at $10 trillion! To put that in perspective the value of Apple, Google and Facebook combined is around $1-1.5 trillion, the US national debt is around $16 trillion. UK GDP is around $2.4 trillion (but it is worth noting that the percentage of a country’s GDP that is generated by its creditors should really be attributed to its creditors’ balance sheet – that is globalisation).
One man with interests in all of the companies (and countries) listed above, amongst others, is Alwaleed Bin Talal, one of the richest and most influential men in the World although most people would not recognise the name.
In addition to his business interests he supports a number of US & UK Universities including Harvard and Edinburgh University.
Alwaleed himself studied in California with fellow Saudis Mohammed bin Faisal Al Saud and Faisal bin Abdullah bin Mohammed Al Saud. If you add the wealth of all the different members of the Saudi Royal family they could be in fact the richest group of people in the World, by quite a long way.
Saudi Arabia (a country defined in the 1920s by the West surpasses borders in terms of political influence and is perhaps the last remaining Empire). Saudi Arabia is the most important partner to both the US and the UK and one of the most important movements in the World.
The Grand Mufti – the religious group that governs Sunni Muslims – have been influential in global politics for 500 years and now dominate politics across North Africa and the Middle East.
In fact that the UK government called off an investigation in to the a Al-Yamamah arms deal by the Serious Fraud Office after influence from Saudi Arabia which reportedly involved threats of terrorist attacks.
There is quite an interesting documentary you can watch on YouTube about it called Black Money.
Ironically it is usually reported that the reason that the arms deal between Saudi Arabia and the UK took place instead of a similar deal between the US and Saudi Arabia was because of political pressure from Israel although it is more likely that it was related to stricter anti-bribery laws that exist in the US judging by how events unfolded.
Similar accusations regarding Saudi Arabian foreign policy have also surfaced recently following apparent leaked transcripts of a meeting between Russian leader Vladimir Putin and As-Safir said Prince Bandar which has resulted in a sort of hit piece in Bloomberg owned Business Week.
The US and Saudi Arabia also have close ties economically with the Saudi Riyal pegged to the dollar. As the value of the dollar goes up or down so does the riyal. In other words as the dollar is devalued the riyal is artificially devalued too. Another consequence of this is related to the decline in the Indian Rupee against the USD / riyal (they are in effect interchangeable).
Saudi Arabia’s military spending is higher than any other country in the World as a percentage of GDP as you can see by the table below:
|Country||Spending ($ billions)||% of GDP||Year|
|United Arab Emirates||$17,549,000,000||6.90%||2012|
The second and third highest spenders as a percentage of GDP, Oman and the UAE, along with Saudi Arabia make up three of the six members of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf. The sixth and eighth highest spenders Jordan and Algeria both have close tiess to Saudi Arabia for religious reasons.
Egypt and Turkey are also close allies with Saudi Arabia with Saudi Arabia forecast to become the biggest provider of military aid to Egypt in the World and through the Arab Organization for Industrialization putting the true influence on Saudi Military spending at around the same level as China at more than $150 billion / year – approaching double that of Russia’s spending and without the inclusion of the military value of their allegiance with the US or corporate investments. Saudi Arabia is a mighty ally to the US.
It is often said that Israel has more influence than other countries in the Middle East over US foreign policy which led me to compare trade between the Israel and the US and Saudi Arabia and the US.
Below you will see a graph showing both US imports from Saudi Arabia and US imports from Israel between January 1985 and June 2013 in millions of USDs.
The flow of money from the US to Saudi Arabia rises dramatically between 2001 and 2008 before falling off a cliff and then again rising dramatically. These figures tie in with the changing oil prices that resulted from the policies of George W. Bush and now President Obama as you can see from the graph below.
With US led strikes against Syria expected in the next few days the value of the most valuable company in the world and the US national debt are set to rise at unprecedented levels over the next few months not to mention the likely effect on the UK’s political elite’s desire for more energy independence for the kingdom which will no doubt make the fracking debate even more contentious.
- Saudi Arabia threatens Russia with Olympic Terror (syrianews.cc)
- The Threat and Value of Saudi Arabia (nytimes.com)
- Putin Orders Massive Strike Against Saudi Arabia If West Attacks Syria (iraqinews.com)
- Saudi Arabia throws down a gauntlet by targeting missiles at Iran and Israel (telegraph.co.uk)
- US to sell cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia (rinf.com)
- Saudi Arabia Rediscovers the Power of Oil as a Political Tool (blogs.wsj.com)