The kingdom’s vast privatisation programme is as significant for its social consequences as it is for the riches on offer to investment bankers

Over the past three years, as Saudi Arabia’s new heir to the throne was plotting his ascendancy, he surrounded himself with public accounts and private advisers who all drew the same conclusion – the kingdom itself was at serious risk if its people didn’t change their ways.

On every front, the house of Saud faced a struggle – that it would probably lose – to retain its grip on a country that was moving towards implosion. Culturally, socially and economically, Saudi Arabia needed an overhaul and Mohammed bin Salman, who sensationally ousted his uncle, Mohammed bin Nayef, as crown prince earlier this year, pinned both his startling rise and eventual legacy to the most comprehensive reform attempt that kingdom has yet seen.

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