The Saudi elite are still ostensibly pushing for national reforms in line with the 'Vision 2030' economic blueprint. To do so, the Kingdom's relationships with longstanding trading partners will require an update; turning away from energy and towards more sustainable goods and services over the long run. Intelligence suggests that China may help the Al Saud family fill their coffers and simultaneously diversify its economy.

Impact Points

  • Xi Jinping's 'One Belt One Road' ("OBOR") strategy is twofold in terms of outcome: enhance foreign access to the Chinese economy on the one hand, and give Beijing a path to global markets on the other.
  • In pursuit of this grand strategy, ripple effects are likely to be felt by power players in the Middle East over the course of 2018. None more so than Saudi Arabia, which invested significant political capital in enhancing ties with Beijing during 2017; a signal that it may be growing in importance in the eyes of the Chinese.
  • As such, it is worth considering the prospective role that Saudi will play in China's OBOR policy. Although traditionally an energy provider to the Chinese, sources suggest that Riyadh could be pulled further into Beijing's orbit as a critical part of its Silk Road apparatus - with both parties primed to benefit.