For the first time in a long time, Saudi Arabia presents one of the most unpredictable investment environments as we look ahead to the new year. Of course, much of this unpredictability stems from very predictable channels, namely the continued influence of Mohammed bin Salman (“MbS”).

MbS’s rise to prominence reached its defining point in June 2017, when he was named Crown Prince. In our 2017 outlook, Shadow Governance Intel stated that MbS was very much “reliant upon Salman’s continued sponsorship” at home, but this is becoming less true as developments unfold in Riyadh. In fact, MbS commands a far greater level of authority in the country’s top institutions than he did 12 months ago, and is now in the early stages of constructing a long-term power base of his own.