I was in Saudi Arabia recently. Both major cities actually, Jeddah on the Red Sea and Riyadh the capitol, which is the middle of the dessert. First thing I noticed as I normally do when I travel is how great the regular people are most of the time. Secondly, in this case most of the regular people are not from Saudi at all, but from Egypt, Thailand, India and other countries. They do most of the work. Thirdly, and the most fascinating thing I noticed, was what on earth have the Saudis been spending money on all this time? They have had over thirty years of high oil revenue, with it literally bubbling out of the ground. Today of course it is lower, but still.
Anyway, where are the world class freeways, airports, and infrastructure in general? The Jeddah airport for example seemed like it was JFK before it was JFK. Circa 1951. And this airport is supposed to be the gateway to Mecca. I told a few others about this and then would wonder out loud what the Saudi leadership has been spending money on, then I answered my own question. It would seem to be on three things, 1) Subsidising everything for Saudi nationals so they won’t make a stink about the horrible leadership. 2) Buying weapons primarily from the west. 3) On themselves. Fancy cars, houses in London, New York, Monaco and so on. Not exactly a recipes for future happiness in my view. Sooner or later they will have to make more forward looking decisions.