In a op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Commerce and Investment Dr. Majed Al-Qassabi addressed critics of the Kingdom’s anti-corruption efforts and says the actions taken last week are evidence that Saudi Arabia is facing a “watershed moment” to eradicate the scourge of corrupt practices.
“Saudi Arabia is a rich nation, blessed by the discovery of oil more than 80 years ago. Yet our wealth has not transferred into opportunity for all,” Dr. Al-Qassabi writes. “Those seeking to do business in our country have not faced a predictable business environment, a familiar commercial legal framework, or a dynamic, entrepreneurial culture. Corrupt practices complicated matters further….Some openly said Saudi Arabia would not be able to take the painful decisions and implement the difficult trade-offs needed to push through such dramatic change and transformation. The implication was that the old system and traditions would stymie any attempt to modernize our economy and society to the level we ourselves set.”
Al-Qassabi notes that the investigations that led to the arrests and account-freezes last week “have been in progress for three years” and that “the decision to undertake this investigation and to act on its findings, regardless of who was found to be corrupt, was taken at the start of the investigation, not at its conclusion.” The Minister of Commerce and Investment also noted that “we have taken steps to ensure that the companies they own continue to operate normally, and investors will remain unaffected by these actions. Normal commercial activity continues.”
“Our young people, men and women, deserve and demand to live in a nation truly built for the 21st century. This is not about Saudi Arabia catching up; this is about Saudi Arabia shifting to the forefront of development, in partnership and collaboration with the international community of nations, investors and people. For too long Saudi Arabia has been behind the curve. Now we are determined not just to catch up, but move ahead of it…The old ways have ceased to be sustainable long ago and must be replaced. The new way will offer a predictable long-term approach and transparent business environment for investors, who will be surprised by the burgeoning talent and potential of our young people,” Al-Qassabi writes.
“There is no going back.”
[Click here to read the full article from the Wall Street Journal]