KSA + MBS

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One of the significant benefits of living and working in the nation's capital is the staggering amount of talent that is active and speaking in the city on any given day.

Just this week I had the opportunity to attend a high-level presentation on happenings in the Middle East and how a social-political crisis in the region can last decades, impact millions, explode unexpectedly, and ultimately end up on Western shores.

In the West, we can hope and ignore the Middle East situation, but the social-political challenges of Syria, Iran, and Yemen won't go away anytime soon, if ever.

One issue I haven't been paying enough attention to is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and the pending leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.  

Though Muhammad bin Salman is not yet officially the head of state, he popped into London Town this week, and prim and proper Britain rolled out the red carpet for the crown prince. Known as MBS, he had lunch with Queen Elizabeth and meet PM Theresa May at her country estate. He's coming across the pond soon and is scheduled to meet with Trump on March 19 here in DC. 

Why this matters?

MBS is hoping to persuade Western diplomats, thought leaders, influencers, and CEOs that his "shock" reforms like letting women drive and a crackdown on corruption have made his country a better place to invest. Also, he has the massive carrot of the planned Saudi Aramco IPO to shape the West's view.

Though just 5 percent of Saudi Aramco will be made available to international investors, many are speculating this will likely be the world's largest IPO ever. This sale could bring Saudi Arabia $100 billion if Saudi officials' valuation of the company of $2 trillion remains. 

Besides the IPO, MBS wants to solidify support for his tough anti-Iranian stance, secure greater empathy for his boycott of Qatar, and advocate that KSA's aggressive military action in Yemen is necessary to provide long-term stability in the region and to ensure "The Kingdom" is secure and stable.

The speaker suggested this combination of anti-corruption reforms, moves to empower women, and energetic use of force is something we have never seen before. 

With MBS moving quickly to reform KSA internally and employing aggressive military tactics never seen from Saudi Arabia in decades, the leadership of "The Kingdom" is in a race to change the Middle East in unknown and unseen ways.

While the bankers of London and New York are seen as the frontrunners to host the partial upcoming flotation of the Saudi Aramco IPO, we all need to be more engaged with the MBS show - his leadership is making moves like never before.

Marc A. Ross specializes in global communications and thought leader management at the intersection of politics, policy, and profits. Working with boardrooms and C-Suite executives from multinational corporations, trade associations, and disruptive startups, Marc helps leaders create compelling communications, focused content, and winning commerce.