The Saudi Public Investment Fund Bets on Western Experts
The Saudi Crown Prince has centralized power through the Public Investment Fund. His ambitious strategy is being frustrated by the quality of Western expert consensus.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest exporter of crude oil and the second largest producer after the United States.1 As of 2022, the country has estimated reserves of 262 billion barrels of oil, second only to Venezuela and enough to supply global demand for decades.2 Saudi Arabia is almost entirely reliant on oil exports to stabilize both its internal politics and its international strategic position. Between 2010 and 2014, oil revenues represented over 90% of total government revenue.3 In exchange for a privileged military and diplomatic relationship with the U.S., Saudi Arabia has exported cheap and plentiful oil. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS), who began a rapid rise to power in 2015, has further directed oil wealth into industries, companies, and projects favored by Western elites in a bid to raise both his personal prestige and the prestige of the Kingdom. Since 2016, the country has officially pursued a strategy of diversifying the economy away from oil called Saudi Vision 2030. MbS has led this strategy, primarily by using the $620 billion Public Investment Fund (PIF), the country’s sovereign wealth fund and one of the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world.