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The dawn of the Saudi century

If the kingdom’s model of capitalism without democracy thrives, there are consequences for us all.

When Saudi cinemas reopened in 2018, for the first time in 35 years, they screened the Marvel movie Black Panther. Many saw parallels between the kingdom and the fictional world of Wakanda, as crown prince Mohammed bin Salman unveiled ambitious plans for modernisation and an economy that would diversify away from oil, investing in futuristic projects such as Neom, a half-trillion-dollar city.

Saudi Arabia has since sought to position itself as a global investment powerhouse, focusing on tourism, sports sponsorships, financial services, green hydrogen production, and the electric vehicle industry. Long dependant on oil, can the kingdom transform itself into a major global force in a post-carbon future?

In this week’s long read and magazine cover storyNew Statesman contributing writer Quinn Slobodian explores the consequences of Saudi dominance on international politics, the climate crisis and our technological future.

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