Given our own state of daily political turmoil here at home, it’s almost comforting to look abroad and see that we’re not the only dysfunctional country in the world. OK, maybe “comforting” is too strong of a word. It’s such a global society at this point that it’s just a matter of time before one person’s chaos leads to your own personal upheaval. Such is the case in Saudi Arabia where 11 of the country’s princes (holy shit, how many do they have?), four ministers and a whole bunch of former ministers were arrested on “corruption” charges in what may be a mad grab at power consolidation by current Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The first thing that struck me about this, other than Saudi Arabia having at least a dozen princes, is that anyone who bears the title of prince still has this kind of pull. Like, when you think of the princes in the United Kingdom, all they seem to be good at is landing tabloid headlines or gorgeous society wives. They can’t confine you to the Tower of London on some trumped-up charge or assemble a cavalry to storm a French bastille … or can they? You see, I don’t even know. I mean, unless you’re a sleeping beauty in need of waking from a witch-induced slumber, you probably don’t have that much use for a prince, and that’s probably for the best. Apparently that’s not the case with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed.
At just 32, he’s become the king’s favorite son and has amassed a whole lot of influence over the military and foreign, economic and social policies. As if this really was some ancient fairy tale meant to teach us some arcane moral, the young Crown Prince’s assent to the throne has not come without ruffling the feathers of some of the older princes, including the flamboyant Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, one of the richest men in the world and one of the men rounded up in Crown Prince Mohammed’s purge.
Sure, all this prince-on-prince drama may be titillating—who doesn’t love all these powerful people scuffling against one another—but really who cares, right? Saudi Arabia is, like, far, and if you’re anything like me (and I’ll assume you are because I’m a self-centered prick) you’re probably wondering: How does this affect me? Well, it probably doesn’t directly, but it’s worth noting that Prince Alwaleed is not only one of the richest people in the world, he’s also the head of the Kingdom Holding investment firm and is a major stakeholder in companies you’ve probably heard of: Citigroup, Apple, Twitter and others. His arrest could have repercussions on the global economic scene, which could have an adverse effect on your investments. But if you have enough money to have investments, you’ll probably be fine … or maybe you have a 401(k) or something, and this could be the reason it shrinks a little bit next quarter. Hey, don’t worry, you’ll probably never have enough money to retire anyway, so take solace in that.
How about possible political ramifications? Well, it’s pretty easy to figure out where Saudi Arabia stands on most issues. Women were just given the right to drive in that country, which I guess just puts them a hair to the right of the Tea Party on the political spectrum. Other than that, the country’s politics are probably just tied to whatever is good for oil, because that’s pretty much its cash cow. However, it should be noted that the Crown Prince is doing his best to change that. He’s been making an effort to move forward past an oil-dependent economy. In late October, he unveiled NEOM, an “unrivaled concept, unmatched in intelligence, unconstrained by history and built on humanity’s greatest resource: imagination,” according to the project’s official website, Discoverneom.com. NEOM’s vision statement includes even broader strokes, including creating a “new blueprint for sustainable life on a scale never seen before.”
But before you think of the Crown Prince as a progressive, what with all this sustainable living and car-driving women and all, it should be noted that he’s been pretty buddy-buddy with our own, anti-progress leadership. He’s developed a “warm, mutually supportive relationship” with President Trump, according to The New York Times (I know, there I go reading that crap again) and shares our president’s aggression toward Iran (another shining bastion of hopes and dreams). Meanwhile, the incarcerated Prince Alwaleed has been outspoken on a lot of things, notably calling out Trump via Twitter during the quagmire that was our last presidential campaign, calling the now U.S. President a disgrace. In case you were wondering, Jared Kushner and other senior White House officials visited Saudi Arabia last month for some undisclosed meetings, but I’m sure that’s totally unrelated to these arrests … I mean, it’s gotta be just a coincidence, right?
So what does this mean for you and me? Probably nothing. Probably everything. Probably both at the same time. You know what, just to be on the safe side, just start buying gold, stuffing your mattresses with loose change and stocking up on those canned foods. Just in case.