Mohammed bin salman

Is Biden ready to let MBS get away with murder?

President Joe Biden will have only himself to blame if he feels a little uncomfortable this week when he sits down with the man who runs Saudi Arabia, Crown Prince Mohammed ‘Bone Saw’ bin Salman (MBS). After the CIA accused MBS of ordering the murder of the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi – dismembered with a bone saw – Biden said Saudi Arabia had ‘no redeeming social feature’ and should be made ‘a pariah’. This was a satisfying bit of moral posturing during a presidential election campaign, but costly now, in a world where Americans are paying $5 a gallon for gas and Russia is funding its war in Ukraine by

Can Boris get the Saudis to pump more oil?

The oil price is up by more than 40 per cent since the start of the year. It is being driven up by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the lack of investment in oil and turning the world economy on and off again: US production is still not back to pre-pandemic levels. In the immediate term, as I say in the Times today, pretty much the only way to bring the price down is to get Saudi Arabia – which has 1.5 to 2 million barrels a day of spare capacity – to pump more. The West’s relationship with Saudi Arabia has always been morally problematic. The justification for it, despite Riyadh’s appalling

Why would the Saudis bail out Biden?

Is Saudi Arabia shunning Washington? Mohammed bin Salman has reportedly been refusing to phone Joe Biden, who wants the kingdom to turn on its oil taps as the West desperately seeks alternatives to the Russian energy market.  Riyadh – the world’s largest oil exporter – has so far failed to accommodate Washington’s pleas. Ahead of the Russian invasion in mid-February, the US asked the Opec+ cartel – of which Saudi Arabia is the most important member – to produce more oil to slow the already rising prices. Opec+ stood firm, and said they would increase production by 400,000 barrels a day in April, a rise agreed before the threat of a

Saudi Arabia’s burgeoning art scene

A little more than a century ago, a charismatic British army captain called T.E. Lawrence and fearsome Bedouin warriors swept through the sublime canyons around the desert city of Al-’Ula where I stroll today. They blew up the Hejaz railway, built to transport hajjis from Damascus towards Mecca but repurposed during the first world war by Turks to ferry munitions and troops. Such was the 1916-18 Arab Revolt that threw off Arabia’s Ottoman yoke. Today a very different kind of Arab uprising is sweeping through Al-’Ula. The canyons resonate not with bombs but with art. Dubai-based Zeinab Alhashemi has constructed boulders made from camel hides for a piece called ‘Camouflage

Bailing out businesses looks inevitable – but it’s not all bad

Should the government be prepared to take equity stakes in major companies that will struggle to survive the current crisis? That’s a question already on the table in relation to Jaguar Land Rover and Tata Steel, and likely to arise for British Airways, aero engine maker Rolls-Royce and others. We’re told Chancellor Rishi Sunak is working on a plan, called Project Birch, to bail out ‘viable companies which have exhausted all options’ and whose collapse would ‘disproportionately harm the economy’. That means large-scale loan support first, with conversion to equity as a last resort — and to some pundits it smacks of the 1970s interventionism that left swathes of under-performing