By Dr. Ibrahim Al-Mutrif
It is a great honour to publish my book “Into a King’s Mind” at a time coinciding with the nation’s celebrations of King Salman’s coming to power. King Salman completed recently eight years of an auspicious reign.
It is also a great honour that the inauguration coincided with the celebrations of the Founding Day which marks decisive stations in our country’s history and commemorates the establishment of the Saudi state three centuries ago.
The book did not only seek to monitor developments, challenges, and achievements during the early years of King Salman’s reign, but also sought to document in words and pictures, an understanding of the nature of those developments and to explain their dimensions, challenges and how they were confronted.
As such, the book included King Salman’s vision, policies, and orientations, tackled many decisions issued by King Salman to develop governance mechanisms and to map out the future.
In addition, the book monitored the movement and performance of the Saudi foreign policy, which expressed the Kingdom’s position regarding the challenges at the time. King Salman assumed the reins of government during an important historical moment not only in the history of the Kingdom, but, in the history of the Arab region, perhaps, in contemporary world history which was facing many challenges.
As a result, the author had to track King Salman’s decisions, analyze his speeches, and draw out his positions and strategies. King Salman decisions, especially during the first months of his reign, shaped the Kingdom’s presence in the historical moment, in its vital and geopolitical fields, during an era that was rippling with conflicts and wars, an Arab region that was and still is going thru very difficult and complex phase, along with historical changes which required strong political will.
The historical moment in the Kingdom called for The Man of the Hour. Indeed, Salman came at the right time, along with a great will to perform historical accomplishments that kept pace with the aspirations of his people and the calls of his nation.
To document that, the author placed in the hands of the readers what they can consider as an “attempt” to show the bids of King Salman, who, even before he came to power, looked out for and guarded the kingdom and its future.
it is remarkable in any reading of Salman’s biography any follow-up to the developments of his public life; any attempt to explore the keys to his personality; any reflection of his intellectual and cultural development and, any attempt to find out the influences that determined the features of his biography, it becomes clear how influenced he is by the Holy Quran and how his life is filled with benevolence and compassion of the Holy Prophet, God’s blessing and peace be upon him.
It also clearly shows the predominance of Islamic orientations, connotations, and concepts in his performance, and his eagerness to be guided by them in his decisions. It is a general feature which is revealed, when we try to read the most important features of King Salman’s personality in its components and orientations.
Barley ten days had passed since King Salman took over the reins of power, before the international media reported the opinion of the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, of King Salman’s performance, where he stated, that King Salman was able to accomplish in ten days, what new leaders accomplish in a hundred days.
In this regard, it is important to note that the first hundred days of ruling of any leader, commander, king or president, usually form the measure that monitors orientation and direction; an indicator of performance and an indication of governance and a method of administration.
During the first hundred days of King Salman’s rule, he issued in about forty days, forty-four royal decrees, to rearrange the nation internally. The royal decrees included most of the pillars of the state and governance, a governmental change, from the cabinet to the political bodies, passing through the economic organs, to modernize government methods and tools while preserving the roots and the identity.
One of the important decisions taken within that framework was the establishment of the Council for Political and Security Affairs. The significance of founding the political and security council came considering the regional shifts and changes, in light of the political and security collapses, on a large scale, and, in an unprecedented way.
The Council came as a quantum leap to enhance decision making, to activate the role of the legislative and executive authorities and to build clear features for the kingdom’s foreign and defense policies.
The council also came as a Saudi response to these concurrent regional collapses which caused direct challenges to its national security. As such, it is very important to note that the council expressed Salman’s wisdom. It is a look characterized by a conscious reading of reality and a future vision in dealing with crises and challenges.
In short, the Council represented a Saudi thinking that kept pace with the standards of the times in the performance of global corporate structures responsible for national security.
As for foreign policy, which represent an honest expression of Saudi Arabia’s orientations, a real image of its citizens, history, and location; an objective expression of its characteristics; an honest embodiment of its performance; a reflection of its style in managing its resources and an expression of its power, impact, and influence.
King Salman’s performance in the area of foreign policy revealed his deep awareness of the Saudi power from its religious role, its economic weight, and its regional and international status.
One of the most important titles in King Salman’s era is the re-engineering of the axes of foreign policy represented by the development of Saudi relations with the international community. Hence a new Saudi diplomatic movement appeared, a movement that included the whole world, especially the countries in important locations of the Kingdom’s vital area.
As such, balancing the kingdom’s international relations has become one of the most important axes of the Saudi foreign policy during Salman’s reign.
Protecting Gulf security has become a vital and national strategic existential issue. No complacency, because not only does it affect our existence, but is also related to our future and our position in our regional surroundings, then, in our vital areas, our spheres of influence, our economic weight and our political influence.
That required a movement that is consistent with the country’s size, a movement compatible with its economic and geographical centrality and its historical and spiritual weight.
A movement by which the homeland defends its security interests fights attempts at expansions, and stops any ambitions or threats.
As a result, a broad Saudi movement in political and diplomatic performance was observed and touched. It was monitored by observers of Saudi foreign affairs who confirmed a major change in geopolitical orientations and a strong and active policies.
King Salman’s interest in youth goes beyond theory to practice as he turned ideas and thoughts into reality. His historic decisions in choosing young people for leadership positions constitute a strategic achievement and a leap forward to youth empowerment, to their involvement in the decision-making process. It is a vision of the role of Saudi youth in building the nation and their position in the future of the Kingdom.
There is a lot to be said about King Salman’s relationship with Riyadh. It must be emphasized here that the great Riyadh revival did not come in the blink of an eye. It was rather a harvest of continuous work and effort. It was King Salman’s strategic vision. As such, we can say that Salman is the real father of Riyadh. He envisioned a dream, put the drawings and the plans on paper, turned the dream into reality, and Riyadh became what we can see and touch today.
Much has been said and written about King Salman. He has always been described as one of the most important pillars of the Saudi royal family, as the family’s secretary and personal advisor to its kings. His wisdom and rich cultural knowledge enabled his position, and he remained throughout the past decades one of the most prominent minds in the decision-making circle, as he participated with his brothers the former kings in every decision and in every matter that concerned his country.
Many investigated Salman’s charter. Everyone sees him from a different angle or through a situation, or experience. His personality held many aspects and attractive features.
When we look at the charities’ performance established by King Salman, contemplate its role and delve deeper into its message, we find a concept that establishes a comprehensive societal performance in our lives and an effective and influential approach. It represents a driver of charitable institutions and a model for the various bodies that deal with volunteer work.
It is a pioneer in laying the foundations of institutional work, a motivation for the charitable organization system, a motivation that pushed for further rooting in the structure of society in terms of concept and performance, and pushed goodness to become a societal behavior, a conscience everyone competes for. The deepest and most important thing is that it turned into a public conscience, a social conscience maker and a unifier.
No one argues that King Salman came at a historical moment, the Divine providence chose King Salman to face a historical challenge for the country and was able to provide the answer. He wrote history in a glorious way, and this will be embedded with pride.
King Salman has proven through decades of wise leadership that a leader can succeed in managing the affairs of his government and the politics of his country without allowing the burdens of governance to distract him from his interests and priorities. King Salman is an exceptional statesman, authentic in his glory, in his virtues, and in his life.