Middle Eastern countries have been seriously affected by the COVID-19 pandemic - from Lebanon, where the pandemic has exacerbated an acute economic crisis, to Yemen, where the outbreak has added an additional layer of complexity to an already severe humanitarian crisis.
The pandemic has also affected the more affluent Middle Eastern countries and Saudi Arabia in particular is experiencing challenges. Pressures on its economy resulting from the double effect of low oil prices and reduced economic activity due to a three-month lockdown and a reduced Hajj are forcing austerity measures, an increase in VAT and prioritization of Vision 2030 projects. The Kingdom’s leaders are now focused on mitigating the domestic effects of the pandemic, but, as the G20 summit in Riyadh is drawing closer, they must also carefully manage regional tensions and international relations.
In this roundtable, part of the MENA Programme online event series focused on the GCC, the Saudi Ambassador to the United Kingdom, HRH Prince Khalid bin Bandar Al Saud, will discuss the Kingdom’s strategies in dealing with the internal challenges his country is facing as a result of the pandemic. He will also discuss broader regional developments and the Kingdom’s foreign relations ahead of the G20 in November.
HRH Prince Khalid bin Bandar Al Saud, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the United Kingdom
Moderator: Sanam Vakil, Deputy Director and Senior Research Fellow, MENA Programme, Chatham House