The inaugural forum of the MiSK Foundation, founded by Muhammad bin Salman, the deputy crown prince, starts today in Riyadh. The two-day culture-and-technology event is aimed at youth in the kingdom and the wider Arab world. Attendees will hear from Bill Gates, Microsoft’s founder, and an array of investors, inventors and journalists.
The event forms part of Vision 2030, the Saudi plan to migrate from an oil-based economy. But it also serves to boost the prince’s chances of inheriting the throne. Keen to outshine his cousin, Crown Prince Muhammad bin Nayef, and to divert attention from a dismal war in Yemen, the younger Prince Muhammad wants to be seen as championing the next generation.
But there is a risk. Saudi youth encouraged to explore the world today may return tomorrow with ideas that challenge the kingdom’s conservative stances. Politics is not on the agenda today; in coming years, it may be.