Apart from the chatter of numerous bankers on busses ferrying them from Aramco meetings to the Ritz Carlton in Riyadh, there was quite a wide-eyed surprise in the fact that unlike other Gulf countries owned enterprises, Saudi Aramco decided to open its books to the public. and allow the world to take a stake in its fortunes.
At a valuation of $1.7Trilion ,1.5% of the shares were being offered to raise a $25Billion for the Oil behemoth.
As Mohamad Bin Salman ( MBS) continues to consolidate his power in administering and leading the oil economy into an economy no longer dependent on oil; he issued a Vision 2030 strategy, the foray of the economy is tainted with autocratic measures and brash decisions that have come to signify MBS's politics.
The Aramco IPO is therefore; a very important pillar based on which the realization of the Kingdom's vision may be founded.
While the IPO will be an important aspect of completion of the grandoise projects underway; the social reforms are significant. Cinemas have opened up. Women can now drive and travel abroad without male guardian permission, the religious police is relegated to Mecca, new bankruptcy, foreign ownership and mortgage laws have also been promulgated.
While the murder of Kashogi and the recent attack in Florida continue to mar the credibility of whatever good may come from the reforms, the confidence in consistency of all these reforms under an autocratic, brash ruler is indeed feeble.
While the country has grown its outbound investment, the feeble confidence of the international community has indeed marred the inbound investments.
A lot has been whispered in the investment community about the detention of over 300 business people to fund MBS's Neom project and invoices not been paid by the Government.
But no one should take away the credit from the current administration of walking an uncharted path and bringing in changes that would have never happened in that country, had the country not been ruled autocratically.
Though a vast number of objectives to be reached look unrealistic, high unemployment, VAT and tarrifs on the foreign workers continue to mar the upward spring in the growth curve.
Almost 30% of the workforce will be women by next year, the process of creating a regenrative culture is still entwined in the fact that several women stay detained without any due process for charges not defined. AS the money generated by the sale of shares of the world's most valuable company is realized, the money will be used to fund Saudi development projects along with money lent by Softbank and several other global investors. Saudi Arabia may have unrealistic targets but atleast its on its way.
And for people that follow the region closely, this reform is indeed shockingly quick.
Meera Kaul has 26 plus years of Global Executive Management Experience in the implementation of ventures and leading companies of sizes 10 - 3000+ employees across multiple global geographical locations.
Forbes and Entrepreneur Magazine Contributor and Feature Writer. Deep understanding of international business models, economies, and legal frameworks across jurisdictions. On-ground global operational experience in customer acquisition, contract negotiation, and revenue scaling.
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