(The Guardian) Along the King Fahd highway in downtown Riyadh, signs of the country’s wealth glitter and dazzle. Monuments include the massive Kingdom Centre – instantly recognisable by the giant bottle-opener feature formed by its two wings – and the beautiful and futuristic Faisaliyah building. New ones are still rising, like the King Abdullah financial district, still under construction: a reminder of the fat years of high oil revenues under the previous monarch.
On nearby Tahliya Street, lined with young Saudi men watching black-robed, headscarfed women saunter past, crowds throng into American-style shopping malls flaunting the world’s priciest and most luxurious brands.
Saudi wealth – whether in downtown Riyadh or Knightsbridge – is highly conspicuous. And they have the colossal Saudi Aramco oil corporation to thank for it.
Locals were stunned by the sudden news of the possible sale of part of the company that has been synonymous with their country’s history almost since its foundation. Uncertainty about exactly what it would mean has not been laid to rest by the cautious statement confirming the impending plan to float the business later issued from Aramco’s headquarters in the eastern province of Dammam.