Saudi Arabia's ambitious crown prince has intensified his influence at home, and in the region in recent years. However, some of his measures have backfired. Here is the list.

Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman waves as he meets with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, April 11, 2017.
Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman waves as he meets with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, April 11, 2017. (AA Archive)

Saudi Arabia's decision to lift a decades-old ban on women driving was supposed to be proof that the rise of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) was paving the way for a new, more progressive kingdom. 

But in the weeks following that decision, Saudi police rounded up at least nine activists who campaigned for women's rights.

MBS is on a mission to charm the west, and was touted as a modernising leader.

But is all as it seems? Here are the difficulties MBS has faced so far.

Qatar blockade

Saudi-led Gulf states, including the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt, have cut ties with Qatar accusing it of funding terrorism and fostering ties with their rival Iran. 

Qatar, who denies the accusations, called the decision "unjustified", but it didn’t stop Saudi from blockading import routes in and out of the tiny Gulf state, targeting the country’s economy. 

However, the economy of Qatar is expected to recover to 2.8 percent in 2018, and rise further to an average of 3 percent in the next two years, according to a World Bank report. 

Resignation of Lebanese PM Saad Hariri

Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri stepped down from his post in a televised address on November 4 from Saudi Arabia and then remained in Riyadh, where he spent two weeks before making brief trips to Abu Dhabi, Paris and Cairo.

His resignation shocked Lebanon, but Hariri's prolonged stay in Saudi Arabia proved even more mysterious for many and sparked a litany of accusations that he was being held hostage there by MBS-led forces. 

Iranian officials called the resignation a "plot" by the United States, Israel and the Saudis to foment tensions in Lebanon and the region. 

Hariri’s resignation didn’t take place officially as he eventually reversed his decision to resign in late November, wrecking the Saudi wishes to intervene in the internal affairs of Lebanon, which is under the influence of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah.

Saudi Arabia, under Mohammed bin Salman, has been intensifying its confrontation with Iran. 

War in Yemen

Mohammed bin Salman’s campaign to counter arch-enemy Iran in the Middle East, including threats against Tehran’s ally Hezbollah, also include Yemen, the poorest country in the Middle East. 

A coalition of seven Gulf states led by the Saudis has been bombing the country's capital, Sanaa. 

The air strikes are aimed at pushing out the Houthi rebel forces that expelled Yemen's Saudi-backed government in January 2015.

The Saudi-led campaign has not achieved much, as the death toll has topped 10,000 and is increasing everyday. 

The majority of the victims, mostly killed by air strike, are children and women. 

Anti-corruption probe

Dozens of princes, senior officials and top businessmen were detained when Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched a crackdown in early November last year. 

They were accused of crimes such as money laundering, bribery and extortion.

Saudi authorities said that they aimed to reach financial settlements with most suspects and believed they could raise some $100 billion for the government this way. 

Settlements have been reached with most of the suspects, including multi-billionaire princes, but the corruption probe created a negative impact on foreign investors as some of the suspects have investments in foreign companies.

Aramco IPO halted

Saudi Arabia has called off plans for the domestic and international listing of state oil giant Aramco, billed as the biggest stock flotation in history.

MBS had announced the plan to sell about five percent of Aramco in 2016 via a local and an international listing, predicting the sale would value the whole company at $2 trillion or more. 

Several industry experts questioned whether a valuation that high was realistic, which hindered the process of preparing the IPO for the advisors.

IPO of the Aramco, Saudi Arabia's crown jewel, would help MBS’s 2030 Vision, with which he plans to make Saudi Arabia a global investment powerhouse. 

Deserted 'Davos of the Desert'

Saudi Arabia will be holding a business conference between November 23-25, to attract executives from some of the world's largest companies and media organisations.

However, the summit, the Future Investment Initiative (FII) faces a mass cancellation following the kingdom’s alleged murder of prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey.

Major finance and business CEOs, international media outlets, and officials across the world announced they were backing out of the FII, due to Khashoggi’s murder. 

Source: TRTWorld and agencies