Book Review: Blood and Oil

Blood and Oil: Mohammed bin Salman’s Ruthless Quest for Global Power by Bradley Hope

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“No dynasty lasts more than 3 generations” – Arabic saying. This is exactly what MBS (Mohammad Bin Salman) is out to change.

Blood and Oil: Mohammed bin Salman's Ruthless Quest for Global Power by  Bradley Hope

There are two things that Saudi Sheikhs can’t resist. Wallowing in the opulence afforded by oil money, patronage of the Wahhabi clerics.

Turns out MBS (Mohammad Bin Salman) is different. His uncles, cousins, siblings and friends may have been “softened” by their education in Boston, London or Paris but not MBS. He is a true son of the desert, born and raised in Saudi Arabia preparing himself to grab power and influence when the opportunity arises. Wildly ambitious, decisive, rash, direct and barbaric if need be. Even if that involves stripping off power and wealth from his family members and other entitled old-timers who assumed they could live off oil money forever.

Book does a good job of chronicling the ascent of an unheard-of prince who grew up playing Playstation and eating junk food to one of the most powerful men in the world. The reason why MBS is an important figure is that he is still in his 30s and he may very well rule the kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the next 50 years. And if one of his ambitious projects works out as planned, Saudi Arabia could be a very different place than it is today.

The book paints a good picture of the role Saudi Arabia plays in the Middle East, its political influence over the rest of the world, its friendship with the United States, animosity with Qatar, the proxy war in Yemen with Iran and why it is a formidable force

The book talks about how MBS invested in Silicon Valley startups such as Uber and WeWork through SoftBank’s Masayoshi Son. His stubborn vision of changing the face of Saudi Arabia from just an oil-rich country to a more liberal society by allowing women to drive, planning for futuristic cities and attracting foreign talent. The human rights issues in Saudi Arabia are well covered through the story of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

I can’t say this book is one of the best I have read. It is not. But it is a good read for anyone interested to learn about the “new” Saudi Arabia with its Crown Prince going out with all guns blazing.
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