RIYADH/BEIRUT (Reuters) – When Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter and a leading U.S. ally, took over the G20 presidency in December 2019, hopes in the kingdom were high.
A global summit would help rehabilitate the country on the international stage and turn the world’s attentions to key reforms launched by de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to open up the kingdom and diversify the economy.
But instead of hoped-for photo ops in opulent palaces, this year’s summit is mostly virtual due to COVID-19, dealing a blow to the prince’s ambitions in a year of global economic downturn.
Though circumstances are far from ideal, “the show must go on, and Saudis have to make the most of the meeting,” said Robert Mogielnicki, a resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington.
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