Ali Naimi profile - Newsweek
Newsweek has written a nice profile of Ali Naimi, Saudi Arabia's oil minister. It's largely hagiography, but it has an interesting observation towards the end: Naimi is one of the few remaining technocrats in Saudi society.
"Naimi is from the last generation that was exposed to different ways of doing things, both in Saudi Arabia and the U.S.," says Edward Chow, an oil consultant and former Chevron executive who has worked closely with Aramco. "What happens after him? There are probably a lot of princes who would like his job."
That's very true. The thing is, Aramco and the oil ministry are pretty much the only two things that seem to actually work in the Magic Kingdom, and their independence from the normal power/patronage networks mean that they are a source of genuinely constructive and objective thinking. Look, for example, at this presentation (35mb PDF, download only on a fast machine) made by Salim Al-Aydh, a senior offical at Saudi Aramco, at the Jeddah Dialogue in May 2005. It's startling in its frankness: he basically says "we have a problem, let's actually do something about it, otherwise we're screwed".
Would that culture of clear thinking survive the passing of Naimi?