The first quarter of 2015 has been an eventful period in Saudi Arabia and the rest of the year should also offer King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud some serious challenges.

Carrying out air strikes in Yemen was a bold move by the new Saudi monarch and Riyadh has made it clear it will not stop there if there are any further threats to its national security.

Iran’s imminent rapprochement after agreeing a deal about its nuclear programme with the P5+1 world powers has infuriated the Saudi Arabian government and this could lead to an even more hawkish foreign policy aided by its Arab neighbours.

Domestically, there is a clear commitment to improving education and the general wellbeing of Saudi citizens by investing tens of billions of dollars in social infrastructure.

These initiatives are epitomised by the recent attempts to rejuvenate the southern city of Jizan. The investments being made are aimed at providing jobs and a secure future for even the most remote region.

Jizan is close to the Yemen border and there is a long-held belief in Riyadh that the city could be used to incubate domestic unrest through radicalising vulnerable young Saudi men. The city could also be used as an entry point for terrorists from other nations.

This means that while security is paramount, providing education, jobs and housing for locals is a more inclusive means of insulating the area against the threat of extremism.

The future of Saudi Arabia will depend on the success of schemes such as the Jizan Economic City and this is why Riyadh is so committed to them.  

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