Saudi Arabia and Its Role in Regional and International Stability


 The media extensively shared images of regular air traffic within Saudi Arabia’s  airspace following heightened tensions between Iran and Israel. The images conveyed  nuanced meanings despite  the volatile situation in the Middle East amidst direct confrontations between the two nations.  They underscored the safety of  Saudi airspace as a safe route for international airlines , particularly during the Iran-Israel escalation.  Many countries in the region, including Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan, closed their airspace due to the escalating conflict. Consequently, airlines turned to the northern airspace of Saudi Arabia to steer clear of conflict zones, as depicted in the image below.

Given the aforesaid context, it is pertinent to consider the implications of the significant influx of aircraft depending on Saudi Arabia’s airspace and the broader significance of the Kingdom in the global balance.

The Global Powers’ View of the Kingdom as an Oasis of Security in the Middle East

The recent disruption in air traffic flow due to the  Iran-Israel escalation underscores Saudi Arabia’s pivotal role amidst shifting global geopolitics. Positioned as a safe passage connecting East and West, Saudi Arabia emerged as a safe passage for the world’s economic, social, cultural, and political exchanges. The rerouting of flights through the Saudi airspace – as illustrated in the image above— further highlights the adeptness of Saudi leadership in navigating regional and international turbulence while advancing its Vision 2030 and its projects. Through diplomatic principles emphasizing dialogue, cooperation, and consensus-building, Saudi Arabia aims to foster peace and security, mitigate international polarization, and alleviate tensions at Arab, regional, and global levels. The ramifications of unresolved tensions reverberate beyond the Middle East, impacting global humanitarian, security, and economic landscapes. Thus, Saudi Arabia’s proactive stance is pivotal not only for regional stability but also for global well-being.

The Saudi Leadership  Succeeds in  Upholding Stability Despite  Turbulent Global Developments

The preference of international airlines  to utilize Saudi airspace as a secure route underscores fresh international validation of the Saudi leadership’s capacity to establish security and stability, transforming the Kingdom into a haven of safety and a burgeoning developmental model in the Middle East. This attests to the robustness of the Saudi state and the efficacy of its security apparatus in ensuring safety. The security challenges encountered by the Kingdom were effectively managed, largely due to the good governance of its leadership. Through good governance, the Kingdom neutralized the impacts of escalating security threats in the Middle East, eradicated terrorism and extremist ideologies domestically, and fostered harmony among its ethnically and religiously diverse expatriate population. Additionally, the successful management of large congregations, including millions of Umrah and Hajj pilgrims annually, exemplifies its adept handling of security matters. These achievements reiterate the presence of rational leadership capable of navigating challenges, thereby fostering a stable security environment, which in turn elevates its standing among regional and international actors across various domains.

The Policy of Positive Neutrality and Its Impact on Global Perceptions’  Regarding the Kingdom as a Safe Spot Within a Volatile Region

The images also shed light on the role of “positive neutrality” embraced by the Kingdom as part of Vision 2030 to bolster security and stability domestically and internationally. This stance positions Saudi Arabia as a secure geographical hub, recognizing the paramount importance of security and stability as foundational elements for realizing economic development outlined in the ambitious vision. On numerous critical occasions, Saudi Arabia has demonstrated that positive neutrality, aligned with national interests, is not merely a tactical maneuver but a strategic imperative. Examples include its stance on the Russian-Ukrainian conflict and its subsequent agreement with Iran under Chinese mediation. These actions serve as tangible manifestations of this approach, earning the Kingdom the trust and confidence of both international and regional powers.

Under the framework of positive neutrality, the Kingdom has assumed a significant diplomatic role in international forums, particularly since the onset of the conflict in Gaza. It has steadfastly opposed the escalation of the conflict into a regional war, advocating for the international community to address the issue at its core by ensuring Palestinians their legitimate rights, notably the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state. The decision of international airlines to reroute their flights through Saudi airspace amid Iranian attacks on Israel serves as a tangible illustration of the efficacy of the Kingdom’s positive neutrality.

If Saudi Arabia’s policy of positive neutrality was once primarily driven by internal imperatives tied to its national agenda, it has now evolved into an urgent necessity for both regional and international stakeholders amidst the ongoing tumult in the Middle East. The preference is for Saudi Arabia to steer clear of the region’s escalating conflicts. This preference stems from several factors: the geopolitical significance of the Kingdom, its multifaceted capabilities that could potentially sway the balance of conflicts if it were to become involved or impacted by them, and the substantial costs such involvements or impacts could exact on the international economy. The ramifications extend beyond the loss of Saudi oil, encompassing disruptions to various forms of international trade, given the Kingdom’s pivotal role in facilitating alternative routes via sea, air, and land.

The Role of the Kingdom in Peace-Making and Managing International Crises and Risks

The Kingdom’s strength and adept crisis management on both regional and international stages are evident in its consistent and unwavering support for the impoverished and those affected by conflicts and natural disasters worldwide. In April 2023, amid the Sudanese crisis, Saudi Arabia demonstrated its commitment by undertaking substantial efforts to assist and evacuate thousands of citizens from various nations. Prior to this, amidst the global Covid-19 pandemic, the Saudi government assumed a significant leadership role, implementing measures that mitigated the impact of the crisis  at local, regional, and international levels. The Kingdom’s balanced approach to navigating crises such as the Russian-Ukrainian conflict and the global energy crisis, as well as its diplomatic efforts concerning Iran, Yemen, Iraq, and Syria, underscores its emerging role as a frontrunner in crisis management on the international stage. These examples highlight Saudi Arabia’s increasing influence and pioneering role in addressing global crises and risks, contributing to the mitigation of worldwide risks and crises while fostering security and stability. They affirm the Kingdom’s status as an indispensable international partner across various fields.

The Kingdom Achieving  the Confidence of the International Community and Turning Into the Epicenter of the Logistical Axes’ Map

 Saudi Arabia, along with other Gulf states, has emerged as a trusted center for logistics hubs, particularly in the transport and transit sectors. This is attributed to its political, security, and economic stability, coupled with advanced infrastructure, enabling it to assume influential roles compared to other regional powers. During a summit hosted in Jeddah in July 2023, Central Asian countries expressed interest in forming a partnership with the Arab Gulf states to construct a railway connecting the two regions via Afghanistan and Pakistan. This proposed route aims to be the fastest and most efficient compared to the existing line linking Oman and Iran to Asian countries through Turkmenistan, which was agreed upon in the Turkmen capital in 2011. This initiative seeks to develop a shorter trade route linking Central Asian republics with ports in Iran and Oman. Furthermore, in September 2023, during the G20 summit in New Delhi, a memorandum of understanding was unveiled by several countries, including Saudi Arabia, to establish an economic corridor between India, the Middle East, and Europe. This initiative demonstrates a growing trend towards regional cooperation and integration to facilitate trade and economic development across diverse regions.

In the realm of aviation, Saudi Arabia appears poised to rival major airlines regionally and globally as part of an ambitious initiative. This plan seeks to elevate the Kingdom to become the fifth global hub for air traffic. Key components of this strategy include the establishment of a new national airline, the enhancement of the transportation sector, and the solidification of Saudi Arabia’s status as a global logistics hub linking three continents. Efforts also involve augmenting private sector investments in the Kingdom’s ports and forging contracts and agreements to establish new logistics zones. The decision to designate Saudi airspace as an international transit point for global air traffic presents a favorable opportunity to advance the development of the aviation sector within the Kingdom, aiming to position it among the world’s foremost. In conclusion, Riyadh, with its neutrality, capabilities, and symbolic significance, continues to be well-positioned to contribute to establishing security and stability while playing influential roles in mediating various regional and international conflicts. It serves as an acceptable and safe destination for all international parties due to its impartiality in addressing diverse political, economic, and security matters.

Editorial Team