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Liberalization takes a firmer grip

A cabinet reshuffle should revive Saudi Arabia's economic reforms, with a new capital market law pending.

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SAUDI ARABIA IS now delivering the reforms and sound economic management that will enable it to attract the investment required to modernize. Ministers face the challenge of ensuring that they use this opportunity to create the private-sector driven growth that will generate employment for a rapidly growing population.

Success with these reforms will also provide a much-needed positive message to the west at a time when Saudi Arabia's traditional alliances with the US and UK are under greater pressure than ever before.

As the country was receiving the news of a positive rating from Standard & Poor's, its foreign minister, Prince Saud Al-Faisal, was in an increasingly acrimonious dispute over the US decision to suppress a 28-page section of a congressional report on the September 11 2001 terrorist attacks.

Saud demanded the publication of the section linking the kingdom to the hijackers, arguing that Saudi Arabia can only defend itself against the charges if they are published in full. Relations between the two countries are at their worst for many years, with Saudi Arabia insisting that it is doing all it can to counter terrorism and pointing to the attacks in Riyadh earlier this year.

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