Back in 2015, this blog explored some serious issues facing Saudi Arabia. Essentially, these issues were low oil prices and costly foreign interventions. Taken together, these problems were threatening to bring down the country. Since then, some things have changed and there are important prophetic implications.
First and foremost, some things haven’t changed. Oil prices remain low, and it’s still a problem for Saudi Arabia. In a recent article titled “Making Compromises in Cash-Strapped Saudi Arabia”, it was noted that “With oil prices straining its budget, Riyadh is struggling to project influence abroad.” This explains why Saudi Arabia isn’t interested in financing military operations in neighboring Yemen anymore. Logically, this also means Saudi Arabia won’t be able to spend as much money on building mosques and madrassas that promote radical Islamic terrorism in other countries. Of course, the days of Saudi Arabia promoting Islamic terrorism abroad may be numbered.
With the United States beginning to produce oil at record levels, oil prices aren’t going to rise anytime soon. The Saudis are well aware of this, and they’re planning to move away from their dependence on oil by 2030. Their Vision 2030 plan has some very ambitious goals, including “investment in mineral mining and expanding military production” and most surprisingly an increase in the “participation of women in the workforce.” This last goal will have to happen if Saudi Arabia wants to attract foreign investment, something they’ll need a lot of if they want to truly diversify their economy. After all, they’re only going to receive widespread foreign investment if they move away from hardline Islam. It appears that’s already starting to happen.
In addition to committing themselves to raising female participation in the workforce, Saudi Arabia is also planning a beach resort where women can wear bikinis. The Telegraph reported “As part of his drive to modernise the Saudi economy, Prince Mohammed bin Salman has unveiled plans for a luxury Red Sea resort on a stretch of coast line in the country’s northwest.” The article added that “Knowing that foreign visitors are unlikely to come to beaches where women are forced to cover up…the government said the resort will be ‘governed by laws on par with international standards.’”
Saudi Arabia can no longer rely on oil to be self-sufficient. They need foreign investment in order to retain their opulent standard of living. Most countries aren’t going to invest in a country that oppresses women. In an interview, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said “extreme religious conservatism in Saudi Arabia is a relatively recent phenomenon, born in reaction to the 1979 Iranian revolution.” He added “We will not continue to be in the post-’79 era.”
Obviously, the prophetic implications of this are substantial. In recent years, some people in the Bible prophecy community have taught that Mecca is Babylon the Great. This is based on the faulty assumption that the Antichrist will be Islamic, which isn’t supported by Scripture. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. In a previous blog, it was noted that “Babylon the Great is going to be a port city with the most important economy in the world (Revelation 18:9-19). It’s going to have a significant Jewish population (Revelation 18:4), and it’s going to be a prostitute (Revelation 17:5). Incidentally, the ancient port city of Tyre was called a prostitute because it exploited nations through its dishonest trade (Isaiah 23:15-18). On the other hand, Israel was called a prostitute because the people made a commitment to the Lord that they later abandoned (Ezekiel 16:15-22). So, Babylon the Great will exploit people economically and lead the world to live sinfully, despite having once been faithful to the Lord (Revelation 19:2).”
Mecca isn’t a port city, it doesn’t have a Jewish population and it was never faithful to the Lord. It’s simply not a candidate to be Babylon the Great, and Saudi Arabia’s new direction should remove all doubt. Indeed, they can’t finance mosques and madrassas because they’re running low on cash, and the only way to revive their economy long-term is to ditch conservative Islamic culture. Time will tell if Saudi Arabia rebounds, but one thing is for sure: Babylon the Great’s identity lies elsewhere.