The global economic landscape has been witnessing an evolution as nations, particularly emerging economies, seek to assert their influence on international platforms. One such platform is BRICS, an association of five major emerging national economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. Recently, Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s largest oil exporters, has expressed interest in joining this association. This aspiration raises a pertinent question: why does Saudi Arabia want to join BRICS?
Before delving into Saudi Arabia’s motivation, it’s important to understand what BRICS represents. The bloc has emerged as a significant force in global governance, offering an alternative platform to Western-led international institutions. BRICS countries account for about 42% of the world’s population, 23% of global GDP, and over 16% of international trade. Together, these nations serve as a significant platform for cooperation on issues like trade, technology, and development policy.
Saudi Arabia’s interest in BRICS can be analyzed from several perspectives. As part of its Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia is working towards diversifying its economy away from oil. Joining BRICS could facilitate this process by opening new avenues for trade and investment with rapidly developing economies. It could also aid in technology transfer and innovation, enabling Saudi Arabia to develop new industries and reduce its dependency on fossil fuels.
As a part of BRICS, Saudi Arabia could assert more significant influence on international matters, particularly in terms of global economic policy. This could help Saudi Arabia shape international norms and rules in ways that align with its national interests. As the first Middle Eastern nation to join BRICS, Saudi Arabia would further consolidate its status as a leader in the region. It could serve as a bridge between BRICS and the Middle East, promoting regional integration into the global economy.
Saudi Arabia’s addition to BRICS could unlock substantial economic benefits. For the kingdom, it would stimulate trade, bring foreign direct investment, and facilitate access to the New Development Bank’s infrastructure and sustainable development funding. Moreover, Saudi Arabia’s integration into the BRICS framework could expedite the technological and industrial modernization needed to realize its economic diversification objectives. For BRICS, Saudi Arabia’s membership would bring the world’s largest oil exporter into its fold, potentially enhancing the bloc’s global economic clout. Further, Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the BRICS could bolster the bloc’s collective bargaining power in global economic affairs.
Saudi Arabia’s potential inclusion in BRICS could have significant implications for both the kingdom and the association. For Saudi Arabia, it could advance economic diversification, enhance international stature, and facilitate access to development finance. For BRICS, Saudi Arabia’s membership could strengthen the association’s global influence, given the kingdom’s strategic location, significant oil resources, and economic potential. However, potential challenges must also be considered. Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, for instance, could be a matter of concern. Additionally, how Saudi Arabia’s economy aligns with the diverse economies already in BRICS – from democratic India and South Africa to more state-controlled economies like China and Russia – would be a key factor in its membership bid.
On the security front, Saudi Arabia’s inclusion in BRICS could have mixed implications. On the positive side, Saudi Arabia’s strategic location and regional influence could bolster the collective security posture of BRICS, particularly in the Middle East. However, potential areas of friction might also arise, given Saudi Arabia’s regional rivalries and ongoing conflicts. The question of how these conflicts might impact the security dynamics within BRICS is a crucial consideration.
Politically, Saudi Arabia’s accession to BRICS could be a game-changer. For Saudi Arabia, BRICS membership would mark a significant leap in its global political standing. It could also strengthen the kingdom’s hand in influencing the international agenda, from energy and climate change policies to issues of global governance. For BRICS, Saudi Arabia’s inclusion would broaden the bloc’s geographic representation, thus enhancing its legitimacy as a truly global platform. However, divergences in political systems and values, such as Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, could potentially pose challenges to the bloc’s cohesion.
In summary, Saudi Arabia’s aspiration to join BRICS carries substantial implications for both the kingdom and the bloc. The move could drive Saudi Arabia’s economic diversification, enhance its international political influence, and influence security dynamics in the Middle East. However, it also introduces potential challenges related to regional security issues and political divergence. As this development unfolds, the delicate navigation of these dynamics will be pivotal to the future of BRICS and its potential new member, Saudi Arabia.
Ms Saba Kiran is an MS graduate of the Department of Aerospace and Strategic Studies at Air University, Islamabad. She has a background in political science and takes an academic interest in ethnopolitical conflicts, national security, strategic stability, and social conflict analysis.