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Saudi Arabia launches a futuristic economic zone

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IT WAS like Davos in the desert: some 3,500 politicians, business bosses and bankers from around the world crowded into a vast conference centre in Riyadh for a jamboree called the Future Investment Initiative. This was a giant coming-out party for “Vision 2030”, the economic plan to move Saudi Arabia away from dependence on oil. It is the brainchild of the country’s crown prince, Muhammad bin Salman, widely known as MBS. A cornerstone of the plan is selling shares in Saudi Aramco in what is touted as the world’s biggest IPO if it goes ahead next year. The young prince proclaimed that he wants the kingdom to be “a country of moderate Islam that is open to the world and open to all religions.” As for extremist ideas, “we will destroy them today.” His striking remarks came at the launch o

The Balfour Declaration still offers lessons to Israel and the Palestinians

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IN OCTOBER 1917, in the depths of the first world war, an expectant Chaim Weizmann was waiting in a London anteroom. Britain’s war cabinet was voting on a document, now known as the Balfour Declaration, that would pledge Britain’s support for Zionists’ hopes of statehood in Ottoman-ruled Palestine. Mark Sykes, a British diplomat, rushed out to share the good news: “Weizmann, it’s a boy!” But the 67-word declaration was vague. It offered a Jewish “homeland”, not a state. Nor did Britain explain how it would be created, promising only “best endeavours” to do so. The Zionist leader’s first reaction was disappointment. The boy “was not the one I had expected,” he later wrote. A century on, his successors have no such doubts. On November 2nd Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, will