My main man!
I like Shaikh Salman. I admire him too. Even for someone like me with little (or no) confidence in the government, he actually makes sense. I am totally convinced that he may be the one person high up there with the right combination of both brains and honesty.
To start with, despite my reservations on some of his past projects, I have to respect his drive for change and modernization. In 2004 and 2005, he patroned labor, economic, and education reform workshops, in which government policies and practices were criticized openly and severely. I totally believe that if the Crown Prince wasn't the one organizing it, all participants would've been in jail now. Those were quite bold moves in a country where "everything is fine.... just fine!"
So anyway, Shaikh Salman apparently gave an interview to McKinsey's quarterly publication. The best part in my opinion was the bit he gave about economic reforms. He first said that economic and political reforms are complementary. Then he said outlined how economic reform rests on three levers: 1. Making the private sector the engine for growth, 2. Transforming the government from an operator in the economy to a regulator, and 3. Investing in people through education and training.
Yes Yes Yes!
That is exactly what we need. Except, of course, he does not run the government. Dinosaurs and incompetents do, for the most part. Given our current line up of officials, the government machinery will not be able to implement any significant reforms even if it wanted to.
Still, and in the interest of hope, it is good practice to remember that, despite the lack of resources and support, some of his plans actually came true: the TRA, Tender Board, and Mumtalakat holding of Bahrain, at least. So I guess there is some hope in a brighter future, albeit faint and diminishing.
That said, one thing about the interview really made me uncomfortable: mentioning demographics in Bahrain" and the high population growth, as if it was a socioeconomic issue to be resolved by socioeconomic policies. I'm sure we are all well aware that the very high population growth has demographic engineering and illegal naturalization as one of its major causes. I can see how he's trying to fix the economy of Bahrain and improve the quality of life. I can also see why he would want to stay away from the political struggles, especially given the existence of much stronger power holds. Still, the legitimacy and creadibility of the reform programs are on the line. Economic and social policy reforms may not amount to much unless the politics of Bandar-like schemes (for example) are addressed too. Whether or not this will happen, though, is yet to be seen..