At Saudi Arabia’s flagship investment conference in October 2018, a defiant Prince Mohammed bin Salman took to the stage to promise that a new era was dawning for the Middle East.

"The new Europe is the Middle East,” the country’s de facto ruler, commonly known as MBS, said to applause from the crowd. "The coming renaissance in the next 30 years will be in the Middle East.”

Five years later, as the world’s top executives are expected to flock to Riyadh for the latest edition of the Future Investment Initiative — dubbed ‘Davos in the Desert’ by many — fresh comparisons with Europe are being drawn.