A more open economy thanks to Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030

In 2016, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman launched Saudi Arabia’s massive Vision 2030 economic reform plan, including making plenty of profound changes to be implemented within nearly a decade and a half.

The vision’s keystones are diversifying the oil-producing country’s income resources, promoting private industry, broadening investments, eliminating unemployment, supporting innovation, empowering woman and

strengthening its community participation, ensuring the social welfare, enhancing the public services, promoting tourism, and implementing social reforms.

So many challenges have been emerging against the challenge — changing the Saudi mentality that used to obtain immense benefits from the government, finding alternative sources of energy, and opening up the economy by encouraging the foreign direct investment “FDI”.

Vision 2030 comes with wide-ranging goals, the most important of which is reducing the dependency on oil revenues and diversifying the income resources.

The Kingdom joins hands together with its national entities including the government sector, its private sector as well as the non-government organizations towards the attainment of its main aim, which is reducing its dependence on oil. This is particularly apparent in applying the Saudi Aramco Strategic Transformation Program based on the belief that Saudi Aramco is capable of leading the world in different sectors other than oil through such an impressive transformative program seeking to place Aramco as a leader in more than one sector. Of the actual achievements towards reducing the dependency on oil and supplying alternative sources of energy, the Fadhili gas plant, which is Saudi Aramco’s latest natural gas processing plant, to process approximately 2.5 billion cubic feet of gas per day from land-based production in submerged areas. The plant is expected to be operational by 2019 to provide energy through clean-burning natural gas. Lastly, we cannot but admit that the key challenge is the rise of oil prices resulting in slowing down the pace of Saudi Arabia’s reforms.

While reducing the economy’s dependence on oil comes as a first necessity, the vision seeks other purposes

Saudi Arabia has already taken actual strides towards realizing this vision covering so many aspects. In an effort to empower women; they are now allowed to drive and to occupy high political and administrative posts formerly limited only to men. Each target of this vision requires massive infrastructure that is being established in pursuit of these goals and the best example is the Red Sea project, creating areas with a diversified marine ecosystem, perfect water temperatures, protected coral reefs, and world-renowned scuba diving sites with the ultimate goal of turning hundreds of kilometers of the Kingdom’s coastline into a global tourism destination. On another front, the Kingdom has not neglected the recreational aspect through the “entertainment city” to be built near the nation’s capital, Riyadh, with a total area of 334 square kilometers, and to be equipped with unprecedented entertainment and cultural venues including a safari and a theme park by the well-known American Giant Six Flags. This city comes under the Quality of Life Program 2020 along with establishing an island for the arts and culture in Jeddah, 42 libraries, 45 cinemas, 16 theaters, and 491 lots designated for sporting activities. Altogether, these steps would generate employment and stimulating inward investment.

To sum up, the immense benefits, and the major impacts of the vision’s reforms carrying for the Saudi economy over the long run, such as speeding up the process of opening the Saudi market to international investors, besides reducing the economy’s dependence on oil cannot be discarded. As is the case for the grand challenges facing the Kingdom’s reform efforts. So far, the Saudi government has proven its ability on overcoming such challenges, lifting the barriers, finding alternatives, and harnessing the full potential the Kingdom has.

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