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

Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030
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-ranginggoals, the most important of which is reducing the dependency on oil revenuesand diversifying the income resources.

The Kingdom joins hands together withits national entities including the government sector, its private sector aswell as the non-government organizations towards the attainment of its mainaim, which is reducing its dependence on oil. This is particularly apparent inapplying the Saudi Aramco Strategic Transformation Program based on the beliefthat Saudi Aramco is capable of leading the world in different sectors other thanoil through such an impressive transformative program seeking to place Aramcoas a leader in more than one sector. Of the actual achievements towardsreducing the dependency on oil and supplying alternative sources of energy, theFadhili 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-basedproduction in submerged areas. The plant is expected to be operational by 2019to provide energy through clean-burning natural gas. Lastly, we cannot butadmit that the key challenge is the rise of oil prices resulting in slowingdown the pace of Saudi Arabia's reforms.

While reducing the economy'sdependence on oil comes as a first necessity, the vision seeks other purposes

Saudi Arabia has already taken actualstrides towards realizing this vision covering so many aspects. In an effort toempower women; they are now allowed to drive and to occupy high political andadministrative posts formerly limited only to men. Each target of this visionrequires massive infrastructure that is being established in pursuit of thesegoals and the best example is the Red Sea project, creating areas with adiversified marine ecosystem, perfect water temperatures, protected coralreefs, and world-renowned scuba diving sites with the ultimate goal of turninghundreds of kilometers of the Kingdom's coastline into a global tourismdestination. On another front, the Kingdom has not neglected the recreationalaspect 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 withunprecedented entertainment and cultural venues including a safari and a themepark by the well-known American Giant Six Flags. This city comes under theQuality of Life Program 2020 along with establishing an island for the arts andculture in Jeddah, 42 libraries, 45 cinemas, 16 theaters, and 491 lotsdesignated for sporting activities. Altogether, these steps would generateemployment and stimulating inward investment.

To sum up, the immense benefits, andthe major impacts of the vision's reforms carrying for the Saudi economy overthe long run, such as speeding up the process of opening the Saudi market tointernational investors, besides reducing the economy's dependence on oilcannot be discarded. As is the case for the grand challenges facing theKingdom's reform efforts. So far, the Saudi government has proven its abilityon overcoming such challenges, lifting the barriers, finding alternatives, andharnessing the full potential the Kingdom has.

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